1899 Cancelled After Just One Season — Leaving Behind Unanswered Questions

A woman falls to the ocean
Netflix / Screenshot

The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of 1899 on Netflix

1899 was created by Jantje Frise and Baran bo Odar, who you may know as the creators of the highly successful Dark, a German language thriller. Having just finished all three seasons, I was excited to learn that Frise and Odar had a new series in the works. Nothing makes me happier than a period piece sprinkled with a little mystery, and after viewing the first official trailer to 1899, I knew I was in for a treat.

1899 is quite unique in that the large ensemble cast each represents a different country and culture. If you choose to watch the show in its original form, without dubbing it in English, you will find each character speaks in their native tongue with captions to follow along. That is over 20 different languages in the show. It was quite an ambitious, creative choice and no easy feat for the actors or writers.

At face value 1899 is about a passenger ship traveling from London to New York in said named year. The ship, the Kerberos, is filled with passengers who are migrating in hopes of a better future. But, as we come to find out, that is the furthest thing from the truth. What is the truth though? Each episode feeds us bits of information from the memories of different characters. That’s the problem though, isn’t it? Memories can be skewed or as we see later in the show, tampered with.

A group of people gathered together, looking foward.
Netflix / Screenshot

What is actually going on?

While we are led to believe that the events taking place are happening in 1899, it becomes apparent early on that we are being led astray.  Daniel (Aneurin Barnard), who sneaks onto the Kerberos, carries with him all sorts of technologically advanced gadgets. Then there is Henry, Maura’s father, who is shown to be surveilling the ship on multiple monitors. Another thing to notice is the music at the end of every episode—modern classics. Notably, we have Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” David Bowie‘s “Starman,” and “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath. It was an interesting way to pull the audience out of the historic era and into the current time period, without revealing the truth too early.

The truth does come out, eventually, and if you were paying close attention to the smaller details, you may not have been too surprised.

The First Reveal — Daniel and the Simulation

Daniel had been lurking around Maura (Emily Beecham) like a stalker for much of the season, but after Maura accuses him of working for her father, he makes an admission.

Daniel explains that he and Maura have been married for 12 years and that the creepy little boy is in fact their son, Elliot (Fflyn Edwards). He emphasizes the importance of her remembering and explains that they are stuck in a simulation. The key that Maura holds is the only way they can get the simulation to end. If she doesn’t remember what or where it is, there is no leaving the simulation and her consciousness will be trapped within it forever.

The Second Reveal — Maura

Henry gets a hold of Elliot in hopes that he can bribe Maura into giving him the key in exchange for her son. As any good grandfather would, he injects Elliot with an unknown substance which allows Elliot to recall a memory. The memory is of Maura and Daniel arguing. Elliot was dying and his mother refused to lose him, so she created this simulation to trap him. Daniel wanted to stop her, but she wanted to be with her son forever.

Close up of a young boy using his finger to make a shush motion.
Netflix / Screenshot

According to Henry, when Maura was a little girl she found a paper on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and became obsessed with one particular idea. He goes on to say, “It was this one thought that turned her world upside. The idea that our knowledge has its limits and that we can never know if things are truly what they appear.” This led Maura to question her own reality. When Elliot became sick, she chose to create a false reality for them to live.

The Final Reveal — 2099

After Daniel is able to reprogram a new key, he meets with Maura in an underground bunker. He warns her that her brother took over the simulation and has been the one actually controlling everything. He has had the simulation on a never-ending loop. Maura must wake up and stop him.

Maura wakes up on a spaceship cruising through space. She, along with the rest of the main characters (sans Daniel) are hooked up to machines. They appear to be asleep. She walks over to the computer in the room. The screen shows the year 2099 with the name of the ship listed as the Prometheus. A message pops up on the computer screen. It’s from Maura’s brother, Ciaran. He tells her, “Welcome back to reality.”

Were the Passengers Important?

With everything that was explained, the only thing we truly know is that Maura is out of the simulation and it is 2099. That is of course if things are what they appear. There are a lot of questions left unanswered at this point.

We still have the other characters. Why were they important & who were they to Maura?

Let’s look at each person…

Close up of a man's face, side profile.
Netflix / Screenshot


Daniel claims to be Maura’s husband and her baby daddy. Other than his word, there has been no real evidence suggesting this to be true. Even Eyk (Andreas Pietschmann) poses the question to Maura, can Daniel be trusted?

Something didn’t sit right with me when he made his way onto Kerberos. He spent a lot of time following Maura. Why did it take him so long to tell her who he is? I thought that he could possibly be her brother, but that theory went out the window when he kissed her. At least I hope it’s not her brother.

Then there are his interactions with the boy. If this kid is truly his son, why does their relationship seem cold?

Lastly, why wasn’t he on the ship in 2099? It’s possible he works for her brother, but something tells me his love for Maura is genuine. She asks him before leaving the simulation if he would be there with her. His response was that he would always be with her. Well, sir, you were not on that ship.

