The first half of ”Just Decisions” isn’t bad, it’s just not very interesting. It’s the soup course: well-made, probably good for you, but still the dull part of the meal you just need to get through so you can get to the tasty bits. (Unless you really like soup, in which case, just ignore this paragraph.) This particular dish has some solid, if not exactly inspiring ingredients – the meeting with German intelligence, Dr Dubenko’s dealings with Mossad – but it also has some decidedly sour, annoying ones. Ingrid, for a start: her self-righteousness is all very well and to be expected, to a degree, but a supposedly clever journalist being so incredibly naive it borders on abject stupidity, is not. I can’t understand what sort of idiot would think that the idea that the CIA is involved in torture and nefariousness would come as a surprise to an ACTUAL CIA AGENT, let alone anybody else on the planet, but turns out her name’s Ingrid and she lives in Berlin.
Hector, meanwhile, is just as irritating and naive, if not more so. He’s making a complete nuisance of himself haranguing Clare and anyone else who will listen (willingly or otherwise) to try and stop her taking part in the episode’s main course – the big centrepiece mission at the shopping centre. Shut UP, Hector. Somebody should send him to a black site and give us all peace.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, though, and the mission goes horrifically wrong, though not for the reasons most important to Hector (which essentially boil down to “I love Clare, so NO!”) but more because of a couple of strokes of very bad luck and a really terrible coincidence or two. For the people in the shopping centre, spies or not, the consequences are awful, but for the show, the mission scenes provide a very necessary jolt to a series at risk of becoming soporific. The second half of the ep, following the shopping centre op in its entirety is utterly gripping; a showcase of just how compelling and nerve-wracking Berlin Station can be when it stops trying to teach us about the world-weary slog of being a spy and remembers to entertain us with the exciting, scary bits instead.