1899 came out last month on Netflix, but it’s still a discussion topic among its viewers. Following the success of the mind-bending series Dark, creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese went on to create another intelligent series about (spoiler alert!) simulations and, in some way, time travel.
Whoever watched Dark likely expected similarities from 1899 – hidden clues, references and signs that things aren’t always as they seem. However, since following the story and deciphering clues at the same time isn’t easy, it’s good to read about some details that the audience may have missed while watching this disconcerting show.
The Triangle Motif Appears Everywhere
The most apparent clue that also didn’t seem obvious to everyone is the triangle (or pyramid) motif. Starting from the series poster to the large black pyramid shown time and time again, the symbol is there as an obvious clue that something isn’t right. Having a symbol appear so often is like having an answer to a mystery in plain sight. Additionally, it’s an almost direct allusion to The Bermuda Triangle.
The creators mention that the pyramid, or the tetrahedron, is the most basic shape in architecture and geometry. Just as anything can be built up from it, so can everything be stripped down to it. Other places where the triangular shape appears include carpets and doors, Clémence’s earrings, and Ling Yi’s stunning kimono (to name just a few).
The Numbers Repeat (And Mean Something)
Besides the show’s name being a number, plenty of numeric sequences repeat throughout the series. The most apparent one is 1011. This is the number of Maura’s room, but it’s also binary code. The numbers on the ship, including the messages coming to it, all lean into the fact that it’s all a simulation because of their binary nature.
The numbers represent the simulation’s code itself. Considering everything’s a program, and how computers get their orders in ones and zeros, this repetitive nature of the codes becomes more apparent as the season moves forward.
Everyone Raises Their Teacups Simultaneously in Episode 1
This part may not be obvious, but to a watchful eye, it’s one of the first clues that the whole thing is just a form of nightmarish Sims gameplay. The creators pointed out in an interview that they created glitches in the characters throughout the show – and the one where everyone raises their teacup at the same time, identically, is just one of them.
If upon reading this, someone realizes this detail has eluded them, it’s time to watch the show again. This, along with many other clues, is just one more thing that puts 1899 on the list of the most rewatchable series on Netflix.
The End Credits Music Feels Out of Place
Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” is one of the most famous songs of all time. It’s been used in numerous movie and TV scores, but the way it was used in 1899 gives it an even trippier meaning and feeling. Since the song is about exploration and experimenting, it’s clear why it’s the ending credits song for episode 1 and the intro song throughout the rest of the show.
Other end credits music includes Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in episode 4, “The Fight” (when the passengers throw Elliott off the ship); Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” in episode 6, “The Pyramid” (the black pyramid is a sort of watchtower, indeed); and Deep Purple’s “Child In Time” in episode 2, “The Boy”. Most of these songs were released in the early 1970s; since the show’s supposedly happening in 1899, the music doesn’t fit the theme – for a reason.
The Ships Refer to Famous Greek Myths
For Greek mythology connoisseurs, Kerberos (Cerberus) and Prometheus are nothing new. These names are references to myths from Ancient Greece. Cerberus is the three-headed dog guarding the Underworld. Prometheus is the God of Fire who molds humans from clay and defies other gods by giving people fire.
That’s why Kerberos may be taking the passengers to the “underworld” or guarding them against entering it. Simultaneously, it keeps them in some sort of limbo (which is also an allusion to Dante’s “Inferno”). Elliott, the boy, is first found on Prometheus; might he be the bringer of enlightenment to the passengers? Additionally, Kerberos is the name of a computer program that allows secure communication across an unsecured network.
And the Beetle References Ancient Egypt
Viewers who aren’t so keen on bugs may have felt some electricity down their spines when they saw Elliott holding the metallic green beetle. However, this beetle is very significant for the symbolism of 1899 since it’s not just any type of bug – it’s a scarab.
For anyone familiar with scarabs, these beetles have been around since Ancient Egypt. As a matter of fact, they were considered sacred around that time and represented renewal. Renewal can sometimes be synonymous with an awakening, which is why Elliott used it to help Maura find a way out of the simulation – or to wake up.
Some Quotes Are Ahead of (1899’s) Time
When Anker and Ramiro look for ship-steering instructions, they find books that only display one phrase in a loop: “May your coffee kick in before reality does.” This doesn’t sound like something people would say at the cusp of the 19th century; it’s more relatable today when you could probably see it on a mug or someone’s kitchen decor.
Additionally, that vaguely references “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” from the movieThe Shining. Just like there, people on Kerberos in 1899 are stuck trying to survive in a place without a way out. Another quote that stands out is: “Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.” This is said by Ling Yi and her mother, but it’s not exactly old. It first came into popular culture after John Lennon said (or quoted) it.
Daniel’s Remote and Wires Indicate a Program
When Daniel strips the ship of its shell, there’s some advanced wiring. He plugs into the system with some sort of remote and reprograms parts of the ship to fit his plans. The wiring and the remote make it clear that the passengers aren’t surrounded by the deep, blue sea. It’s more of a clue that the entire thing is happening at a different time.
Daniel can change the code of the simulation and enter it via a glitch, which is how he ends up there at all. Although it isn’t completely clear who’s in a simulation and who isn’t, viewers are still presented with the faults in the code that seemed impenetrable so far.
Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”
In episodes 1 and 7, the audience gets a glimpse of a book titled The Awakening in Maura’s room. This book was published in 1899 and written by Kate Chopin. It depicts the psychological and social awakening of a woman named Edna Pontellier and delves into the taboo of female infidelity, independence, and social status during the 19th century.
In 1899, it’s a clear representation of waking up, something all the characters are instructed to do over and over again. However, it also references Maura – she’s an independent, educated woman traveling alone in 1899. The infidelity part isn’t too obvious, but her chemistry with the ship’s captain Eyk, is; this is before viewers learn Daniel is actually her husband.
Elliott’s Hiding Place
When Daniel looks for Elliott, who goes into hiding, he goes through numerous coding and recoding attempts in the simulation. After finally finding him, it’s seen that Elliott’s hiding place looks like a child’s room – but on the inside. From the outside, it’s a tombstone.
This could be a direct sign of Elliott’s fate, as the grave is likely his. Maura created the simulation to keep Elliott alive, but this clue likely didn’t pass by many clever sleuths. While some details in 1899 need to be delved into with high attention to detail, this may have just been a symbol hiding in plain sight.
NEXT: ‘1899’ & 9 Other Best Historical Fiction Shows To Stream Right Now