May 11, 2018
Deutschland 83: Martin Gets Lucky (Again)
Our favorite German cold war spy-thriller slash bildungsroman continues. This week Martin has to machen de liebe to get the secret papers. Is he up to the task? While back on the heimetfront, Annett makes an important discovery that could change everything.
We begin with Martin in a forest, wearing a helmet with straw camouflage, and breathing through a gas mask. Is it World War III? Of course not, because we’re still here! Phew. It’s a training exercise. By a tree, he picks up his new secret code probably left there by his cohort Kramer (who we were reminded exists in the previously on). Another soldier sees something and decides to say something. The commander makes Martin hand it over, but of course Martin hands over something else saying he was “cleaning up” the forest. This is after the commander caught Alex not wearing his gas mask, and Alex told him it wouldn’t really help in the event of the nuclear apocalypse. So the commander thinks they’re both worthless wiseass hippies—a great cover for a commie agent!
Over at Stasi-central, they’re all huddled over the floppy disk as though waiting for it to speak, while Lorena explains (in case we missed it) that it contains top secret Western military plans. However, it’ll be awhile before they figure out what those plans are because East Germany does not have the latest tech to read the thing and can’t get it because of Reagan’s electronics boycott.
First, they try rigging one of the computers they do have, but it doesn’t work because communists were not so good at the tech. Finally, they get the right kind of computer (an IBM), but it turns out the disk was encoded, so this might take a while. Let’s hope they knew to make a backup copy.
Back in the East, Annett’s moving in with Martin’s mom just like Lorena guilted her into doing. She runs into Thomas (her friend with benefits) at Ingrid’s. This makes sense, sort of, as all three of them work at the school. Turns out Ingrid and Thomas seem kind of chummy. Annett, however, is not so friendly to him. Anybody else with me on the Thomas is a Western spy theory? As soon as he leaves, she runs into the bathroom to vomit, which on television can only mean one possible thing—and it’s not too much bratwurst and beer.
According to his secret decoder ring, Martin, who is going to drive General Edel to a conference in Brussels, is supposed to stop off at a gas station near the border. Fortunately, the General is old, and old men pee a lot, so when he goes to use the john, Martin sneaks into Lorena’s car. Lorena tells him his mother is at the top of the transplant list, but her lips are moving so it’s probably a lie. She wraps a tourniquet around his arm so they can shoot some heroin. No wait. She’s just taking a blood sample to see if he’d be a match. Stasi agents sure have a wide skill set. She also tells him his next assignment is to gain access to Mayer’s office. How? By using his “charm,” by which she means his 24-year-old schlong to get Mayer’s secretary, Linda, eating out of his hand. Linda was the woman he was drinking with at the end of last week’s episode. Whether or not it went any further we don’t know because Martin isn’t the kind who tells. Lorena gives him some Belgian money to buy stuff for the secretary, who’s in debt due to an expensive art deco habit—and this was BEFORE eBay! She also loves cats.
What is young Alex doing all this time? He’s at a peace movement meeting getting the charm offensive (in a totally non-sexual way, maybe) from Tishbier. Alex speaks up, telling those hippies the kumbaya probably isn’t going to stop the nukes, and reminds them that each Pershing missile is fifty times as powerful as the atom bomb used at Hiroshima. They’re mad at him for harshing their mellow, but later when Tishbier gets Alex alone, he suggests that the East German Mission is full of Stasi agents, so maybe he’d like to go there and have a chat?
Before they get to Mayer’s office, the General has Martin make a mysterious stop. Edel runs into a building, telling Martin he won’t be long. An English-speaking African comes out of a barber shop and tries to sell Martin various electronics. They could really use this guy in the East. Martin isn’t biting until he mentions a Walkman. Martin tries it and if it wasn’t for mom and Annett back home might have defected there and then. It wasn’t Reagan or Chernobyl that ended the Cold War; it was humanity’s insatiable appetite for cool stuff.
The conference is a rerun of last week’s, featuring the same gang. General Jackson is talking first strike, but not to worry—he assures everybody that the U.S. has Europe’s back, if by having its back you mean America thinks a nuclear war is winnable. Those Pershing IIs can hit Moscow in ten minutes. Mayer argues that according to all his scenarios it won’t end well for anyone. If the wind blows, there could be fallout all over Europe and it’s the end of the world as we know it—which is not playing on the soundtrack because it hasn’t been written yet. A return to detente is the only answer.
Martin woos Linda by first buying her a cat tchachke. Did they or didn’t they after last week’s fadeout? Unclear, but she likes him. He also tells her he loves the art deco because weren’t all twenty-somethings really into that in the 1980s? In that case, she has something to show him. They go to an antiques store where he gets a sneak peek at the gorgeous desk that’s going to be delivered to Mayer’s office the next day. Afterwards, he takes her back over to the sketchy place where he listened to the Walkman and buys one for her. He also picks up a very small recording device that the vendor happens to have around because apparently he sells everything, even micro-recorders with transmitters! Guess whom they run into outside the shop? If you guessed General Edel and General Jackson both drunk and with hookers, you’d be right.
Martin goes home with Linda, who has a cat. Martin’s allergic but has to hide that from her because that would be a deal breaker. Let’s hope he took an antihistamine. Comic clandestine sneezing ensues. Fortunately, she has a terrace. They embrace and machen der liebe. After she’s asleep, he sneaks away to break into the antiques shop. Even though it’s the middle of the night, the shop owner is in his office with his sleeping doberman. We know how Elizabeth Jennings would handle the situation, but it’s not Martin’s way. He manages to complete his mission, planting the bug on the desk, without being seen except by the doberman, and without killing any living creature. You know how people joke that if someone broke in their dog would show the burglar where everything is? The doberman is one of those dogs. And Martin is an incredibly lucky guy.
Unfortunately, the next day Martin discovers that Mayer not only doesn’t care about having the best view in the hotel, but he also doesn’t care about having a fancy-dancy desk. He’s given the desk to Laura. Martin sits by her side and asks her to type out “their” song (Hungry Like the Wolf) while he palms the bug.
Looks like that romance may be continuing, but we also get a hint something else may be on the horizon when Edel mentions his daughter is back at the commune. Will Martin have to come to her rescue again?
Looks like between not being able to read the disk and not being able to plant the bug, the East is 0 for 2. No wonder they lost.
At his childhood home, there’s a new mystery. Ingrid returns driving Thomas’ car, which she’d borrowed, something Annett finds strange, but Ingrid shuts down her questions by bringing up her pregnancy. Ingrid hasn’t only figured that out, but she also asks if the baby could be Thomas’. Annett assures her it’s not. It was Martin at her birthday party. She’s weeks along and certain. Later, that night, Annett, who’s staying in Martin’s room, discovers a book by the bedside—a copy of the notoriously banned in totalitarian states 1984. If that wasn’t odd enough, later she hears a noise that sounds like someone leaving the house. She sees Thomas outside putting two suitcases in his car before driving off. She goes downstairs to investigate and notices the cellar door just slightly ajar. Downstairs she discovers a secret room, and it’s full of … BOOKS. BANNED books like the kind Solzhenitsyn wrote! There’s a light bulb swinging wildly above her head, but what does it all mean? Are Thomas and Ingrid secret black marketeers or are they secret dissidents? Does Lorena suspect and is that what she meant when she told Annett she was worried about her sister falling prey to the wrong influences? Does Martin know?
Can’t wait ‘til next week to find out.