ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

If you've ever been to the supermarket and found yourself feeling awed and overwhelmed by aisle after aisle of foods both domestic and exotic, canned and fresh, you have at least one thing in common with Moritz Stamm, the fish out of water protagonist of Deutschland 83.

In Deutschland's gripping first episode, 24 year old East German officer Martin Rauch was relocated to Bonn to gain intel on the West and given the cover identity of Moritz Stamm, whilst the real Stamm was given a bullet.

After escaping his handlers, Martin ends up at a supermarket whose shelves are stocked with products not available in the West. The soundtrack - Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - hammers the point home.

After being captured by another undercover Stasi officer, Tobias, Martin remarks on his tasty, alien supermarket lunch. Tobias scoffs. "Full of chemicals. Western governments want to keep their citizens fat, lazy and complacent."

In the divided Germany of 1983, even food is politicised. It's a great piece of dialogue which cleverly lays this series' cards on the table. A lot happened over the course of the first three episodes, but if you're reading this it's because you're at episode 4, so let's talk about that.

Spoilers ahead for 'Northern Wedding'.

Much of the first half of 'Northern Wedding' plays out like a coming of age story. We see the romantic arcs of Stamm and Alexander Edel play out with Linda Seiler and Tobias, respectively, and in both stories the motivations of certain characters remain murky.

Moritz genuinely appears to be falling for Linda - or is he just adapting well to his mission, displaying the same skill for manipulation as his Stasi handler? A message left in that tree near the military training camp instructs Stamm to deal with Linda, although quite what the subtext of that is remains unclear: kill her, or frame her for installing the bug under Mayer's desk in Brussels?

Stamm seems to interpret it as the former, and during a post-picnic swim he returns stealthily to shore as Linda flails and threatens to drown in the depths of the lake. Ultimately though, his conscience gets the better of him, and he pulls Linda to safety, ironically becoming her hero. Giving Linda his mother's wedding ring, a wedding is arranged.

Even at this moment, both parties apparently in love, the odds of Martin Rauch, East German spy, swapping vows with Linda Seiler, hopelessly naive West German secretary, seem long, to say the very least.

Back in Bonn, Alexander goes AWOL - does he ever report for duty? - in the wake of a colossal row with his father at the Edel family home. Every simmering tension rises to the surface during this thrillingly heated exchange (every tension, that is, besides his sexuality - presumably the General has no idea) which culminates with one very telling line of dialogue...

You're just a Nazi like your own father!

If the General has been a somewhat difficult character to pin down, a man of mild character with no apparent passion for anything besides his nation and his fish, this feels like the moment we get to understand him a little better. Perhaps his devotion to the mission is a product of shame.

He certainly doesn't respond well, striking his son across the face - or rather, attempting to. In fact, Mrs. Edel steps in to protect Alexander, and ends up in the firing line herself. Shellshocked, General Edel orders Alex to leave.

Considering his favourite thing in the world is storming out of houses with a bag on his shoulder and a look of tearful rage on his face, Alexander seems quite content with that, and before long he's at Tobias' place, where the two men finally succumb to their mutual attraction.

Later, in bed, we see a different side to Alexander. He seems to have fallen for Tobias in record time, which probably isn't a surprise given that his family and military career have kept him closeted up until now - so it comes as a harsh reality check when Tobias effectively gives him the same advice as his father: return to duty and behave.

After dressing hastily, he has a breakdown on Tobias' lawn. Realistically, Alexander should be in therapy. He's a mess. But his mother is too busy murdering fish whilst his father devotes himself to the national security of West Germany, comically unaware of the security breach in his own office.

The future is not bright for Alex.

Having been called in to discuss the bug in Brussels, Stamm makes the decision to throw Linda under the bus, but he miscalculates by assuring Linda that her boss will take the fall for planting the device, unaware of a previous romantic liaison between Linda and Mayer.

When she finally works out that Stamm is an East German spy - and that he is not, in fact, Moritz Stamm at all - Linda reacts in the most typically Linda fashion: rather than coming up with a cover story to leave the hotel room and get to safety, she freaks out and runs.

Stamm puts in a call to Tobias and then gives chase, soon catching up with her in the forest, where for a brief moment it appears he might kill her himself. No need: a car, presumably sent by Tobias, mows her down in cold blood.

Linda Seiler may have been a crazy cat lady of mediocre intellect who positively invited emotional manipulation, but she didn't deserve this. Will it be a turning point? Is this the moment Stamm loses his humanity?

In the surreal closing scene, he catches up with the General's daughter, Yvonne, at a disco, and they disrobe as though the world is about to end. Stamm certainly doesn't waste any time, and neither does Deutschland 83: this episode was a fast-paced thrill ride.

Episode 5, Cold Fire, airs Sunday 31st January on Channel 4 in the UK.


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