I didn’t post about this show last year, but I will give you the general run down. Its based on the novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick. In a nutshell, this is what the world could have been like if the Axis powers won World War II. The United States in divided into 3 territories: The east coast is controlled by Germany, and the west coast is controlled by Japan. Down the middle of the country, the Rockies, part of the Great Plains, is the neutral zone. Of course, this isn’t just straight alternate history. There are time traveling elements! You see, there are these films that very few people know about, that show a world like ours, where the Allied powers win. Of course, the bad guys want these films, because you don’t want the good guys seeing them and getting any ideas about starting a resistance movement or anything like that. (wink, wink).
So in Season 1, we get the set up. The story takes place in 1962. We figure out who the players are and how each part of the country is run. We get a little more insight into what’s going on in the rest of the world in season 2. In season 1 we meet Juliana, who’s sister is a part of this resistance movement that knows about the existence of the films, and is determined to use them to overthrow the Germans and the Japanese. Juliana is in San Fransisco. We also meet Joe, who is in New York City. Juliana discovers the film, meets Joe, and that’s pretty much when the story takes off. There are many more characters involved of course, but to try to list all of them here would be information overload, but suffice to say, the interplay between the characters, the two empires (Germany and Japan) is incredible. If you know your WWII history, then you know that the alliance between Japan and Germany was not an easy one, and that tension remains even after their victory. This is explored more in season 2.
I will say that the show really hits its stride in season 2. We are past the set up and exposition phase of Season 1, and we get to see more of the world created after WWII. There is so much attention to detail, that you find yourself looking for all the “easter eggs” and references to what technology and culture would have been like. In many ways it was more advanced, and in others it seems stagnated in the 1940s. I am not an expert in any way when it comes to WWII and this time period, but just as a fan of history in general, the whole thing is just riveting. In season 2, we get to spend more time with other characters and delve a little bit into their motivations. The world is also expanded, and we see more of what life was like beyond Joe and Juliana in the States. I feel like if I say too much more it will give away too much and will take away from some of the surprise revelations about the characters. Watching the show raises the question, for me at least, as to why some Americans appear to be whole heartedly accepting the superiority of both the Japanese and the Germans. In every oppressed society you always have people who will buy into the propaganda of the oppressor, but it just makes you want to know how they got there. I am aware of the times and the state of race relations, and due to their own prejudices that it may have been easier for some to get there, (at least in the German controlled eastern U.S.) but these were still foreign invaders. We start to see some of this in Season 2. And lets not forget, this is alternate history with a bit of science fiction thrown in. The existence of the films themselves speaks to the existence of time travel and alternate universes, and this is a major plot element in season 2. Be forewarned, it gets a bit timey-whimey, but its not hard to follow at all. I actually think it handles the concept of time travel and alternate universes in a very thoughtful way. At times it will break your heart.
As you can probably tell, I whole heartedly recommend this series! You can binge watch both seasons on Amazon Prime.
Lilypad rating: out of 5