#BerlinStation 2×03 and 2×04: Slow But With Upsides [Quick Reviews/Spoilers]

The plan was to review every episode of BS properly and individually. However, it has occurred to me that there is no reason why I should spend extra time on something that doesn’t even have that much beefcake meat in it. Both episodes were on the meagre side for fans of Richard Armitage. The main action did not involve Daniel Miller, and with limited time at my disposal, I am choosing to forego the in-depth review. Just for completeness’ sake and before I move on to the much meatier episode 2×05, take this:

Episode 3

Lots of office spy stuff based in Berlin. Then, finally, Daniel returns to Berlin, goes for a little walk with Hector across Oberbaumbrücke. Jesus, you would think there are no other bridges in Berlin. End.

Ok, I jest, but in terms of Daniel, that is all that we saw in episode 3. However, just by way of a review, I’d like to note that the episode was based on a really interest concept: It turns out that 2×03 is actually not chronologically *after* episode 2×02, but *concurrent*. I.e., the action of 2×03 takes place at the same time as the previously shown 2×02 (Daniel in Spain). While I thought 2×03 was a bit of a snoozer, I still applaud BS for trying out innovative ideas. I presume that the initial plan would have been to conventionally edit the show to intersperse the Spain action with the Berlin plot. Logically it may have made more sense to isolate the two plot lines into individual episodes. Dramarturgically I am not so sure because 2×03 was really not that exciting…

I didn’t even take any screen shots here. Says it all.

Episode 4

In 2×04, BS really cranks the action and the suspense down. *yawn* Wow, what a snooze fest. We get the whole tragic back story of station chief BB Yates who is seen in flashbacks, investigating a cult in Switzerland. It turns out that she has a sob story of her own. Yawn. Are all CIA station chiefs traumatised? And *zzzzzzzzz* another reference to what it costs to be a spy. I thought we had been through that in season 1? So poor BB Yates is a self-chosen widow, having lost her fiancée shortly after the proposal due to a (manipulated?) car crash? Oh, come on, we had that storyline back in 1969, and tbh it worked much better (and certainly more original) with James Bond who tragically loses his just-married wife on the honeymoon…

But enough of the stream-of-consciousness rant. We need to talk about Kevin… eh… Daniel. First of all – dayYUM!

Really, I am trying very hard to suppress the feeling. By all means, that kind of outfit – bomber jacket, tight jeans worn in army boots – and look (the carefully-careless haircut with the extra short back and sides, the negligent beard) should nothing but *repel* me. As mentioned before, I am trying to gauge what it is, and here’s my theory: The short jacket with the waistband at the bottom emphasises the masculine shape: It bulks up the shoulders and biceps and then sits tight on the narrow hips. The tight jeans tucked into the high boots elongate the legs. That said, I doubt I would find this combo attractive on any other man…

Daniel plays Lena. BS 2×04

Anyway, where were we? Episode 4. The interesting bits: Daniel is stepping up the pressure on Lena. He has to find out the target of Otto’s attack – and he manipulates Lena by driving a wedge between her and daddy. However manipulative and questionable the strategy is, I did find Daniel’s psychological maneuvering very interesting to watch: He makes himself indispensable to Lena by helping her out with procuring a van, increasing the pressure by pretending to shoot a watchman when the theft of the van nearly goes wrong, then dropping hints about Lena’s failure to procure a van to daddy Ganz.

Also interesting: the continuing titillation between Daniel and Esther. The two of them may be leading each other on for the moment, but judging by how deeply those two look into each others’ eyes, there is still something there. Viewers who are familiar with season 1 of BS will pick up on those signs. It’s certainly one possible plot line that I would like to know more about.

Looking at each others’ lips… sure sign of…? Esther and Daniel in BS 2×04

Even though Daniel is not the main focus of this episode, some special mentions: As Servetus already remarked in her review of 2×04, the crew of BS seems to be having some fun with the props and backgrounds in the series. (That is actually something I also vaguely touched upon when I noticed a rather funny detail in the background of a shot in season 1.) Besides the Super Bock beer crates in the scene with Esther above, there was also this van driving along side Daniel and Lena:

Yep. There is an upside to this episode. Some nice Daniel/Trevor shots, I was particularly taken with the neck porn in picture 3. I screen capped lots, and I am going to use them.

Final words: Not enough Daniel, but lots of summer in Berlin. And that actually was beautiful to see. I am so glad that the city gets shown in more attractive weather than in season 1. Just because it deserves it.

February

18 thoughts on “#BerlinStation 2×03 and 2×04: Slow But With Upsides [Quick Reviews/Spoilers]

  1. I didn’t do a second rewatch yet (and taking notes for a blog post) but you summed it up rather nicely. I recently read a book and there was a cult mentioned (but I think from Austria) and the episode and story around BB Yates immediately reminded me of that one.
    I found myself rolling my eyes at the sob story. I don’t mind tragic backgrounds (for characters) but it gets so boring when *everyone* has one of those and/or handles it in the same way(s). For the sake of keeping a story interesting I wish writers would come up with something that leaves those “beaten tracks”.

