Deutschland 83 RECAP: Nobody Listens to Martin

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Penultimates are the best, even more than finales. They’re where the real action is, and this week’s episode, despite a few loose ends, delivers.

Was there an investigation into Kramer’s death or any fallout? Never mind, and we’ll never know. It’s six weeks later, and Martin is again running in the woods to retrieve his secret coded message left in his special tree. Who’s leaving it there now that Kramer is gone? (Maybe it’s Ghost Kramer, still dutiful even beyond the grave.) Alex is being a good boy on the base and hasn’t been to any meetings or even seen Tishbier since last episode’s barely referenced incident.


What’s this mission for Martin? It’s wartime! The NATO maneuver Able Archer about to commence on the base is a cover for a first strike against the Soviet Union. Get ready to apocalypse.

Except Martin knows there’s not going to be a real attack. Not even General Edel’s wayward boy and resident “conspiracy theorist” thinks it’s the start of a war because that would be totally nuts. He tells Martin that generals love to play games (and not just with der prostituierten). The use of actual codes? Just keeping it real.

At Stasi Central, Steponov, Eye Glasses, and Walter have a meeting. Steponov is convinced the attack is imminent because Soviet Intelligence is never wrong. How can it be when they have Andropov (not to mention the Jennings)? Walter continues to buddy up to his Soviet overlord while Eye Glasses remains skeptical and is ignored.

The Glenn Beck of East Berlin.

The Glenn Beck of East Berlin.

A desperate Martin calls his Aunt Lenora, insisting, “It’s just a game.” She dismisses him because your family will always think of you as a child and never take anything you say seriously. He tells her if she won’t help, he has no choice but to warn the West. She dispatches Tishbier to the base to check things out because, sure, they’ll let a well known activist come right on through.

She's also a little busy thinking with her vagina. Women, amirite?

She’s also a little busy thinking with her vagina. Women, amirite?

Over at Heimet Ranch, Annett, now sporting a noticeable baby bump, is still keeping an eye on Ingrid. Thomas stops by to tell her he won’t make it to lunch because he’s going with some churchy friends to Wittenberg to celebrate Martin Luther’s 500th birthday. She seems surprisingly disappointed and tries to entice him with meatballs in cream sauce (not a euphemism). But it doesn’t work, so instead she just memorizes the license plate number of the car he’s traveling in. Then an “unexpected” guest arrives. It’s Walter, who’s taken time out of monitoring the coming nuclear war to arrest, harass, or turn Thomas, which he maybe didn’t have a chance to do in the past month and a half.

Book readers always look so damn smug.

Book readers always look so damn smug.

Did anyone else get a weird feeling last week that Walter might be Martin’s papa? But then you dismissed it because it seemed way too contrived Star Wars? This week the show screams at us to go there. Annett invites Walter to stay for lunch, and it turns out that guess what? Ingrid used to be one of his students back when he taught literature at the university. And that’s not all. Whatever went on between them ended when he went into the spy biz some quarter of a century ago. During lunch they can’t even look each other in the eye.

While Ingrid is in the kitchen, Annett gives him Thomas’ license plate number. He tells her how Martin was so concerned about her and the baby when he visited him.


Maybe last week you wondered how Yvonne’s new singing gig with real-life 1980s German popstar Udo Lindenberg would be integrated into the plot. Wonder no more! Guess whose tour bus is heading toward East Berlin? And guess who’s going to the concert? Walter slips budding Stasi agent Annett a ticket and backstage pass. He also shows her a photo of Martin and Yvonne kissing—and explains that Yvonne is the daughter of a West German general and could be useful so Annett should give her a personal tour of East Berlin.

And what does the Greek chorus of television have to say? Peace demonstrations are breaking out all over the place. Even the East Germans are worried about homegrown activists. There’s a small demo outside the base. General Jackson is not happy with all this free speech stuff infecting Germany. He demands Edel do something, so Edel sends out Alex and Martin. Alex sees Tishbier with the protesters. For the first time in the episode, Alex looks less than miserable. When Edel comes out and demands his son tell the protesters to get lost, Alex joins them instead, and Edel watches his son’s reunion with his (one-time) leibhaber.

One dead hooker and no one ever trusts you again.

One dead hooker and no one ever trusts you again.

Then Edel asks Martin to bring “that man” into his office. That’s how Tishbier gets on the base. Clever spy craft! To his eyes, it all looks like war. He won’t listen to Martin either, but he does threaten his unborn child, which is enough to get Martin to agree to toe the line.

Edel tells Tishbier to take the youths out of his playing field. Tishbier is on the verge of telling Edel that he and Alex are more than just gut freunde, but Edel cuts him off. He knows the tune. He doesn’t need to hear the lyrics.

Before Tishbier leaves, he delivers some bad news to Alex in a way that makes him seem like less of a selfish dick. He tells Alex he tested positive for HIV, and Alex better get a blood test. But somehow you’ve got to wonder what would have happened if Alex hadn’t blown his usefulness to the Stasi. Would Tishbier have kept the romance going?

Tishbier calls Lenora and says, “It’s happening.” She calls Walter—now back at work—delivering the same message. Eye Glasses pleads with Steponov to call off World War III, and Steponov is ready to send him to Siberia for questioning the wisdom of the great and powerful Andropov, as well as his own eyes-on intelligence.

Martin has a plan. First, he rids his locker of all his secret cool spy stuff. Next, he takes this week’s top-secret coded message and manages to drop it strategically, so it’s found by one of the officers working with the satellite communication. The bad news is that because it’s a book code, there’s no chance of deciphering it in time. Martin realizes it’s hopeless. Given the choice of possibly endangering his family or seeing the world blown to smithereens, he admits that he’s a mole to Edel, warning him that the East thinks it’s a for real attack and he has to call it off. But Edel can’t get past the “I am an East German spy” part. Edel tries to arrest him, and Martin runs. And then he runs some more, jumping a fence and stealing a car.

D837 Martin saving world

Sadly, they couldn’t afford the rights to the Mission Impossible music.

With one episode and ten more minutes left in this one, did Martin just blow his cover? Yes, he did, and for all the right reasons! Yay, Martin for saving the world (or trying to). Yay, show for actually surprising us.

Meantime, in East Berlin, it’s SHOWTIME! Even Walter is enjoying the concert in the privacy of his office because when you’re planning WWIII—the extremely big one—sometimes you just got to boogie down.


You’d think with all hell breaking loose, Stasi would have better things to do than arrest people for minor thought crimes, but apparently not. Somewhere with harsh lighting, Thomas is being interrogated for reading without a license, while the woman who ratted him out approaches Yvonne after the concert. Does Annett slap Miss Yvonne upside the head for machen die heiße Zeit with her Martin? Nope, she’s way too calculating for that. Annett tells her she was great—always a safe bet when approaching performers. They become fast friends, and Annett offers to show her the city if she sticks around for a day (or maybe the next few years, as a special guest of the East German Republic).

Over at the base, things start to look pretty real as General Jackson announces they’re going to Def Con 2. Stasi Central is stunned when there’s radio silence—or as Steponov puts it, “The calm before the storm.” Martin, still driving, changes into a civilian T-shirt without even slowing down. And all this with yet another perfect and era-appropriate song, White Wedding, playing in the background.

Where’s Martin headed? Is he on his way to East Berlin to stop World War III on his own? Will his being right (and Walter’s son) be enough to keep him out of the slammer? Next week’s episode, which is (as predicted) called Able Archer, is advertised as the season finale, indicating that there’ll be a second season. But where do you go when your main character has totally blown his cover? This could get verrry interestink.

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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