Spoilers will mostly remain in obscurity.
I haven’t done a Viewer’s Cut in a while. Just a reminder, I don’t fully spoil things in this feature but I do have to describe the plot and feel so you can get a sense of whether this is a show that will peak your interest. If it’s in this website, you can imagine there will be some elements that I’m a fan of but I won’t disclose them until you decide to read it. The one thing you get to know beforehand is that I binged the first two seasons in one weekend. That might not be the best approach for everyone.
Dark (2017) is a German series co-created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. It takes place in the fictional town of Winden where a kid has disappeared, there’s a mysterious cave, and as all small fictional towns there are secrets around every corner. It is streaming in Netflix in the original German with subtitles. Teenager Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) is struggling with his dad’s death by suicide. Bartosz Tiedemann (Paul Lux) is his best friend, now dating Jonas’ former girlfriend Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari). Magnus Nielsen (Moritz Jahn) is Martha’s brother.
The gang follows Bartosz to the cave one night along with the Nielsen’s young brother Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) and run into Franziska Doppler (Gina Alice Stiebitz). A curious phenomen happens as lights seem to turn off and on and strange noise comes from the cave. The kids run away and get separated. When they finally find each other, young Mikkel is missing.
There’s no way I can describe this show without letting you know what’s the central premise. The mystery of what happens is centered on the cave, which seems to hide a time portal. The series will ease you in as you discover the hidden connections between the families on Winden across different eras. This is one of those shows that you need to pick from the beginning and it will either grab you and take you along or time travel, loops and paradoxes are not your thing. It’s surprising, it’s well thought and it looks amazing. Curiously, the further back you go the more light colors are in the palette. Going forward instead is dark, bleak and does not bode well for the future.
Mystery, thriller, secrets and unexpected reveals are in store but they’re well thought. Time travel does add a complexity that you’ll either find enthralling or frustrating. Depending on that, this show may your new favorite thing or something to avoid altogether. You can probably try it out for a few episodes and if you start loving it, you’ll notice yourself being drawn in. It’s hard to put down. The first two seasons are cohesively built around the same events, while the third and last season introduces an additional concept.
The last season unavoidably raises the stakes, and for that it really twists around the concept of paradox adding alternatives that can deny the carefully established timeline it had going so far. As much as it allows the showrunners to write the final chapter of the story however they see fit, it does that by sacrificing the unmovable timeline we had going for two seasons. You’ll still want to see what conclusion they decide upon, but it does break the illusion of inevitability. It does weaken the ending a little for me, but the journey was really nice.
Highly recommended for fans of drama, intrigue and time travel paradox galore. The characters are interesting, the production is top notch and the story is very engaging. That being said, if you’re one of those people that gets frustrated easily on time travel plots you might want to sit this one out. But if you want a rich new story with time travel lore and surprises at every turn, you won’t find one better than this one. Of course, casual viewers looking for something more light should abstain. This one is only for those happy enough to be confused just when they thought they had figured it all out.
That will do for now.