Close up of a man's face.
Netflix / Screenshot


Eyk is grieving the loss of his wife and daughter, who according to his memory, died in a fire. The memory which he goes through a few times depicts his family and home the way you would expect them to look in 1899. Since he isn’t really in 1899, I have to wonder if this is a false memory that was created for him. It seems odd that he would remember a true event taking place in a time he never lived in.

There is something going on between Eyk and Maura. I’m calling it, even if there is never an answer. I believe Eyk is her real husband. There was more chemistry between them than there was with Maura and Daniel. When she was first introduced to the boy, she had an immediate emotional response. She was protective. When Daniel revealed himself, she never showed any recognition even on a subconscious level.

It is possible that Eyk’s mind has distorted the truth. It could be that his wife and daughter represent him losing Maura and the boy.

It seems telling that he is the first recognizable person on the spaceship when Maura starts looking around. Maybe they aren’t married, but there is definitely something valuable about their relationship.

Ling Yi & Olek

Ling Yi (Isabella Wei) poses as a geisha on the Kerberos at the insistence of her mother. We learn she is no geisha and in fact, shouldn’t have been on the ship in the first place. Through her memory, we learn that she “accidentally” killed her friend (who possessed a ticket for the Kerberos) through too much poison. Ling Yi’s intent had been to render her friend unconscious while she stole her ticket.

This can’t be a real memory because it wouldn’t make sense given what we know about the actual reality. Perhaps like Eyk’s memories, there is some truth mixed in with false perceptions. It is interesting that she went to great lengths to get on board the ship. What was so important? Did she kill someone in 2099 to be able to be part of the simulation?

Then there is Olek.

Olek (Maciej Musial) is a Polish immigrant working in the engine room. He and Ling Yi hit it off despite their language barriers. He comforts her when her mother jumps ship. At one point they share a kiss and are able to travel through each other’s memories before the simulation self-destructs. Why Olek? By all accounts, they come from different worlds. He saves her life more than once on the ship and their romantic relationship develops really fast.

Jerome, Lucien, & Clemence

According to memories, Lucien (Jonas Bloquet) and Jerome (Yann Gael) fought together in the war. Lucien wants to steal their dead commander’s identity and pretend to be wounded. Jerome doesn’t agree with the plan so Lucien locks him up and abandons him. Jerome later sneaks onto Kerberos to seek revenge on Lucien, who is a passenger, along with his new wife, Clemence (Mathilde Ollivier). Jerome is unable to exact his revenge however since Lucien admits that he is dying already.

Lucien dies before the simulation ends, leaving behind his old friend and widow. Clemence and Jerome become awfully close for two people who have never met before, even sharing a long embrace at one point.

How is it that Lucien dies of an illness vs “dying” when the simulation ends? It struck me as odd. Anyone who wasn’t a key player on the ship died by going overboard, leaving behind the main characters. Lucien didn’t jump and he made it almost to the end only to be taken out by seizures.

Then there is the war he and Jerome fought in. Can this indicate there is a war going on in 2099? Did they end up on the spaceship to escape? The war could mean a fight between Maura and her brother.


Tove (Clara Rosager) is a Danish girl on the ship with her parents and siblings, all of who die by the way. Most importantly she is pregnant. In the first episode, we see her having pains related to her pregnancy. Maura uses her skills as a doctor to help turn the baby, who was tangled within the umbilical cord.

I’m wondering if there is a significance to her being in distress. It didn’t seem necessary to the plot. There were other ways she and Maura could have met. The fact that she is pregnant at all begs the question, is it real?

Tove had one of the more interesting backstories. In her memory, she recalls being raped by a farmer her family had once worked for. Tove’s brother had been caught having sex with the farmer’s son. Enraged, the farmer felt the best revenge would be to deflower Tove right in front of her family. She was able to grab a rock and struck him just before she grabbed his gun and shot him.

Was Tove raped in 2099 and is she really pregnant? If Tove is pregnant on the spaceship, I wonder if it is a human baby or artificial. That could explain why she thinks she was raped. It is possible something was implanted in her against her will.

Canceled Too Soon

The creators of 1899 spoke openly about how they wrote it with the intent to be a three-season show, hence the cliffhanger. But despite being in the top 10 and the millions of hours of viewership (in the first week alone), Netflix decided to pull the plug, which to me seems like the biggest mystery of all.

Odar released a statement saying,

“With a heavy heart we have to tell you that 1899 will not be renewed, we would have loved to finish this incredible journey with a second and third season as we did with Dark. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way you planned. That’s life.”

News of the cancellation sent fans into an uproar. Some sprung into action creating an online petition to bring the show back. The petition has gained over 93,000 signatures since January.

I was pretty bummed when I learned the news. I had been looking forward to seeing where the show could go. But, if television history has taught me anything, it’s that a show can be revived years after it has been declared dead. Here’s to hoping we haven’t seen the last of Maura and company.

Written by Felicia Nickens

Lover of television, film, & the macabre.

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