Berlin Station 2.7, first impressions [spoilers!] #richardarmitage

Continued from here. These posts contain spoilers. PLEASE do not read them if you are not watching concurrently with the U.S. broadcast but still want a fresh look at them when the show is available in your region.

***

The TL;DR summary tonight: the script asks the watcher to accept implausibility after implausibility. Since I didn’t believe most of what I’d been asked to believe so far anyway, this didn’t help me at all. The way the episode ended is also stupid. If you want to suggest that there are moral dilemmas involved in spying (surely a surprise to no one), you can’t just plop them in at the end.

But Richard Armitage really looked good in this outfit!

The episode was only 44 minutes. Not sure if I should be annoyed or relieved about that. This is going to be a fairly monotonous recap. Oh, yeah: you may still need CC to understand what is being said.

***

I guess this was the “now we get to know April” episode. We pick up with her in the club, still listening to Hector and Lena.

Keke Palmer as April Lewis in Berlin Station 2.7.

It turns out she’s in the club because that’s where the NSA geek is who installed the malware for her. His name is Tim. When she tells him what’s going on, he informs her that they’ve broken a lot of laws. I guess he’s mad because he didn’t get into her pants yet? Anyway, it turns out April’s confused since they spent the last month trying to take Gerhardt down and now she wonders if they should try to save her life.

Hector (Rhys Ifans) and Lena (Emilia Schüle) scoping out the assassination scene at Berlin Messe, in Berlin Station 2.7.

At Messe, Hector and Lena are discussing the best place to set up to kill Gerhardt.

April leaves the club and goes to Messe, where she is still listening to Hector and Lena. They’re at the apartment of his transgender friend (who’s black, incidentally), and putting makeup on Lena to protect her from digital face identification. Lena does not treat the black friend very well. Hector reminds her that she needs to cooperate in order to accomplish her objective.

April is still listening while she takes a shower. (I.e., suddenly she’s at home.) She’s also listening to the news, which is supposed to heighten the viewer’s worry.

Message to the scriptwriters — after seven hours of this topic, now, I’m still not convinced that you really understand how a German election works. There are regular references in the script to “Gerhardt winning” that seem to imply that it’s a winner take all system and if the PfD makes significant gains, she will take over Germany. That isn’t how it works. I don’t think anyone writing this show knows that a party has to have 5 percent representation to get any seats in the Bundestag. Here, for example, we have “PfD wins its first ever seat in the Bundestag.” That’s kind of not the point. The point is the number of seats, i.e., the size of the parliamentary fraction. An actual newscaster would say “PfD exceeds the 5 percent boundary to take its first seats in the Bundestag.”

OK, end of politics lesson. Robert comes back to work and sees the Casablanca DVD (is there anything in there, or is it just a reference to his sloppy pickup line?) and a memo on his desk appointing him acting chief. He goes to Yates’ office for a moment of sad and desperate reflection.

Hanes, meanwhile, is taking his dogs out to play when Frost shows up — in his rumpled Norway excursion outfit — to surprise him. Hanes says Fischer “went rogue” and Frost essentially says “cut the bullshit,” as he already knows that the money is coming from Washington. Would that he had said that an episode earlier. But I guess they wanted to shoot in Norway.

Frost (Richard Jenkins) tells Hanes he has enough dirt in hand to bury everyone involved, in Berlin Station 2.7.

Another opportunity for some weirdly whiny emotionality from Jenkins. Hanes says he’ll explain the whole thing after he reigns in his dogs. Who are really fast. Rescue greyhounds? LOL. Not.

Next, Daniel wakes up in Esther’s bed.

I just found this whole scene bizarre. I admit that it’s cute to see Armitage in shirt and skivvies. But I just don’t buy any of it. I don’t buy that Daniel is especially moved by what turns out to be his own presumption that Esther wants to cook for him. (This is, incidentally, a fairly offensive cliché. Who writes this crap?) I don’t find the affectionate cuddling convincing, given that we know that they are fuckbuddies. The way the script weaves the future of their relationship with the future of Germany is obnoxious. The notion that German politics will end if the PfD wins a parliamentary fraction is silly; the only way you would believe this would be if you thought for some reason that Gerhardt/PfD has a chance of winning the largest segment of the popular vote. Oh, wait, right — the writers don’t understand that.

But the relationship piece of it is worse — it is scripted in a way that suggests that we didn’t watch season 1. “Are we really going to do this again, we know how it ends,” Daniel says. I wonder if the writers and I have the same idea of what they were doing last time. It was pretty clear that last season Daniel thought he was having sex with Esther and trying to outspy her. She was having sex with him, trying to outspy him, and possibly feeling a little bit affectionate toward him. So how would that have ended any differently? Why is he giving her a little affectionate kiss on the eyebrow? “Is it really such a bad thing to know exactly where we stand?” she asks. Was there any confusion about that? Apparently (so the script) he now wants to avoid judgments and secrets. How will that be possible? They are spies. “We just agree to be who we are,” he says. Is that something new in their relationship? The whole scene is point-blank flummoxing, to the extent that I wondered if there were somehow scenes in their relationship that got cut out that would explain their sudden emotional connection. I hope he’s trying to honeytrap her.

And then she goes off on this thing about how people in her department are lining up to serve Gerhardt. Sorry, that’s also not how the BfV works. Leaders of minority parties that are not in a coalition do not make intelligence policy. Anyway, she insists she needs to clean house so that no one who wants to get rid of her can make her vulnerable. Hector’s presence is a problem. They make a deal — Esther will find Hector a way out of Germany although she can’t restore his general travel privileges. Daniel wants a deal for Lena — whom Esther, at least, is in a position to see clearly: “she’s a neo-Nazi, not a charity case.” Daniel lays it out — he will get Hector to cooperate, Esther will let Lena go.

