Episode 3 picks up moments after episode 2 left off, with Mikkel having time traveled back from 2019 to 1986. He’s gone back to his family home, where his teenage parents brushed him off the same way his present day siblings do. They left the door to the house ajar, so now he wanders in, looking at the house that is and isn’t his home.
He finds Jana, his grandmother and Ulrich’s mother, lying on the couch. For a moment, they each confuse the other with the family members they’ve lost. Jana hopes he’s Mads, and Mikkel hopes she’s his mother. Jana goes to Mikkel and begs him to give her some kind of news about Mads. She becomes emotional, and scares Mikkel. He runs out of the house.
Nurse Ines Kahnwald works in the community hospital. Since she’s a single woman with no family obligations, the other nurses often ask her to take over their shifts when their schedules become inconvenient. Patient and good-natured, she doesn’t mind the extra work at all.
Young Charlotte Doppler finds a dead bird on the road as she rides her bike to school. She puts it in her bag to examine later.
Egon Tiedemann, current sheriff of Winden, is already in his office when he gets an early morning phone call to investigate a herd of dead sheep. 33 healthy sheep dropped dead overnight, with no prior symptoms or warning, and no visible indication of why they died. The farmer, Hermann Albers, quotes the Gospel of Mark 13:33, “Be on your guard. Be alert. For you do not know when that time will be.” When Egon says that he didn’t realize Albers was a churchgoer, the farmer says that the parish has a new priest who is a good man.
Egon’s daughter, Claudia, practices an inspirational speech on her drive to work. She pauses to harangue her daughter, teenage Regina, about her lack of grooming, ambition and general character. Then Claudia tells her daughter that, as the first woman in her new position, she won’t allow her daughter to spoil this huge opportunity for her. Regina sits silently throughout her mother’s lecture.
Mikkel goes to the school, where, in the present day, his mother is the principal. In 1986, Katharina is a student with a smart mouth and no patience for little kids. She mocks him and tells him the principal is a man, so definitely not his mother. Hannah, who is with Katharina, is a little nicer to him. Katharina seems to barely be friends with Hannah.
When Claudia arrives at the power plant, where she’s the new director, she’s greeted warmly by Helge, who’s sweeping the entrance. He gives her a book as a congratulations gift, and mentions that the board voted unanimously for her. She’s in a hurry to start her new job, so she cuts their conversation short and rushes inside.
Once inside, she’s stopped by her secretary, Jasmin Trewen, who’s thrilled that she now has a woman for a boss. She informs Claudia that newspaper reporter Tronte Nielson is there to interview her. Then the secretary gives Claudia a thick binder containing the last two years of financial records for the power plant. She mentions that she had a hard time getting ahold of the financial figures.
Mikkel tries the police station in his quest to find his parents, but finds Egon instead. Egon hates Ulrich, and assumes someone sent Mikkel to pretend he’s Ulrich’s son as a joke. Mikkel has Egon confirm that the date really is 11/5/1986. Egon notices that Mikkel is injured, and assumes Ulrich forced the boy into playing a practical joke. He calls for someone from the hospital to come and take a look at Mikkel. Then he leaves Mikkel alone in his office, while he goes to find Ulrich.
Claudia meets Tronte (Ulrich and Mads’ father) in one of the public lobbies at the plant. She’s exasperated that he’s used an interview as a ploy to see her. He claims that people are interested in the new woman power plant director. She tells him to make an appointment with her secretary.
He stands in front of her as she tries to walk by, surreptitiously bringing their hands together and whispering that he misses her. Claudia tries to get rid of him, but he begs her to meet him later, because his wife, Jana, is so difficult to live with as she worries and grieves for their missing son. Claudia still doesn’t give in. Finally, she tells him that maybe she’ll see him, since it seems like the only way he’ll leave without causing a scene and taking away the professional credibility she’s spent years building. She briskly walks away from him.
Tronte is an utter slime. It wouldn’t matter what the circumstances of an argument were, if Claudia had a public argument with him at work, it would be considered her fault, and she’d be seen as the overemotional, incompetent woman. It would probably be the end of her job. What he just did was a form of coercion that’s as effective as blackmail. He knew she couldn’t stand up to him.
