Christian Ditter’s German thriller, Biohackers, returns for a thrilling second season with a topsy-turvy narrative, balancing increasing tension with a sometimes-forced evil presence, weighing existential questions without discoverable answers.
This review of Netflix’s Biohackers season 2 does not contain spoilers — the German thriller returns on the streaming service on July 9, 2021.
Biohackers, Netflix’s German thriller/drama from Christian Ditter, introduced a world of scientific discovery, exploitation, and secrecy. Its second season doubles down on these concepts, exploring what the human body can endure, how it can be changed for the better, and the human cost of making these discoveries.
Mia Akerlund (Luna Wedler), AKA Emma Engels, sits at the center of these questions, a mid-20s medical student with a near-perfect immune system, the result of scientific experimentation from the revealed experiments by Professor Tanja Lorenz (Jessica Schwarz). After getting kidnapped at the end of season one, this sophomore season begins three months into the future, as Mia awakes in the middle of class, unable to remember anything from the last quarter of a year. The season consists of the finding of those memories, attempting to reckon with what has happened to her, who’s to blame, and who she can trust, three aspects that could have applied to season one as well.
Exploring the value of a single human life, Biohackers continues to ask big questions without certain answers, existing in the grey areas of science. What is the cost of progress? Is the sacrifice of a single human life worth the saving of 100 lives? In the semi-futuristic world of Biohackers, those with power make these decisions, weighing these questions only to choose progress over everything.
Biohackers season 2 gives time and space to the tertiary characters of Mia’s world, like her roommate, Lotta (Caro Cult). Lotta and her father, Baron Wolfgang von Fürstenberg (Thomas Kretschmann), became major factors in Mia’s life, being two members of a rich family that funds not-necessarily legal scientific research. Lotta has choices on who to trust and who she believes, forced to decide between her family or friends. Wolfgang, and his associate, journalist Andreas Winter (Benno Fürmann), will always allow the ends to justify the means, a concept that Mia and Jasper push against.
Ratcheting up the tension from season one, Biohackers continues to paint Mia as an action heroine, a person that can climb service shafts, survive the worst of health circumstances, and bounce back from near-death time and time again. She’s transformed from a medical student to a genius persisting more than living, lasting longer than those that want to ruin, use, or kill her. With the help of those that betrayed her in season one, including Jasper (Adrian Julius Tillmann) and Lorenz, she uncovers another sinister plot, taking down those that seem more powerful than her.
The performances in season two increase in weight with the increase in stakes, allowing Cult, Schwarz, and Wedler dramatic moments to show their acting chops. With higher pressure on these characters, the actors attempt to fill the screen with intensified emotions. For the most part, it works, with those three actors providing solid performances that won’t leave you feeling speechless, but more importantly, won’t take away from the storytelling.
Although it’s a narrative that can feel murky and even forced in its evilness, it forces you to hold your breath, especially after getting to know these characters during the first season. Biohackers, though a third season is uncertain after a less-than-cliff hanging ending, should be added to the recent canon of Netflix’s German TV slate, with Dark and Babylon Berlin gathering mid-sized international audiences along with critical acclaim. Those audience members and acclaim are deserved, too, even if it never reaches the heights of those other shows, resembling a more-grounded, less-imaginative version of Dark, which also followed a group of young people uncovering the secrets that surrounded and endangered them.
Ditter’s series (mostly) allows metaphysical and ethereal questions to ruminate on the minds of its main characters, positioning them against one another, two sides of the same spectrum. Mia exists as the antithesis of Lorenz in the first season and the Baron in the second season, as the former almost switches sides, showing a bit of care for the young girl. All in the field of biological science, these characters strive for progress and advancement, each willing to sacrifice different amounts of life, love, and consequences in order to further their careers and society as a whole. Still, there are good scientists and bad scientists, and Mia is certainly one of the good ones.
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