Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for 1899 Season 1.One of the most mysterious characters of 1899 is Henry Singleton (Anton Lesser), Maura’s father and apparently someone involved with the ship simulation loop. While we don’t know precisely how Henry ended up trapped in the virtual world or how he’s responsible for the Kerberos’ misery, we know Henry is not a prisoner like the others. After all, he’s not aboard the ship but observes each iteration of the virtual experiment from the comfort of his office. And while Henry is trapped inside the simulation, he seems to be the only person immune to the deadly virus that spreads everywhere by Season 1’s finale. While the reason why Henry is immune remains a mystery, at least until Season 2 of the show (if it gets renewed), his name might offer some clues. That’s because Singleton is more than a surname, it’s a term that comes from computer science and a specific programming design pattern.
What Is a Singleton? An Explainer on the Programming Term
While software codes are written with numbers and mathematical formulas, there are always multiple ways to complete programming tasks. That means different programmers will structure their code differently, and there are even discussions about the best way to organize a software’s logic. That’s why programming design patterns are handy since they serve as templates for how you can write code. One of these design patterns is the Singleton, a type of architecture that involves a piece of code that’s global and unique.
We won’t be going too much into programming lectures since our goal is actually discussing a TV show. However, to understand what a Singleton is in programming and what it might be in 1899, it is worth underlining that software like a simulation is often built with Classes. A Class is an instruction manual that defines what kind of information an object has and what kind of actions it can execute. Taking 1899’s simulation as an example, there might be a Passenger Class that defines each passenger of the Kerberos must have a name, a core memory, and a social level. Or maybe the simulation is structured differently, and each passenger is a Class on its own. In that case, we would have a Ramiro (José Pimentão) Class. This class could determine each time the simulation loops, a new Ramiro is created with different information, like their memories and motivations. We don’t have enough information to know how Classes were created in the 1899’s world, but the important thing is to remember that a Class is a blueprint used to create an Object, and there can be as many versions of the same Object as the simulation needs.
That’s not the case with a Singleton, which is, in simple terms, a Class that produces a single Object. Like any other Class, a Singleton defines the rules an Object must obey. However, a Singleton doesn’t allow the software to create many copies of this object. By using the Singleton pattern, programmers can ensure they have a static object that can be used all over their software while maintaining its integrity. And with a name such as Henry Singleton, it’s hard to imagine creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar would randomly choose that word. After all, 1899 is filled with computer science terms, such as key, iteration, and shell. And if Henry’s surname is related to his nature inside the simulation, being a Singleton could explain why he’s unlike any other prisoner of the virtual world.
Does Henry Represent a Singleton in ‘1899’?
In 1899, there was a virus spreading through the simulation. We don’t know where this virus came from and what it does exactly. What we do know is that the virus materializes as black matter, growing from the ship’s walls and ceiling and reaching out to passengers. We also learn in the last couple of episodes of Season 1 of 1899 that the virus can corrupt anyone who touches it, just like it happens with Virginia. There’s still much we don’t know about the virus, and maybe that will be explained in Season 2. However, it’s clear that even characters who know they are inside a simulation fear this virus. Both Daniel (Aneurin Barnard) and Sebastian (Tino Mewes) avoid touching the black matter at all costs, which is reason enough for us to be sure it is dangerous.
However, Henry’s office seems to be close to the heart of the virus, a desolated virtual chamber with a big black pyramid and black matter growing all around. We see this place a couple of times in Season 1 of 1899, but the most relevant scene to take place there happens in Episode 6, “The Pyramid.” In the scene, Sebastian has an audience with Henry to report the latest developments of his search for The Boy, Elliot (Fflyn Edwards). In the scene, Henry not only is standing calmly close to the black matter, but he also holds what seems to be a piece of the virus. At a specific moment, Henry even offers the piece of the virus to Sebastian, who approaches the black matter cautiously. Before Sebastian can try his luck, though, the virus turns to dust at Henry’s hand. There’s nothing random in 1899, and while we cannot claim to know exactly what Friese and bo Odar are trying to say with that scene, it might be related to the surname Singleton.
If Henry is a Singleton, 1899 might be trying to tell us the character does not loop over together with the simulation. A new Henry has not been re-created in every new loop. Instead, the same Henry remains static and unique at each iteration. So, while the simulation can be aware of Henry’s location and everything he does, it might have limited power when it comes to resetting the man. That would explain why Henry can observe every version of the ship living through the same eight days over and over again.
So far, the only characters who seem unaffected by the loop are Daniel and Elliot. Elliot might be dead instead of plugged into a machine, so it makes sense the same rules don’t apply to him. As for Daniel, he’s seen hacking the simulation multiple times, which means he could have changed his own nature. On the other hand, Henry seems to have some sort of respect for the simulation and even scolds Sebastian for breaking protocol. It wouldn’t fit the character if Henry had hacked his way through the simulation, but being a Singleton could explain why he retains his memories. And if the virus is aiming at specific Classes inside the virtual environment, being a Singleton might also make Henry immune to the corruption.
Of course, all of this is speculation, as 1899 still needs two more seasons to develop its story. However, the name Singleton was chosen for a purpose, the virus has a meaning, and Henry is unique for a reason. With all the clues we have so far, that’s the best way we can put things together. Hopefully, we can revisit this idea and see how all these threads might tie together into a beautiful puzzle.