Wunderbar! The third season of the Weimar-era mystery-thriller Babylon Berlin will begin filming in Berlin later this year, Variety reports, which means you have plenty of time to catch up on this lavish, befuddling, beguiling series. The first two seasons are currently streaming on Netflix (although, confusingly, Netflix combines them into one long season), and it’s an ideal way to while away any summer TV doldrums. Babylon Berlin is intense, with a huge network of characters and a messy story that slowly coalesces into a fantastic time bomb of a finale. It’s perfect for bingeing — an occasionally surrealist noir behemoth of a story with irresistible forward momentum.
The show is set in the Weimar period of German history, which lets Babylon Berlin co-creator Tom Tykwer go absolutely over the top with depictions of the period’s vibrant cultural explosion. But it’s also a show about the way a fragile democracy can get dismantled from within by seemingly fringe political interests, and the gap between cultural progressivism and nativist backlash, so it offers a terrific kind of political relevance: It’s connected to our current moment, but fully rooted in its own historical period and utterly uninterested in prescriptivism. Plus, the musical numbers will knock your socks off.
Now that the third season is officially a go, here’s a short wish list for what we’d love to see when Babylon Berlin returns. Obligatory spoiler warning: Stop reading here if you haven’t caught up yet!
According to Variety, the third season will cover the early 1930s and will focus on an investigation of crimes inside the burgeoning German film industry. The first two seasons dealt with the country’s black market for pornographic movies, so we can only hope that the third season will take full advantage of a story about all angles of the industry. Ideally, much of the season will be meditations on the theme of Fritz Lang’s M, a film about criminality, pursuit of a serial killer, and the terror of the mob.
Detective Charlotte Ritter
Charlotte (Liv Lisa Fries) is one of the most beloved characters from the first two seasons, and in the season-two finale she finally gets her own detective badge, legitimizing her position within the Berlin police force. It will be fascinating to watch how she and Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) negotiate her new role, especially now that Gereon’s caught between his pro-Weimar inclinations, the new anti-democratic forces that’ve taken control of the Red Castle, and his desire to protect the people who work for him.
More Sorokina performances!
Sadly, Countess Sorokina’s (Severija Janušauskaitė) cover as the drag king performer Nikoros was destroyed after the debacle with the gold train and the Trotskyites. But season two ends with a glimpse of her new performing identity: a chanteuse who appears to slit her own throat at the end of the song. Few things could deflate a third Babylon Berlin season, but if there’s no new Sorokina music, it would be incredibly disappointing.
Gereon and his brother
Babylon Berlin is terrific at landing satisfying, twisty conclusions for its byzantine stories, and combining those solid endings with new shocking surprises. The biggest unanswered question from the season-two finale has to do with Gereon and his brother; the season-ending twist that mysterious hypnotist Doctor Schmidt is the brother Gereon thought had died in the war is both an answer and a new wormhole of baffling unresolved stories. Season three will likely be forced to reckon with how Gereon and Anno move forward from here. What is Anno’s motive?!
Nazism on the rise
The most inevitable aspect of Babylon Berlin’s third season will be the swift erosion of the Weimar government and the simultaneous rise of Nazi forces. As a newly appointed secret informer for his nationalist-leaning boss, Gereon will be fully entangled in the machinations of the crumbling democracy. But it may be even more interesting to watch the show tackle the Nazi movement from the perspective of less powerful figures. How will it play out for someone like Fritz, the revolutionary bomber whom Greta sees wearing a military uniform at the end of season two? In any event, Babylon Berlin will have to grapple with the way Weimar extravagance begins to dissolve by the early ’30s. For a taste, you can watch British newsreels on life in Berlin at this time; one of them is called, simply, “Things Are Bad in Germany.”