Dark moods and mysterious gateways

A young boy goes missing in the woods. His friends and family in a small town start looking for him. A strange accident at a scientific facility comes to light, leading to even more unusual goings-on. Is this Stranger Things?

You’d be forgiven for thinking so. It’s Dark, a German TV series that recently appeared on Netflix. And while there are certainly similarities to Stranger Things, it’s the differences that are most interesting, and where the series becomes distinctive in its own right.

It is nearly impossible to discuss Dark without giving away some spoilers. It’s that kind of plot-heavy show, with a large cast of characters moving through an intricate web of narratives. But without giving too much away, it quickly becomes apparent that Dark is about time travel. That boy who disappeared in the woods reappears in those very same woods, but in the past. Characters travel from one time period through a mysterious gateway whose existence owes something to the town’s history. Some people are trying to use this gateway to influence events, but they wind up causing those very events that they sought to prevent. It’s rather fatalistic, as far as time travel stories go, and that’s part of what makes the show unique.

But the strongest aspect of this plot-heavy show might not even be the plot. Thanks to the incredible music and cinematography, the show sustains a compelling mood of awe and dread. Even when its ideas become knotty, it still manages to evoke deep emotion and a sense of loss. 

  • Adam’s work has appeared in many venues, including the Paris Review Daily, Electric Literature and Real Life. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and two daughters.

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