In episode 5 of Dark we meet the mysterious Noah in two different time periods. After the relative calm of episode 4, Truths increases the intensity, as it switches between 1986 and 2019, sees one character falsely accused of rape, and investigates the disappearance of a third boy in 2019. After Elisabeth’s near miss in episode 4, it seems safe to say that the kidnapper only wants boys. Other truths are revealed in this episode which are much trickier.
The episode opens with a split screen montage reminding viewers where the story left each character in each time period.
Hannah obsesses over Ulrich in 1986 and 2019. In 1986, they’re friends, but she’s also making a stalkery scrapbook about him. In 2019, she’s called him 22 times, and he hasn’t responded.
Charlotte and Egon, the 2019 and 1986 police chiefs, stare at their missing persons boards in frustration. In 2019, Charlotte has added Elisabeth’s friend Yasin to the board. In 1986, Egon looks for a different case to distract himself from the lack of leads on Mads.
In 1986, Ines looks in on Mikkel in his hospital room. In 2019, she pulls out a children’s book called I Am Not Afraid and smiles, remembering the past with her son.
1986 Ulrich meets Hannah on his bike, while in 2019 he sits in Mikkel’s room and ignores her calls.
In 2019, Martha repeatedly calls Jonas. Jonas lies in bed, ignoring her calls. He stares at the red noose someone left on his bike and looks tragic. Bartosz repeatedly calls Martha, but she ignores his calls. Their love triangle gets a triple screen. Jonas looks even more beautifully tragic. Cue the opening credits.
The episode proper opens on a radio announcer in 2019, reporting that a nine year old boy, Elisabeth’s friend Yasin Friese, has gone missing, only 3 days after Mikkel Nielson was last seen. Police assume the three cases, including Erik Obendorf, are related.
Charlotte tells Elisabeth that Yasin walked to school on his own, but never made it there. She asks Elisabeth to share anything she knows that might help them find her friend. Elisabeth doesn’t think she has any helpful information.
Charlotte pulls out the pocket watch that Elisabeth brought home the night before, and asks about Noah, the man Elisabeth said gave it to her. Elisabeth hesitates to describe him. Charlotte pushes her to try. This time she does. Charlotte says she’ll send a sketch artist over to work with Elisabeth, and she needs Elisabeth’s full cooperation.
Peter watches them from across the room. When they’re done, he criticizes Charlotte for being too harsh with their daughter. Charlotte turns to him and asks where he was the night Mikkel disappeared. He says he was in his office until 11 PM. (He said 10 PM the last time she asked him.)
Charlotte shows him the screencap from the wildlife camera and says she knows he wasn’t at the office. She doesn’t care what he was doing, she just wants him to assure her that he isn’t involved with the disappearances of these boys. Peter looks her in the eye, tells her she’s insane, and walks away.
An admission of guilt if I ever heard one.
In 1986, Ines brings Michael a gift. When he doesn’t take it, she sits next to him and tries again to get him to confide in her. She tells him he can tell her what happened to him, and she’ll protect him. She wants to let his parents know he’s okay, because they must be worried.
In 2019, the Stranger’s organizational board has the question “
Where Is When Is Mikkel?” prominently displayed, plus labyrinths, vortexes and other strange space-time phenomena.
Bartosz continues to call Martha, with no response. Erik’s drug dealer phone suddenly rings, even though Bartosz doesn’t have the password for it. When he answers it, a voice says, “Hello, Bartosz. My name is Noah.” Bartosz asks how Noah knows who he is.
Hannah brings a casserole over to Katharina and Ulrich’s house as an excuse to see him. Katharina reluctantly asks her inside. They make awkward conversation for a minute, then Ulrich comes into the room. He has to go to the station. Hannah asks him to give her a ride. Katharina hugs her goodbye, using it as a chance to check if her perfume matches what she smelled on Ulrich’s clothing the day Mikkel disappeared.
Regina is busy fielding cancellation calls when the Stranger stops by the front desk of the hotel to tell her he’s going away for a few days. She asks in horror if he’s checking out. (He’s probably their only paying customer.) He says that he’d like to keep the room, since he’ll be returning soon. Regina graciously tells him that won’t be a problem. He also asks her to deliver a package for him. It’s urgent that it gets to Jonas today.
