#BerlinStation 2×06: Rich in Clichés? [Review/Silliness/Spoilers]

Before I once again get behind with the reviews, I am going to do a free flow review of BS 2×06, foregoing a second viewing and checking up details. The reason: This is a first response – and as such my honest reaction to the episode. [WARNING: Contains spoilers and senseless silliness]

First impression

More Daniel than I thought. Because with the hints dropped by Leland Orser and Berlin Station on Twitter, I thought we might be focussing much more on Robert and Steven’s trip to Norway. As it is, their buddy comedy investigations in Norway only take up half of the episode, interspersed with the plot as it involves the other characters. As there are:

BB Yates is getting ready to leave Berlin, having been recalled to Langley thanks to Ambassador Hanes’ meddling. She gets Valerie on board, though, essentially getting her to go rogue by dismissing her from the team, yet keeping an eye on her protégée, April. In an attempt to keep Lena hidden, Hector has actually lost her. She is intent on wreaking revenge on Katerina Gerhardt. Finding her again, Hector seems to be willing to help her with an assassination attempt. Lastly, Daniel has been traumatised by the failed op. Wrecked by guilty feelings, he is not quite himself, and he seeks solace from Esther.

Distressed Daniel. BS 2×06

The Low-Down

So let’s jump right in with Daniel. Some very fan-girl compatible scenes here in 2×06 with Daniel taking showers and prancing around in his apartment (not the kip we initially saw him in in 2×01 – which begs the question when did he have time to move into a new flat? Why is he not in his previous apartment in Wedding?). I was already mystified why Daniel – CIA agent, clever man, who has certainly witnessed a good bit of violence already – is sentimental about Otto Ganz, whose photos are still pinned to his wall? Legacy of Ganz – “leader, father, terrorist” – this stuff is making me squirm because I am still finding it way too apologetic for the fate of a neo-Nazi thug. I get that the show is trying to highlight the fact that you need to fear the middle-class, educated neo-Nazis (personified by Katerina Gerhardt, Joseph Emmerich) as much if not more than the dumb neo-Nazi plebs and thugs. Yet painting Otto as the victim of the bad, yet respectable Katerina Gerhardt, is just too simplistic. And downright dangerous. Otto’s actions/plans were deplorable, full stop. Whether he is loving father or a wronged orphan, does not come into this. Remember – the SS officers in Auschwitz were loving fathers, too! So why is Daniel even thinking about Ganz?

Despairing Daniel. BS 2×06

Desperate Daniel. BS 2×06

His attitude becomes even clearer in a later scene with Esther, when a distraught Daniel turns up at Esther’s house, drunk and desperate. He beats himself up over Otto having been shot – quite literally, by the way – and wishes he had been able to save the man. Purportedly to make him give evidence against Gerhardt and thus get her. But once again, this scene really gives mixed messages on what Daniel really means. It comes across as if he wanted to save the man – rather than nail Katerina hold your thoughts, ladies – NOT *that* way! I keep thinking back to what RA kept pointing out in the promo interviews – that Trevor’s opinions are not Daniel’s, and that he himself was keen on bringing his *own* politics to bear on the character of Daniel, too. In the light of Daniel’s behaviour in this episode, I am wondering whether RA was unhappy with what he had to portray – and whether that means that Daniel had genuinely warmed towards Otto? I do not like that idea – Otto is bad, and that is that. There is no way to sugarcoat it, and Berlin Station is doing extremely badly by posthumously making Otto an ambiguous character.

And all of this is put into even sharper relief by the fact that for the first time in one and a half seasons of Berlin Station, this is the context where Daniel is shown as a man with some psychological depth behind the beardy veneer. Honestly, at this point, the writing of the series is not just grating on me. It did that right from season 1 when it became clear that for all the “starring Richard Armitage” Daniel was never developed as the lead character or the figure of identification of the piece. Now it almost looks as if the writers are taking the piss. The formerly ice-cold lead character who didn’t miss a beat when a woman was killed due to his meddling, or scruplelessly sent an (admittedly abominable) Chinese defector to his death in order to force Thomas Shaw’s hand, or who put on a suitably shocked face when his ‘partner’ mercilessly wreaked lynch justice on a criminal yet did *nothing* to stop him, NOW this very same guy is losing sleep over a neo-Nazi thug and killer? Is it deliberate that this makes Daniel look like a closet sympathiser of the PfD? Or is this just shoddy writing?

