HDIM Reviews: Netflix’s Criminal: UK, Germany, France, Spain

As a fan of police procedural shows and Line of Duty, I was not surprised that this came recommended to me based on my watchlist. Story-wise, plots are not what Criminal is about. Criminal is more about how interesting the interrogation suspects are, and when you have bigwigs like David Tennant playing the possible suspects, you’re in for a treat.

There are 12 episodes, 3 episodes to each location: UK, Germany, France and Spain. The layout of the interrogation quarters is the same but the officers, team dynamics, personalities, language and therefore techniques used are different. Also in the spotlight are the motives behind each crime, rather than just the crime itself. What the episodes are here to unearth is why people do the bad things they do.

Criminal: UK

The team dynamics is strong here. They talk about structure and by-the-textbook procedures. Kinda makes them look boring but wait til you see how it’s done in Criminal: Spain.

E01: Edgar

David Tennant, always a delight to watch, plays the role of stepfather, Dr Fallon, who is accused of raping and killing his stepdaughter. Apparently in this world, you can only hold the suspect for 24 hours and Tennant’s character has stayed absolutely silent for 23 hours. In the final hour, he sings like a canary.

E02: StaceY

Hayley Atwell, Mrs Captain America, stuns as Stacey in not one, but two confessions. She is believed to be involved in her sister’s husband’s murder, which she confesses to at about the halfway mark of the show. That seemed a little too easy, don’t it? Absolutely. She’s done when she says she’s done, pink hair and acrylic blue nails and all. Wonderful episode.

E03: Jay

Youssef Kerkour, if you haven’t seen him on Home, you should, because he is so under-utilised as Jay, a truck driver, in this episode. He’s brought in to be the gentle but not as dumb as he looks giant, who abandons a truck (possibly) full of illegal immigrants now at the risk of freezing to death overnight. Time is of the essence. Then midway through, the plot-line doesn’t twist, it entirely pivots.

Criminal: Germany

In the background, Eva Meckbach plays a heavily pregnant officer joining the cases while simultaneously reviewing Sylvester Groth’s (Dark) interrogation methods. Germany’s cases are a lot more bizarre than the UK’s. Also, Groth is incredibly hostile for a police officer and seemed ready to fly off the rails at any moment. #bringthepopcorn

E01: Jochen

Peter Kurth is Jochen, a successful businessman who was the last person to see a handyman he had hired to work on one of his apartments decades ago. This episode was carried by an interesting plot, for a change. Best to go in blind on this one. If I had to complain about anything it’s that Schulz’s dubbed voice is so not suitable for him.

E02: Yilmaz

In the second episode, we see Deniz Arora’s Yilmaz being questioned on why he pushed his wife down the stairs, landing her in hospital. It is a case of domestic abuse. The weird thing is a lawyer has been hired to defend the suspect, by the victim’s father.

E03: Claudia

Nina Hoss, exuding the Aileen Wuornos vibe in Claudia, is a sight to behold. Her role is that of Claudia, a serial killer’s accomplice. She helped her boyfriend, now dead from slitting his wrists in prison, to abduct, rape and murder six girls before the duo were caught. She has been behind bars for some time when Groth’s character pulled her out of there to find out where she had buried the first victim. Said victim’s mother needs to bury her daughter before cancer buries her. By the end of this tense episode, you’re not really sure that Hoss is the only monster in the room. Easily the best episode for Germany.

Criminal: France

France’s cases are more shall we say, contemporary. They are based on more recent events and social taboos. The lawyers take a back seat for all of the cases, although in one you can see the eyes in the lawyer changed the moment they realised their client is guilty.

E01: Emilie

The first episode involves the November 2015 Bataclan terrorist attack, an incident in which more than a hundred people died and hundreds more were injured. Sara Giraudeau plays a victim, Emilie, who had lost her boyfriend who was gunned down at the theatre, was compensated monetarily by the government, and had build an online following from blogging about the incident. So why is she in the interrogation room?

E02: Caroline

A high-powered female executive is being investigated over a death at the construction site. One of her workers had died from a fall. Already stressed out from running very late on a deadline, Nathalie Baye plays the capable, powerful and highly strung executive, Caroline, who is now being investigated on how involved she is with the worker’s murder.

E03: Jerome

Jeremie Renier plays a top salesman, Jerome, at the brink of being charged for a homophobia-fueled attack on a man beaten with extreme brutality. He was arrested trying to flee from the police but claims that he has nothing to do with the incident. Can the team catch him on his lie and unearth a secret that he is clearly trying desperately to hide?

Criminal: Spain

Things are very different in Spain. The lawyers are treated with impunity, officers can bend the rules as they please so long as they get the results everyone wanted, and at times you can’t really be sure who is on the right side of justice. You know what is also criminal? The translation. It’s a travesty.

E01: Isabel

Carmen Machi plays a dog owner, Isabel, who has some blood in the basement of her home and a brother who is now missing. They are looking for him with connection to a missing person’s case. How the investigators finally got her to tell them what they need to know is cruel and unusual punishment.

E02: Carmen

Imma Cuesta plays Carmen, tired young woman who let her autistic little sister drown while her parents are not home. She is treated like a slave (their words) in the household and suffers abuse when the chores are not done properly. During the interrogation, she alternates between periods of lucidity and uncontrollable rage which gives us an inside look into why she did it. Sidenote: the episode could be 10 minutes shorter.

E03: Carmelo

How low can you go when dealing with a weasel like Carmelo, played by Eduard Fernandez? Apparently, extremely, especially when he caused the death of a relative to one of the lead interrogators. It’s amazing how Carmelo’s lawyer just went with the flow when clearly what the interrogators are doing are just downright… criminal.

To Watch or Not To Watch?

Criminal is no Line of Duty. There isn’t enough time for us to be invested in the interrogation team despite all that drama happening on the other side of the mirror. You don’t have time to feel outraged by how the victims suffered or the crimes committed. That’s why it’s the perfect touch and go show for those who just want to burn off a few hours during the weekend.

If you have only 3 hours to burn, I recommend the following episodes: Claudia (Germany), Jochen (Germany), Jerome (France), Stacey (UK).

Netflix’s DARK Season 2 Explained (Part 2)

So in Part 1 of this guide we talked about what Team Claudia and Team Adam brought to the show. If you haven’t read that guide yet, no worries, here’s the link to Netflix’s DARK Explained (Part 1).

For Part 2 we’re going to talk about how the Sic Mundus team and how Adam likes to keep it in the family. Plus, we explore the missing branches of the Nielsen family tree and why there are two Tannhaus time machines out there (short answer: there isn’t).

Who is in Sic Mundus?

Of course Noah and young Noah is in there. Young Noah has been digging the tunnels and murdering co-workers since his teenage years. He is loyal to a fault towards Adam. In his adult years, he murders children and old white devils too.

Noah had that creepy stare thing going since a young age

Bearing in mind that young Noah is willing to kill for Adam, for whatever reason it is that he is in the bunker with Claudia, Regina, Peter and Elisabeth, it would be under Adam’s instructions.

What about the rest of the group?

Here’s a picture of Sic Mundus Elisabeth found in Charlotte’s belongings. You can’t really see their faces clearly but you can count 13 people (6 women, 7 men) including Adam sitting in the middle.

To the left of Adam, we have identified Noah, whilst to the right of Adam is Magnus and probably Bartosz. Agnes stands next to Noah, while the lady behind Adam is probably Franziska.

A Family Picture
The date this picture was taken January 8th, 1921

It would be much easier to identify who the rest are, particularly the women if the photo was not in one colour. Otherwise you could figure out who the women are (no matter what their age is) by the colour of their hair: the redhead is Franziska, Elisabeth is the blonde, Martha has black hair and Claudia has brown hair.

In any case, if that guy is Magnus, this lady is probably Franziska.

Nice to see they’re still together

Since they’re standing up front with Adam in the picture, they are probably the early founders of Sic Mundus: Bartosz, Franziska and Magnus, which coincidentally are in the group of people Adult Jonas saves during the apocalypse. #therearenocoincidences

Later on in Season 3, Adult Jonas would also save Noah and Agnes, as per young Noah’s instructions based on Martha’s letter.

Alright, that’s 6 down, what about the other 7 people? Whoever they are, they are probably family too.

Sic Mundus is a Family Business

In Season 1 we were running on four families, but if you really think about it, it’s pretty much just about two families: the Nielsens and the Tiedemanns.

When Jonas got sent back to 1921, he bunked at the house of Erna Nielsen, the same house where Agnes and Noah Nielsen grew up.

Agnes in 1921

On Agnes’s side, she has Tronte, who then has Ulrich, who then has Magnus, Martha and Mikkel, who is the father of Jonas Kahnwald. The Kahnwald’s name is a smokescreen.

Jonas is a Nielsen. Agnes is his great-great-grandmother, which makes Noah his great-great-granduncle.

On Noah’s side, he has Charlotte with Elisabeth. Charlotte then has Franziska and Elisabeth with Peter Doppler. Doppler, another smokescreen, is her husband’s family name, but she and her daughters are part of the Nielsen blood line.

Charlotte, Elisabeth and Franziska are also Nielsens.

Take a gander at what the relationship is in this picture.

Father Noah? That’s great-granduncle to you, buddy.

To recap, here are the Nielsens (by Season 2) with Erna being the first generation and those related by marriage in [ ]:

  • 1st generation: Erna
  • 2nd generation: Agnes, Noah, Elisabeth
  • 3rd generation: Tronte [& Jana], Charlotte [& Peter Doppler]
  • 4th generation: Ulrich [& Katharina], Franziska, Elisabeth
  • 5th generation: Magnus, Martha, Mikkel [& Hannah]
  • 6th generation: Jonas

And here are where the Tiedemanns and Dopplers stand in the equations using marriages as points of reference.

  • 1st generation: Erna – Bernd D [& Greta]
  • 2nd generation: Agnes, Noah, Elisabeth – Egon T [& Doris] – Helge D
  • 3rd generation: Tronte [& Jana], Charlotte [& Peter Doppler] – Claudia T
  • 4th generation: Ulrich [& Katharina], Franziska, Elisabeth – Regina T
  • 5th generation: Magnus, Martha, Mikkel [& Hannah] – Bartosz T
  • 6th generation: Jonas

Alright, I’ll address the elephant in the room. Bartosz is in Sic Mundus, but he is a Tiedemann and we still don’t know how the Tiedemann ties in to the Nielsens by way of blood but there may be a loophole to that by way of the missing partners.

Missing Partners

In Season 1, the big shocker was that Mikkel and Michael were the same person. This held major repercussions to Martha and Jonas’s relationship, turning them from just friends to aunt and nephew.

Jonas was not “supposed” to be born but as we learned in Season 2, a world without him is a terrible one. He can’t bring Mikkel back to the original timeline because his future “already exists.” Things are, because they are meant to be.

In Season 2, we have a few major shockers. We learned that Agnes is more involved than expected and that she is Noah’s sister, which means Noah is a Nielsen. That also means that Charlotte, who is Noah’s daughter is also a Nielsen. The Doppler family name was a smokescreen to keep us in the dark. #seewhatIdidthere

So, what if there are more secrets hidden behind unmentioned partners? For example:

Who was Helge’s wife and Father?