And they kiss on the deal. You really can’t say that Armitage doesn’t sell it every single time. He sure looks like he’s enjoying himself.

here’s a solid edit of that cap:

 

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So, back to April. She’s photographing a weapons buy — Hector is buying a Swiss rifle for Lena. Transition to the conversation, which she can also hear via her phone bug thingie. Next implausibility: in Berlin, you can just call up an illegal arms dealer in the morning and there he’ll be, ready to sell you a military grade rifle. Are they sure he doesn’t work for the CIA?

Cut back to Frost and Hanes. Hanes admits that the U.S. administration was funding Gerhardt — but insists that the terrorist attack itself was Katherina working “without our consent or our knowledge.” (This is a patently stupid explanation — why would she need money if not for some big moment? — but Frost apparently accepts it.) When Frost accuses Hanes of tipping Gerhardt off, Hanes says if Yates had told him earlier what was going on, maybe things could have been different. Anyway, despite all the PfD xenophobic rhetoric, Hanes insists it’s not about all this racist / terrorist stuff, it’s about protecting U.S. national security interests. They get out at a factory building and walk in.

Hanes leads Frost (Richard Jenkins) into a mysterious computer facility, in Berlin Station 2.7.

According to Hanes, the U.S. was funding Gerhardt because if she got into power she would be more sympathetic to U.S. security interests, particularly the location of a U.S. intelligence / big data processing center on German soil. It’s the Bradford Winters et al. conspiracy Cambridge Analytica plot line, in other words.

If you saw my tweets, this was the point at which I pointed out that the Berlin Station writers apparently know nothing about German domestic politics or international politics. First of all — it’s not up as a possibility that Gerhardt would have taken over the entire German government. This election was about the entry of a parliamentary fragment into the Bundestag. Even if the PfD won big, there would be no chance that they would get to make foreign policy. (In the real life election this series supposedly predicted, choke, vomit, cough, all of the other German parties announced ahead of time they would not coalition with AfD.) Second, if this kind of computer listening station exists, there’s no question that the CIA has one and it’s already in operation at the behest of the U.S. government. No way the CIA would wait for a friendlier German government to start doing this kind of thing, no way a station chief would not have known about it.

And finally, this is once again the script writers deciding that a U.S. election scandal was somehow directly transferable to Germany.

So, whatever. I was annoyed insofar as I was expecting something big as the machine behind Hanes chasing Frost all over the place, and it was a big nothingburger, to transfer a metaphor directly from a U.S. election scandal. Anyway, Hanes suggests that the reason he’s been torturing Frost is that he wanted to offer Frost supervision of this data facility. A way back in, so to speak. This is the “parallel intelligence operation.” “No one ever wanted to see you leave, Steven,” Hanes said. Om, yes, they did. That was why he resigned ahead of being fired. Everyone wanted to see him leave. Me most of all.

Back in Emmerich’s apartment, Valerie (Michelle Forbes) brings him some Splitterbrötchen for breakfast.

This is a Berlin thing — the butter is added to the dough while it’s still cold so you can see in the roll where the butter was. It has the approximate texture of a Danish, but without all the fruit and frosting. You can get them anywhere in Berlin but I associate the name “Splitterbrötchen” with East Berlin in particular. Anyway, this was a bit sketchy. Most Germans I know make their coffee at home and pick up their breakfast rolls. Picking up your coffee as well is more a U.S. thing.

This is one of the better scenes of the episode. I’ve always thought that Emmerich was playing a game for Valerie’s benefit; now it seems clear that Valerie is doing the same, or rather, vice versa.

Emmerich (Heino Ferch) and Valerie (Michelle Forbes) contemplate what will happen after the election, in Berlin Station 2.7.

So there’s a pleasant, but subtle tension in this scene that has been rare in this series — they’re both acting and wondering if the other person knows they’re acting and concluding that they don’t. Emmerich wants Valerie to come to the post-election rally that night as he will have composed the words himself. She says she will and she’s rooting for him, but not for what he’s saying.

But, my lord, this awful blouse. Did a friend of the costume designer pay for product placement? No wonder Valerie looks so sad.

At the factory, Hanes explains the computer system’s capacity to Frost. Frost objects to the manipulative, invasive qualities of this kind of intelligence practice, and Hanes says “it’s pretty damn effective” and then seduces him with the argument that he could shape its usage if he took over the project. (Rhetorical question: what must it be like to realize that everyone in your professional and personal life thinks you are a total idiot?)

Next, April’s at work, wondering what to do. She is able to overhear Hector and Lena practicing their assassination plans on watermelons. Tim comes to her office and reveals that — surprise — April hasn’t told anyone about Hector and Lena’s plans.

Here’s Tim, played by Matthew Leonhart, a mixed race actor born and raised in Hong Kong. It’s just a coincidence that he’s of Asian descent, right? I swear this show could not get along without at least one ethnic stereotype per episode.

This is another serious “jump the shark” moment when it comes to the script. Tim is concerned that April hasn’t informed the office of what’s happening because “we’re talking about a woman’s life.” That’s actually not the main ethical issue that a CIA operative should be concerned about in a situation like this. But it gets worse. Next April compares the situation of letting Gerhardt be assassinated with the counterfactual hypothetical of assassinating Adolf Hitler. This isn’t how history works, either, but OMFG GODWIN’S LAW ANYONE? Does anyone except drunken bros think she’s discussing a real dilemma? Next, it turns out, April thinks that letting Gerhardt be assassinated will save Germany from a situation like in the U.S. (not sure what that even means).

Apart from that: I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT A NOVICE CIA AGENT WOULD DECIDE TO GO OUT A LIMB BY HERSELF LIKE THIS. Sorry. Not plausible. But three quarters of the plot of this episode depends on it. Sigh.