Jonas is visiting Bartosz. Bartosz is feeling needy, and asks why Jonas wasn’t answering his phone. Jonas says he was at therapy. Bartosz is angsting about Martha and doesn’t know how to make things better between them. Jonas tells him to wait for her to reach out to him. With that settled, they get high and play video games.
A few minutes later, Bartosz asks if he can trust Jonas with his biggest secret, then tells Jonas that he’s been in touch with Erik’s drug dealer and is meeting him tonight. He wants Jonas to go with him. He asks if he can count on Jonas. Jonas doesn’t seem comfortable with the idea, but says he’ll go.
In 1986, Father Noah visits Mikkel in his hospital room. He explains that he’s a priest in St Christopher’s parish. Ines asked him to meet with Mikkel. Mikkel is a devout atheist, thanks to Ulrich, and has no problem telling Noah so. They have a spirited, if brief, philosophical debate. Noah tells Mikkel that God has a plan for every human being, including Mikkel. He’s not smiling when he says it.
Ominous music plays through out the scene, in case you missed the subtext.
In 2019, Ulrich drives Hannah to her house. He tells her that their affair is over and she needs to stop calling him. Hannah says it’s not that simple. She can’t just turn her feelings off and neither can he. She’s sure this is more than a meaningless affair. Ulrich tells her to get out of the car and stay away from him and his family. Hannah tells him he can’t get rid of her that easily. As he drives away, she remembers back to 1986, when they were walking down the hall in school, and he ditched her as soon as he saw Katharina.
Katharina is remembering the first time she and Ulrich had sex, around the same time in 1986. They planned it ahead of time, to make sure they had condoms and understood where they stood with each other, because she didn’t want AIDS or kids, ever.
Still in 1986, Ines finds out from the caseworker that Mikkel will be placed in a children’s group home until they can figure out who he is. She tries to warn the caseworker that he’s sensitive and might not do well in that placement, but the caseworker assures her that it will be fine. He’ll leave the hospital in a few days.
In 2019, Ulrich sits at the station with Charlotte, complaining that he became a cop because of all the mistakes that were made when Mads disappeared in 1986. He swore he’d be a better cop than Egon, but 33 years later, he feels like he’s just a joke as well.
Charlotte asks if he’s heard of the 33 year cycle?
Charlotte: “Our calendars are wrong, a year isn’t 365 days long. We’re always a bit “out of sync” so to speak. But every 33 years, everything is just as it was. The stars, the planets, the whole universe returns to the exact same position. The lunar-solar cycle. My grandfather was obsessed with such things, the Big Bang and the Big Crunch, Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence. When I was young, I always had a feeling something was wrong with Winden. I have that same feeling again now. That everything is repeating. That this has all happened before. Like a massive déjà vu.”
Jonas sits on a bench near his father’s grave and looks tragically beautiful. The Stranger, who is carrying his luggage, joins Jonas and says that Jonas looks like Michael. Jonas asks if they know each other.
Stranger: “No, but I knew your father. It was a long time ago, but I knew him well. He saved my life back then. Only I didn’t understand that until later. Life is like a labyrinth. Some people wander around their whole lives looking for a way out, but there’s only one path and it just leads you ever deeper. You don’t understand it until you’ve reached the center. Death is incomprehensible, but you can make peace with it. Until then, you should ask yourself everyday if you’ve made the right decisions.”
The Stranger takes one last, long look at Jonas, then walks away. Jonas looks at the Stranger, then at his father’s grave.
In 1986, Hannah’s father drives his dry cleaning van up to the hospital entrance. Hannah is with him. He tells her this stop will be about half and hour. Once he goes inside to see to the hospital’s laundry, Hannah looks down her shirt at her breasts and makes a face. She doesn’t think her attributes measure up compared to teenage Katharina’s.
When Hannah looks up, she sees Mikkel sitting on a bench on the other side of the parking lot. He’s opening the gift Ines gave him, a book called I Am Not Afraid. Hannah sits near him and asks if he thinks she’s cute. Mikkel glances at her but doesn’t answer. Hannah takes that as a no.
