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 7, “Truth.”
Joe (Luke Kleintank) returns to Brooklyn, only to be handed a new mission that takes him to San Francisco by the end. Frank (Rupert Evans) is still attempting to cover up his tracks while the kempeitai investigates the crown prince’s death. But most importantly, when Juliana (Alexa Davalos) thinks she spots Trudy (Conor Leslie) at the market, she attempts to confirm her death while also being afraid to find out the truth for herself. It’s the first inkling the show has given about the possible science fiction elements behind the differing reality presented in the film reel. (Read EW’s full recap here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the only episode in which we see Joe’s home life in Brooklyn. Why was it important to establish this side of his story at this point? It’s late in the game.
FRANK SPOTNITZ: We’ve had no opportunity to know anything about Joe, right? It’s sort of the nature of his character that you’re always trying to guess who he really is. And so this was really the first chance to start to give the audience an insight into the life he was leading before he went into that movie theater in episode 1. And I don’t want to draw too many conclusions about that relationship [with his girlfriend] or his relationship to the little boy, her son, not his son, because obviously all of that will figure into future storylines, but that’s why we did it.
Juliana thinks she spots Trudy at the market. First off, was that actress Conor Leslie back in the role to trick us as well?
Yes, we called her back.
So what is the significance of the scene, and what does it mean? I figure I interpret it in a totally different way from other viewers.
How did you interpret it? I’m just curious.
Well, I just thought at the time that Juliana wished her sister back into existence, and that it’s kind of the idea of realities bending and becoming what you determine reality to be.
That’s a good interpretation. I can’t tell you what it means because the series hasn’t answered that question yet, but, you know, one of the challenges of this show to me is how you treat the science fiction element. And I don’t want the science fiction to overshadow the rest of the narrative. So it’s finding ways to get into these Philip K. Dick-ian ideas about the nature of reality without totally throwing out the human drama that I think is so rich and interesting about living in this world. That’s why we got to the Trudy thing relatively late in the season, and why it remains ambiguous.
And do you have a personal interpretation of the scene?
I know exactly what happened, but I can’t tell you, because the show hasn’t told you yet.
What’s running through Juliana’s mind, then, when she goes and confirms Trudy’s dead? She fully believes what she sees then, right?
I think when she sees her sister [at the market], it’s sort of like, “Oh my gosh, can that be true? And maybe I was wrong, even though I saw her get show in the street, maybe she didn’t die, maybe I was mistaken. Who knows?” It’s just this way of hoping her sister is still alive, and then that hope is taken away from her by the end of the episode when she goes to the pits where they dump the bodies and she sees conclusively now, “My sister is dead.” And that leaves the audience to try and process what’s happened in this hour, what does that mean, and how do you reconcile that contradiction.
Just to clarify, those pits full of bodies include dead Resistance members and those who aren’t deemed worthy of living?
I think it’s all kinds of people who have in some way offended the police state, the Japanese Pacific States, so most of them are not Resistance, because I don’t think the Resistance movement is that vital at this point. It’s just to show the scale with which people are killed, and that you don’t know because it’s not talked about, there’s no press. It’s just crimes hidden from view, and that’s sadly how these totalitarian states worked and still work around the planet.
Are there rules in place for who gets tossed into the pits and who’s cremated, like Frank’s sister in episode 3?
Yeah. We talked about that, and I think that was a special circumstance because they were actually gassed in police headquarters, so they cremated them. But many other people simply disappeared, and nobody ever understands what happens to them, where they went. It’s sort of like what happened in Argentina in the 1980s.
The Man in the High Castle is available for streaming on Amazon.