It has been a striking (and welcome) feature of this German drama that we get a bit of comic relief just when we need it.
The spy story, where East German operative Martin Rauch is constantly within a whisker of being found out, has us on the edges of our seats pretty much all the time. When there’s a chance to relax, we grab it with both hands.
This episode’s soothing moments included Martin’s discovery of the joys of a Walkman – while his East German handlers struggle over the floppy disk he retrieved in the last episode.
East Germany did not have the machines to read this technological breakthrough, and the look on the IT guy’s face was a picture when he was asked what to do. He wanted a US machine, a “cool” one, before realising the errors of his ways when he saw his boss’s reaction. That kind of capitalist greed isn’t really party talk now is it?
Still, there was a tonne of tensions as bugs were laid, assignations met, and savage guard dogs (just about) avoided.
Martin’s meeting with handler Leonora (Maria Schrader) in a petrol station also looked like it could have gone awry when his boss nearly caught them. Leonora’s heavy smoking also caused me to worry. Did they really do that in the 1980s? Did they not know the dangers of naked flames in such environments back then?
Elsewhere, Martin was compelled to seduce lonely Nato secretary Linda, one of the few espionage tasks he has achieved with aplomb. We also discovered that his girlfriend Annett back home was pregnant, and he was the father – even if she has been having an affair in his absence. It really is complicated this spying business.
But things are set up nicely for the next week. Annett, who is staying with Martin’s sick mother, had just discovered a haul of Western books in her basement. And Martin will have to hide his allergy to cats from Linda, who absolutely loves the creatures.
Martin’s Walkman also treated us to yet more cracking 1980s songs, in what is becoming a signature of the series.
This week’s tracks included Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf. After last week’s snatch of The Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry when Martin was really in trouble, it’s clear these tunes aren’t just chosen for their retro value: they say something about our hero’s latest predicament.
Although, frankly, our lupine lover seems to be quite enjoying the role at the moment.