Gretchen Fisher (Tessa Mittelstaedt, left) and Emily Fisher (Emilia Bernsdorf): My mother, the stranger
Families are like secret services: conspiratorial groups that remain a mystery to outsiders.
And in this conspiratorial bunch there are confusing front lines and changing coalitions.
Impossible to penetrate from the edge the togetherness and antagonism in a family or intelligence cell.
With the Fishers, a well-off mother-father-daughter unit on the outskirts of Frankfurt with roots in the USA, the secret service is more than an analogy: the parents are actually agents.
While one arguing in the kitchen about who will finally repair the broken dishwasher, encrypted messages from the enemy are tapped in the hobby room via a shortwave device.
When a boy from the neighborhood is found dead in an industrial ruin, the team of investigators around Janneke (Margarita Broich) and Brix (Wolfram Koch) meet the Fishers, who have a little more to hide behind the accurate walls of their own homes than other families.
Did the mother have an affair with the victim?
Did the father commit murder out of jealousy?
And why does the couple have such a bleak answer to every difficult question?
Espionage and counter-espionage
The "Tatort" episode "Funkstille" describes a household that is built on lies.
The US series "The Americans", which is about a couple who spied behind the facade of an American middle-class family for the KGB during the Cold War, may have served as inspiration.
Whereby: It's not that clear in the course of the six "Americans" seasons, which were filmed between 2013 and 2018: espionage and counter-espionage, faked love and real love, staged marriage and real offspring - where the legend ends and that true life begins is often difficult to say.
So it is now in the Frankfurt "Tatort" - which tells the Fishers' lie that has come to life, above all from the perspective of daughter Emily (Emilia Bernsdorf).
"Emily, we work for the CIA!" Admits the 17-year-old's father at some point.
A revelation that is followed by more, until the girl no longer knows what she can believe in.
Pubertal lost world and political paranoia are close together here.
Icy fronts in the family
Which is also due to the disturbing appearance of Tessa Mittelstaedt as a mother.
In 2014, the actress said goodbye to the furious, cruel episode "Franziska", banned into the night by the protection of minors, as a permanent assistant at the Cologne "Tatort" district.
Here she returns as a frosty fake virtuoso for an episode in the crime series.
In geopolitical terms, the Cold War has largely been overcome; the icy front here runs more between mother and daughter.
Their relationship is set in images that look like they are out of an Ingmar Bergman drama.
There is screaming, but the silence is not broken.
The author duo Stephan Brüggenthies and Andrea Heller - who previously wrote the episode "The Monster of Kassel" with Barry Atsma for the HR investigative team - let the interpersonal maneuvers emerge from the intelligence service maneuvers.
The ideological confusion is just a cover for the human inadequacy of this family that came from the cold.
To this end, all kinds of theories are spread about interception and infiltration techniques used by the major secret services.
A risky narrative approach, but thanks to the cool staging style of the Polish documentary filmmaker Stanislaw Mucha (Grimme Prize for "Absolute Warhola") it mostly works.
The overexcited plot remains plausible.
Did you know, for example, that outside forces can hack into the loudspeakers of your smart TV?
At least that's what it says once in this highly suggestive "crime scene".
It speaks for him that while watching one is overwhelmed by a little lustful paranoia: Is the US secret service listening to me on my television?
And is that creature next to me on the couch really my wife or a well-camouflaged CIA agent?
8 out of 10 points
Sunday, 8:15 pm, Das Erste
Icon: The mirror