“1899” - TV Series Review

Story posted December 5, 2022 in Arts & Entertainment by Luca Miceli.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness have been the American motto since their writing in the Declaration of Independence. The late 1800s saw a boom in emigration to the United States for those very words, and “1899,” created by Janet Friese and Baron Bo Odar, explores the pursuit of such emigrants in their desperate struggle for a new life.

“1899” opens with a mysterious monologue from main character Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham), before getting right into the action with the series’ mantra “Wake up”.

From there, the audience is shown a massive cast of characters all unique in motivation, appearance and background as their quest for the United States is interrupted by mysterious supernatural happenings after discovering a missing ship.

The most overtly interesting aspect of the show are the characters. The characters range from English to Cantonese and it is near impossible not to marvel at all of the languages spoken on screen and how they weave into a compelling narrative.

A quick note: characters speaking multiple different languages is a key part of the show, so it is imperative to watch in the original language with subtitles.

While the sheer scale of characters and cultures represented is astounding, the character importance is the opposite. Nearly every character develops, but many lack agency in the overarching plot. This relegates some to background decoration post back story revelation.

The mystery itself is certainly intriguing both in subject and execution. The content of the mystery will leave the viewer questioning what is real and what is a lie and creates layers upon layers to unravel. The consistent uncoiling leaves the viewer clamoring for the next episode.

But like the characters, there are so many layers that it becomes difficult to guess what is actually going on without some sort of inside clue. Thematically it fits, however as a mystery some twists can feel impossible to guess. These are rather few, and always fit into the universe’s lore, but as the lore is part of the unknown it can be hard to put pieces together in a logical manner.

Any solid show with a serious plot requires half-decent acting. “1899” certainly delivers. Krester (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) oozes regret and shame through consistent use of body language.

Similarly, Andreas Pietschmann depicts Captain Eyk as a competent, yet wounded man through facial expressions that bring his internal conflicts to the surface.

Fans of “Elite” can delight in Miguel Bernardeu’s presence as Ángel as a similarly snide character, with a convincing portrayal of self-destructive nature.

While it’s difficult to mention all the actors, fans of the show will find themselves fully immersed as the actors grace the show with stunning performances.

With exemplary production value, fantastic acting and a competent mystery “1899” is an excellent show certainly capable of cementing itself as an all time favorite for many.

Anyone looking for something to kill time, make them think, or simply wash the bad taste of another show away for good should absolutely experience Netflix’s new addition. Even the pickiest of viewers could appreciate the scale and scope of the cast alone.

Rating: 4/5

Luca Miceli is a first-year majoring in telecommunications. To contact him please email lfm5592@psu.edu.

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Luca Miceli