Netflix’s Dark Is Mind-Melting Sci-Fi at Its Very Best

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The Netflix science fiction show Dark, a multi-generational saga set in small-town Germany, is one of the best shows on television. But TV writer Rafael Jordan notes that the show requires your full attention.

“It really might be the most challenging, ambitious narrative I’ve ever watched,” Jordan says in Episode 372 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “You need a companion site open while you’re watching this, and charts, and even recap videos after you’ve seen it.”

Given all that complexity, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley expected the show to go off the rails at some point. But he thinks the second season is, if anything, even stronger than the first.

“I was really concerned that there would be a sophomore slump, and that a lot of the mysteries from Season 1 would not have satisfying explanations, and it would be like the last episode of Lost or Battlestar Galactica,” he says. “But they obviously had this whole season—it seems to me at least—planned out from the very beginning.”

Hopefully that level of meticulous plotting will continue in the show’s third season, which was recently greenlit by Netflix. Fantasy author Erin Lindsey notes that even after 18 episodes, many of the show’s characters remain completely mysterious. “One of the things that I think is really interesting about this is that there’s what characters say that they want, but it’s very clear that you can’t take that at face value,” she says. “There are a lot of moving pieces to this, which makes me feel that it’s a mistake to commit to any particular theory at this point.”

Dark definitely isn’t for everyone, and despite its high quality it hasn’t turned into a cultural phenomenon like Stranger Things. But TV reporter Ruairi Carroll says that makes the show feel more intimate and exclusive.

“To sit down on a Friday night, have a glass of wine, and just try to work this stuff out, I love every minute of it,” he says.

Listen to the complete interview with Rafael Jordan, Erin Lindsey, and Ruairi Carroll in Episode 372 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Erin Lindsey on villains:

“You think that you’re on team Claudia and young Jonas, and that Adam with all of his disfigurement and Noah with his cold calculating ways are evil, but it does a really good job of making you question that—or at least it made me question that at several points. I also felt like there were a lot of lessons learned from Star Wars in the storytelling here, because one of the things that Star Wars—the original trilogy—did really well is you start off with this arch-villain who seems about as arch-villainous as he could possibly be—in the form of Darth Vader—and then in the next episode you’re like, ‘Oh wait, he’s just a flunky. There’s actually an even more evil person behind all of this.’ And they kind of did that same thing.”

David Barr Kirtley on Adam:

“I think that what he’s told people, what he’s told his followers—like Noah—is that their mission is to destroy causality, and that they’re going to then live in some sort of universe where they’re not slaves to time, that they’re going to have some extraordinary freedom that they’ve never had before, and it’s going to be this kind of paradise. But that that’s a lie, and that actually what he wants is he’s just weary of these endless cycles, of living over and over again and it never ending, and that there’s no way to stop that except to basically destroy the entire universe. So I think he’s suicidal, and he just wants to destroy all of reality, because it’s the only way to make these endless recursions stop.”

Ruairi Carroll on the time machine:

“I’m always impressed when the actual device makes an appearance, the time machine in a box. … Everything about it—when they open it—the design of it, the sound is just amazing. I recently bought a new television, and I thought I’d give it a go for the Netflix 4K version that they do, and this [time machine] looks absolutely glorious in about as high resolution as you can do, and it sounds fantastic. I’d love to know more about it. Everyone seems fairly au fait with how to operate it. You know, Hannah can go back to the ’50s. Is she given a crash course? There’s all kinds of dials. Do you have to set your date? Is it like the time machine in Back to the Future? You dial in your date and off you go? I think it’s fantastic. I just love that.”

Rafael Jordan on recommending Dark:

“I’ve been trying to sell this show to all my friends, but honestly I’ve been having limited success. Maybe I’m not doing a good job of hyping it, but I always tell people it’s very superficially got elements of Stranger Things—like the ’80s storyline maybe, at best—and it’s got elements of Lost, but I tell them you really have to pay attention, it’s really challenging, but it’s worth it. But maybe that just sounds like homework, I don’t know. I don’t know what show exactly to compare it to, but I wish I could get more people to watch it. … People have such a limited attention span. I used to give any show three or four episodes, but I think these days if people don’t like a show in the first episode or two, sometimes they won’t even finish the first episode.”


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