TCA 2017: ‘Berlin Station’ S2 builds on the timeliness of its story

Berlin Station season 1 saw Richard Armitage’s CIA Agent Daniel Miller as he goes undercover in Berlin to track the source of a leak. The series followed Miller as he grew accustomed to the life of an agent in the field, including deception and moral compromises, as well as a whole lot of running.

After a successful first series, Berlin Station is back for a second 10 episode season, and with some new faces, including Ashley Judd (B.B. Yates), and Keke Palmer (April Lewis). The second season will see a bit of a tonal shift, as the series moves to build on its timeliness. Season 2 opens just ahead of a pivotal election in Germany set against the backdrop of the rise of the Far Right in Europe.

“The ideas for this second season started forming, I would say, sometime after last Christmas in that attack in Germany at the Christmas market,” says Showrunner Bradford Winters. “And it was clear that it wouldn’t take a lot more of that kind of incident to really tip things in Germany’s electoral cycle. So that was part of the thinking of going into the season. And, of course, being Americans, an American writer, American talent, speaking for myself, I was deeply concerned to try to get it right.”

The series doesn’t take the usual approach to the spy thriller that we’re used to seeing from Hollywood, with big explosions every week. Instead Winters and co have crafted a more cerebral, character-lead thriller. “It is a genre that both lends itself in some ways, in today’s world, demands, the more pyrotechnical approach to the genre,” agrees Winters. “So the fact that [EPIX] wanted to go with a very character-leading spy drama, I think is a big testament to them. But I would also add that all of us, the network and the creative included, in Season 1, we sort of happily surprised ourselves about halfway through the season when we found ourselves sort of taking a turn for a bit of a thriller in the middle of the journey, and at that point it was great because we found ourselves with a leg in each sub-genre, spy drama and spy thriller, and it really opened up the show creatively going forward to move back and forth between the two and to stand, just sort of straddle that divide in a way that it seems hard for shows and movies to sometimes do that. You kind of have to really be can’t on one or the other, and we really entered the second season with that fluidity in mind, both drama and thriller, and constantly trying to shift back and forth between the two.”

Judd is known to be very politically active, and so she jumped at the chance to take on this role of a strong female character in such a politically charged show. “I really feel like my character is the type of woman that the world needs now, and to have the station chief of the CIA in Germany, a great ally of the United States, obviously since the end of the Second World War, was a wonderful opportunity, and having that person be female is way overdue.

“And in addition to BB being a wonderful, strong female leader, the cast is populated with the likes of Keke, who is obviously so well-spoken, and Michelle Forbes, who is a fantastic actor and an experienced agent on the show, and then you saw Mina, and she plays the head of German intelligence, so you have the four of us giving us, through entertainment, a real look at what the world should actually be like in the 21st century.”

Judd and Palmer will be joining a cast of characters who were scattered to the wind at the end of Season 1. “We are bringing people back, and it was difficult,” says Winters, when questioned about whether or not the original cast of character would be brought back together, following the events of Season 1. “I mean — but that was also the exciting challenge of it was how to, sort of, disrupt Berlin Station at end of Season 1, do some dismantling in the ranks, and then how do we pick up the pieces where we left off at the start of Season 2, and continue to move forward with an ensemble.

“So I think there will be some fun surprises into how that gets pulled off, but also it is the show that it was. And the station is what it was. It’s really a matter of picking up those pieces and sort of the idea behind the second season in some ways is the station taking power into its own hands, having been the subject of forces beyond its control in Season 2. So there is very much a flipping of the tables MO creatively in this season.”

Season 2 of Berlin Station will premiere on EPIX on 15th October, at 9pm.