“Kleo” is a cinematically stylized ‘Killing Eve’-Esque German-language series. Capturing the anxiety of the late 80s-early 90s Germany, “Kleo” comes with several twists and turns. Humor plays a key role in the first few episodes. I cracked up when Kleo was on a revenge mission, and her new shoes continued to squeak. Thilo, Kleo’s strange friend from an alien planet, was a hilarious addition. A policeman obsessed with an assassin is not something new, and neither is an assassin on a killing spree after being betrayed, but “Kleo” manages to narrate the story brilliantly and will fill your void if you miss Villanelle. The series begins with a caption stating that it is a true story and none of what we are about to witness ever happened.
‘Kleo’ Season 1: Plot Summary – What Is The Series About?
Kleo Straub was an unofficial agent who worked for the Ministry of State Security of the German Democratic Republic. She was a dedicated agent of the State who did not question her seniors and did whatever was asked of her. Kleo grew up believing that one was to sacrifice their personal interests if it conflicted with the greater purpose of serving the State. She grew up with her grandfather, Otto Straub, and he influenced her tremendously. He was the Colonel-General of Reconnaissance, Division One, and played a major role in her accepting the position of an unofficial agent. She was tasked with executing enemies outside East Germany. She was handled by her senior, Andi, and the two shared a romantic relationship. The 1987 Big Eden Murder was the last mission Kleo agreed to work on. She walked through the tunnel from East Germany to West Germany and poisoned the man she was asked to. What she did not know was that after she had murdered the man, another agent stole his room keys. But Kleo could not care less about the impact of her mission. She had done her part and was ready to resign from her post. She was pregnant, and she shared the news she had been hiding from Andi for months. Andi was overjoyed at the prospect of being a father, but life would not be as easy as they planned it to be.
In the Big Eden case, there was a police officer named Sven. He had noticed Kleo and knew that she was involved in the murder. He doubted her from the moment he noticed that she was carrying a knife. Even though Sven was in charge of cases related to fraud, he was intrigued by the woman assassin. He drew a rough portrait of Kleo to help the homicide department, but his sketch looked like it was drawn by a five-year-old kid. Sven was a laughing stock at the police department. His sudden interest in the homicide case was never taken seriously, but Sven was determined to reach the bottom of the case.
Meanwhile, Kleo was falsely accused of revealing secrets to the class enemy. She was framed, and the Ministry of State Security was not there to save her. Instead, the police stated that there were no records to confirm that she was an unofficial agent. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason, and the people she thought would come to her rescue apparently testified against her. Kleo was pregnant and serving a life sentence. She was appalled by the turn of events. What she thought would be the end of her career was indeed the beginning of it. She got into a fight with her prison mates that resulted in her losing her unborn child. Kleo could never forget the horror of waking up in an isolated room only to realize that she was bleeding out her baby. Kleo counted each day spent inside. She knew that the wall would come down, and she would seek revenge. The fall of the Berlin Wall gave birth to a new Kleo. She was on a mission; it was to find out why she was sent to prison.
How Did Kleo Seek Revenge?
Kleo could never believe that her grandfather testified against her. Right after her release from prison, she got her file from the lawyer. She played the cassette recording of her grandfather’s testimony at his house. He denied Kleo’s involvement with the Ministry of State Security. Kleo was devastated. The person she trusted the most betrayed her. Sending his granddaughter to prison was not an easy task for Otto, but he did so to protect the State. His duty to the State surpassed his affection for Kleo. When Kleo confronted him, he advised her to read a note he left in a book. He asked her to shoot him, but she could not gather the strength to do it. But just when he was about to point his gun at her, she shot him in the chest. It took her hours to comprehend the death of her grandfather, and she cemented his body into the ground. As she struggled with her loneliness, she brought to her grandfather’s house the West German man, Thilo, who now lived in her old apartment.
She was now determined to end the lives of all those who had deceived her. She reached Andi’s apartment; he was now married and lived with his pregnant wife. Owing to their past, Kleo struggled with her emotions initially, but nothing could stop her from seeking revenge. As she held her gun close to Andi’s head, he confessed to writing her hundreds of letters, but none were allowed to reach her. He had all the returned letters with him. He had to move on, or else he would have lost his life in the process. He confessed that the man responsible for Kleo’s imprisonment was Comrade-Colonel Wieczorek, who killed himself and his wife after the fall of the wall. Andi tried to persuade Kleo to give up on her mission, but she was not moved by it. She needed her answers, and she would search for them for as long as it would take. She searched the Colonel’s office and found that he had a friendly relationship with a man named Walter Blum. In the meantime, she noticed the policewoman who had interrogated her, and she nailed her to the wall. Back at her grandfather’s house, where Kleo now lived, she cooked poison from parts of a puffer fish. The next day, she paid a visit to Walter Blum, the party Secretary. She wanted to dig up information about Colonel Wieczorek, but Blum claimed to only maintain a professional relationship with him. Knowing that his life was in danger, Blum attempted to shoot Kleo, but she was faster than he expected. She knocked his gun off his hand and managed to overpower him and push him off his window. She searched his house and found a photograph of Wieczorek and his wife hidden between letters. Kleo realized that the Colonel and his wife had escaped to Mallorca, and she decided to end it all with him.
