Biohackers begins its second season with disorientation, keeping both Mia and its audience in the dark about what has happened to the young medical student.
This recap of Netflix’s Biohackers season 2, episode 1, “Awake,” contains spoilers.
Netflix greenlit the second season of Biohackers, a German sci-fi thriller from creator Christian Ditter, only one week after the first season’s release. Coming on the heels of the success of Dark, another German drama from the streamer, Ditter’s show focuses less on the ethereal, more on the literal. Specifically following the life of Mia Akerlund (Luna Wedler), a mid-20s medical student originally named Emma Engels, Biohackers returns for another six episodes full of experiments, secrets, betrayal, and of course, biohacking.
That’s not an exaggeration, either. Picking up directly where the first season left off, Mia had exposed world-renowned Professor Tanja Lorenz (Jessica Schwarz) for her role in the Homo Deus project that subsequently killed hundreds of kids, including Mia’s twin brother (a mouthful of a situation). Giving all of this information to an unnamed journalist, someone kidnapped Mia and threw her into a van with Lorenz, leaving the audience to wait nearly a year until their fates were revealed.
The first episode of season two doesn’t begin in that van, nor does it in some torture chamber or abandoned medical center. Mia wakes up in the middle of class in a lab, unable to remember the past three months. Her apartment’s gone, she’s dating Jasper (Adrian Julius Tillmann) again after dumping his ex-roommate Niklas (Thomas Prenn), and Lorenz has been arrested and barred from practicing medicine. She did it. She accomplished her goals from the previous season.
Mia’s experiencing major headaches, hallucinations, unsure of what’s real and what’s imagined. After the events of the first season, she still trusts no one except possibly her roommate Chen-Lu (a continually wonderful Jing Xiang). After a slew of medical tests, she just doesn’t know what’s wrong, attempting to trigger her memories by recreating the flashes she keeps seeing, including recreating the piercing of a tattoo of the word “S-O-N” on her arm.
“Awake” is a building block for events to come. It’s a re-introduction of this world, especially for those that might not remember who these characters are, what they’ve been through, and where they stand three months into the future. It lacks the breakneck speed of the latter part of season one, attempting to ease you back into Mia’s deteriorating world. Her nemesis and former doctor, Lorenz, has begun living at home with her mother, attempting to work out a deal with the district attorney for a lighter sentence.
Schwarz remains a bright spot in the series, balancing a level of evil and care as a woman who climbed the scientific ladder with the goal of helping others. Her character’s professional decline gives the actor more flexibility, drawing out a portion of sympathy. Schwarz flashes between sinister and exasperated to concerned and humane within most of her scenes, as Ditter continues to deal with the ethics of biology. Wedler remains great opposite her in the leading role, as a steadily unsteady person shifting and reckoning with her past.
There are two questions Ditter increasingly poses to his characters and his audiences. Do the ends justify the means? And in the scientific and technological realm, just because we have the ability to do/create something, should we? Season two looks to be more of the same in this regard, likely doses of tension ratcheted up, nearly improbable situations, lots of drugs for both recreational and medical use, and a whole lot of twists and turns.
Fasten your seatbelt. Or actually, button up your lab coat.
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