Helge’s wife was never mentioned. Peter had arrived in Winden after Helge’s accident in 1986. Why has Bernd never acknowledged Peter? Or was the age gap too big for him to do so? Or is it because he eventually found out what Greta confessed to Noah back in 1953, that Helge was not Bernd’s son. If not, then who is Helge’s father and is he connected to any of this?

Who did Claudia have Regina with?

I understand why Claudia is a Tiedemann but why does Regina carry the Tiedemann name instead of her father’s name? Why has her father never been in the picture? There’s literally no pictures or any mention of the guy in the house, ever. No deaths mourned, no wrath over a one night stand or a runaway dad. Absolutely nothing. Tronte and Claudia go way back though and they have been known to have had an affair.

Who was Agnes’s husband?

Does he have anything to do with Tronte’s cigar burns? Tronte also carries his mother’s family name, Nielsen. Is this like a thing with Winden wives? Also, she mentions that her grandmother is from Winden but so far we have only seen Erna, her mother. We don’t know who her grandmother is yet since Agnes got cut off before she could answer Egon. It’s possible that her husband and her grandmother is someone we already know.

So What’s Bartosz Real Parentage?

What if by the end of Season 3, we find out that the Tiedemanns also have Nielsen blood in them? What do you mean what if? Bartosz is in Sic Mundus, he probably is a Nielsen too. Noah actively recruited Bartosz since Season 1, giving him the book he holds, which means Bartosz has seen its contents. Noah also gave him the HGT machine in Season 2.

How does the Nielsen blood get into Bartosz then? Aleksander Tiedemann / Aleksander Kohler / Boris Niewald’s origin perhaps? Claudia having an affair with Tronte resulting in Regina perhaps? A time-travelling Hannah (aka Katharina Nielsen, here to see my husband) messing up the past as it was intended, perhaps? #lotsandlotsofperhaps

There is Only One Time Machine

Although there’s two HGT machine on the move by the end of Season 2, both time machines are probably the same machine. We’re just seeing it at different points in its use.

Let’s try to track its movements.

Tannhaus built it

So we saw Tannhaus build the time machine after receiving blueprints from Claudia back in 1953. He spends 33 years trying to make it work. Adult Jonas visits him in 1986 with a busted time machine, asking Tannhaus to help him fix it. In the process Jonas teaches Tannhaus how to use the device and asks him about how time works. Some time later, Tannhaus would teach Claudia how to use the time machine in 1987.

Tannhaus also uses the busted time machine to finally complete his unfinished time machine. He also uses Ulrich’s smartphone, a technology that is not available in his time, to make the machine work.

Jonas Tries To Close the Tunnels

Jonas takes the brand new machine and tries up to close the tunnels. He lugs it around but uses the tunnels to travel through time, showing his younger self how to travel through the tunnels and who Mikkel really is.

After all the chaos, Adult Jonas realises he didn’t change a darn thing and goes home to Hannah, unknowingly stopping her suicide just in time. He helps her and Charlotte figure a lot of things out. He eventually loses his time machine in 2020 to Hannah.

Hannah Travels to 1954

Hannah takes the time machine to go to 1954 to see Ulrich. She asks him to choose between her and Katharina. His answers were not convincing. She leaves him in jail to rot. He will stay in the asylum until 1987. Meanwhile Hannah chooses to get a fresh start but we have to wait until Season 3 to find out where and when she intends to do this. The Time Machine stays with her.

Things happen in Season 3.

Claudia Travels to 2019

While Hannah is soul searching, Senior Claudia buried her time machine in 1954 for her future self to dig up in 1987. Senior Claudia knows that she will die in 1954. There is no longer any need for her to travel.

Claudia digs it up in 1987 and uses it to travel to 2019, see Regina dying from cancer, read news articles about herself and Egon, and then go back to her original timeline to try to figure out the dark matter and to prevent Egon from dying.

Jonas ReOpens the Tunnels

When she fails to stop her father’s death, young Jonas turns up after a 12-month stint. I checked the timeline, it seems to match. This 12 months with Claudia began from his father’s suicide on June 21, 1986, right up to the day of the apocalypse, June 27, 1987. It’s possible that this is the Jonas that led Mikkel back to the caves and into 1986.

Anyways, he takes the heartbroken Claudia to the future, June 27, 2019, the day of the apocalypse with her time machine. Inside the tunnel he activates the machine to open the time passage his older self had closed in 1986. I’m not sure if this is a new feature (you don’t need a smartphone to work it anymore?) or if it only happens when you use it to open a time passageway.

Time manifests itself inside the bunker, freaking Martha out. She leaves the bunker when Peter and Elisabeth open the locked bunker door to enter.

Claudia Goes into the Bunker

Claudia leaves the cave with Jonas then splits up. She takes the time machine and goes to the bunker with Regina. They meet Peter and Elisabeth and later on, Young Noah there. The apocalypse happens. I’m thinking they use the time machine to get out of there rather than actually wait out the apocalypse inside the bunker. Because… there’s no food.

Things happen in Season 3.

Noah Gives Bartosz the Time Machine

Bartosz receives the time machine by Noah and brings it to pre-apocalypse 2020 where Magnus, Franziska, Martha and Elisabeth get a taste of how it works.

Katharina takes it off the hands of Magnus and tries to get it to work so she can go retrieve Mikkel. She leaves it with Jonas after he tells her it doesn’t “work that way” and she can’t bring Mikkel back.

Young Noah goes to see Jonas and gives him a letter by Martha.

He tells Jonas to save Bartosz, Magnus, Franziska, and then later on Agnes and himself. He says this loop must close for the next cycle to begin. Jonas uses the time machine Katharina left behind to transport Bartosz, Magnus and Franziska out of the apocalypse.

Things happen in Season 3.

Small Questions for DARK: Season 3

As it’s customary, everyone does a list of major questions for Season 3, but I’m going to flip the switch and do a “small question” list instead. I prefer to write on things we know or on clear hints but asking questions is also part of human nature so, here it goes:

  • What happens to Katharina in the tunnel while the rest of the world goes apocalyptic?
  • What happens to Elisabeth and Charlotte once they touched hands at the portal?
  • Who sent Clausen that letter to alert him about Kohler?
  • What’s up with Woller’s eye?
  • Who is Woller and Bernadette’s mother?
  • How did Ulrich survive his time in the asylum all those years? How can Egon have forgotten about him until the 1980s?
  • How has Noah never met Tannhaus if he was such a crucial person in developing the HGT machine?
  • Is Peter also a Nielsen? Who was his mother?
  • Does Ines and Greta work for Noah?
  • What’s this and why is it on Claudia’s body?
  • Who wrote the book that both Claudia (it has the schedule the missing children arrive at the bunker) and Noah (it has notes on Charlotte) had at different points in the story? Noah gives it to Bartosz at the end of season 1.
  • Who is this guy? Is he someone we have already met but don’t recognise yet? He seems to know a lot about Noah and why Adam took him in and named him Noah. His tattoo is on the front of his body. Noah would eventually get the same tattoo on the back of his body.

I’m going to wrap this up before my head hurts some more. Here’s looking forward to season 3.

Netflix’s DARK Season 2 Explained (Part 1)

My guide on understanding Netflix’s DARK (Season 1) was published three weeks ago. That’s how long I spent watching DARK (Season 2). If you thought DARK Season 1 was confusing and well beyond comprehension, Season 2 is going to make your head explode. And I don’t want that, so where do we start with Season 2? With a spoiler alert, of course.

Heavy spoilers ahead! I’m pulling no punches. It would help a lot if you know what’s happening before you attempt this guide. I promise it is fun.

Dark Season 2

Season 1 was about Jonas but the circle has since expanded in Season 2. More of the family is involved. We see Claudia, a Tiedemann, take centre stage, while Helge, Ulrich, Mikkel, Tannhaus get less screen time. We don’t even see much of Tronte and Jana anymore, except at the party.

Noah has been downgraded as a mysterious villain rather than the main antagonist but his story is no less powerful. Charlotte suddenly has a more pivotal role in the storytelling. But it’s still mostly about Jonas, and a new character, Adam.

Sup?

A lot of the questions from Season 1 has been answered but there are a lot of new questions from Season 2 as well. Let’s see what we can glean from Season 2 of one of the most insanely awesome shows on Netflix right now.

Season 2

Right. Let’s keep things as simple as possible. There are two groups fighting to wrest control of time. There’s Adam’s group and there’s Claudia’s group. At times they seem to help each other out because they both understand that they cannot change the past without it affecting who they are in the present.

However the only constant here is change. And everyone changes their motivations and their allegiance based on one crucial factor: information they get.

Before we get to that, let’s recap what both teams have been doing.

Team Claudia

Claudia’s group is okay with sacrificing the people the love in order to save everybody else: she sacrifices Egon, Jonas sacrifices Martha, Michael sacrifices himself, you get the idea.

It’s quite noble of them and all but what they do are in the realms of cruelty. Also, Claudia refers to her fight with Adam as a “game” particularly when she was mocking Noah. I don’t think sacrifice and game are two words you use together in a sentence.

Ta-da, the White Devil

Claudia’s time travel adventures started off when she was visited by her future self, Senior Claudia. Senior Claudia uses Gretchen to convince Claudia that they are both the same person, just from different timelines. Senior Claudia went to 1987 to talk to her younger self and show her how the time machine works.

She then gave her younger self a map to show where to dig up the time machine she buries at the site of her future home, back when it was just a construction site in the 1950s.

In 1987, Claudia digs up the time machine from her backyard then goes to learn how to use it from Tannhaus. She speaks to Helge and Helge tells her not to trust Noah. She uses the time machine to go to the future where she sees her daughter, Regina dying from cancer, and her power plant taken over by Aleksander. She finds news clipping of her disappearance and of her father’s death. She returns to the 1980s to prevent all this but inadvertently caused her father’s death. #plottwist

She disappeared from the 1980s just like the newspaper clippings reported when Jonas took her to 2019, the day of the apocalypse so she could retrieve Regina and end up in the bunker together with Peter and Elisabeth. They meet with young Noah there. Jonas says that those who were in the bunker would survive the apocalypse. You would think they would pack some food in with them, you know?

The Bunker Group

Noah & Elisabeth

In Season 3, we would probably see young Noah end up with young Elisabeth. They marry and have Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte is both Elisabeth’s mother and daughter. Yes, they went there.

Claudia then takes Elisabeth and Charlotte away (Noah was fuming when he reminded her of this right before he shot her). Her motive is not clear but it is possible that she was trying to save Charlotte’s life.

Remember, Noah said that Charlotte was born premature. If they were living in a period without the proper technological facilities (but with polaroid technology) – be it in the 20s, 50s or the post-apocalyptic world – Claudia must take Charlotte to a time that have the facilities which could save her life. Otherwise, there won’t be an Elisabeth. Or is that too humane for the White Devil who likes to talk about sacrifice, like, a whole lot?

At least Charlotte was left under the care of Tannhaus, who became Charlotte’s adopted grandfather. She had to be kept in Winden because WE NEED ELISABETH to complete the mother-daughter loop.

