Spoiler alert: Plot points of the series revealed.
"Love is all that matters
Faithful and forever
Keepin' us together
Love is all we need
Prisoner of illusion
Sentence is suspended
Loneliness is ended
Love has set me free"
"Love Is All That Matters"
That's from Eric Carmen's expensive stiff album "Boats Against the Current," the 1977 follow-up to his solo debut with multiple hits. Oh, "She Did It" made some headway on the charts, but in truth this uber-expensive record was unjustly ignored in the marketplace. Yet it's one of my absolute favorites, songs from it run through my head on a regular basis, and doesn't that mean it's installed in your personal pantheon? The piece-de-resistance is the finale, the eight minute "Run Away," and you can check these cuts out on your streaming service of choice, or not, it won't affect my love for these songs.
And "Love Is All That Matters" started playing in my head after the finale of "Berlin."
Yes, some stupid things happened, like the snakebite. And the escape from the hotel was almost too perfunctory, too easy, but to escape on bikes at the end, on their own personal Tour de France, that was unexpected genius.
Not that "Berlin" wasn't formulaic. The "Money Heist" blueprint redux. But still...
You could tell how much fun the writers/producers had thinking this stuff up. There were unexpected twists, but ultimately it was all about love.
You had Damián with that woman at the campsite. "Are you hitting on me?" Guys are dumb, you can be incredibly obvious, but it takes a long time for the light bulb to go off in their heads. But it played so real. Damián distraught from the breakup of his marriage, his pleading on the phone was so real, if you've been on the losing end of a breakup, you know. But then he crawled out of the wreckage into a brand new car. When you least expect it, good stuff happens, you've just got to stay in the game.
As for the relationship between Keila and Bruce... People can appear so together on the surface, but be a complete mess underneath. The only sex she'd ever had was virtual. Keila is fighting her emotions, Bruce is beneath her, but his smell... Love is absolutely primal, after all we're just animals. Instincts kick in and...
You had Roi and Cameron testifying. You've been there, at least I hope you've been there, when you get close enough to another to reveal your honest truth. This is something most people don't reveal in public, they don't wear it on their sleeve, they're embarrassed, they feel inadequate compared to what's exhibited by celebrities and on social media. We're all flawed, we're all looking for someone to listen, understand and love us, accept us. And when you find them you create a bond that lasts forever, even if the relationship does not.
Which brings us back to Berlin himself, and Camille. At first I thought Camille would turn, and then just when I was convinced she wouldn't, she's infatuated with Berlin once again.
We are wandering through life, and when we find someone real, when we experience the real thing, we can't escape it, we're drawn to it, we'll sacrifice everything for it. Camille thinks she's got her life together, and then it turns out it's all an illusion. You'd forgotten all about the safe, and then when the contents were revealed...you didn't expect François to be a duplicitous heel. Wasn't he innocent, a hero?
No. And Camille is at loose ends. But before that, when she feels shame over the affair with Berlin... You expected it earlier in the series, so when it comes up you're surprised, and heartened. Guilt is a powerful emotion.
Which brings us back to Berlin himself. Debonair, yet oftentimes caught up in his own mystique. But ultimately he sacrifices it all for love.
That's the funny thing about life. The men? They like their success, they like their money, but ultimately love triumphs. Look at Bill Gates, hitting on everything that moved, sacrificing his marriage. Or Gary Hart. Or even Bill Clinton. They're willing to put it all on the line, for love.
Which you don't have to be rich to have. It's about two people, chemistry and magic. All the clichés are true, triumphs don't mean much without someone to share them with.
Watching "Berlin" in 4k on a big screen...
I haven't been to the movies in eons. I've been reading all the Oscar hype, about there being too many good movies. But that's a different paradigm, that's a short story, a series is a complete novel. You get to know the characters.
And it isn't easy to pull off. And the funny thing is how "Berlin" alternates between comedy/shtick and real tension, obvious and then surprising.
Not that it's the best series I've ever watched, but ultimately the characters become three-dimensional, in a way they cannot in a film. You know who they are, their foibles. Everybody's got a story, and in "Berlin" we hear it.
I don't think "Berlin" could be made in America, it'd be hard to get the tone right. Sure, production values were high, but ultimately story was king. Today's film directors, sans Greta Gerwig and a few others, are so interested in image that they sacrifice the plot.
So if you watched "Money Heist" and want more, I give "Berlin" two big thumbs up. Takes a while to find its footing, but it ultimately delivers, truly.
And just when you think they're going to draw it out, make you wait for another season for a conclusion, they wrap it up.
Then again, the returning Spanish police people are on the hunt. And the Spanish put-downs of the French are hysterical.
Maybe you've got no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe you only watch HBO, or even Apple, week to week. You're inured to the old formula. Maybe you think the strike killed all your favorite shows, or at least delayed them. But the cameras still rolled overseas.
The news is overwhelming. For those who need escape, who think "Ted Lasso" is the best show ever, watch "Berlin," you'll be taken even further from everyday life. You see life has comic elements, but ultimately it's not light, but serious, it's deadly real. And "Berlin" hits this note.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.