“Eva’s Secret” weaves all the plot strands together for a fitting, touching conclusion.
This recap of Holiday Secrets Season 1, Episode 3, “Eva’s Secret”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We, like the exceedingly complicated family at the heart of Holiday Secrets, have come a long way since that muddled opening episode. But “Eva’s Secret” managed to knit together all the miniseries’ wavering threads into a genuinely emotional and satisfying ending; an earned and clever payoff for almost every lingering detail across three time periods. Holiday Secrets Episode 3 provided what this family and many like it so desperately need: Closure.
We open with Vivi (Svenja Jung) requesting that Anton (Golo Euler) doesn’t make a big deal of their sleeping together — not yet, anyway, until after Christmas. Where was Jenny (Josefine Voss), since she arrived with him and, to my knowledge at least, never left? No matter. Downstairs, Peter is in the house, now hulking and bearded, having been granted entry by a naive Mauritz (Dennis Herrmann), evidently fascinated by his Red Army Faction past. In 1989, we see Alma (Barbara Nüsse) pointing him out on the television to Eva; the young man spending Christmas with them is a terrorist.
The past and present mirror each other in Holiday Secrets Episode 3; Sonja (Christiane Paul) confronts Eva (Corinna Harfouch) in the present, while Eva confronts young Sonja (Emilie Neumeister) in the past. Both confrontations are about Peter.
This is all enough for Mauritz to judge the family, and he falls out with Lara (Leonie Benesch) about it. It’s that old thing — she can say what she likes about her own relatives, but he can’t say anything at all. Which is the way it always has and probably always will work. Mauritz leaves and tries to catch a bus, but a man dressed as Santa tells him there are no more today, it being Christmas Eve, and so he returns to the house.
Eva, meanwhile, is very unwell. Hans (Maik Solbach) is called and informs the family it doesn’t look good. While he confronts Sonja, Peter interrupts them. The men later talk about her, and Peter concedes he was unpleasant in the past, but that he never meant to take anything away from Hans. They agree that Sonja is special and that even if it doesn’t last long, nobody will love you quite as she will.
The matter of Eva’s secret resurfaces when she briefly wakes and tells Sonja, Vivi, and Lara that they have to find it — the hiding place. She makes them promise. They search the nearby grounds and bunkers. And, of course, they argue; long-held resentments continue to simmer between them, and in more flashbacks, we learn why. In 2004 we see Sonja try to take Vivi away with her to Ibiza, but just her, not her sister; Vivi, feeling some instinctive resistance to this, asks to leave in the morning instead.
We flit back to the present day for more contextualizing arguments, as we regress to 2004 once again, first for Christmas Day presents, and then for more arguments. Sonja gets progressively drunk and argues with Eva about taking Vivi away, insisting they are kindred spirits. She will, apparently, return for Lara eventually. But Eva rightly insists she doesn’t know what it means to be a mother. Sonja goes so far in her personal insults — mentioning her cowardice in not daring to leave Olaf (Hans-Uwe Bauer) — that Eva insists she leaves and threatens to tell the girls where she has really been all this time. Just as Vivi is packing for Ibiza, Sonja leaves in a taxi, which Vivi desperately chases until she collapses to the ground, sobbing, abandoned once again.
In the present day, Vivi admits she doesn’t really have a record deal and breaks down over having no job, or money, or talent. She tells Lara not to listen to her and to marry Mauritz, and Lara laughs it off; she never really listened to her anyway. It suddenly occurs to them that the hiding spot is where it has always been — in the uprooted tree where Vivi once hid her cigarettes. In there, they find Alma’s gun. “Merry Christmas”, indeed.
Sonja, Vivi, and Lara take the matter to Ljubica (Anita Vulesica), who agrees to tell them the story as long as they promise that she can stay in the house after Eva is gone. They do, and so she takes them to the attic, where, in a hidden hatch, are the bones of Olaf.
It was the Christmas of 1989, and during a very strained dinner, the police raid the house and arrest Peter (Merlin Rose) and Sonja — the latter for her complicity in covering up his crimes. Both are taken away, Sonja disgusted that her mother could turn her in. Only Eva didn’t call the police. At first, she thinks Alma did, but Olaf confesses it was him. He isn’t ashamed. When Eva confronts him about his lies and cowardice, he gets angry and physical with her. Eva, quite calmly, retrieves the gun and shoots him dead. Together with Ljubica, she buries him.
Olaf’s body would likely have stayed buried forever, but two years ago the excavators arrived to help build the nature reserve for the ring-billed gulls. Fearing that the remains would be discovered, Ljubica dug them up and hid them in the attic. At that moment Anton arrives, suspicious, but Vivi kisses him to divert his attention. They’re all interrupted by Hans, who informs them that Eva doesn’t have long left.
Everyone has dinner together. Peter interrupts them to announce he’s leaving, and while everyone — especially Vivi — would like him to stay, he confesses that he isn’t her father — he was never able to have children. Eva’s letters and photos gave him something to hold onto while he was imprisoned, and when he was released, he didn’t have anywhere else to go. Once he has left, Vivi asks who her father is, if it isn’t Peter. Sonja looks quite lovingly at Hans.
Holiday Secrets Season 1, Episode 3 concludes with the women scattering Eva’s ashes in the ocean.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.