Tim can’t believe they’re having the conversation, and neither can I, albeit for different reasons. He tells her he will shut up for now, but “you’re not taking me down with you.” Dude, I think it’s too late for that.

Hector and Lena are now at Messe with the rifle, sighting it in.

At the CIA, Kirsch, April and Daniel are having a meeting. Richard Armitage is really nicely dressed here.

 

See what I mean? Richard Armitage as Daniel Miller in Berlin Station 2.7.

Kirsch refuses the necessary papers for Hector to leave on the grounds that he kidnapped Lena. April learns Yates is gone without a word of goodbye. Kirsch tells them what he learned in Norway with Frost — that the Gerhardt money came from the U.S. Department of State.

Daniel is unhappy to learn this.

So upset that he has to take off his jacket. Richard Armitage as Daniel Miller in Berlin Station 2.7.

There’s a mild agreement that there’s nothing they can do, as the U.S. will look worse than the Russians if they leak the story.

Daniel (Richard Armitage) is not pleased by that prospect either.

April is concerned that they plan to let Gerhardt win; Daniel response is really lame and not entirely credible (if they gamble and lose now, they forfeit all chance to change things in the future). So April — who has the bugging device in her hand at the meeting — decides to continue taking things into her own hands. She implies she wants to see Gerhardt assassinated and Kirsch says that the CIA doesn’t do this anymore. So yeah, next implausibility: they actually do teach beginning CIA agents things about U.S. foreign policy. Yes, the CIA has tried to assassinate foreign leaders — but they were all in developing countries. Not major industrialized powers and huge historic allies.

So the script is nonsense, a sort of unbaked liberal nightmare fantasy. But it’s important to say: Keke Palmer is really effective in this role. She captures perfectly the diction and the vibe of the know-it-all youngster.

Back, across from Messe, Hector and Lena continue to prepare for the assassination. Lena says things that suggest she might be losing her resolve.

April tunes back in on her phone and hears: Daniel talking to Hector! Daniel — who, let us remember, doesn’t know anything about the assassination plan — wants Hector and Lena out of Berlin that night. I’m not sure why the rush — only to keep Esther happy? Hector is skeptical that Daniel can help him, and won’t go without “what he’s owed.” They agree to meet at the Hauptbahnhof in 30 minutes. (OK, I get that it’s easy to get there — but would you really choose such a conspicuous place, where there are dozens of security cameras and numerous surrounding government offices with police protection, for a meeting like this? Shades of Frost trying to flee Berlin via this location last season. I get that it must be fun to shoot here, though.) Hector tells Lena to “sit tight” while he prepares their exit strategy.

Cut to Valerie, in a car, tailing Emmerich. He gets in and out of a black car. It’s not clear whose. [ETA: I think we’re expected to think it’s Gerhardt’s car.] Valerie lets a call from April go to voicemail. The car Emmerich got out of takes off.

And we see Frost (Richard Jenkins) admiring himself in the mirror again. Not clear why. I suppose this is better — and shorter — than dreams about water. But he calls Kirsch and Kirsch also sends him to voicemail.

Cut to the Hauptbahnhof, where Daniel and Esther are awaiting Hector, sitting in front of a storefront next to Vapiano on the [German] first floor.

Richard Armitage, Mina Tander and Rhys Ifans in Berlin Station 2.7.

All she has for him are some quickly created German passports, and he wants more — especially his bank account access. Daniel tells him he will get it (this is a lie, assuming what Kirsch said earlier is true). Meanwhile, we see that April is in the train station, listening, and also that the BfV guy who Hector clobbered last week in the gas station bathroom is back on his feet and in the station as well.

Esther chooses this moment to ask where Lena is. Hector is really unhappy.

Daniel (Richard Armitage) is kind of pissed off, too.

And then it’s the camera shooting us from glance to glance. April sees Hector. Hector sees Lena, who apparently didn’t understand the U.S. idiom “to sit tight” and is wandering aimlessly around the train station. He texts her to leave. Then Esther sees Lena, too, and tells her BfV guy to keep an eye on her.

Daniel is still not happy. “Just when I started to trust you again!” This is the final proof that he’s playing her, right? Except why does she believe him?

April does a neatly choreographed move where she tells Hector where the BfV guys are waiting to get him. April sabotages the escalator to slow down the BfV, then catches up with Lena: “Hector sent me.” They exit the station while Hector gets on a train headed west, toward Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, beats up a BfV guy, then gets off it again. Too bad they didn’t go to Wilhelmshöhe, that’s another station with a fascinating architectural structure for filming. Huge, long tracks. Anyway, Hector also escapes and the BfV guy loses everyone.

Daniel is mad. So, so mad.

Emo Daniel (Richard Armitage) is full of reproaches for Esther (Mina Tander), in Berlin Station 2.7.

He says the worst part was that he actually felt badly for her. (I assume, about Germany? I thought he felt badly about that for himself.) She points out, reasonably, that they agreed to be who they are and this is who they are.

Really, at this point, we have to conclude that he is playing her, and it’s just scripted really badly, in ways that don’t leave Armitage much room to maneuver in terms of acting. That’s the only scenario that could explain how horribly executed this plot line is. Daniel stalks off, with Esther yelling after him that he’d have done the same.

Meanwhile, Lena and April are escaping. If I were them I’d have gotten a taxi, I think. It wouldn’t have been safe to take the U-Bahn away, but on foot — there are a ton of government agencies around there, including the Interior Ministry. Well, anyway, they decided to walk.

They’re about as friendly as you’d think an African-American and a German neo-Nazi would be.

Lena is mistrustful; April pointed out that she’s risking herself to save Lena from the BfV and give her another shot at Gerhardt. Yes, this is strangely surreal. No, it is not remotely credible.

Totally inexplicably — we are now suddenly at Kirsch’s apartment. He’s making scrambled eggs for dinner, which his son doesn’t like. His son picks a fight with him.

