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Attendees of The Man in the High Castle panel at New York Comic Con got a rush of the past, present and future of the dystopian Amazon series, as the cast and crew previewed the upcoming third season and beyond.
First, they were treated to a screening of the premiere of the third season, which drops on Amazon in full on Friday. The hour was filled with the show’s trademark violence, underground activity and simmering tension, with the main characters finding themselves scattered to different locations, both physically and mentally.
When the screening concluded, a panel of actors and producers convened to discuss what was to come, starting with a dive back into the original source material. “We took two chapters from a sequel he was writing to the novel,” said Isa Dick Hackett, executive producer and daughter of Philip K. Dick, who wrote the novel on which the show is based. “We’re not taking away from the spirit of the novel. It was an anti-fascist novel; it was his lifelong fear.”
The characters most closely associated with fascism are John and Helen Smith (Rufus Sewell and Chelah Horsdal), who find themselves at a moral crossroads as the third season begins. On one side, John’s stock has risen due to his contributions to revealing an assassination plot, leading to an upgrade in title and living arrangements. But his family is haunted by the specter of son Thomas, who turned himself over to the Reich at the end of the second season to get euthanized for his muscular dystrophy.
“It’s been a story of the chickens coming home to roost for a lot of decisions that were made earlier,” Sewell said. “The beast we chained ourselves to has turned on us and asked us for repayment.”
That beast, according to Horsdal, has put a wedge in their marriage as well: “You see the chasm between the two of them because they’re grieving in two different ways,” she said.
All could be brighter in a different world, as Alexa Davalos’ Juliana Crain is rapidly discovering. Davalos foreshadowed that season three would dive deeper into the films that seem to transcend realities. “It really sets up so many aspects of what’s to come in terms of the films, where they come from, and how they affect us independently and as a whole,” Davalos said.
Running parallel to that is the faction of the resistance. Though fractured after the events of last season, they plan to rebuild stronger than ever.
“The notion of resistance accompanies a lot of different forms,” said Hackett. “Artistic, overtly political. We made a conscious decision at the beginning of the season to express that in different ways.”
One of those unconventional ways, according to executive producer David Zucker, comes from a surprisingly positive angle. “This season embraces hope,” he said. “Seeing where those inspirations individually and completely come from.”
The crowd got to see a new source of that hope with a final surprise of the panel: a behind-the-scenes video for the fourth season, currently in production. The video featured two new characters, played by Frances Turner and Clay Bennett. They are key members of a rebel army rising up against Japanese power, and as Bennett put it, “We have a goal of self-determination which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”
With that promise, it looks like The Man in the High Castle will explore fault lines that are physical, emotional and political for seasons to come.
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