The Netflix mystery thriller “1899,” directed by Baran bo Odar, was much anticipated from the time viewers witnessed the first visuals in the trailer. No doubt, the world-building accounts for an immersive experience, but the narrative is so sluggish that it acts as an accidental antidote to all the thrill and excitement that the makers would have intended to instill in the series. The series tries to decipher the bewildering concept of reality and the parameters that differentiate it from imagination. So, let’s see what “1899” had to offer and try to understand the various mysteries and questions that were left unanswered.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘1899’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
Maura Franklin often got these lucid dreams where she saw that she was being held in captivity by her own father. She was on a ship named Kerberos, which was making its way to the United States of America. Maura had gotten a letter from her brother, Ciaran, in which he said that he knew what their father was up to. Ciaran had asked her to meet in New York and, for the time being, not put her trust in anyone. Apart from the fact that the passengers on the ship were all very peculiar, another thing that was common among them was that they were all running from their own pasts. There was Ling Yi and her mother, Yuk Je, who had come in search of a new life. They were responsible for the death of an innocent girl and burdened by the guilt of the same. Ramiro, who was pretending to be the brother of a man named Angel, was, in fact, his lover. Lucien had accomplished everything in life, yet all that opulence was of no use to him. He was suffering from a terminal illness, and he was going to another country because he had heard of a doctor who could probably cure it. His wife, Clemence, had married him out of compulsion, and she knew that their marriage was a farce and there was no love between them. Tove, Ada, and Krester, who were siblings, hoped that one day they would have a better life that was devoid of all the struggles and sadness that they had become accustomed to. Tove was bearing the child of her rapist, but her mother, Iben, was delusional enough to think that it was a blessing from God and that he had some great plans for them. The captain of the ship, Eyk Larsen, mourned the loss of his wife and daughters. Grief had become an ally of most passengers on the ship, and they had made peace with it.
A ship named Prometheus, which belonged to the same shipping company as Kerberos, had gone missing about four months ago. Kerberos started receiving messages via telegraph, in which coordinates were mentioned. The crew believed that Prometheus was trying to establish contact and seek help. Eyk decided to go off course and find Prometheus. They actually found the missing ship and decided to go and look for survivors. Captain Eyk and others couldn’t find anyone apart from a small child. The child didn’t speak but seemed quite comfortable in Maura’s company. Maura kept him in her room, though what was to be done with Prometheus was yet to be decided. Captain Eyk decided to tow the ship, but a lot of passengers and crew members were against the idea. Suddenly there was a fog that surrounded the whole area, and the compasses, too, stopped working. The passengers looked up to their captain for answers, but Eyk Larsen and others had no clue as to what was happening.
Who Created The Simulation? Why Did Henry Want The Pyramid And Its Key?
From the very beginning of “1899,” we were made to believe that Maura’s father, Henry Singleton, was the owner of the ships, Kerberos and Prometheus (and others), and the Creator of the simulation. Maura was confused. She didn’t understand why her father had bought the ships or why she was getting these visions in which she felt that her brother had been taken away from her by her father. Her wrists had been marked as if they had been handcuffed. She had made a theory in her mind and believed it to be true. She believed that her brother Ciaran had found out what her father was doing on the ships, and that is why he had been taken away and imprisoned somewhere. She had realized that Henry Singleton was conducting some sort of prohibited experiment on the human brain. Maura was trying very hard to connect the dots, but still, there were many loose ends, and a lot of it wasn’t making any sense. What Maura was speculating was not entirely true. She had a more sinister role to play in the scheme of things, and she was not exactly a victim as she was presuming herself to be.
Daniel, the stranger, living in the room next to Maura’s, told her that they had been married for 12 years and that Elliot, the mysterious boy who they found hiding in a cabin in Prometheus, was their son. Maura had come to know that her father was conducting a simulation of sorts and that everything she was seeing was merely a figment of her imagination. Elliot also told her in a very cryptic manner that there were people who were listening to their conversations and that her doubts could only be cleared by the Creator, who was conducting the simulation. The simulation was nothing but an imitation of reality. Nothing that was happening in Prometheus or Kerberos was real. It was an endless loop where, as soon as one simulation failed, the whole process was restarted once again. The maker of the simulator, who is referred to as the “creator,” had designed the whole thing in a very complex and intricate manner. Each cabin had a secret shaft that had tiled floors and walls from the inside and led to a past memory of the person living in the cabin. For example, Maura, who was staying in room 1011, had a shaft that led to a mental hospital that, at one point in time, was owned by her father. Eyk’s shaft led him to his house, where his family was burned to death. Though these dreams belonged to a specific character in the simulation, other characters could also visit them merely because they were not real. It was basically like an imaginary set that exactly imitated reality. That is why, when Eyk and others go there, they feel that they have traveled back in time and that there is some dark magic at play. Through Maura, we come to know that her mother had some sort of mental disorder, and she probably died because of that. Her father had built the hospital to cure her mother, but he was shattered when he couldn’t. Maura said that from that day onwards, he had started resenting his children: Maura and her brother Ciaran. We believed Henry to be this mad scientist who was doing some evil experiments on the human brain until we were made privy to his side of the story.
