me + berlin station + synchronicity: or, why I can’t seem to get into this show much

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-10-46-48-pm

So beautiful.

This scene starts at about 23:30 in, in case you’re like, timing it to watch on tv or anything. I wouldn’t be doing that in hopes of watching Richard Armitage in an intimate scene on a large television screen or anything, not me, no.

Seriously, though, it’s bugging me that I’m not all that into Berlin Station, to the extent that my sarcasm is getting the best of me. I don’t like myself when I’m sarcastic. And last night it hit me — there’s still something I’m looking for. Most of Richard Armitage’s big roles have generated significant resonance for me: Thornton, with his need to work all the time; Lucas North, dealing with betrayals; Guy of Gisborne and all of his problems with humiliation, status and hierarchy; John Porter, with his need to rewrite his story at all costs; Thorin Oakenshield, and the search to regain something and his death in the attempt; Proctor and his wrestling with issues that I’ve spent a lot of my intellectual life on. I even figured out what the issue was with Francis Dolarhyde and I’d like to write about it if I can ever make myself watch Hannibal again. Kenneth is a partner in a conflict in which I find myself, too. Some I wrote about, some I thought about privately, some are waiting on time. I learned something about myself from all of those involvements. There’s something about the way issues in my life seem to coalesce around Richard Armitage’s role choices over the years that has been really compelling.

There just haven’t been scenes in Berlin Station that connect with any deeper issues that occupy me; in fact, there have only been a handful of his scenes in eight episodes that would even repay the work to analyze them. I don’t know that this is his fault specifically — except that of course he signed to a series in which has character seems to have almost no lines. I was just thinking that the only thing that really fascinates me about Berlin Station is the picture of Berlin it shows us. When I sit down to spend time writing about the show, that’s the issue that takes up the time.

Huh. I thought I’d closed the books on Germany.

~ by Servetus on December 6, 2016.

38 Responses to “me + berlin station + synchronicity: or, why I can’t seem to get into this show much”

  1. Maybe because he has a bit more screen time, I don’t know, but episode 8 has been pretty much the first episode where I am actually enjoying his acting and finding more nuances to his portrayal of his character. Like GofG of season 1 of RH, perhaps he is slowly building his character and is becoming more and more fascinating to watch near the end of the first season. I am hoping so. Episode 8, just for watching RA’s face and tone of voice for Daniel Miller, especially when speaking to Esther Krug, has been the episode for me and gives me hope that episodes 9 and 10 will sustain and build on that. Up until episode 8 (except for some of 7) Daniel Miller was, I’m sorry to say, rather boring to me. (The small explosive burst of hurt and anger when he realizes it was Hector who bugged his phone was well done).

    • To add though, I get what you mean about deeper issues. So far I don’t really know or see any real depth of issues in the show or in Daniel Miller. If there are, it is an extremely slow reveal. I haven’t really ‘felt’ anything yet from Berlin Station.

      • yeah, for a show where the actors continually get asked to talk about whistleblowing there’s precious little consideration of the actual significant of whistleblowing beyond the fact that it’s troublesome to the CIA. (I already knew that, lol.)

    • The possibility that occurs to me is that (a la Steinhauer’s novel series), you read one and you think the plot is resolved, but there’s a thread hanging that then becomes the source of direction for the second novel. So I could see a possibility that Daniel would become a more central concern of the show — if we say the entire first season is essentially just back story of some kind.

      I feel like he gets moments of emotion — but they are so isolated that it’s hard to connect them into anything meaningful. One of the thing that was interesting to do in analyzing Spooks 9 week by week was to see how Armitage built on things he had done earlier. I thought that was particularly skillful since the episodes weren’t filmed in order. Here, we have episodes that almost are filmed in order but the connection between different moments of his character is impossible to read. Maybe it has something to do with the different directors?

      • Bingo!! Thanks for bringing up the thing about the different directors. It had crossed my mind a couple of times. Although I haven’t yet seen all the episodes you have seen, I would think that 5 different directors within one season would come up with quite some alternating ways of storytelling, with noticable different approaches, and they probably all harbour very different moods about this one theme. I cannot help, but almost everytime I’ve seen something like an episode movie made by 3 or 4 different directors they were interesting (without doubt!), but they always had a certain kind of disconnection or were lacking a kind of homogeneity. Though, maybe the makers think homogeneity definitely isn’t like Berlin…

        • I agree re: Berlin but I think that people still keep their personalities. Although it’s not so much that the characters change from week to week, just that their personalities somehow don’t seem to persist.

