Say whatever you like about 1899, the Netflix original series from the creators of the mind-bending series Dark, but it’s certainly following in its predecessor’s footsteps. In Dark, characters jump from time to time without rhyme or reason, and in 1899, characters jump from place to place with the same minimal fanfare.
And, just like in Dark, the truly unexpected ending changes everything we know about the characters, while simultaneously setting up a possible second season. Here’s how it breaks down, and what it means for the future.
Throughout 1899, there were clues that life aboard the Kerberos wasn’t all that it seemed. There was Daniel’s mysterious sliding control panel, strange trapdoors that led to pivotal moments in the passengers’ lives, and a weird crystal-like virus that slowly took over the steamship during its journey to America.
Eventually, we learn the truth: Everyone on the Kerberos is participating in a simulation created by Maura Franklin, although she’s forgotten the details of her own experiment. She even forgot what her husband and son looked like, which is why we don’t find out their true identities are Daniel and Elliot (aka “The Boy”) until the last few episodes.
But it’s the final episode that throws the whole series in a new direction. After Daniel and Maura work together to create a new key so Maura can escape the simulation, she finally gets out and wakes up. On a spaceship. Around her are other passengers, stuck in a strange hypnotic state.
As Maura approaches a screen, she sees a message from her brother, Ciaran. Viewers heard a lot about him, as Maura thought he was lost on the Prometheus. Instead, we realize that Ciaran has actually been the villain of the entire show. He’s planted a suspiciously modern phrase (“May your coffee kick in before reality does”) throughout the simulation as a taunt, and in a final terrifying gesture, he mock his own sister. As a kicker, we also see the date: October 19, 2099, 200 years after the rest of the series was set.
But what does this mean for Season 2? Well, for starters, the title is a bit misleading now. Any future seasons will probably use the model of Dark Season 3 by focusing on the future, with only occasional scenes set in the past. There’s still a lot we don’t know about these characters’ secrets and the story behind the simulation, so we’re bound to learn more as Maura grapples with Ciaran and tries to help those still trapped on the Kerberos.
1899 is now streaming on Netflix.