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Science Channel’s ‘Mysteries of the Abandoned’ evokes Hitler and Pablo Escobar in episodes 2 and 3

You’ve gotta see what Escobar’s home looks like now.

In the second and third episodes of Science Channel’s Mysteries of the Abandoned, the locations have much darker histories behind them, including more Nazis (they got around), drug kingpins, and Soviet submarines. These episodes feature some new experts along with ones from the first episode, covering geology, engineering, military history, journalism, and more, and they bring in local experts to reveal the science and history behind four abandoned places from around the world.

Episode 2

This episode in particular was super fascinating and compelling. Each site was connected to a crime, and the history behind them was mostly things I had never heard of and am now interested in learning more about.

The first site was the island of Vis, part of Croatia, in the Adriatic Sea. Its location has been strategic for years, and the experts went through all the various uses the island had through time, up to the current abandoned location. Unsurprisingly, Nazis figure into this history. While this site is no longer used for military purposes, it isn’t totally abandoned. Today Speedo-lovers enjoy the sea from this enormous former submarine storage cave.

The second location is the Baths in San Francisco, a place I had explored on vacation years ago and had no idea what the site had formerly been. What’s especially wild is how old the ruins look, so I was shocked to learn that the site had been abandoned only in the early ’60s.

Ruins sure are common next to the sea. Those builders must love drama.

The site with the darkest history is a penal colony in Tasmania, from the time when Australia was settled by criminals. The behavior of the guards and people in charge was very disturbing, especially in such a beautiful place. The fact that this location was also the site of the deadliest mass shooting in Australian history made it even more disturbing to see.

The final site also featured Nazis, but this one more directly. In the woods outside of Nuremberg, Germany, is the test site for Adolf Hitler’s grand vision of a stadium that would not only be used for rallies, but ultimately figured into the future of a world under Hitler’s rule.

With so much history to cover at these sites, there was far less filler in episode 2 than in the premiere episode. Each site was packed full of information, and the experts were well-chosen and gave thorough descriptions.

Episode 3

Episode 3 opens with a name that I remember hearing when I was young: Pablo Escobar. His abandoned mansion in Columbia opens up the story of the drug wars of the ’70s and ’80s, and the insane power his cartel held over an entire country. The property was bombed in 1993, and it’s amazing how quickly the remains of the home grew to look ancient.

The second location has a feeling of diabolical genius to it. Outside of Berlin, Germany, these pretty little cottages were, you guessed it, part of a Nazi scheme. I won’t spoil the truth of what happened in that place, but it covers an astonishing amount of history.

A site in south Portugal features a different kind of dark history – environmental destruction, displaying the worst of what the Industrial Revolution wrought upon the land. It was shocking to see what happened to this site.

A local showing the difference between the safe and ruined landscapes

The last site, on the coast of Kent, in England, was one of the most fascinating in the three episodes so far, because of the science it uses within a military scenario. The fact that the site was constructed during World War I made the technology so interesting to learn about. This was the high point of the episode for me.

Way to get ancient ESPN?

Is it good?

Mysteries of the Abandoned is so much fun to watch. It’s educational and entertaining in the best combination. I’m still not a huge fan of the overly dramatic music and the awkward intros to each site, but those are easy to ignore when learning about these fascinating sites.

AiPT! Science is co-presented by AiPT! Comics and the New York City Skeptics.


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