Is Netflix’s 1899 a simulation?

By Adam Lock
Published: November 20, 2022 (Last updated: February 17, 2024)
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Is 1899 a simulation? This article discusses the theory that the Netflix series 1899 is set within a simulation. This article contains spoilers. 

1899 is the latest Netflix original series from Dark creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. It’s one of those addictive mystery shows where viewers will spend the entire running time trying to decipher exactly what is going on. The cryptic and expansive nature of the project means that many different theories and wild predictions will come to mind, changing from one scene to the next. These theories include time travel, alternate realities, parallel universes, The Truman Show style experience, and Inception’s dream within a dream format. The most insane of these theories might just be the idea that 1899 is set within a VR experience like The Peripheral, or one large simulation. Let’s explore this theory in more detail.

What is the premise of 1899?

This epic period piece is set aboard the Kerberos, a steamship heading from Europe to New York with a ship full of mysterious characters, all with their own distinct secrets and scandalous reasons for leaving their old lives behind as they travel towards American soil and a new existence. Whilst journeying across the Atlantic Ocean, the ship comes across another stranded steamship, the Prometheus, which has been missing in open waters for four months now.

Led by Captain Eyk Larsen (Dark’s Andreas Pietschmann), a few unlucky passengers venture onto this ghost ship in the hopes of finding survivors or clues that explain why the boat was abandoned in the middle of the ocean. By stepping foot on the Prometheus, the cursed souls unleash fresh horrors upon themselves as the mysteries of that specific ship come to haunt the Kerberos passengers as well.

Who is Maura’s brother in 1899?

One of the main characters in 1899, is our troubled protagonist Maura Franklin, played by Emily Beecham. She is traveling to New York to look for her missing brother. He has sent her a puzzling letter, talking of uncovering their father’s evil schemes, warning her to trust no one as she journeys to America to hear the awful truth in person. Maura believes her brother may have traveled on the Prometheus. She hopes to either meet with him in New York or to try and further investigate the conspiracy that involves her family.

As the story unravels, it becomes evident that her brother, Ciaran, is not on the Prometheus or waiting for her in New York for that matter. He is actually the Creator behind all the strange events taking place on the Kerberos and the Prometheus, a puppet master pulling the strings from afar.

Is 1899 a simulation?

After searching the Prometheus, Eyk and Maura return with only the one survivor, a mute boy, who carries a black pyramid object and refuses to answer any of their questions. His arrival on the Kerberos is interlinked with sudden, unexplainable events that follow, including the horrifying deaths of nearly all the passengers and crew members. Eyk and Maura soon uncover strange, tiled shafts that lead to alternate realities, and their world quickly disintegrates around them. Soon it is revealed that they are living inside a simulation and must escape before the loop starts all over again, wiping their memories in the process.

Apparently, Maura and her husband Daniel are the ones who created this simulation in the first place as a way of keeping the memory of their dying son alive. But Maura’s brother Ciaran is the one now controlling this simulation, keeping her as a prisoner in a jail of her own design, ironically trapped inside this world that she once created, along with the other main characters seen traveling on the Kerberos.

Maura eventually escapes the simulation with the boy and Daniel’s help, awakening on a spaceship in 2099. Her brother messages her, saying: “welcome to reality”. Indicating that this is her actual reality, although what is there to stop us from believing that the 2099 world is also a simulation? Maura discovers that the spaceship is on a survival mission, heading for a new world. This implies that planet earth has perished and the remaining survivors are off to explore new frontiers, using the simulations for entertainment or rehabilitation purposes in the meantime.

It seems that Ciaran tried to keep Maura a prisoner within her own simulation, but she has now escaped. Daniel told her to stop Ciaran at all costs on leaving the simulation. What is Ciaran’s endgame here? Does he not want Maura to return to reality? Does he want her to remain in this simulation indefinitely? Hopefully, a second season will explore these questions further as Maura returns to reality, to take on her brother in a frightening future.

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