Dark—Season 1

dark season 1 poster review episode guide list
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Strong sci-fi that feels like it has a real plan

Not a show you can casually watch

dark season 1 title card review episode guide

Take a deep breath and enter Dark!

When Erik Obendorf (Paul Radom) disappears from the town of Winden, people become concerned, but when a second child Mikkel Nielsen (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) vanishes, the community worries that there is a serial killer in the area.  The police investigation is led by Mikkel’s father Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) and Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn), and anyone could be a suspect.  Winden has secrets that have never been talked about.  A history of missing children through different years begins to be uncovered and secret of what lies in the dark of a cave could change everything.

dark season 1 episode 2 lies stranger andreas pietschmann

What’s the stranger’s secret?

Dark—Season 1 is a German Netflix science-fiction thriller.  The series was the first German language series on the platform and was released on December 2, 2017.  It garnered positive reviews.

I went into Dark blind.  I knew it was German.  I knew it had good reviews, and I thought it was more thriller than science fiction since I learned it revolved around missing kids.  What I found in Dark was a twisting, complex story that takes elements of other series and binds them into a solid original story.  Yes, it is subtitled but there is English dubbing if that is a must (and the translation is pretty good if you keep the subtitles up and compare).  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

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1986-2019…separated by time

It doesn’t take much research into Dark to learn that Dark is about time travel (having not done any searching myself, it becomes apparent quickly).  The structural format of the show deals with the number 33 and its appearance in nature and the world.  Much like something like Lost, the series is about working through the different time periods for different goals, but unlike Lost, it feels like Dark has a cleaner, clearer goal.

The story has three time periods.  The first time period is the “present day” which is 2019.  This serves as the anchor for the series and the series diverges from this.  It next introduces 1986, and it finally introduces 1953 in later episodes.  The show doesn’t try to do age make-up and casts different actors for each period and for non-American viewers especially, keeping track of all the names and surnames can be tricky…but you have to understand what is happening in the time jumps.  If you aren’t willing to commit to Dark, it would be a painful, miserable, and confusing experience.

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What’s Noah’s game?

The cast is strong, and I admire the series’ casting of younger versions of all the “2019” actors.  It truly feels like an ensemble cast and I would have difficulty saying who the “main” character is though it feels like much of the season circles around the Ulrich character, but an argument also could be made for Jonas who gains more and more importance as the series progresses.  No one really stands out and there are no weak links…only characters you like and don’t like at points which feels more realistic than some shows which have true heroes and villains.

Visually the series is good, but this season doesn’t feature a ton of special effects.  The music and style of the show is atmospheric, but I do feel that some of the “creepiness” of the show could be elevated to even add more horror to the series instead of just being horrific or gothic.  There are a few special effects laden shots near the end that aren’t that spectacular, but that can be forgiven.

dark season 1 episode 10 alpha and omega black hole

Well…that can’t be good

Dark is a commitment.  You can’t half-ass the series and casually watch it.  I do feel that you can understand it (at least at this point) if you pay decent attention and keep track of the characters.  The series almost has a Star Wars feel in that you have a small core of related characters essentially screwing up the universe for everyone else by warping and attempting to alter time…the other people in Winden must be thrilled.  The series is also a question of time-travel philosophy.  Dark (at least in this season) under the idea that time is locked.  You can’t alter something that has already happened no matter how hard you try…you just become part of the past that has already occurred.  We’ll see where the series leads as a new time layer is added in Season 2 with Jonas voyaging into the future of 2052.

Dark—Season 1 Episode Guide:

dark season 1 episode 1 secrets bartosz jonas martha franziska magnus mikkel cave


1.1       Secrets Release Date:  12/01/17

Michael Kahnwald (Sebastian Rudolph) commits suicide but his suicide letter remains a mystery.  Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) returns to school after treatment while to learn his friend Bartosz Tiedmann (Paul Lux) is dating the girl he liked Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari) and a fellow student named Erik Obendorf (Paul Radom) is missing.  When Franziska Doppler (Gina Stiebitz), Jonas, Bartosz, Martha, and her brothers Magnus (Moritz Jahn) and Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) go searching for Erik’s drug stash in the caves near Winden Power Plant, tragedy strikes…but the discovery of the body of a boy by Magnus, Mikkel, and Martha’s father Detectives Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) and Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn) raises more mysteries.

dark season 1 episode 2 lies ulrich hannah affair shani atias oliver masucci


1.2       Lies Release Date:  12/01/17

Mikkel remains missing after his disappearance at the cave, and the body of the boy found in the woods yields frightening results.  Ulrich begins to believe the disappearance of his son relates to the disappearance of his brother Mads (Valentin Oppermann) in 1986.  The discovery of links between the cave and the power plant leads to a confrontation with Aleksander Tiedemann (Peter Benedict) for requests to search the property.  Ulrich questions continuing his affair with Hannah Kahnwald (Shani Atias) and looks into Jürgen Obendorf (Tom Jahn) from the power plant in connection with the disappearance.  A strange man (Andreas Pietschmann) appears in Winden that might hold answers.  Mikkel wanders out of the cave to discover a shocking secret about his location.

dark season 1 episode 3 past and present mikkel 1986 daan lennard liebrenz

“Past and Present”

1.3       Past and Present Release Date:  12/01/17

Mikkel learns he is in 1986 and searches for his home and family.  Officer Egon Tiedemann (Christian Patzold) continues his search for Mads Nielsen and believes Ulrich Nielsen (Ludger Bökelmann) might know more than he’s saying.  Claudia Tiedemann (Julika Jenkins) takes over the Widen Power Plant but learns from Bernd Doppler (Michael Mendl) that the plant might have more secrets than she’s been told.  Charlotte (Stephanie Amarell) discovers a bird kill as the town begins to suffer strange power outages.  Hannah (Ella Lee) has a crush on the rebellious Ulrich, and Regina Tiedemann (Lydia Makrides) finds herself the target of bullies.  Mikkel finds himself on the run and goes to the only place that could help him find home.