Tannhaus seems like a good choice because he is not from the 4 families or maybe because he is building the time machine for Claudia anyways. Two birds with one stone. Who knows? Maybe Adam told Claudia to do all this because they need Noah to really, really want to perfect The Chair so he can find his daughter again?

Last we saw her, Elisabeth is in the post-apocalyptic world. She is a rebel leader propagating Adam’s lies of a promised land. She recognises Jonas which is why she knows to spare his life. When the portal opens during the apocalypse, she sees her mother/daughter, Charlotte, but calls her mama.

It’s possible she doesn’t know Charlotte is her daughter like how it’s possible Charlotte doesn’t know Elisabeth is her mother. The only people who knew would be Claudia, Adam and Noah, and two of those people are already dead.

Claudia’s Death

Speak of the devil.

Senior Claudia had buried the time machine in the 1950s for her future self because she knows when and where she will die. Before that, she meets with her father to apologise, stopping short of tell him she caused his death in the 1980s. She calls him a good man because he wanted to call the authorities to check the caves since Ulrich keeps going back there.

She knows that her mother, Doris loves Agnes Nielsen very much. She also gave Agnes the news clipping of her death, allowing Noah to find her and kill her, and for Agnes to ask to rejoin Adam’s group.

On her body was this item, which has not been explained or explored yet. It could be nothing though. We shall see in Season 3.

At unspecified points in the timeline, Senior Claudia also did a number of things:

  • She elicited the help of Tannhaus to build the time machine (in the 1950s) as well as to take care of young Charlotte. She also gave her his book, A Journey Through Time before he wrote it.
  • She also got the help of Peter and Tronte to bring Mads’ body to where it would be found by the police in 2019 (Season 1).
  • She got to Michael in 1986, and was there when Jonas breaks down after realising the reason his father killed himself was because he was sacrificing himself to ensure Jonas exists.
  • She then guided Jonas for a period of 12 months, before he returned to help her 1980s self, who was in a mess, right after directly causing her father’s death.
  • She went to 2020 to see her grandson Bartosz and to give him a photo of Regina and herself from the 80s. This was so Regina would reconcile with her younger self when she went to retrieve her on the day of the apocalypse.

Claudia works alone but she had collaborated with Tannhaus, Jonas, Agnes, Noah and her younger self at different points in her crusade. Adam on the other hand has a whole team behind him.

TEAM ADAM

Adam’s group is determined to wipe out everyone and start a new world, hence his choice of a biblical name to replace his original name, Jonas. #what? #ikr His plan is not as noble, but judging by the way Time works, his plan may be the only way to beat Time in her game.

I have a theory (further down) about why his face is this way

He leads a group who call themselves Sic Mundus, aka The Travellers. When young Jonas was speaking to Adam, he asked him if Sic Mundus would lead them to the new world which was a prophecy that Adult Elisabeth has been hanging on to, and enforcing, in the post-apocalyptic world.

Instead of a religion, which was how Jonas and the rest of the world interpreted this prophecy as, it’s actually a declaration of war against time. Adam intends to create a new world where time does not exist simply by destroying time entirely mainly because time is not merciful. He calls time a physical law which we cannot negotiate with, much like our fate. In other words, if we can never have free will in choosing our next path because our future already exists, then why not get off this bus entirely? Unlike Claudia who still wants to save this world, Adam want to flip off time and start the world anew.

Jonas asks Adam why they are not on the same page. Adam merely pointed out that Jonas has not yet suffered the pain that he suffered. They merely have different motivations at different stages of their lives. Adult Jonas still tries to defy this right up to when he points a gun at young Noah.

Jonas still doesn’t get it

Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, Adam is referring to when he shoots Martha in front of Jonas thereby “closing a loop” (you keep saying that Adam, what do you mean?) and Martha 2.0 comes to save Jonas. Maybe all this work that Adam has been doing is entirely to make sure that the world Martha 2.0 comes from will exist. The only flaw in this theory is that Adult Jonas would have gone through Martha’s death and therefore should have turned to Adam from the pain but as you can see above, his bearded, older self still defies this. So the trigger-point still lies ahead. Or is Martha 2.0 proof that Adam has already succeeded in his goal of creating a new world? Naaaah, things are never that straightforward in the DARK universe.

Anyway, in the process of creating his new world, Adam has been learning from and trying to build an ever improving time machine: The Chair Noah perfected, Tannhaus’s time machine, the Black Orb that sends them anywhere in time outside the 33 year cycle. This is information Sic Mundus now has. They put them up on a wall in Adam’s chambers.

Granted there’s more information on the wall, but as always they are just never clear enough to make out at this time.

Of all the travellers, Jonas probably travelled the most and through various means of time transportation: the HGT machine, the Black Orb, Martha’s mini ball. Is it too far fetched to think that he also travelled with Noah’s deadly Chair?

The Effect of Time Travel on Jonas

Adam says that his appearance is due to travelling through time a lot. But Claudia seems comparatively okay even on the coroner’s table. At least she doesn’t look like this.

Not really a good way to reinvent yourself, Jonas

It’s possible that Jonas has been through more shit, by and large way more shit than anyone else has in the whole Dark saga, and have done this for much longer than Claudia has.

But I’d like to propose the idea that Jonas had used The Chair that Noah had spent so much time, sweat and blood (not necessarily his own) to perfect…

… in a bid to somehow retrieve or create that dark matter in the Sic Mundus stronghold because no way that thing just came to be on its own accord.

In the process, like the missing kids, Adam got burned or suffered from the effects of radioactivity like what was detected on Claudia’s body by the coroner back in 1954.

Now building all these contraptions would need a lot of resources, time and money. In other words, Adam could not have done all this on his own. So he has to have a team he can trust, mostly made up of Nielsens. This would include Magnus, Bartosz and Franziska.

If these names sound familiar, it’s because they are the people Jonas saved from the apocalypse in the finale of Season 2.

And now that this post has run too long, you’re going to have to go to Part 2 to find out how everybody in Sic Mundus so far is a Nielsen.

Next up Netflix’s DARK Season 2 Explained (Part 2)

A Guide to Understanding Netflix’s DARK (Season 1)

DARK is a sci-fi family drama with plenty of plot twists and revelations. It is a show that requires your full attention so if you are the kind to check your phone a lot while watching a show, skip this. It will leave you scratching your heads often and force you to go back to an earlier part of the episode or even an earlier episode to check and recheck your suspicions.

Netflix’s DARK

It’s also the kind of show that will make you want to draft your own guide – which I did. I have about 6, 7, 8 9 other drafts in open tabs that I had been working on for weeks. My own guide has helped me enjoy the subtleties of this show in unexpected ways.

If you have trouble getting what The OA is about, here’s my guide to understanding the OA Universe and How It Works.

The hours I’ve put into the OA and Black Spot is nothing compared to how I’ve pored over Netflix’s DARK. So no, I’m not going to hold back on the spoilers. That’s on you. If you haven’t watched Season 1, you shouldn’t continue reading beyond this full stop.

Season 1

While Season 1 is supposedly about the dynamics of the four families: Kahnwald, Nielsen, Tiedemann and Doppler; in truth, it is about how Jonas Kahnwald created the black hole through which time travel was made possible in the Winden cave tunnels.

For this to happen, the Winden cave tunnels must become the time travel pathways they are. And to do that, we need (1) Jonas Kahnwald and (2) the device he lugs around.

(1) Jonas Kahnwald

Jonas’s life is a closed loop, and as explained in the show by H.G. Tannhaus, in a closed loop, everything is mutually dependent, the future is dependent on the past and the past is dependent on the future.

Jonas himself is a product of time travel. His father is Mikkel Nielsen from 2019, a boy he actually knew growing up because he goes to school with Magnus, Mikkel’s older brother. And they do hang out together. Or is it did hung out together. (Getting the tenses right is very difficult for this post.)

Although his grandmother, Ines Kahnwald could clearly recognise Mikkel as the young Michael (I mean, it’s a small town, she was bound to have bumped into him since all the kids in Winden go to the same few schools), she did nothing to stop him from disappearing. If she had acted, things would have been very different. But no, she’s in the “things happen for a reason category”.

For this closed loop to happen, his mother Hannah, must end up being with Mikkel/Michael instead of being with Ulrich, the man she has been obsessed with since she was a kid. Otherwise, Jonas wouldn’t come to be.

On top of that, Ulrich must end up with Katharina in order to have Mikkel Nielsen who eventually has Jonas Kahnwald with Hannah. Yup, Ulrich is Jonas’s grandfather and is sleeping with Jonas’s mom, whilst his daughter Martha Nielsen is Jonas’s crush cum aunt. #yikes #ImOverIt

You don’t want to be Jonas.

Even Jonas doesn’t want to be Jonas which was why he went back in time to 1986 to retrieve Mikkel, essentially sacrificing his life to bring his father (or non-father) home.

But Noah can’t have that. He needs the black hole created by the device. So he kidnaps Jonas and puts him in the bunker where he and Helge witness a portal open.

Helge gets thrown into 1986 while Jonas gets thrown into the future, around 33 years after 2019, which makes it 2052. It’s probably there where Jonas turns into the tired-and-sad-looking Adult Jonas (i.e. Season 2) before returning as Adult Jonas to repeat the cycle with young Jonas.

To complete the cycle, Adult Jonas’s plan was to have young Jonas go through what he had gone through so that he would be committed enough to go all the way and attempt to destroy the Winden cave tunnels and break the time loop.

To do that he had to go back to Winden, wait for young Jonas to lose Mikkel, put the right markings on Michael Kahnwald’s map of the Winden Caves, give young Jonas the Geiger counter and light source via Regina, follow him to 1986 and try to convince him to not bring Mikkel back, which would erase both their existence (or is it his existence?), find young Jonas in the bunker and explain to young Jonas who he really is (ie I’m you just older and not particularly wiser). Still with me? Ok, good.

Jonas Kahnwald’s life is a closed loop.

(2) The device

The device which I originally thought was a time machine isn’t really a time machine but one that triggers the formation of a wormhole through which people could time travel. So it’s essentially a wormhole maker.

It was built by H.G. Tannhaus with help from a few characters. Claudia brought him the blueprints back in 1953.

We see that Tannhaus builds it but isn’t really sure what it does. By the end of Season 1 it is also not clear yet who drew this blueprint.

Ulrich’s phone which he found in 1953, helped him figure out the electromagnetic parts of the device. It took technology from 2019 to help him figure out the device, by the time Jonas arrives in 1986 to visit.

Jonas has his own version of this device. It’s broken, so he takes it to H.G. Tannhaus to fix. At the time that this happens, Tannhaus has not even finished building his own version of the device, you know, the one built based on the blueprints given to him by Claudia Tiedemann in 1953.

But Jonas is sure that Tannhaus was the one who built it because the device has his initials on the side.

Can you see H.G. T below the circle?

In bringing his worn-out version of the device to Tannhaus, Jonas helped Tannhaus figure out parts that were missing from the blueprint. This allowed Tannhaus to complete the construction of his brand new machine, which he then gives to Jonas. To destroy.

