Berlin Station 2: Right in the Middle

**SPOILERS** So, here I am, with five episodes behind me and five (or maybe only four?) ahead. In Canada, Episode 6 airs on Monday. (Sorry… couldn’t resist the cheesy title… “right” in line with those of the show.) Averaging out my scoring of the episodes, also brings me to a middling rating. Would I continue watching if Richard Armitage weren’t in it? Doubtful.

BS S2 Graph

I had hoped to get my husband interested in watching it too, but apparently comments like, “The best thing about it is the opening sequence with the Bowie song” and “I was so bored that I went to bed halfway through episode 3” just didn’t make him want to watch it! Go figure!

I really think the show suffers from a lack of consistency, due to the constant changes in writers and directors. They’ve added some female writers/directors, which is good to see, although I’m not sure how much difference it’s made, except maybe in Episode 5, where there were more emotional scenes and even BB Yates seemed more realistic. I’ve found overall, though, that there is little depth to most of the characters, and some of the personal details the writers have added are just not very interesting or don’t seem plausible.

For easy reference, I decided to list the writers/directors so far as noted by IMDb, along with my overall comments on the episodes:

Episode 1: Everything’s Going to Be Alt-Right: Directed by Christoph Schrewe; written by Tony Basgallop and Bradford Winters. The season started out fairly okay with this episode, other than some issues with plot, dialogue, and the BB Yates character, as I described here.

Episode 2: Right Here, Right Now: Directed by John David Coles; written by Tony Basgallop. I liked this episode a lot, with the focus on the tense interactions between Daniel Miller, Hector DeJean, Lena Ganz, and Otto Ganz. There is also some exciting action thrown into the mix.

Episode 3: Right to the Heart: Directed by John David Coles; written by Kiersten Van Horne. I found this episode to be extremely boring for the most part, and I did actually go to bed halfway through, picking it up the next day. Richard Armitage is only in one scene, as most of the action apparently occurs simultaneously with the previous episode.

BS BB Yates Yoga CultEpisode 4: Do the Right Thing: Directed by Bronwen Hughes; written by Larry J Cohen. Again pretty boring, but maybe a bit less so than Episode 3, in large part because Richard Armitage reappears. But the whole BB Yates new age yoga cult thing? Ridiculous and not believable (even though I get that this is supposed to be a spy mission as well) — to me this doesn’t connect at all to her personality as presented in the current timeline.

Episode 5: Right of Way: Directed by Bronwen Hughes; written by Lara Shapiro. If the whole series had the pacing, excitement, and emotional scenes that this episode does, I would be watching it on its own merits, instead of just for Richard Armitage. The emotional scenes with Otto Ganz (Thomas Kretschmann) in the truck and with Lena Ganz (Emilia Schüle) are very well-acted. Nice to see those actors getting a chance to really shine. I even appreciated Ashley Judd’s acting in this one.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, my thoughts on the characters are:

BS Esther and DanielThe script makes it difficult to really get a handle on Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage), as it is hard to see the line between the spy and, his cover, Trevor Price. At least this season, Armitage has a bit more to work with in the script and can make use of his expressive face and eyes. And I enjoy the scenes with Esther Krug (Mina Tander), although I’m not sure yet where they are leading. For me, Armitage certainly makes the show visually interesting, but he is sorely missed in some of the episodes. In Season 1, I had the impression that Daniel Miller might not be all that great a spy, and that seems to be proving true in Season 2 as well. He makes mistakes and things seem to go wrong for him. He acts quite nervous and not ruthless enough, in my opinion, and I’m not sure that his superiors would always be pleased with his performance.

BS Valerie and JosephI am really enjoying Valerie Edwards (Michelle Forbes) this season. She is an agent  in control and is mentoring the less experienced but smart April Lewis (Keke Palmer), whose character (and acting) brings some freshness to the show. I like the interactions between Valerie and Joseph Emmerich (Heino Ferch), her asset and love (?) interest. There is chemistry there…

BS BB Yates and Robert…Unlike between BB Yates (Ashley Judd) and Robert Kirsch (Leland Orser). I don’t find their drinking together and sleeping together believable, on a number of levels. I see no chemistry there whatsoever, and I don’t believe that a station chief would sleep with her second-in-command. Mind you, I don’t find much about BB Yates to be credible, except for her obvious distress as the mission is going all wrong in Episode 5.

