Deutschland 86 – ‘Total Onslaught’

Episode Ten – Finale


The finale of Deutschland 86, so this episode is very important for where the characters end up, both geographically and personally.

Martin meets up with Frau Netz in East Berlin. She tells Martin that if he can bring Lenora to her, alive, then she can arrange for Martin, Lenora and Max to get safely to West Berlin.

Commander Fuchs tells the East German inner circle that “Operation Dream Ship has been sunk!”, as photos of it have been leaked to the West German press. Because of the scandal, Fuchs says they will have to call the ship back. Dietrich thinks they should just go ahead with the plan, as if they don’t they will lose money, and “what else is there?” but money, which sums up her attitude. Lenora tries to push for the weapons sales to go ahead too, as she still wants to get the weapons sold to the ANC (rather than East Germany’s intended Western buyers), and she reasons that any legal repercussions will take at least five years to start, and “who knows if we [i.e, Communist East Germany] will exist in five years?”. As it turned out, it wouldn’t even exist in three years.

Fuchs decides to call the ship back anyway. Lenora is summoned to his office, and she’s blamed for the phone call which was made to West Germany from the hotel room. We know of course that it was Martin who made the phone call, and Martin who took the photos, but the HVA don’t. However, they also suspect Lenora is closer to Rose than she is to East Germany, and on that point they aren’t entirely incorrect, as Lenora was planning on selling the weapons to Rose’s allies instead of who East Germany wanted them sold to. Fuchs also accuses Lenora of not “keeping up with the changing times”, which seems to mainly mean she’s voicing disaproval over Dietrich’s obssession with money and that what Dietrich is doing goes against the socialist values East Germany is claiming it is all for. In any case, Fuchs demotes Lenora and refuses her travel permit, meaning she can’t leave East Germany.

Lenora also learns here that Rose wasn’t onboard the ship, and her current whereabouts are unknown.

Martin talks to Ingrid about not being able to see Max. Ingrid says it’s terrible when parents are separated from their children, and mentions Tina’s plight.

Martin is the only one still awake at Ingrid’s flat when Lenora returns late at night. Obviously, it’s a little awkward given that the last time Lenora and Martin saw each other was when Martin was gunned down by a sniper and Lenora ran away leaving him behind!

There are some very funny lines.

Lenora trying to downplay the awkwardness by saying a generic “Long time, no see”. Plus, these exchanges:

LENORA: “You look good!”
MARTIN: “You mean for a dead man?”

LENORA: “I was so sure you were dead!”
MARTIN: “Yeah, I noticed!”

Then there’s Lenora accidentally resting her arm on the piano’s keys, making a lot of noise. And she does this TWICE!

But Lenora also fills Martin in on what’s just happened in the inner circle, and laments being stuck in “this doomed country”. Martin says he can help her get out, if she helps him out with something. Namely helping Martin break into Annett’s flat and sneak a sleeping Max out! Lenora is also to stay at Annett’s flat overnight to be there when she wakes up, and try to persuade her to let Martin be a part of Max’s life! Not a great plan, but they do it anyway.

When Max wakes up, understandably, he is scared, and keeps crying, so Martin takes him back to Ingrid’s flat. Max knows Ingrid as his grandma and she has looked after him very regularly. She’s far from impressed with what Martin has just done. Martin tells her he doesn’t want Max growing up in East Germany.

Martin goes back to Annett’s flat, and says he will let her see Max again in exchange for getting Tina’s daughters to West Germany!

Martin and Annett go to the orphanage, and pretend to be a loving couple wanting to adopt children. (This is funny to watch, as by now Martin and Annett clearly hate
each other! They are holding hands in front of the orphanage manager, but as soon as Martin and Annett are alone in the room, Annett removes Martin’s hand from hers!).
But when they are told that the Fischer girls are “already taken” and are due to leave tomorrow, Annett brings out her official government I.D. and says they need to bring the Fischer girls out immediately. They also took the liberty of cutting the phone wire so the orphanage can’t make any phone calls.

Martin and Annett take Sandra and Steffi out of the orphanage into a car driven by Lenora. They drop Annett off at Ingrid’s flat so she can be reunited with Max, and
drive further to the city where a cultural diplomatic event – specifically a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – is taking place. Walter and Hartmann are in the audience (and are rather bemused by it all), and the West German allies dressing up as the main characters include Alfonso as Brad, Katie as Janet and Frau Netz as Magenta!

When the car gets there, Martin tells Frau Netz there has been a change of plan, basically that Lenora, Sandra and Steffi are going over the border, while he and Max are staying.

Katie puts make-up on Sandra, Steffi and Lenora to make it look like they have been attending the show. Then all four of them go into a car driven by Alfonso to drive over the border. As it is an official limo for a diplomatic mission they won’t be checked at the border and can go straight through.

