Netflix’s first original German-language series just so happens to be one of the best sci-fi shows on the platform. The Dark Netflix show explores how four families — the Kahnwalds, Nielsens, Dopplers, and Tiedemanns — are forever changed by a wormhole capable of transporting people 33 years in the past and future. Children are tortured, parents commit suicide, and curious passersby fall victim to the never-ending danger of time travel. The following are a few reasons why Dark should be on every Netflix user’s radar ahead of the second season’s premiere this Friday.
Dark‘s time travel stuff makes sense
Though a lot of sci-fi shows explore the concept of time travel, few manage to be consistent. Even Avengers: Endgame — one of the highest-grossing films ever — played around with its arbitrary time travel laws to move the plot forward. Dark stays true to its interpretation of the idea throughout its first season, carefully weaving 1953, 1986, 2019, and 2052 together in a single timeline. Arranging the puzzle pieces is fun as an audience member, especially when new characters are drawn into the wormhole. It’s satisfying to witness theories fit into place. At the same time, Dark does a good job at subverting one’s expectations by giving each seemingly inconsequential action a profound consequence.
Fans of drama should rest assured knowing each character’s personal life feeds into the show’s time traveling aspect. High school student Jonas strives to learn the motivation behind his father’s suicide while police officer Ulrich looks for answers to his brother’s disappearance 33 years prior. The latter is an especially complicated character, as he’s been having an affair with Jonas’ mother for some time and continues to sleep with her after her husband’s death. Nearly everyone in the show suffers for his or her curiosities and vices, hinting that human beings have no business using time to solve their problems.
Admittedly, it’s hard to draw connections between events if one isn’t focused or keeping a mental log. Fans who haven’t touched the series since its premiere in late 2017 should watch a recap before tuning in to the second season. Those who haven’t yet discovered the show have a little less to worry about, especially if they plan to binge watch all the way through.
Dark‘s solemn atmosphere is fantastically foreboding
Dark‘s imagery can best be described as moody. Rain plasters the small town of Winden, a nuclear power plant looms in the distance, and a torture chair sits in the middle of a child’s bedroom. The show’s murky lens depicts the world as a bleak place filled with insincere, callous people. Its one symbol of hope comes in the form of Jonas’ bright yellow raincoat. The metaphors hidden in Dark‘s cinematography recall the golden age of German filmmaking, as classics like Metropolis, M, and Nosferatu also heavily rely on set and costume design to illustrate major ideas.
Otherworldly compositions recall time’s obscurity and its portrayal as an instrument of God by some characters. Symbols referencing the wormhole’s power also aid in giving Dark an occultist feel. The show challenges horror and sci-fi fans to approach its scenes with a creative mindset. Its brilliance lies in how it doesn’t give away all its secrets, confidently leaving audiences to fester in their doubt while another nimbus cloud takes shape overhead.
Dark pushes the envelope
Dark takes full advantage of its nature as a non-broadcast show, as the opening scenes depict Jonas’ father hanging himself and Ulrich making love to Jonas’ mother. Eyes are burned, bodies are battered, and children are bludgeoned later on in the first season. The show makes it clear that it isn’t trying to emulate the success of Stranger Things. Rather, it’s entirely made with an adult audience in mind. There are no paranormal companions or daring heroes to be found in Dark. Nearly every character in the show is simultaneously despicable and relatable. Though audiences may be ashamed to admit it, the adult content on display piques the depravity found in all of us.
The show’s religious undertones are also worth mentioning, as a discussion regarding man’s rights to God’s power is brought up constantly. A comparison can be drawn between Dark and the Greek tale of Prometheus, the likes of which gifted humanity with fire and suffered a cruel fate as a consequence. The nuclear power plant’s cooling towers seem as if they touch the sky at times, challenging the supposed deities above for their exercise over phenomenon that humanity still hasn’t learned to tame yet.
Fans that manage to binge Dark in its entirety this weekend should be pleased to know that a third season is already in production. As audiences connect the pieces that bind the show’s time periods together, they may come to appreciate how well thought-out it is. The sci-fi series’ ideas are as believable as they are entertaining, and the personal drama etched into each protagonist’s journey prevents the experience from feeling too esoteric. Netflix would be wise to fund the production of more shows like Dark in the future, especially as competing streaming platforms look around the world for the next sci-fi phenomenon to keep subscribers hooked.