    How do you manage to grab screenshots, by the way?
    Netflix tells me every time that I’m not allowed to because copyrights. *POUTS*

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    • Those sob stories become ineffectual once they are used too often – or in too obvious a pattern. Poor BB and her dead fiancée. Poor Daniel being beaten by his dad. Poor Steven Frost for being sacked. Poor Valerie whose boyfriend dumps her. Poor Robert who has domestic trouble with his wife. Honestly, this sounds more like a soap opera than a spy thriller!!!
      As for screenshots – I have noticed that Netflix disables screenshots, too. I watched this on a different medium, though.

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        • Nope, that’s exactly how you take screen shots – but Netflix has disabled the functionality somehow. You only get blacked-out screens if you take screen shots. There doesn’t seem to be a workaround for it – yet…

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          • It also disables itself if you try to run QuickTime or another screen recorder. I haven’t dug deeply into this problem but it doesn’t look like there’s any easy workaround.

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  2. Armitage’s hips aren’t very narrow — I think this outfit emphasizes his figure “problems.” Apart from, as you say, its associations.

    I’m trying to figure out who’s provoking whom in these scenes with Esther. This is only the second one. In the first one, I thought she was hoping for a quickie. I was less sure here, insofar as I read his movement into her space as mildly menacing rather than sexy.

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    • Well, male hips are narrower than female hips, and as such stand out to me. I don’t really think he has figure problems in this outfit – I find that it is often his suit jackets that emphasise his hips, or anything that is long but taken in at the waist.
      The situation with Esther is unclear… or maybe Armitage has put us on the wrong track with what he said in the interview at Paleyfest. Mind you, ‘complicated’ can mean a lot of things. I also thought that Esther was coming on to him much stronger than he was to her. The way she moved her head when she was talking to him, was classic female posturing. But well, the mutual, intense look at each others’ lips tells a different story. It’s hard to tell whether that is all intentional or arbitrary…

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      • His hips are narrower than women’s, but they’re not narrow by any means for a man’s. I think the outfit he’s wearing here is exactly why fashion people tell women with hips not to wear crop tops. It’s like drawing an arrow straight at the part that is sticking out, which has the effect of making it appear wider than it is.

        My memory of the interview (maybe it was a different one) was that he said their relationship would get more “abstract.” I extrapolated from that that they’re not having (much) sex this season. Which is sad. I don’t find their relationship very compelling but the sex scenes were good. I hope he gets to have sex with *someone*.

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        • Must be in the eye of the beholder. I didn’t find the bomber jacket emphasising his hips at all.
          In the interview he says “Daniel is deeply, deeply connected to Esther. It’s complicated.” The interesting thing about their relationship is that they are in the same job, on opposing sides, and now with slightly different power balance (Esther presumably a little higher up; even though not a superior to him, anyway). If he’s not having sex with her, I really, really hope that it will not be with Lena (although I can now see it heading that way…)

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          • 2:41, re: Esther: “You’re going to see that evolve into something a bit more abstract.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n5EfWYq9x8

            There’s also this, reporting that he said the relationship will be “sidelined.” I don’t know if that is her interpretation of the comment above or something that was cut from the interview. https://twitter.com/withanaccent/status/909238867605065728?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fmeandrichard.wordpress.com%2F2017%2F09%2F17%2Fdaniel-and-esther-richardarmitage%2F

            I find the relationship uninteresting because they are essentially similar people (and not very interesting ones, unfortunately, him somewhat less so than her, although that’ snot his fault). I don’t really feel any spark because while they happen to work for different agencies, there’s nothing different about their goals, aspirations, etc. To me, it’s essentially like two dentists in a relationship. I’m sure they are living happy lives, and they occasionally get into a power struggle about which furniture to put in their living rooms, but great drama is made of more significant conflict than that. But they looked nice together. I always really enjoy watching him play having sex.

            re: Lena — it looks like that’s where it could be going to me, too, although I have a sort of slim hope based on his mystification when Marlise Boland asked him about sex scenes that maybe there aren’t any here. (Just in the sense that I’d rather he have them with “Esther” than with “Lena.”

