TV Review | Berlin Station

Berlin Station
Channel: Epix
Starring: Richard Armitage, Rhys Ifans, Richard Jenkins, Michelle Forbes, Leland Orser, Tamlyn Tomita.

Humpo Show Rating | 4.5 / 5

We are Thomas Shaw…

Thomas Shaw, an Edward Snowden-esque whistle-blower, has decided to target the CIA’s Berlin Station by leaking some of the station’s secrets to the press, and thus, creating a multitude of problems for the various players of the station. Each of the main characters display signs of shiftiness and secrecy concerning their actions which makes for intriguing viewing as their is a underlying sense of unpredictability throughout the season. For those who enjoy Homeland and Spooks, Berlin Station delivers an interesting and exciting spy thriller that ticks all the boxes as well as conveying a modern day message concerning espionage and the institutions.  

Rhys Ifans gives quite simply an outstanding performance as the enigmatic and brooding case officer Hector DeJean. His acting performance rivals that of Anthony Hopkins’ in Westworld, especially as the season went through the gears after the half-way point. At the heart of the series is Hector’s ideals that are central to his actions and work, despite many of his actions being deemed to be indefensible to his co-workers, while his meets with “sources” are questionable to say the least, as he continually delves into the murky underworld of Berlin. His moral compass is ever-present throughout, constantly questioning the why he does things for an institution that Miller (Armitage) describes as “imperfect”. Ifans brings enormous depth, simmering anger and a wounded yearning to a role which depicted him as utterly untrustworthy, but reliably captivating.

Daniel Miller (Armitage) flies to Berlin for the sole mission of discovering the identity of Thomas Shaw and shutting him down. He arrives at his workplace, Berlin Station, and thus comes into contact with Hector, a friend from their time together in Chechnya as field agents, where there is some lasting mental scars for Danny. Armitage cuts the standard CIA man very well, determined, chiseled and determined to get the job done for his country, and he brings his usual high level of intensity to the role. The contrast between the company man Danny and the idealist Hector is striking and it appears as a root of tension between the characters and their various debates many times throughout the season.

Berlin Station has been able to deliver a strong and enticing twenty-first-century spy thriller based upon the whistle-blower events of Snowden, Assange and WikiLeaks. The events of this show are presented in such a way, that the viewers are clamouring for the next leak to see what clues are left to the identity of Thomas Shaw. Each episode brings us nearer to the situation concerning his identity, but we are also delving deeper into every character’s personal and professional lives as they are all suspect to say the least. With everyone having shady aspects of their character, Berlin Station keeps us entertained and transfixed for all ten episodes, but the second half of the season far outshines the first, with the final few episodes being spectacular, with Ifans delivering scene-stealing performances which should see him receive some acting recognition for sure.

The Humpo Show | Richard

10 thoughts on “TV Review | Berlin Station

  1. Pingback: A review of Berlin Station from someone who really enjoyed it | Me + Richard Armitage

    • Thanks!
      Everyone can’t agree on everything all of the time. I’ve seen the average rating/review score from all outlets put together to be around 3.5/5, so mine is a little on the high side compared to them.

      • I don’t put things in numerical terms because I don’t think an average rating says much; I am more interested in the evaluations of critics I admire and whose judgment I tend to share than the aggregation of media, some of which is not independent.
        As to your specific statements here, though, I would disagree strongly with the notion that Hector is guided by an inherently moral compass, given the amazing amount of destruction he leaves in his wake, including his significant contribution to the death of someone he says he loves. Similarly, given that the show gives away the “Thomas Shaw” mystery more or less immediately, I lost interest in that subplot entirely. Hector is a train wreck and if he’s an idealist, then a very self-centered one.

  2. I hadn’t heard of this show before this post popped up on my emails but after reading this review I am very intrigued. I love homeland so if this is anything like it it will be great. I guess I will have to go searching for it now haha 🙂

    • I don’t have Epix, I just watched it online somewhere.
      It has the darker spy elements of Homeland, and there are more characters that are given more time rather than just Carrie and Brody.

  3. Good to hear you enjoyed this show. Despite being a fan of Armitage’s, I was conflicted about the show; much of it seemed convoluted to me – too many plotlines and characters, which complicated the progress of the show and in some instances seemed totally unnecessary as characters were introduced, never to be seen again. Maybe in season 2? What kept me watching, was Armitage, not the plot – especially as it was clear from episode 2 who was Thomas Shaw… Maybe it was all teething problems, and the show will get into the swing during its second season…

    • I began to watch it as it had Armitage in, and I like spy films/tv shows, but I think I stayed due to Ifans’ performance. I get what you say about the plotlines issue, but I think the writers did a decent enough job in bringing some of the strands together in the final episode.
      I don’t know if Berlin Station should be the setting for season 2, perhaps they should look at doing an other station?

      • (late reply because I was struck down by flu – sorry) – Yeah, I thought the same: Berlin Station is pretty much dead at the end of season 1, maybe they need to move on to another station. I guess that won’t happen – unless they change the name of their show… Mind you, it could be interesting to see them rebuild Berlin Station under new leadership. Will Valerie and Robert work together now? Who will be deputy director of the CIA? And will Daniel be around or is he still on the run from Clay Williams? There are a number of open questions there, so potential for further investigation…

      • Hope you are getting better, I’ve had a bit of an annoying cold recently 😦
        Yeah, potentially they could stay in Berlin for the next season, it’d be interesting to see what the writers decide on next.

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