No wonder Kirsch is upset — he’s drinking a beer that doesn’t really exist. This is one of a series of fake consumer items developed for German tv. According to this article, German broadcasters find it more difficult to sell advertising time if there is product placement in a show.

This seems like more than just normal teenage idiocy — the point seems to be to show that Kirsch is suffering because he can’t admit to his son what he really does, but the scene just isn’t — ceterum censeo — believable in the way it is executed. (Kirsch is mystified, too.) And it heavily obstructs the flow of the episode as it relates thematically to nothing else in it.

April takes Lena to her apartment where they find: Hector. Lena and Hector have it out: was he selling her out to the BfV? (om, yes, although he denies it — and he told her so last week, so I don’t know why she is surprised). Hector has figured out that his phone was bugged. He points out that April’s silence at work about what she knew amounts to an endorsement — why would she do this? April informs him that the State Department was funding Gerhardt. (I think that anyone who was top of her class at Langley would not just blurt out this information, either — is this baby boomer animus against millennials at work here? ) Lena realizes she’s being manipulated to CIA ends, and points out that for her this is only about avenging her father. She storms off. April asks Hector if he’s going to do it anyway. Hector asks April if she would stop him.

ETA:

Then: Esther gets home from work and Daniel’s in her apartment.

Like, what? And why is he drinking Riesling? Was this part of the production’s agreement with the Berlin Brandenburg Medienboard?

so, it’s a really strange scene. It’s like the show wants us to think they are — defying all probability — going to try to get together again.

???

Then there’s this outfit.

Anyway, she wants to know why he’s there, and he says he didn’t want to fight. He’d opened a bottle of wine. She thinks drinking affects his judgment. He stands to go — short fuse much? — and she asks him to stay. Daniel’s giving off all Armitage’s canonical distress signals — hand to face, clenching fingers / fists — so we are clearly meant to believe that something meaningful is happening for him. He concedes that he might have done the same thing.

Jump in weirdness level: she says, “would it help if I say I’m sorry?” [Well, you’re not, so why would you say that?]. His answer is “not if you’re right.”

“The thing is, you and I, we’re very alike,” Daniel (Richard Armitage) says to Esther in Berlin Station 2.7. Servetus interjects — yes you are, which is part of what makes this relationship so inherently uninteresting. What either of you will do in any situation should be entirely predictable to the other. No spark.

She thinks that’s a good thing, he thinks it’s a problem. (I would say that I agree with him, except that it’s really hard for me to believe that he’s sincere here, despite Armitage using all of his canonical sincerity language.) Again, they’re talking like they have some kind of longstanding, deeply emotional relationship that we have seen no evidence of. But her dialogue doesn’t make a lot of sense — he’s talking about whether they’re compatible given their careers and their likelihood to behave in certain ways, and she says neither of them are perfect.

OK.

So, he asks if they can start again.

I don’t find this plausible, at all.

But here’s the picture of his face just before he asks her to restart their “relationship.” I couldn’t get a good cap of this but it’s also one of the better moments in the episode.

Time for the plot wrap up. April detaches her bugging device and flushes it down the toilet. Hector returns to the location from which he and Lena had planned to shoot, without Lena. The news is showing the leadup to her rally and Kirsch and Frost are watching it from Kirsch’s apartment. Frost tells Kirsch that Hanes’ motives are not far-Right but rather security based, and tells him about the computer facility. He’s going to take the job and run the computers. Kirsch points out that Hanes has done nothing but lie to Frost. And I want to scream — and it’s not like Frost has ever noticed that! Frost says he has to do it to protect Berlin Station: “we gotta get on the inside of this!”

From the TV back to Messe, where the rally is starting. Hector is unpacking his gun. Gerhardt is rousing the crowds, with Emmerich at her side. April is watching, and so is Valerie. They have a fight; April is mad that the operation failed and thinks it was because of Emmerich; Valerie doesn’t think the operation failed and thinks April admires Gerhardt. This segues into Valerie telling April that things could be worse; April questions that they are doing nothing; Valerie then accuses April of having stuff in her head from “the Farm” about how the world is binary, but the world is not that way and “we are not the arbiters of right and wrong.” (This is also implausible to me — typically intelligence instruction seeks to detach people from moralistic interpretations of the world; it’s people on the ground who develop problematic emotional allegiances, as we see repeatedly in this show. I don’t believe April behaved this way because of something she learned in training, but then again I don’t believe that someone in April’s situation would behave as she did.) It’s also not a very convincing speech from Valerie, insofar as the decision not to make a decision is also a decision, as every American who attends a university learns when reading “The Trial of Socrates” in the first six weeks. At the latest.

April Lewis (Keke Palmer) tries to call Hector off, in Berlin Station 2.7.

But this isn’t really an actual ethical or moral dilemma they’re plumbing here — it’s an occasion for Valerie to tell April that she has to “go with her instinct” and “hope she can live with it.” So April, now suddenly (!) aware that assassinating Gerhardt is not a good idea, tries to call Hector to find out where he is and call him off. It’s implausible to me that she would think he would not be somewhere on the grounds of Messe. Nothing about his need to get out of Germany or get his passport back and and his bank accounts unfrozen would have changed.

We see Hector dithering about the shot — there’s a false alarm as a firecracker goes off in front of Gerhardt — then the screen goes black and we hear a gunshot through a silencer.

***

Of course, all suspense created by this ending is immediately relativized / erased by the “scenes from next week.” WTF.

Continues here.

~ by Servetus on November 20, 2017.