I still am enjoying the Robert Kirsch character, though, but there is questionable scripting, with the BB Yates thing and Kirsch’s ongoing connection with Steven Frost (Richard Jenkins). While I didn’t mind the Frost character in Season 1 and even at the beginning of this season, it has deteriorated to ridiculousness, with weird dreams and pointless “spying”. Oh and of course playing video games with Kirsch’s son, Noah Kirsch (Brandon Spink), who doesn’t seem to have much other purpose so far.

I still like Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans), although the best episode so far for his character has been Episode 2, plus the scene where he confronts Robert Kirsch in Episode 4. I can at least see the point of him being brought back for Season 2, which is more than I can say for the Steven Frost character.

I am trying really hard to like Berlin Station, and some of the episodes are pretty engaging, but when you have to try this hard, it’s a sign. I haven’t heard anything about a third season, but I’m really hoping this season will be the last.

11 thoughts on “Berlin Station 2: Right in the Middle

  1. I agree, episode 4 made me go “What in blazes..?” Also, seeing Sam Trammell in a show with Michelle Forbes gave me warm memories of True Blood season 2. (So good.)

    However, this season does feel uneven and not for the multiple writers, just a lack of cohesion and nuance.

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    • I don’t think I watched True Blood beyond Season 1, even though it was good.
      Yeah, I think there are lots of reasons the season is uneven. Back story other than BB’s might help. Or continuity with last season, like Valerie’s boyfriend or Daniel’s family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was all set to explore Daniel’s backstory regarding his mother and it just got dropped. They hinted something else. I have a feeling this season might be it or they will kill off major characters, ie Daniel, and reboot the show.

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          • I’d reverse 1 and 2 (thought 2 was not as good as one), but agree 1, 2 and 5 are the only episodes that have really been worth the effort, even *for* an Armitage fan. I think the fundamental idea behind the season was a poor one for American audiences anyway (i.e., not relatable), and then it has been executed in a way that suggests that the showrunner himself doesn’t find the issue all that compelling. But it feels like there are fundamental errors here of timing, plot construction, and energy, as well as having way too many characters.

            The character I probably like the best / am most interested in is Valerie (oddly, because Michelle Forbes is a huge turn-off), followed by April. That said, I find the whole “does she love Emmerich? does she not?” thing highly annoying and I can’t believe that an experienced spy would really behave like a love-sick calf.

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            • I thought the idea behind the season sounded interesting but hasn’t been well done. The whole plot seems too simplistic. Where is Ganz’s infrastructure? Wouldn’t we have seen something of it rather than just his daughter and Armando, a hang-out house, and some guys to load the van? Why does he have to rely on a stranger for the explosives deal? etc. And I agree with what you’ve written about normalizing… there is no justification for normalizing the xenophobia and related terrorism activities, and yet that seems to be a goal here.

              As for Valerie, to this point I haven’t seen her acting love-sick, maybe just wanting a place of comfort and somehow finding that in him. But I agree that these spies do some things I would think experienced spies shouldn’t do.

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              • I’ve seen a bit more of it than you have — so I’ll wait till you catch up :). I also have a really low tolerance for romance / sentiment on screen, and I’m frankly tired of seeing screen iterations of the middle-aged professional woman who just really wants some lovin’ to make her life perfect. But that’s only one feature of her character, thankfully. I’m impressed that she stands up for herself and is resourceful and mentors April.

                re: interest level of the idea — if their first audience is Americans, frankly, less than 5% of Americans have any idea of what’s going on in German politics, or care about them. It was an interesting plot line for someone like me, potentially. But not really for the greater part of their target audience.

                Liked by 1 person

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