The third and final season of Dark has its premiere on Netflix this Saturday, 27 June. Fans of the series will know that this date has a specific significance within the plot’s context, which is a very nice added touch, and is all the more admirable that the producers managed to preserve it despite the coronavirus crisis – which affected many post-production processes. In case you have not yet watched Dark, the very best thing would be to skip this article and go through the first two seasons. Not that there would be any major spoilers ahead, but simply because it’s better to start watching it with as little idea as possible about the plot. If not, here are 4 reasons why you may consider giving it a go.
1. It has a very interesting take on time travel
A lot of time travel works of art, whether they are books, films or series, revolve around the same couple of variables: the device or place which enables the time travel, the purpose of the time travel, and the implications of the time travel. Dark naturally touches upon all three, but in a slightly different, considerably less stereotypical way. Furthermore, it keeps playing with the base assumptions, and always feels capable of delivering more and more complexity without falling into plot hole territory. What is perhaps most special about it is that it sees time as a circular concept, rather than a linear one. This reinforces a mutual interdependency between past, present and future, and allows for a number of very theoretical scientific concepts – such as the bootstrap paradox – to be vividly illustrated.
2. It’s not in English, and not set in the US or UK
I don’t know about others, but over the years I got really tired of hearing English in virtually all the films and series I watched. Since I started to geographically and culturally diversify my watchlist, I’ve been much happier. And Dark has a special place in any list of increasingly prevalent non-English productions. And the acting is so good, that I think it would be a serious crime to select any of the available dubs – the best way to watch is in German, with subtitles of your choice.
And it’s not just the language that brings a special sort of charm, it’s also the setting. Localised in a small, industrial and fictional town of Winden, Dark manages to establish an almost Twin Peaks-esque community with an European flavour. It plays around with a sombre atmosphere, intertwines timelines and characters in order to reveal deep rooted secrets about them, and brings a unique charm to the whole thing, which makes it stand out much more visibly than yet another set of dramatic events occurring in yet another American suburban area.
3. It’s smarter than most series out there
I’ve seen a lot of parallels drawn between Dark and Stranger Things, and while I can perhaps see where such comparisons come from, I will have to disagree. Yes, they have the small town setting in common, some 80s nostalgia and a number of vaguely similar characters, but the commonality pretty much stops here. I am by no means saying that Stranger Things is a bad show – it’s great – but the two of them couldn’t be further apart in terms of what they set off to do. Stranger Things is an easy and entertaining watch with caricatural characters, amazing soundtrack, and a very nostalgic flavour of sci-fi. Dark, instead, delivers a complex and often difficult to grasp plot, extremely detailed characters with windy and layered development arcs, and a much more sombre atmosphere – something between an idiosyncratic, isolated small-town community and a flavour of Eastern communist reminiscence.
4. It’s a good exercise for thinking and memory
If you thought Game of Thrones had a lot of characters to keep track of, wait till you see what Dark has to offer. Of course, in absolute numbers, there aren’t as many as in the former, but Dark compensates by adding the extra dimension of time travel into the mix. While by the end of the first season we start getting an idea as to who is who in terms of past versions of themselves, season 2 brings an entirely new dimension into the mix, breaking apart pretty much everything we know about time as a linear concept, or at least time travel in its simplest, least paradoxical way. And with an extra layer added on top of all that, the final season sounds very promising indeed. Dark is one of those rare series where you cannot even spend 10 seconds going to the fridge in order to get a drink without missing a key plot point. It makes you think, it makes you analyse, look back at events and try to understand how they connect. That’s why it’s so great!