Read this post and more on my other site, WitchyRamblings.com.
Read this post and more on my other site, WitchyRamblings.com.
Simply put, Daybreak, Netflix’s post apocalyptic Red Dawn meets Ferris Bueller zombie teen comedy series, is a hot mess. Or, as we used to say in the golden heyday of Tumblr of yore, a problematic favorite.
I purposefully stuffed way too many descriptors into the first paragraph and tried way too hard to sound cool and am now being way too obvious about every single thing I’m doing and speaking in the first person while breaking the 4th wall, in order to give you a sense of what might have been charming in Daybreak but is really just tres, tres obnoxious.
Daybreak, the TV show, is based on the comic book of the same name by Brian Ralph and created by Brad Peyton and Aron Eli Coleite. Like the comic, the main character is a self insert first person narrator who just happens to be a North American straight white male. I haven’t read the comic yet, but from what I understand, it’s more contemplative than the series, described in one article as being more like the 2009 Viggo Mortenson film The Road than Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Or, you could say more like the original, 1979 Mad Max film.
Zone Blanche/Black Spot is a French/Belgian 2 season series, with 8 episodes per season, that’s available on Netflix. The show takes place in the mysterious, isolated village of Villefranche, which is set so deep in the primeval forest that the entire village and its surroundings have no cell phone reception- the black spot, or zone blanche, of the title. People tend to die in the forest, giving Villefranche a high murder rate, but the forest is a living presence which occasionally gives someone back. The villagers are closely connected to each other and to the forest.
Main character Major Laurène Weiss, the chief of police for the village, is one of the survivors who came back from the forest as a young woman. Many years later, she remains haunted by the experience. In present day Villefranche, another young woman, Marion Steiner, the daughter of mayor and business owner Bertrand Steiner, has been missing for months. Laurène spends her spare time in the forest searching for Marion, who was close friends with her own teenage daughter, Cora. Laurène bristles when an outsider, prosecutor Franck Siriani, is sent to investigate the high crime rate in the small village.
We are introduced to Villefranche using the the 1964 song Mr Lonely by Bobby Vinton. Visuals include the mountainous forest, ravens, fog, and an emergency phone at the village boundary line.
You’ve been warned, Mr Siriani. Enter at your own risk.
Adam’s Family Tree Board: All individual photos are young versions of the characters. Left Panel: Hannah, Jonas; Doris; Egon, Claudia; Regina, Aleksander/Boris; Bartosz. Center Panel: Hannah, Jonas, Michael/Mikkel, Ines; Peter, Charlotte, Franziska, Elisabeth; Aleksander,Bartosz, Regina; Ulrich, Magnus, Martha, Katharina, Mikkel; Silja, Noah, Agnes. Right Panel: Noah?, Charlotte; Peter; Franziska, Elisabeth; Tronte, Jana, Mads; Katharina, Ulrich; Magnus, Martha; Mikkel.
Adam uses the youngest version available for his individual photos in his version of Claudia’s Winden Family Tree board. While Claudia’s board doesn’t cover the entire town, it covers most of the characters who play a significant role in season 1, and shows them in each of their phases of life. Adam’s is much more exclusive- he’s only interested in narrowing down the survivors of his apocalypse and their immediate predecessors.
Season 1 Character Board
Bring on the apocalypse. In season 2 episode 8, Endings and Beginnings, it’s June 27, 2020. We spend the episode counting down to the fateful moment as the key players are moved around the board one more time, so as to be in the proper places when Adam’s plans come to fruition.
This is an episode about death and salvation. Personal salvation, the salvation of the world, and the fight to save Time as an entity. The death of individuals and the apocalyptic death which engulfs Winden, which bring about the death of hope and idealism. Not every who dies is really dead, and not everyone who’s saved realizes they’re being saved. The episode is a shell game, as frequently happens on Dark.
The entire season has been about beginnings and endings, and whether they really exist at all in Winden. This episode brings an end to the second cycle, but it brings up the question again of exactly what game is being played and if anyone can really win.
Dark season 2 episode 7, The White Devil, grants the wishes of some of the characters, but some dreams come true as nightmares. Old Claudia’s body is found in 1953 and identified by Child Helge as the White Devil. Hannah takes a trip to 1953 to visit the other White Devil, Ulrich. She meets the Young Adult version of Egon while she’s there.
In 2020, Katharina goes full warrior goddess. She remembers she has a daughter to protect from incest and sketchy boyfriends who have become old men. Plus, she decides she’s ready to become a time traveler.
Martha meets Stranger Jonas and learns the truth about their relationship. Thanks, Mom.
Adult Claudia puts off the French delegation again, then takes the day off to prevent Egon’s death. It’s her turn to learn that the past/time can’t be changed, even if the events she’s focusing on feel to her like they are in the future.
