Deutschland 83: Get Your Gotterdammerung On!

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Picking up right where we left off, Martin is still driving that stolen car into the night, but as he approaches the border, he hears there’s a manhunt for someone that sounds a lot like him or Moritz Stamm. You’d think they might be broadcasting the make, model and license plate of the stolen car he was driving, but apparently not. He pulls over and, as luck would have it, finds the map in the glove compartment that the driver conveniently left for car thieves trying to flee the country. Off he goes into the woods. He spots the border fence and can hear der hunde mit dem barking.

What brilliant or totally reckless plan will he come with? Anyone think luck will be involved?

The Greek chorus of television news tells us that the Pershing missiles are going to be deployed despite all you peace and love hippies with your demonstations, and East Germany will be taking “countermeasures,” which everyone knows shouldn’t be half measures so things are ratcheting up.

Meantime, over at the army base/temporary NATO HQ, Able Archer continues despite Martin’s warnings to Edel. Over at Stasi, they’ve just figured out that the radio silence is due to a change in frequency, and they’re going to have to crack it. Comrade Steponov takes this, as he does everything, as more proof of war.

Gutt im Himmel! Yvonne is dancing and being loud at Heimet Rauch while Annett is her usual awful self. Where’s Ingrid? According to Annett, she sleeps through everything with her meds. When Yvonne asks again about the baby’s father, Annett tells her, “It’s complicated,” and can barely conceal the rage. Gee, I hope that Annett has hidden all of the photos of Martin because it would be really awkward and totally unpredictable if Yvonne was to notice one.

The next day comes, so the world hasn’t ended yet. (The real Able Archer went on for ten days.) How does Martin make it across the border? Once again he depends on his animal magnetism and way with the ladies, in this case a small girl-child who is sitting in the backseat of a car he sneaks into. He hides behind some blankets and boxes in the hatch, and she never reveals his secret.

In the credits, she's listed as "Angela Merkel." No, not really.

In the credits, she’s listed as “Young Angela Merkel.” No, not really.

Over at the base, they are keeping it real by going around in decontamination suits. The Military Intelligence Guy what interviewed Alex is back talking to Edel about Stamm. Edel is as angry as a spurned lover, and to drive that point home—because subtlety is NOT the show’s strong suit—he says, “He got what he wanted, and now he’s gone.”

He mentions that the MI Guy might want to alert his superiors that just maybe the East Germans and the Russkies think Able Archer is more than a game and might be about to gotterdammerung the West’s ass, maybe. MI Guy is like, “Nah, even the Russians aren’t THAT crazy, even though the Americans have been really trying to drive them insane by ‘psyopsing’ them for years, and they were paranoid enough to take down that passenger plane.” Then Edel remembers the lede he buried and tells MI Guy that Stamm blew his own cover to tell him to stop Able Archer, and the MI Guy is like, “Excuse me, I have to catch that flight to Australia.”

When Lenora finds out her nephew outed himself and is on the run, she calls Walter and says, “Maybe we should believe him.” Walter is in too deep. He doesn’t tell Comrade Glenn Beck what’s going on, but seems shaken by the news. How much of a bastard is he? He later tells the Russian that their military source confirmed their suspicions.

Ingrid is in a police station confessing she broke the law. She’s got a slight grin on her face, the kind that indicates she may be holding an ace or four up her sleeve. Walter and his Russian Overlord are drinking to celebrate because that’s what you do when you’re about to preemptively annihilate the West. Walter gets a call from Annett. She tells him Ingrid didn’t come home the night before. (This appears to be a consistency error, but not if we take the long way around and imagine Ingrid’s been at the police station all night.) But her big news is she has “Daddy’s little girl” who’s still asleep upstairs. Walter tells her he’ll send someone over.

Don't blame Annett; it's just the hormones.

Don’t blame Annett; it’s just the hormones.

Huh? Are they planning to kidnap the daughter of a West German general? That seems farfetched, but then again they’re expecting Armageddon and think she might know something because, yeah, big shot military types reveal classified intel to their ditzy cult-joining, rock-and-roll daughters all the time.

