Netflix’s latest apocalyptic mystery, Tribes of Europa, ends on a bittersweet note of hope and despair for the three titular characters. Created by the producers of Dark, Tribes of Europa is set in the year 2074, an era in which the idea of the nation-state has collapsed leading to the formation of micro-states and “tribes” with their distinct cultural identities and values. All six episodes of Tribes of Europa season 1 are now available for streaming on Netflix.
The continent of Europa seems to be embroiled in chaos, owing to the fact that several among the thousand micro-states and tribes wish to conquer Europa under their own flag. Far removed from these conflicts are a tribe named the Origines, who live a peaceful, commune-like existence in the heart of a lush green forest. While technology is sparse following the mysterious events of Black December, the Origines prefer to spend their lives without being dependent upon technology since they believe that it has led to the downfall of mankind and plunged Europa into literal and metaphorical darkness.
Tribes of Europa follows the character arcs of siblings Kiano, Elja, and Liv, who belong to the Origines but are scattered in the course of the narrative after their village is massacred by the Crows. Determined to find their way back to one another, while being guided by their own inner-motivations, the trio undergoes intense trauma which leads to a tussle with their core identities. Here are some of the lingering questions that dominate the season finale of Tribes of Europa, and what the respective character trajectories possibly mean for the fate of Europa and mankind as a whole.
The primary catalyst in Tribes of Europa is the crashing of a hovercraft outside the forest region of the Origines, which harbored a hunted Atlantian pilot and a mysterious black cube said to hold immense power. As technology is akin to unbridled power, most of the tribes, especially the Crows and the Crimsons, wish to claim the powers of the cube to further their own ends. After Elja stumbles upon the artifact in the forest, he learns from the wounded pilot that the cube contains a message for his people, The Atlantians, and that a lot is at stake if it were to fall into the wrong hands. While the Atlantians are a tribe shrouded in secrecy through most of the season, it is revealed that their technologically advanced society was able to foresee and evade the destruction of Black December – a global, apocalyptic catastrophe that had plunged Europa into darkness.
The Atlantian pilot also reveals to Elja that the cube will guide him to The Ark, which is a possible gateway to the hidden realm of Atlantia. After the cube calibrates with Elja, it acts as a navigational tool, a future-foretelling device, and a high-impact weapon all at once. However, it is important to note that the cube is powered by a fusion reactor, which seems to be unstable for some reason throughout the course of the series, leading to bouts of critical power shortage that hinders the functioning of the cube. While it is still unclear as to what the cube actually stands for, the warring tribes are certainly willing to go to any lengths to obtain and wield its power, even going as far as massacring an entire tribe without provocation.
After Liv is stabbed and presumed dead in Tribes of Europa, she wakes up to her entire village being massacred, which understandably enrages her to the point that she wishes to kill Grieta, a high-ranking Crow “bozie” with key information about her family’s whereabouts. Before being captured by the Crimsons in the Netflix sci-fi series, Grieta reveals that Liv’s family has been taken to Brahtok, which is virtually impossible to get into due to its impregnable nature. With the aid of Crimson commander David Voss, Liv manages to retrieve intel regarding the infiltration of Brahtok and wishes to use Grieta as a bargaining chip, a plan which fails when Father Crimson puts a stop to the mission. With David set to be executed, Liv accompanies the Crimson army to a peace negotiation with the Crows, which goes awry when David arrives with his own men and kills everyone present there, except for Grieta and Liv.
However, as Grieta is lethally wounded, she dies shortly after, leaving a grieving Liv alone amid the bodies of fallen men. This is when the audience is allowed a glimpse into the Femen, a formidable female-exclusive tribe living among the fringes of the West. Liv is approached by Alia, a woman on horseback wearing Amazonian-inspired attire, who encourages her to join the Femen. Liv will likely become one of the Femen in season 2, as Grieta is dead and David heads the Crimson army now, leaving her with no choice but to assimilate herself within a new identity, yet again. While Liv’s future is hinged upon pure speculation at this point, it is likely that she will be forced to grapple with her sense of identity and whether she will align themselves with the values of the Femen, who might as well harbor extremist visions of their own.