Drink Daniel. BS 2×06

I mean, FFS, Berlin Station – you have got some class actors there. And you have Armitage who is busting his arse to give Daniel some personality. And yet you come up with clichés that don’t even make sense? Sob stories that are not really in keeping with the characters you created in season 1? Plus consistent overshadowing of the lead character by Hector who is calling the shots (quite literally), telling Daniel to stay put, and mothering him like a flustered hen? Then there is that stupid Hollywood stuff of making people resort to alcohol whenever there is stress. I mean, Daniel has extraordinarily good taste in gin (Hendricks – you can’t go wrong with that), but in the morning, and from a tea-cup? Or later in the day with Vodka, just to get him drunk enough to seek Esther’s compassion? Not to mention Nick Fisher who is fresh out of bed and first thing gets a glass of scotch with ice from his freshly stocked ice-cooler? Pur-lease. Or Daniel getting so enraged about Otto’s Nazi memorabilia that he puts his fist through a picture frame, cutting himself badly? I mean, who *willingly* risks injury just in order to show frustration? Less is more, and BS is really laying it on too thick at this stage.

Doubtful Daniel. BS 2×06

Whatever was lacking in season 1, BS is now trying to rectify – and going completely overboard on the clichés. Season 1 often felt slightly anaemic to me – not fully fleshed out, despite the convoluted plot. And now there seems to be a surplus of drama. From heavy drinking to honey traps and traumatised operatives – sorry, but a lot of this is actually actively contradicting the characters who are forced to play this plot.
I think I could accept all this – if it weren’t for the super-dodgy way the script is dealing with Otto and the neo-Nazi question. I acknowledge that this may stand out to me more because – like Otto actually pointed out – I have grown up with collective guilt, and I feel personally responsible for never EVER letting something like the Third Reich happen again. But I still think that it is careless to create ambiguity over a subject that is not ambiguous.

Distraught Daniel. BS 2×06

What I liked

Douching Daniel. BS 2×06. (Ok, that’s a German pun. It may not work that well in English…)

Rant over and that said – I *did* like some things in this episode. The cinematography was great again, and in that respect, the script is really giving Hagen Bogdanski something to work with: Never mind how silly the story line of the two trenchcoated (!! really, how clichéd can you get???) middle-aged agents escaping by way of a canoe may be honestly, I find it hard to even write this…, but the majestic fiord as a location certainly gave scope to some fantastic shots. On the other end of the spectrum you get Valerie taking a bath in a big, blacked-out flotation tank (???) and the camera goes onto the same level with her from within the pool; or there is Daniel washing away the dirt from the failed op, being watched by the camera from above – the aesthetics of these shots are brilliant.

Delightful Daniel (in combination with Esther). BS 2×06

Acting wise, there were also performances I really liked – I loved that Mina Tander was Esther (literally) without a mask on. Somehow Esther at home was way more real than polished, high-heeled, smoking-like-a-vamp “official” Esther, and she reacts with feeling to the sight of Daniel falling apart. Armitage as Daniel, OTOH, had a really difficult task in this episode, because he had to say some rather stupid things and to me it looked as if he occasionally struggled to find the right way of playing Daniel. Some of the emotional outburst at Esther’s subsequently is brilliant acting – from the little (drunk) stumble as he turns around to start talking to Esther, to the last bit where his text sounds like a  stream of consciousness and he almost speaks faster than his own thoughts, not waiting for Esther’s reply but launching from his rant into a despaired “I can’t do this anymore” in one breath. In between are a couple of moments where I winced – something didn’t quite ring true there for me, and with the words disjointed with my idea of Daniel, I found some acting choices jarring. It begs the question – as mentioned above – whether Armitage himself had qualms about some of the words he had to say for Daniel… Because he is usually so on-point in his acting that over-emphasised gestures or subtly wrong tones of voice are a rarity.

To end on a high note, I do have to say that I am glad to see some sort of emotion happening in BS. Finally they are delivering on their much cited “what it costs to be a spy” (even if it is not quite to my liking). I am interested in seeing Daniel and Esther’s relationship progressing further, and I want to see how Valerie is going to deal with being involved (?) with a man of questionable political beliefs.