Despite knowing that Jonas intends to destroy the machine, Tannhaus helps him. Had he decided not to help Jonas, none of this would have happened. Like Ines, Tannhaus could have shut this whole thing down in a heartbeat. But he doesn’t.

“So… it’s my fault?”

To power the device, Jonas retrieves Caesium radioactive isotopes from 1986. He gets this from the barrels of radioactive wastes that were kept by Tiedemann in a truck at the side of the road in an attempt to evade detection.

The waste barrels were placed there because Ulrich suspects that his son is somewhere in Alexander Tiedemann’s power plant. Charlotte makes a search warrant happen.

The search warrant compels Aleksander, chairman at the power plant to remove the barrels from its usual hiding place, and to store them in an unassuming truck in an open parking lot, providing easy access of the radioactive samples inside to Jonas.

Adult Jonas puts the device altogether then activates it right in the middle of the tunnels there, thereby destroying the wormhole.

Except… he doesn’t.

What Jonas Actually Did

For the entire first season, we watch Adult Jonas and Noah do everything to lead Jonas to this point in time. For Jonas, he believes that by destroying the device H.G. Tannhaus built all the time travel that has been the bane of his existence will end.

However, as Noah has explained to Bartosz, Adult Jonas was lied to by Claudia Tiedemann. His actions would not destroy the cave tunnels but instead turn the tunnels into the time travelling pathways that they are.

Instead of ending it, he triggered its beginning.

Young Jonas and Helge were in the bunker (which was right above where Adult Jonas detonates the device inside the cave) albeit in different time periods, 1953 and 1986. A portal opens and and the two see each other across the divide. They touch hands and were sent to different timelines.

Where or when exactly is answered in Season 2.

Time Travel Via The Winden Cave Tunnels

We need to talk about the Winden Cave Tunnels, home to the most rudimentary and painfully slow way to travel through time. You basically open a steel door and crawl through to the other end.

And if that’s not bad enough, its list of destinations is scant – you can only travel between 3 timelines, 2019, 1986 and 1953, and all the timelines are moving along linearly. If you enter on November 11 in 1986 and end up in 2019, the date will still be November 11.

Like Adult Jonas puts it, this isn’t like the DeLorean where you can input a specific time you want to get to. If you get there early, you’re just going to have to wait, like what Adult Jonas and Helge did.

Jonas tries to navigate through the caves using a map he finds in his father’s shed but it wasn’t until Adult Jonas added markings on the map and gave him a light source plus a Geiger Counter that Jonas finally successfully makes his way through to 1986.

In the cave, he comes across an ouroboros handle with a red string tied to it. Its significance is still not clear yet.

A number of characters have gone through the tunnels to get between 1953, 1986 and 2019: Helge, Ulrich and Jonas. While Jonas had help from his older self, Ulrich basically just followed Helge Senior and figured things out on his own. He too stumbled upon the ouroboros ring handle.

To enter the tunnel, they must open a heavy metal door which has a trinity knot sculpted on it.

The tunnel itself is extremely windy despite being underground which is why every time a tunnel door is opened, the cave “roars”. When the door closes behind the person crawling through, there is a loud metal clang that rings through the caves.

The tunnels meet in the centre at a fork where you can go left or right, each leading to one of the three periods. Regardless of which tunnel you take, you leave via the mouth of the Winden Cave.

I’m not sure how Claudia’s dog, Gretchen, Mikkel, Claudia and Noah travelled seeing as how Gretchen can’t open the doors to the tunnel, Mikkel was unconscious and it would be difficult to drag his limp body through the tunnels, whereas Claudia and Noah don’t seem like the crawling type. Ergo it is possible that there is an alternative way to travel.

The chair

The chair is what Adult Jonas calls an early prototype to time travel. It’s housed in a locked room with a teal cartoon-filled wallpaper.

Charlotte would find a remnant of this wallpaper in Helge’s underground bunker, a clue left for us, the audience, to put 2 and 2 together: the two location is one and the same, just from different time periods.

The Chair was built and perfected by Noah, with help from a reluctant Helge who was tasked to abduct the boys to experiment on. It isn’t clear why they chose those boys.

Although we never see Yasin and Mads in the room, we do see Erik being strapped in the chair. As they all ended up with scorched eyes, like Erik did, it’s safe to assume that they all went the same way.

Helge is also seen in the locked room but by the end of Season 1 he had only arrived there via the portal. We don’t know how many lives The Chair has taken (I count 3 so far), but Helge’s isn’t one of them. In watching what happened to him, I’m not sure if Noah and adult Helge are the most evil characters in the show.

That beating was brutal but not enough to snub out his life

All the boys have a red string with a pfennig coin around their necks. Its significance is unclear.

Erik’s
Erik and Yasin’s coins in 1953
Yasin

In 2019, Ulrich would find Helge’s pfennig coin snuggled in his copy of A Journey Through Time. How he got it, and why he is still alive is something for Season 2 (or 3?) to unveil.

Helge’s coin

The boys’ bodies will travel through a time portal, and end up in the bunker, where someone on the other end will retrieve them. All the bodies would have scorched eyes and burst ear drums.

Helge, Tronte and Peter have retrieved bodies from the bunker. They do this based on a schedule provided for them. Helge is told by Noah who to abduct, and which body to move from when to when, whereas Tronte and Peter were given their schedule of when the bodies will appear by Claudia Tiedemann. Little else is known of the origin of the schedule at this point.

So… now what? Off to season 2!

HDIM Reviews: Black Spot Season 2 (2019)

I wrote briefly on Black Spot‘s first season (2017) two weeks ago which was when I first stumbled upon it on Netflix. The only reason I went into it was because Season 2 was slated for a return on June 14th (it has cometh and goneth), and anything that gets a Season 2, usually features a pretty solid Season 1.

A piano in the woods. Why not?

And I was right. Black Spot aka Zone Blanche is one of the more stranger, non-English speaking shows on Netflix right now, stranger than Osmosis and Perfume. You got a bit of the supernatural, a bit of police procedural drama, plenty of secrets and murder and whodunits. What’s not to love?

Read more: HDIM Reviews Osmosis (2019)

At the end of Season 1, we finally find out who is behind the disappearance and murder of Marion Steiner: police-officer-in-training, Camille.

Can’t even hold a gun right but she can kill ya

Camille was under the Gerald Steiners’s payroll (isn’t everyone?) and had accidentally caused the death of Marion, who had been collecting evidence to bring down her own grandfather’s schemes. Bertrand Steiner, Marion’s father who had been holding out for her return was understandably heartbroken, and an absolute total wreck for most of Season 2.

Guided by Roman, a member of the environmental protest group, Children of Arduina, Cora Weiss, daughter to Captain Laurene Weiss, had unknowingly asked for Camille’s help to retrieve a USB drive from where they had found Marion’s body. The drive contains important documents that will help Prosecutor Frank Siriani nail the Steiners. In the process, Cora was almost murdered by Camille herself.

Cora’s mother, Laurene was not so lucky. Camille shot her pointblank then left her for dead in the forest. Her death was particularly brutal. She was shot at close range, then dragged like an animal and thrown off into the woods to bleed out.

Laurene dies, or does she?

I’m not sure why Camille was particularly cold-blooded against Laurene. Laurene had never been mean to Camille nor do they have bad history of any sort. Perhaps Camille just wants to make sure she gets the job done, right?

Except she doesn’t! While Camille herself could not escape the deadly antlers of a dead deer…

I thought it would be crows who would get her tbh

… Laurene, owing to her special relationship with the forest, got to return from the realm of the dead…

… with help from the Celtic horned-god, Cernunnos himself.

*purrs*

When I wrote the review for Season 1, I did mention that the show never really fully committed to the supernatural genre. I like that angle very much. Instead of waving away logic and reason with stories about horned beings with supernatural powers prowling the forest floor, Black Spot at most only teases the possibility, but refuses to fall in.

Hence, it does a very good job explaining what actually happened to Laurene and why she had been so eager to find the sanctuary where she had been chained for 3 days. It turns out that she was not alone in those three days. No, I’m not referring to her kidnapper being nearby. I meant that she had a fellow captor who like her was chained to the rocks for three days, possibly more (he had mentioned he had been there for three days before he decided to make contact with her).

Fellow captor, Sylvain Tessier

Possibly due to the trauma she had suffered, and maybe due to the blood loss from cutting two of her fingers off, Laurene’s memory had blocked out the existence of the other boy: 18-year-old Sylvain Tessier.

In Season 2, she would only regain her memory of him during a hallucination she suffered from, having fallen off the cliff into the very place she had been held against her will two decades earlier, the place she dubbed The Sanctuary.

How terrifying is that thought? To have totally forgotten a fellow kidnapped victim once you yourself have gotten away. Any sane person would do all they can to conduct a rescue, which explains why Laurene had been searching the forests on her nightly walks for the sanctuary. She may not remember why she was doing it, but she knows it is important that she does.

And that’s not the only surprise this show has for us.

In the season finale of the second season, the people of Villefranche had organised a hunt for the culprit, who had been freaking everyone out, leaving bloody spines from deer(?) in the houses of the townsfolk…

A calling card?

… and at least one in a cradle. If you want to know the story behind that, you just have to watch the show.

The Mayor gets special treatment

The thing you need to know at this point is that the townspeople are turning the tables on the so-called horned god and they are bringing pretty big guns to get the job done. And where there are guns and men, there will be accidents, and people getting hurt. It was a total mess.

The good news is that Cernunnos himself also bleeds! He’s not a god, after all! And who got him? Good old Hermann of course.

Hermann’s a good shot but only manage to wound Cernunnos.

Laurene catches up to the wounded stag-god and figures out that there is a man behind the ghostly horned creature who had been her stalker cum saviour – and that man is none other than Sylvain himself. #whaaaaaaat?

But frankly though, who else could it be? Of course it had to be Sylvain, her fellow captor who was almost her age, and had not been seen for twenty odd years, which makes him her age. Weird things happen to people who have been isolated from society for long periods of time. I’d like to see them explain that low, deep purring sound the horned god always makes when he is nearby though. #creepyAF

But wait, there’s more!

Horned god’s blood sample not only proves that he and the wood man Laurene had been looking for for twenty years are but the same person, Sylvain. It also reveals that Sylvain actually shares a 50% match with Laurene, which means he is family, and a close family member at that, perhaps a pure sibling.

This would explain a few things, namely why he saved her at the end of Season 1 and had been protective of her whenever she is in the vicinity of the forest. Don’t forget, he had also attacked the man who had been chasing Roman and Cora, so he is at least aware of who Cora is.

This also explains why Laurene has been seeing clues that the animals have been leaving her all throughout Season 1. They may have been sent by Sylvain or there is still a special connection Laurene has with the forest that the writers have not explored enough in just two short seasons.

Oh, by the way, Sabine is totally connected to this. Definitely. She had spoken highly of the forest and its protective nature throughout Season 1, and in Season 2, Episode 4 Moonstruck, we actually got to see her face-to-face with Cernunnos over a camp fire.