If you are into drinking games, taking a shot for every apology given during this episode could be fun. Or it might be necessary to help you get through the episode.
This Seems Like a Good Time to Talk About Ulrich as a Horned God (Who Is Tied in Knots)
**Spoilers through Season 2 Episode 8**
Okay, let’s give this a whirl. As you might imagine, Horned Gods aren’t my specialty, so I’ve done some research. But also, by the end of season 2, everything metaphorical in Dark is twisted and tangled together, just like the storylines. In season 1, we had nice, neat metaphors presented in ways that couldn’t be missed, with deeper meanings there if you wanted to search for them.
But, before we go any further, a warning. I can’t ignore current events while I’m writing this, and that’s not what I’m about, anyway. This piece was always going to examine the characters, mythology and their connection to the real world. Then the real world didn’t give me a choice. The creators of Dark didn’t choose to have boys be the ones to disappear simply to give women a break from victimization. The boys of the real world are making themselves disappear, and they’re often doing it while armed to the teeth.
They set the show in a town which was losing its main source of employment and then put that town through a slow dystopia which led to a fast apocalypse. This is what Western culture has put itself through since the 1970s, when corporations began moving manufacturing jobs from their traditional bases, and the towns whose original farming and small business economies were destroyed by the factories in the 19th century were now destroyed by the factories leaving.
Episode 6 of Dark, season 2, An Endless Cycle, answers questions which have lingered since the beginning of the series. The episode follows Young Jonas back to June 20, 2019, the day before Michael Kahnwald hung himself, and gives us a baseline for normal Winden life in 2019. The theme of the episode is betrayal.
On the time travel side, as expected, Jonas’ visit with Michael doesn’t go the way he wants. But he makes the most of his time in 2019 before he meets with his father, and has some unexpected encounters.
The episode begins with a voiceover by Adam and a visual showing the highpoints of the series, in reverse chronological order, ending at the beginning, with Michael’s suicide. Adam is, as usual, focused on beginnings as endings and looking for the ultimate terminating point, the end of the beginning, the exact moment where it all began, so that he can pull the plant out and get its entire root. With nothing left of the root, the plant can’t grow back. The time loop is extinguished. Or so he hopes.
But the beginning of the narrative is the moment I’ve been waiting for. The iconic, unaltered, Jonas Kahnwald morning routine, viewed in its natural state. The one we should have been comparing all of his other mornings to, for the last 15 episodes. And that one morning of Martha’s, too.
In season 2 episode 5 of Dark, Lost and Found, Young Jonas and Adam have a long fireside chat, while Bartosz spills the beans and the rest of the teenagers become time travelers. Old Ulrich and Young Mikkel are reunited, but Egon and Ines tear them apart again. Katharina and Clausen continue to look for answers.
It’s Stranger Jonas’ turn for a sex dream with Martha, but his doesn’t go so well. Martha develops black veins in her abdomen, which lead to the God Particle bursting forth from her belly to envelop him like it’s The Blob.
Stranger Jonas startles awake. He turns and sits up, still in his childhood bedroom in June, 2020.
Love hurts, y’all. 34 years later, at home again, with Mama Hannah sleeping in the next room, he’s still having nightmares. Specifically, time travel nightmares about time consuming the love of his life and then himself, as soon as he finds her again. He must hate the God Particle and what it’s done to his life and family.
I believe that everyone who has been born would have been born even if the God Particle had never been created. Time in Winden has become twisted and warped, warping the relationships of the people who live there. Dark may go darker than that, but I believe in the power of Martha and Jonas. They are Ariadne and Dionysus, saviors who each have their own story but are meant to end up together.
Dark is the story of Sic Mundus, a possibly sinister mystery cult created by a desperate man who wants to change the laws of physics. It’s the story of Winden, a small town with a nuclear power plant and a history of mysterious deaths and tangled, often sordid, interactions between the townspeople. It’s the story of the evolution of time travel and how it affects the people who use it. And it’s the story of a series of star crossed pairs and trios, separated through space, time, and the circumstances of their own births.
The last one might be the most important.
In S2 Ep4, of Dark, The Travelers, Jonas wakes up in 1921 and meets both younger and older versions of characters he’s seen before. We discover that Sic Mundus really is part of the Underworld and Agnes was always a fashion maven. In the 21st century, the secret of time travel finally comes out.
Some well deserved justice is served up on Bartosz, who’s known the secret of the caves since a few days after Mikkel disappeared, but kept it to himself, among his other, smaller, betrayals.
Katharina is also forced to confront the past. If she and Ulrich had been less harsh and more patient with Mikkel the day he arrived in 1986, could things have been different?
Everyone gets what they deserve.