Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead
In recent years I have noticed that the South Korean tv/film industry is especially good at doing zombies. For reference, check out the excellent Netflix series Kingdom, the very good #Alive and one of the best zombie films EVER, Train to Busan. There are some non-zombie Korean horror films as well, but Horror Head Writer Sommer or Featured Writer Alice would be better at talking about that. But as the science fiction guy here at Redmangoreviews, I can tell you that the Germans are pretty dang good at Sci Fi television. First you have the masterful mind-bending time travel series Dark, which won a Rotten Tomatoes user poll for best Netflix original series last year, and secondly we have the subject of this article, the excellent post-apocalyptic series Tribes of Europa. Wunderbar indeed.
The series, created by Philip Koch, features a post-apocalyptic Europe in the year 2074 where the populations have broken off into distinct tribes. When the peaceful, forest-dwelling Origine tribe is attacked by the murderous Crows three siblings embark on separate journeys of rescue, survival and possibly saving the world from an impending catastrophe.
One thing I love about science fiction is a rich, fleshed-out world, and Tribes of Europa delivers on this. The first season focuses on three tribes—the idyllic and peace-loving Origines, warmongering and hedonistic Crows, and the militaristic Crimson Republic—and each are very distinct and interesting. My favourite is the Crows. These guys are cray cray. They love to dress in black, Goth wear, and have a strict caste system from slaves to an overlord who looks like the love child of Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper. The Crows’ society is one of blood, sex and power, and their thirst to conquer the continent is unquenchable.
Our main insight into the world of the Crows is from Lord Varvara (Melina Foroutan in a superb performance) who is as beautiful as she is deadly. But thankfully Koch did not go the lazy route and make her “evil for evil sake,” but he adds enough nuance that you can understand her, even when she does the most despicable of things. My other favourite character is the roguish scavenger Moses, played by Oliver Masucci, who also featured in the above-mentioned Dark. Here he adds some much needed brevity to this very bleak and violent world. Moses has an entertaining relationship with Elja of the Origines (David Ali Rashed) who is an okay if not outstanding character. Henriette Confurius and Emilio Sakraya, who play Elja’s siblings Liv and Kiano respectively, are much better, and add depth and inner strength to their characters as they face life and death challenges.
Speaking of life and death, there is a lot of the latter in this series. And this is not clean, PG-13, Hunger Games death. This is bloody, decapitating, testicles-cutting, Mortal Kombat death. Check out “the wire” device used by the Crows for a good example of this. Yeah, Tribes of Europe pulls no punches but lets the gore and viscera fly, though it is always in service of the story and never feels gratuitous. And while we’re talking adult content, there is also profanity, suicide, sex and sexual violence as well. So yeah, this one isn’t a light watch.
The world of Tribes of Europa is not all ugliness though, and there are moments of laughter, romance, hope and wonder. It would also be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the fantastic production design and splendid costuming that helped bring this series to life. And while Tribes of Europa is not an effects-heavy series (at least in Season 1), the visual effects we do have are very well done.
I had a blast with Season 1 of Tribes of Europa and after devouring the six episodes I am hungry for more of this impressive post-apocalyptic world, especially after a deeply intriguing cliffhanger. And if anyone knows of any more top class German Sci Fi feel free to hit a brother up.
Editor Jules’s Score: 9 out of 10
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.