Please note, this post contains massive spoilers for the first season of Dark.
I am not even sure where to begin with this. Dark was an incredible show that had a mix of everything – complex characters, entangled relationships, elements of time travel, suspense, romance etc. This show was simply mind blowing. Being such a complex show, there would be lots to discuss, so I doubt I’ve even scratched the surface here. But I’ve picked out the points that were most salient for me and mused about them.
Dark was thought provoking and explored the concept of whether we have the ability to change the past through our actions, thereby changing the future as well or whether life itself is predetermined, therefore suggesting that in essence nothing can be changed. It was also intriguing to think about the notion of free will in the sense if our actions are also predetermined and if the illusion of choice is just that – a mere illusion.
Within this, the question of if we could change events, should we intervene and manipulate fixed events that would have a subsequent knock on effect on to the future events was also thrown up. This was depicted when Ulrich decided to take matters in to his own hands by choosing to kill young Helge in order to stop the events that would follow. Yet, it was highlighted that perhaps it is not as simple as that. Perhaps there are greater powers in motion that intervene when events are made to go off their predetermined path. Even more was the subtle question of if anyone simply has the right to alter the timeline of events to suit themselves without thinking of the following ramifications by doing so, especially the impact on others’ timeline.
It was incredible to watch how the show navigated between three different timelines (1953, 1986 and 2019). Scenes seamlessly weaved in and out between the three separate timelines in a masterly fashion and despite there been multiple characters as a result, it soon became easier to keep track of who was who and their relation to the other characters presented. It was interesting to note that despite a variety of different personalities being portrayed, no one was particularly likable or relatable, expect perhaps Jonas. Of course, some characters were definitely more likable than others. Hannah for example was probably the most dislikeable one of the bunch – she was a liar through and through who appeared to be incredibly selfish and showing no remorse for her behaviour.
The thick veil of mystery that surrounded Noah was nicely portrayed. It was interesting to theorise about his intentions. Relating to this, it was a bit confusing as to why when trying to send the kids in to the future (if that was indeed their motive as this was never made clear) such as Mads, why the cave was not used to do this as it connected 1986 to 2019, unless you could not travel in that direction, meaning that perhaps the cave could only be used to travel to the past. However, this surely is not the case as Jonas used the cave to get back to 2019, after visiting 1986 after receiving the parcel. Also it can be assumed that the cave is how Noah is travelling so freely between the different time periods. And moreover, the question of why Helge was helping Noah also popped up but was left ambiguous.
Helge himself made for a fascinating character. And again through him, the idea of whether we have the right to change history is questioned when he decides to intervene with the course of events from 1986, knowing how they play out, having lived through them. Through him, in some ways the burden of knowledge and a guilty conscience was shown whereby his sanity starts to waver in some respects especially in the eyes of others. The question of whether he is insane can also be thought about.
Admittedly it was hard to keep track of the four families outlined as well as the relationships outside the families especially when moving across time. Occasionally, I did have to pause to think about who a specific character was and whom they grew up to be in the future timeline of 2019 and their links to other characters. However, the more I watched, the less frequent this became.
Another aspect that was really well done was the fact that the show focuses on both the adults and the young people and as such there is no main protagonist so to speak. Each episode would frequently focus on a different family, thereby drawing out each character in a masterly fashion. The cinematography and sound track for the show were also on point, as well as the acting.
The whole portrayal of time was beyond brilliant, in particular looking at the similarities and connections between the three time periods that were depicted as well as commenting subtly on how our decisions have consequences that have the power to ripple across time.
A handful of questions remained as the first season ended which confused me (unless I’m missing something, which of course could very well be the case). Firstly, how is it possible to have two versions of the same person in the same time period at the same time? So how can Michael and Mikkel have an overlap when they are essentially the same person? Is it then a given that they did not have contact with one another. Which then begs the question of Jonas and the stranger being in the same time period and the stranger (later revealed to be an older Jonas) actually interacting to the point where he (the stranger) tells Jonas exactly who he is. Would the laws of time allow this? I realise of course that I’m basing my perspective on the Harry Potter universe whereby it was clearly stated that when going back in time, you must not be seen, least of all by yourself. Which then clearly brings up the question, are they any laws of time that must be followed, except not interfering with the predetermined path as told by the stranger.
Another musing I had was whether Ulrich’s present day timeline is affected if he is stuck in 1953. And if so, what ramifications does it have for him and other characters. Also, whilst speaking about Ulrich, I was a bit befuddled when he started to tell young Helge the future. Again, surely this is messing with time and should he have been successful, the whole course of events would have been altered in an unimaginable way.
With regards to Michael, I was wondering why exactly he had completed suicide, as that was never fully explained. Unless it had something to do with there being an overlap with him and Mikkel. But looking at the dates, this cannot be the case. Moreover, it a potential plot hole was Jonas getting another copy of the letter written by his father after he had burnt it.
In a nutshell, this was an incredible show. The intricacies of the plot and characters were amazingly done and overall it was simply mind blowing. Everything was pure and utter genius. Basically, no amount of praise can do this show justice, it’s an absolute must watch.