Kleo knew that Wieczorek had connections with the KGB, and it was with their help that he managed to change his identity and live away from Germany. But she wanted to know the reason behind the grand scheme of things, and why she was the one who landed in prison. She started to live in one of the neighboring buildings to Wieczorek’s house in Mallorca. After her interaction with Alexander Below from Moscow, whom she had to hold hostage after he tried to attack her, she realized that Wieczorek was planning to conduct illegal trade. She changed her appearance and befriended his wife. She gained her sympathy by talking about her loneliness as a widow. After realizing how sad her life was, Kleo was invited to dinner at their house.
Wieczorek, who went by the name Fritz, explained to Kleo, aka Nichole, that he had always dreamt of starting his own business, and he intended to do the same now. He planned to build an indoor ski center on the island of Rugen. He asked Kleo to invest in companies in the GDR as they were no longer profitable to West Germany, and, with his sources, he could arrange a deal for her. He was charging a hefty commission for it, and the money was deposited in his wife’s Swiss account. Kleo now realized that the people she trusted were all traitors to their country. While Fritz was swayed by Kleo’s charm, his wife, who went by the name Regina, did not trust the neighbor. She found Kleo odd, and after digging around, she found out that Nichole was the name of a dead woman, and the house in which Kleo lived was not sold yet. Meanwhile, Kleo went to their house at night and kept the Colonel’s coat that she had stolen and coated with a flammable solution.
The next day, at the contract signing event, Fritz and Regina kept a close eye on Kleo. Regina found her going through the contract, and within a few seconds, Kleo turned around and puffed powder at her face, after which she dropped to the ground. She revealed her identity to the Colonel and added that his wife had inhaled tetrodotoxin; she could only revive after a dose of dopamine. She gave him a choice to save his wife, and in return, he had to confess who was behind her imprisonment. He informed her that the man she had killed was the CIA Chief in West Berlin, who was responsible for directing all US agents in the GDR. Even though he did not know why she was asked to be convicted after a successful mission, he knew that the order was from Minister Mielke. While Kleo helped his wife with the dopamine shot, she set the Colonel ablaze. Later, his wife was killed by an ex-agent of State Security. Even though the Colonel was not directly responsible for the condition, she could not accept that the country she had devoted her life to was now being sold to the capitalists. She punished him for betraying the nation, though she would later realize that everyone she knew was looking out for themselves.
After befriending a little girl at a park, she managed to send her poisonous cake to Minister Mielke, who lived in prison. He was admitted to the hospital after consuming the cake, and Kleo confronted him. He informed her that she had not eliminated the CIA Chief; the man continued to be alive. He was not directly involved in the mission since it was headed by his deputy, Kleo’s grandfather. She thought of sparing his life, but he threw a fit, and she had to shoot him dead. She went home and read the letter that her grandfather had written to her. He mentioned that she had eliminated an enemy in the West who had information that would have destroyed the GDR and would have collapsed the world order. She decided to collaborate with the only person she knew who worked at the police department in the West, Sven. Sven had been following Kleo all this time. He tried to interfere but did not always succeed. He lost his job at the department owing to his obsession with a case that he was not assigned. The case had been dropped, and it was concluded that the man died due to poisoning, but Sven refused to accept the easy answer. In the cat and mouse chase, they managed to become friends and find the truth behind the death of the man in Big Eden.
‘Kleo’ Season 1: Ending Explained – What Was In The Red Bag? What Was The Truth Behind Kleo’s Imprisonment?
Kleo learned that her grandfather worked with a double agent who lived in West Germany. The mission was to protect a secret that could have destroyed the nation and embarrassed its leader before the public. As it turned out, the double agent, Anne Geike, worked at the BND (Federal Intelligence Agency) but was loyal to the interests of the East. Sven studied the Big Eden Case in detail in the archive and decided to visit the store where the victim had bought a coat for himself. As it turned out, the store owner used to secretly take pictures of his clients. While it was a breach of privacy, it helped Sven recognize the victim. The store owner added that the man was carrying a red suitcase, the ones that were typically manufactured in East Germany. Sven, after losing his job, worked for the BND under Min Sun, who was assigned the case by Anne because she considered Min to be incompetent and did not believe that she could solve it.
Meanwhile, Andi and Uwe were after Kleo’s life since she was trying to unveil a truth that could shame the country. They tried to assassinate her at a café, but Sven saved her life. After being injured, Kleo had a flashback of her entire life, and she remembered that on the day she was awarded the National Silver Order of Merit Medal for her bravery in operating on enemy territory, she had seen the man she had murdered in West Germany. He was an East German who worked for the Ministry and had access to the red suitcase. She also witnessed the Secretary of Mielke during the ceremony.
