Netflix’s Dark, co-created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese gets a masterful farewell, cementing itself in the annals of pop culture’s hall of fame.
The greatest trick within the labyrinth of Dark is that the story fits like a ticking clock. Amidst the wicked life-changing spoilers, clever foreshadowing, a dizzying amount of casual loops, bootstrap paradoxes and concurrent timeliness; at its heart, the show is storytelling confidence that makes each consequent detail feel earned.
In narrating the story of a reticent town in Germany by the name of Winden, the show puts forward questions on the nature of duality, hard determinism, free will, destiny, quantum entanglement and the butterfly effect. What it perhaps succeeds in, more so – is translating a complex script on paper into a show that is for the ages, without compromising on the conclusion in any way. So many promising, cult shows that had fans glued to their screen for years fail to do this.
Dark has always operated with a concoction of precision and patience; the show-runners serving as modern Greek oracles, sighing as they tell the demigod heroes that too much of knowledge is a dangerous thing. It’s fitting to see echoes of Greek tragedies interspersed throughout the show – as if to say that even when seasons progress, generations change and time bends the rules of physics, we all are doomed to repeat our lives in endless succession (did I mention about the apocalypse happening in 2020? No points guessing how that is playing out.)
The first German-language original series of streaming giant Netflix, Dark has received critical acclaim, with praise for its tone, visuals, acting, and the ambition and complexity of its narrative. The initial comparisons with Stranger Things, another Netflix blockbuster were void, as evidenced by the sheer brilliance of Season 2 and 3 which successfully subverted the usual clichés and tropes associated with time travel. Part “It’s a Wonderful Life,” part Flash-Sideways, Season 3 revels in the curiosities of alternate timelines for just long enough before taking an even wider view of those consequences.
Co-creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar are cognizant of the fact – that for all the speculation about certain fates and cross-generational family trees, the core of the series’ success lies in its attention to character. The intergenerational family jigsaw can only be solved with love – something which is so universal in its very origin, that it guides the actions of all the players in this puzzle. Season 3 is especially evocative, tragic and in the end, content in offering each of the established Winden mainstays their own chance to reckon with their part in this ever-expanding moral predicament.
Any review or article about the show would be incomplete without mentioning the superb casting – which is not only a visual treat, but an enhancement of the rhetoric of time, generational gaps and the battle between the young and old. There are beautiful montages interspersed throughout the show, where the characters and their past, present and future overlap in the same frame on screen. The thrill of seeing the resemblance between families, watching the childhood phases of our most detested characters, hasty realisations, cosmic repetitions of same conversations decades later- and finally seeing them coming of age in another time is what makes Dark such a satisfying watch.
The 1984 song “Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann” by Nena was first heard at the end of the pilot episode, but it’s a recurring theme throughout “Dark,” and kicks in one final time over the season three finale’s credits. In English, the title translates to “Somehow, Somewhere, Sometime,” which has a clear connection to the ideas of characters travelling through time throughout the show. But here, in the series finale, it’s a signal of hope. Falling through space and time / Towards infinity / Moths fly into the light / Just like you and I / Somehow, sometime / Somewhere the future will begin / I don’t have to wait long / Love is made out of courage. We optimistically believe somehow that Jonas and Martha’s love will find a way in the origin world. As Jonas said, again and again throughout the show, “We’re a perfect match. Never believe anything else.”
Can time be defeated? The answer to this question has always been the tenet of Dark’s tale. Odar and Friese masterfully bid goodbye by showing the symbiotic relationship between endings and beginnings. There’s no victory without sacrifice, no life without death, no light without darkness, and no love without scorn. The tension between each of these conflicting ideas is so interwoven that it makes it tough to discern where one ends and the other begins. Even with all that uncertainty, Dark has maintained that epic act for three of the most thrilling sci-fi TV seasons ever made. To see it make it across the abyss with its ambitions and technique intact is certainly something worth remembering. And so Dark closes not with a hard full-stop on a line, but by poignantly and satisfyingly circling back into itself.
Feature Image Credits: The Dhaka Tribune