Walter decides now might be a good time to sneak away from Comrade Glenn Beck and tell Eye Glasses a.k.a. Fuchs a.k.a. The Adult in the Room that Kolibri blew his cover.

Yvonne is awake and exploring the house. Does she spot a photograph of Martin? OF COURSE SHE DOES—and just in time for Annett to see it happen. Yvonne tries to cover, but Annett goes Glenn Close on her. Yvonne runs, which isn’t so easy in heels and a tight leather mini-skirt. She probably could have outrun a crazy pregnant woman, but not the Stasi agent who was about to come to fetch her.

Walter leaves Gotterdammerung Planning Central to go to the police station and chat with Ingrid, who has asked to see him because, sure, I guess you could walk into an East Berlin police station, confess to illegal distribution of books, and DEMAND to see a bigshot Stasi general and they wouldn’t think you were total nutcase and just lock you up forever and ever. She tells him to let Thomas go and that she’s as guilty as he is. He says he won’t do it. Then he talks about the time he left his wife for her and would have done anything she wanted. She says very little, and he winds up leaving almost in tears. He never says he’ll do as she says, but it looks like she completely bent him to her will—with words.

Martin is outside of his mom’s house. He really was just trying to get home, like in the opening credits song. When Annett answers the door, the first thing he wants to know is if the baby is good. This is tragic. It was all about protecting the unworthy Annett and the baby. It was Tishbier’s threat that made him do what he did. He wants to get her and his mother to a safe place. Instead, he finds Yvonne tied up in his mother’s room, and mom is missing.

Martin quickly processes what’s happening, right down to figuring out someone (that would be Walter Schwepenstett, alias Dunke Vater) told Annett about his machen die heiße Zeit with Yvonne. The Stasi guy comes in—and here there’s another awkward continuity thing because if he caught Yvonne and tied her up, what is she doing back in the house, and why did he leave? But before we have time to contemplate that, Martin has bashed his head against the wall, but not fatally because that would be wrong, and they teach non-fatal head bashing at spy school. Annette won’t step aside, so he actually pushes her, unties Yvonne, and leaves a crying Annett tied to a chair. The look he gives her tells us he’s finally seeing how terrible she is.

Speaking of veils being lifted, the MI Guy is having a nice chat with Alex about his friend Moritz Stamm, who Alex completely loves, admires and respects, and who Alex recognizes as a “natural born soldier” and “everything” he isn’t. His face gets all glowy as he talks about Moritz’s loyalty, honesty and understanding. And then MI Guy tells him that Moritz is a spy, and Alex’s world collapses even more than it did last week, or the week before that, or the week before that.

Ingrid comes home to find Annett and Stasi Guy tied up in her room. Annett tries to explain her intentions were good. She ratted Thomas out to protect Ingrid, and it certainly seems like the spying stuff is a family thing. Ingrid, who knows what’s what, suggests maybe Annett turned in Thomas to protect herself from her feelings for him. SNAP. Oh, and also Ingrid can break whatever stupid East German laws she wants because (as we all figured out sometime between episode ones and six) Walter is Martin’s father.

Martin drives Yvonne to the West German mission and apologizes to her. She doesn’t say anything because really it’s a lot to process, finding out your sort of boyfriend—with whom you had epic soulmate sex that one time and whom your dad loves maybe more than you do—is actually a spy AND he has a crazy pregnant girlfriend who is the worst.

Only a few more minutes to go, and no one’s dead yet…but Martin still has to save the world.

Back on the base, the war games are continuing. As the targets on the wall light up, Edel calls it “a shopping list for Armageddon.” Over at Stasi HQ, Comrade Glenn Beck reports that nuclear missiles in Russia and Poland are armed and ready. There will be a very small “window of opportunity,” and it’s time to alert their assets. Lenora gets the call from Eye Glasses and tells him that Kolibri—their best source –knows what’s what and if he’s dumb enough to be going East to tell them, Eye Glasses might maybe take a listen.

