Dark: Secrets (Geheimnisse)
December 2, 2017 8:47 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In 2019, a local boy’s disappearance stokes fear in the residents of Winden, a small German town with a strange and tragic history.

Non-spoilery reviews: Vulture - Netflix’s Dark Is Like Stranger Things, But It’s Also Nothing Like Stranger Things and Den of Geek - Baran bo Odar’s German language supernatural crime thriller will lure you into its web of family trauma and chilling town secrets...

Opening epigram: The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. --Albert Einstein

Opening narration: We trust that time is linear. That it proceeds eternally, uniformly. Into infinity. But the distinction between past, present is nothing but an illusion Yesterday, today and tomorrow are not consecutive, they are connected in a never-ending circle. Everything is connected.

*The episode begins on June 21, 2019, when a man (Michael) hangs himself, leaving behind a sealed envelope with "Do not open before November 4, 2019, 10:13pm" written on it. (Also a wall of photos connected by strings.)
*The story resumes on the morning of 11/4/19. Jonas Kahnwald (son of Michael), wakes from a nightmare. Meanwhile, his mother, Hannah, is having an affair with Ulrich Nielsen (a policeman).
*Ulrich is married to Katharina (the school principal), with children Magnus, Mikkel, and Martha.
*Jonas has a therapist (Peter? Doppler husband of policewoman Charlotte Doppler), and has been away from school for two months, presumably in treatment, though his best friend Bartosz (son of Regina Tiedemann, who runs the Winden hotel) has been telling people Jonas was on exchange in France. Jonas does not know about his father's suicide note, which Jonas' grandmother has not opened yet.
*Jonas and Martha used to be an item, but now she and Bartosz have a thing going.
*Erik Obendorf has been missing for 13 days. Bartosz tells Jonas that he knows where Erik kept his drug stash, and that evening when the town assembles at the school for a community meeting about the missing boy, Bartosz, Jonas, Martha, Magnus, and tag-along Mikkel, go to the woods together. They reach the stash location, but Franziska Doppler beat them to it. As they argue over who has dibs, mysterious sounds are heard from the tunnel (Winden Cavern?) entrance, and their flashlights all start flickering on and off. They all flee; Jonas trips and falls and sees a vision of his blood-drenched father, when he catches up with the other teens young Mikkel is lost.
*Meanwhile, Jonas' grandmother opens Michael's suicide note at the appointed time, and weeps at what she read. An old man (Helge Doppler) walks to the community meeting repeating "It's going to happen again." As everyone's phones start ringing, he says "We're too late."
*At dawn, the police (some in hazmat-type suits) search outside the tunnel. Peter Doppler calls Charlotte and seems to be trying to tell her something, but ends up saying the serenity prayer to himself instead.
*Ulrich comes running to the location where a boy's body has been found, but it is not Mikkel.
*And a gagged Erik is strapped into a chair by a mystery man, (in a room where he has been locked throughout the episode, being subjected to 80's music videos).
*Also, there are some ominous power plant towers looming over the woods.
posted by oh yeah! (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know anything about this series other than what's in the two reviews linked above, so I don't know how bleak, gruesome, and/or cliff-hangery this will get. I am hooked by the first episode, but I'm not sure how quickly I'll watch & post the remaining 9. (I watched this episode last night, but in light of current events I may need to alternate with some more shmoopy content, but I'll probably get at least a couple more done today.)
posted by oh yeah! at 9:16 AM on December 2, 2017

*Also, there are some ominous power plant towers looming over the woods.

Also just off-screen, a cellist is following characters around playing the same descending scary note.

I kinda liked The Kettering Incident, which I guess I'd call scandinoir with a weird horror twist. I'm ummmm scandinoir-critical — but I like weird horror twists. So I let myself be dragged into this.

I have to think of nicknames for characters to keep them all straight. So far:

• The Höhle is really like a whole other character if you think about it. It has moods, feelings, and contains either a smoke monster or a Sleestak mine.

• Prochnow Mikkelsen, the cop, aka the Town Fucker, who's had sex with the entire town.
• Ultramom, his wife and the principal for the lovely school with ~200 students that is maybe thinking about talking about the missing kid, or wev.
• T2 Kid, wearing a skeleton jacket voted most likely to be found in a culvert
• Amber Tamblyn the bland daughter
• Michael Cera + Paul Dano sort of trapped in the same skin, a horrible mutant son begging to be killed, with Cobra Kai hair.

