The three-year wait for Deutschland 86 has been worth it. The second season of the spy drama is excellent.
As the title suggests, Deutschland 86 is set three years after the events in Deutschland 83, which followed Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay, Line of Separation), a young East German soldier compelled to work as an undercover spy in West Germany for the HVA, the Stasi’s foreign intelligence service.
Like the first season, Deutschland 86 is set against the backdrop of world events, such as the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, the terrorist bombing of a TWA flight from Rome to Athens, and Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika. Communism is crumbling, and East Germany is “facing unprecedented economic challenges”; the Socialist state must get money that’s actually worth something to pay its debts to the west, prop up its own currency, and get things like food back on store shelves.
The season opener finds an older, wiser, and wearier Martin living and working at an East German orphanage in Angola, effectively banished from his homeland due to his actions, heroic though they were, in 1983. His aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader, Aimée & Jaguar) is in Cape Town to sell weapons on behalf of the HVA to the SADF, the South African Army backed by the Communists. Only the deal doesn’t go as planned and she needs Martin, codename Kolibri, to pull it off.
It isn’t a happy family reunion for the two, as Martin wouldn’t be living in exile without his young son, Max (the utterly adorable Oskar Reim), if it weren’t for Lenora, whom he considers his “worst enemy.” (Ouch.) So she makes him a hard-to-refuse offer: she will get Martin back to East Germany and to Max if he helps her in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, at HVA HQ in East Berlin, Party members discuss ideas and share news about the things they’re doing to bring in much-needed hard currency to the State. As Comrade Annett Schneider (Sonja Gerhardt, Ku’damm 56), aka Martin’s ex-fiancée and Max’s mum, announces her money-making new drug trial deal with a West German pharma company, Walter Schweppenstette (Sylvester Groth, Generation War), Lenora’s former boss, Martin’s forever father, and Annett’s new direct report, sits stewing, demoted and alone in his office, desperately wanting back in with the HVA power players.
And so it begins.
From Angola to Cape Town, from East Berlin to West Berlin, from Libya to Paris, Martin gets entangled with Nelson Mandela’s ANC, the BND (West German intelligence service), and the plans of enemies and compatriots alike — all while trying to stay alive and make it home.
Deutschland 86 continues the (modified) hero’s journey tale of Martin Rauch that series creators Anna Winger and Jörg Winger started in the International Emmy® Award-winning Deutschland 83, and brings him full circle after ten exciting episodes filled with action, suspense, and humorous moments.
(By the way, the story will continue in the next installment, Deutschland 89.)
As with Season 1, music and pop culture references from the era are scattered throughout the the fabulous second season, from the late Falco’s original German version of “Der Kommissar” (finally!) to Jane Fonda’s workout tapes to The Love Boat.
New characters introduced in Deutschland 86 include Brigitte Winkelmann (Lavinia Wilson, Frau Böhm sagt Nein), a dentist and the wife of Frank Winkelmann (Philipp Hochmair, Blochin), the West German trade commissioner; Tina Fischer (Fritzi Haberlandt, Babylon Berlin), the doctor at Potsdam Hospital who oversees the new drug trial; Rose Seithathi (Florence Kasumba, Avengers: Infinity War), the “slickest secret operative south of the Equator”; Barbara Dietrich (Anke Engelke, Kommissarin Lucas), the Socialist Party member heading up the HVA special commission set up to bring money into East Germany through business deals that sound quite capitalistic; and all-around bad guy Gary Banks (Jonathan Pienaar, Cape Town).
Returning cast members include Alexander Beyer (War and Peace) as Tobias Tischbier, Martin’s former handler for the Stasi; Niels Bormann (Crime Scene Cleaner) as nerdy Party member Fritz Hartmann; Vladimir Burlakov (In the Face of Crime) as Thomas Posimski, Annett’s former colleague and Tina Fischer’s brother; Michaela Caspar (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Party member Frau Netz; Uwe Preuss (The Same Sky) as Lenora’s boss, Marcus Fuchs; Ludwig Trepte (1864) as Alex Edel, who served in the military with Martin; and Carina N. Wiese (The Book Thief) as Ingrid Rauch, Martin’s mother.
If you missed the premiere of Deutschland 86 at 12 AM (ET) this morning, you can stream it on the SundanceTV website (login required). Episode 2 debuts at the same time tonight on the SundanceTV cable channel. Like the first two, the rest of the episodes will air at midnight on Thursday and Friday nights (technically Friday and Saturday mornings).
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