Apr 16, 2017
Deutschland 83: The One Where Martin Loses His Innocence
First up, top NATO analyst Henrik Mayer thanks his secretary Linda for “thinking of his daughter” and picking out a nice birthday present for him to give her. This is in contrast to General Edel’s secretary, who passive-aggressively reminds him about his wife Ursula’s birthday after it’s too late for him to do any shopping.
Then, Linda decides to surprise her handsome young man with a visit. Soon after she leaves, a cleaning woman finds the bug Martin planted under her desk! Uh-oh! But at least the Stasi heard the bug being found, and they are on it.
Linda shows up at the base where she’s conveniently NOT seen by General Edel, although Linda and Martin run into Edel’s kooky daughter Yvonne on the Metro. Yvonne—or Devita, as she now calls herself—has an obvious big fat crush on Martin and would totally not have registered Linda’s presence, had Linda not taken the time to introduce herself by saying, “I’m Linda. From Brussels. The woman he’s shtupping, beeyotch!”
When Martin returns to Edel’s office, Edel asks him about Linda, having seen the two together in Brussels when he and Jackson were out cavorting. He warns Martin about the bug being found and that they’ll be questioning him about Linda. Thinking quickly, Martin manages to throw suspicion at Mayer, mentioning he was the one who gave Linda the very expensive desk. He also tells Edel that Brussels was the last time he saw Linda.
While all that’s going on at the base, young Alex Edel, who no longer looks very soldiery, is helping organize the big planned peace march, even though he doesn’t think marching is going to save the world from Ronald Raygun and European generals like his father who are only too happy to play thermonuclear war over a nice game of chess. If only there were more he could be doing! If someone would just tell him how he could really help—someone older, and hot in a semi-bearish intellectual kind of way. Yes, readers, your gaydar was accurate if you knew there was a certain frisson between peacenik/secret commie spy Tishbier and Alex! They go to the movies together—a nuclear war apocalypse film because what could be more romantic than a big bang?
Martin takes a run into the woods to find today’s secret code and decodes it with his handy decoding book. His orders: Turn Linda or ELIMINATE her! Shit just got real. Fortunately, Kramer—remember Kramer, the OTHER Stasi agent working closely with Edel?—is assigned by the General to look at “Stamm,” whom Kramer reports is clean as a whistle and you can take that to the bank. Thank god he’s there because otherwise Edel might just listen to his drunk sister-in-law, who’s still insisting that she knows what she heard and Stamm is a spy.
Martin takes Linda out for a picnic in the woods instead of murderizing her in her hotel room. He gets her drunk, and they swim out to the middle of a totally isolated lake. Then he ducks under the water and comes out behind the dock and watches her panic. If you’ve seen A Place in the Sun, there will now be an earworm in your head that sounds like Shelley Winters screaming, “But ya gotta marry me,” as Montgomery Clift fails to save her from drowning.
But Martin does save her, although that might not have been his original intention, and we’re glad he did. We don’t want Martin to be a cold-blooded killer. He comes to her rescue, and then sits with her by a fire and tells her he loves her.
Back in the East, true girlfriend Annett lays down the law (the law being an implied threat to tell the authorities) and tells Thomas he will not be borrowing Ingrid’s car in the future. She also tells him she found the “forbidden” books. He denies knowing anything about that. She warns him not to get Ingrid mixed up in anything. Ingrid, who’s overheard some of this, tries to do a little subtle turning of her own by taking out the family jewels (not a euphemism) and telling Annett that Martin wanted her to have them. She looks for a ring, but can’t find it. Maybe Lorena paid a surprise visit and snatched it because it seems to be in Martin’s possession, and he puts it on Linda’s finger after proposing. He also tells her he’s with West German intelligence and his assignment is to get intel on East Germany. She falls for it.
Yvonne and Renate are hanging at the Edel home for Ursula’s birthday, but the General is stuck at work because of this spy thing, while Alex is busy falling under Tishbier’s spell. Yvonne drives Renate home and then has a heart to heart with Ursula, who doesn’t want her to go back to the commune and also warns her to use condoms because of this new killer disease. Yvonne is all, “Oh mom! That’s just for gay men!” And suddenly all this eighties nostalgia takes on a very dark tint. Also, Ursula is definitely the cool mom.
