A Matrix Error: The Seventh Episode of ‘1899’

A Matrix Error: The Seventh Episode of ‘1899’

Well, now we know. Kind of. I believe.

The events you have witnessed on 1899 are fictitious. They are the latest in a long line of simulations. The simulations are controlled by an organization directed by Henry Singleton, the father of Maura, the father-in-law of Daniel, and the grandfather of Elliot, also known as the Boy, Maura and Daniel’s kid from their 20th or 21st century existence together. (It is difficult to determine, but it is either recent or imminent.)

The simulation appears to be meant to test the decision-making abilities of its human participants by creating a scenario in which only cold logic assures the ship and its surviving inhabitants’ survival. Near the end of the episode, Henry gives a lengthy speech in which he asserts that one should not base decisions on emotions such as love, rage, and hatred. They are only foolish emotions that obscure the mind. Due to the fact that the test participants felt compassion for one another, they have always perished, and no simulation ship has ever reached its target. They become stuck in “the archive” with the Prometheus.

Indeed, several characters perish in this episode. Olek is washed away after saving Ling Yi from a similar fate when she ventures onto the deck in response to a vision of her mother. Despite Clémence and Jérôme’s attempts to save him, Lucien succumbs to his neurological illness. ngel is killed by falling rubble, yet in his final moments he is extraordinarily sympathetic to Ramiro. Franz exhibits a previously unseen depth of character as he sacrifices himself to lock Tove behind a watertight bulkhead door and drowns in the process. Anker drowns beside Iben, who lets the water to take her due to a combination of blind faith and suicidal thoughts. As the simulation concludes, the ship enters a vortex in the water and sinks.

However, there are survivors, contrary to Henry’s claim that everyone always perishes. Presumably, this is the result of a bargain he strikes with Daniel and Maura: He will restore Elliot to her in exchange for a key (the physical manifestation of a cheat code in the simulation) that she obtains after receiving it from her brother.

So, in one of the series’ most lyrical pictures to date, Eyk ascends to the Prometheus’ deck to observe the Kerberos’ ascent from a vortex-like whirlpool. Jérôme, Clémence, Ling Yi, Mrs. Wilson (her hand is a corroded mess, but she is still alive), Ramiro, Tove, and Maura may be found on its deck. Maura and Eyk exchange meaningful glances from afar, bridging the gap between the two persons. (God, I love it when a film or television show slows down and allows us to simply see two characters observing one other.) The end till the conclusion.

In this episode, there are computerized glitches in the sky, portholes in the air, endless tunnels lined with a system of root-like cables and cables, touchscreen tablets that can search through multiple dimensions using Star Wars-like geometric readouts, the literally jaw-dropping revelation that Daniel and Maura were a couple in the present as opposed to the 1890s, and a keyhole in Elliot’s pyramid that is a straight-up Mulholland Drive.

However, the stars of this specific episode are, well, the stars of this specific episode. Almost every performer stuck onboard the Kerberos seems to be going all out in this performance, delving into hitherto unexplored depths of pain, misery, and love. Emily Beecham, Aneurin Barnard, Andreas Pietschmann, Miguel Bernardeau, José Pimento, Isabella Wei, Yann Gael, Mathilde Ollivier, Jonas Bloquet, Rosalie Craig, Maciej Musia, Clara Rosager, Maria Erwolter, Alexandre Willaume, Isaak Dentler, and Fflyn Edwards — just all-out effort from the very top to the very bottom

Not everything works, I should remark. Frankly, Henry, the one-dimensional Big Bad, is the biggest problem. It’s almost unfair to compare Anton Lesser’s role in this film to the villains he’s portrayed on Game of Thrones and Andor, the former a more complex mad scientist and the latter a more identifiable person. As if Damon Lindelof spent the first season of The Leftovers offering THE ANSWERS to why everyone vanished, Lost-style, the makers of Dark have returned to the concept of being caught in a loop of existence in their very next endeavor.

However, the power of the last picture, the individual death scenes, the horrific post-coital discovery about Daniel and Maura, and the equally horrifying reality about the Boy propel the story to its conclusion. My interest in the season finale’s conclusion is extremely piqued at this point. Thankfully, Netflix makes watching the next episode as easy as clicking a button.

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about television for Rolling Stone, Vulture, and The New York Times, among other publications. His family resides on Long Island.

 

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