Is the Show The Signal like Dark?

Is the Show The Signal like Dark?
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Is the show The Signal like Dark? Want to hit all my mental tripwires and force me to do something? It’s simple enough. All you have to do is to liken your movie, your music, your play… to the Netflix show Dark. Want me to learn to play the piano? Liken it somehow… to Dark. Intrigued by the poetry of T.S. Eliot and want me to join you on your intriguing poetic journey? Liken his poetry to Dark. Fascinated by Legos? And you wanttt… you get the idea. So yes, when literally everyone started likening the new Netflix show, The Signal to Dark? Yes. My breaker panel popped. Literally short circuited until I watched this new show.

So. Let’s go through it together shall we? How is the show The Signal like Dark – let us count the ways…

Reason #1 – It’s In German

Sure. The Signal is in German. But this one just annoys me. And I’m not even going to talk to this detail any further. Congratulations! It’s in German.

Reason #2 – The Signal is Like Dark Because of Its Confusing Story

The Signal circles around the lives of Paula (Peri Baumeister) – a German astronaut – and her husband Sven (Florian David Fitz), and their daughter Charlie (Yuna Bennett). Now, we quickly start learning that Paula has a history of extreme bouts of hallucinations. You’d think that these sorts of tendencies towards mental mind trips would be disqualifying from an astronaut school standpoint. But what do I know? Apparently she hid it well? She is ultimately selected to head to space by Benisha Mudhi – an Elon Musk type entrepreneur – in order to go to the ISS to conduct important space research.

Paula has headed to the confines of space only to meet her well-known demons there too. Charlie? She’s nine at the time her mother heads to space. And while she’s conducting her critical research, an impossible voice crackles on to her radio. The same radio that she has been using to talk with her daughter. What does that mean? It means that there is life, of some kind, in space. (Or that Paula has completely gone bat-sh!% crazy. But I digress.) Paula decides she needs to let the world know. She must alert the planet to this exciting discovery.

Paula wages a battle of scientific discovery while simultaneously waging an opposite struggle with her attempts at staying sane. (The entire premise is wholly preposterous… but let’s give it line, and see where it goes.) Now, as this new discovery begins unfolding, Paula returns to earth, only to die on her return flight. She and 177 other people die. Which, begins to unravel a cavalcade of conspiracies and chaos. Now a single grieving father who needs to tell his daughter somehow that her mother has died tragically, not in space, but on a crashed airline flight, Sven is reeling. His only goal is to protect his daughter. Never mind the fact that she might also be the only person able to unlock the entirety of the interstellar space mystery.

Reason #3 – The Signal is Like Dark Because of the Deep Mysteries

The mysteries of the universe are vast, and infinite, in the show The Signal. Paula, being preternaturally smart, when her daughter is born deaf, she decides she has to find a cure. Concluding all the research possible on earth… she naturally heads to space to continue her research. (Thus the reason she hides her psycho trauma so religiously.) Paula will stop at nothing. Literally, will move heaven and earth on behalf of her broken daughter.

“Think… how can the hare win?” Sven asked. “He always has to stay two steps ahead of the fox,” Charlie replied.

There in space, Paula continues to hear the voice of a child… repeating a call and response of hello. Paula has become convinced that aliens, literal extraterrestrials, will soon land on earth. So she has to solve this puzzle – the puzzle of their coming arrival. Two threads unwind – one after Paula’s apparent death and plane crash, the other happening in space, months prior. It is this syncopated rhythm, call – response, call – response, that reminds people most about the show Dark. Not so much time travel – but rather two disconnected timelines running towards each other and away from each other at the same time.

Mudhi eventually gains the rapport and trust of Sven and Charlie, and with it, the coordinates of the radio that Charlie used to chat with her mother in space. But when Sven discovers that it was actually Mudhi who is the chief suspect of this global conspiracy theory, things take a radical turn.

Paula is trapped within the International Space Station. And Mudhi has begun depleting it of the oxygen she needs to survive. Why? Because she wants Paula to reveal the calculations for the arrival of the aliens. Eventually Paula communicated the details, and then she was freed… allowing her to return to earth. But not before she broadcasted literally everything they were saying out to the entire world. Then she discovers that the billionaire “philanthropist” is the one behind her troubles.

Reason #4 – The Signal is Like Dark Because of the Global Cabal

The International powers have all aligned in agreement that any aliens that arrive should be shot down on sight. But when they discover that Paula broadcast the incorrect coordinates, Charlie becomes critical in figuring out the riddle. But Mudhi only realizes this after she has crashed Paula’s plane. So Mudhi must go after Sven and Charlie too. Get the coordinates and kill the duo. But Mudhi’s assistant saves the father and daughter, who fakes their murder and assists them in toppling Mudhi. Sven decodes the hidden messages his wife has encoded just before her untimely death. And that is how Sven ultimately realizes where the “aliens” will arrive.

And heading to the coded location, and arriving there at the perfect time, Sven and Charlie expect to meet the arriving aliens. But instead? They watch the landing of Voyager 1… you know, the spacecraft sent out to explore the solar system, and then out of said solar system? That one. It also is carrying the golden record with all of the details about life on earth. Sven and Charlie discover the golden record – and they discover the “hello” recording she had been hearing all along. The human child recording.

But why is Voyager 1 back on earth? Who sent it back?

As The Signal crash lands its way to the end, we are left with many questions. Were aliens the ones that sent Voyager back? Are they following close behind it… intent on global domination? Are these intergalactic beings connected with international powers and coordinating a larger cabal of global domination? Have these powers that be allowed these extraterrestrial beings entré to the planet?

Reason #5 – The Signal is Like Dark Because of Global Apocalypse?

At the end of the day, we are left with about a million questions. The biggest of them being, when the aliens arrive, will they decimate the planet? I mean, we deserve it after all… what with our global superpowers that have predetermined that we should annihilate any approaching life. But the reason this show was most like Dark is that it asks much much bigger questions than it answers. It hits way above its weight class.

Reason #6 – The Signal is Absolutely Nothing like Dark at all

But, to be clear – now that we are through with the reasons it’s like Dark… I have to say, its really, absolutely, and unequivocally, nothing like Dark. Sure, the time lining of this show is interesting. We are running two different linear timelines simultaneously. Almost like it is time traveling? Except isn’t. Not even a little bit. Yes, there is some interesting weirdness going on, and a massive cover-up that would even go so far as to kill hundreds of people in order to keep news of this information from coming out. Aliens. Etc. But, I mean, no… the tone of the show, the acting, the concept, the production design? Nothing like Dark at all.

Personal thoughts on The Signal

It was a fascinating watch, and I was intrigued by it. But to say that I was lead along by the tease that the show was like Dark would be an understatement. I mean, Dark is literally the single best tv series ever created. Even Glee doesn’t come close. (Sorry, bad joke.) But – you are here – you probably understand what I’m talking about even if Dark wasn’t your absolute favorite show of all time (I mean, we can’t be friends… but you get that.) However, I enjoyed the space station thread, the international intrigue, and the rich founder trying to control the narrative. The international cabal. It was interesting. But still… no Dark.