Based on true events, Oktoberfest is a boozy cocktail of period drama, crime and – as the title so aptly puts it – beer and blood. Episode 1 of Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood wastes absolutely no time getting right to the heart of the drama.
A severed head washes up on shore as a tribal warrior fishes it out and stands with the rest of the tribe. This, believe it or not, happens to be on the outskirts of Munich.
We then cut back 3 months earlier. It’s Easter in 1900 and Curt Prank pitches his idea for Oktoberfest. He proposes building a tent to reinvent Oktoberfest and house 6000 people. Given he’s not an innkeeper and 5 stalls would be demolished to pave way, the Wiesen commissioner Stadtrat Urban promises it won’t happen while he’s around.
Only, Prank is cunning and has an ace up his sleeve. The bastard boy playing outside with his son happens to be Urban’s own flesh and blood. Encouraging him to “play nice”, Urban is left in shock and with little choice over what to do next.
That choice comes from raising rent prices for residents around town. One of those unable to pay is Maria Hoflinger, and this certainly isn’t the last we’re likely to see of her. As we soon see, there’s nine weeks until Oktoberfest and Hoflinger’s lot is one of the ones lost as a result of the increases.
Meanwhile, trouble brews in town when Glogauer arrives at the nearby brewery. His client has offered double to buy it out but Ignatz Hoflinger is having none of it. At the same time, Prank meets Mrs Brockmann who happens to be the centre of social life in Munich. He wants her to match his daughter Clara up to a prospective mate but she declines to help.
In the morning, Mrs Brockmann receives quite the message when her cat is murdered and left by the side of the bed. Is this Prank’s doing? There’s no time to mourn though, as business moves forward and she meets back up with Prank again.
That meeting sees Clara introduced to Anatol Stifter who happens to be quite the wealthy businessman. He gets cozy with Clara but Curt watches from the wings. When their meeting ends, he warns his daughter against acting like a “hussy”. She scoffs at this notion, reminding him that this wasn’t part of their plan.
It’s here we also meet the younger Hoflinger brother, Ludwig. He’s quite the artist and wants to go to the academy. Despite his big dreams, his sketches aren’t making money so he’s forced to continue working in the brewery.
Elsewhere Roman (Ludwig’s older brother), ends up in a big confrontation with his father later that day. The brewery isn’t doing too well and they need to think smartly about how to do business going forward. Roman suggests they export and make big changes but Ignatz is having none of it.
That evening, Clara sneaks out to attend a party. Interestingly, she locks eyes with Roman while there and the two immediately hit it off, sleeping together in private.
Ignatz also heads out but this time to confront Glogauer. Standing with his dog, Glogauer proposes that his client absorb all the debt and this time he’s not taking no for an answer. Unfortunately this leads to Ignatz meeting a gruesome demise at the hands of Glogauer and his dog, with the latter ripping off his head and scampering away.
The Episode Review
Oktoberfest has some great visuals and the gritty tone really matches that seen in shows like Peaky Blinders. The musical montage, with the sweeping camera across the tabletop was really smartly done and reinforces the feel of this being created with an international audience in mind.
There’s a lot of simmering tensions here just waiting to spill over and it looks like this might actually stem from the Hoflinger/Prank family feuds. We’ll have to wait and see if this holds weight though but so far this one gets off to a decent start.