1899 Review: Netflix Shores Up Compelling Mystery from “Dark” Creators
The long-awaited 1899 premieres Thursday, November 17, on Netflix.
After watching the episodes provided to critics for review, it’s clear the series is another winner from Dark creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese.
1899 takes viewers to the high seas for a story focused on a group of migrants traveling from London on a steamship to start a new life in New York City.
However, things turn mysterious when they encounter another migrant ship adrift in the ocean.
The mysteries crafted by the creatives leave you with more questions than answers, but the beauty of the writing is that we get a lot of payoff throughout the first six episodes.
There’s an immediate sense of dread in the series premiere that doesn’t subside as crazy happenings occur, leaving us with the feeling that things will get worse before they get better.
The series nails the tone, the setting, and, of course, that feeling of dread.
The characterization is another strong point, and 1899 introduces everyone early into the premiere in a way that makes them integral to the story.
Emily Beecham plays Maura Franklin, a neurologist and one of the first female doctors in the UK.
She is being talked about behind her back while traveling alone on the ship because people have their theories on why she’s traveling alone.
It doesn’t make them right, but seeing stories spread like wildfire is a surefire way to create drama. The creatives know how to mine drama and are very good at it. Maura is one of the most prominent characters, featuring a tightly-woven arc that will leave you wanting more.
Andreas Pietschmann plays Eyk Larsen, the ship’s captain — another crucial element of the story. Pietschmann showcases stellar acting in every single one of his scenes as this man with a past.
Miguel Bernardeau plays a wealthy Spaniard, and this is a far cry from the actor’s work as Guzman on Elite. If anything, Bernardeau proves he can handle the most complicated characters.
Aneurin Barnard, Maciej Musiał, Anton Lesser, Rosalie Craig, Clara Rosager, Maria Erwolter, Yann Gael, and Gabby Wong round out the cast.
Every character is a critical part of the series, which makes sense when there is so much mystery surrounding the happenings on the ship.
One of the most significant issues with the series is that the story starts fairly slow. After watching six episodes, it’s easier to look back at the episodes before and agree that it was a worthwhile journey.
The pace kicks into high gear with the third episode. Everything you learned about the characters in the slower opening episodes is necessary to enjoy the mystery on the menu for the rest of the season.
1899 blends many genres to tell a story deeply rooted in the past, something most of the characters aboard the ship are trying to escape.
The end result is an unnerving series that will be discussed for years.
As far as mysteries go, they don’t get more intricate than 1899.
Netflix will release the entire season at once and trust me, it’s one of those shows you will want to watch one after the other to take in all of the stories 1899 has to offer.
Check out the trailer below.
What are your thoughts on the trailer?
Will you be watching 1899?
Hit the comments.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.