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Series / Berlin Station

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The truth is out there in Berlin.

Berlin Station is a Epix Spy Fiction drama television series created by Olen Steinhauer for the Epix channel, starring Richard Armitage, Rhys Ifans, Richard Jenkins, Michelle Forbes, Leland Orser, Tamlyn Tomita, Ashley Judd, Keke Palmer and Ismael Cruz Córdova. It aired on Epix for three seasons from 2016 to 2018.

CIA analyst Daniel Miller (Armitage) is reassigned to the Agency's Berlin station as a case officer, working under Station Chief Stephen Frost (Jenkins) and alongside his old friend Hector DeJean (Ifans). Amidst the day-to-day agent handling and politicking of the intelligence business, Miller has a secret assignment: to root out the identity of "Thomas Shaw", a whistleblower who has been leaking Agency secrets to the German press. Later seasons focus on personnel turnover at the station, right-wing extremists in German politics, and a Russian ultranationalist plot in Estonia.

The show was very much the Stale Beer variety of Spy Fiction, noted for showing its work with regards to the nuts and bolts of intelligence work.

This show provides examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: The third season (and thus series) finale. Berlin Station foiled the Russian ultranationalist plot and saved Estonia, but Daniel is dead, his killer walks free, Esther is grief-stricken and set on revenge, and Robert has tipped into full-on psychotic break territory and his career is basically over.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Not quite as bad as some other films and series, but a great deal more than required by any stylistic considerations except showing off the writer's vulgarity.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: As in reality, CIA black sites are places where prisoners who haven't been charged with a crime are tortured for information. Hector worked at a black site before his assignment to Berlin Station, and it resolved him to become a whistleblower as Thomas Shaw.
  • Cowboy Cop: Rafael Torres, introduced in season 3, is the CIA's resident in Estonia. He has a reputation for being reckless and insubordinate, and demonstrates this trait repeatedly when he starts working with Berlin Station.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Hector DeJean sleeps with both men and women to gain intelligence. His personal life is a complete mess as a result.
  • Double Agent: In season 1, a disaffected Robert is recruited as a double by Mossad officer Golda Friedman. Robert later claims he was trailing his coat on purpose to serve as a triple agent, and uses his new in with Mossad to help resolve a crisis at the station.
  • Driving Question: Who is Thomas Shaw, and why is he targeting Berlin Station?
    • In season 3, who is the Cold War CIA operative known as "Diver"?
  • First-Episode Twist: Hector is Thomas Shaw.
  • Gambit Pileup: Nearly every character has their own agenda (some have multiple agendas) and they are all constantly crashing into one another throughout the first season.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the CIA and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz aka the BfVnote , mostly because of the bad publicity the former's receiving and the illegal actions the agency has done over the past.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: The CIA is suspecting that a supposedly reformed terrorist is helping ISIL by smuggling Muslim sympathizers living in Germany in the guise of an underground refugee transport network.
    • A couple of girls planned to travel to Syria in "Unter Druck" when they were picked up by police at the airport.
  • The New Russia: In season 3, Russian oligarchs working with the Kremlin's backing are pushing much of the action. Several episodes are dedicated to Torres infiltrating an oligarch's operations.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The actions of Thomas Shaw are similar to what Edward Snowden's been doing after he leaked secrets of the NSA before he went on the run.
  • Oh, Crap!: Whenever leaks from the CIA and the BfV are publicly broadcasted to the public in the first season.
  • Scenery Porn: Berlin is shown in its glory, including the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Shown Their Work: The depiction of the CIA and intelligence work is much more true-to-life than most films and TV series.
    • Berlin Station is located within the American embassy, and the employees have official covers as low- to mid-ranking diplomats.
    • Those working in the field are referred to as "Case Officers", while the local assets that they run are called "Agents". As a rule, officers don't give their real names to agents.
    • Officers discuss "MICE" several times, that being an acronym for the four pillars of agent recruitment: Money ("We'll pay you to spy for us"), Ideology ("Spy for us because it's the right thing to do"), Coercion ("We can ruin your life if you don't spy for us), and Ego ("Spy for us because you'll feel good").
  • Spy Fiction: Very much a stale beer and cigarettes story. Everyone involved is cynical towards their jobs and most are just trying to survive (as in not get fired rather than not get killed) long enough to retire with a pension. The one tuxedo seen in Season 1 is begrudgingly worn and is discarded as quickly as possible.
  • Stealing from the Till: In season 1, it's revealed that Stephen and Robert have running "phantom agents" (i.e. wholly fictitious intelligence sources, existing only on paper) and pocketing the payments made to them.
  • Straw Character: In "Everything’s Gonna Be Alt-Right", the CIA has covertly investigated a right-wing politician who plans to use the federal elections to inspire extreme right-wing groups.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The third season opens with a Flash Forward to a new star being carved on the CIA's memorial wall, as happens when an officer is killed in the line of duty, indicating that one of the main characters will die.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Everyone in the CIA's Berlin substation, especially with how they should pursue and hunt down terrorists and protecting defectors.
  • Western Terrorists: The Red Army Faction is mentioned by Daniel in "Lights Don't Run on Loyalty" as part of his Dark and Troubled Past brooding with Hector.