I wonder if Sabine brings alcohol whenever she meets up with Cernunnos

Now, it is possible that Sylvain and Sabine are related, possibly even mother and son, because it was mentioned to Cora that Sabine had to sacrifice or had lost her son years ago. Not much was said beyond this but safe to say, Sabine knows more the stag god than she had been telling anyone.

You know what this means, right? This means that Sabine may also be related to Laurene, since both women have connections with Sylvain.

Can you see the resemblance?

And this also means one more thing. That Sabine may know who Laurene and Sylvain’s kidnapper was. Clearly Sylvain had not been the one who had taken Laurene when he was a mere teenager. He himself had been chained with Laurene for days. They had only each other for company. Who had taken them? Sabine may know. Or Sabine may have been the kidnapper.

I don’t know. I’m just speculating because this is what the show makes you do. It makes you see connections in places where there might not have been a connection at all. I guess we will have to wait for Season 3 to find out.

Oh yeah, Siriani’s got a girlfriend, Hermann misses Camille and had difficulty letting go of her to the point of being able to see her, Teddy Bear almost got killed from falling off a cliff and having a branch break his fall by protruding through his gut (I don’t know what Villefranche feeds their police crew but they are very hard to kill – well, some of them), Bernard is expecting another baby but his wife decided that she is tired of being the third wheel and has checked out of the relationship, people are still killing other people in Villefranche in very interesting and weird ways – all in all, Season 2 is still a fun watch. Here’s to hoping for more weird, dark and creepy fun in Season 3 for Black Spot (Zone Blanche).

You might also like: The OA or You.

New: A Guide to Understanding DARK: Season 1

HDIM Reviews: Dear Ex (2019)

I first watched Dear Ex two weeks ago. I had to watch it in bits and pieces in between my household chores and my mothering duties. It made me feel many things. Since then, I have watched it twice more, once with my husband, once on my own in its entirety just because I loved the film so much despite its eyebrow-raising plot.

A man dies. Instead of naming his wife or his teenage son as the beneficiary of his insurance money, he names his male lover as the receiver of the substantial payout. Chaos inevitably ensued.

It’s in Mandarin, you may need subtitles like I did

The story starts with Liu San-Lian banging at the door of Jay, her husband’s lover. Teenage son, Song Cheng-Xi watches from the sidelines then serves as one of the most unwilling film narrators on the face of the film industry, to the whole fiasco.

You would expect the third-party, home-wrecking Jay to want to get out of this mess as fast as possible. But he stays, and he tolerates the mother-son duo, even when the son shows up at his door one day, refusing to go home to his overbearing and pushy mother (to be fair, she had thrown out his keepsakes from his estranged father). Multiple times through the show, Jay reminds the boy to be respectful to his mother. On the surface, it’s a Chinese thing, but you will eventually realise why Jay does this.

Young Song Cheng Xi depicts his mother as a woman who seems to think the whole world owes her something. We see her depicted as a difficult woman who is always screaming at her son for being late for school, over bad grades in school, over missing his dead(beat) father, etc.

Liu San Lien – woman, mother, wife

From the get-go, my husband of 10+ years asked me if she reminds me of anyone. I promise him I’d break his legs if he doesn’t shut up and watch the rest of the movie. But my better half is right, I do see myself and every other Asian woman in Cheng Xi’s difficult mother – albeit a much toned down version of it.

The guilt I throw at my children at the dinner table is but a small percentage of what she throws at her son, but I recognise the familiar script.

I also recognise the heartbreak and anger of a mother when she fears her children is not trying enough, and the tears that come afterwards – something the son depicts as Hollywood-level acting skills (I’m surprised he didn’t refer to the drama queens of Taiwan TV series who can shed a tear in the blink of an eye #lostopportunity).

But Liu San Lien is a mother through and through, even when she is picking a fight with the “mistress”, she makes sure that her son has something to drink before she enters the house of a total stranger to battle him to the death. Did you notice that? It’s one of the many nuances I enjoy from this show.

Despite the betrayal she feels from her cheating husband’s choice of her alternative version, she would still clean the house of her husband’s gay lover just so her son won’t have an allergic reaction to the dust mites and overall unhygienic living conditions her son is subjecting himself to.

All it takes is a woman’s touch

And for all that she does for her son, after all the sacrifices she had made for her dead husband’s son, the naive boy tells her, “I didn’t ask you to (sacrifice for me).”

And you wonder why there are Tiger Moms all over Asia.

Some of the best scenes in the show are always when these three are on-screen at the same time. Take for instance the back alley conversation when the mother implores her son to go home with her while at the same time leaving instructions to the custodian to watch out for her son (wake him up for school at 6AM) despite said custodian’s pleas (for the love of God, take him home already, lady!).

I don’t know how they could all keep a straight face through the hilarious exchange.

The only scene more hilarious than that one is when Cheng Xi attempts to jump off Jay’s balcony. The son refuses to come down unless his mother vacates the premises. Stepmom demands the son come down and go home with his mother. The mother bickers-pleas-bickers-pleas with stepmom, because.

When he finally gets the boy down and starts roughing him up for being an ass, the mother steps in to stop him. Jay loses it and then lets it loose at Mrs Song before she pulls out the “curse on my family” card (it’s a Chinese thing).

He shouts at her to take the boy to a temple to pray (again, a Chinese thing) but she leaves without the boy because he’s a child but still too big to drag home. She passes a temple on the way, and stops to consider.

(1) The whole scene is both emotional for a mother and hilarious for everyone else.

(2) If you ever wonder why aunties look like aunties (unkempt, out-of-place, tired, dehydrated), then it’s because they put up with a lot of shit from home. Your shit.

Ok, enough about the mother-themed analysis. Let’s look at this from other angles.

You’re Breaking My Heart

This movie deals with a lot of heavy plot lines and it isn’t until the story reaches the husband’s story before we fully understand what is happening.

I have to say that if you want to watch the magic unfold on its own, it’s best to stop reading and watch the show.

Spoilers ahead. No holds barred.

Cheating husband Song Cheng-Yuan died from the big C, liver. While he was dying, he decided to embrace his true love, Jay, whom he had loved long before he had been together with Liu San Lien.

17 years ago, they broke up so he could have a “normal” marriage

A particularly poignant conversation Jay had with his dead lover’s soul dances around why he could not tell his mother about them. It is a talk that speaks of love and understanding and oddly enough, responsibility to our parents and how it is ok to lie to them so long as we do not make them sad (it’s a Chinese thing). Things are put succinctly, made simple, made pure, all coming from a place of love. It’s a conversation you should watch played out as it is.

I don’t understand why she’d be sad if I love you.

So technically, Jay wasn’t a home-wrecker. Liu San Lien and a judgemental society held Cheng-Yuan hostage for years, until cancer forced him to choose once and for all. With the little time he has left, he chooses to deal with the consequences of treatment and therapy with Jay instead of with his wife and son. I don’t know about you but I call that kindness.

Cancer is a bitch

Jay does a lot more than just take care of Cheng-Yuan during his time of need. He devotes his time, love and part of his liver to the ailing man, and even takes him to school to watch Cheng Xi walk home from school. And to get part of his liver into Cheng-Yuan, that’s going to need some money, right? Jay took care of that too, borrowing money from loan sharks and getting a leg broken in the process.

And there you have it. The insurance money is to repay Jay’s debt to the loan shark since he borrowed it for Cheng-Yuan’s surgery anyways. Looks like Jay isn’t such a bad guy after all, and Cheng-Yuan made all the wrong decisions because society would not allow him to make all the right ones.

So who is the bad guy?

I have always rolled with the idea that in real life, there are no good guys and there are no bad guys. We’re all both good and bad. It just depends on what situations we are boxed in, and perspective: who is telling the story. So from this perspective, is Liu San Lien the bad guy in Dear Ex?

After all, she incessantly harps after Jay over the insurance money, demanding that he returns it to her son. So often does she does this that it terribly irks her son.

Right after this scene, she cries at the altar saying how unfair life is, then becomes determined to tell Jay’s mother that her son is gay. And she does it, because what does she have to lose? She’s out to draw blood and draw blood, she will.

But again, let me remind you, Liu San Lien is a mother through and through. She never asked for the money for herself. She asked it for her ungrateful ingrate of a son. And you think being told your son is gay is hurtful? How about when your own husband tells you that he likes men and your whole marriage is a lie?

The moment Liu San Lien lost her husband

Her impromptu therapy session would unpack all the sense of betrayal and hurt she has been carrying around throughout the whole movie, culminating in the ultimate one-liner that would break a million hearts.

A lesser woman would have completely lost it, but not a mother, and definitely not Liu San Lien. If there is no love lost, that’s okay. She has a son, a gift from her gay husband. And even if he can’t love her and her son, the least he could do is fund his son’s studies post-death.

But you don’t take debts to your grave, and you don’t let the living pay your debts for you. And at the end of the day, Liu San Lien, with that big forgiving heart of hers, did her wifely duty and carried out her dead husband’s final wish.


At this point if you still plan to watch Dear Ex – and why wouldn’t you? – know that you can still enjoy the show even if you know how it is going to play out. There are plenty more hilarious and heartwarming surprises to look forward to. So grab a box of tissues unless your heart is made of stone, and just Press Play.

HDIM Reviews: Black Spot (2017-)

This was recently added to Netflix and because I saw that the second season is landing on June 14, that’s always an indication of a good show. Within the first minute, you will see a man fight for his life in a lone spot in the middle of nowhere. More precisely, near Villefranche, somewhere in France. Yes this is a French show. Cue the subtitles.

So welcoming

Welcome to Villefranche, a small town nestled in the midst of a dense, towering forest which cuts the small town folks off from the rest of the world via phone or satellite, i.e. Black Spot or Zone Blanche.

Major/Captain Laurene Weiss is the sheriff in town. The only two things you should know about her is she only has eight fingers and she is tough as nails.

Frank Siriani, the man who collapsed (from anaphylactic shock due to an allergy to a bee sting, what an anti-climax, right?) when the show began is a prosecutor sent to get answers from Captain Weiss on why the murder rate coming from this small town of Villefranche is six times the average murder rate of the whole country.

Over the next eight episodes, Major Weiss and her small police crew of three other officers will solve one murder per episode with Siriani in tow.

This small crew gets hurt a lot, with bullets

In the meantime, the town is looking for Mayor Bertrand Steiner’s daughter who had been missing for a few months. Many, including Major Weiss who has some history with Mayor Steiner, as well as Weiss’ daughter, Cora who is Marion’s best friend, believe that the poor teenager, Marion is lost or kept against her will in the deep, dark forest. They race against time to locate the missing girl.

Marion Steiner six months before she went missing

It has been a while since I’ve watch police procedural shows that focuses more on the crimes rather than the police’s ability and methods to solve said crimes. Most of the crimes were spontaneous, random or crimes of passion. In short, very human.

Villefranche is sold as a very small, isolated town where if you are in trouble, you can only depend on yourself, and sometimes, your neighbours, to get you out. The interesting thing about this is that the townspeople never really need outside help. You have to watch the show to find out why.

Grandma can shoot like a cowboy

At the same time, there is a lingering understand the people have with the woods that isolate and protect them from the outside world. At times the show tips towards the supernatural side but never fully commits, well, at least not until the finale itself.

