Unless you have been living under a rock or tied to one(insert nerdy Prometheus reference here), you have heard about and probably watched enough of Dark creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese’s sophomore series for Netflix 1899. The genre blender has elements of horror, fantasy, and science fiction in a back half twist. It is an addictive delight that looks as great as the intriguing plot is fun to speculate about. The stellar cast of Into The Badlands, badass Emily Beecham, and Dark alum Andreas Pietschmann walk the perfect line between believability and WTF moments. Coupled with Odar and Friese’s signature final moments wrap up to complementary music, it is tailor-made for a Reddit rabbit hole deep dive. So as we all speculate about an almost guaranteed 1899 Season 2, here’s everything you need to know about the ending of 1899 and all the best theories.
The ending of 1899 explained
After all the climbing in and out of wells, cabinets, wall tunnels, and portals, it is revealed Maura is in a simulation that may or may not be designed by herself. In a series where our protagonist has been lied to so many times already, it is hard to believe anything anyone says. Maura’s father thought he had the pyramid and the key to get out of the simulation, and after dropping some potential truth on Elliot, he tried to peace out. Daniel had reprogrammed everything, though, and now the real pyramid and the key were with Maura in Elliot’s room. Daniel claimed this was the first space she programmed as a way to deal with some trauma that he is very vague about. Elliot likely died, but he just as likely could never have existed. More about this later.
In the closing moments, as our remaining passengers and crew try to escape the advancing carbon crystals which have to be representative of the virus Daniel unleashed everywhere, Maura wakes up from the 1899 simulation to find herself in a spaceship in 2099(maybe) surrounded by the same people she was on the boat within hibernation pods. Someone claiming to be her brother Ciaran sends her a message through a 1980’s era DOS prompt screen. This message is the same one found in the book on the ship, “May your coffee kick in before reality does.” The camera pulls back to show a large ship with enough sections to contain roughly 5000 more passengers.
Taken at face value, Maura is out of the simulation and into reality, a spaceship in 2099. Everything that happened on the Kerberos and the Prometheus was fake, and most, if not all, of the characters’ memories, were implanted by someone for some unknown reason. Surrounding Maura in the pods is Olek, Eyk, Krestor, Tove, Virginia, Ramiro, Ángel, Jérome, Clémence, Lucien, Yuk Je, Ling Yi, Iben, and Anker. Daniel, Elliot, Henry, Ada, Franz, and Sebastian are noticeably absent. Season 2 should pick up in this new place with Maura again trying to figure out what is going on.
Considering how layered Dark was, it’s easy to assume Maura is not actually in a spaceship in 2099. Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit tells us in every episode that we are headed down a rabbit hole and should listen. The spacecraft is yet another simulation layered on top of the current one. We know Odar and Friese think long-term. They create layered, indicate plots that weave seemingly unrelated and insignificant things from each season together to produce a final picture that is as fascinating as it is usually emotional. 1899 could be the same way.
The themes of grief, control, and mental illness come up often in most of the characters. We shouldn’t be surprised that this is just one of several simulations layered on each other. Triangles have four sides, after all. There could be a simulation for 1899, 1999, 2099, and reality. Simulations might also jump every two hundred years and could be in the 2299 simulation, and 2099 is reality. We don’t know why Maura and anyone else is stuck in these loops, we don’t know yet, but we can make some educated guesses.
Theories on why they are still in a simulation
Maura’s father, Henry, tells Elliot that Maura is the creator and that she put Elliot in this place. He injected the boy with something to help him remember, and assuming we can trust anything he says and does; he is as stuck there as anyone else. However, his existence in the simulation is decidedly different than anyone else, leaving me to wonder why. He is eager to wake up using the pyramid and the key, leading me to believe he is as real as Maura, but why is he different from most of the others?
Ciaran’s message on the ship is a massive hint that nothing can be trusted in this world. The cyberpunk sensibility is a bizarre mix of older technology and futuristic possibilities. It is as if it was designed by someone trying to make the spaceship look from 2099 or beyond but with no idea what that time looks like. The DOS prompt and computer screens look more 1980s era.
Additionally, the coordinates of the sea ship and the spaceship are very similar. The Prometheus was sending 42.4 N, and 44.57W are very similar to the ones the spaceship is showing. Those are 42.043249, -44.375760. That almost certainly is a clue that this is yet another simulation that Maura and the others will need to navigate. This group of people could be stuck in overlapping simulations because they are on a spaceship bound for some faraway place, and a program is needed to keep their brains active. Perhaps the program went rogue and caused too many stimuli in the form of the trauma and danger they all experienced.
Another potential explanation could be everyone is in a penal colony or mental health facility, and the simulations are designed to either punish or be therapeutic. In this scenario, the entire group has done something to be punished for or worked through. Considering how many characters have memories of killing someone directly or indirectly, this theory has weight. Lucien didn’t kill anyone, but he did commit a crime and betrayed Jérome. Tove killed her rapist. Ramiro and Ling Yi both killed someone and left them in baskets or wells. Finally, Eyk feels guilty for leaving his clearly unstable wife to work. She killed herself and all his children while he was away.
Daniel hints at something that happened to him and Maura’s son Elliot. The fact that Elliot’s room lies under his grave is a big red flag that he is dead, and Maura may have had something to do with either it or his appearance in the simulation. The simulation seems especially cruel to be curative, but it could be some form of immersion therapy. Each person must remember and work through the events that led to them being there.
