The Netflix series draws to a close exposing the fact that it works better creating enigmas than it does resolving them
“Dark” first appeared on the Netflix programming schedule three years ago, tagged with two labels: This was the platform’s first German production and; the “must-watch” show if you liked “Stranger Things”. Both labels soon became obsolete as its success transcended the designation of origin and you only had to see a couple of episodes to realize that the only thing it had in common with “Stranger Things” was that they were both tales of fantasy set in a rural community. Yes, there is an eventual throwback to the 80s and a handful of young people facing the evidence of a supernatural fact, but here there is no nostalgia whatsoever in the evocation of bygone days and youth is depicted almost as a curse.
This is the great legacy of “Dark”: at no time does it intend to win over audiences’ empathy or to sweeten the destiny of its characters, but throughout the three seasons, rather it has dedicated itself to discussing the impossibility of stopping the clock and retaining moments of true happiness. The protagonists, caught in an endless loop of decisions that lead them to disaster, have suffered more than they have lived, and this is what differentiates “Dark” from other fantasy products of its era. It’s dark, cryptic (truly deserved of this label) and heartbreaking. Much of the scenes convey the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. To put it into some sort of context, it has more in common with that monument to tetchiness that was “The Butterfly Effect” (worthy of great praise by the way) than it has with current youth series.
This was true during the first two seasons. The tone has sometimes strayed from the stilted and pompous, but it must be said that it’s always been an immersive and highly suggestive series, even though in many cases it lacks explanatory clarity when it comes to locating the characters at different times. That is why the third and final season has been somewhat strange and sporadic, despite the fact that the ending is more than satisfactory. Aware that it transported the dialectic between space and time to such a hieroglyphic terrain; the last eight episodes were devoted to introducing pretexts for the series to explain itself.
There is one particular and specific moment that is highly significant: one of the characters meets themselves and literally reviews everything that has happened up to that point in the narrative. There is even an episode dedicated to reviewing the different points of inflection of the plot so that audiences are prepared to face the finale in conditions, a bit like that episode of “Lost” where viewers were focused on the fratricidal fight that sparked subsequent events on the island. The ending is becoming, but perhaps they wouldn’t have needed to be so discursive if the series had not previously played to tangle everything up with such vehemence. The journey that was “Dark” has been wholly worthwhile, but it is also true that it works better creating enigmas than it does resolving them.