When they get to West Berlin, Lenora gets out of the car with Sandra and Steffi to look for Tina. The two girls see her close by, and run towards her! It’s a happy reunion, but they wonder where their dad is. He will still be in the Stasi prison (and realistically he’ll probably be there for some time).

Brigitte comes over to Lenora to arrest her! But Brigitte had been expecting to meet Martin and Max there too, as she had been planning to elope with Martin, and Lenora informs Brigitte that Martin isn’t coming.

Brigitte had broken up with her husband Frank earlier. She more or less said “It’s not you, it’s me” to him, and his response to that was that they should have children! As he hadn’t got the message first time, Brigitte straight up told him that it’s over and she doesn’t love him anymore!

Things just get worse from there for Frank. He’s drowning his sorrows at a bar, and Nina sits next to him. He tries to chat her up, but doesn’t know she’s there on Walter’s orders, which are to kill Frank before he can expose that East Germany were trying to make deals with him. Nina does kill him later in a hotel room.

Alex is speaking at a rally for AIDS awareness, which is broadcast on TV. He says people should be unified and take the HIV issue seriously. He also mentions “Operation Infection”, which was the KGB spreading nonsense conspiracy theory rumours that AIDs was created in an American labratory. He also says that there are East Germans who are suffering from HIV. Tobias also speaks at the rally and announces that he is HIV positive. This is all seen on TV by the East German inner circle, and they are mainly concerned with some of their activities being exposed. East Germany had been selling blood abroad without even bothering to test if it was HIV positive.

As with other episodes, we get examples of racism and homophobia of the time, in this episode it is mainly shown in the East German inner circle. An example of the racism is when Hartmann mentions to Walter that he asked the captain of the ship if Rose was on it, and he says the captain told him “No-one like her was on board”, and she would have been “not easy to miss“!

Dietrich shows herself to be very homophic, when seeing the TV broadcast of the AIDS rally she says “Thank God there are no gays in our country!”, and later in the episode says things which are even more hateful about gay men and people with HIV.

Dietrich never came across particularly well, but she really is vile in this episode! She has nothing but contempt for the citizens of East Germany, branding them “lazy” and seeing them as nothing more than commodoties to be used. She is in tears due to all the money lost because of everything that happened in this series (the Chernobyl disaster, the exposure of the Sprembex drug trials and Operation Dream Ship, and the revelation that there are people in East Germany who are HIV positive). She’s not crying because of any of the lives lost in all that, she’s crying because of the money lost! Dietrich is a lot of unpleasant things, but at her core she is a classic example of someone who sees the price of everything and the value of nothing.

However, she has a point about East Germany being “propped up on rickety stilts” and it won’t take much to bring it down. She and Lenora might not agree on anything else, but both have come to that conclusion.

Alfonso, drunk and in fishnet stockings and high heels from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has lost his apartment key and knocks on Walter’s door to ask him to let him in. He knows that Walter secretly has a key.

Rose is safe in Cape Town, and sends an internet message to Lenora’s office informing her, and saying “I’m waiting for you, my love!”. However, Lenora isn’t there to read it – Hartmann is! -, and Lenora is being interrogated by the BND in West Berlin.

Rose’s daughter is also in West Berlin now, having been sent there by Rose to live with her father.

Thomas is writing another novel, this time based on Martin! He’s even calling it The Legend of Colibri (after Martin’s spy code name Kolibri).

As for Martin, the last scene in the series is him and Annett having a meal with Max, and if we didn’t know everything that has gone on this scene would look like a perfect happy family. It looks as if Martin and Annett are going to at least try to put aside their differences for the sake of their son, though who knows how that will work.

Max really likes snails (Annett says he’s a “snail expert”), and trains (which Ingrid says is something he has in common with Martin, as Martin liked trains when he was Max’s age).

Frau Netz reveals her first name, in passing. It’s Hilde.

‘Total Onslaught’ was actually one of the funniest episodes of the series! It had so many comical moments, making a very different sort of finale indeed compared to ‘Able Archer’ in Deutschland 83. That finale was very intense, high stakes drama with the threat of a nuclear apocalypse hanging over it until the last minute.

Deutschland 83 was more focused on the East/West divide in Germany. Deutschland 86 was more international, but at the same time more about the East. The West side did not get as much of a look in this time! Deutschland 86 was also a lot more complicated, with the involment of other countries, the fact that the East was having to work against the West and with it at the same time, and other huge events going on in the background, such as the AIDS crisis and Chernobyl.

I thought Tina was a brilliant character, and her storyline was one of the best parts of this series.

‘Total Onslaught’ was very enjoyable and gave an ending to a lot of the ongoing plots, but left so many loose ends! Which left you wanting more, and I think this was deliberate, as this is the middle part of a trilogy. The final series will be Deutschland 89, as 1989 was the year the Berlin Wall came down, so I bet that it is going to be the main focus, and it will be interesting to see how that effects the characters.

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