Warning: contains spoilers for Tribes of Europa episodes 1-6.
Netflix’ latest German sci-fi Tribes of Europa comes from the same producers that brought us twisty time-travel sci-fi Dark. If you’ve already binged all six episodes, you may have lingering questions, we certainly do.
There was plenty left unexplained by that cliffhanger of an ending, which we can only hope suggests that there may be a second season on the horizon.
The series follows three siblings of the Origine tribe, all of whom end up following very different paths after they discover a mysterious cube. The youngest, Elja (played by David Ali Rashed) arguably ends up on the most important route of all, beginning a quest to find out more around the unusual object. Liv (played by Henriette Confurius) plays a Katniss Everdeen-esque young girl, who will do anything to protect her family. Lastly, the eldest of the siblings, Kiano (played by Emilio Sakraya), is manipulated and groomed by Lord Varvara of the Crows, a power-hungry woman with an incredibly brutal way of dealing with things.
Kiano’s journey follows him to a wolk factory where he is put to work and left in pretty brutal conditions. It’s from episode three onwards that we come face to face with the mysterious substance known as ‘wolk’. There are quite a few references to the substance, and scenes in which it is both produced and consumed, so it’s hard to ignore. It seems both extremely dangerous, and used recreationally as a party drug.
So, what exactly is ‘wolk’?
It’s a drug used in particular by the malicious Crow tribe. Working with it is sort of like being around radioactive chemicals, and exposure to it can be incredibly harmful.
If you pay close enough attention, you’ll hear Kiano ask questions about wolk, and learn about the life-threatening effects of the substance when he sees a person who once worked on the wolk production line in the factories suffering as a result of exposure.
It’s not as though the Crows would care much about what happens to their ‘staff’ though, as they tend to recycle them every three months or so after their brains are rotted by the drug, and the only other way out of their control is by death or if you win a gladiatorial fighting tournament known as the Boj – which Kiano goes on to do.
Fans of the show are suggesting that wolk bears similarities to the popular street drug methamphetamine, known as ‘meth’, as the Crows are seen to be inhaling some sort of vapourised substance through their masks which people have guessed is wolk.
This may be because of the link that wolk has on the lifestyle and wealth of the Crows – it’s been one of the main sources of their income and power. It’s not just the drug of choice for the Crows, though, as it’s apparently very popular all over the continent. Perhaps the Origine tribe aren’t so familiar with it because of their Robin Hood-like, forest dwelling lifestyle that offers very little time for such excess.
Kiano and his father Jakob (played by Benjamin Sadler) are forced to work in the factory at Brahtok after being captured by the Crows.
It seems as though these fiendish tribe members get off on making their slaves create a product for them that is extremely dangerous to manufacture, and perhaps part of their high comes from that element of control and power, not only the psychedelic effects of the drug.
David (played by Robert Finster) is on a mission to destroy the wolk factories, free the workers and damage the Crows’ livelihoods. But, he is clearly not very successful as the Crows are thriving right until the very end, culminating with Kiano being pushed into taking his own father’s life and becoming a Crow himself.
It seems as though Kiano has taken a leap over to the dark side, and it would be incredibly entertaining to watch him go head to head with his siblings, who are yet to learn that he murdered their father.
Nevertheless, team Netflix are never ones to give us such an easy explanation as to how something will play out, so we can only assume that there is a big twist yet to come.
Perhaps Kiano is working against the Crows from the inside, and will carry on where David left off. Surely he couldn’t actually be falling for Varvara after what he made him do to his father? We certainly hope not…
Tribes of Europa is available to stream now on Netflix