Not many TV series are as enigmatic as Dark. The German sci-fi thriller is probably one of the most complex shows on Netflix, where it's streaming exclusively now, but that hasn't stopped it gaining a significant following since its debut in 2017.
It's hard to put a finger on exactly why you'll love Dark: There are those who are fascinated by the conceptual time travel stuff, those who are drawn in by the mystery that haunts the fictitious town of Winden, and the fans who love to follow the twists and turns of the red threads binding the various characters together. It's a series where a notebook is a must; you'll need it to write down all the names, eras and details we explore as the secrets of this extraordinary world emerge. A modern-day Twin Peaks, perhaps - albeit for very different reasons.
The third and final season aired on Netflix June 27th and attempted to resolve the intertwined stories of Jonas, Martha, Claudia, Mikkel, Charlotte... well, the list is long. It had a lot of work to do. Although at first, I was doubtful that authors Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese would be able to unravel such an intricate tangle of events while still keeping the characteristic intensity of the first two seasons, I was really surprised. By in the final episode, each piece of the puzzle fitted perfectly into place. I won't give away the plot (no spoilers here), but it's clear how meticulous and carefully-crafted the writing is.
The excellent writing really is the true working heart of this series; the attention to detail pays off. Dark is a complete show. Complex as it is, it makes sense and offers a reasoned and clear explanation in the epilogue. As soon as the third season ended, I wanted to test the skills of the authors, so I re-watched a good part of the first season again. Well, you'd hardly believe it, but so many clues about the resolution of the mystery are already there if you really pay attention. The detail is there in the objects, environments, characters and even dialogue. No detail has been forgotten, making the overall effect that much more powerful.
The visuals are flawless, too. As different spatio-temporal dimensions begin to come into play, a fascinating array of parallel worlds opens up - but you won't be able to shake the nagging feeling of deja-vu. Clever camera work - sequences resembling each other almost frame-by-frame, and other trickery such as mirror-images - leaves you experiencing an infinite loop of events, right alongside the characters. You share their anxieties, that uncomfortable feeling of "already seen" - have we been here before? Usually, the answer is yes: you have already seen it, listened to it, experienced it - or was it exactly the same?
Ἔρως καὶ θάνατος (which means "love and death" in Ancient Greek) are the two fires around which Dark dances; two opposites that spark on contact. It's on the unique relationship between these two human experiences that the labyrinthine tale of this series rests. The desire to save a loved one from death, or to love someone to the point of sacrificing your life; these universal themes support the many complex plot twists. But discussion of this show doesn't end in simple conclusions; its strength lies in leaving the viewers free to interpret, to conclude for themselves. Even when the story ends, the pieces are put back in place and the final explanation is given, you are free to draw your own conclusions, too (told you you'd need that notebook).
Let's give you an example. One of the show's themes is the tricky subject of euthanasia. I've never been described as an incurable romantic, you might say: I framed this storyline in the science, and how it can be bent to our selfish emotional needs (there's that damn love again!), and irreparably upsetting the balance of things. You might feel completely differently about it when you watch because that's what Dark does. It makes everyone take away their own view on it's deep and complex ideas.
Now that the curtain has fallen on Winden and its secrets, I'll miss it. And not because there's nothing else on. I'll miss it because watching it makes you feel that you're an active part of it; you don't simply watch Dark. You work at it, putting together the pieces, just as if you were there in Winden as it all unfolds. It'll be interesting to see what show creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese do next. Having created such an absorbing and complex show, we think they'll definitely capture our interest again in the near future.