The Man in the High Castle
The first episode opens in 1962 in NYC as a young man, Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) is watching Nazi propaganda in a movie theater. He's given a note in the theater by a mysterious figure. As he exits the cinema we see that he's in the middle of Times Square and also we get to see how this alternate history has changed from our current world. Oddly it has a retro 50s or early 60s feel to it, which totally works for the nature of this series. Also early into the first episode you can feel the oppression and paranoia, which only increases as the series goes along, which are elements in most of Dick's work. There's a dystopian scary feeling to the world similar to George Orwell's 1984, but also you feel the totalitarianism of the new government. Perhaps these chilling portrayals in the film hit closer to home because at one time we, as a nation, actually experience some of that during WWII rather than the more fictional nature of Orwell's story.
The story shifts to San Francisco known now as the Pacific States of America and occupied by the Japanese. Evidently now the United States is divided into three distinct zones: The Nazi zone, a Japanese zone, and a neutral zone. The Nazis and Japanese are, of course, allies, but even there you get the inkling that even they are distrustful of each other. In this second part of the story we meet the female lead, Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos) as she is taking a martial arts class. We get to meet some of her family, and later she meets with her sister. While on the street her sister gives her a satchel, which she describes as a way to freedom right before she is gunned down in the street. Juliana flees to her home, where we also meet her boyfriend, Frank. We find out the package that her sister has given her contains a film. Juliana watches the films, but it doesn't make much sense to her. Her sister was going to meet with someone to deliver the film, now Juliana has taken it upon herself to find and deliver the film. Her destination is Canon City in the neutral zone.
By now Joe is on the road, and we find out that he is going to the same location. You can pretty much guess that these two protagonist will cross paths and meet. Within the first episode we learn something about this alternate society, what the quest is for these two characters are, but yet there are still many unanswered question still left up it air. It's hard to tell if Joe is a good guy or bad. Is he involved in something to overthrow the current status quo or what are his motives. We learn within the first episode that both have parts of a film created by the man in the high castle, but what is it, who is he, and what will it be used for? How will these two character learn to trust one another in this environment?