DARK – A Netflix Original’s
Directed by: Baran bo Odar
Series Writing Credits:
Baran bo Odar – (19 episodes)
Jantje Friese – (19 episodes)
Martin Behnke – (5 episodes)
Ronny Schalk – (5 episodes)
Marc O. Seng – (5 episodes)
Daphne Ferraro -(2 episodes)
Louis Hofmann – Jonas Kahnwald
Daan Lennard Liebrenz – Mikkel Nielsen
Ella Lee – Hannah Kahnwald
Lena Urzendowsky – Ines Kahnwald
Ludger Bökelmann – Ulrich Nielsen
Netflix’s first original German series, Dark, is compared to Stranger Things. Both series focus on children who have gone missing; both are set, partially in Dark’s case, in the 1980s; both the movies involve the unexplained stories about the mysterious past. In Stranger Things, there deals with the facility is Hawkins Lab, in CIA’s MK-Ultra experiments. In Dark, it’s a nuclear power plant, a start with the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, which reveals over the series in multiple ways.
Every day in Winden, a small town in german where this dark play takes place. There are a lot of characters to keep in mind, which is one of the key challenges in the initial episodes that inevitably tests your patience. The show opens with a voice-over explaining that “everything is connected,” which turns out to be true of the relationships between the parents and children in four families that are slowly introduced. First, we meet Jonas (Louis Hofmann), a teenager who has spent time in a mental hospital following his father’s suicide and is a readjustment to regular life in 2019 when he learns that a classmate, Erik, has gone missing. A short time later, Jonas and several friends go on a late-night exploring into the Winden woods forest to see if they can recover some drugs that Erik hid away in a secret spot. In the process, one of a friend’s younger brother, Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) disappears. Mikkel happens to be the sibling of Jonas’s ex-girlfriend, and also the son of the police chief, who happens to be having an affair with Jonas’s mother, and I could keep writing about the growing relationship in this town, but you get the idea.
With the caveat that it’s best to enter Dark as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t say too much about the role that 1986 plays in the series, other than to say that the drama between its men, women, boys, and girls toggles back and forth between that year and 2019, in ways that support the Albert Einstein quote that flashes onscreen in the pilot: “The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
If this all sounds cryptic, that’s because it is. Dark is a mystery-box show through and through, complete with secrets and surprising twists and cliffhangers that put a cap on each episode while enticing you to immediately open the bottle of the next one. It is such a mystery-box show that it even features a box, containing the suicide note written by Jonas’s father, and takes several episodes to actually reveal what the letter says. While that might sound frustrating, the thicket of storylines is so intricate that there’s no time to get annoyed when one piece of information takes a while to reveal itself. yes, it’s a little hectic in the beginning but comes to a track soon. There are too many other elements of the puzzle to continue trying to sort out.
Like other shows that invite the viewer to try to solve them, Dark suffers a bit in the humanity department. With so many characters and such attention on how their identities and actions fit into the plot, there isn’t much room to truly get to know these people on a deeper level it’s easy to get to know the plot.
The overall vibe is so heavy that watching Dark can be a bit suffocating at times. I’ll also note that this show has never met an alarming moment. If you’re looking for something that’s going to lighten your spirits at the end of a rough week, this isn’t it. But if you enjoy complex mysteries it will never let go of it — think not just The Returned, but also might be a Killing season.
To be fair, every once in a while Dark does exhibit a flash of a new taste humor. In the third episode, a medical technician is performing an autopsy on one of several recently expired sheep and chatting with the chief inspector. After announcing that the sheep’s eardrums have ruptured and this makes some noise and leaves a little suspense to the audience. Its two seasons are grooming good and hope comes back with solutions in the mystery in the upcoming seasons.