By the time Martin has his interview/interrogation about Linda, he’s perfected his story and pointed suspicion away from Linda and onto Mayer because it makes perfect sense that Mayer would bug his own office, right? Martin sticks to the “I never saw her again” defense. When he gets back to Linda’s hotel, she’s pissed. Apparently the whole bug in the office of the NATO head analyst thing made the television news. Damn you, western free press! He tells her to back the story he told, putting the blame on Henrik. Because if he’s not the spy, and she’s not the spy, it has to be her boss, right? Besides, otherwise suspicions will fall on her. He adds that West German intelligence will even help pay off her debts. Oops! It’s at least the second time he’s mentioned something she doesn’t remember telling him about, and it’s enough to put her into a complete panic. She runs away. As she leaves the room, for just a brief a second, there’s a shot from the dashboard of a car, a man with a cigarette, Kramer maybe. Stasi’s been watching.
Martin can’t find her. He goes to a booth and calls Tishbier—who’s with Alex. Tishbier tells Martin to get back to the base. He’ll take care of it.
From the train platform, Martin spots Linda, who probably should have played along with Martin and then spilled her suspicions to the interrogators—or at least gone down to the hotel lobby or another PUBLIC place, but nope. She’s heading back into those completely isolated woods. He catches up and tackles her, promising her he’s not going to hurt her. She tells him she was Mayer’s girlfriend. They split up because he didn’t want to lose his daughter. She knows Mayer is not the spy and has figured out that therefore, ipso facto, it must be Martin. Unsure what to say, Martin finally blurts out, “But I still love you.” She replies by hitting him upside the head with a rock and calling him a “God damn communist.” Sometimes politics can be a deal breaker.
She keeps running, right down to a road where she gets hit by a car. To his credit, Martin runs to her—though again he waits a beat as he did when she was drowning. He begs her to breathe and stay with him. But after taking a few short, terrified last breaths, she’s gone. The driver gets out. We don’t see his face, but he calls Martin by his spy name, Kolibri, drops a shovel and some towels, and tells him to get rid of her.
While Martin’s dealing with what’s left of Linda, there’s a belated birthday party for Ursula over at the Edels’. Yvonne’s conveniently gone back to the commune, which is too bad because it would have been awesome if she’d mentioned seeing Stamm and asked her daddy whether he knew if his aide de camp was serious about his girlfriend, Linda, from Brussels. The party is just Ursula, Alex, and the General. The General criticizes the peace demo as a commie-funded charade, and Alex goes completely ballistic, calling his dad a war-mongering Reaganite who can’t wait to push the button. Unlike the typical American Thanksgiving, this celebration ends with Alex saying his dad is a Nazi, just like granddad. Edel strikes him and kicks him out of the house—and straight into the arms of the Stasi.
Lenora meets Mayer in a parking garage. He knows who and what she is. She makes him a generous offer to switch sides. He refuses. Then, she shows him some pictures of him and Linda machen der liebe and tells him that Linda was a spy—and she’ll expose him for sleeping with a spy if he refuses to work with them. He says he’d rather be dead and then proves it by going to his office and blowing his brains out.
As for Martin, after washing Linda’s blood off his hands—it’s a good thing his bunkmate Alex is never around—he heads over to the commune to meditate and hang with Yvonne.
Up to this point, we could enjoy Martin’s big adventure. The body count was practically zero. The real Moritz Stamm’s death happened so quickly and bloodlessly we could easily have missed it. Besides, we didn’t even know the guy, and it was a done before Martin got forcibly recruited. Martin wasn’t told what happened to Stamm. He had plausible deniability, like those Germans whose Jewish neighbors went missing during the war. He didn’t kill Linda either, but he came close—and his actions led directly to her death, and less directly to Mayer’s (the one who was pushing for detente as the only sane choice). This is the episode where Martin popped his spy cherry and lost his innocence, and it became more than fun and games for the viewers as well.
It’ll be interesting to see where it’s going. Is Martin turning to Yvonne for spiritual comfort? Sexual healing? Or because she’s the loose end who could tie him to Linda? Will these events harden him, or break him? Guess we won’t begin to have an answer ‘til next week.