Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: Multinational immigrants traveling from the old continent to the new encounter a nightmarish riddle aboard a second ship adrift on the open sea.
Review: Dark was a series created by the same team behind 1899 that basically blew the minds of everyone who saw it. It was like television series Lost but without the anticlimactic ending or the pervading sense that the writers had no plan after the first season. Yes, the creators of Dark are back with their latest mindbender called 1899 and with the bar set extremely high, sci-fi/mystery fans like myself binged their way through the series to see if it was as complex and well-written as its predecessor. And, of course, if we were smart enough to figure out what the hell was going on before the big reveal. I don’t know about you but the answers in order are “Yes it is!” and “Close but no cigar”.
The series starts off with our lead character Maura played by Emily Beecham narrating the line “The brain is wider than the sky, for put them side by side, the one the other will contain” after which she seemingly has a nightmare of herself in what appears to be a psych ward where a man approaches her and says the words “Wake up”. The clues are all there and yet 1899 is so masterfully crafted I don’t see anyone figuring out exactly what’s happening here until show creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese wants you to.
From the very first episode the show completely sucks you into a puzzle that only gets more engaging and more complex as more of the pieces fall into place. And the pacing of each episode is so perfect, there’s never a moment that feels wasted or unimportant to the overall narrative, which is astounding when you consider how large the cast is.
The visuals are in a word, stunning and I truly wish I could’ve watched this on the largest screen I could find. With scenes that beautifully meshed the haunting with the surreal, 1899 puts nearly every big budget movie I’ve seen this year to shame (I’m looking at you MCU and DCEU). And I highly recommend watching the Making of 1899 Featurette AFTER to see the level of work and imagination that went into creating this series. And can we talk about that score! Choosing “White Rabbit” as the main theme feels like such a wink at the audience for what’s to come and every song after that fits perfectly within the narrative in a way you don’t always see with shows or even movies such as these. I’ve never been one to gush about scores and soundtracks but this one delighted me to no end.
Now that isn’t to say 1899 is perfect (although it comes damn close) as there are still many lingering questions, most of which have to do with the purpose of the rest of the cast outside of the main players Maura, Daniel (Aneurin Barnard) and The Boy (Fflyn Edwards). Why are they there? What purpose do they add to the overall themes? But the beauty of this is there’s enough mystery left behind to make jumping into a second season very appealing to those who enjoyed the first. There’s also the slightly problematic matter of having main characters who aren’t quite who they appear to be, by which I mean the series focuses more on the mystery and hiding clues for viewers to find (those triangles are everywhere if you’re paying attention) but not as much on developing meaningful relationships with the players themselves. I can honestly say there was no one person in particular I was rooting for the entire time, with maybe the exception of the ship’s captain Eyk (Andreas Pietschmann).
Still, the final scene was icing on the cake and while I did figure out one or two aspects of where things were heading, I would be lying if I said I saw that coming, which in my opinion is a solid sign they crafted this mystery right.
1899 gets a lot more right than it does wrong and most importantly it lays the foundation for the kind of enigmatic tale fans of the genre love to dive into, making a second season not just appealing but downright mandatory.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
Have you seen 1899? What did you think of it? And you can check out more mind-bending Sci Fi content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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