Special Mentions

Denuded Daniel. BS 2×06

Delicious Daniel [clavicle]. BS 2×06

and this lucky cap that my Twitter buddies have already seen but which I really love:

Double Daniel. BS 2×06. (There’s a clichéd twist Guylty would whole-heartedly approve of. If anything for double the candy…)

PS: If you are the kind of reader who likes and notices silly little inside jokes such as repetitive photo captions that all start on the letter D, then this is your bonus:

____________ Daniel. [YOUR CAPTION HERE]

36 thoughts on “#BerlinStation 2×06: Rich in Clichés? [Review/Silliness/Spoilers]

  1. I can’t watch but I am reading everything! and this looks disturbingly like the ‘John Bateman’ scenario from Spooks 9.
    It is known for operatives to assimilate too well if they are undercover for a long time but this story seems to span a few days, it seems incomprehensible for Daniel to behave as he has.

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    • Tbh, as annoying as the John Bateman scenario was, it only became such a betrayal because the writers had fleshed out Lucas so throroughly and nicely that this sudden new identity didn’t make sense. With Daniel, he was never a fleshed-out character. What do we know about him that tells us he *isn’t* in fact a neo-Nazi supporter? (I don’t think he is – he’s probably just confused – but nonetheless, BS has never really given Daniel any psychological depth.)
      In any case, I just think his emotional reaction in 2×06 is completely out of proportion with a) what has happened and b) his previous record as a fairly cold fish…

      Liked by 2 people

    • If Ganz was involved with Daniel’s mother’s death, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where that would cause him to admire Ganz. Also, if this were the case, it would seem more likely than not (given that Esther gave Daniel the whole BfV dossier on Daniel’s mother’s death in season 1) that both Esther and Daniel would have a clue to this by now. As it is if any plot line like this gets sprung on us, it will not seem very credible.

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  2. Did we ever find out why Daniel was in Panama? Now if it had been Argentina he might have had a Nazi link isn’t that where lots of Nazi’s flourished after WW2

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    • That’s a good point. Two good points, actually…
      Yup, the Panama story has never been properly tied up. Well, maybe he was not in Panama but in Paraguay??? That would also make sense for some Nazi connections. *huffs*

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  3. Maybe (with a long e at the end) Daniel is less distressed about “the good guy Ganz” but the orphan Lena. He just has a strange way to word it. What with Daniel losing his mother… he can relate… It’s a thought that crossed my mind when watching it but I haven’t done a second rewatch yet.

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    • Possible. Or actually, that is probably what the script is trying to sell to us otherwise. I.e. Daniel is protective of Lena because he knows what she is going through. Strange sentimentalities…

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          • Fair distinction — but to me the one implies the other. Someone who uses his genuine life experiences to manipulate someone politically in this way acts cynically, in the sense that he ignores the generally accepted purposes of recounting emotional experiences.

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  4. I’m afraid I didn’t find any of the last Armitage/Tander scene convincing: the script, the acting, the outcome. It is probably in my bottom ten of all Armitage scenes ever. He seemed to me to be acting, to the point that I wondered if he was really just playing some sort of game on Esther.

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    • There were parts in the scene that I found heavy-handed in terms of acting choices. And yes, it looked as if he was ‘acting’. If he is playing Esther, then that would explain it. It would also be yet another convoluted twist. But let’s face it – the romantic entanglement is definitely thrown in there to keep the lady audience happy *hehe*. It works for me – but I’m shallow like that.

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      • Oh, I’m happy to watch them in a clinch. I just try to leave that separate from everything else. I mean, I was happy to watch him with Shelly Conn in Strike Back even though nothing about that was realistic.

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  5. I didn’t think Daniel had a strong attachment to Ganz or his beliefs. I thought he regretted Ganz’s death as loss of a potentially invaluable CIA asset and the fact that he he talked him into surrendering, then Ganz had his brains blown out before he could do so. The plot point that bothered me the most was his non reaction to Armando”s (remember him?) murder. This guy (a fellow spy who was presumably one of the good guys) saved his life by confiscating Daniel’s bug, and Daniel lied to Esther about not knowing where he is. When is he going to reveal that information?

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    • IDK, in that scene with Esther, Daniel is blaming himself so much over Otto’s death, it looks as if he has regrets that go beyond being annoyed with having lost a valuable, potential witness. I agree that he isn’t a full-blown neo-Nazi. But the point for me is that the scene is far too ambiguous to make that clear.
      His non-reaction to Armando’s murder is a good point. I also don’t really understand *why* he is not telling Esther the truth. It’s not as if he attacked/killed Armando, so why keep it secret?

