The Fly Team of CBS’ FBI: International gets an assist this week from a very familiar face when a murder in Berlin reunites them with Europol agent Katrin Jaeger, played by former series regular Christiane Paul.
TVLine spoke with Paul about returning for no mere encore but a “deep dive” into Jaeger’s past, with the episode “Glimmers & Ghosts” (airing Tuesday at 9/8c). And while we had the German actress on the Zoom, we had to get her thoughts on Starz’s gone-too-soon spy drama, Counterpart, and the literally viral storyline she was a part of.
TVLINE | At the time that you and FBI: International parted ways, was there a handshake agreement that they’d have you back for an episode?
No, not really. I think they kind of mentioned it that if it is possible to have me back for an episode, they would love to. And I have to say that I am really grateful for this episode because [showrunner] Derek [Haas] created such an interesting deep dive into Jaeger’s past.
TVLINE | In this episode, the Fly Team is on the hunt for the killer of elite agents from the Stasi — which could be described as “East Germany’s KGB.” What particular insight does Jaeger offer?
Jaeger, like always, has special connections everywhere, and here she knows someone who worked in counterintelligence in West Berlin. And of course the victim is German, and that’s why she is the perfect connection for the Fly Team. What she does not know in that moment is that this has something to do with her past.
TVLINE | For you, growing up in Germany, what was taught in schools about the Stasi?
I grew up in East Germany, so I was raised in East Berlin, so nothing really was taught about the Stasi at school. Of course we knew that the Stasi is a thing, that we have this kind of intelligence service. But what is not easy to imagine is that the East German intelligence service worked in a way that is so different from all the other intelligence services around the world. Because what happened, and you can see it in this episode, is that they really infiltrate families. It’s beyond all the imagination we have about how a secret service works. The Stasi operated in a very specific way.
I had some experience with this in my family, so this was something I’d discover at one point. but it’s really hard because your whole value system just breaks down. I was 15, and I had a wonderful childhood. I didn’t know so much at that point about all the crimes which happened, but I discovered it later on. I felt secure and loved and everything, but when you realize what really happened, that the state in which you grew up did such terrible things, that is really deep damage. And this is actually something Jaeger goes through in this episode.
TVLINE | Do we learn anything new about Jaeger in this episode?
We learn that she grew up in East Berlin — but her family vanished or abandoned her at one point, and she didn’t know why. She just was left alone, and then she had the opportunity to move to West Berlin where she had some relatives. There, she got to know her mentor/stepfather, who she thought was a spy or working for counterintelligence. There were a lot of lies which she had to learn about, and that impacts you very deeply.
TVLINE | What was it like for you coming back for such a Jaeger-intense episode, to do this deep dive?
I didn’t expect it. I was just so surprised. I was like, “OK, I’m coming back for an episode! You’re coming to Berlin, to my hometown!” I loved it. Then I read the episode and said, “Holy s–t, are you serious?” I feel really honored that they did something like that for my character.
TVLINE | What kind of weather did y’all get for this episode? Because it was looking pretty frosty in that scene in the park….
Yes, it was actually snowing! I think it was the coldest week of the year when they came, like -3° [Celsius]. But it’s so funny because the last scene was written like that, with snow, and we had snow. It was a miracle.
TVLINE | Then I hope that was an actual coffee Luke [Kleintank] handed you.
It was hot chocolate and it was warm, yeah. That was lovely.
TVLINE | Would you like to do the occasional encore as needed?
Yes, of course. Why not? That would be lovely.
Christiane Paul as Mira in ‘Counterpart’
TVLINE | I found it interesting that the elite Stasi group the team is after is called “Indigo” — which was the name of the school run by your character, Mira, in Starz’s Counterpart.
I know! Maybe it’s because the writer for this episode, Edgar Castillo, loved Counterpart a lot. Maybe he just put it in there.
TVLINE | Do you regard your season of Counterpart a bit differently now since it involved a weaponized flu? Is it a little eerie?
I’m very close still to the showrunners of Counterpart, and they told me that when they told the network that everybody who has the flu on the one side in Counterpart has to wear masks, the network said, “No, no. Nobody would understand it. That’s not even possible.” And two years later, we had masks everywhere. But they couldn’t imagine that such a situation would come up.
TVLINE | Some have speculated that the writers knew cancellation was coming and as such scripts got tweaked toward the end of Season 2. Is that anything you felt? Or do you think the show had legs?
I really don’t know. I think they were prepared to do a third season, but I think at that moment Starz was not established enough, in a way. But that’s just my opinion. Starz has had a lot of really fantastic, highly written shows, but I think at that point maybe Counterpart was too complicated for the audience. But again, I don’t know.
TVLINE | And alas for you, Mira wound up dead. In at least one world.
But in another, she’s still alive! You never know. What’s funny is that, to come back to FBI [International], the scene that I had with [REDACTED] in the interrogation room really reminded me of Mira. Jaeger was being very cold and steely, giving [the suspect] no excuses anymore and being cold as ice. That really reminded me a bit of Mira, in a way. I realized I could use this kind of character and put it in there.
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