If you spent all weekend watching “Dark,” you probably have a few questions.
Writer Jantje Friese and director Baran bo Odar are the creative engines behind “Dark,” the latest Netflix release to spawn a bevy of message board parsing and theory-fueled online chatter. It’s the kind of show where answering one question means raising a handful more, all the way up until Season 1’s final moments, where a young woman offers up Jonas (and the audience) a simple, menacing invitation to what patterns would dictate might be the year 2052: “Welcome to the future.”
So, what will come after that season-closing literal knockout?
In an interview with IndieWire, Friese and Odar explained that any plans for the show going forward will have their roots in how the pair navigated the labyrinth of Season 1. (Hint: it involved a lot of Post-It notes.)
“It was all mapped out, but in the process we also allowed ourselves to be surprised by whatever shows up while we were writing,” Friese said. “Sometimes, when you are too structured and you are in this thing, you can’t really see what is left and right anymore and that closes the creative process down a little. We really came from the characters first, and then we mapped out every episode. Just having the floor plan we needed and knowing the connections: What are the relationships? Where is the trouble? Where is the drama?”
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The show hasn’t yet been officially renewed for a second season, but bo Odar explained that the future of the show, should it continue, would absolutely feature the character on the receiving end of that season-closing pistol-whip to the face.
“We will definitely, for example, follow Jonas. He is one of the main characters where most of the stuff actually happens,” bo Odar said. “So we will truly stay close to him, but shift some of the storylines to other characters. It’s just like creating this world with all these different children. You like some of them more, some less.”
That rejection of a rigid plan for Season 2 is in line with the storytelling freedom that helped them develop the first 10 episodes from the outset.
“You have to be open to just say, ‘Nah, OK. That might have been a good idea two weeks ago, but you know what? This is even more interesting,’ and then just change it,” Friese said. “What was really interesting in the writers’ room was actually to keep knowing the changes you did. For every draft you do, obviously you change stuff. So you kind of have to look at everything again: Do I need to plant this differently? And where is this leading now? And at some point, I didn’t even know anymore what draft version I was in. So you have to take a step back, read it all over again, map it out again, write new Post-Its.”
Navigating that web of characters forced each of them to think about where these characters’ journey started. With people like Helge, Ulrich, Mikkel, and Jonas, who have now lived pivotal moments of their life in multiple disjointed timelines, part of the challenge going forward will be the same one that hovered over Season 1: When and where do these characters’ true selves begin?
“I think Helge, for example, compared to Ulrich, they’re like two tragic characters in the story. One travels back to save the son to stop the perpetrator and he basically creates the perpetrator by becoming their own perpetrator. So, that goes back again [to] what was there first, the chicken or the egg? It just always goes back to that question,” bo Odar said.
Fans of the show can expect other familiar characters besides Jonas to return in a hypothetical Season 2, but bo Odar and Friese explained that with the time jump forward, “Dark” won’t be exclusively following older versions of characters we’ve already seen before.
“We’ve done our thinking, and the second season would put more light on other people in the character structures we haven’t been through that much, while not losing some of the ones that you kind of came closer to. But also introducing new ones, while maybe killing some other ones. We actually have a lot of ideas where to take it,” Friese said.
Over time, some of the supporting players in the “Dark” saga might become fan favorites as the show grows its audience. (In the spirit of full disclosure, this particular writer wouldn’t mind a little more of H.G. Tannhaus, the show’s in-house theoretical physicist and assembler of timespace-riftmaking devices.) bo Odar even has one of his own.
“During the process, you just realize and get other ideas, like, ‘Oh, this could be an interesting storyline with that character and we never thought about that,'” bo Odar said. “Like, for example, I love that secretary who works in the ’80s for Claudia. I love that person. I just want to know more about her. If we can actually tell more about her, we will see. But just like, looking at this world, I think that there are many possibilities. But again, we will see if there will be more seasons or not.”
“Dark” is currently streaming on Netflix.