      Liked by 1 person

      • For me, Daniel’s catalogue of regrets becomes overwhelming because Ganz’s death had a domino effect of giving the right wingers more power in the government.But he does sound like he had some kind of emotional connection with Ganz, while conveniently forgetting he saw Ganz murder Armando in cold blood and he was a genuinely bad dude. Daniel’s inability to take down the pictures seems like there is something about Ganz he can’t let go of. I also thought his dismay that Ganz was shot was a little naive. He said Ganz should have gone to prison like most terrorists, but many don’t make it that far. They get shot first. Ganz did seem about to surrender to the police, thanks to Daniel’s heartfelt efforts. But when he reached for the phone/perceived detonator, that is the predictable outcome when one is surrounded by snipers. Maybe Daniel should have put it on speaker. I think Daniel, as a CIA operative, is overreacting to Ganz’s death. I hope we find out why.

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        • I’ve been wondering about this, too — and maybe this really is the result of the confusion in writing. I can see being really upset about one’s role in the outcome of an election that could be earth-shattering. I don’t think that the symptoms of that would be those of conventional response to trauma (flashbacks, etc.); I think they would be more like anger, depression, possibly substance abuse, etc. I can also see Daniel being upset about the death of Otto Ganz, or the manner of his death — this would seem to be more consistent with the symptoms Daniel experiences. It’s just politically objectionable and not very consistent with the character of Daniel.

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  6. Mieterhöhung! 😂 Das bringt einen doch sofort wieder auf den Boden der Tatsachen zurück.
    Nix mehr mit einem hochtraumatisierten CIA-Agenten, der sich ob eines braunen Terroristen unverhältnismäßig emotionalisiert. Ich könnte verstehen, wenn die schiere Nähe einer Erschießung traumatisch wirkt. Aber dieses “er war ein guter Vater”, sorry, da kann ich nur müde kichern. Nein, komplett falsch und unglaubwürdig. Hat Daniel hier schon so ein Stockholm-Syndrom-Dings zu Ganz entwickelt, oder was? Vielleicht ist das auch ein Oslo-Syndrom? Wer weiß das schon.
    Ich finde auch, dass die deutsche Crew vergleichsweise glaubwürdig agiert. Die sind komplett natürlich drauf. Bis auf die hoch-vervampte Mina Tender. Himmel, laufen deutsche Verfassungsschutzbeamte im Aussendienst allen Ernstes so gekleidet herum? Das sieht auf eine gewisse Weise spießig aus (Farben fragwürdig, Blusen ein Desaster) und dann wieder pseudo “elegant” (Hauptsache Stilettos).
    Ob das so richtig recherchiert wurde?

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    • Also, irgendein Syndrom hat er. Es sei denn, er spielt da jetzt um drei Ecken herum ein anderes Spiel mit Esther. Aber allein schon die Szene im Lieferwagen mit Otto hatte schon sehr fragwürdige Sympathisanten-Anwandlungen. Ich hab das allein da schon nicht verstanden, warum er plötzlich die Katze aus dem Sack lässt.
      Also, über Mode kann ich mal wieder nichts sagen. Aber die Hacken sind mir schon bei allen Damen aufgefallen. Naja, wahrscheinlich haben wir da falsche Vorstellungen von der Tätigkeit als Spion und glauben, die müssen dauernd rennen und springen. Machen die heute alles nicht mehr selbst, sondern haben da ihre Sklaven für.

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  7. A great review! Thanks for sharing! I agree with you on many points–particularly that Berlin Station has more “meatiness” to it this year–with both plots and character development. Though as you pointed out, that development wobbles a bit here and there.

    When I watched Daniel unravel in S2Epi6 that aired last Sunday–and him waxing nostalgic about Otto Ganz–I instantly thought “Stockholm Syndrome”. Daniel had been “embedded” with Lena and then Otto–having to gain their trust and become “one of them”. Yet as an experienced spy in Daniel, wouldn’t he be trained to resist becoming acculturated to his target?

    Or, did Daniel’s devastating experience of the car explosion death of his mother as he was growing up, somehow contribute to Daniel’s feelings of loss of Otto, for Lena’s sake. If they had slanted the reactions of Daniel in this episode to convey that possibility of explaining his behavior as PTSD–or something else equally as plausible–that would have helped a bit.

