Major plot and character developments are coming in the fourth and final season of The Man in the High Castle, fans of the series learned today at a panel discussion with the show’s stars and producers at Vulture Fest LA.
The show that imagines what would have happened if the Axis countries had won World War II will reveal the fate of rebel figure Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos), who appeared to be shot by Reichsmarshall John Smith (Rufus Sewell) at the end of season 3. By using powers of meditation Juliana escaped death to land in a parallel universe.
“She’s basically traveled to a place where the United States has won world War II,” co-showrunner David Scarpa told the audience. “She can never be herself in that [alternate] world. Her identity is tethered to that much darker world of the High Castle.” He suggested Juliana will find a way back to the dystopian reality where Germany and Japan have divided up the United States, with the goal of “saving it.”
Fans were treated to a 10-minute clip from the end of the first episode of season 4, which revealed more plot points. Helen Smith (Chela Horsdal), the Reichsmarshall’s wife, fled with their two daughters at the end of the third season. But the family is reunited, albeit in very tense circumstances, in that first episode from the final season.
“We see them after a year apart when they have grown in different directions,” Sewell noted of the couple. “He desperately wants her back…They need to be back together but that doesn’t mean the ground hasn’t completely shifted.”
Isa Dick Hackett, producer and daughter of Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi writer whose 1962 novel serves as the basis of the show, said the show’s female characters are key to season 4.
“Each of the women hold a certain amount of power and effect a certain amount of change. I just think of the power dynamic shifts,” she noted. “Keep an eye on them, yes.”
Season 4 introduces a new character, Bell Mallory, played by actress Frances Turner. She’ a member of a “black communist rebellion,” Turner explained, saying the character is “very loosely based” on activist Angela Davis.
The communist group is “fighting for their own homeland,” she said, “and freedom from nazism and imperialism.”
Her character will link up with Wyatt Price, played by Jason O’Mara, another character who is part of the rebellion attempting to overthrow the Nazi-controlled regime.
“It’s going to be interesting for the audience to see how a small group of rebels… who have nothing left and therefore nothing left to lose go about taking down a massive superpower,” O’Mara noted. “That’s part of the journey…It ends up being a testament to the power of the human spirit.”
Scarpa thanked Amazon for giving producers the heads up that season 4 would be the final one for the series, allowing the creative team to craft a proper way to wrap the show.
“We were afforded a really fantastic opportunity [by Amazon],” he commented. “We had a definite endpoint that we could drive toward… the force of destiny for each of these characters.”
Actor Joel de la Fuente (“Inspector Kido”) hinted a somewhat softer side of his hard-as-nails character will emerge in season 4.
“Some of where he goes is a huge surprise,” he shared. “Here’s a spoiler. You see Kido in his pajamas…Don’t tell!”
Sewell promised further character development for the Reichsmarshall. “For me what was exciting was beginning to crack into and explore who Jon Smith would have been if history had gone a different way,” he said. “We get to explore that a little bit.”
There was no word at the panel discussion on any possible spinoffs to the popular series. But de la Fuente offered a humorous suggestion: the Reichsmarshall and his character hit the road in what could play as a buddy comedy, “driving cross country through the neutral zone.”
The show is a disturbing reminder of what might have been had history gone in another direction. Dick Hackett says it speaks to where the world is heading now, an apparent reference to right-wing populist movements springing up around the globe.
“There are parallels [between High Castle] because of the nature of what we’re seeing,” she observed. “In this last season, the central question is what side of history will you be on?” She added, “People should be asking themselves that question in our world.”