Berlin Station (Season Three) ★★★★☆
Starring: Richard Armitage, Michelle Forbes, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Leland Orser, Richard Jenkins, Keke Palmer, Rhys Ifans, Ashley Judd, Mina Tander,
Creator: Olen Steinhauer
IMDb Rating | 7.9
Humpo Show Rating | 7.8
Berlin Station returns for a third season and it is packed full of suspense and drama, as well as establishing new faces as well as continuing to have a finger on the pulse of European and American politics.
The opening storyline sees the introduction of a potential Russian plot in Estonia, complete with a social media troll factory designed to take down the young and charismatic Sofia Vesik – in line to be the next prime minister of Estonia, whose politics don’t marry with Russia’s. The writers couple it with ongoing discontent being manufactured in the country, in a clear attempt to destabilize Estonia and to usher in a new Iron Curtain.
The show also features a narrative that flits in and out of episodes, which is not explored well enough in the opening half of the series. It concerns a CIA officer codenamed “Diver”, who infiltrated East German Stasi headquarters during the fall of the Berlin Wall and rescues – from Russian clutches – the future leader of Estonia, who brings relative peace to the country. The mystery surrounding Diver deepens in the opening episode – Miller believes Diver may be the man who killed his mother. However, this particular storyline doesn’t receive enough coverage for most of the season, and only begins to garner interest in the final quarter of the season. To be honest, the opening episode is perhaps the episode that focuses on this storyline the most, although the writers have set up the possibility of season four exploring it further.
Ismael Cruz Cordova is an exceptional addition to the cast, his Rafael Torres character really is a scene-stealer. We’re first introduced to him when Miller (Armitage) and Kirsch (Orser) visit Tallinn, Estonia. They meet the capable, intuitive and somewhat off-the-rails CIA agent stationed there, who instantly ingrains himself in the action and he provides many memorable moments throughout the series. None more so when he is in cahoots with the enigmatic Hector DeJean (Rhys Ifans), who once again is a magnificently intriguing character. The pair of them have some fantastic adventures in hostile territory, with both of them acting well together. A mention also should go to Steven Frost (Richard Jenkins), who has an immensely interesting past and present, and has an unexpected leading part this season given he’s no longer in the employment of the CIA.
Leland Orser gives an authentic performance as Kirsch, and his human touch is a constant throughout the season. Orser is a fantastic actor and does well with providing a human element and showing that spies are not immune from all sorts of issues.
The women of the show – Forbes, Palmer, Judd, Tander – all deliver quality performances. Forbes is strong and clinical as Head of Berlin Station, Valerie Edwards. Although her screen time is spread out over different storylines, the writers manage to ensure she remains a central part of the show and doesn’t get lost among the torrent of action. Palmer, Judd and Tander, likewise, are excellent in their respective roles. Judd is wonderfully deceptive as BB Yates – you never know what you’re going to get from episode to episode. Palmer is the dedicated and idealistic April – who is prominent in both the Estonia/Vesik and new tech storylines – and has made herself a good part of the cast and I hope she gets another meaty challenge in season four (yet to be confirmed). Lastly, Tander – although her involvement is largely limited to brief appearances, she still remains an intrinsic part of the show and given how season three has ended, I hope she comes out firing next time!
The season seems to be weighed down by the amount of storylines that are occurring simultaneously. The complex nature of the show – which is part of the reason we love it – becomes disorientating at times, rather than helpful for the telling of the story. I think if we lost the new tech tussle between competing parties, the season could have allowed for an increased focus on the Diver storyline as well as bulking out other areas of the show when needed to add clarity.
Casting, acting and directing are all brilliant – can’t fault them. Music and visuals were unexpected highlights of the season. The action scenes were made all the more gripping with thundering music, Denis Villeneuve-esque like direction, and cinematography reminiscent of Roger A. Deakins’ work from Blade Runner 2049. Daniel, Rafael and Hector all get immersive and heart-stopping action scenes and these are my highlights of the season – the combination of their acting, intriguing storyline, and aforementioned direction and visuals help to ensure Berlin Station remains a favourite with me.
The Humpo Show | Richard