The first time I watched ‘Dark’ on Netflix, I was really confused. The first couple of episodes led me to believe that this was going to be another missing child story, some regular crime or mystery show. Then the show brought in the element of time travel, and I realised that this show was going to be a bit different. Towards the of the show, there were three different timelines to watch and understand, all interlinked, and this was really when it started getting complicated. However, that moment when you piece everything together and it finally starts to make sense makes the show so incredible to watch.
The show begins in the fictional town of Winden in Germany (which actually makes Dark the first German original Netflix series), where a teenage drug dealer named Erik Obendorf has gone missing, and the main characters are discussing his disappearance at high school. Jonas Kahnwald, one of the main characters, has just come back to school since he has been struggling to cope with his father’s suicide. His best friend, Bartosz Tiedemann, suggests the idea of going into the caves to find Erik’s drug stash that evening. Bartosz also brings along his girlfriend Martha Nielsen, whom Jonas has developed feelings for & Martha’s brother, Magnus. Magnus & Martha’s younger brother, Mikkel, wants to tag along, and so Magnus brings him as well. As the youngsters go to retrieve the drugs, they find that they have been followed by Franziska Doppler, a teenage girl who also attends their school, who overheard their plan and went to take the drugs herself. As she offers to sell them to Bartosz, the teenagers hear frightening sounds and their torches flicker, causing them to run away from the caves and out of the woods. Having run away, they realise that Mikkel is no longer with them and go back to search, but he has vanished without a trace. The episode ends with Erik in a strange bunker, strapped to some sort of mechanical chair, and a dead boy being found by the caves the next morning, but is neither Mikkel nor Erik. There are other characters introduced such as Ulrich Nielsen (the father of Mikkel, Magnus and Martha), who’s own brother Mads went missing in 1986, and his wife Katharina, Hannah Kahnwald, Jonas’s mother whom Ulrich is having an affair with & Charlotte Doppler, one of the police chiefs who’s own marriage is falling apart after discovering her husband Peter was having an affair with a transgender prostitute.
At this point, it might seem really boring or terribly cliché that these young boys have been capturned & killed, but the motivation could not be more different from other shows – Spoilers Ahead!
Mikkel is actually not captured, but travels through a wormhole which exists under the Winden caves to 1986, 33 years prior to where the show begins, 2019. The other boys in the show, Erik, the dead boy (who is revealed to be Mads), and another boy named Yasin (who goes missing later on in the series) are revealed to be unfortunate guinea pigs in an experiment pioneered by a priest named Noah, who wants to invent a successful time machine, and builds a prototype in 1986. Whilst the machine does work, it kills the young boys in the process, and only sends them through time in 33-year cycles: Erik and Yasin end up in 1953, 33 years ahead of 1986, and Mads in 2019, 33 years after 1986. Further details are revealed throughout the series, such as who else is behind all this, and who else is aware in Winden that time travel is possible. The time travel in ‘Dark’ shows that not only is the future influenced by the past, the past is also influenced by the future in a cycle that questions if we really have the free will to choose our actions, or if everything is already decided. We also get to learn what happens to Mikkel when he travels back in time, and get to see other characters travel back in time as well in attempts to change the future and put things right. All of the characters have issues that they are dealing with themselves, and makes the characters relatable and interesting.
Season One has already had so much action, mystery & drama packed into it that I cannot wait for Season Two to be released, and I highly recommend this show to all.