Deutschland 83 abruptly gets serious this week: the bug in Linda’s (still ravishing) Art Deco desk is discovered early in the episode, and for the rest of the episode Martin is scrambling to escape the consequences. For NATO, it means that someone in Henrik Meyer’s inner circle – perhaps Meyer himself – is a spy. And for Martin, it means that he either has to “turn” Linda, or “eliminate” her, as instructed by East German intelligence. One of the strengths of the episode is how difficult it is to interpret Martin’s feelings for Linda: does he really love her, or is he just doing his job? He seems a little put out when she surprises him in Bonn, but their scenes together at the lakeside suggest genuine affection; and, of course, when she’s on the verge of drowning he can’t let it happen, even though it would solve the problem that she’s become. I’m going for “mostly love”, which in its way makes Linda’s enthusiasm for their relationship even more touching.
Martin equivocates about reading Linda in by first pretending to be a member of the BND. But when the investigations into the bug start to get closer to home, and he tries to put the blame on Meyer, he unwittingly overplays his hand; what he doesn’t know is that there’s no way on earth Linda will go along with that, because (the married) Meyer and Linda were lovers at one point as well. This is a beautifully-judged twist which at a stroke gives both Meyer and Linda a morally-complex backstory. In the immediate short term, though, it blows Martin’s cover as far as Linda is concerned; she’s seen enough of Meyer to know for certain that he’s not a spy, which means that Martin is.
Until that point I wasn’t sure how Linda’s story was going to play out. But from then on it has a sad inevitability: she runs away from Martin, correctly deducing him to be the person behind the bug; Martin phones Tischbier in a panic, and is reassured that the problem will be taken care of; and it is. On top of that there’s an unbearably sad conclusion to Meyer’s story as he takes his own life, having been threatened with exposure by Lenora, who has the goods on his affair with Linda. Meyer, of course, as we have seen, was (his dalliance with Linda notwithstanding) a decent man, and the voice of sanity in the NATO room. It’ll be interesting to see how his departure alters the balance of the show’s politics; presumably he and Linda will be regarded as spies, and his desire to avoid war will now be painted as further evidence of his Communist leanings.
The rest of the episode is inevitably a little insubstantial compared with the main plot, although everything else was kept on a simmer. Alex Edel rants (with, I fancied, some Hitlerian mannerisms, although that might be showing my own prejudices) at his father, the General, and then runs into the welcoming embrace of the predatory Tischbier, whose grooming of Alex – politically and sexually – is now more or less complete. Annett tackles Thomas about the proscribed books in Ingrid’s house, and is contemplating involving Schweppenstette, which I’m still speculating might have been Lenora’s plan all along. Renate is still drinking too much, but continuing to voice her suspicions about Martin. And Martin himself, bizarrely, heads over to Yvonne’s commune and makes out with her, although there was a hallucinogenic quality to the scene which made it less than reliable. A very strong episode, with a real emotional heft.