While Mikkel is waiting in Egon’ office, he sits at the desk and looks things over. First he tries his home phone number, which is out of service. Then he pockets Egon’s lighter. He examines newspaper articles and the missing persons report on Mads’ disappearance until Ines comes to the office to get him.
Ines introduced herself gently and holds out her hand to Mikkel. She promises to take care of him. She’s the first person in 1986 to look directly at Mikkel, pay attention to what he needs, and treat him with kindness.
No one answers the door at Ulrich’s house, so Egon lets himself in. He finds Ulrich in his bedroom, playing a video game, and listening to heavy metal music. Egon turns off the music and goes straight to accusing Ulrich of sending Mikkel to the station. Ulrich accuses Egon of drinking on the job. Egon moves on to accusing Ulrich of killing the herd of sheep, while Ulrich taunts him over his failure to find Mads. Just as Egon begins to get physical, Jana comes in. She explains that the door is unlocked because Mads forgot his key. Egon reluctantly leaves.
He’s the kind of cop who thinks that being smarter or younger than him is a crime.
At the hospital, the doctor examines Mikkel and finds no serious injuries. Mikkel won’t tell them his name or any other important information. The doctor leaves Nurse Ines to bandage up Mikkel’s wounds. He softly cries, and she tells him it will all turn out okay.
At this point, Mikkel has been awake for more than 24 hours straight, time traveled 33 years, lost everyone he’s ever known (at least in the way that counts), and become homeless. He has no idea how to get anyone to believe him, where to go, or what to do. Most adults would have lost it already. Mikkel’s been a smart kid and done what he could for himself, but physically, he’s at the end of his rope. Thank goodness he’s found Ines.
Claudia brings the financial documents to the office of Bernd Doppler, the outgoing director and founder of the power plant. He’s also Helge’s father and Peter’s grandfather. She demands to know why the figures in the binder, which are the true records for the plant, are so different from the numbers that have been publicly reported. Bernd tells her that sometimes it’s better that she doesn’t know about things she can’t change anyway.
He explains that the public lost faith in nuclear energy after Chernobyl. They fear “progress” now, but the entire town depends on the power plant to survive. It’s up to her to keep it going. The unspoken “by any means necessary” hangs in the air between them. Claudia accepts the responsibility, saying that means she needs to fully understand the financial figures and where they come from.
Teenage Charlotte examines her dead bird and makes a detailed drawing with notes and measurements.
The medical examiner does an autopsy on one of the sheep, while Egon watches closely. Egon tries to lead the examiner toward a conclusion that would point at Ulrich, but nothing fits. The most likely cause of death is heart attack. Sheep are prone to group frights, which cause them all to keel over.
The sheeps’ eardrums are ruptured, just like the body of the boy found in 2019.
As part of his explanation, Bernd takes Claudia into the woods, to a fenced and gated gorge. He tells her that there’s more that they don’t know than that they do know. She lowers herself into the hole by rope, and uses a flashlight to look around.
As she finishes with his bandages, Ines gently tries to get Mikkel to tell her more about himself. He still isn’t talking. She tells him she’ll be around all night if he wants to talk. Then she gives him a comic book to read and starts to leave. He says that he’s come from the future. She gave him a Captain Future comic book, so she assumes he’s making up his story.
Claudia follows the gorge as it turns into a deep cave, She walks all the way to the back, where she finds stacks of steel barrels from the power plant, marked with the radiation symbol.
Is this spent nuclear fuel rods, or
dead bodies strange items that have time travelled through the cave?
Regina comes home from school and finds that Claudia has left a message on the answering machine saying she’ll be home late, so Regina’s on her own for dinner. Regina gets a strange, slightly sick look on her face, and pulls up the sleeve of her sweater to reveal scars from cutting herself. Some look like they could be from suicide attempts.
Egon drives out to the farmer’s field to investigate it at night. He hears a large boom, like a single clap of thunder, then hundreds of dead birds rain down from the sky into the field, while the flashlight and the car’s headlights flicker on and off.
Charlotte puts her sample bird in the family’s chest freezer in the basement. The lights flicker at her house, too.
The lights are also flickering at the hospital, which Mikkel recognizes as an opportunity to time travel home. He runs to the window in his room.
