Spoilers will send you a postcard.
Okey, I feel like some of this is my fault. This show had a lot of things going for it, but at the same time it goes so much all over the place that I had a gut feeling from the beginning. I’ll go into it later here so I don’t give it away at the beginning. Suffice to say this one seems to be building up to something and then… Well, if I had only watched the first episodes I would still hold some hope. Getting to the end reveal was a letdown but it started promising. Let’s start this trip.
1899 (2022) was created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. We’re on a boat to America called the Kerberos (yeah, right off the bat… that name is too on the nose) where people from several nationalities are grouped together hoping to make it in the new world. The crew is German with some Polish members. The first class includes Spanish, French, British and a Chinese mother and daughter that are trying to pass as Japanese. Our point-of-view protagonist is Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham), a British doctor. The ship receives a message from a another ship that has been lost at sea called the Prometheus. The captain (Andreas Pietschmann) decides to change course to meet the ship although everyone seems to be against it.
The lost ship belongs to the same class as the Kerberos and the ship company sends a message to the crew saying they must “sink ship”. Fans of mystery series can already tell something is afoot here. This is the part where a boarding party is assembled to investigate the ship, composed of trustable crewmembers and- no, just kidding. The captain picks Maura, a Polish fireman (in charge of maintaining the furnace) named Olek (Maciej Musial), a French stowaway named Jerome (Yann Gael) and Ramiro (Jose Pimentao), a Portuguese disguised as a Spanish priest. In other words, a bunch of people he just met. He leads the expedition himself because he has ulterior motives (aka visions) of what awaits for them there.
Full stop here please. So, with a lot of interpersonal relationships complicated by language and cultural barriers, you’ve got a literal drama ready to span several chapters. The underlying mystery however, threatens to throw everything overboard. We’ve got a mystery man named Daniel (Aneurin Barnard) coming on board and stalking about. The boarding party comes back after finding a creepy kid (Fflyn Edwards) that doesn’t speak a word. All very mysterious, but where is the story going?
Well, it goes all over the place for a moment. Then everything that has been stated becomes rather irrelevant. All the reasons that the passengers had for coming to America, all the secrets they had about leaving their places of origin, all their backstories and secret agendas are diminish almost to nothing as the story centers almost exclusively on a few characters. I had a feeling very early on that we were on a “dream” scenario, but I was hoping it was going to be made interesting by drawing connections between who the characters play and who they turn out to be. Instead, the show plainly discards plot threads without solving them.
Lightly recommended because there is some entertainment value to it. That being said, if you expect all characters and their agendas to be resolved, the reveal negates relevance to almost every character you’ve seen. Not sure why you have the really large cast if everything comes down to Maura in the end. Feels a little wasteful to me. Perhaps a candidate for a rainy day watchlist, but it would have been tonnes better to rethink that ending reveal.
That will do for now.