Few finales can claim to be more jam-packed than Bablylon Berlin’s season 3 ender, “Episode 12.” The Netflix series’ 2020 finale includes a gangland-style execution, a glamorous movie premiere, and the international collapse of the 1920s economy. However, no one could have guessed the final shot of “Episode 12” would include a giant spiky beast wandering through the sewer grates of Berlin.
It’s this confusing moment that suggests a possible Babylon Berlin season 4 — which is “in the pipeline,” according to The Guardian – will likely unveil the ultimate battle for Berlin’s soul.
To answer “Episode 12’s” most pressing question, let’s just confirm Berlin hasn’t taken a page out of the Game of Thrones textbook. The dizzying German period piece does not have dragons, no matter how much leading man Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) imagines one below his feet. The appearance of the mythical creature is instead a metaphor for the barely concealed danger lurking right below the surface of Berlin — and Gereon himself.
Gereon undergoes a massive series of shocks directly before the monster sighting. First, his colleague Wilhelm Böhm (Godehard Giese) nearly shoots up a bank following the market crash of 1929. Then, he sees his ex Helga Rath (Hannah Herzsprung) — who was previously his sister-in-law — at the bank with her new boyfriend, antagonist Alfred Nyssen (Lars Eidinger). As Gereon is dealing with Helga’s new relationship, he is subjected to the horror of the market crash’s aftermath. People are turning pistols on themselves in the middle of hallways, hanging themselves above stairwells, and running around in a daze. The visuals are purposefully meant to evoke the fog of war.
Gereon, a World War I soldier with severe PTSD, is horrified by these sights and stumbles out of the bank, allowing an angry mob in. The mob tramples Gereon, knocking him to the ground and stepping all over him. After all of this mental and physical pain, it makes sense that Gereon is seeing things.
That is why Gereon flashes back to the teaching of Anno Schmidt (Jens Harzer), the man who was previously revealed to be Gereon’s long-lost brother. Anno has been hosting a radio show for Berlin’s most unhappy men. “You are free of pain and fear,” Anno says in voiceover during the finale, explaining his ultimate goal is to see the “fusion” of man and machine. Anno believes using the booming business of synthetic drugs — like Gereon’s morphine vials — is the key to the creation of such “new humans.”
“An android free of pain and fear. A mind damaged by war provides and ideal foundation,” he continues. “Only such a mind knows the depths of the soul so profoundly, that the will to be numb comes naturally.”
Gereon originally heard similar sentiments during an “Episode 9” broadcast from Anno.
Only now, Gereon’s life is extremely different. The first time Gereon took in these words, he was calmly holding a drink in his home. Now, as Gereon considers Anno's ideas again, his PTSD-related tremor is back and he is brokenhearted over Helga’s new relationship. The attraction of becoming a “human-machine,” as Anno says, is strong.
To start that process — and end the tremors — Gereon embraces his morphine addiction, despite his season of sobriety from the opiate. “Episode” 12 cuts between Gereon’s dangerous exit from the bank and a flash-forward of his return home. The moment Gereon is in his apartment, he finds his stash of morphine (hand shaking all the while), tightens a belt around his arm to locate a vein, and injects himself with the drugs. In the last scene we see of Gereon in this part of the timeline, the detective is nodding off in a bathtub, under the sway of morphine once again.
At this same time, the people of Germany are likely still rioting over the economic collapse. The official rise of the Nazis’ Third Reich is less than four years away.
When we check back in on Gereon for Babylon Berlin season 4, expect the situation to be much worse. It will likely be so grim, not even a Svetlana Sorokina (Severija Janusauskaite) drag king musical number will be able to fix it.