The ending of 1899 season 1 explained

This article contains spoilers for 1899 season 1.

1899 is a weird, dense sci-fi series. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who watched Dark, the previous Netflix original series from 1899 creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar. After stringing out its mysteries across its first six episodes, though, 1899’s final two installments finally offer the answers to many of the questions that were introduced in the show’s premiere. 1899 episode 7 even confirms, via a key line of dialogue from Daniel Solace (Aneurin Barnard), that the show’s steamship-centric world is, indeed, part of a simulation.

That confirmation is followed by the reveal that 1899’s simulated reality was created by none other than the show’s ostensible lead, Maura Franklin (Emily Beecham). In the wake of these discoveries, the world of the Kerberos begins to disintegrate at an alarming rate, and its inhabitants quickly find themselves being pulled into the center of a deadly whirlpool. The remaining passengers of the Kerberos do not, however, die as a result of their ship’s “destruction.” Instead, they end up in the same alternate version of reality that Captain Eyk Larsen (Andreas Pietschmann) found himself trapped in at the end of 1899 episode 6.

A boy puts a finger to his mouth in 1899.

These twists and turns all set the stage for the climactic struggle in 1899 episode 8 between Maura and her father, Henry (Anton Lesser). After the latter captures Maura and Daniel’s son, Elliot (Fflyn Edwards), and shows him a vision of his mother torturing him, it even begins to look like Henry is going to come out on top of his season-long struggle with his daughter and her husband. Thanks to Maura’s growing awareness of her situation and several brilliant, strategic moves by Daniel, though, Henry’s victory is ultimately snatched from his hands at the last moment.

Knowing that Henry would likely be able to secure Maura’s key to escaping their simulated reality, Daniel spends much of 1899’s Season 1 finale causing more havoc and chaos to spread throughout Maura’s simulation. Sneaking through the invisible tunnels that bridge the memories of 1899’s characters together, Daniel manages to secretly rewrite the very code of the simulation he’s trapped within. In doing so, he’s able to turn the simulation’s original exit key into a useless prop and rob Henry of his victory. Moments later, in his final conversation with Maura, Daniel also reveals that Henry was never truly his and Maura’s enemy.

The official poster for Netflix's 1899.
Netflix

That title belongs to Maura’s oft-discussed, mysteriously absent brother, Ciaran. According to Daniel, Maura’s father has always been just as “trapped” in their simulation as everyone else in 1899. It was, however, Ciaran who Daniel says “took over the whole program” after Maura put herself inside of it. “You have to wake up. You have to stop him, or everything will be lost,” Daniel tells Maura just moments before she finally makes her escape from 1899’s central simulation.

In the scene that follows, a short-haired Maura wakes up in a chamber that also contains nearly every one of 1899’s major characters, all of whom are strapped into the same alternate reality device that Maura unplugs herself from. As she looks around at all the other faces in the chamber, Maura also realizes that the room itself is nothing more than one part of a technologically advanced ship fittingly named the Prometheus, which just so happens to be floating through space when Maura wakes up.

Thanks to a helpful computer status update, we quickly learn that Maura and her fellow passengers are all members of a “survival mission” known as “Project Prometheus.” Maura also realizes, much to her confusion and horror, that the current year is not actually 1899, but 2099. As she tries to process all of this, though, Maura is shocked to see her ship receive a message from none other than her brother, Ciaran, which reads, “Hello sister. Welcome to reality.” At that ominous moment, 1899’s first season cuts to black for the last time.

It remains to be seen whether or not the twists featured in 1899‘s season 1 finale will be seen as satisfying or not by the show’s viewers. Either way, there’s no denying that 1899 episode 8 totally redefines the series’ story and setting in several unexpected ways. In case that wasn’t enough, its final moments also set the stage for a conflict between Maura and Ciaran that could prove to be even more compelling and thrilling than fans think. That’s assuming, of course, that 1899 does get renewed for a second season.

Emily Beecham stands in front of a mirror in 1899.
Netflix

As all season finales should, the final installment of 1899’s first season also avoids totally resolving some of the show’s more profound mysteries, including whether or not Maura really did drug and deceive Elliot in the way that Henry leads his grandson to believe. Unfortunately, 1899 fans will likely have to wait for more episodes of the series to be released before they get to learn anything new about Elliot and Maura’s pre-simulation lives together.

1899 season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.

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