The Man in the High Castle has arrived on Amazon, and if you’re binge-watching the series, EW has you covered with postmortems for each episode. Creator Frank Spotnitz, who adapted Philip K. Dick’s original novel for the small screen, answers burning questions and talks in-depth about the major story beats. Read on for his thoughts on episode 6, “Three Monkeys.”
It’s V-A Day in the world of High Castle, and not everything is fun and football: John Smith (Rufus Sewell) manages to ensnare both Wegener (Carsten Norgaard) and Joe (Luke Kleintank), even though it’s not clear to him just yet what the two have done in their own stories. Meanwhile, Frank (Rupert Evans) finds solace in a Jewish family, and Juliana (Alexa Davalos) develops a deeper connection with Tagomi (Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with V-A Day. What was it like putting together a holiday that seemed like July Fourth, but is totally the opposite?
FRANK SPOTNITZ: Yes, we sort of imagined it was like July Fourth and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. And I think that that’s the power of this series, when you can harness all-American ensembles and then infuse them with this Nazi idology or Japanese ideology. It makes you uncomfortable. It’s chilling seeing the way John Smith so casually says “Sieg heil!” to his neighbor. And, they have a dog and the turkey, and they’re throwing the baseball, but then after dinner, they sit around the TV and watch Hitler give a speech! And, you know, it just makes you think, like, how deeply do we question what’s behind our rituals?
Something that was also fun to see was the way John Smith and Rudolph Wegener played off each other. Do you think Wegener had any idea about what was happening?
It’s all open to interpretation, but I think when he runs into Smith at the airport, he’s apprehensive and doesn’t want to go to his house. But I think the circumstances seemed so innocent that it probably would have been more suspicious if he refused the invitation … A lot of it is about having been at the concentration camp together [for these two characters], and this psychic burden that’s still there.
Was there a scene between them you liked best?
I think I have two favorites. One is the one in the living room when they talk about the camp in a very coded way, and Wegener says, “At least now we have better whiskey.” And Smith says, “Now, we have a better world,” very angrily. That was really powerful. The other scene I love is when Joe is sitting in the backyard and Smith is sitting behide him and reveals he thinks Wegener is a traitor and asks what he should do about him. Obviously, we know in that moment that Joe is lying to Smith as well, so that sense of paranoia and, “Uh-oh, I’m in trouble” [laughs] was played beautifully by both Luke and Rufus.
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Similar to Wegener, then, was Joe just too naïve to suspect a trap?
I didn’t find him naïve to have fallen for the trap, I just thought Smith played it very artfully. As a viewer, you get so seduced by the kindness of the family to him, you know, with Thomas and Helen, and any fear I may have had that he has walked into a trap has sort of melted away by their charm. But I think the thing about his character is again, you see the see-saw of Joe. Is he good or is he bad?
On the other side of the country, Juliana has her own spy mission happening in the Nippon Building, but she’s also developed a connection with Tagomi. Why is this important, to see these two play off each other?
She’s somebody who still appreciates the beauty of aikido and the beauty of Japanese culture. In my mind, anyway, there are two Japans that work in the series: There’s the Japan of Kido and there’s the Japan of Tagomi. So it totally makes sense to me that a character like Tagomi would feel a connection with Juliana and vice versa. I think they sense there’s sort of a spiritual harmony and they’re both compatible. I think he’s almost like a father figure to her, and he wants to help her for reasons he probably doesn’t fully understand himself.
The episode also includes a harrowing scene with Frank at Mark Sampson’s place. What was it like putting that together and why was it important to show him in this space?
There is this whole idea of authenticity, a Philip K. Dick idea. And the funeral service for Laura and the kids was not authentic in the sense that Laura’s husband, Bill, had to have the service, it was a social requirement. It’s not true to him or to his wife and children. I think when Frank goes to Mark’s house, it’s not that Frank is Jewish either, but it’s an authentic expression of grief and a genuine way to mourn the loss that will never really heal for him. To me, it was an outpouring of grief, an authentic moment he could access. And then part of it was for me, it’s so moving that Mark is holding on to his Judaism, despite everything that’s happened in this world. He’s still raising his children this way, he’s not giving up home or his culture. It’s like a candle flickering in the wind, so I thought that was very powerful.
The Man in the High Castle is available for streaming on Amazon.