Amazon Studios hosted a panel for the upcoming season of The Man in the High Castle at New York Comic Con on Saturday, showing off a new trailer for the show’s second season, as well as a trio of clips. The assembled panel of cast and crew took a look into what would happen, and why the show is so relevant now.
The assembled panel included the show’s Executive Producer David W. Zucker, Alexa Davalos (Juliana Crain), Rufus Sewell (Obergruppenführer John Smith), D.J. Qualls (Ed McCarthy), and Brennan Brown (Robert Childan), who discussed where their characters would be headed in season 2.
Here’s what we learned:
Fallout from the end of season 1
All of the characters are going to be put into places where they’re going to have to face the consequences of their actions during the first season. Davalos noted that her character finds herself in the worst possible pace, and will be forced to be a bit of a chameleon after some of the decisions that she made. Most critically, she seeks out asylum in the Nazi-controlled part of America, where she comes up against Sewell’s John Smith. Sewell noted that his character is likewise facing some challenges: as he’s moved up the chain of command in the Nazi party, he’s "gone downward" when it comes to the safety of his family, and he will be forced to navigate between those interests.
On the other side of the country, DJ Qualls’ Ed had confessed to killing the Prince, and when confronted with the consequences of what will happen (his family and fellow factory workers will be killed), a "deal has to be struck that compromises his relationship between him and Frank."
Finally, Brennan noted that his character is in a default state of stress. He’s working on navigating a hierarchical world, and he’s worked incredibly hard to carve out his own place in it. When that’s threatened, he’s only interested in himself, and that’s going to cause some friction between him and some of the other characters.
Exploring the world of Philip K. Dick
Zucker noted that in the first season, they had to do a lot of work to show off the alternate world in which the show takes place. Now that the world and story have been established, they will be able to focus on how the characters will be impacting the world. At the end of season 1, a character is transported to our reality, and this will have quite a few consequences for the rest of the season.
During the question and answer portion of the panel, a fan asked if the show would explore some of the other parts of the world that had been alluded to in Philip K. Dick’s book, such as what was happening in Africa or in space, and if they were expanding the universe after adapting the book. To this, Zucker said yes, but declined to elaborate on which. He noted that they were moving into new territory with this season, even as it became more focused on the individual characters.
He noted that one challenge for this was that for everything that the writers added, they had to think through all of the consequences and think everything through. "We have to be deeply thoughtful about where we go."
The show will continue to move on from the novel, but will remain true to it
Season 1 of the show largely adapted the entirety of Philip K. Dick’s original novel, and with this coming season, the show is moving into new territory. "There will be some recognizable things from the book and new ones," Zucker noted.
While the show appears to be moving on beyond the narrative laid out in the original novel, Zucker noted that "the book continues to inspire" the story, and that everything they do remains in the spirit of what Dick wrote.
The second season deals with the normalization of monsters
During the Q&A, one fan asked Sewell how he and the fellow cast members dealt with portraying Nazis, while another asked how their roles on the show influenced how they saw the outcome of the Second World War.
It’s "frightening how people can normalize" evil behavior, Sewell noted. In the show and in our own world, Nazi Germany had largely cut itself apart from the world, which allowed the government to control how its populous saw itself and its impact. "What stories do people tell to make them think that they’re heroes?" Sewell asked, and said that he had to humanize his character, because the general approach of turning Nazi characters into caricatures or monsters was a dangerous act, because it allows people to more easily dismiss them and ignore the consequences. The Nazis represented a lot of people, he noted, "it’s timely that we’re doing [the show] now."
The Man in the High Castle’s season 2 will stream on Amazon on December 16th.