Man in the High Castle, Season 3 (2018) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

One of the most creative shows available, the third long-awaited installment of an alternate reality in which America lost WWII brings us even more twists and turns, as well as a few horrific surprises.

Though stunned to reunite with her sister (this one from an alternate universe), Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) has not forsaken her ideas about assisting the Resistance. She's troubled by the films the Man in the High Castle has distributed throughout the country and wants to see them all, to better understand the Allies' victories in the alternate universes. Her search takes her back to her friend, Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), in California. But she's also curious about what happened to her friend, Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank).

She doesn't know he's in prison, being tortured and brainwashed into executing his father for the Reich. His Furor then sends him to California to execute various "traitors." Meanwhile, his old boss, John Smith (Rufus Sewell) struggles to keep his wife, Helen (Chelah Horsdal), in line after the death of their son. Hailed as a hero for admitting to his illness and offering himself up for termination, the boy haunts their dreams. Though self-medicating with pills and booze, his wife can't seem to cope -- and this places him in danger, since his new, more powerful position means he can afford no mistakes.

In the Neutral Zone, Ed (DJ Qualls) and Robert Childan (Brennan Brown) are on the run from the authorities -- and stocking up their van with "woo" (objects with powerful emotions tied to them) to sell back in California. None of them realize their paths will soon diverge with old friends... and new enemies. The plot escalates with increased tensions between the German and Japanese states over the oil trade.

Wow. That's usually my thought at the end of a season of this show, and this installment was no exception. It raises the stakes ever-higher, it deepens our understanding of various characters, and it brings about shocking twists. Old faces resurface, new ones join the regular cast. The acting is still stellar, the attention to detail immaculate, and the hair-raising theme this time is the destruction of the old world in favor of the new. American monuments are the first target -- and scenes of the Liberty Bell being melted down into a swastika and the implosion of Lady Liberty might just bring a knot to your stomach. The writing deftly handles a dozen main characters, but does seem to bog down in unnecessary storylines. The bisexual filmmaker ads nothing to the plot and has zero impact on any of the main characters (her desire to destroy national monuments could easily have been handed off to Smith), and I'm not sure why the writers resurrected some old faces just to get rid of them within a few episodes.

I'm a bit tired of the bombardment of f-words (not a common term during the period) and frankly, I doubt homosexuality in public would be cool in this time period even in the Neutral Zone, but overall it's one of the most thought-provoking and twisting shows on television -- if you can stomach the violence. And, early episodes do seem slow-paced; about four episodes in, the writing hits its stride and keeps you watching to the end. It's just a shame it's over so soon, since who knows how long we'll have to wait for the next season?

     
Sexual Content:
Lots of foreplay / implied sex (kissing, undressing, touching, falling out of frame). Heterosexual and same-sex relationships (with kissing, them waking up together, etc). A man is shown nude from behind (in the shadows) while being tortured. A man hires two dancers for a "private performance"; the topless woman (wearing only a thong; her male partner is also almost nude) performs sexually explicit moves / a lap dance on him before he's murdered (the scene is long); a man frequents a prostitute (activity not seen).
 
Language:
Over a hundred f-words. Multiple uses of godd*mn. Christ's name is taken in vain about a dozen times. Many uses of sh*t.
 
Violence:
Frequent and graphic. People are mowed down in gunfire (blood spurts) or beaten ruthlessly by the police (all of them women, the men use clubs). Many are shot through the head on-screen. Torture in prison. Some of the most graphic scenes include a man lighting himself on fire; a man having his throat slit; a Nazi shooting a woman then swinging her young daughter through the air and cracking her head into a stone wall (the camera cuts out just before the crunch); and a man being graphically beheaded; bloated corpses appear in some scenes; a gruesome scene finds the sizzling, fried remains of people who have "melted" in an experiment -- they dig their dog tags out of the wreckage.

 
Other:
A woman talks about wanting to communicate with her son through a medium.