babylon berlin season 4

Season 4 of Babylon Berlin, on MHz Choice, is as densely plotted as seasons 1 & 2, and as rewarding. The politics are as complicated as ever, and it’s nauseating to watch the Nazis gain power while the unsuspecting denizens of Berlin dance and dance, right to the edge of the cliff. In the underworld, a relatively peaceful co-existence of Ringvereine, or gangs, is violently disrupted, wreaking havoc around the city. Meanwhile, a no-nonsense American Jew named Goldstein (Mark Ivanir) shows up to retrieve a one-of-a-kind blue diamond, now in the Nyssen’s possession. Babylon Berlin remains the lushly produced, sexy, complicated show we love, and after a slightly disappointing season 3, I would call season 4 a return to form.

Season 4 of Babylon Berlin is based on the book “Goldstein” by Volker Kutscher. You can buy it in English here. (affiliate link)

The Basic Plot

The series begins on the eve of 1931, with the Stormtroopers, or SA, smashing Jewish storefronts while, coincidentally, the Department Store Burglars are in mid-heist right down the street. Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries) is now a detective, and is called to the scene, where she sees Inspector Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch), her colleague, dressed in SA garb. Shocked, her night gets even worse when she discovers that her errant sister Toni (Irene Böhm) is part of the Department Store Burglars. At this point in history, the cops bust up the SA, who are seen as agitators and nothing more. But times are changing, and there is a chilling moment in a court room when it becomes evident that the established rule of law in Germany is being pushed aside in favor of a discriminatory high-level agenda.

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 The Ringvereine

Meanwhile, Berlin’s underworld is run by ringvereine, or gangs, who cooperate with each other, agreeing to stay in their territory and, because boxing and betting are a big part of their operations, to make sure fights are clean. Weintraub (Ronald Zehrfeld), who was the right-hand man of the late Armenian (Misel Maticevic), runs one of the gangs, but someone is setting him up to fail, by fixing fights and framing him for murder. The uneasy détente between the ringvereine falls away, leading to chaos in the underworld. But who is behind it?

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Sniveling millionaire Alfred Nyssen (Lars Eidinger) is building rockets ostensibly to put Germany on the moon, but Nazi sympathizer Colonel Wendt of the Berlin Political Police (Benno Fürmann) is edging him toward weaponizing them instead, despite the Versailles treaty. At his New Year’s Eve party, Alfred presents Helga (Hannah Herzsprung), now his wife, with the Rothschild Diamond, a one-of-a-kind blue stone, much to his domineering mother’s (Marie-Anne Fliegel) dismay. When a party guest sees the stone, he makes a call to one Abraham Goldstein in New York, who immediately jumps on an airship (like the Hindenburg) to Berlin. Goldstein wants that diamond back, and he doesn’t play.

The White Hand

There is a scene in Babylon Berlin season 4 that shows an impromptu court in session. Behind the judge is a sign with a white hand. The White Hand was an actual extra-legal court, known as the People’s Court in Nazi Germany. It was a kangaroo court that meted out one-sided justice, mostly for crimes of perceived (and actual) treason. But the court determined what constituted a crime and what did not. The defense rarely spoke up for their clients, and executions happened immediately after the verdict. In all, the court, which was active from 1934-1945, executed 5,179 people. However, season 4 of Babylon Berlin takes place in Jan of 1931, so they’ve adjusted the timeline for the show.

Our Take on Babylon Berlin season 4.

Despite the above description, Babylon Berlin season 4 is not all doom and gloom. In fact, a cocaine-fueled dance marathon at the Moka Efti is woven throughout an episode, and includes an entire cabaret performance of the jaunty song “A Day Like Gold”. There’s a beautiful scene between Charlotte and homosexual police photographer Gräf (Christian Friedel) where he implores her to keep picking herself up when she falls. Another treat are the scenes of Abe Goldstein on the airship, chatting up the guy next to him at the bar. These scenes, which are not necessary for plot, but are a relief from the confounding politics in the series, are the treasures that elevate Babylon Berlin above other shows.

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