January 29, 2023
Vienna Blood airs Sundays at 9:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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As Oskar and Max eat breakfast at the veterans’ hospital where Georg Steiner died, an acquaintance of Steiner’s whispers to them as he is wheeled past that he’ll answer questions. Lieutenant Hammer doesn’t like to speak in front of the hospital staff—he doesn’t trust them, seeing as they restrain and drug people like Steiner.
Hammer tells Oskar and Max that Steiner told him about his time in China during the Boxer Rebellion. A Chinese merchant came to Peking for safety with some treasure, and Steiner and another soldier took it; the other soldier killed the merchant. The pair hid the treasure on the Panther, a boat traveling to Vienna. The other soldier recently visited Steiner at the hospital—right around when Steiner’s madness took hold. His signature in the sign-in book is illegible.
Hammer also tells them that Steiner was at a bar in Vienna frequented by soldiers who had served in China when someone warned him of a curse that would haunt him.
More information comes from Fraulein Lindner: she explains that the mask found in a hidden chamber next to Steiner’s room is of a vengeful Buddhist deity. In stories, the god makes people walk on knives (Steiner’s feet were lacerated) and ties them to hot pipes to suffer (the way Steiner died). The only way to ward off the deity is with fresh blood (Steiner sacrificed a chicken) or a specific tree (which Steiner took from the hospital greenhouse).
Lindner has also learned that Steiner was jailed in China for a year before returning to Vienna. Max and Oskar realize that Steiner would thus have been delayed in claiming the treasure from the Panther in Vienna. They go to Max’s father Mendel and ask what would happen if a shipment were not claimed; he explains that it would eventually be sold.
Oskar has a realization: the burglaries he has been investigating are connected to this case. Someone is looking for the treasure inside Chinese cabinets that had been sold from the Panther.
This hypothesis is confirmed when Max and Oskar visit a trader of Chinese antiques and learn that the records of sales from the Panther have been sold.
Max comes up with a plan to set a trap. He and Oskar commission a fake version of the lacquered cabinets that have been targeted and convince the trader to sell it as a mislaid cabinet from the Panther, newly rediscovered. Max asks Clara to write about the cabinet without telling her it’s a fake in order to drum up publicity, promising there’s a crime story in it for her.
Max also needs a buyer, so he approaches his father, who is perplexed but agrees. Mendel and Leah together bid on the cabinet and “buy” it. Max and Oskar then stake out their house from the garden, while Hausmann hides in the same room as the cabinet.
Hausmann fights the thief when he breaks in, but gets knocked down. Max and Oskar try to stop the thief but he flees, shattering several of Mendel’s vases in the process. Max and Oskar eventually catch up to the masked thief and find him dead in an alley. He’s one of the aides from the veterans’ hospital.
Oskar and Max speak to the nurse whom they saw embracing the aide. She admits the aide overheard Steiner’s conversation about the Chinese treasure when Steiner’s accomplice visited him. The aide wanted the treasure for himself, and stole the auction’s records so that he could break into homes and search the cabinets for the treasure. He also tortured Steiner for information, pretending to be a vengeful god. The nurse tried to stop him.
The aide’s torturing of Steiner led him to commit suicide in an awful way consistent with the legend of the vengeful god he thought had cursed him.
Steiner’s accomplice must have killed the aide—but where to find him? Searching Steiner’s room once again, Max and Oskar find a card for a bar—likely the veterans’ bar where he was told he was cursed. It’s located on a houseboat and is run by a Chinese woman, who hates the soldiers to whom she serves alcohol and opium. They committed atrocities in China. She is likely the one who mentioned a curse to Steiner, to haunt him for his misdeeds there.
When Max and Oskar try to search a back room, she agrees but rattles her keys and takes her time opening the door. The room is empty by the time they get in—she was warning its occupant. She was also at the auction house for the sale of the cabinet, but says she simply deals in some antiques.
Fraulein Lindner finally identifies Steiner’s murderous accomplice from records: Franz Ebner is the only one unaccounted for from Steiner’s regiment. He was jailed and court-martialed in China for killing a merchant; Steiner’s shorter jail time was for being an accomplice.
Ebner is willing to commit more murders to find the treasure. He kills the aide’s lover while she searches his room for the auction house list of buyers of the cabinets from the Panther. Max and Oskar find the list still in the room, and see that the aide had checked every address but one.
Ebner breaks into that home, opens the hidden compartment of the cabinet, and finds his treasure: a bag full of diamonds. The police are waiting, but Ebner ignores Oskar’s gun. He’s shot instead by the owner of the house, who has come to investigate the commotion.
Ebner stumbles away with his diamonds and vanishes into the sewers. Oskar and Max try to follow him through the warren, then eventually guess where he is heading: the veterans’ bar. He reaches it and collapses, begging the proprietor to shelter him again. He drops the bag of diamonds as he dies. She picks it up and kicks his corpse into the river, then hides the bag in her bar before Oskar and Max appear. She tells them Ebner fell into the water. After they leave her, she disappears.
Max meets Clara, who has written a blockbuster story about the case. She gives him cufflinks in gratitude for his tip about the case, and he asks her to dinner—but she says they shouldn’t ruin things.
Meanwhile, Oskar goes to Therese and asks to stay the night, to her delight.