Contrary to what we presumed; Henry was not the Creator of the simulation. The simulation was the brainchild of Maura Franklin, though it was not controlled by her at that moment. Henry said that the world could be divided into two kinds of people: seekers and avoiders. He said that Maura had always been a seeker, and she wanted to know about things. She wanted to solve the mysteries of the world and witness for herself what the human mind was capable of. Henry took Elliot inside Room 1011 in the mental hospital, where he fastened the little boy to a chair and injected a liquid into him. Elliot broke out of his simulation and saw Daniel and Maura having a discussion about making him part of the simulation and then finally injecting the fluid. Elliot was probably about to die when he was trapped by Maura inside the simulation so that he could stay alive. Maura was fascinated by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave from a very young age. The theory hugely impacted her way of thinking. She understood that we could never know if things were true as they appeared or as we perceived them to be. Maura believed that maybe the actual reality was outside the life they were living. She questioned her father, saying that maybe the world they believed to be real was a mere illusion created by the Almighty. She said that maybe the world was like a dollhouse for God.
Henry told Elliot that what he believed to be his real world was a simulation. He told the disheartened young boy that if he wanted to escape this illusion, then a key would have to be inserted inside the pyramid sculpture that he had in his possession since the beginning. Inserting the key ended the simulation, and the person woke up in the real world. Henry had sent Sebastian to find Maura and get the tiny golden key. Sebastian did find Maura and Eyk. Sebastian had the same device that Daniel also had in his possession. It was basically used to make alterations in the simulation. Sebastian used it to kill Captain Eyk Larsen. Though Eyk died there, it is pretty much certain that he would be resurrected once again in the next set of simulations, as he was not killed in the real world. Sebastian brought the key to Henry Singleton, who immediately inserted it inside the pyramid. But to his surprise, it didn’t work. They weren’t able to exit the simulation. Henry understood that Daniel had gotten the better of him and transferred the power of the pyramid and key to some other objects.
‘1899’ Ending Explained: What Was Daniel’s Plan? What Was Project Prometheus?
A stimulus inside the brain is caused by reality or the construct of one. Daniel was trying to hack that very construction and, in turn, change its architecture. He told Maura that, contrary to what she believed, her father, Henry Singleton, too, was stuck in the simulation as they were. Maura had these visions, which made her believe that her father was responsible for the disappearance of her brother. Maura considered Henry Singleton to be a cruel scientist who just hated his own children. But it was not true. The simulation was probably created by Maura, but it was being controlled by her brother Ciaran. Daniel told her that Ciaran had taken over the whole mission, and that came as a surprise for Maura. Daniel hacked into the mainframe of the simulation and started manipulating the code. Daniel knew that objects in the simulations were merely manifestations of the code. So, he altered the codes and shifted the power of the pyramid and the key, which Henry had, into another pyramid that was kept in Elliot’s room.
Maura was held captive by Henry, who wanted to make sure that she stayed inside the simulation forever. He injected a fluid inside her, but instead of doing what Henry had intended, it teleported her to the first simulation ever created, where Daniel was already waiting for her. Just like the pyramid, the injection also hadn’t worked as Daniel had changed the codes. Maura’s ring had now become the key, and Daniel inserted it inside the new pyramid that they had in their possession. Maura woke up in a spacecraft, where she found others (who had gotten the letter) who were with her in Kerberos, hibernating in the simulation machine. Maura realized that there were simulations within simulations. Project Prometheus was the name of the mission that was being controlled by her brother. She also got a message from him in which he welcomed her to reality. Through the system, she got the information that there were a total of 1423 passengers and 550 crew members. But the most shocking bit of news was that the date was October 19, 2099. For all this time, Maura believed that she was in the year 1899, but it was not so. It could be possible that Maura and Ciaran had given made-up traits and backstories to all the people who were in the simulation. So basically, the passengers on Kerberos didn’t belong to 1899 but were brainwashed into believing so once they became a part of the simulation.
In the series “1899”, we see that a novel named “The Awakening” was lying in Maura’s room, i.e., room 1011. The Awakening, written by Kate Chopin, was released in 1899. The book is focused on the issues faced by women in society. In the book, the protagonist (Edna Pontellier) launches a rebellion against the orthodox and discriminatory norms and tells the world that women have the right to lead their life according to their own will. Maura had similar traits to that of Edna. She had studied medical science during a period when women were not allowed to practice as doctors. It could also be possible that Elliot, Maura’s son, did not exist in reality or had died at a young age. We believe that Maura created that simulation inside Project Prometheus to cope with her loss and be with her son forever.
Season 1 of the series “1899” ended on a cliffhanger, and a lot of things are still unclear. Maura has to decipher a lot for herself. From thinking that she was a passenger on Kerberos to understanding that it was all a simulation, Maura’s perception of reality was highly muddled up. She was still trying to grasp things and differentiate imagination from actual reality. We are yet to see Ciaran, Maura’s brother, who was controlling Project Prometheus. In “1899” Season 2, we might get to know how involved Maura was in the proceedings and how the project came into being in the first place.