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            • Conflicting statements from the horse’s mouth then. Because what I wrote in my previous comment is a direct quote of him in conversation with Anglophile. From 1.57:


              What you say about Esther and Daniel being boring together is well-argued. However, I have to say I can’t tell whether they are really as similar as is suggested. They are keeping Daniel so vague, who *knows* what kind of passion and quirky weirdness is behind the veneer of the goody-goody patriot… (But ok, I don’t have high hopes that there is much of interest there. Maybe if Armitage released his Daniel Miller Pinterest Board, we’d get some proper insights into him…

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              • I don’t disagree re: it being a huge problem that we don’t know enough about him to know what truly moves him, although I have to say after watching fifteen hours now that I’m very tempted to conclude that the answer is what the show is telling us: nothing (this is also conformable to Milo Weaver in the Tourist, upon which this series sometimes seem to be modeled). We know a lot more about her, but still not much.

                But if I think about it for a second, the inevitable comparison is to Lucas’ North’s strange relationship with Sarah, the American spy with the strange accent from Spooks 8. They were similarly both spies for (ostensibly) friendly spy agencies and had some shared goals and some noticeable conflicts that reflected their agencies’ respective priorities. Yet the power struggle over their professional activities was not what drove the energy between them. Rather, it was a strong conflict over what they wanted from each other. While she was completely immersed in her spy role (as she wanted to suggest to him in the penultimate episode, out of fear of what would happen if she did not cooperate), he felt he was falling in love with her (or she caused him to feel something he hadn’t felt in a long time). He showed a lot of longing, and she behaved in ways intended to confuse him (intermittent rewards). There were a lot of writing problems in Spooks 8, no question, and a lot of people who didn’t like the character or her relationship with Lucas, but it was hard to contest that the intractable conflict over what they wanted from each other both more or less drove the second half of the series and tended to make the viewer truly sympathize with North. It didn’t leave people cold. Of course, we knew enough about him by that time to realize that it was credible to believe that he was love-starved.

                In contrast, Daniel and Esther want different flavors of the same thing (CIA bzw. BfV goals), and they enjoy having sex together. She seemed surprised that he was using her at the end of series 1, although he stated earlier in the series that he was using her right before they had sex the first time. It’s not really a conflict, not least because he didn’t seem to be participating in it at all and she only intermittently.

                re: Armitage’s statement: I guess I saw these three data points as not in very much conflict, or rather three pieces of the same story. People typically write “it’s complicated” about their relationships on FB in the sense that they are over but not quite over. Saying that Daniel is “deeply connected” sounded like a pacification to me in the sense of “if you liked this relationship, unfortunately we’re not continuing it in an explicitly visible version, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t mean anything to Daniel even if we’re not continuing it, and it will still lead to some tension.” [shrugs]

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                • I have been comparing with the Sarah/Lucas pairing, too. However, I have only ever watched Spooks properly (as in: full episodes, in sequence) *once*, so my impression of that particular relationship is not particularly clear. Moreover, my opinion is very much influenced by the fandom’s general dislike of Sarah Caulfield and criticism of Genevieve Reilly. There are parallels with the Esther/Daniel pairings – and there differences. But the Lucas/Sarah relationship was certainly pivotal – both for the plot, and for the fandom – in a way that Esther/Daniel are not.
                  Re. the statements – ok, I understand what you mean. I missed the subtle implications of “it’s complicated”. Non-native speaker issue. I took it literally. As with “deeply connected”.

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                  • Apart from the criticisms of her US accent, which was a disaster [the accent] and which were on point [the criticisms], I think the general fandom critique of Sarah / O’Reilly is deeply mistaken, particularly given what the people who did the episode commentaries said about it, but it started the year before I was a fan and I got tired of shouting against the wind. The vast majority of the fandom hated the character and decided to take it out on O’Reilly. TBH, I think, when Armitage makes statements about how he is not his characters, it’s precisely this kind of thing he would like to guard against (although he is also shouting against the wind when he does it).

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                    • That’s precisely what I meant – the criticism was already established by the time I discovered Spooks and RA. It certainly has influenced my way of reading that particular pairing Sarah/Lucas. It’s easy to see that Sarah’s character wouldn’t have gone down well with the audience – Lucas was a much-loved character, or in your words: love-starved. To see him manipulated and hurt by Sarah, was bound to turn the audience against the character (and somewhat unfairly against the actor who played her, bad accent or not)… As you said – it didn’t leave the audience cold… and emotionally charged the discussion.
                      Re. Armitage again and again pointing out that he is not the characters he plays – do you mean he is doing that in order to deflect criticism away from his female co-stars? Protecting them from the protectiveness of his own fans?

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                    • No: only that he’s seen multiple examples of people equating the character with the actor, not only in his own case, but in those of his co-stars.

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  3. Ill get back to the ooof as that deserves more attention than Eps 3+4 put together! And i probably shouldn’t watch 3eps in a row as they of course blend together i my brain , especially not watching at 2am! But seen together it felt very looooooong, i was so tempted to skip forward but stuck with it. It did make me miss S1 though which is not good. Seems to be going the opposite direction, whereas S1 somewhat got better after the first two. More thoughts to come as gotta run now 🙂

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