A better chapter that still plays a little too loosely with time, but manages to find compelling character drama at almost every stop.
This recap of Holiday Secrets Season 1, Episode 2, “Sonja’s Secret”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As the opening narration of Holiday Secrets Episode 2 insists that secrets grow bigger until they can no longer be ignored, Alma (Barbara Nüsse), in 1989, recognizes Peter (Merlin Rose) from the television; he’s the mastermind of the far-left German militant Red Army Faction, and has orchestrated multiple domestic terror attacks. Which is awkward, to say the least.
Fittingly, young Sonja (Emilie Neumeister) is downstairs explaining to young Eva about the need for revolution. Eva seems suspicious of Peter anyway, as well she might be.
In the present day, Lara (Leonie Benesch) is sneakily taking diazepam because Mauritz (Dennis Herrmann) sleeps while listening to full-volume tennis matches. In the bathroom, Vivi (Svenja Jung) mentions that she used to have panic attacks, and believes she is having them again because of her impending marriage to the most boring man who ever lived. She’s probably right.
“Sonja’s Secret” nips back to 1989, where Olaf (Hans-Uwe Bauer) callously tells Eva that he has called the nursing home and that they will collect Alma in the new year. Alma reflects with Sonja about her husband, Alfred, who was deported. She explains how she and baby Eva arrived in Germany on a raft — cue a flashback within a flashback — and took up in the house, which was Alfred’s aunt’s, the homeowner apparently lying dead in the bathroom when they arrived. She claims to have shot a Russian there, and to validate the story she removes a pistol from under her pillow. She agrees to swap this for Sonja’s Walkman and headphones so that she doesn’t have to hear Olaf shout at Eva anymore.
In the present day, Sonja (Christiane Paul) is baking. The threat of the secret that Eva (Corinna Harfouch) apparently has to share looms over Holiday Secrets Episode 2, and while Sonja tries to deflect, Lara confirms it’s coming. But there are more pressing matters to attend to — namely’s Sonja’s secret. While we get to enjoy some interactions between Ljubica (Anita Vulesica) and Walter (Thilo Prothmann), both in the present day and in 2004, a shattering revelation is imminent. Anton (Golo Euler) arrives with his partner, Jenny (Josefine Voss), and they give their condolences over Eva’s death, not having heard that she’s alive. Jenny and Vivi know each other from school, and Vivi predictably dislikes her. After Sonja gives a Christmas toast and Mauritz bores everyone half to death about his family’s tennis club, the television announces that Peter has been released from prison. Vivi learns that her father didn’t die in a car accident — he’s alive and was a terrorist. Needless to say, she isn’t best pleased.
In a 1989 flashback, Sonja confesses to Olaf about being pregnant and asks for his advice about what to do. He recalls a time when his son was born, and she wouldn’t ever put him down. He explains how she was determined to walk the beach with wet feet, and so on, and that she eventually caught whooping cough that killed his son. Now he keeps the windows closed when it’s cold, to keep out the things that might kill him. It’s a tragic, cruel little story.
A grown-up Sonja in the present day tries to justify keeping Peter a secret, first to Lara and then to Vivi, but her excuses don’t hold much water. In a brief 2004 flashback, we see her arguing with Eva about Julianna (Eva Bay), announcing that they’re going to stay in a hotel, where they’re welcome.
Unlike her teetotal mother, Vivi is drinking in the attic, messing with a walkie talkie. In a flashback, we see how she acquired it — it was given to her by young Anton (Ludwig Senger), in the same spot, where they kissed. Present-day grown-up Anton arrives, ostensibly to talk to her about why she dislikes Jenny, whom she never thought would be his type. Giving away that he never got over Vivi, he says that Vivi is his type, but Jenny doesn’t let him down and change her mind. They sleep together. Lara and Mauritz, meanwhile, fall out when the former accidentally implies that their relationship is an attempt by her to “play it safe”, and maintain her status as the only normal member of the family.
To close Holiday Secrets Season 1, Episode 2, we flashback to 1989, where Sonja gives Eva Alma’s gun, asking if she can remember what happened when they arrived. She says that sometimes you can choose what you want to remember. The closing narration suggests that sometimes the past comes back on its own as we get a brief glimpse of a man arriving at the house.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.