Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Tar Baby

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It's been a long three years, but our favorite East German spy is back!

Martin Rauch has been working in an East German orphanage in Angola since his exile, but when Lenora pays him a visit on Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1, he goes from playing board games with the kids to playing arms games with the adults.

Big Guns

Martin is understandably bitter. He saved the world from an imminent nuclear war back in 1983, but instead of thanking him for his service, East German intelligence kicked him out of the country and away from his family and his son, who he's never even had the chance to meet. 

There's no reason he should trust Lenora, but Lenora is a smooth talker and uses his son as a bargaining chip to get Martin to help her cause.

Related: Deutschland86 Interview: Joerg Winger Talks Spies and Adventure

He knows she's lying mostly because she was so quick to agree to his conditions, yet he decides to help her anyway.

Maybe he's tired of being in the Angolan heat. Or maybe it's because he knows that eventually, Lenora will be true to her word. After all, she did get his mother the kidney transplant she promised when she first convinced him to become a spy.

More than likely, though, he sees this as an opportunity to get back to East Germany on his own. If Lenora gets him out of Angola, he can find his own way back to his mother, Annett, and his son.

The Team - Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1

But he doesn't seem to be playing that angle, at least not yet.

Lenora was pleased that Martin seemed so malleable and eager to jump into character, but she was in for a huge surprise.

Related: Get Walter Presents via Prime Video Channels for Original, Exclusive, Hit Series from Around the World!

Martin is a changed man. He questions things he would never have in the past because he sees the world differently now, through a new lens. It's not as black and white as it once was.

When Rose explains the history of the conflict in South Africa and how all the pieces fit together, he asks who the real good guys are, the east or the west?

And when push comes to shove during the arms transaction later, he doesn't hesitate to take action when he learns that the guys who were buying the arms were planning to use them on an oil refinery in Angola which just happened to be located right next to the orphanage he left behind.

Martin Thinks - Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1

He wasn't about to partake in a deal that would be responsible for the murder of innocent lives.

Yet, by making the suggestion they instead try to sell the arms to the Angolan army, won't his hands still be bloody from the deaths that happen on the other side?

It's a precarious line that begs the question of whether there truly is any "right" side in any conflict.

Related: Explore Hundreds of Hours of Curated Historical Videos with History Vault via Prime Video Channels!

Despite the seriousness of the situation, I loved how smoothly Martin moved from showing the "bad" guys how to use the weapon to actually using it as a weapon to kick their butts.

There's so much to love about Martin Rauch as he tries to figure out the good and bad on a world stage, and seeing how it all plays out through his eyes is what makes this series so fascinating, and what makes him, as a hero, so endearing.

Rose and Lenora - Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1

But while Martin tries to figure it all out in his way and on his terms, we also see another angle through the eyes of Lenora.

It's amazing that she hasn't decided to throw in the towel. She's so hip that you'd think she'd chuck it all and embrace the changing world.

Lenora: Dangerous people were after you, Martin.
Martin: Didn't we build the Wall to keep dangerous people out?

Yet, she still steadfastly supports the ideals of East Germany and is intent on helping her home country survive even as communism continues to crumble around her.

Her alliance with Rose, a secret operative for Nelson Mandela's ANC, is interesting because as much as she's following the rules, she's also breaking them, and I'm curious to find out how those two initially got together.

Walter Takes Charge

Two other people still steadfastly holding on to soon-to-be outdated ideals are Annett and Schweppenstette who are working together to do anything and everything to bring money into East Germany -- even going as far as allowing their citizens to be guinea pigs for new drugs being developed out of the West.

How ironic is that development?

Annett: So your little miracle cures Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Mr. Amend: You can't cure it. Thank God!
Walter: Why thank God?
Mr. Amend: So we can sell this drug to our customers for a very long time.

They were quick to defend their country and its citizens to Mr. Amend, yet, despite their claims that all East Germans were fit and healthy and their denials that no East Germans had AIDS, they had no problem offering up those same citizens for a few thousand Deutschmarks for their coffers.

Annett Has a Secret - Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1

Not only that, they, like Lenora are trying to have their cake and eat it too. 

Annett is in possession of a banned book written by her former lover and Martin's friend, Thomas, and Walter secretly watches The Love Boat, a super popular American (gasp!) TV series.

Why is it okay for them to harbor these little secrets while publicly condemning anyone else who might be doing the same?

It's possible they think they'll lose all sense of national identity if they fully embrace all the changes happening around them.

It's hard to understand that thought process as an American, but, in a way, it is understandable.

Little boy: Want to play? You can have North America.
Lenora: What?
Martin: North America. Everyone wants it. Only two borders to defend.
Lenora: That's why Americans don't understand the world. They only speak one language, but they think they're the best.

Change is hard, and when you find yourself starting to like everything you were taught to hate, it has to be a little scary. 

I've said this before, but one of the best things about this series is seeing the world through the perspective of what we, as Americans, were taught was the wrong way to think.

It challenges my thought process on how I view the world. Are people or countries who embrace ideologies different from my own any better or worse than me?

And who am I to force my ideologies on anyone else or any other country in the first place?

It's a complicated question.

As we watch Martin and the others evolve, perhaps, we, as the audience, will too.

Random Thoughts:

  • Lenora continues to be an '80s fashion goddess. Everything she wears is perfect.
  • How funny was it when Rose felt Martin's preppy country club disguise was lacking until she gave him a pair of mirror sunglasses?
  • Could Brigitte Winklemann be any more obvious that she was ready to bed Martin right then and there?
  • Speaking of hot Martin, hearing him speak English sent my heart aflutter. English with a heavy German accent is sexy as hell.
  • How the hell did Schweppenstette get turned onto The Love Boat in the first place? He's got good taste! I loved that show!
  • What will Ingrid think when and if she catches Annett with a banned book?
  • Is it possible that Thomas is the real father of Max and not Martin?

Over to you!

What did you think of "Tar Baby"? 

Did you find it as riveting as I did? What was your favorite part? 

Will Martin ever get to meet his son? Will he ever get back to East Germany?

What do you think of the addition of Rose to Lenora's team?

Hit the comments and share your thoughts.

If you need to catch up, you can watch Deutschland86 online right here via TV Fanatic!

Tar Baby Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (1 Vote)

Lisa Babick is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Deutschland86 Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

East Germany is expensive. And that's not because we're greedy. It's because equality is expensive. Our ideals are expensive and it's up to government organizations such as ours to support these ideals efficiently.

Dietrich

And one more thing. I hate to say it, but...I need a man.

Lenora