I’m looking forward to June 14 when Season 2 returns with Laurene Weiss and the rest of the Villefranche villagers to wreak havoc on my TV screen.

If you prefer something with more colour and/or blood, check out Love, Death, Robots.

A Guide to the OA Universe and How It Works

If you haven’t read my review on the OA, this post is not for you. If you have read it, and watched the show and are trying to understand what the heck is going on, let’s jump right in. There won’t be OA theories or Easter eggs or guessing of any sort. This guide will contain only what you can see from the show and some questions that we need to KIV for future seasons.

At the time of this writing, the OA has only reached Season 2. Season 3 has not been confirmed. There is word that the writers have plans for the storyline to play out in five seasons. Let’s hope the love for it won’t fizzle out before they get all five seasons.

How to Watch the OA

Watching the show can be frustrating, particularly if you weren’t paying attention. I had a hard time following what is happening where and how until I rewatched several of the episodes multiple times, looking for different things every single time. You’d be surprised with what you find.

To watch the OA is to watch magic happen. To be precise, it is to watch sleight of hand happen, like that moonwalking bear awareness test. While your primary concern is for one thing, something else of significance is being revealed to you at the same time.

You’d have to rewatch a scene multiple times to realise its importance. And because that is time-consuming, I did it for you in this guide to the OA Universe and how it works.

The Movements

Part 1 (Season 1) recounts OA’s 7 years in captivity where she meets Homer, Scott, Renata and Rachel, five other beings who have survived Near-Death Experiences or NDEs enough times to not be human. Apparently they are angels on Earth, and OA is the original, hence Original Angel, OA. One of the things they learn from their NDEs are the movements.

Practising movements in their cage

There are five movements, each would come from an NDE. OA obtained the first movement from consuming a bird in her NDE with Khatun. Khatun says that OA will never escape her captivity without that bird. In return, she takes OA’s father and any chance of reconciliation.

Homer would get the second movement after swallowing a sea anemone from his NDE. Together with OA’s movement, the movements could heal and bring dead people back to life.

Scott gives them the third when he actually dies accidentally but was brought back to life by OA and Homer. He doesn’t mention consuming anything alive in his NDE. Instead, he was taught his movements by an “older, heavyset” woman in his NDE.

Renata gives them the fourth movement (Part 1, Ep 6, 3 minutes in) and her guardian tells her that one of the side effects of inter-dimensional travel is amnesia. OA and Homer carve the movements onto their backs to prevent themselves forgetting the movements.

This is one example of where the sleight of hand I mentioned above occurs. Using scars to remember the movements in order to counter amnesia would serve pointless because only their consciousness travels, not their bodies. This note on amnesia however explains why Homer could not remember OA for most of Part 2. OA will probably suffer from this again in Part 3 (in Dimension #3).

Evelyn, the Sheriff’s wife with ALS gives them the fifth movement, ironically given to her when she suffered an NDE as a young girl.

This means she has held on to the last movement the longest. The first four movements were only made known to the group in the seven years they were in captivity. In her NDE, Evelyn swallowed a moth and was told by her guardian to help two captive angels. OA and Homer would cure her ALS long enough for them to give her the fifth movement. She mentions that travelling is a matter of will.

How Inter-Dimensional Travel Works

In Part 2, we get a look at how inter-dimensional travel actually works.

OA tells BBA and the group that the alternate worlds or dimensions are right on top of each other, created from the different decisions you make hence the term “forking paths” (Part 1, Ep 6).

NDEs are how you travel between the dimensions, temporarily. The movements are what allow you to travel there permanently. You get to choose the type of life you want to live, basically a life where you made all the “right” choices (but what if the people who travel want to travel to different dimensions like how Hap wants to travel to a dimension where OA loves him back? There lies the issue.)

Homer actually showed us how this could occur in Part 1, Ep4 (55 minutes in). In his NDE, he was on all fours, moving through a crawlspace in the ceiling. An arm reached for him but couldn’t get a hold of him. He falls through the ceiling into a place where two urinals are out of order. He grabs a coat and runs down a white corridor.

And in his underwear

He arrives at the place where there is a fish tank and takes out a sea anemone which he promptly swallowed. OA tells him to eat anything alive in his NDE. He then comes out of his NDE.

Right before his induced NDE, he was almost caught listening into one of Hap’s audio recording of one of his earlier NDEs (51 minutes in). Homer listens into a ruckus where someone asks him what his name is, then later tells him, “your name is not Homer”, then asks him whether he knows Dr Roberts.

This would line up with Part 2, Episode 2 (31 minutes in) when OA’s session with Dr Roberts is interrupted by the receptionist saying a “pretty fast” patient is running around in his underwear and a “pink coat”. They’re also experiencing a “plumbing issue”. Earlier, OA convinced Dr Robert to check through a hole in the ceiling to see if anyone’s crawling through, hence the arm Homer had to avoid back in Part 1 during his NDE.

Homer #2 checking for Homer #1 in the crawlspace

Based on this, it’s safe to say that Old Night’s rendering of OA’s NDE in the plane is so coming true in Dimension 3. In Part 2, Ep 4 Old Night says that in the “future”, OA would forget who she is as she will forget her true nature. He will send her there (by killing her for 37 seconds) so she can reawaken her future self to her mission (Oh, so she is on a mission of some kind).

She asks Old Night if she would survive, and it says it is up to her brother. Apparently, in every dimension, her brother is sent by someone (a she) to protect OA. In Dimension 1, Elias the FBI psychiatrist says that he has been sent to help her. In Dimension 2, Karim saves her by cutting Old Night’s tentacle off her neck. Those are your options for OA’s brother. (Question: if OA is the original, does that make her brother also an OA?)

In OA’s octopus-induced NDE, she is in a turbulent flight. She climbs out from a space under the toilet. The pilot has a British accent announcing their venturing into turbulence. She approaches someone with short blonde hair, in a jacket with white floral patterns on a dark green jacket.

Before the lady turns around to see OA, OA is revived by Karim. Old Night is implied to be no more with a chopped off tentacle on the floor (the tree Internet would somewhat confirm this loss).

For Part 3 and beyond, we would probably be visiting Scott’s NDE. In Part 2, Ep 7 he describes his NDE as a place with blinding lights, in a warehouse, there are cameras, and Hap and OA are being all chummy-like, and that Hap spoke with a British accent. Scott says that he is given the third movement by an older, heavyset woman while he was there. Because this is his NDE, this version of Scott is probably there temporarily.

In the Season 2 finale, we see OA suffer a fall and Hap takes her wig off to reveal a pixie cut. Could floral jacket lady be herself? Pfffft, absolutely.

Brit suffers a lot of head injuries for this show

But hold up, if OA’s NDE is the one scnee on the plane, what happened to the ones Hap induced in her under lab conditions. You know, the Rings of Saturns? Remember that? Could an angel have more than one NDE?

Who Can Travel This Way?

By the end of Season 2, you can travel this way no matter if you are an angel (Homer, OA, Scott, Renata, Rachel) or not one (Hap, Steve). Unless of course, Hap and Steve are angels too, or they could be a whole other category that has yet to be revealed.

OA’s tribe?

It is possible that Elias, the FBI psychiatrist who had been helping OA in Season 1 is a fellow traveller. He tells BBA and crew that he had been “sent” to help “her”. We can only assume the her here refers to OA at this point. But clearly, he isn’t from this dimension if he had to be “sent over”.

He tells the group that all the dimensions share the same space, which is why BBA can sense the presence of people through space. Apparently making different choices may change who you are, but it won’t change where buildings are or will be built across dimensions. #shrug

Let’s not forget Elodie, even though I’m sure Elodie is in another class altogether, one who knows what is happening but for some reason would not intervene nor tell OA and Hap what is happening. She’s so interesting, she deserves her own section.

Elodie the Traveler

Elodie strives to be “fair” to both Hap and OA as she explains how inter-dimensional travel works to them, like a messenger or a impartial referee or mentor would. Elodie tells Hap travellers like them will suffer from tinnitus. She knows many things like who Dr Percy really is (she senses fellow travellers), and that he loves OA.

Doesn’t stop her from sleeping with Hap though

She doesn’t know where he came from, she asked him this much when they first meet in the sauna in Part 2: Ep 4 (14 minutes in). She tells him that there are many ways to travel, and while the method is not important, the “fuel” is. For some reason, the fuel is related to them having sex.

One important idea that she gave him though was the dancing robots. (It totally makes sense! This way you can travel whenever, wherever you are. How does she get an endless supply of this though, now that’s a good question I’d like answered.)

She planned her checkout so well that she had called emergency services about a woman who is in a coma. They arrive right when she travels out of her current body. Note the tinnitus right before she collapses.

Elodie checks out once the five small robots do the movements

While we’re on the subject, here’s a problem that has been nibbling at me. Elodie checks out of her body in Part 2, Ep 5 right, but she reappears to speak to OA in Part 2, Ep 7 … in the same body.

How does this work? Isn’t she supposed to be in a coma two episodes before, around the time Karim and OA attempts the house for the first time? If you were in a coma, you probably won’t be released from the hospital fast enough.

Or are we seeing Elodie the way OA and Hap is seeing her? She said that she found herself in a young actress’s body once. Does this mean that she might enter a body who is not hers when she travels across dimension? And if that is the case, are we seeing Elodie the way she looks now because she appeared to Hap and OA in this form, whilst everybody else sees her in the form of the shell, the body she currently inhabits in whichever dimension she is in? Hopefully Season 3 and beyond will have answers to this.

Elodie has high hopes for OA

Back to Elodie’s meeting with OA, she tells OA to basically integrate herself with Nina. And she explains that OA cannot escape Hap because the bonds between some people are too powerful. OA, Hap and Homer are all “travelling together”. When OA protests by saying she doesn’t want to have anything to do with Hap, Elodie says some part of OA wants to travel with Hap. Why this is so is probably fodder for future episodes.

She adds that what happens in one dimension affects and influences the other dimensions, like echoes. To leave an echo, is therefore very dangerous. OA may lose sight of herself, or of Homer, and therefore she needs Hap who Elodie describes as a shadow. “Who has no shadow, has no will to live.” So far this isn’t helping, so I’m just gonna let it go.

But I’d like to note that Hap, due to his obsession with NDEs, was the one who made this whole thing happen. Sure, he killed a colleague, Audrey, the sheriff and his wife, and the angels multiple times in a controlled setting (creepy AF), but he did bring the five of them together in this dimension and probably in all other alternative dimensions as well due to their strong bonds.

Perhaps that’s what Elodie meant when she says Hap is connected to OA and she could not (should not?) escape him. Once that bond between OA and Hap has been broken, the whole inter-dimensional travel thingie would probably cease. Either that or as Elodie puts it, events conspired to bring them all together. We’ll have to wait and see.

The House Is a Portal

If you can’t travel like OA, Homer, Hap or Elodie however, you’re just gonna have to be content with using the house as a portal. That’s how Michelle went “invisible” in the first place, she stepped out of the window. When the “Buck” version of her in Dimension #3 returns through the window, Michelle awakens in Dimension #2. She experienced travel through the house.

