The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Season 1 Episode 2 Recap & Review

Episode 2

Episode 2 of The Tattooist of Auschwitz begins in Slovakia 1942 with Gita, in a brief moment before she’s whisked off to the holocaust camp of Auschwitz. Pepan gives Lali some sound advice, telling him he need to think of something positive to keep his mind occupied. And of course that positive thing… is Gita.

As luck would have it, Lali needs to head over to the women’s camp, to help the new arrivals. His horrific Nazi officer Stefan Baretzki, is just as mean and horrible as before, and he wastes little time shooting one of the women in the head. Just because.

Every day the inmates are forced to line up for roll call and inspections, awoken by banging pans and a scuffle for the yard. Anyone too sick, injured or cut are taken away to the chambers. These men and women are never seen again. Gita manages to survive though, working with the other inmates in the women’s side of the camp to sort through the gear. Any jewellery is given straight to the officers, but Gita works with her friends, Ivana and Hanna, to take some valuables for themselves to use as a bargaining chip against the guards. She does what she can to survive.

Lali is desperate to find her again though, and he gets his wish when Gita whistles across the camp upon seeing him. Stefan Baretzki jokes about getting women in bed and unfortunately, when the women badmouth him, Lali is forced to slap one of them across the cheek. She happens to be pregnant, and although Stefan promises to get her to the maternity ward, in truth they’re taken to the chambers when they’re no longer needed.

When Lali goes over to the men’s camp again, he feeds back that there are women there – and almost lets slip about pregnant women too. However, one of the men steps up and claims his wife is pregnant and unfortunately, Lali’s interest causes him to backtrack and lie about what he’s seen.

Alone, Stefan decides that he can use Lali. Specifically, he’ll deliver a note to Gita if Lali helps him write some things for him to woo his girlfriend. Lali likens this to dealing with the devil when he speaks to Heather in the present, but he knows that Stefan was very lonely and violent – and in a weird way needed Lali and looked at him as a friend of sorts. 

In the middle of the night, Gita is taken out of her bunk and although she looks like she’s going to be taken to the gas chambers, she bribes her way out of it with one of the officers. She hesitates at the door, but nods in Stefan’s direction. That’s right, the SS officer is there and he checks her number. He surprisingly keeps his promise to Lali and hands over the note.

We then cut to Oswiecim, in Poland, where Baretzki tries to woo his woman. He gives her a drink and although he tries to open up and ask questions about her (something Lali clearly encouraged), she simply laughs and bitterly forces him to get busy, knowing her whole life has been upended. 

The next day, Baretzki takes his anger out on Lali and despite being beaten and knocked to the ground, he does learn where Gita is being kept. This is somewhat of a double-edged sword because although she’s in Block 29, his SS officer also knows too. This horrific revelation forces Lali to confront the past, as Baretzki could have done anything to her and he wouldn’t even know.

Anyway, Baretzki encourages him to write another note, and when he gets an opportunity, Lali sneaks into the clothing warehouse. Unfortunately, Gita ends up cutting herself on one of the suitcases but she hides it from the others, especially the officers. Lali watches her leave and the pair manage to convene together by the side of the suitcases. In exchange for a note and some chocolate, she hands over a gold ring, which she says she can get more of. This will help bribe the officers and survive.

The pair do this every day, and their relationship manages to help both of them survive in their own way. Bribing the officers, the pair get a good deal of food for their respective camps – and manage to stay alive too.

One morning however, something changes. Lining up for roll call, three nooses are hung before them. Lali is forced to watch as one of his comrades who tried to escape the camp before, Tomas, is hung before the others. “I’m free,” he chuckles before they’re hung before the other inmates, who struggle to keep it together.

Alone, Lali breaks down crying as he heads over to see Gita. She notices the tears and is shocked to learn about Tomasz’s death. Lali had to see her and allow himself to feel that grief. And that is enough for the pair to kiss. She hands over some jewellery and tells him that he’ll get through this day.

Unfortunately, Baretzki shows up that night to see Gita. He corners her by the side of the barracks and he grabs her arm while she’s going to pull away from him. Noticing her wincing badly, he recognizes her arm and the infected cut, but he doesn’t say anything. At least not right now anyway. He tells her to go to bed and staggers off. He’s clearly had one too many to drink, as he eventually collapses on the ground.

He calls out for Lali, while ash falls to the floor. Lali shows up and carries the officer, helping him back to his bunk, where he proceeds to vomit in the bucket that was supposed to be used for Lali’s water. Stefan’s eye is cut, and he’s not in a great way, but he does reveal about Gita’s arm. He refuses to get her medicine and instead, he cuddles up to Lali and tells him that he’s here for him, and they’ll get through this together.

The Episode Review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz continues to deliver excellent drama, and this time around we see the story involving Lali and Gita in much more detail. These small pockets of romance are enough of a bright patch to keep watching through what’s otherwise some horrifically grim drama.

The show has been an excellent period drama to watch so far though and understanding more about Stefan Baretzki, and how he ties into this story, helps to make this ensemble that much stronger.

You really can’t figure out Baretzki either. He’s horrific as a character but he has these glimmers of humanity that struggle to break free and stand out. It’ll be fascinating to see how these character evolve over time.

This has been an intense watch though, and I’d definitely recommend regular breaks while watching this one as it’s very heavy. We’ll have to wait and see what the show has in store for us next but it’s bound to be just as horrific.

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