  2. I have been troubled by his character too and finally in episode 8 I see a glimmer of hope. Previous episodes have given him little to work with. His lines have been about as exciting as having him read his grocery list. I thought maybe part of the problem was his concentration on his American accent, which while fairly good, it didn’t really have much depth of expression imo. He just sounded rather monotone to me. This week’s episode he seems to be given a chance to remove that stoic veil a little more and he had a couple of good scenes revealing more depth of character and emotion. I’m hoping in the next two episodes Daniel’s character story will develop into one that really showcases RA’s talent. I pretty much already know that if he doesn’t make it to S2 I’m out.
    Also I want to thank you for all the LLL and BS posts you have shared. It is very much appreciated 😊

    • The one where he and Esther got together the first time — I thought, huh, this could go somewhere — then last week was a disaster.

      thanks for the kind words!

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering where the magic in this show is🙃

  4. The lack of development of (or screen time for) Daniel is definitely disappointing. I wonder what if anything is about to come pouring out in the final two episodes, but it can’t make up for the rest of the series. I really am curious how much Richard knew about the actual script when he signed on, as opposed to a general picture of the character and concept and production team, all of which sound impressive on paper. I also wonder what it’s like to deal with all these “ingredients” for months (including one’s own acting) and then see how it all hangs together in the final product. They were clearly still writing later episodes once filming started (someone said this in some interview; I think that’s common, but it’s a risk for an actor when it’s a new show). Richard commented that he didn’t know until late in filming that Daniel wasn’t just a regular analyst – you also mentioned that quote in response to something I said recently, but I think your interpretation differed from mine (though I no longer remember exactly what you said). I thought that just meant that they filmed the “Panama” parts last and that he literally didn’t know about Daniel’s time as an agent in Panama when filming started in Berlin (even if he knew Daniel was on a secret assignment to find Shaw, he could have come directly from being an analyst at Langley like everyone believes).

    • My reaction to his “I didn’t realize _____ until _____” statements is generally “I’ve heard it before from you.” E.g., he said he didn’t realize he’d have to take off his clothes for Between the Sheets until they started filming; he didn’t realize that LLL was a comedy until they started rehearsing, etc. It’s clearly a statement that serves a purpose in his account of himself but I don’t know exactly what purpose. In this case, I don’t know how it could be literally true. They filmed the Chechnya scenes in the deep winter, and those concern a piece of Daniel’s past in which he was not just a regular analyst. It’s a concrete topic of conversation between him and Steven. More significantly, however, an awareness of significant events in the character’s past would seem to me decisive in affecting how he’s playing the role. If he’s blindsided by that information later, doesn’t that call into question his earlier choices? In any case, I don’t really know what he meant (or if his words necessarily effectively reflected what he wanted to say) but I’m suspicious.

  5. ” I thought I’d closed the books on Germany”. It never occurred to me,Serv 🙂

  6. The cinematography is fantastic and Berlin is definitely the “leading role”. With just two more episodes to be watched I think I know what my “problem” is. There is hardly any character development for anyone in the entire show. I imagine when you are into the material and sit down with the fellow writers it is all amazing stuff but it doesn’t work for the audience, who – I’m taking myself as example – may know little about the iceberg that is the entire Thomas Shaw plotline and its “real life counterpart”.
    In my eyes they all focus too much on the attempt to be clever and to write clever and create this huge spy plot that only works properly when you were able to follow or even take part in the development from the first small step. They forget entirely that even the smartest story needs characters to carry it and those need to be fleshed out to make the viewer relate or connect.
    I may be wrong here but that’s the impression I gained after 8 episodes.
    Bit of a shame. It had so much potential but it just stays so… flat- ish.

    • I know a fair amount about both Assange / wikileaks and Snowden and the resemblance to a “real life counterpart” is fairly slim. I get that they didn’t want the show to be an allegory or to raise issues of them just copying plot from real life events, but there are actual political issues around those two situations that go beyond “the CIA did something horrible again.” It’s a bit disappointing. For instance, if there were a mall shooting like that in Germany, and the CIA were involved, you can just imagine what the socil and political consequences would be but we get no glimpse into any of that. It’s all about how it messes up the CIA people’s lives.

