Since I briefly wrote about The Man in the High Castle, last year, I’ll do it again also for season two.
The most important thing: there’s no trace left of Dick, not even thematically.
Second most important: I’ve now read that Frank Spotnitz didn’t lead season two, and that might explain why most of its worth is gone.
As with Westworld, the finale was quite good and salvaged a lot, but unlike Westworld it wasn’t enough to salvage the show as a whole. The specifics of every episode are mediocre, and the big ideas are entirely missing or completely idiotic. The big reveal that closes the show follows an infodump that is ludicrous, done by a character that would deserve a punch in the face, not a hug.
This season manages to do a little of Heroes, with an end-of-the-world vision of the future that has to be averted. Then a part of Fringe, with an alternate reality where the same actors play different versions of the same characters. And even a little bit of Touch, with some arbitrarily selected characters that are elevated to convenient pivots of the whole world. Protagonism.
But all three of these themes are the actual low points of the show. Whenever sci-fi approaches, the show plummets. Whereas it succeeds when it just deals with characters and their conflicted allegiances. The tangle of plot gets unraveled in the finale pretty well, and the empathy of the characters plays an important role both in plot and thematically.
So, all the “big ideas” fail big. What succeeds is the character driven show. But even that aspects is undermined by a whole lot of it, episode by episode, that is written quite poorly (the whole subplot about Joe is both useless and horribly written).
One thing is left, and again it touches the same spot of Westworld: the system is not anymore completely sealed. You can bring over information from other worlds. In Westworld that means being able to access the memories that belonged to a previous cycle, the reveries. In this show it means walking between worlds, and that knowledge modifying the outcome. Thematically it’s a metaphor for fiction. Through fiction we create and explore other worlds, other possibilities. We empathize with characters that do not even exists. The show states that only fiction can save us from war, because it’s through fiction that we experience our possible choices, and different points of view. To break the egoism of point of view.