Berlin Station’s good-looking spies – operating against the complex tapestry of modern-day Germany and Eastern Europe – return in a third season that sees Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage) sleuthing his past while caught up in unfolding international intrigue. Warning: There will be spoilers in this article for episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Berlin Station Season 3.
Berlin Station airs Sundays on EPIX at 9 p.m. ET. The energetic series, which chronicles the exploits of the CIA station headquartered in Berlin, has its devoted fans; in some ways, it echoes the season where Homeland’s Carrie went to Germany, without the bipolar stuff. People tweet about the show as the #whitetshirtgang, which appears to derive from Robert Kirsch’s (Leland Orser’s) fondness for them:
This season’s plot has a modern feel to it, as fleeting references to President Obama and to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan anchor the time frame in the present day. A Russian plot in Estonia gives the show even more modern currency. Russians are the baddies, and they even operate a social media troll factory designed to take down a charismatic forward-thinking Estonian politician who wants to knit her country’s ethnic Russians into its fabric, an altruistic goal that the Russians can’t allow to happen if they want to destabilize their former satellite. They need people angry.
“Berlin Station is about to become the tip of the spear as the US’s role in the world and with Russia changes swiftly and radically,” the show’s Twitter page says.
Here are 5 questions raised by episodes 1 and 2:
1. Is Daniel Dead?
Episode 2 ended with the Russian baddie, whom we earlier see training ethnic Russian militia men and slaughtering one of them in front of a bloody pig pile, lighting a blue-jean clad man on fire with old Soviet rocket fuel. Because Daniel was sneaking around the supposedly inactive Russian missile bunker just moments before, because the Bad Guy Russian has pummeled him a few times already, and because we’ve been treated to plenty scenes of Daniel’s jean-clad backside running through the streets, the show sets it up to make you wonder if… Daniel is the guy on fire.
It’s pretty impossible to believe it will be, though; after all, he’s the series’ protagonist, and his quest to find out what happened to his mother is the major subplot, so it’s probably going to end up being the junkie who led Daniel there.
One can hope it’s not Daniel, anyway. Episode 3 extends the agony, revealing that Daniel’s passport was found on the body. Torres takes the burnt man’s body so Berlin Station can get definitive proof – one way or the other.
2. Who Is ‘Diver’?
Episode 1 opens with a man, later revealed to be a CIA guy named “Diver,” infiltrating an East German Stasi headquarters during the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s an interesting and not-explored-enough milieu. He ends up rescuing, from Russian clutches, the guy who later ends up becoming a peaceful and valiant leader of Estonia, and brings him to the west, where they are photographed.
The show then switches back to the present day as Daniel reveals to his girlfriend, Esther Krug (Minda Tander), a German intelligence officer, that he believes Diver may be the man who killed his mother, who was with a traitor the CIA wanted dead. He comes across the name in a podcast. He initially asks Esther to find out if Diver was real and to snag his old Stasi file from BND headquarters; Esther eventually tells Daniel that Diver was real but the file is missing (viewers know that Diver torched it on his way out of the Stasi building.)
Fate would have it that Daniel is sent with the CIA station’s Robert Kirsch to Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, to get a handle on Russian-fueled tensions and perhaps prevent the descending of a new Iron Curtain. While there, he meets up with the aforementioned peaceful and valiant leader (a sort of Vaclav Havel type), who practically dies in Daniel’s arms (they think he was poisoned with a flower with the Russians to blame.) While snipping a lock of the man’s hair from the hospital morgue, Daniel unearths the photo from the dead man’s wallet showing him with Diver at the Wall. We can’t see Diver’s face in the picture.
In a later flashback, we see a child Daniel watching his mother get into a car that blows up. He sees the back of a man who looks a lot like Diver (tan trenchcoat and all.) Although season 1 and 2 did not reveal Diver’s identity, Daniel did provide a core clue. After looking at the photo, even from behind, he said he knows who Diver is; that means Diver is likely to be someone viewers also met in seasons 1 or 2. That would put the money on retired chief Steven Frost (Richard Jenkins) or Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans), but time will tell. The amount of screen time devoted to Jenkins in episode 3 does make one wonder.
3. Is Rafael too Unstable?
Robert is suspicious of Rafael Torres (Ismael Cruz Cordova), the incredibly intuitive, street-smart, somewhat off-the-rails (but always right) guy who’s in charge of the entire CIA operation in Tallinn. He’s a welcome addition to the show, and we’re introduced to him when he barges into a cafe of hardened ethnic Russians to draw one of them out so he can torture him to get information about what the Russians are up to in Estonia (no good. It involves weaponry being stored in an old missile silo accessed by a supposedly defunct rail line.)
Torres is charged with protecting Sofia Vesik, the Estonian woman who is in line to be the next prime minister and who is a celebrity-of-sorts with a massive Twitter following.
What’s in Torres’s past? We learn he’s spent time in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen – some “hot theaters” as Robert says, puzzling over why Torres would end up in previously sleepy Tallinn. We then learn what he’s learned; there’s a “pych eval” in Rafael’s past. Right now Torres is teetering between bad guy and good guy, but he’s most likely to land in the latter camp. He’s Jack Bauer-like unorthodox, but he gets the job done. And he’s always right, like when he sniffed out a sniper nest in an Estonian housing project after shoving Sofia into her own car, which doesn’t seem like it would offer much protection, but they drive away with Sofia’s life intact.
4. Will Esther & Daniel Stay Together?
The series opens with Esther and Daniel snuggling in bed and Daniel giving her a copy of “Spy vs. Spy” for her birthday. They then pretend they’re not together when they both show up at a CIA barbecue on a breathtaking rooftop in Berlin, but everyone’s already figured it out.
Valerie Edwards (Michelle Forbes), who is now running the CIA station in Berlin with her signature steely grit and silk bathrobe-like dresses, tells Daniel he has to let the American government know he’s dating a member of a foreign intelligence service to get it cleared. It’s a little surprising she’s let it go on unreported this long. Daniel promises to report the matter when he returns from Tallinn.
Of course, this also depends on the answer to #1.
What’s With the April Subplot?
April Lewis (Keke Palmer) plays Daniel’s “Girl Friday,” studying maps to spot the defunct Russian rail line and staying up all night because she’s handling him and he’s wandering around supposedly abandoned Russian missile silos and befriending Estonian huffers. But she’s got her own op going on.
It involves an African guy she’s pretending to like; a suspicious guy comes into the restaurant and keeps looking his way while they lunch, but it’s not yet clear what this has to do with anything beyond giving the bright and peppy April something of her own to do. It’s about time.