BERLIN STATION continues to improve with “Proof of Life.” The episode wraps up the intense hostage situation that cropped up towards the end of last week’s “Just Decisions.” And while the situation doesn’t go quite as Hector and Frost would hope, the action plays out well in a climatic ending worthy of the flawed characters who initiated its consequences in the first place.
Also featured at the end of this episode: Daniel finally connects the dots about Hector! Good grief, it took him long enough. It was actually very confusing – Hector is clearly emotionally compromised from Clare’s kidnapping and is sent home by Frost after a very angry confrontation at Berlin Station. Daniel suggests to Frost that perhaps he should accompany Hector and try to diffuse the situation, since they both know that Hector is a loose canon. The strange thing is, without actually mentioning Thomas Shaw, they both discuss Hector as if they already know that he is the mole. At least, that’s the impression I got from it. I was actually mildly impressed, while simultaneously being confused. Even though there had been no mention of either of them uncovering Hector’s identity as Thomas Shaw, I thought perhaps it was the show trying to reveal that Daniel and Frost were more competent than I gave them credit for, in a ‘spies don’t show their full hand’ sort of way. However, at the end of the show it becomes clear that that wasn’t actually the case before, and neither is the idea that this show wouldn’t reveal it’s whole hand to you as it unfurls. Which is disappointing, because while this show is easier to follow with the story playing out as it is, it would be so much more interesting and spy-worthy if there were things that we as an audience weren’t actually privy to.
The hostage situation and negotiation is actually really interesting, though. Frost is working under pressure from both sides. The wife of the reformed terrorist taken captive believes that the Americans have taken him, as they were in the middle of the Op when the kidnapping happened. She is holding Clare and threatening to kill her if Frost doesn’t give her proof that her husband is still alive. Unfortunately for Frost, he still doesn’t know where her husband is or who took him. Not only is he having to negotiate a hostage situation, but he’s having to do it on both sides. His resources are stretched on both ends, as he tries to uncover the location where they are keeping Clare while also trying to figure out who kidnapped the terrorist and where they took him.
Meanwhile, Hector and Daniel are onto a lead as Frost’s negotiating turns south. Once Frost finally figures out that there was Romanian mafia involvement, he tells the wife that her husband has been taken to Romania, and that they are in the process of trying to get an audio link setup to prove that he is still alive. Hector and Daniel find the location of where Clare is being held near the same time that the wife is able to get on the line with her husband. Only things go from bad to worse as her husband tells her he was put on a plane, told he had the right to a lawyer (not something the mafia would likely say) and that there are palm trees where he is. She immediately believes that Frost has been lying to her the whole time, and the negotiating ends. Daniel and Hector find her holding a gun to Clare’s head.
The standoff goes just as smoothly as everything else for these CIA agents: not at all. Clare, exhausted and defeated from being held captive and tortured, tries to free herself and gets a fatal shot in the back. Hector, distraught as he watches Clare die in his arms, snaps the terrorist woman’s neck, leaving Daniel to figure out how to cover their tracks.
It’s a bitter end, and while it was very entertaining to watch, I don’t think I am as emotionally invested in these characters as this show would like me to be. While I was rooting for Clare to make it out alive, I wasn’t emotionally distraught when she didn’t. I didn’t feel any heartache for Hector, either. The thing about this show is, I can’t tell if I’m supposed to be feeling these things or not. Are these characters supposed to be unsympathetic? Am I not supposed to fully trust what they say or how they present themselves to other characters? And if not, how do I invest in these characters, if I can’t be sure that I know who they truly are? It’s the conundrum of this show, and I’m not sure that any amount of interesting drama will change that.
Season 1, Episode 7 (S01E07)
Berlin Station airs Sunday 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