49 Responses to “Berlin Station 2.7, first impressions [spoilers!] #richardarmitage”

  1. […] Continues here. […]

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  2. Thank you for the review 😊 your so good 😊 it was so long and because I never seen the series before , the writing totally lost my interest after I saw RA and Mina Tanders scene 😂😂😂 don’t worry though 😊
    I do wonder you know that is that influencing the writing that its actually a man who is doing it , just from the look of relationships 😂😂 I always thought somehow like that 😂😂😂 hope you have a great week in school with your students. Don’t work too hard 😂😂

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  3. Sigh. And the eggs looked overcooked. Up until the recent German election, I knew nothing about German politics, but with the change in situation here, I began following the election news. My point being that as a complete novice on the subject, a casual news reader, even I knew that this was not about Gerhardt winning to “rule” Germany. In one episode, the writers did mention, t through Yates, I think, after the Ganz plot failed, that her percentage would now rise from 12 to 15 or something, but it was never explained. Even though this was shot before the results of the recent election, I don’t know how the writers could be so dim about reality. Do they not understand or do they think the viewers don’t.
    I think Daniel and Esther are still playing each other. I agree that no real emotional relationship between them has been shown to us to make it believable that he would forgive the betrayal and move forward with her.
    I didn’t see the after show thing yet, ( though I was spoiled by an episode by episode summary), but I am guessing that there is some ambiguity as to whether Hector was the one who took the shot. What would be Hector’s motive, considering his cynicism, and can just anybody be an effective sniper?
    Esther’s outfit, Teal is the new black.

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    • yeah, if I were Noah I’d have objected to those eggs, too. Along with the thick German brown bread that I can’t imagine an American teenager eating voluntarily. Also, what’s with the metal spatula in a non-stick pan?

      I was thinking last night that because I’ve studied the history of German elections, I might find them more interesting than the average bear. And it’s definitely more complicated than the US system — and no one on the show has discussed the issue of “first vote / second vote,” either. You’d think that the average viewer would understand the parliamentary ratios — but maybe they think we wouldn’t, or just that it’s boring.

      re: Daniel / Esther — I get that they can’t just replay last season where they are openly playing each other. And that they can’t do a Valerie / Emmerich, because even last season they knew they were playing each other. I guess what’s inconceivable to me is that they would choose this particular route of deception: which is, I guess? both of them pretending to the other that they have some kind of feelings? I mean, why build this whole emotional superstructure around a relationship that always was opportunistic and presumably continues to be so? I get that probably the writers think there has to be some tension between them (and I also agree that the fact that they’re so alike means that it’s hard to create that tension), but this isn’t plausible tension. The problem may be that the way one would typically write this plotline to create tension, with them playing a cat and mouse game of deception, would seem to imply more a more personal animus than certainly Daniel and possibly Esther has. I don’t know. This just doesn’t work for me on a plausibility level.

      Teal is okay — it was my favorite color in 1987. I think the shirt and slacks were different shades, though.

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    • oh: re ambiguity — I assume you saw what I did, i.e., you see Hector about to take the shot, but he’s wavering; then the firecracker; then the screen goes black and you hear a shot. Since he’s the only one who we know is there with a gun, implication is he did it.

      However, the “scenes from next week” imply that’s not what happened and I suppose that’s not totally implausible. (Anyway, don’t tell me more, I’d still like to have a little tension next week … if that’s possible anymore.)

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  4. Armitage himself said the relationship between Esther and Daniel is abstract. Judging from your impressions, he’s right.

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    • I don’t get how it’s any more abstract than last season, though. As She-RA tweeted: “abstract? Is that what the cool kids are calling it nowadays?”

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  5. Most of the relationships on this show are pretty superficial or are not well explained. I would imagine in the spy business it might be hard to have the kind of trust and openness that is needed for a real relationship, especially since for these characters their partners all seem to be on somewhat opposing sides. But I think part of the issue is that this sort of soft stuff is not of interest to the writers. The signal that someone has feelings for someone else are always either 1) we see them having sex; or, 2) they say something out of the blue to another character like Hector saying he loved Claire or Robert saying he really likes BB.

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    • The question to me is: what IS of interest to the writers? It’s not thrills and chills because there haven’t been many. It’s not trust and betrayal (a frequent trope of the spy story), because they really haven’t gone there, either. It’s not a suspenseful portrayal of German politics or U.S. foreign relations … I mean, in the end, what is this show about?

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  6. Daniel and Esther I get (and I don’t think they are playing each other and I think they both want more than sex but each have their ‘issues’ – which are a little unclear but I make my assumptions). What I REALLY don’t get is Daniel trying to make sure Lena gets off scott free. Yes, Hector says Daniel is a ‘rescuer’ but that sure doesn’t explain this to me. And yes, Lena didn’t want to shoot the security guard point blank when they needed to steal the van. But she didn’t have a problem trashing a store and terrorizing shop keepers, doesn’t have a problem treating Hector’s friend (who was sheltering her in their time of need), didn’t have a problem with her boyfriend being brutally murdered and didn’t seem to have much of a problem with the plan to blow up a crowd of people. And now she wants to assassinate someone for revenge — I REALLY don’t know why Daniel is hell bent on her escape rather than just making sure she doesn’t get killed on the way to prison. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Lena is not a victim of her father – she was and still is a willing participant.

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    • And her motive at least makes sense. I was wondering this morning: what incentive does Hector have to assassinate Gerhardt if no one at the CIA knows he’s doing it? I get that he could threaten to do it as a way of getting his documents and money back, but just for shits and giggles?

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      • I suppose we are to think Hector thinks he is doing the world a favour (because of his traumatized past with that secret site and Julian?). But Hector as do-gooder doesn’t stand up because he has clear mercenary and self preservation tendencies in my opinion – whether it is because of his acting choices or as a deliberate make up of his character I have no idea. This show and these characters – none of it makes any sense. And I don’t think it is meant to be so vague because they are trying to be all spies are ciphers kind of thing – I think it is just really lacking in the writing. I was so hoping for season 2 to be better than season 1. I am wondering how frustrated RA may or may not be with the show.

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        • If what he wants is to get out of Germany and get his papers / money back, assassinating a German political leader is pretty much the best way to guarantee that will never happen. I suppose one could read it as consistent with the destructive influences of a Thomas Shaw, although it’s fairly problematic, as the assassination of a far-Right extremist leader seems like it would be likely to increase sympathy for far-Right extremism.

          The characters are not consistent. They do whatever the increasingly improbable plot requires of them.

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  7. Ganz entgegen meiner üblichen Gepflogenheiten muss ich heute mal auf Deutsch kommentieren. Das ist – in sich selbst – schon mal ein Kommentar. Denn ich greife immer dann auf meine Muttersprache zurück, wenn ich emotional besonders involviert bin. Und in dieser Folge tut sich eine abgrundtiefe Unkenntnis der deutschen politischen Lage auf, die mich einfach wütend macht – angesichts der Selbstbeweihräucherung des BS Teams in den Promointerviews. Von wegen “hellseherisch” und “den Finger am Zeitgeschehen” – keine Ahnung von der tatsächlichen Lage, was sich nicht nur in der komplett falschen Rückführung von Ottos/Lenas faschistischer Gesinnung zeigt, die wir schon seit Folge 2 hier mit Grauen beklagen, sondern auch in der idiotischen Überspitzung von Gerhardts Einfluss auf die deutsche Regierungsbildung äußert. Du hast das in deinem Beitrag hier auf den Punkt gebracht – mit 15 Prozent der Stimmen wird Gerhardt nicht Kanzlerin werden können. In dieser Folge sagt Hanes zu Frost “Esther will be gone when PfD clears 15% and forms a ruling coalition.” Dieser Satz zeigt mir, dass die Autoren das deutsche Wahlsystem evtl. noch kapiert haben – aber offenbar von der deutschen Politiklandschaft trotz monatelangen Aufenthalts in Berlin absolut NICHTS verstanden haben. Der springende Punkt ist, dass die PfD auch mit 15 % NIEMALS “Teil der Regierungskoalition” werden würden – denn die anderen Parteien hatten bereits im monatelangen Wahlkampf angekündigt, auf gar keinen Fall mit der PfD (AfD) koalieren zu wollen. Dementsprechend ist Gerhardt pillepalle und auf gar keinen Fall ein wirksamer Kanal für die Amerikaner, ihre schicke Abhörstation ans Netz zu bringen. (Wozu brauchen die dazu überhaupt die Kooperation eines deutschen Politikers? Das hat die NSA damals doch auch ohne den Segen der deutschen Politik gemacht???)
    Von der unglaublichen Fake-Romance zwischen Daniel und Esther mal ganz zu schweigen – so nachlässig wie das geschrieben ist, kann man nur davon ausgehen, dass das als kleines Bonbon oben drauf gesetzt wurde, damit man Daniel und Esther neben ihrer Haupttätigkeit als Funktionäre auch mal als “Menschen” erlebt. Voll daneben. Selbst Roboter könnten das besser.

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    • yeah, the episode is written like the German public is voting in a modern-day referendum on the Ermächtigungsgesetze. It’s just plain bizarre, but the script references to Hitler (uch) seem to make clear that is what they had in mind. It really makes me wonder about how scriptwriters view history — the point of historians finding parallels to the 30s in modern-day German politics isn’t that there’s some kind of one to one correspondence.

      And I agree: if the USA is bugging Merkel’s phone (which last season’s writers appeared to know), no way are they worried about getting permission for an illicit computer traffic station. If they have no problem importing assault rifles into Germany, supercomputers should not be any problem, either. The other thing, frankly, is that given modern technology, there’s no reason that would need to be in Germany, where it would be hard to protect. It could just as well be somewhere in South Dakota. They just couldn’t get actors to sign up for six months in Sioux Falls.

      It’s completely infuriating to see German politics distorted so fully in a show that, as you say, has been preaching about its relevance for months.

      re: Bonbon — I think that’s true. And because spy shows have to have sex scenes and no one else except Valerie and Heino are getting any.

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  8. This was so bad i don’t even know where to start, Nothing, but literally nothing made any sense at all. PfD cannot ‘win’ anything other than getting into Parliament and even in a fake series scenario how can anyone put the possibility forward they could form a winning coalition. This gives me a head ache!
    I am tried of Lena and she’s tired of all of them, understandably for a neo Nazi LOL sorry… but it’s just… I’m tired of Daniel and his Lena obsession which is so not in character. And yes guns like buying ice -cream.. not in a million years, thankfully!! The train station was just confusing, what April is doing makes no sense on any level.
    No idea why Hector, thwarted in his attempt to liberate his funds and his travel access would shoot KG? What would he get out of it? Nonsense.
    Frost and mirrors, more nonsense, data center and big data, more nonsense! This supposed to re-assure the US audience that the US can do it too like the Russians? Who wrote this stuff?? All countries have data centers and it’s no secret! The main 6 secret services, including US, Uk , Europeans share info to catch bad guys, not from today, long standing. All analyse data and there is nothing secret about big data, it just describes the sheer volume of information. Unless we are taking taping phone conversations and reading emails illegally, the other info like social media is all freely available, No need for secret centers in European countries, i can be done from anywhere. It ‘s not about the pcs , it’s about the analysts sifting through it an more importantly about country and culture specific information. Anyway, somebody like Frost presiding over a bunch of servers boohoo secretly in Germany is beyond ridiculous. All that fuss for this? How stupid do they think the audience really is????

    And i can’t believe i’m having to say this as i always pray for RA to be on screen in some relationship because it’s nice o watch for reasons 😉 And i like Esther and i really liked what they had going in S1 LOL, effective and clear. But what is this? A parallel universe where they have both transformed into emos?? Not only that but they focus on the sentimental stuff in the middle of what is still a crisis? Give me a break, none of them would take the other for so stupid, so please don’t think the audience is. Not in character, nonsense and unbelievable timing for any lovely jubbly thing.

