If there’s a tv trope almost as ubiquitous as the Secret Pain these days, it’s the flashback explaining the Secret Pain. This week, Berlin Station joins the host of shows trotting it out, filling us in on Daniel Miller’s Secret Professional Pain, in addition to the Secret Personal one we already knew about. Is this necessary? We already know he and Hector are old friends with history. I would have said that was all we needed, but instead we now have the standard side dishes of the terrible mistake, the not-that-clever cover-up, the guilt eating away at us, and the very good chance we’re going to mess up again as a result. Sigh. Richard Armitage is more than capable of selling it, but if the next spy/ secret agent-type drama I watch could sidestep this particular cluster of cliches, I’d be much obliged.
I’d be even more obliged if every one of these shows didn’t insist on painting Muslims as either terrorists (side-eyes Bodyguard) or accidental bomb /bullet fodder in the hunt for terrorists, but that appears to be too much to hope for these days. Unless you’re watching Blindspot, that is: it’s acquired a pleasingly diverse range of wrong’uns, but Bindspot’s a topic for another day and another post.
Anyway, no doubt the makers of Belin Station would say there are plenty of non-Muslim villains in their story, and there are. Michelle Forbes may be uncovering an ISIL mail-order bride business, but Richard Armitage’s eyes are on the Shaw and Creepy Cheekbones prize, even if he has to see a lot more of Joker’s boss than he would like in the process. The “Magic Date” sequence is wildly uncomfortable and has me fretting about consent and violation and all sorts of things I think the show wants me to ignore in favour of the easy smirk, but the other aspects of that story are better: the rooftop / server room op, Daniel letting Joker go in the hope she’ll come back, and Daniel realising that there’s something suspicious about Hector being the particular highlights. Hector hitting on Daniel’s cousin, though – no, thanks.
Back at the office, meanwhile, Dr Dubenko may genuinely be trying to get Frost promoted, or he may not. Either way, they end up at a conference on Iranian/ German relations, and Frost gets into some sort of love/ revenge quadrangle business with his wife, his mistress and his arch-rival. It’s not my favourite storyline and I’m not that keen on Dr Dubenko potentially turning traitor either, but it gives Richard Jenkins plenty to do and Caroline Goodall’s Kelly shows us there’s a canny head under that perfect coiffure, so we’re good. This episode, however, while well-made and exquisitely-acted, was a bit more like homework than entertainment. If it weren’t for Herr Armitage, I’m not sure I’d be back.