1899: is the final revelation of the first season realistic?

The new Netflix series, from the creators of Dark, ignites the web. From episode to episode, the mystery deepens; with each puzzle solved, others are added. Beware of spoilers in this article, because we are about to explore the realism of the grand finale, revealed in the last episode!

Released on the Netflix streaming platform on November 17, 2022, the new series 1899 is a long series of puzzles and mysteries. Until the last episodes where many answers finally arrive, we find ourselves immersed in a kind of camera, in the middle of a science fiction universe in which it is difficult to find your bearings.

The action takes place entirely on a boat, an ocean liner resembling a titanic. Leaving Europe to go to the United States, it must take about 7 days to cross the Atlantic. But, problem, when they arrive halfway, they meet another boat from the same company, lost at sea for four months. The other liner turns out to be entirely empty except for a young boy. From there, the mysteries follow: beetles that open doors, hidden worlds under the cabins specific to each passenger, hypnotic clicks that push to throw themselves overboard, a strange black substance that invades the boat …

1899, VF official trailer. © Netflix France

A shocking revelation during the 1899 finale: spoilers beware

Spoiler alert /! The season ends with a shocking revelation: the passengers are in fact all trapped in a giant digital simulation. Or rather, their conscience. Only Maura, the main character, manages to escape, with the help of her husband and her son. We then discover with her that they are actually in a gigantic spaceship which era in the interstellar void. At least, we suppose so, because it could be yet another simulation, put on by Maura’s brother, who seems to be the co-director, along with Maura herself.

If the season ends without us really knowing where reality and where is virtual, we can wonder if, currently, such a technological feat is achievable? Today the virtual reality is evolving rapidly, but the system of 1899 involves much more than a helmet diving into a virtual environment. The memory disappears, so that it is assumed that very precise connections are made with the brain! The series further adds the ability to be fully immersed in the fictional universe, an ability present in many works of science fiction.

Diving into a fictional universe like in 1899, is it possible?

For the moment, the most immersive devices that exist not only transform the view, but also bring vibrations, sounds or smells. However, there is no question of moving by thought, only the senses are modified, but no connection to the brain is made. Such devices are useful in many fields other than video games, especially for surgery!

On the other hand, it is possible to control certain objects (besides our body, of course) by thought! Since 2015, numerous advances in brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) have enabled people with quadriplegia to control an exoskeleton ! Similarly, some people with neurological disorders have been able to control a computer remotely.

Can we then imagine that in 1899, an interface connected to each person’s body would then transpose it into another body, as in Avatar ? A priori no, it is in a simulation that everything is transposed, and not in a real body. Indeed, from the first episode, a bug in Ling Yi’s arm clearly indicates that everything is virtual. The same with the strange black substance which represents a virus gradually contaminating the simulation. One can however imagine that the multiple connections at the level of the body of the passengers of the space shuttle make it possible to modify the cerebral activity, until deceiving the senses. But how to change consciousness to such an extent?

What if the principle was the same as a dream shared by several thousand people?

What if everything goes through a state of subconsciousness, like during REM sleep? In this phase of the end of the sleep cycle, the body is flat, but the brain functions at the same frequency as in an awake state. It is mainly during this phase that dreams take place, but the consciousness remains partially dormant, hence the often incoherent dreams. In 2012, researchers revealed enzymes responsible for our ability to dream, and shed light on the mechanism triggering sleep, then the paradoxical sleep phase. It is also accepted that it is possible to dream lucidly, therefore being aware that one is dreaming.

“Is it possible to impose a framework on the dream, fictitious memories and identity, and above all to do it in common for several people?”

But is it possible to impose a framework on the dream, memories and a fictitious identity, and especially to do it in common for several people? In an effort to restore memory to Alzheimer’s patients, researchers have succeeded in create false memories in rats and mice. But far from being a complete panel of memories, it is sensations, and associations of ideas with places that have been generated.

In humans, it is also possible to alter some of them, especially in the face of major traumas. But for the moment, and fortunately, impossible to implant a whole battery of false memories and eliminate the others!

Finally, such a simulation as in 1899 proves impossible to achieve. Moreover, it leaves many points still unresolved. What happens when they die in the simulation? How was Maura’s husband able to access and control the simulation? Or his father? And where is the space shuttle heading? We can only hope that the answers will come with season 2!

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1899: is the final revelation of the first season realistic?

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