Deutschland 86 – ‘Chickenfeed’

Episode Nine


Tina goes West, and Martin goes East. At one point, Tina and Martin pass each other at the border, going to opposite sides of Germany.

Tina is released from the Stasi and is taken along with other released prisoners to the border. Tina asks where her husband and children are, but gets no answers from
guards on either the East or the West side.

Once over the border, Tina waits for Christoph, Sandra and Steffi. Thomas comes to meet her, but he assumed that Christoph, Sandra and Steffi would be with Tina. They wait a while, and Thomas wants to get Tina to his house so she can rest after her ordeal with her escape attempt and her time in the Stasi. But Tina is worried that Sandra and Steffi will be sent over the border in the middle of the night and she won’t be there to greet them, leaving them in the dark in a part of Berlin they’ve never known.

Eventually, nightfall comes, and Tina still insists on waiting. Thomas’ girlfriend Maike (Lana Cooper) arrives, and they both try and talk Tina into going to Thomas’ house. They find out that Tina’s husband and daughters aren’t coming. I think Tina had already figured that out, but having had that fear confirmed, she is distraught.

Tina at least has an idea where Christoph is, as he was in the Stasi with her, but she knows nothing about what has happened to her children, and that in particular is what makes this situation all the more awful.

Sandra and Steffi are in an East German orphanage with a whole group of children who are told that their parents “abandoned you for a life in the West”. We know at least this isn’t true for Sandra and Steffi’s parents, so it might not be true for the others either. In any case, the orphanage is making sure that the children are firmly indoctrinated with East Germany’s ways. They want to make sure this generation stays with them, and that they will be adopted by loyal East Germans. A couple come in and are told to pick one or two children, and pick Sandra and Steffi!

Martin is back in East Germany. When he crosses the border, Walter is there to meet him. Martin is surprised Ingrid isn’t there, but Walter tells him she doesn’t know he is back yet! Martin has to be questioned by the HVA first.

Martin is taken back to the East German inner circle, and given a round of applause! They congratulate him on all he has done since leaving East Germany, from his teaching in Angola to his spy antics since. They ask if it is true he has infiltrated West Germany’s BND, and he says this is correct.

Martin’s main interviewer is Annett. Brigitte predicted that East Germany would choose Annett for this role, and Brigitte also gives Martin a microfilm. It contains confidential BND information, but it’s mainly a distraction to keep East German intelligence occupied for a while, so the information is unlikely to be anything useful or damaging. Martin gives this microfilm to Hartmann to analyse (and pointedly not to Annett, who had her hand out for it!).

Martin tells Annett that “the sexual intercourse [with Brigitte] was purely professional”. He also more or less admits to being a double agent now, but insists that really he’s completely loyal to East Germany. Looking at his actions rather than his words though, he is behaving more like a double agent, as he isn’t telling either side the whole truth (which, of course, is the smart thing to do in the circumstances). He also says to Annett he wants to see Max, to which she replies that he can… at some undetermined point in the future.

Martin and Walter go to Ingrid’s flat. Ingrid had earlier been told by Lenora in a “strictly-confidential-off-the-record-shouldn’t-really-be-telling-you-this” sort of way that Martin was alive and well, but obviously it is still a very emotional moment for Ingrid to be reunited with her son after three years.

Martin finds out from Walter that Max has never receieved any of the letters Martin has sent him! Walter has kept them all in a box. Martin says as a child he hated the fact his father never had any contact with him, and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to his own son. He wonders if Walter also has a box of letters he sent Martin during his childhood which Martin never got to read. Walter doesn’t exactly deny it.

Operation Dream Ship is underway. Many of the officials due to be on it are staying at a hotel in Rostock before setting sail. Martin learns Lenora and Rose are there, so goes himself.

He finds out that there is a man named Kurt (Axwel Wandtke) working in the basement looking at video screens, which show what is happening in every single room! Every
one has a hidden camera and is bugged. Martin pretends to be there on the orders of Commander Fuchs, and he asks Kurt why they need access to such information as what
people are doing in hotel bedrooms. Kurt says it’s “To protect the state and the citizens […..] From themselves”. Which is a sinister enough statement, but also kind of hypocritical on Kurt’s part anyway, as he’s mainly using it for his own voyeurism, to snoop at people having sex.

One camera is on Lenora and Rose’s room. Lenora does seem aware that they are being watched and listened to, as she looks directly at the cameras a few times and makes
sure to whisper to Rose when discussing their plan to get the weapons to Rose’s allies rather than to West Germany.

Martin tells Kurt to “cut the feed” in Fuch’s room, as Fuchs is “[their] superior and should be respected”. Fuchs had asked that the feed to his room and his alone should be cut as it happens, because obviously HE’S allowed privacy, but nobody else is. Though Kurt didn’t listen to him, and he doesn’t pay much more attention to Martin either. But in Martin’s case it was a ruse anyway. He just wanted the camera and bug turned off so he can sneak into Fuchs’ room and use his phone. Martin calls Thomas, but it goes to his answering machine.

Martin goes to the dock and takes photographs of the weapons being loaded onto the ship, and of Lenora meeting Frank Winkelmann. What Lenora and Frank are discussing is Frank threatening to go public about his and Lenora’s meetings unless Lenora gets him some cash – 250 grand to be exact!

Martin is then held at gunpoint by Gary! Gary tells Martin he wants Rose, as she is working for the ANC, who he is against. Suddenly Gary is shot in the back of the head (and the blood splatters all over Martin’s face!). When Gary’s body falls, we see that the person who pulled the trigger was Rose. She got Gary before he could get her!

Thomas and Maike listen to the answering machine message Martin left. Martin gives Thomas directions to pick up a microfilm of photo negatives Martin has taken of the activity in the docks, suggesting that they can sell them to the West German press, and use the money to transfer Sandra and Steffi to West Germany. Martin says he made a mistake and is now trying to rectify it. He is almost certainly referring to guilt he feels for contributing to the Fischer family getting caught during their escape attempt.

If you’re wondering what Fuchs was doing in his hotel room… he was having a bath with Dietrich!

Walter warns Ingrid not to drink any milk at the moment due to the fallout from the Chernobyl disaster.

I have to admit, I quite liked Annett’s blue eyelashes! That and the fact she made sure to put lipstick on because she was due to question Martin.

‘Chickenfeed’ was quite an emotional episode really! There was Ingrid finally getting to see Martin again. Martin, who is normally very composed, shed tears during his conversation with his father, Walter, about not wanting history to repeat itself for his son, Max. Plus the very upsetting scenes with Tina heartbroken that her children and husband weren’t coming over the border. On more positive emotions, there was the intimacy of Lenora and Rose’s relationship. All of that plus all the various plots really going full steam ahead as we go towards the final episode.

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