‘1899’ on Netflix: this mystifying end explained
is the last mystery show from the creators of . Her ending might confuse you if you’re not paying close attention, so let’s try to figure things out.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix show 1899.
The show begins as what appears to be a straightforward period piece with a bit of mystery. But complications begin to build, and the show builds up layer upon layer, leading viewers to compare it to the high-profile drama Lost, which grew from a seemingly simple show about plane crashes into a series of science fiction and supernatural mysteries.
Let’s break down what happens, with lots of spoilers.
Put the subtitles
First, before watching the show, go to your streaming options and change it so that the show shows the subtitles rather than the dubbed version., the characters come from many different countries and speak many different languages. But that’s part of the plot – there are scenes where we need to know that a character doesn’t understand another person’s language. The subtitles clarify this, while the dubbed version obscures the issue.
Most people will have a better experience if they set their audio to “English [Original] ” and their subtitles enabled and set to “English [CC] .”
The basics of the plot
The show takes place on the steamer Kerberos, taking a group of people from London to New York. You’ll get the Titanic vibe – some of the passengers are wealthy and live in first class in giant private cabins, while others are stuck in second or third class.
The characters come from all over the world and have very different backgrounds. Viewers soon learn that everyone has a secret and a reason for fleeing Europe for the New World. The show begins by following Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham), a neurologist and one of the UK’s few female doctors, traveling alone. Her brother, Ciaran (although his name is barely used), disappeared four months ago, along with another steamer from the same boat company, the Prometheus, simply disappeared at sea. Heck yeah, that’s a promising start.
Some major characters
There are so many passengers and crew on 1899, all with fascinating stories. But the show introduces them quite slowly and distinctly, so it’s easy to keep them separate in your mind. Here are a few :
Captain Eyk Larsen
Eyk Larsen (Andreas Pietschmann) is the German captain of Kerberos. He drinks – and so do you – because he is haunted by the horrific loss of his entire family in a house fire. When the Kerberos encounters the almost empty Prometheus, Eyk decides to tow the other ship back to Europe, which causes a mutiny, as few people on his ship want to return to where they came from.
Tove and her family
Tove (Clara Rosager) is a pregnant woman from Denmark, and Maura helps her early on with a pregnancy complication. She’s traveling with her family, but no husband, and there’s a horrifying story behind her pregnancy. Members of her family are with her on the ship, including her parents Anker and Iben, her brother Krester and her sister Ada.
Daniel (Aneurin Barnard), sneaks into Kerberos from Prometheus, and is so mysterious that at first it’s hard to tell if he’s good or bad. He certainly has skills – he wears some kind of sliding panel that seems to make the ship disappear, and he releases glowing green bugs that can open doors. But like everything about 1899, his role is complicated. Without saying too much (full spoilers below), he is very important to Maura.
Ramiro and Angel
Ramiro (José Pimentão) introduces himself as a Spanish priest, but of course there is a story behind it. He travels with Angel (Miguel Bernardeau), a rich and handsome Spaniard, and they also have secrets.
Ling Yi and Yuk Je
Ling Yi (Isabella Wei) appears to be a charming young Japanese geisha, traveling with her stern-faced mother, Yuk Je (Gabby Wong). Their past begins to unfold and nothing, even their nationality, is what it seems.
Elliot, aka The Boy
A boy who seems unable to speak finds himself aboard the Prometheus.
Clemence and Lucien
Clémence (Mathilde Ollivier) and Lucien (Jonas Bloquet) are French newlyweds who don’t seem to like each other too much. He is a veteran of the French Foreign Legion.
Jérôme (Yann Gael) is a French stowaway aboard the Kerberos, and a war companion of Lucien.
Virginia Wilson (Rosalie Craig) is a British brothel madam who intends to market Ling Yi in America as a Japanese courtesan. Ling Yi, we learn, was not the original woman intended for this role, but accidentally killed the targeted woman when she tried to steal his drink and steal his place on the ship.
Kerberos is a character in its own right. This isn’t your typical 1899 steamship. There are secret passageways in some of the cabins that take passengers back to important days in their lives, and bright green bugs that can open doors. A black material begins to come out of the walls and even affects Virginia’s hand, crawling over her body, like grayscale in Game of Thrones. And the ship’s name is perhaps more familiar to many as Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades, who guarded the gates of the Underworld in Greek mythology, keeping the dead from leaving. Just as the ship’s passengers were (mostly) prevented from continuing.
What is this ending?
Major spoilers ahead.
1899 features eight complex episodes, all of which slowly expose the secret past of those on board and the secrets of the Kerberos. If that were enough, it would be a satisfying but simplistic Agatha Christie-esque story. But instead, this story wanted to be “lost” at sea. The missing Prometheus isn’t just a missing ship, and strange supernatural and scientific events are brewing.
It’s all just a simulation
But in the end, it turns out that the whole ocean voyage is a simulation created by Maura, who doesn’t remember creating it.
Daniel is Maura’s husband and Elliot was their son. When Elliot died, Maura attempted to keep him alive by transferring her consciousness to the virtual world, where she and Daniel could hang out with him in a colorful bunker-like playroom. And apparently genius Maura designed her sim so others with deceased loved ones could find them.
Daniel desperately tries to wake Maura up to free everyone. (“WAKE UP!” is a recurring motif from the beginning of each episode.) A key that Maura possesses, and the pyramid that Elliot is with, will set everyone free. But Daniel changed the exit codes so they now reside in a different pyramid toy and Maura’s own covenant.
Maura’s dad isn’t really the mastermind
Maura’s father, Henry (Anton Lesser), the owner of the shipping company, watches the simulation from his modern office. It seems at first that he created the simulation, but in reality it was Maura, and he is as helpless as the passengers.
It was his missing brother from the start
Remember Maura worrying about her brother, Ciaran, supposedly lost on the Prometheus? He’s actually the one who keeps his sister, Maura, and their father, Henry, trapped in the simulation.
‘Lost in space
When Maura finally wakes up to reality, she is actually on a spaceship in 2099, with the Kerberos passengers. A threatening message from Ciaran prompts him to come back to reality, and a computer message mentions “Project Prometheus”. So the brotherly battle for reality seems far from over.
Will there be a second season of 1899?
1899 was popular enough that a second season seemed likely. Creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar told Deadline that they would like it to be a multi-season show, but that depends on Netflix’s ratings.
Actor Jonas Bloquet, who plays Lucien, said the cast asked the creators what would happen if there was a season two, but they were basically told “wait and see”.
Were waiting. And while we wait, we’re going to have to rewatch the whole thing again, to pick up all the tell-tale details we missed the first time around.
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