Kiano’s trajectory is perhaps the most heartbreaking in Tribes of Europa, bruised and traumatized as he is due to the horrors he is forced to witness in Brahtok. Separated from his father Jakob who is coerced into being one of Capitan Yvar’s personal slaves, Kiano is almost sentenced to death by the wire during his time at the volk factory. The ruthless and unpredictable Lord Varvara takes a liking to Kiano, who is used as her plaything and manipulated by her into participating in Boj, a gladiator-like fight to the death that allows the winner to become a Crow. However, tragedy strikes when Kiano is pitted against his own father, Jakob, who sacrifices himself in order for his son to claim victory and climb up the ranks of the ruthless tribe.
Kiano’s Boj victory comes with dire implications for his character, as he is renamed as Tarok and assimilated into the ranks of the Crows, who are known to follow a strict code of honor and ruthlessness. As Kiano often felt rejected by his father after his mother’s death, and always expressed the desire to venture out into the unknown, Kiano will likely undergo an intense transformation as a Crow, which might be further exacerbated by his trauma and Varvara’s manipulations. Will Kiano work swiftly to rise up the ranks and shatter the Crows from within? Will he always be an Origine at heart, just like he promised Liv at the beginning of episode 1? Or will Kiano be forced to abandon his empathetic self and turn into a Crow who kills without hesitation? While there are no tangible answers as of yet, Kiano’s trajectory will arguably be the most interesting to watch, as a clash with his sister seems inevitable sometime in the near future.
Burdened with the mammoth responsibility of leading the cube to the Ark, Elja finds himself alone with a broken artifact and no clear answers. At Little Praha, he runs into Moses, a junk seller who dupes Elja at first, but subsequently saves him from the Crows. The two forge an endearing bond throughout Tribes of Europa, with Moses assuming the role of a dependable, albeit fraudster-like father figure, who helps him navigate the covert intentions of the outside world. In the end, the duo follows the directions of the cube and end up in the middle of nowhere, which seems like a dead-end overlooking a body of water. Frustrated with the elusive nature of the cube, Elja tosses the artifact in the ocean, only to witness it hover midair, and transform into a giant, elevator-like container, which emerges from beneath the water.
While the credits roll after Moses and Elja step inside the container, it is difficult not to connect these events to the myth of the lost city of Atlantis, an advanced, underwater civilization whose existence has been debated by experts and theorists alike. Much like the layered symbolism present in Dark, Tribes of Europa draws heavily on biblical allegory, which is reflected in the characters of Moses and Elja, wherein the latter could very well be a Germanic rendition of the prophet Elijah, who, along with Moses, was said to be present at Jesus’ transfiguration. While it is unclear as to how these biblical connections will be allowed to blossom as metaphors in this apocalyptic tale, Moses and Elja will likely be introduced to a whole new realm, that had remained hidden from the rest of humanity throughout its existence. It is also unclear as to how the Atlantians will react to two outsiders entering their territory with the cube, which contains a prophetic message that could purportedly save earth from extinction.
Tribes of Europa ends on an exciting cliffhanger, with Moses and Elja descending into the unknown, Liv with the choice to join the Femen, and Kiano ascending into the ranks of a Crow. These divergent paths are destined to intersect in one way or another, as each character is unaware of what their siblings are going through, along with the respective motivations that guide them towards their goals. As Europa is home to thousands of tribes, it is most likely that new players, such as the Raiders and The Black Skulls will be introduced in Tribes of Europa season 2, if it were to happen.
With the cube being calibrated with Elja so far, it will be interesting to witness how the Atlantians would take this new development, and whether they would be willing to reveal the reasons behind Black December. Was Black December an orchestrated catastrophe by a powerful group we are still unaware of? How will the cube help in battling The Black Swarm, the unknown, dangerous threat approaching from the East? Is time travel and extraterrestrial involvement part of the equation, as the cube’s vision hinted at a man in a spacesuit? The permutations are endless, and the possibilities are rife with potential, which can only be explored in greater depth in a potential season 2.