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“Double Lives”

1.4       Double Lives Release Date:  12/01/17

Jonas explores the caves using the maps he found but doesn’t realize that someone appears to helping him.  Charlotte questions the appearance of more dead birds and wonders what the ties to the disappearances during her childhood are…while dealing with her husband Peter (Stephan Kampwirth) who has his own actions the night of the disappearance of Mikkel to account for.  Charlotte and Peter’s younger daughter Elisabeth (Carlotta von Falkenhayn) has an encounter with a man who provides surprising evidence, and Franziska reveals to Magnus why she’s been selling drugs.  Helge Doppler (Hermann Beyer) escapes the home and reveals he is on a quest to stop someone.  Elisabeth’s friend Yasin Friese (Vico Mücke) heads to school but might not make it there.

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1.5       Truths Release Date:  12/01/17

Yasin Friese has joined the list of missing children as the community begins to worry more.  Charlotte questions Elisabeth about the identity of Noah as the stranger in the town reaches out to Jonas through Regina (Deborah Kaufmann).  Mikkel returns to the hospital and finds help from Ines Kahnwald (Anne Ratte-Pole).  Ulrich and Katharina (Nele Trebs) have an encounter in 1986 that will change their lives when Hannah sees it.  Bartosz sets to revive Erik’s drug trade and meets Noah (Mark Waschke) who has his own secrets.  Armed with information and technology, Jonas receives the package that reveals the truth about his father.

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“Sic Mundus Creatus Est”

1.6       Sic Mundus Creatus Est Release Date:  12/01/17

Mikkel’s disappearance causes the rift between Ulrich, Magnus, Martha, and Katharina Nielsen (Jördis Triebel) to grow wider as Katharina suspects Hannah of having an affair with her husband.  Ulrich discovers what his father Tronte (Walter Kreye) was doing when Mads disappeared and learns from confronting Regina the truth about the rape allegation.  Jonas questions his father’s suicide letter which reveals he is Mikkel and armed with his new information enters the cave for answers.

dark season 1 episode 7 crossroads evidence oliver masucci episode guide


1.7       Crossroads Release Date:  12/01/17

Ulrich continues to suspect Helge and an investigation into Egon’s research in 1986 provides a potential tie to the disappearances.  Charlotte searches the power plant for evidence of Mikkel’s disappearance and finds the caves beneath Helge’s old cabin could hold clues.  In 1986, Jonas finds himself searching for Mikkel and learns from the stranger that interfering with the past could alter the future while Helga and Noah hide evidence.  Helge sets out to right the past, and it could lead Ulrich to answers.

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“As You Sow, So You Shall Reap”

1.8       As You Sow, so You Shall Reap Release Date:  12/01/17

Erik and Yasin’s bodies are found at the construction site of the nuclear power plant in 1953 as Daniel Kahnwald (Florian Panzner) and Egon Tiedemann (Sebastian Hülk) try to determine the source.  In 1953, a watchmaker named H.G. Tannhaus (Arnd Klawitter) gets a visit from Ulrich that could change the course of his future.  Tronte Nielsen (Joshio Marlon) arrives in Windon with his mother Agnes Nielsen (Antje Traue) and find themselves staying at the home of the Tiedmanns.  A young Helge Doppler (Hermann Beyer) encounters Ulrich and the encounter could prove fatal.  The stranger goes to Tannhaus (Christian Steyer) in 1986 and reveals what he hopes Tannhaus can help him with.

dark season 1 episode 9 everything is now time machine

“Everything Is Now”

1.9       Everything Is Now Release Date:  12/01/17

Helge is missing, and Egon has brought Ulrich in for murdering the three children in 1953.  Noah goes to Helge’s mother Greta Doppler (Cordelia Wege), and Claudia Tiedemann (Lisa Kreuzer) from 2019 makes a stop by Tannhaus’s clock shop.  In 1986, Ulrich is cleared of the rape charges while a young man using the name Aleksander Köhler (Béla Gábor Lenz) finds work from Claudia.  In 2019, Hannah has her own plans for Aleksander as she continues to work her way into Ulrich’s life.  Bartosz meets his grandmother Claudia and realizes that Noah’s predictions are coming true.

dark season 1 episode 10 alpha and omega time portal helge jonas hermann beyer

“Alpha and Omega”

1.10     Alpha and Omega Release Date:  12/01/17

In 2019, Peter recalls what happened to him on the night of Mikkel’s disappearance and who he told.  Jonas decides he has to bring Mikkel back to 2019, but Noah and Helge have other plans for him.  Ulrich is held prisoner in 1953 but the imprint he leaves could be discovered by Charlotte in 2019.  When Jonas learns the identity of the stranger, he finds a connection to Helge in 1953 that could change everything.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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