Lenora may have just saved the world. Next, she calls Tishbier to alert him. He makes up an excuse for visiting East Germany and hugs the pretty man with AIDS as though he might not ever see him again because they are all about to die in the apocalypse.

Eye Glasses is at his desk. There are what looks like old-timey television footage or colorized images from Dr. Strangelove of nuclear missiles being launched. Is this in his head or on the television? Wherever the images are coming from, it’s enough to make him go talk to one of the translators of Mayer’s report. Then he confronts Walter, who admits his version was “abridged” and says he “followed his instincts.” Eye Glasses points out the report was pretty clear in saying that NATO does NOT believe a nuclear war can be “won.” Walter shrugs, says, “It’s too late now,” and offers him a cigarette because when it’s thirty minutes to the gotterdammerung you don’t have to worry about cancer.

"I maxed out my credit cards last week, so Im actually kind of rooting for this. Is that wrong?"

“I maxed out my credit cards last week, so I’m actually kind of rooting for this. Is that wrong?”

Martin has entered the building and run upstairs past the guard. Are we about to get the “Luke, I am your father” speech? Martin manages to elude capture because he always does—and bursts in on the right conference room in a building he’s never been in before. He starts shouting that Able Archer is just a test and maybe a cookbook. Then he insults Comrade Glenn Beck’s wall o’ crazy by pointing out that it’s a wall o’ crazy.

That’s just too much for Walter, who yells at him because this is totally personal, but Eye Glasses lets him speak. Then we see all those same images of missiles, but now they’re going backwards. And that was totally necessary because otherwise we wouldn’t get that Martin really saved the world, and we didn’t all die back in 1983.

Lenora, who doesn’t know her nephew just averted the end of the world, packs up a few things from her office and heads off with her lover to Mozambique, which was actually involved in a pretty heavy duty civil war at the time, but that’s still probably better than being nuclear bombed.

But it’s a happy ending, right? There’s not going to be a war. Ende gut, alles gut, am I right?

Not so fast. Edel finds himself alone in his beautiful house, asking how he got there—but the song isn’t playing because it’s from 1980 and the show has consistently played 1983 songs. He finds a note from Ursula. She’s living with her sister. His son hates him and everything he stands for. His daughter will never be an opera singer. And Moritz Stamm was a “snake” who stole his intelligence and left him. Do we know where this is going? Yup, we do.

Then, in the department of more bad news, we watch Alex getting his AIDS blood test. He won’t know for a while whether or not he has the virus, but the nurse taking his blood assures him it’s VERY contagious and if he does have it, he’ll absolutely die a horrifying but slow death.

Thomas is with Walter at the border crossing. He hands over his passport, and Walter gives him a “get lost” head shake. Getting exiled to the West seems like a pretty good deal, except that Tishbier is there to welcome him. What’s that about?

Alex arrives home and sees his father’s briefcase beside a note. Then comes the sound of a bullet. We didn’t see it, so we maybe Edel was just shooting birds, Betty Draper-style, in the backyard, but probably not.

Ingrid is having a book burning bonfire. Martin comes home. So they didn’t put him in prison after all. They hug. He asks where she was. She gives him that mysterious smile and asks where he was. She’s so not going to tell him about Walter. Would you?

Martin, at home by the fire, is how the season ends. What’s the song taking us out? Under Pressure, by Queen, 1983, of course. It’s right for the episode for many reasons, not the least of which is the real-life future fate of Freddie Mercury and the murkiness of what’s ahead.

So despite a tendency to text us in caps before some of the bigger reveals, and to occasionally hit us over the head in case we weren’t paying attention, it was quite a season. If the editor allows, this humble recapper will be back next week with a post explaining why Deutschland 83 is totally better on the 80s and on history than that other spy show the critics love. Meantime, your thoughts and theories welcome. Rumor has it next season, if it happens, will be Deutschland 86, with a third season called Deutschland 89 a possibility, so maybe there’s a True Detective-style anthology planned? If that’s the case, let’s hope we at least get glimpses of some of the characters we’ve come to love.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Deutschland 83

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