I think it’s safe to say that the town’s entire electrical grid is affected. Hope Claudia is safe, if she’s still in the cave with the barrels.
Ulrich is sitting in a bus stop shelter, smoking. Hannah finds him there, while the streetlights are still flickering overhead. She rides her bike over to join him. They wonder if the lights signal the apocalypse. Ulrich wishes for a world without Winden. Hannah goes along with him.
Mikkel runs to the cave, then uses Egon’s lighter to help him see as he enters.
A montage featuring Agnes Obel’s Familiar shows the characters side by side in 1986 and 2019. It also shows their recognition that the events of 1986 are repeating themselves, just as Helge Doppler predicted.
In 1986, Ines discovers that Mikkel has climbed out of his hospital room window. In 2019, she looks at the wooden box she kept her son Michael’s letter in.
In 1986, Tronte stands by his car at the bus stop, waiting for Claudia. In 2019, he leans against a wall, waiting for something.
In 1986, Claudia sits in her car in the dark, alone. She notices the book that Helge gave her that morning and unwraps it. It’s a copy of A Journey Through Time by HG Tannhaus, the same book that the Stranger has in his room at Regina’s hotel in 2019.
In 1986, Regina looks at herself in the bathroom mirror. She’s put on lipstick and is probably trying to like what she sees, possibly trying to convince herself she has a reason to live. In 2019, Regina also looks in the mirror while wearing a robe, this time with no makeup. She pushes the robe to the side and does a breast self exam. Now she has a reason to live, but she’s worried about cancer.
Both Charlottes are studying dead birds. In 1986, Charlotte sits on the chest freezer and finishes her notes, adding the date, 11/5/86. In 2019, she leaves the police station and discovers the dead birds that have fallen all over the town. She picks one up to study.
Both Janas are in bed alone, and awake. In 1986, she’s worried about Tronte. In 2019, she’s stone-faced. In 1986, Tronte comes home and goes to bed. In 2019, he doesn’t, and the other side of the bed remains empty.
Both Ulrichs look into the bedroom of a missing boy, and worry. Young Ulrich thinks about Mads. Adult Ulrich stands in the doorway to the same room and watches Katharina, who’s asleep in Mikkel’s bed.
Ulrich has to do something, so he drives to the caves. When he gets there, he takes a crow bar with him as he enters. He goes back to the locked metal door to the power plant, and tries to pry it open.
Mikkel wanders through the caves, but doesn’t time travel or find his way home. He trips and slides down a steep hill, injuring his leg in the process. As he’s sitting there, hurt, he can hear the noise that Ulrich is making with the door. Mikkel calls out for help. Ulrich hears him, but they can’t find each other. Both give up and make their way back out to the entrance to the cave. They each sit at the entrance, in anguish over what they’ve lost, knowing it was so close.
In a room filled with clocks, a clockmaker, HG Tannhaus, author of the book A Journey Through Time, finishes repairing the device that the Stranger has in his hotel room in 2019.
I’ll be so glad when the current trend of using dead birds to show an evil presence or spooky atmosphere is over. If birds really died as frequently in real life as they currently do in TV and film, there would be none left, anywhere. The evil in Dark must be manufacturing birds to throw at the town of Winden, given the ridiculous number that die in each time period. What did songbirds ever do to these filmmakers, anyway?
Egon is so biased. He clearly doesn’t care much about finding Mads, or solving any other crime. He’s an alcoholic who’s devoted to pinning something on Ulrich.
What did Claudia find in the financial records, and what’s in the barrels? It’s particularly ominous when a nuclear power plant hides huge secrets. And dozens of barrels. The barrels Claudia saw, and all of the barrels that have come after, must be what Aleksander is now getting rid of before the plant closes for good in 2020.
Claudia didn’t go meet Tronte, despite his coercion. I don’t believe we’ve seen her in the present day yet, so we don’t have a clue what happens to her. She’s successful enough for her son-in-law to take over the plant from her and for her daughter to own a nice hotel, but that’s all we know.
Charlotte seems straightforward and scientific, but she’s also mysterious, with the way she’s so quiet, meticulous, and focused on the birds. It seems like she knows more than we realize. She’s probably put more pieces of the puzzle together than anyone who isn’t directly involved, since she’s had 33 years to mull over her extensive observations, and now she’s adding more data. She’s like the anti-Egon of police officers, always considering all of the options and waiting until she’s sure before acting.
