Friday, December 11, 2015

Which is Better? The Man in the High Castle Part 2

Since there was a lot to say about this show, I broke the post down into two weekly segments. Huzzah! Let's get into it.

Ed McCarthy - what a thankless role even up until the very end. However, DJ Quall just sells it, and he's turning into a good supporting actor in his age. However, if Frank was my friend, I would tell him to turn Juliana loose and just get on the bus to get out of the Pacific states. I mean, really.... I wouldn't even mess with him anymore after he locked me in the bathroom when he went to go kill the Crown Prince. Maybe I'm just not that good of a friend to take the gun from the guy and attempt to melt it down in the very place the Japanese are looking for it? Frank had some redeeming qualities at the end, but surely it didn't have to take the entire series to figure out that Ed meant more to him that Juliana did.

Mr. Tagomi - I really liked what they did with his character in the show. In the books, he did have a moment of clarity where he sees into "our" world, the world where the Axis didn't win the war, but couldn't handle it, and retreats back into his own world. It is literally interpreted in the show but the exciting scene in the book where the SD/Nazis try to kill Baynes and company is not there, so we don't get to see Mr. Tagomi fire off a replica gun from the American Old West. The actor that plays him is also just brilliant; he's able to take the Japanese stoicism and put a kind sheen to it, making him sympathetic but also still a mystery. What is his motivation? I hope we find out in season 2.

Mr. Childan - Here is a character that I really didn't care too much about in the book until he is invited into the home of Paul and Betty Kasoura. I thought his groveling and his desire to be Japanese (or really, just to be part of the powerful class) a bit boring, but as other characters do, they sneak up on you and all of the sudden you care about what happens to them. I guess it's the mark of a good writer. So, in the book, he stands up to the Japanese when they suggest that the jewelry that Ed and Frank make could be reproduced for the poorer countries because it has "Wu." Childan, enraged that he was used and then insulted, broke free of his desire to be accepted and refused to sell the jewelry that Ed and Frank made. Now, in the show, I think they used him just enough. He's the embodiment of a person who turned his back on his country and culture in order to make a life among his conquerors. You see his hopes dashed when he's invited to dinner with the Kasouras and it's revealed that they only viewed him as a novelty. They are disappointed and Childan realizes that no matter what, he will never be one of them. He aids Frank and Frank helps him with pulling one over the Japanese. His character was used just enough in the show.

The Marshall - Completely a show creation, I thought the Marshall was tacky and a bit cheesy. The actor that played him, is a notable British actor, and he takes the idea of The Marshall, an outlaw bounty hunter, and makes him AN OUTLAW AMERICAN HUNTER WHO WEARS A COWBOY HAT AND LEATHER DUSTER AND HAS A RIFLE. He even has a toothpick? He's supposed to be terrifying, but he comes off as a cartoon character. I thought he propelled the story and got Juliana and Joe out of Cannon City, but... meh.

Lem Washington - Another character they added into the story, and much needed as well. My husband and I were worried that they would kill him off, because usually that's what happens to the Noble Black Man troupe, but thankfully they didn't. He's one of the leaders of the resistance, but his characters get muddied over the course of the show. To be honest, I remember what Juliana and Joe did, but not quite sure about Lem. He even had a family at Cannon City and there he was in San Francisco? Or was it New York? I don't even remember!

Paul and Betty Kasoura - The notable Japanese couple that treat American history and culture as novelty and kitsch, but do not really want to have American friends. They use Childan and are not interested in anything other than superficial American ideas.

If someone is in the mood for something that dove into an alternative timeline and wanted to be simply entertained, than the show is for you. The book deals with the philosophy of what it means to be an American, and what would happened to America if it never won the war. However, the show is designed to do a few seasons, and I'm really looking forward to how they deal with Russia, Africa and other parts of the world. I liked the book, but the show is much more my speed. I found myself not quite caring whether Ed and Frank got their jewelry business off the ground, and more interested in the drainage of the Mediterranean Sea by the Nazis. I read interviews by PKD who mentioned he wanted to do a sequel to The Man in the High Castle, but never managed to get it off the ground. The show has a chance to do this.

My husband commented that the show slowed down after the 3rd episode, but after reading the book, I felt the pacing was good. I'm also relieved that Juliana figured out who Joe was and that Frank and Juliana were separated by the end of the first season. Here's to hoping there is a season 2!

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