    P.S. I gotta reblog this. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, some kind of Scandinavian syndrome 😂.
      I think they *are* actually implying that Daniel is suffering from some kind of trauma due to the experience of Otto being shot. I’m not sure that makes it more plausible, though. I would’ve thought that an agent is suitably distanced from his targets than to get emotionally affected. It really makes no sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was my conundrum as well–about Daniel becoming unhinged. But Daniel’s mother being blown up was mentioned and then not developed in Series 1, so it seemed like a logical “trigger” for Daniel’s reaction to Otto’s killing and his connection to Otto’s daughter Lena. Although, the writing did not make that connection in episode 6. so that is just my supposition–in wanting more of an explanation for Daniel’s PTSD type of state. Perhaps we’ll learn more in a followup episode. We can only hope. Cheers! Grati ;->

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      • I honestly think that this is somewhat getting caught up in “audience reading” problems and I was thinking about this today. What happens if we look at what happens in the series vs our own reactions to it? (This definitely affected me on first watch, anyway.) We’re so used to depictions of PTSD on screen that we see Daniel reacting to trauma and automatically conclude “it’s PTSD.” For Daniel to have PTSD he would have to be experiencing these symptoms for at least a month. (This is something real people who are exposed to trauma are starting to get angry about: you don’t automatically get PTSD because of exposure to trauma). So some reaction to stress in a situation like this (near death, blood spatter on his face, etc.) would be entirely normal — flashbacks, wishing it could have ended differently and so on. What’s hard to understand is the emotional baggage that Daniel seems to be placing on it and there we are back in the realm of either characterization (Daniel wouldn’t act this way) or politics (are they trying to imply that sympathy with Otto Ganz is somehow normal or desirable?).

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  8. Pingback: Reblogging Guylty’s Review of “Berlin Station 2×06: Rich in Cliches?  [Review/Silliness/Spoilers],November 16, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1116) | Something About Love (A)

  9. Speaking as one who follows second hand wouldn’t the death of his mother be so traumatic that the last thing he would become would be a spy. in series 1 where he says it was the only thing he was ‘good ‘at, honestly who tries out a career like that lol lazy writing imo.

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    • That’s a good point. Yet you could turn it around the other way – because his mother’s death was caused by spies, he decides to become one of them and unravel the system from within. Or to make sure that such things do not happen again? Well, there are always ways of explaining. But I think you are putting your finger on it when you say that lazy writing is at the bottom of it…

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    • This is a common statement, actually. It’s something Armitage has said about his own life — acting is the only thing he thought he could do / would be good at. It’s something that a lot of people in very highly competitive professions will say about their experiences. I don’t think it’s lazy writing.

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  10. I sympathized with Daniel and I understand his strong connection with Otto Ganz’s. In their brief encounter to one another they formed friendship, brotherly bond or even so a family. Daniel mentioned his father beats him up whenever he made mistakes. Daniel was psychologically traumatized and yearning for a fatherly love or image. When Lena told him about her father’s past it somehow struck him that despite all he managed to raised a daughter but distraughtingly in a dangerous way of life. Daniel wants to save them, give them a chance to rebuild their lives the way it should be to touch others people’s lives as it will touches him.

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    • I can totally see where you are coming from, and that interpretation would make perfect sense if Otto had not been Daniel’s mark or Trevor’s business partner. I never saw Trevor and Otto as friends. And Daniel and Otto were opponents/enemies, which is why I would have expected Daniel to resist any personal/emotional involvement with Otto. However, the fact that Daniel’s reaction appears to be emotional, adds to the ambiguity of the whole plot line – which is really unfortunate. I really resent that it appears as if they are making excuses for Otto. But that’s just a personal opinion.

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      • And maybe we all give this way more thought than anyone involved in the show ever did, at any point, including now. Call me cynical, but I’m suspecting I’ve been “had” by puzzling over, along with many here, all the “what ifs” that fans here (and elsewhere online) have so comprehensively and brilliantly documented. I’m angry that we may be wasting our time. Was S1 ever resolved? No. Is S2 benefiting from our brilliant feedback on S1? Seemingly not. Is anyone listening to us??? Damn them! I will continue to watch for the snippets of RA here and there, ’cause I still love the man, but seriously…I’m just dogging along watching a typical, mediocre t.v. show at this point and don’t care what happens (in the plot.) I hope RA appears in something better soon.

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        • There is definitely an element of “overanalysing” in all our activities. That’s why we are fans *haha*. And there is also an element of “unresolving” in BS. That’s why it is Hollywood (well – or the entertainment business). I suppose they just do whatever serves their plot. And yes, I have resigned myself to watching something purely for said “plot”.

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