On this week’s BERLIN STATION, “Just Decisions,” otherwise known as: ‘Spies who don’t know how to spy,’ there’s a real chance the Berlin team finally realized they could actually do some real spy stuff in this episode. The episode centers pretty dramatically on a mission to infiltrate the underage bridal trade a supposedly reformed terrorist and his wife are leading. But of course, because everyone in the CIA is operating on their own political agendas before that of the country or the people’s lives that are on the line, the mission fails in epic proportions.
But before that culminating conclusion, a few very interesting things happened in this episode. First was Kirsch’s revelation that what he really wants for being a spy for Tel Aviv is the chance to move back to Washington D.C. and be closer to his son. The second is that the Germans are trying to bring Daniel in as a double agent and mole. The third is the possible revelation that Valerie knows that Hector is Thomas Shaw? (The question remains unanswered, but the conversation between the two strongly suggests it.) And finally, the fourth – and possibly biggest – moment of the episode came right at the end, after the failed mission. Distraught that he bullheaded his way into this mission and has lost an agent as well as allowed several civilians to be shot, Frost calls up headquarters back in Washington D.C. and vows that he will find Claire, and then he is resigning.
For once, this wasn’t the most horribly boring show to watch. I realize I may be a little too harsh on this show, but come on! If you’re going to spy, spy right! This is the first episode of the series that truly felt like there was more dimension to the characters’ choices than simply being good or bad at their jobs. Hector isn’t always able to monitor Daniel, and he clearly lets his emotions get the best of him – to the point where he almost risks having his identity as Thomas Shaw revealed for the sake of keeping Claire safe. And he does show up at the site of the mission, royally screwing the mission’s original plan. However, the mission going awry is not his fault in the least. That remains to be a mystery we have yet to solve.
Kirsch is also governed by his emotions. Every decision he makes is motivated entirely by his desire to prove himself – as a father, as an agent, as a competent advisor and human being. He, too, is guilty of making bad decisions in the name of whatever has him riled up at the moment.
Frost, on the other hand, makes his decisions entirely according to his ego and hunger for power. He rushes into this CIA operation despite reservations voiced on all sides because the Berlin Station “needs a win.” His judgment is so clouded by his desire to be at the top that he tumbles over the edge and takes an avalanche with him. Thankfully, he doesn’t completely lose his head and he realizes that he can no longer operate as leadership in any facett of the CIA because he gets too deeply involved emotionally and cannot process things rationally.
In the midst of all of this, I can’t help but notice that Daniel’s just kind of…hanging out. This is a criticism I haven’t covered yet, but despite Daniel technically being our protagonist, we spend more time with the other characters, and because of that, Daniel and his voice seem weak and straight man-y. This would be fine, if this were a comedy and every other character was a bit whacky and out there, but in a drama, I’m just wondering why? What could possibly be the purpose of this? As is, Daniel still feels…clueless, though after this episode, he definitely comes across as more competent than Hector.
Overall, this episode was a significant improvement upon previous episodes. The intensity was right, the stakes were high, and the balance between action and drama was perfect. Unlike previous episodes, where the operations – if there were any – were quieter, with a focus towards stealth or interrogation, and not so much on undercover interaction, this episode had real stakes, where we knew lives were on the line. And the shoot out, combined with a car chase at the end was perfect to balance out the intensity of the drama.
Let’s hope they can keep it up in next week’s episode.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Berlin Station airs Sundays at 9PM on Epix
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor