Dogs of Berlin season 1 premiere recap: V.I.P.


Dogs of Berlin opens with footage of fire and smoke as police fight against an escalating riot. The narrator says that he always knew his day of reckoning would come, but he didn’t think he’d burn the city down with him. We begin our story seven days earlier.

Detective Kurt Grimmer (Felix Kramer) is up late at night taking care of his girlfriend’s kids when he notices police lights go off down the street on the premiere of Dogs of Berlin. Curious or bored, he approaches the crime scene, baby still in arms, to investigate. Grimmer quickly discovers that a body that was found in the bushes is the famous Turkish footballer Orkan Erdem (Cino Djavid), who controversially chose to play for the German national team instead of Turkey.

With the world cup qualifying match against Turkey taking place the next day, Grimmer recognizes that the news of his death would likely spark a race riot, so he makes moves to keep the news quiet until after the match. He wants the case, but he’s not even actually on duty, which further complicates matters.

At the same time, Grimmer sees an opportunity to make some money by betting on Turkey to win the match. Of course, he already has some outstanding gambling debts that prevent him from making the bet himself. He leaves the crime scene, telling the responding officers not to report anything or tell anyone. He gathers his girlfriend and the kids and runs around town collecting the necessary money – including a begrudging loan from his Nazi brother. His girlfriend, Bine (Ana Maria Mühe), makes the bet for him –  8000 euro on Turkey at 4-1 odds.

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But Grimmer has been away from the crime scene for too long. The officers are getting restless on this episode of the Dogs of Berlin. While Petrovic (Alina Stiegler) is inclined to follow Grimmer’s unusual instructions, Wachtmeister (Hauke Diekamp) is more by the book and is itching to call for backup. When a reporter finally shows up, they panic and call the actual detectives on duty. Grimmer’s plans come close to being ruined, but he returns to the crime scene before the detectives on duty can take over the case.

Meanwhile, a sting operation is in effect at a trendy nightclub as the police try to catch a local Turkish clan for drug distribution. Erol Birkan (Fahri Yardim) is undercover as a clubber, really conspicuously keeping an eye on clan boss Hakim Tarik-Amir (Sinan Farhangmehr). What usually happens is that a courier drops off a car and the keys are given to another courier to transport the drugs, but tonight Hakim is taking the car himself.

The police, of course, think they’ve caught a big break, but Hakim is setting them up. When they raid the hideout, there are no drugs to be found and one of the detectives falls through a trap in the floor and breaks her leg. While no arrests are made, Erol is able to make contact with a young man, Murad (Mohamed Issa), who is trying to get into the clan, using his phone without his knowledge as a listening device to conduct surveillance on the clan.

Murad is mostly just trying to get his music noticed but gets pulled into the clan as an errand boy. He’s sent to stake out the same bookie used by Grimmer and Bine. One might suspect that the Tarik-Amir clan had something to do with Erdem’s death and are using the same insider knowledge as Grimmer to make some money. Or maybe that’s too obvious.

At the end of the night, Grimmer drives Petrovic to the station to freshen up for the meeting with homicide squad, basically giving her her first big career break. On the way, they encounter a stray dog that Grimmer takes home with him, but not before musing about a dog’s complete lack of free will. Grimmer arrives home – to his second home – where he presents his family with their new dog and eats breakfast with his wife and children. That’s quite an arrangement Grimmer has with his two families.

Erol arrives home to his partner, who had set a romantic dinner for them the night before. He learns that his mother called to tell him not to come to visit – his dad is back. Clearly, there’s some sort of family tension here. One might think it has something to do with Erol being gay, but given the themes of the show its more likely that his Turkish father disagrees with him working for the German police. Its likely something a bit more complicated.

Anyone who isn’t familiar with Berlin history and culture might be surprised by the Turkish presence in the city. Turkish immigrants and the distinctive culture they bring with them have been a major influence on the city since they started moving to Berlin in the 1970s.

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While Kreuzberg, the so-called Turkish neighborhood, is historically one of the poorest in Berlin, it is also historically one of the trendiest – known for its lively club scene and punk rock roots. The Turkish population is integral to the distinctive culture of Berlin, but there has always been a certain amount of tension associated with nationalist ideals.

What did you think of the premiere of Dogs of Berlin? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!