As explained by Karim in Part 2, Ep 4, the House on Nob Hill was built by a rich engineer in 1910 for his wife who is a medium. Pierre Ruskin and Nina Azarova would buy it two years before the events of Part 2.

In Part 2, Ep 5 (17 minutes in), we learn more about the house through a recording by Pierre Ruskin. The current house had been built in 1910 after an earthquake and fire tore down the mansion that was there. When trying to lay the foundation, the engineer and his wife discovered a spring.

The spring was a holy site to the Ohlone tribe; the water gave the shamans a “God’s eye view”. The engineer decided to protect the spring by building a house that serves as a puzzle (because why do something the easy way when you could do it the hard way?). The puzzles inside the house is said to be based on the wife’s dreams. Once the puzzles were completed, the husband wanted to attempt the puzzles himself but the wife protested. He did it anyway, as husbands are wont to do, and the wife found him collapsed near the rose glass window in the attic. He fell into a coma then died in his sleep.

In Ruskin’s recording he mentioned that that reason the house was a puzzle was to weed out the unworthy who would be trapped and destroyed or something like that. Solve the puzzle and you receive some sort of revelation behind the rose glass window. When the mention of the “revelation behind the glass window” became an option, I’m not really clear since the first person to have come across this revelation was the engineer himself and he couldn’t tell anyone since he collapsed and remained in a coma until his death. #whatgives?

Anyways, Karim makes his way through the fake bed room and came across a miniature version of the house, which is the exact replica of the real-life version of the house they are inside of. Outside the miniature house is a large, er… miniature tree. Could the tree be a puzzle as well?

At this point in time, OA actually reaches the large tree portion of the house, climbs out of the house through an open window, down the branches of said tree outside the window and falls through the ground. She is caught by the roots of the tree, and a conversation of the arboreal kind commences.

Turns out Nina Azarova is a medium who can speak to giant octopuses and trees (yay, coincidences) – just go with it. The tree, like Old Night the Octopus tells OA that she is running out of time and needs to form a tribe to survive what is coming.

In the meantime, Karim observes the miniature house and opens the rose glass window. Water pours out. What could this mean? (The attic is somewhere where there is water) Eventually, Karim gets to the attic in his second attempt, after being spurred on by writings at the back of a door, by going through the locked gate submerged in water, at the bottom of the well.

He escapes with Fola, and returns with the FBI in tow, but not only does he not find the miniature house, he also couldn’t locate the hall of mirrors where he found Fola. We also see OA sprawled under a not very large tree and like Karim, she awakens out of her trance when she splashes her face with water.

What have they awakened from? Apparently, the hospital discovered that Fola and Karim were poisoned with mercury sulphide which would explained the hallucinations Karim saw in the house: the miniature house which disappeared, the ridiculously large spaces they thought they were in, the people hiding in underground holes, the hall of mirrors where he found Fola, old and withered, etc.

The mercury sulphide had come from the spring, and it triggered trances in native Americans who were exposed to the gases, which was why no one would build there, except the engineer and his medium wife. It’s possible that the engineer lapsed into a coma because of the excessive mercury sulphide levels he had been exposed to as he underwent the puzzles in the house. His wife was spared the vapours because she found him in the attic without going through the puzzle areas of the house.

This might explain why when Karim found Liam, Liam jumped off the second floor of the house onto the concrete below.

He must have pretty high dosages of mercury sulphide poisoning in his system that caused him to go cuckoo. You know what else he has? A seed inside his brain accessible through his ear. I’m not sure why Michelle, Karim and Fola doesn’t. Or maybe they do.

The Map of the Multiverse

We learn how the movements work – two times to heal a body, five times to travel, a minimum of 5 participants is required – in Part 1. In Part 2, Ep 8 (17 minutes in) Hap tells us that, “every human mind contains the multiverse, an actual garden of forking paths within us all, just waiting to be fertilised”. He adds that he didn’t do all this and that the house did. So… the house put seedlings inside people? How does it choose who gets a seedling and who gets to walk away?

Essentially, the map of the multiverse is formed by the seedlings inside Liam, Scott, French, Jesse and Steve. The seed grows vast and far-reaching, like a tree map would, filled with its own forking branches, growing flowers at the tip of each branch.

By consuming the petals from these flowers, Hap says that they never need to jump into the darkness again. He can clearly see where he is going next. But can he choose where to go? Or are the choices just togo or don’t go?

Look at me, a professor who puts glowing petals picked off corpses into my mouth

Hap then lures OA out into the garden where he has his own versions of mega dancing robots (this sounds like an anime now) do the movements to send them to the third dimension. How Hap, who is not an engineer, can build robots like this so quickly and perfectly is not addressed.

In BBA’s dimension, she, Angie, French, Buck and Steve do the same movements manually.

OA is raised high up into the air, right when Karim arrives at the rose stained glass window to see her float in the air. Her body mimics her safety harness breaking, she falls down to the ground, and completes her transition to the third dimension.

Or… has OA already transitioned before Karim saw her float in mid-air? I mean she could be “floating” not because she is an angel but because she is being pulled up with a harness on a movie set. This would explain her body flipping over when that dove dove right into her, as well as her fall and ensuing head injury in the movie set she was in.

Karim is only there as a spectator and to bring home the realisation that he and everybody else in his world are but characters inside a film, living life as dictated by writers and a film crew. I’m not sure why that revelation would make people go insane though. Real life isn’t really that much better.

Steve collapses in his dimension. Hap crosses safely, his ears ringing because of his travelling. They all meet back at the ambulance. Karim sees Buck in Buck attire, calls out to her as Michelle. She responds and crawls back into the round window and returns to her comatose body. Wait, does this mean that we won’t see Buck or Michelle in Dimension 3?

What to Expect in Season 3

Let’s see: British Hap as OA’s husband, Scott’s NDE where he receives the third movement, OA doesn’t believe that she is OA, remembers her mission when OA as Nina Azarova visits her in an NDE on a flight, Homer’s turn to try to find her and convince of what’s happening, Steve as a wild card, another brother to protect her in Dimension 3, a reveal of Renata’s (or someone’s) NDE as fodder for Season 4 because we don’t have the luxury of hiding tree-map-ridden bodies in pools, Elodie may return with more cryptic clues, Elias might resurface with his creepy look one more time, and preferably some answers to the following questions:

1) If NDEs are an insight into where they can travel to, how do they decide which of the five people’s NDE will they all arrive at? How does OA arrive at the same place as the rest of the group when she leaves much later than they do?

2) How do they arrive at Scott’s NDE when Scott isn’t part of the group who is doing the movement? Are the destinations pre-planned? By whom?

3) Where do I get one of those dancing robots?

4) Will OA’s lab-induced NDE in Part 1 at the “rings of Saturn” be addressed?

5) Do all of the bodies die when they make the jump or do they get stuck in a coma like what Elodie suggests? Who is Elodie really?

6) Why are Homer and Prairie’s movements obtained from the animals they eat but Scott’s was taught to him by someone?

7) What’s up with old-timey Homer selling sticks and the old lady who sells fresh skin (they look too fresh to be from corpses)? The actress portraying the old lady is also the sheriff’s wife. Does her dual role have significance? Or are they just rehashing a darn good actress?

8) Why did Scott collapse inside the house? Why does he have a seedling out his ear like the others in the multiverse garden? How does the house select who gets a seedling?

9) Old Night and the trees speak of something of urgency and that time is not on OA’s side. What is this thing they speak of? Khatun tells OA something similar back in Part 1, Ep 4, that all “five of them” must work together as one to avert a great evil.

Until the next season!

HDIM Reviews: The OA

The OA is one of the most polarising shows out there. This means you either love it or hate it, there’s no in-between. For me, I both love and hate it. Can you blame me? It’s a show that’s easy to hate. Most of the time you do not understand what is happening until much, much later. It’s both annoying, and rewarding if you stick it out to the end, of course. The issue now is can it survive long enough to complete the rest of the run.

If you are new to the OA, you need to understand that this is a show that will test your patience and your faith multiple times. After Season 1 was released in 2016, it took them until 2019 to release Season 2. I just want to put this out here to let you know the sort of waiting time you might have to endure. So far Season 1 and 2 have eight 45-minute long episodes each.

If doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you might want to check out Line of Duty.

Has to be said: Spoilers abound!

Brit Marling stars as OA, which stands for… nope, too early. Let’s start at the beginning. This lady who is stuck in a hospital bed is Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling). She went missing 7 years ago and her parents, Abel and Nancy Johnson, had been looking for her ever since.

Prairie Johnson, missing for the past 7 years comes home.

When they met her in hospital, she couldn’t recognise them, mostly because when she was growing up with them, she was blind. And now, she could see. The rest of this otherwise mostly uneventful pilot episode would be about her adjusting to life at home again whilst fending off attempts by her parents or the authorities to figure out where she had been all those years.

Prairie is visited by her parents

Things pick up in episode 2 when she started to tell the story about her life before she came to live with Abel and Nancy, her adoptive parents, as well as her kidnapping. She would tell it to a group of five other people who she hopes will help her with an important task later.

This storytelling exercise would take place across several nights, in an abandoned house. The other five participants must leave the front door of their house open. Why this is so, has never been mentioned, much like many of the other loose threads sprinkled all over this show.

As for her backstory: her mother died at childbirth, leaving only her father and her. They came into a lot of money which made life for them in Russia rather dangerous. She almost died in a bus accident which took away her eyesight, a bargain she struck with a Khatun, a representation of Death(?). She returns to her life as a blind girl.

I wonder how they did this scene.

Fearing a reprisal, her father sent her to the US to stay with her aunt, for her safety. Despite promises to join her later, he dies in the background and the money stops coming. Her aunt takes her out of school.

To make money, her aunt runs a baby-selling syndicate, which is where Abel and Nancy comes in. When they meet up for the exchange, instead of the boy they were going to buy, Nancy asked for the little blind girl instead. They made the adoption legal and named the little Russian girl, Prairie.

OA as a little girl.

On certain nights, Prairie would suffer from nose bleeds after having night terrors and cryptic nightmares. She would spew Russian and walk around with a knife in her hand. Her adoptive parents took her to a psychiatrist who advised them to keep her under medication, all the way to her 21st birthday. She resents her parents for this, like any teenager would.

She eventually runs away to meet up with her father, whom she believes have been sending her messages in her dreams as to where and when to meet up.

Instead of meeting her father, she is abducted by a charming professor who has an obsession with near-death experiences (NDE). The rest of the series would recount the horrifying things that happen to her in the 7 or so years she spent in captivity. She was not alone however. She was kept with four other people who had one thing in common with her: they all have had and survived near-death experiences.

This is why you shouldn’t follow handsome professors home.

Unlike her, they all can see and were tracked down and captured by their captor. Prairie’s abduction was in her captor’s own admission: pure accident. The problem is, in the OA, nothing is accidental – everything happens for a reason, including Prairie’s terrible years in captivity, which was what made Season 1 interesting, but only if you are willing to suspend your disbelief just that much. For instance, have I mentioned that OA regains her eyesight while in captivity? How? She got hit on the head. Yeah. Just gotta go with it.