Daniel and Elliot in 1899
The internet is split about these two central characters. Daniel’s name is the biggest clue that he isn’t real. His name is Daniel Solace, meaning to take comfort in times of despair. His purpose may be to guide Maura. He and Eliot could both be programs similar to Tron. Depending on who programmed them, they are ghosts within the machine designed to help or hurt. It’s possible Maura herself coded them. She may have known she would end up stuck in this loop and programmed a hidden helper or two.
Daniel and Elliot could be representations of real people who existed and died, or they could still exist in the real world. Daniel has unique abilities and an understanding of what is happening, leading me to believe he is a program or an AI. Perhaps both he and Elliot are uploaded conscienceless. That would explain why Henry showed Elliot the scene where Maura injected him in the same chair she thought she had been restrained. Maura may have placed Elliot and maybe Daniel in the simulation to preserve them digitally. On the other hand, she may have put herself in the simulation to escape reality where they were dead. Why everyone else is stuck there, I can’t guess.
Henry doesn’t like Daniel, which could mean he is actively working against him. Henry may blame Daniel for whatever happened to Elliot, assuming they were ever real people. If they are AI or programs now, it would explain why neither one seems intent on getting out of the sim. They only try to help Maura remember and get out.
Why Daniel didn’t tell Maura she would end up on a spaceship is odd. This lends even more credence to the theory that he is a code or NPC whose job is to help her advance to the next level. In his capacity as a guide to Maura, he might not have access to the next level.
Elliot may have never existed. He may be an AI that this entire simulation is designed to test or mature. His ability to respawn in the cabinet makes him unique. None of the others have exhibited that ability yet. Daniel tells her Elliot’s room was the first simulation she ever built to be close to him. He could be lying or misinformed, though. If he is a program himself, he would only know what he is programmed to learn or discover. We know memories can’t be trusted in this world, so we don’t know if Maura’s memory of Daniel and Eliot is real. She has a connection with Eyk that begs investigating. What if Daniel or Ciaran is some sick twist who Maura was married to but is running from, and Eyk is the man she really loves?
This is a Turing test
The Turing test is a test designed by Alan Turing in 1950 as a way to prove intelligence in machines and computers. If Maura created AIs, she could be testing them in this elaborate simulation. Something could have happened, or the program hacked, leaving her confused and stranded in the simulation. It’s also possible she is the AI herself. Elliot could be a recreation of her son or the representation of the living son she never had. He could be the digital child she loves even though he is not flesh and blood.
Considering Maura’s voice always tells the others to wake up, she must be the creator or at least the main character in this story, as Henry indicates. I am curious why she has a triangle tattoo like the one Elliot has behind his ear. It is in the same spot where both were injected while in the procedure room. Does that indicate that perhaps they are both AI or both humans?
Stray theory odds and ends
There is a slew of other compelling questions and oddities in 1899. Some of these are thoughts I can’t shake, and others are curious facts gathered after rewatches.
- Many of the characters have symbols on their possession or clothing that is important. Lucian has triangles on his lapel. Eyk has triangles on his gold coat buttons. Iben has a triangle sewn in the bottom of her dress. You can see them on Ramiro’s collar and Yuj Je’s jacket. Clémence has a triangle on her desk, and Ling Ye’s kimono has both triangles and beetles. Virginia’s earrings are triangles. Then, of course, Elliot and Maura have the tattoo behind their ears.
- The triangle line symbol means Earth. Maybe this is all an alien test created to test our resilience and intelligence.
- It’s possible that there isn’t a single person who exists beyond Maura. They might all be NPC. It would explain why a computer virus could hurt a living person. It doesn’t explain why Daniel warned her not to touch the crystals, though. The only thing that explains that is no one is real but Daniel, maybe.
- The first computer programmer was Ada Lovelace. Ada’s death is more important than we thought. Maybe Elliot isn’t Maura’s child? Maybe Ada is?
- EYK is an anagram for key. Is he the key to everything? I still think he and Maura are the ones destined to be together and the ones in love.
- The beetles could be simple representations of bugs in the system, or they could be indicative of something more meaningful. Scarabs represent immortality and rebirth and have importance in Jungian philosophy. In the golden scarab story, a woman tells the therapist about a dream with a scarab, and just then, one appears on the doctor’s window. The scarab story explains how coincidences can be manifested. Likely this woman saw beetles at her doctor frequently and thus dreamed about them. It was just a coincidence that one appeared when she was talking about it. Jung opened the window and handed the beetle to the woman declaring it hers. The beetle, in this instance, was the link between dreams and reality and a way for the patient to embrace their emotional side.
- At the end of The Awakening, the protagonist drowns herself in the sea. Maybe she and everyone else is already dead or in a coma? Perhaps this is the journey to Heaven or Hell?
- Maura talks a lot about the brain. What if each of the characters is a part of the brain? Daniel is the hippocampus holding memory. Elliot is the amygdala where trauma lives. Eyk could be the frontal lobe that processes morality.
Perception is reality. It all depends on who is viewing it. What you think is happening in 1899 depends on your perception of the characters and your own reality. Maybe we are all the creators? Let that sink in. You can find all our 1899 coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.