    Doesn’t mean i won’t mute the screen and watch those scenes without the dialogue 🙂 Maybe RA is closing his eyes because he really cant believe himself what is coming out of his mouth. Nice embrace and kiss, even if not in keeping with anything we know about the characters.
    Apart from Daniel, costume department landed an epic fail! What was Valery wearing, what was the awful unfitting and non-matching thing Esther had to wear and the IT guy in that shirt.. come on.
    Don’t know about Daniel, but this could drive anyone to drink!
    Don’t believe a jot Hector shoots although that’s clearly what they imply. Maybe Lena did it, haven#t seen anything from next ep but where would she get a gun, from the daddy place they tossed? Wouldn’t put it past them, no need to ask any rational questions at this point.
    Thing is i don’t care, shoot her, don’t shoot her, maybe finally the lot will get sacked, end of.
    PS I would like Valery to catch Emmerich red handed and punch him or something, would be nice to get some minor satisfaction although i do like him as an actor 😉 That scene was good in spite of me not believing either that he didn’t have better coffee in house.

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    • Well, if you believe what Hanes said about Gerhardt, maybe he somehow arranged an assassination to prevent his role in funding the the terrorists to come out. Other option would be that Esther Krug arranged something — although the BfV going rogue in Germany isn’t especially credible either. So we’re kind of back to no one having a motive that would be credible i the real world.

      coffee: IKR? Every German believes they make the best coffee at home in their houses, except for what they can get beim Italiener.

      Liked by 1 person

      • genau 🙂 and yes i suspect we will be erm.. ‘surprised’ by what comes next… taking KG out through killing would make little sense. And everything in me shouts NO to something like this being put on any screen, what are they trying to say? About politics in Europe, about the CIA? However i’m split between being irritated about the ridiculousness of their ideas and just don’t caring anymore about any of the characters. I feel angry at myself for watching something i would never go back to if it weren’t for RA 😦

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        • How about: Hanes is paying Hector to take Gerhardt out? 🙂

          You kind of can’t think they’re actually saying anything about actual politics in Germany — all we see of politics is fake TV newscasts, a far-Right politician, a terrorist and his daughter, and the CIA.

          Liked by 1 person

          • and a fake BBC voice from the off (didn’t mention it as i don’t think it was noticeable for anyone 😉 but it bugged the hell out of me as it s such a fake accent it gave me a rash!) I’d expect to see a lot more local TV things on those CIA screens but they seem to have given up on the idea of anyone in the office speaking German, which again seems unprofessional.

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            • Well. Hmmm. I may get in trouble for saying this. I know many Americans who speak extremely fluent German, some who have Germany in their family pasts in different ways and some who learned it for professional or scholarly reasons, and I even know several who speak Hochdeutsch perfectly in an accent-neutral way (i.e., they have no regional coloration to their speech). I also have a former student who works in the US consulate in Frankfurt aM and they have to pass a high level exam in written, spoken, and aural comprehension of the language. She shared with me some of their “homework” which included preparing a transcription of “Hart aber Fair” episodes that involved so much talking over each other that I suspect even native speakers would have had a hard time understanding it as well as she did. So I agree — American officials in Germany can and do speak German well.

              That said: I don’t know how much of the fan talk the showrunners read, but I was in a very small minority of being impressed by the way German was used in the first season and how well the American actors did speaking a language they didn’t understand. The majority of German fans, I would say, were annihilating on that topic. Like 80 percent negative. It stunned me because as someone who had been a language learner in and out of Germany I had never in my life been exposed to that level of negativity about (white) foreigners’ German. It shocked me. I shelved posts I had drafted and stopped writing about it, in fact, because I found it too exhausting to defend my point. (Shrugs.)

              However, the American audience doesn’t need to see that to find a show convincing — it’s not like they can judge anyway. “Our” cultural imperialism makes us believe we’ll be understood anywhere, anyway. That stuff was only there for a potential German audience anyway and the critiques were scorching. If I’d been the showrunner, and I’d read what the German Armitage fans were saying, I’d have shelved it, too.

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              • Oh i didn’t read all that, or wasn’t aware it was so largely negative. I assumed pretty mike like you experience that to work in a foreign country one was required to have a decent speaking level of it. I actually thought they didn’t do badly, Kirsch had good German on the occasions when he got to use it and i think i remember Hector using some as well etc. I thought Rich’s could have been better but at the end of the day it is a matter of exercise and practicing lines and such. I found it realistic that we at least got to see them use it occasionally. At least i liked it 🙂 Because i appreciate them making the effort etc It was like an extra if you will, going a bit above and beyond just the bare essentials and i think most of them used it a little bit across the season. It’s completely absent this time round which i noticed in a way even more because the German actors used English in instances where it seemed improbable. Too bad people were so negative overall, i don’t think the audience however would have had the same reaction. But i haven’ seen general comments in press or such about the series with comments on that aspect. Just wondering given that it’s only now it is actually available there legally.
                To me it was nice that not only did they enjoy working there but they made quite a bit of effort in my opinion to use a language in context that may have required it in spite of the difficulties of learning those lines in a language which they didn’t speak. It may have made me smile at times, but i did respect their effort.
                I know we tend to scrutinize what RA does in detail 🙂 We always worry and comment about his American accent, his French one, any language that he uses in fact but i think it’s mostly from a perspective of appreciating his effort with it and he always gets better and tends to persist, which i really like. I’m split as i know i can be quite critical myself about the subject but i do appreciate the effort and i realise it is very time consuming and ultimately costly for a production and it is not typical to require actors to use a foreign language (i think). The challenges of filming abroad and in a context like this, not easy decision to make. They must have had discussions about it for sure early last season and its nice that the cast wanted to go there. Personally, i was looking forward to hearing more as i was sure everyone got better at it, especially with living there so many months. Makes me sad to think we might have put them off, as i love the idea of people learning and speaking new languages. Well, one thing learned for me i guess as well, to be more tolerant in general about accents/languages on film.