• art dad / corpse dad / paint dad
• Björk Ravenwood, the widow, having reckless sex with Prochnow Mikkelsen
• Our Hero, the blank son
They live down the street from the nuclear plant, ~15 miles from any other house or human.
• Anne Ramsey the letter grandma

• Eames Corpsemouth, cop, who definitely has had sex with Prochnow Mikkelsen
• Shifty Guiltyman, the monochrome therapist
• Saoirse Lovegood their daughter
• Log Lady, their grandpa.

• Nora Dunn, hotel mom
• Fisher Stevens as the Plague, her son

• Erik Missingkid and his bereaved grubby gnome parents. This is like bonus missing kid grief at this point tbh.
posted by fleacircus at 12:47 PM on December 2, 2017 [14 favorites]

So I came here ti see if I should give this show a shot. The first comment references the "Hohle" containing a possible sleestak mine. I'm in.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have to think of nicknames for characters to keep them all straight.

I had to start a mindmap so I could remember who was related to whom. This will be especially important in later episodes. Europeans look a lot alike to me, and I'm descended from them!
posted by AFABulous at 5:54 PM on December 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am not tolerating the dubbing well.
posted by k8t at 9:19 PM on December 3, 2017

You can switch to subtitles if you like. I didn't even realize dubbing was an option.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:58 PM on December 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm a lipreader (but not a German speaker) so I switched to German audio and English subtitles because the mismatch between the audio and their lip movements was so distracting.
posted by AFABulous at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Same here. I didn't even know subtitles was an option. We downloaded a version with hardcoded titles because thirty seconds of dubbing was so annoying.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2017

Subtitles are an option on every Netflix movie/show, foreign language or not, because they were sued by the National Association of the Deaf.
posted by AFABulous at 9:48 PM on December 4, 2017 [8 favorites]

yes just go into settings and set audio language as German and subtitle language as English.
posted by supermedusa at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2017

I don't know, is this worth continuing?
posted by P.o.B. at 7:44 AM on December 6, 2017

P.o.B. - I would say to watch episode 2 and ask again. I don’t regret watching the whole season, but it’s hard to say anything about whether the ending is satisfying without risking spoilers.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

P.o.B., I burned through it in a weekend. The complexity of the relationships between the characters drew me in. If it were the length of a regular US television series (26 episodes) then I'd say no, it's too much of a time investment if you're not sure about the tone. It's been compared to LOST but I don't think that's fair at all; LOST had a lot of eye-rolling plot holes and non-sequiturs that Dark doesn't have. The dialog could be improved and some of the kid actors are not that great, but the story is much better written.
posted by AFABulous at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have any particular criticisms of the actors or dialogue -- I think watching it in the original German lends a certain style/atmosphere that might gloss over deficiencies though (like the trope of things sounding funnier in a British accent explaining why certain Brit-coms were inordinately popular on American PBS channels). I agree that it being only 10 episodes keeps the story from sprawling out into incomprehensibility.

I think this first episode is a good introduction - I wasn't sure by the end what the predominant genre was going to be (sci-fi? supernatural? serial killer murder mystery procedural? horror?), but I think it's clearer as it goes on.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2017

We have the dubbing and the subtitles on and they are quite different and both bad.
posted by k8t at 8:27 PM on December 7, 2017

Overdubbing is the worst. I switched to German w/ subtitles. Hopefully I'll learn some German.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:58 AM on December 11, 2017

We immediately switched to subtitles because the original German allows, imo, more depth to what the characters are saying and doing.
posted by Kitteh at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am so glad I'm not the only one having a hard time keeping track of these characters. It is odd because I don't usually have this problem.
posted by Julnyes at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2017

just started the first episode, came in here to check if i should stick with the German and English subs because the dubbing weirded me out (I also get distracted when lips don't match words). glad to see that's the concensus. and also, yes omg i don't wanna be like "lol white people look alike" but holy crap these white people really look alike. i had to restart the episode to make sure the son and mother were the same people in the photo after Michael hung himself.
posted by numaner at 8:26 PM on January 5, 2018

Coming in late to the game...

After the first 2 eps, this series strikes me as True Detective set in Stranger Things, with a touch of time travel. Or, perhaps Stranger Things with time travel done in a True Detective style. That's not bad though. (Sort of surprised no one in the thread made those comparisons.)
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:20 PM on August 3, 2022

Rewatched this ep the other night and noticed a nice, subtle detail: when Jonas first arrives back at school, his gaze is caught by all the students wearing thick scarves -- a visual reminder of his father's recent suicide.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:16 PM on August 15, 2022

I actually did learn a little German watching it in the original. I now ask my husband “Alles gut?” When he comes home from work.
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on December 28, 2022

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