The Ludwigshafen detectives Lena Odenthal and Johanna Stern are investigating in the clinic of a doctor who is performing strange brain operations. The “crime scene” shown as a repeat ventures a look into the future – and it’s dark.

What’s the matter?

Lukas Pirchner’s empty wheelchair is found on the banks of the Rhine. Lena Odenthal (Ulrike Folkerts) and Johanna Stern (Lisa Bitter) research the background: The young man has been paraplegic since a car accident in a souped-up car and sought help from Prof. Bordauer (Sebastian Bezzel) in the clinic. The well-known brain researcher wanted to help him regain his mobility by intervening in his brain. When a doctor from the clinic is found dead shortly thereafter, the inspectors take a closer look at what the doctor is doing in his clinic.

Why is this “crime scene” worthwhile?

The episode “Maleficius” takes an exciting look at new possibilities that medical progress could bring: dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s are to be delayed using circuit boards, depressions are to be controlled with electrical brain stimulation. At the same time, the film introduces a way of thinking that is not (yet) widespread in this country: transhumanism. The brain researcher Bordauer, embodied by Sebastian Bezzel, is a passionate advocate. He dreams of connecting Homo sapiens with the artificial intelligence he created.

What bothers?

As is – unfortunately – usual in the ARD crime series (examples can be found here and here), almost every kind of progress and future technologies is portrayed with deep pessimism. The brain researcher here is not a scientist working on the future of medicine, but a megalomaniac who, like Frankenstein, is breeding a new superman. Bordauer would like to use surgical interventions to stop people’s criminal behavior and dreams of storing complete backups of our ego in the cloud. “Then we’re immortal,” he rants. There are actually many good reasons that could be advanced against far-reaching interventions in the human brain and the technological optimization of Homo sapiens. However, this “crime scene” exaggerates mercilessly and therefore makes no contribution to the necessary debate.

The commissioners?

Lena Odenthal in particular embodies the resistance against the whole school of thought of transhumanism. At least some nice lines were written into the screenplay. When the secretary of the brain researcher tries to get rid of the commissioner, referring to its importance, she counters: “My name is Odenthal. I don’t have a doctorate. I’m not very popular either. But I usually investigate very successfully. My specialty is murder and Manslaughter. And I have office hours now.” You just have to like this woman for her direct manner.

Turn on or off?

At the end of this thriller it becomes downright grotesque when a human being who has become a machine trudges through the hospital corridors. If you want to have a hearty laugh, you are welcome to tune in.

The “Tatort” episode “Maleficius” was first broadcast on September 8, 2019. ARD repeats this case on Friday, July 1, at 10:15 p.m.