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Series / The Defeated

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"Me to you, and you to me."

The Defeated (originally titled Shadowplay) is a series that premiered in 2020, starring Taylor Kitsch, Michael C. Hall, Logan Marshall-Green, Nina Hoss, Tuppence Middleton and Sebastian Koch among others. It is billed as a "Netflix Original" in some countries.

It is set in the summer of 1946. World War II has left Berlin in ruins, the city is under occupation by Americans, British, French and Soviets. Hunger, unemployment, and crime run rampant even as the nominal Allies drift apart and the Cold War is about to start. Into this mess comes Max McLaughlin, a Brooklyn cop who arrives to help train a German civilian police force to try to bring some order to the post war chaos. He not only has to deal with hostile Soviets and a dreaded crime lord known as the Angel Maker, but also with his own quest to find his brother Moritz, who recently disappeared somewhere in the city.



  • All Germans Are Nazis: The prevalence of this trope causes a problem for the German protagonists, as they have to constantly prove that they are trustworthy. The officer in charge of the Russian sector is even trying to make this an Enforced Trope by killing the popular and honest head of Berlin's new police force because he can't have a "good German" running around.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Nobody in the audience sheds a tear for the two rapist GIs who are killed in revenge by Karin.
    • The audience is also tempted to fist pump every time Moritz brutally kills a Nazi.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Dr. Gladow got the moniker "Angel Maker" (Engelmacher) because of his work as a clandestine abortionist.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The vault beneath the bank where suspects and witnesses and suspects are interrogated. In the first season finale Elsie and the scarecrows use it to survive the bomb Karin plants at the station.
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  • Crapsack World: Berlin in the immediate aftermath of World War II is the crime capital of the world, most of the city is still in ruins, there is almost no food, no jobs, crime is rampant and God protect you if you come to the attention of the Russians.
  • Crime After Crime: After killing the GIs who raped her, Karin ends up killing Green Eyes, the only witness who saw her at the scene.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The ways Moritz goes about killing Nazis are pretty horrific ways, such as being slowly cooked alive.
  • Cunning Linguist: German police chief Elsie doesn't just speak English and Russian, but also Latin. Justified because before the war she taught semiotics at a University.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Franklin kills George so he will not be around to defend himself when he is framed for the secret flights evacuating high ranking Nazis and their families.
  • Dirty Communists: The Soviets are overall portrayed pretty negatively, from their haphazard killing of civilians to their harassment and rape of German women to their prisons where they torture and starve German POW's. The hard-hearted Commissar Izosimov is the personification of postwar Soviet brutality. He does get his Pet the Dog moment towards the end, though.
  • Family Theme Naming: The McLaughlin brothers were named by their German mother after Max and Moritz.
  • Fingore: Commissar Izosimov tortures Gad by tearing his fingernails out and tapping pins on his exposed nail beds.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Karin Mann goes from a humble waitress to the Angel Maker’s top lieutenant, personally killing several people and masterminding the massacre at the police precinct.
  • Heel Realization: When Karin enters the police station disguised as Trude to set off a bomb, she hears the Elsie talk about why she wants to capture the Angel Maker. Hearing her speech about all his crimes makes her realize just what the Angel Maker turned her into, and she attempts to disarm the bomb. She fails, but she also goes to Trude's house to take care of her kids after the Angel Maker has her killed.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • Commissar Izosimov uses Elsie's husband as leverage to get her to spy on Max and the Americans.
    • Angel Maker and Karin get Trude's cooperation to plant the bomb by threatening her daughters.
  • Karma Houdini: While his involvement in taking bribes to allow the escape of high ranking Nazis and their families is discovered (and it is implied he will be blackmailed for it), Tom Franklin's murder of George is unknown to everyone.
  • Knowledge Broker: The Angel Maker uses his extensive network of brothels and informants to acquire information that he can trade to the occupying powers.
  • Lady Drunk: Claire Franklin is hardly ever seen without a drink in her hand and the other characters straight up call her an alcoholic.
  • My Greatest Failure: Max views himself as responsible for Moritz' desertion and rampage, as he destroyed the letter from Moritz' psychiatrist declaring him unfit for duty.
  • Not My Driver: Moritz captures the Franklins in the first season finale by knocking out their driver and taking their place. It is more justified than most instances of this trope because the victims were too busy arguing with each other to notice it wasn't their regular driver.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The teenager "Green Eyes" is only known by that nickname, as she refuses to share her actual name.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
    • Karin gets to brutally murder the two American soldiers who raped her.
    • After seeing firsthand the horrors of Dachau, Moritz goes on a one man crusade to kill as many Nazis involved in the Holocaust as possible.
    • The group Nakamnote  shows up in one episode, with Gad mentioning their plot to poison thousands of German prisoners. Historically, that was their only accomplishment, and no deaths can be attributed to them.
  • Pet the Dog: Once he it becomes inevitable that Leopold will be dead within a day, the ruthless Commissar Izosimov sets Leopold free to spend his last hours with Elsie, personally driving him there in civilian clothes and leaving a note for Elsie informing her that she is no longer required to spy on the Americans.
  • Police Are Useless: A more justified example than most, as the reason the police is so ineffective is because they are a bunch of recently recruited civilians with no law enforcement experience, no supplies, no training, no guns and operating out of an old bank.
  • Practical Currency: Cigarettes and food items are incredibly rare in Berlin, being used as currency, to the point that not actual money is ever used over the course of the first season.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Elsie mentions that things are so bad in Berlin, that the only crimes worth reporting to the police are murder and rape, and there have been 100,000 reported cases so far during the occupation.
  • Street Urchin: The ruined Berlin is littered with orphans fending for themselves, ranging in ages from little children to teenagers. Some of them are even working for the Angel Maker.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Moritz was diagnosed with schizophrenia and his psychiatrist declared him unfit to serve. This led to him snapping when his unit discovered the Dachau death camp; he executed many of the SS guards on the spot, and then went AWOL and began seeking out Nazis to brutally torture them to death.
  • Uncertain Doom: The fates of several characters is left uncertain by the first season finale:
    • Moritz is found alive but severely wounded by a farmer as he is truing to make his way to Rome to kill the Pope.
    • Angel Maker is taken away by the O.S.O., but it is unrevealed if they took him up on his offer to work for them, or if they're arresting him for the myriad crimes he has committed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Moritz murders the entire Weber family, including the children, by impaling them through the neck and stringing them up on poles. A hallmark of his disturbed mental state is that he views the children of Nazis as equally culpable of the crimes of their parents — when discussing the secret flights helping Nazi war criminals escape, he disparagingly refers to "their little Nazi children."


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