After gaining consciousness, she hunted the Secretary down. She was determined to protect the red suitcase to preserve socialism. Even though Sven explained how redundant the goal was considering that the wall was broken by their people and the dream of a socialist society had dissolved, his words were not able to change her mind and instead angered Kleo and the Secretary. Ultimately, to never reveal the truth, she shot herself dead. Kleo searched her apartment and found a red suitcase, but it was filled with newspapers. They concluded that the man Kleo had executed in West Germany must have exchanged the bag and was about to hand it over to the West. To stop the transaction, the firm employed Kleo to kill him. The bag never reached the Minister. Kleo wanted to know what was in the bag and what the firm did with it.
Kleo visited Andi after Sven confirmed that he was with Uwe when she was attacked at the café. Andi explained that he was ordered by the State to betray her. He had tried to stop her from pursuing her mission, but he could not, forcing him to take extreme measures. Kleo pointed her gun at him but struggled to shoot him, but he was shot in the head by his wife, Anja. As it turned out, Anja was Miss Ramona, a brilliant agent of the State and an inspiration to Kleo. She had not seen Ramona, but she was quick to recognize her when she noticed her golden gun. Ramona murdered Andi because he was about to share information about the suitcase. She allowed Kleo and Sven to leave since she was not ordered to execute them. Kleo decided to confront the double agent and reached Anne Geike’s house. She refused to give up, knowing that she would end up in prison for treason if her truth surfaced. During their scuffle, she caught fire and burned to death. Kleo asked Sven to search the house for anything related to Chile since her grandfather had connections there. And she was right to think so, since Anne had a file dedicated to Chile; she visited the country in 1987 and met with Jorge, someone Kleo knew.
After reaching Chile, she tried to contact Jorge, but his housekeeper lied about his death. She managed to enter his house, though she was soon choked by the housekeeper. Kleo managed to strike back and save her life. Meanwhile, Sven followed Jorge out of his house, but he was hit by a truck soon after. Ramona contacted Kleo, saying she was now responsible for protecting the suitcase and killing Kleo. She asked her to meet her at a café. She poisoned her drink, but Kleo recognized it, though the poison was fatal enough to affect her even by contact. She dropped to the floor, and Ramona left the café. Sven managed to bring Kleo back to the hotel and injected her with dopamine. Kleo was back, and now they had the map that Sven got from Ramona’s room when she was away. The map indicated the location where the suitcase was hidden, so Kleo and Sven left to find it. After a car chase with Ramona, Kleo helped her give birth to her child when her water suddenly broke. Ramona allowed Kleo and Sven to take her car to the location. Perhaps her maternal instincts kicked in, and she was thankful to the duo for helping her. They finally found the red suitcase and brought it to their hotel room.
After opening it, they discovered that it had pictures of Minister Honecker and President Raegan together. To their surprise, there was a pact between America and East Germany. Raegan financed the GDR when it was suffering economically. Just as they discovered the truth, they were greeted by Margot Honecker, wife of the Minister. She explained that even though the working class did their best to keep their country afloat, it did suffer economically. President Raegan financed the GDR because, without it, there would not be the Federal Republic of Germany, which meant that they would lose their influence in Europe. Raegan used GDR as his bogeyman while he provided them with money. Kleo was shocked to learn the truth: the country she served had a pact with their eternal enemy at play. Whatever she believed to be true was turning false. Margot offered her the address of her mother, whom she was separated from when she was young. Kleo agreed to the offer. Even though Sven was disappointed in her, she was content with her choice. For the first time in her life, she chose herself over a greater cause, and she did not feel bad about it. She met her mother, but she did not wish to have Kleo back in her life. Kleo later felt guilty about not saving the suitcase. Sven disclosed that he made sure to not allow Margot to get away with the suitcase. He wanted the people to know about the pact and how their leaders deceived them. He had informed Min about it, who exchanged the suitcase at the airport. Margot returned home to find that her suitcase was filled with toilet paper.
Meanwhile, Min carried the suitcase to the United States and received a commission for it. Min, too, did not care about the greater good; she was working for her own benefit. And the truth was ultimately protected. The United States would never reveal to the world the secret pact. When Kleo learned that Sven went against her wish and handed it to their enemy, she wanted to shoot him dead, but he escaped.
What is interesting is that we never got to know what Min had delivered to the United States. Did she deceive them? Though that might be an extreme jump, it is a possibility. Uwe managed to survive even after being shot after the café attack, so will he seek revenge on Kleo, his eternal enemy? Kleo’s life might not be as peaceful as she had hoped for it to be after seeking revenge. Instead, the truth that she learned made her question her belief. She was sent to prison because she was recognized by Sven. The GDR was informed by their residents in the West that their agent was spotted, and to avoid further probe into the matter, they convicted Kleo falsely. The West concluded the case by stating that it was death due to poisoning. Kleo had learned not to trust anyone around her because, clearly, the world was far from what it seemed to be.
“Kleo” is a 2022 Drama Thriller series created by Hanno Hackfort, Bob Konrad and Richard Kropf.