Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle is finally going all-in on alternate realities.
After two seasons of glimpsing other timelines through Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), the alt-history drama — in which the Allies lost World War II — is ready to unveil other worlds.
“We go far deeper into the sci-fi space than we have in previous seasons,” executive producer Isa Dick Hackett promises, adding that this season adapts chapters of Philip K. Dick’s planned but never completed sequel to the novel that serves as the series’ source material. “There is a grand plan at work.” That grand plan involves a black-market dealer named Wyatt (Jason O’Mara), a new man in Juliana’s (Alexa Davalos) life. “He’s inspired by Juliana,” fellow EP Daniel Percival hints. “They develop a very meaningful partnership.”
After all, in a fascist reality, the more allies, the better. Below, the EPs dive into what to expect from season 3.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you figure out what you wanted to tackle in season 3?
DAN PERCIVAL: Some follow-up chapters [Dick] wrote to Man in the High Castle, which were never published, inspired us. We saw these chapters a long time ago and thought, “Is there a way to work these in?” [In them], the Nazis are looking for a mechanical way to break into alternate realities, and he wrote these chapters around that idea and around their failures to achieve it.
It sounds like there will be more sci-fi elements to this season. What were some of the biggest challenges to doing that? Is it hard to keep track of the multiple realities you’re creating?
PERCIVAL: It’s much easier if you have a narrative that essentially revolves around one family or one person, so something like this, where the narratives work on several levels — you’ve got the alternate-history landscape itself, which is almost a character of its own, and some characters who are not necessarily related to one another driving their own narratives — bringing that all into a clear and cohesive singular arc is one of the greatest challenges we have. There are many whiteboards, many models, many convoluted context-linking ideas, but very often we find, and certainly we have found in the past, that even the process of doing it filters that thought.
ISA DICK HACKETT: Yes, and there is a grand plan at work. We do have the framework set, so we just work within that framework. It may actually be slightly less complicated on our end than it is maybe for you as a viewer.
Juliana met another reality’s Trudy at the end of last season. What will their dynamic be like?
PERCIVAL: That’s a really interesting question because this is her sister, and it’s not her sister.… [Juliana is getting] wiser and wiser, and gaining a deeper understanding of not just the reality of her alternate world, but also the sense of her purpose in this. You know, I was just listening to a radio show about the philosophy of free will: Do we really have free will? Or is our pattern in life predestined and preordained? And I think this is something that obsesses all of us. I don’t want to get off the topic, but that’s my way of describing her relationship with Trudy. It’s not the relationship she had — this is a new person, new alternate versions of one another.
What about John Smith? He also ended the season facing a new reality — not the sci-fi type, but in the sense that his worldview seems to have changed after his son gave himself up.
PERCIVAL: At what point is what John’s doing self-serving, as opposed to selfless, is a really interesting question that we keep asking ourselves as the creators. Is he an ambitious, driven Nazi, or is he someone who is merely trying to navigate his way through an impossible world? Is he making absolutely unforgivable moral choices, or is he making choices that any one of us would, given the right circumstances? These are really uncomfortable questions. We don’t know. What we know is it’s completely possible to be a good father and a loving husband and be a Nazi.
Jason O’Mara joins this season as Wyatt. What can you tell us about his character?
PERCIVAL: When we first meet him, he’s a wheeler-dealer, a black marketeer who takes a fancy to the armor, and then he disappears for a little while, but he becomes this incredibly important new character in the show who finds himself inspired by Juliana.
I have to ask: How has the fact that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are still making headlines today affected the writing of the show? Do you think about the show’s uncomfortable relevance at all?
HACKETT: It sort of feels like the world is becoming more like the show in certain ways, which is terrifying. But really, I don’t think we’re playing out things that we’re seeing. We’re just really mindful of wanting to continue doing our thing. Maybe there are things we are wanting to emphasize a little bit more, probably bits and pieces of it — like digging into the resistance this season — is inspired by what were seeing, but I for one don’t feel like the events are shaping [stories].
PERCIVAL: The concept of this show obviously goes back Philip K. Dick’s original novel in 1962, and Isa spent a decade trying to get this show made before we actually started working on it, so I think our audience can interpret what they are seeing through the prism of their lives right now. One of the most important points I think to all of us in making this show is that with these passing generations, as we move away from the events of the 1930s and ’40s, we have to keep reminding the new generation what fascism is — what it means and how it happens.
The Man in the High Castle returns Friday, Oct. 5, on Amazon.