      And good point about characterization — you’re right that with the plot they don’t have much space for that. They’re counting on these glimpses, I guess, to fill in that space but they don’t, really.

  7. I can not complain about seeing RA in such hot scenes … I’m loving this interval in the “deep issues” … rsrsrsr

    • Yeah, he’s good looking. That’s just not why I am here, although it definitely gets my attention, and I too enjoy it.

  8. Hmm..Winnipeg is experiencing a blizzard and that picture gives me the warm, fuzzy feelings,er, somewhere.

  9. I don’t think it is just Daniel’s role, but more of a writing issue. Most of the characters are just not sufficiently developed to care about them. I find I care more about the women because I can relate to them better, but that is probably more about me than their acting. The actors in this show are very talented, but I think they are underutilized. I still don’t have a clear idea who Daniel Miller is.

    • yeah, it’s hard to assign his character a sort of central conflict or problem. The material seems to be there for “I’m in the CIA because my mother was murdered during an intelligence operation and now I’m getting disillusioned” (and I could totally find meaning in the “disillusionment with institutions” theme) but they’re not putting the pieces together.

  10. Beautiful shots again 😂… I think that turn of phrase has the potential to become as widely used as “watching for the plot”…

  11. […] not a total loser. I’m recommending that you read this latest post from Servetus on Me and Richard Armitage, if you haven’t already. I’m only a little sorry to bootstrap my own blog onto someone […]

  12. Something that stuck out to me in the interviews during the show’s premier in LA was several of the actors saying they didn’t know what the show was going to be like until they saw the first few episodes. It seemed the concept was evolving during filming or editing. I did not think that sounded like a good thing. I have hopes it will improve in Season 2 and maybe the next two episodes.

    • I think that’s not unusual, though. Every show Armitage has been in has had scripts being written as they were filming (and Spooks 8 had entire plot changes during pickups, apparently). And we know that Armitage has tried to influence scripts for both Spooks and Robin Hood. But maybe now we know why he was awake in the middle of the night emailing the writers.

      • lol. Wide awake and stressed for sure. Then (from what he said) it sounded like he gave up. After seeing episode 8 I am going to hang in there and even stick around for season 2 if DM pulls thru and gets off the pavement.

  13. I wonder what the actors are thinking of the show now that it is being put together and seeing in running. I personally feel no connection to the show or the characters. It did not pull me in ( and I so wanted to be, I love spy dramas) I tune in only to see Richard and his amazing facial acting because mostly they have him observing more than talking and he is sooo good at emoting. Frankly, I hope Daniel does not come back for another year. I am hoping Richard is offered something he can sink his teeth into and really spread his acting wings that will wow us all.

    • Facial acting — yeah. I don’t even object to that, if they would build some framework around it.

      I never know what to wish for for him — I hope he gets what he wants, I suppose.

  14. J’ai décidé de ne plus regarder ou de lire, quoique ce soit de BS, depuis l’épisode 5. C’est à dire ni la série , ni vos commentaires. Mais une chose m’intrigue. Qu’y a t-il autour de sa taille: un bijou, un grigri africain, la ficelle d’un string, la fixation d’un micro, d’une arme , un pansement,…? Je n’ose suggérer autre chose.

  15. Yeah… I’ve even lost focus so much that I am 3 episodes behind! I was going to watch this evening but find myself catching up on blog-reading instead… I will watch the episodes eventually because of Richard, but the show in itself has lost my interest and I wonder if it can be regained. I was never that into Guy or Lucas either and watched most of those episodes at later dates as well, sometimes just forwarding to the Richard bits. Not sure what to do yet with BS. I think I will await the final episode and then just watch the last 4 ones back-to-back because I just don’t want to spend a week waiting on what happens next. Just make some time, get down to business and get it over with in one sitting. 😉

    • It took me a long time to finish Robin Hood, I remember, which had wrapped up about six months before I became a fan — like four months or something like that. Because the plots were soooo contrived. I went through the first two series quickly but the third one was like pulling nails after the awful episodes in which there was no Guy of Gisborne. Spooks went a lot quicker. I really liked Ros, which kept me involved, and then I was watching series 9 illegally as the episodes came out.

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