The Man in the High Castle has had a strong run over its four seasons, but as of the third season it was clear things needed to be coming to a head soon. The goal of this fourth season is all about closure, completing the journey we were thrust in to four years ago and bringing a satisfying conclusion for the characters we know and love. I can safely say, The Man in the High Castle ends on a high note, closing out the story in a way that gives the characters we know and love fitting ends to their stories.
This season may be the best season behind the first season which was spectacular. The story centres around Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) who is on a final mission to take down Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell), while Chief Inspector Kido (Joel de la Fuente) and the Japanese Empire are at war with the rising Black Communist Resistance.
Every arc in this season is focused on one thing… the end. So, from episode two, once everything has been set up, the tension is gradually rising across every subplot and character arc to the big finale in the final two episodes. One thing that makes this season as strong as the first is focus, it has a clear idea of where it wants to end up and every single thing that happens before that is leading to that goal. It creates a unified story, where subplots branch off for sure, but one core story that grips you and engages you over the entire season. There was no downtime, no time spent slowing things down mid-season, it just keeps on building in tension (not necessarily in pace) and makes for a thrilling overall season.
The season begins with a couple of definite shocks that had me very worried for how this was going to go. But, within a couple of episodes those worries were gone as the repercussions of these early events make for some interesting scenarios that wouldn’t have happened otherwise and also allow us to focus on some specific characters in greater depth. This season felt like there was a lot less jumping around and more time spent focusing on Juliana, John Smith, Inspector Kido, Robert Childan (Brennan Brown) and even Helen (Chelah Horsdal) who is way more involved in the events of this season than ever before. Many of their story arcs tie together in some way and I thoroughly enjoyed all of their journeys through this season.
The arcs I did not enjoy have to do with the Black Communist Resistance which introduces two brand new characters in Bell and Elijah, played by Frances Turner and Clé Bennett. Their journey through the season was the least engaging and the one I had no interest in. In terms of the Nazis, Japanese an the resistance, there are aspects of their rule and characters within their ranks I can root for, however, when it comes to the BCR I didn’t find any of the characters interesting. It’s a shame since their journey is crucial to the events of the season but, since every other arc is also crucial, this one isn’t as big of a criticism as it could have been.
Performance-wise, Alexa Davalos, Rufus Sewell and Joel de la Fuente are incredible in the roles they have perfected over the last four years. The three of them carry the entire show on their shoulders as it’s their arcs that make the basis for everything that happens in this season. They don’t really share many scenes together, since their journeys are all occurring in seperate areas, but their combined performances are engaging enough to capture my attention the whole way through. The emotion they deliver and, more importantly, the way they depict the inner conflict their characters are experiencing is fantastic. Speaking of inner conflict, Chelah Horsdal brings out her acting chops this season as she’s given a lot more to do and a lot more to contemplate. Her arc is one of the more engaging of the bunch and she really gets you to feel for her here more than ever before.
The ending is the big thing here. It’s closing out four seasons of a sci-fi alt-world story that has become much bigger than when it was just focusing on “the man in the high castle” and his mysterious films. Ending a series may be immensely difficult, however, this show does it right. It makes the four year journey worth it and gives the majority of characters their deserved ending. There’s a bit of ambiguity present, but for the most part, the door is closed on a number of character arcs, leaving them in places I either expected or was somewhat surprised by.
In the end, The Man in the High Castle had a good run and closed everything out before it ran on for too long. The storylines this season were all great, aside from the BCR, and the performances were just as strong as before. The Sci-Fi elements are just as strong as in the last season and everything closes out with a satisfying ending. A great show that comes to a great conclusion.