Ulrich is such a tragic figure, having lost his brother and now his son. I think Mikkel was a bit of a replacement for Mads for him, with both being the younger brother that needed him to watch out for them. That makes the loss even worse.
There seems to be a veil within the caves that thickens and thins, which allows time travel. It seems as though you have to be in both the right spot and the right time in the cycle to reach another time period.
But who or what is causing the massive energy serges? There’s enough electromagnetic energy involved to fry the birds for miles around, and kill a herd of sheep. Where does it come from, and where does it go?
I wonder if Charlotte has kept track of the pattern of bird deaths and where they are in the town. It would have been harder to do when she was a teen on her bike, compared to the resources she has now. But it could show valuable information.
New characters will be added at the bottom, as they’re introduced.
Cast from the Episode 1/Secrets murder board:
Charlotte Doppler in 1986 and 2019. Married to Peter, mother to Franziska and Elisabeth, daughter-in-law to Helge. Police Chief.
Hannah Kahnwald, in 2019 and 1986. Mother to Jonas, widow of Michael, daughter-in-law of Ines, having an affair with Ulrich. Massage therapist.
Helge Doppler, in 2019, 1986, and 1953. Son of Bernd and Greta, father of Peter, father-in-law to Charlotte. Nuclear power plant guard.
Ines Kahnwald, in 2019, 1986 and 1953. Daughter to Daniel, adoptive mother to Michael, mother-in-law to Hannah, grandmother to Jonas. Hospital nurse.
Jana Nielsen, in 1953, 1986 and 2019. Tronte’s wife, mother of Ulrich and Mads.
Jonas Kahnwald in 2019. Son of Hannah and Michael, grandson of Ines. High school student.
Katharina Nielsen in 1986 and 2019. Wife to Ulrich, mother of Magnus, Martha and Mikkel. High school principal.
Mads Nielson, 1986, age 12. Missing since then. Ulrich Nielsen, 1986 and 2019. Son of Tronte and Jana, husband of Katharina, father of Martha, Magnus and Mikkel, lover to Hannah. Police officer.
Michael Kahnwald, 2019, husband to Hannah, father to Jonas, adoptive son to Ines. Deceased artist.
Regina Tiedemann, 1986 and 2019. Wife to Alexander, mother to Bartosz, daughter of Claudia, granddaughter of Egon. Hotelier.
Magnus and Martha Nielson, 2019, children of Ulrich and Katharina, siblings of Mikkel. High school students. Franziska Doppler, 2019, daughter of Peter and Charlotte. High school student. Aleksander Tiedemann, 1986 and 2019, husband of Regina, father of Bartosz, son-in-law of Claudia. Director of Nuclear Power Plant in 2019. Bartosz Tiedemann, 2019. Son of Regina and Aleksander. High school student, aspiring drug dealer.
Tronte Nielson in 1953, 1986 and 2019. Son to Agnes, husband to Jana, father to Ulrich and Mads.
Jürgen Obendorf, maintenance worker at the nuclear power plant, and Erik Obendorf’s father. And Erik Obendorf, high schooler and drug dealer, missing for 2 weeks. Both pictured in 2019.
Peter Doppler in 2019, therapist, married to Charlotte Doppler (police chief), son of Helge Doppler, father of Franziska and Elizabeth Doppler. Bernd Doppler in 1986, founder and first director of the Winden Nuclear Power Plant, husband of Greta, father of Helge, grandfather of Peter.
The Stranger, a man who appeared in 2019 from the cave and is living in the Tiedemann’s hotel. He appears to be investigating Mikkel’s disappearance. HG Tannhaus in 1986, a clockmaker and the author of A Journey Through Time.
Egon Tiedemann in 1986, a police officer, husband to Doris, Claudia’s father and Regina’s grandfather, Aleksander’s grandfather-in-law, Ulrich’s nemesis. Claudia Tiedemann in 1986, incoming director of Winden Nuclear Power Plant, daughter of Egon, mother of Regina, grandmother of Bartosz, has an affair with Tronte Nielson.
Images courtesy of Netflix.