Berlin Station Season 2 ★★★★☆

Berlin Station Season 2 (2017) ★★★★☆
Channel: Epix
Starring: Richard Armitage, Rhys Ifans, Leland Orser, Michelle Forbes, Richard Jenkins, Ashley Judd, Keke Palmer, John Dorman, Mina Tander, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilia Schule, Heino Ferch
Creator: Olen Steinhauer
Humpo Show Rating: 8.5

Image result for berlin station season 2 rhys ifans

Daniel Miller (Richard Armitage) is tasked with infiltrating a far-right German political party that the CIA believe is planning a terrorist attack in the lead up to the upcoming election in order to swing the vote in the PfD’s way. This clandestine operation is done under the new leadership of Berlin Station Chief BB Yates (Ashley Judd), and without informing the American Ambassador to Germany Richard Danes (John Dorman). Deception is the name of the game, with multiple players keeping their cards close to their chests, and this ambiguity keeps tensions high and the show manages to maintain suspense to the very final scenes. 

Rhys Ifans delivers another outstanding performance as Hector DeJean, the ex-CIA agent who Daniel brings back into the fold courtesy of an old alias of Hector’s, Andrew Chevalier the gun-runner. His character was the most interesting, yet again, as he reprises a rogue alias who becomes central to the planning of the far-right’s terror plot, and later in the season, the assassination plot of PfD’s leader Katerina Gerhardt. Ifans is a scene-stealer, Hector DeJean has become one of my favourite espionage characters, from his dress sense, his attitude and his unique way of achieving results. I place Ifans’ performance in the realms of Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Robert Ford in Westworld and David Thewlis’ V. M. Varga in Fargo, for delivering incredible entertainment with his distinctive, eccentric and flawed character.

The person that brought Hector back into the mix was Daniel, and the pair of them have some brilliant scenes in Southern Spain and back in Berlin. The pair of them are deeply involved in Otto Ganz’s (Thomas Kretschmann) terror plot, and they work exceptionally well together with them both focusing on different ways to uncover the details of Otto’s plot and to find out who is the benefactor behind it all. Armitage once again gives a great performance in multiple guises, as an undercover agent, an old friend of Hector’s, a CIA agent, and also as a lover with German BfV agent Esther Krug (Mina Tander). This role requires him to call upon subtlety when trying to acquire information from Otto and his daughter Lena (Emilia Schule), but he is also at his action man best when chasing targets. Daniel’s scenes were always great to watch, and the high stakes made them heart-stopping and had me clawing at the button for the next episode.

The series always held my interest with the storylines getting more complicated and mysterious as the season progressed, the storyline relating to Otto Ganz  was enthralling and edge-of-seat brilliant, and then the show moved onto the Gerhardt assassination plot following the election, which was interesting viewing, but the complicated agendas of lots of players seemed to detract from that storyline’s delivery. The final episode was quite convoluted and complex, and the plethora of strands that were in play needed to be tidied up in a satisfying fashion, and the writers have clearly tried to achieve that result but I think the show’s conclusion was a little cliched in regards to some exits and the fact that the show became complex left me feeling that the show should have kept things simple.

Berlin Station - Richard Armitage as Daniel Miller

Besides the over-complicated nature of the plot towards the end of the season, there were a couple of other grievances I had with the show which needn’t had been included. BB Yates began the season as someone that looked like being a crucial player in the unfolding plot, but she became pretty irrelevant besides her contact with Valerie. Her backstory was therefore unnecessary, unless she returns for season 3, and the writers make better use of the information pertaining to her character, as she also found herself involved in the other pointless storyline: Kirsch’s relationship with his son.

Valerie and Joseph Emmerich, Gerhardt’s number 2 in the PfD, have a finely poised relationship that always has the viewer wondering how much either of them know of each other and who the other one really is. This relationship draws some comparisons to the one in Homeland between Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nick Brody (Damien Lewis) in terms of the not-knowing, not-trusting, but continual seeing of each other despite that they may be enemies. I think this element of the show was done well, as I was surprised many times throughout the course of their time together.

Full of tense moments, high stakes action, and political happenings that draw on the recent rise in far-right politics and the meddling with elections from other countries. Terrorism is the central narrative that features in the second season of Berlin Station and that aspect of the show is done exceptionally well in regards to the motives of those involved, the political climate of said country and the manoeuvres that the CIA and its agents undertake to try and figure out who the terrorists are, who is funding them and their target. A thrilling espionage thriller of a series that fans of Homeland, Spooks and House of Cards would enjoy. 

8 thoughts on “Berlin Station Season 2 ★★★★☆

  1. Great to hear that you enjoyed S2 of BS. It started very promising, I thought, although I intensely disliked the decision to have episode 2 and 3 running as concurrent look at the action. It would’ve worked better if it had been linearly told. Hector de Jean was again the “star of the show” on whom the action pivoted, driving the plot and getting the best scenes. As such, Daniel seemed reduced to mere reactions, but the double personas of Daniel and Trevor at least gave Armitage opportunity to show his acting talents. And fully agree with you on BB Yates.
    As for the plot itself – it didn’t really convince me because it hinged on an assumption that was utterly ridiculous. There were also some parts of the show that made me squirm when Otto Ganz – fantastically played by Kretschmann – was given space to explain his ideology and motivations, and when Trevor reacted far too ambiguously. The ending was far too clichéd for a thriller that claims to be intelligent and realistic. But well, showbiz.
    BTW, BS has been renewed for a third season. The production will leave Berlin, though.

    • I was a little disappointed in that Daniel/Trevor’s role lessened as the season went on, as his scenes with Otto and Lena were my favourite. By giving BB and even April (with the tech guy), unnecessary scenes, the writers could have focused even more on Daniel/Trevor and Hector/Andrew in their dealings with Otto etc. Totally agree that Kretschmann was fantastic, and the ending which was a bit on the predictable side of the thriller genre.
      That’s good news! Any idea if the same cast will be involved (it’d be a shame to start again with different characters, and their backstory, arcs, etc)- maybe it will still be in Germany, but a different city?

      • They have not confirmed the cast yet, and on social media, the “old” cast members have been silent so far.
        And the production is actually moving to Budapest, as a result of lack of funding from the German authorities (which in turn is due to the inability of Germany to have formed a coalition 5 months after their general election last year. Slightly ironic, considering that that was exactly the backdrop of the show *haha*). Afaik they will film the *entire* season in Budapest. Not sure whether that means we will switch to “Budapest Station” now… It’s disappointing in the sense that Berlin had a strong presence in the show, and was one of the highlights of the production. But I’m sure Budapest will do a good job, too.

      • Both beautiful cities, but yes it would seem odd not to be at Berlin Station for S3, especially as it be strange to see how the writers spin it if the same cast are posted there.
        Only time will tell, I’ll keep look out for any news!

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