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                • I think of all the accents, Valerie’s was the most problematic, but by what I can judge, it was still all better than the Russian used on Spooks.

                  I really don’t know that we (as in, the fandom) did it — I didn’t follow their following o/s of the Armitage fandom so I only know what “we” said.

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              • I did not follow season 1 when it was first broadcasted in Germany but watched it just some weeks ago. At this time I came across your analyses of RA speaking German and I really enjoyed reading them. I was looking forward to get more of that with season 2. Therefore I was quite disappointed that they (the non-German actors) virtually don´t speak any German at all. It seemed rather implausible to me that suddenly all of the CIA spies in Germany should have forgotten their German skills. And those skills are, of course, something I expect from a spy working here. Anyway, maybe you have pointed out the reason for the lack of German in this season so far. Actually, I wasn´t aware that there was that much criticism about the foreign actors speaking German. And I can hardly believe it. Because I and most people I know normally appreciate it when someone from abroad speaks some German. I´m actually always surprised because I don´t expect it from anyone (let alone to expect anyone to speak it perfect). So it´s a pity that maybe because of those critics they shelved the German and we won´t have the chance to read more of your analyses because even I could learn something new from it.
                P.S. However, if someone would criticize my accent/pronunciation I´d do everything to improve it but wouldn´t stop speaking (although this might not be a suitable way for a tv-production).

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                • Last night we got, “Hanna, ist Dein Papa zuhause?” It was really sweet and he sounded great — I’d give him 90 percent anyway.

                  I may go back to them eventually. Looks like we’re now going to have another long dry spell without new work to consume. I’ve got a lot of post topics jotted down. I’ve just been in such a horrible mood for months that it’s been a sturgge to write about anything that isn’t pressing.

                  And, thanks — I’m glad the analyses were interesting to you. I really think the question of how we make sounds is fascinating. It’s always interested me that my brother can make the Spanish “rr” with no trouble while I have to knock myself out to get it halfway right. My mother always said it was because he played with trucks and had to make truck noises 🙂

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                  • Just watched episode 8 and yes, it was so cute and he did really well. So I would not complain about some more 🙂. Even though I would really like to read more of your analyses I didn´t mean to urge you in any way.
                    Didn´t watch Spooks, yet, and didn´t know about RA speaking Russian (you mentioned to Hariclea above). Anyway, this sounds quite interesting to me as well so I should check it out soon.
                    About your Spanish “rr”: seems you should have played more with cars when you were a child 😉.

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                    • It’s mostly Spooks 7.1 iirc — which is a great episode anyway, I think; definitely one of my favorite Richard Armitage moments is in there.

                      trucks: yeah. In general, I probably would have been a more successful adult had I spent more time around toy trucks 🙂

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  9. oh and the thing April tossed was a USB stick, i have one exactly like that and yes it’s got big data on it! like Gs of photos…. and vid! from social media no less!.. ffs….
    Oh and in the end of all people at hand and her superiors April turns to Hector !!!!!! who didn’t listen to any rational/moral argument when she spoke to him…

    How on earth this got from script (apologies to writers everywhere for insulting your work by calling this thing a script too) to screen is beyond me…

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    • I feel like the whole Thomas Shaw plot was trying to insist to us that Hector was the moralist in this show (there are other indications of that as well). But yeah, I’d say he has no moral compass.

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      • It felt more vindictive than moralistic… but that’s down to the ambiguous writing. But at least shady as he was there was clarity around his shadiness. It was all quite cold in emotion but at least it made sense. Once arrived in Berlin his behaviour has started to make less and less sense. And i fail to follow why Lena keeps coming back and doesn’t run away for good, feels like a lot of time has been wasted, especially in the last 2 eps, as was in 2,3 an 2.4.
        If anyone has a moral compass in this show it is Valerie.

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  10. oh and a quick google search will tell anyone you can dry out most devices these days… as we know from literally countless TV series the only and most likely effective way to destroy devices permanently is to burn them. And i’ll stop there.. apart from the appalling politics, what bugs me is the pretense of technology magic with such poor and silly examples.

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  11. After watching episode 7, I really can’t understand Daniel and Esther. These characters are suppose to be the consummate spies, I can only summized that they are both using each other (for the obvious and unobvious). They need each other to complete their own agendas. Personally, I don’t like the relationship; it leaves me cold. The sex scenes are steamy but I don’t buy into their attempts to salvage a true relationship. I am more likely to buy into Emmerich and Valerie.

    And, who took the shot?! I didn’t get to see the scenes from the next week’s episode.

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  12. Tja, es sieht so aus als wäre hier der Name BS zum Programm geworden :/ Zum Glück sind es nur noch zwei Folgen!!!!

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  13. ich muss hier mal aus deutscher Sicht eine Lanze für die Mitarbeiter des BfV brechen: NIEMAND kleidet sich da so “ausgewählt” wie Esther Krug! Und nicht etwa, weil die beim BfV einen so wahnsinnig dollen Geschmack hätten. Kann ich ja auch garnicht beurteilen. Allerdings beurteilen kann ich, wann amerikanische Ausstatter komplett an der deutschen Wirklichkeit vorbeikleiden. Deutsche ziehen sich nicht an wie Amerikaner. Nicht besser, nicht schlechter, anders. Lässt sich scher greifen, aber sofort erkennen, wenn man mit deutschen Augen schaut.

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  14. […] from here. These posts contain spoilers. PLEASE do not read them if you are not watching concurrently with […]

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