For Season 1, I went with it, letting it lead me to wherever it wants me to go. Halfway through Season 2 however, I was going ffs, what the heck is going on? more often than I’m comfortable with.

Season 2 opens with OA in a sort of parallel universe setting. She is now in a universe where she was never in that bus accident, never lost her eyesight, never got separated from her father and where she remained a Russian. She was never adopted and thus she is not Prairie, but Nina Azarova, a pure Russian through and through. Prairie Johnson no longer exists.

Nina Azarova has everything.

OA, on the other hand, is here. I think that’s the only reason the OA identity is relevant here. Because Prairie Johnson does not exist in this timeline. But OA does, and she is inhabiting Nina’s body. As a result, she is always confused, and she no longer speaks with a Russian accent. And Barack Obama is no longer president. Because OA wasn’t on that bus that day? I don’t know how this timeline thing works.

ANYWAY, in this universe, her captor still has a hold of her, as he does on her fellow prisoners, this time in a cushy asylum. How convenient.

She breaks out of the institution with the help of a private investigator, Karim Washington, who was asked by a Vietnamese grandmother to help look for her missing granddaughter. Let’s backtrack a bit. This is Karim. He’s a new character in Season 2. Starts out strong, fizzles out in the end. He leads you to a house and a few other weird stuff.

Karim doesn’t like kids. Just so you know.

Karim is trying to crack a smartphone game in an effort to find Michelle, the missing Vietnamese grand daughter who got sucked into the game big time. Michelle was playing said smartphone game and went missing. Her grandma, not really big on English, says Michelle is now “invisible”.

The startup animation for the deadly game looks like a door, don’t it?

His investigation led him to a house of puzzles which “coincidentally” is owned by Nina Azarova, which was what led him to OA. How convenient, again. That I can deal with. It’s the world of OA, coincidences are there for a reason. And I’m a fan (I guess). I’ll play along.

But then they started pulling out wild cards like a giant sentient octopus that can transfer thoughts via its tentacles…

Old Night, they call it.

… and trees that can talk to OA via its roots telling her about some tree Internet and that they have been trying to talk to her via the wind…

The Tree Internet. Would have gone better with a biblical type name. #idk

… and seedlings from inside corpses that can grow into multiverses.

It even flowers.

Of course, you don’t understand what that means. I don’t understand what that means either, and I watched the show. I had so many, many questions. I had them listed down in an initial draft of this post, and then I went back and rewatch some of the scenes to phrase my questions properly.

And what do you know? In the process, I slowly realised how the OA universe (OA stands for Original Angel, by the way) works, which will be my next post: A Guide to the OA Universe and How it works

HDIM Reviews: Osmosis (2019) & The Questions It Makes Us Ask About Love

Love is complex and most of the time complicated. But what if you could control it, turn emotions into tangible data, know 100% if someone is your one true love, your soulmate? That’s what Osmosis is running with to lure you in. What you get in return is an intriguing study of what happens when you try to control love.

osmosis title card

You can expect some partial nudity and floating sex art #itiswhatitis, some arguments about love and our expectations of it, plot twists that don’t really contribute to the story but are fun nonetheless, a strong start but a weak finish and a lot of really insecure adults who do not have the maturity to handle love much alone to deserve it.

What is Osmosis?

Spoilers Ahead!

Osmosis is the name of a company run by two siblings, Paul and Esther, the former, the CEO and alpha tester of the technology, the latter, the engineer behind the technology. Their mother is in a coma. Esther is trying to find a way to revive her. In the meantime, it’s Paul and Esther against the world.

paul and esther
Paul and Esther (Osmosis)

However, Osmosis is in the line of matchmaking, more precisely in helping you find your soulmate, your one true love. In a nutshell, you take an implant (essentially a pill you can swallow) which releases nanobots into your brain.

There, the bots retrieve signals from your subconscious, then feed it to the company’s A.I., Martin who will then scour the social networks in the world to find your soulmate for you. Tough luck if your soulmate isn’t tech savvy, I guess. Once you have found your soulmate, the system then guides you towards meeting your soulmate.

finding your soulmate
What would you do for love?

In the name of research, they get feedback from inside your body in return: your hormone levels, your heart rate, whether you are stressed or happy or relaxed – sounds intrusive, what could go wrong?

The Beta Testers Find “True Love”

In the first few episodes, we follow the beta testers throughout the process. There are 12 testers, but the storyline follows only the processes of Lucas, Ana and Neils, a last minute beta tester who was added in by Esther. Via the testers, the show makes you question the various aspects of the seeking out of your soulmate.

What if your soulmate is bad for you?

Lucas is in a healthy relationship with a restaurant owner, Antoine, who is a rising star in the culinary world. Lucas has everything going for him but wonders if there is more to life and joined Osmosis to prevent himself from one day waking up in bed and thinking “what if I’m not with my soulmate?”

lucas beta tester
Lucas thinks too much

Osmosis tells him that his soulmate is his ex, a philanderer who not only sleeps around but had left him in a wreck before Antoine helped him pull it together again. And what does Lucas do? He goes with his ex, of course, because we all make stupid mistakes all the time for the benefit of storylines.

What if your soulmate is out of your league?

Ana is a sweet, soft-spoken but insecure young woman who has body issues that she hasn’t actively dealt with. Osmosis to her is her final chance at love. If she can’t find a soulmate, then she won’t embrace love anymore, and that will be it. At least then, she knows to stop looking.

ana beta tester
Ana wants to find love too

Ana’s soulmate turns out to be a personal trainer. That probably explains why she had a hard time finding him. She signs up for his training program and they meet. Simon is sweet on her, and encouraging instead of disparaging, basically a ray of sunshine in her otherwise uneventful life.

simon soulmate
Simon, ultimate boyfriend material

Here’s where the logic breaks down for me. She is pessimistic, he is the opposite. She has no self control or self discipline, he has both. She has little to offer the relationship, he could have any girl he wanted (just being honest). There is little logic to explain how the two of them could be soulmates, so the show doesn’t really try to explain it. Enjoy the irony, guys. Let’s move on.

What if you are not good for your soulmate?

Neils is a teenage, self-declared sex addict who failed to get into the program at first but got in via Esther, with the help of his very supportive mother. He wants to find a soulmate so that he could find someone that can motivate him enough to change. Because if your supportive mother who had not kicked you out of the house upon finding out you have some troubling issues with sex could not motivate you enough to change, a soulmate probably will. #flipstable

neils beta tester
Neils has a problem

Anyhoo, he gets into the program when one of the beta testers chickened out and of course his soulmate, Claire was unexpected. She’s pretty, loves art, is fun to be around and simply adorable.

claire soulmate
Claire is definitely soulmate material, but for Neils?

HOLD YOUR HORSES, buster.

Why would a minor need to find a soulmate? Who lets minors find soulmates? Who lets minors with a sex problem find soulmates? Weird parents, that’s who. Weird parents and irresponsible companies that subscribe to the idea that you are never too young to find a soulmate. What the what?

And what happens? Neils attacks Claire albeit in a fugue state and then his parents activated Parenting Mode and came to talk some sense into Osmosis with a threat to sue.

What if Your Soulmate Wants Out?

Major spoilers!

For this one, we need to go back to Paul. He also has an implant put inside him by Esther but he isn’t a beta tester. He’s actually the alpha tester to the technology, which awoke him from a comatose state and found him his soulmate, Josephine.

Josephine soulmate
The Alpha Soulmate

Josephine goes missing in the first episode. Paul tries to find her with his implant, which is connected to her own implant. It fails to tell her where she is. He lodges a police report and is led on a wild goose chase before Josephine returns to his side with a bombshell revelation: she had her implant removed. And she went to great lengths to get it done, almost flatlining in the process.

Josephine at the brink of death

Understandably, Paul freaks out. For one thing, he had been scared for her life for the past few days. Secondly, this spells disaster for the company. Paul and Josephine were the ultimate couple that would sell the idea of Osmosis: the first pair of soulmates that started it all (it’s their bodies on the title card, for heaven’s sake!).

But then we get an explanation from Josephine as to why she could no longer live with the implant. With it, she had lost control of her own thoughts, privacy and freedom and Paul, who is essentially a narcissistic prick, refuses to entertain the idea of giving them back to her in exchange for her promise of love.

For him, it is not enough that she tells him she loves him; he needs the nanobots inside her body to prove it to him with figures and charts and such. Whilst she did not leave him, for him, removing the implant is the equivalent (insecure much?). The relationship is as good as over without the implants.

I find the idea of using the implant as a metaphor for the trust between a couple profound and clearcut. How do you prove your love for your better half? Facts and figures would probably do the trick. “I love you this much out of 100%” but then you would need some sort of input to compute that final amount.

How receptive are you of the idea that in order for you to prove how much you love someone, you need to open up your deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings to them?

But then, beyond this point, the writers do little to resolve this thing between Josephine and Paul beyond putting a pregnancy into the picture. And that’s that.

Oh, wait! We haven’t talked about Esther.

Finding Love In All The Wrong Places

It is entirely impossible to talk about Esther’s storyline without releasing a lot of major spoilers. If you have plans to watch Osmosis, please stop here.

First off, Esther is not a likeable character. In fact, she is extremely hard to love. The only part that is human about her is that she devotes her entire existence towards recreating her miracle work on her brother; this time, on their mother.

esther and louise
Esther and Louise, her mother

It wasn’t specified how long Louise, the mother, had been comatose. But in all that time, Esther was the only one sitting by her bedside at the hospital. Paul, on the other hand, couldn’t care less for their mother. For all he cares, she could just die and he’d wash his hands clean of her. And yet, when she finally awakens from her coma, she asks for Paul and does not recognise Esther.

In Episode 6, desperate Esther takes Louise to their old home where Martin shows Louise a piece of her own memory.

esther goes home

Esther finally finds out why Louise could not recognise her. Esther isn’t really her daughter. She’s a replacement girl brought in to replace the real Esther who had died in a swimming pool accident. Louise had not been able to cope with the loss of her daughter that she took a poor girl into her home, brainwashed the girl into believing that she had been Louise’s daughter all her life, and hits Paul when he refuses to play along with this insanity. Esther fuelled by her rage euthanises her mother since Paul refuses to.

And that’s… still not the end of it all.

It’s not true that Esther is hard to love. Although her whole life is falling apart, she has one entity that will do anything for her, Martin. Yup, the A.I. that she created and the key component of Osmosis. And he looks like this.

martin the AI
That insect lamp is Martin. Yup.

In an attempt to make Esther take an implant, Martin puts all the beta testers into a coma. Esther enters Osmosis to save them and Martin professes his love to her and asks her to stay. Which she did because otherwise the beta testers may stay in a coma forever, and Osmosis could not launch. #priorities

With Esther, the question they are making you ask is Would it be so bad if your soulmate is not human? That one is up to you guys to think about. Just kidding. Esther escapes Martin in a last minute plot twist. Because even the writers don’t think Esther should be confined in a virtual world for the sake of love. Sounds like love isn’t really the be all, end all thing it is put out to be.

Like I said, it started out strong but finished weak. Still, it was a fun exercise into understanding people’s expectations of love and what they are willing to give up in order to find it.