It’s a scene you’d expect to see at any ordinary American high school: A yellow bus pulls up to the front door and unloads its cargo of fresh-faced teenagers toting backpacks and books. One of those teenagers, Thomas Smith (Quinn Lord), then heads to his classroom, where he helps tutor another student on an important detail in early American history, and then prepares to recite Pledge of Allegiance.
But this isn’t an ordinary school, the kid isn’t an ordinary teenager, and he’s not about to recite the ordinary pledge. Welcome back to the alternate history of the Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle, which returns for its sophomore season Dec. 16. Based on the classic novel by sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick, the series unfolds in a parallel version of ’60s-era America where Adolf Hitler’s Nazi army emerged victorious from World War II.
That’s why the Long Island high school featured in the above clip — the first two and a half minutes of Season 2 — is named after Fritz Julius Kuhn, a German immigrant turned American citizen who led an American Nazi organization before the U.S. entered the war. And this school strictly follows the Hitler Youth dress code: Thomas is dressed in a neatly pressed uniform as he intones the words of the Nazified Pledge of Allegiance, ending with an emphatic “Sieg Heil.”
That moment is a clear indication that, despite losing first-season showrunner Frank Spotnitz, Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle will continue to twist American culture in alternately amusing and disturbing ways. And Thomas could emerge as a pivotal character as events unfold: Toward the end of the first season, he was diagnosed with a serious medical condition that placed his father — high-ranking Nazi officer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) — in a classic “Abraham and Isaac” scenario. The fact that the elder Smith has apparently allowed his son to live won’t sit well with the party he serves, which has a longstanding policy of euthanizing the infirm. Despite Thomas’s spirited pledge, one imagines that the young man won’t be feeling too allegiant to a political power that wants him dead.
The Man in the High Castle Season 2 premieres Friday, Dec. 16, on Amazon Prime.