She keeps talking, telling him that sometimes she imagines that she can do magic. She imagines something that she wants and then it happens, just because she imagined it, like moving a bottle cap. This gets Mikkel’s attention, since he’s a magician. He asks her if she’s heard of Houdini. She hasn’t. Mikkel picks up the bottle cap Hannah pointed to.
Mikkel: There is no such thing as magic, just illusion. Things only change when we change them. But you have to do it skillfully, in secret, then it seems like magic.”
While he’s saying this, he does a magic trick with the bottle cap. Hannah asks where he learned the trick. He tells her he comes from the future.
Hannah: “You’re cool.”
Mikkel: “No, I’m Mikkel.”
Hannah: “Hello Mikkel, boy from the future. I’m Hannah.”
In 2019, Martha performs a reading in front of an audience in the school auditorium. Her words act as the unifying thread over a series of images which are cut together, a spoken word montage.
Martha: “My mother told me all about the old world, before the flood. She said it had been of a different kind. Foul. She would braid my hair and recount harrowing tales, tales of my father and of demons from the underworlds. She said all is forgiven, but nothing is forgotten. Then the darkness in her eyes was stronger than the light, and her words flowed like waves. She told me that all was well the way it was, that everything occupied its own space, in the past as well in the here and now. When she spoke like this, something would come over her. She would pull hard on my braids, as if to punish me, as if to punish me for something that dwelled in a place deep within her. Something that pulled from inside, like a hunger that couldn’t be satisfied. She spoke of the past as though it were right before her eyes. As if the present were just a veil, shrouding in shadows all that was real to her. The old world came to haunt her like a ghost. Whispering to her in a dream, a way to erect the new world, stone by stone. From then on, I knew that nothing changes. That all things remain as before. The spinning wheel turns in circles, round and round. Each fate tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that stitches together all our deeds. One cannot unravel all of the knots. They can only be severed. He severed ours with the sharpest knife. And yet something remains that can’t be cut. An invisible bond. Many nights he tugs at it and I awaken startled, know that nothing has ended. All will be the same.”
While Martha speaks:
In 1986, teenage Katharina and Ulrich close themselves in the high school equipment storage room, and have sex for the first time. As we saw earlier, it’s planned and consensual.
Teenage Hannah and her father have moved on from the hospital to the high school. While she’s waiting for her father to collect laundry, Hannah discovers what Ulrich and Katharina are doing.
In 2019, Jonas walks to the school, and stops in the same courtyard where his mother, Hannah, observed Ulrich and Katharina. After some consideration, he goes into the auditorium to watch Martha. She looks directly at him when she speaks of Ariadne’s red thread and severing knots. When she speaks of an invisible bond, he ignores a call from Bartosz.
Bartosz is waiting for the drug dealer. He gives up on Jonas and goes into the woods.
Also in 2019, the Stranger goes back into the caves.
When Martha is done with her performance, and sitting backstage removing her makeup, Jonas comes to speak to her. He confesses that he wasn’t in France. Instead he was in a mental health facility being treated for PTSD. He asks if what happened between them was real, and if it might have been more if his father hadn’t died. Except he can’t finish the sentence.
Martha assures him that she had feelings for him. He asks why she called him this morning instead of her boyfriend, Bartosz. She kisses him.
Bartosz waits for the drug dealer in a back alley. A black car stops in front of him and rolls down the window. Bartosz leans inside and introduces himself. The man inside says, “I know. I’m Noah.” He invites Bartosz into the car. Bartosz gets in.
Noah is dressed in black and has a bible in his lap. He looks the same as he did in 1986. He also looks the same as the drawing created from Elisabeth’s description.
Katharina and Ulrich cuddle together on Mikkel’s bed. Katharina breaks the mood by asking if he’s cheating on her. Ulrich hedges and asks where she got that idea. Katharina repeats the question. Ulrich denies that he would do that.
In 1986, Hannah hatches a plan. She’s riding home with her father and asks him what she should do if she saw something she shouldn’t have. Her father asks for clarification. Hannah tells her father, and then Egon, the chief of police, that Ulrich laid down on top of Katharina and put his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. She resisted, but he was too strong for her. He touched her breasts when she didn’t want it, then he “choked her until her face was red. Then he pulled down his pants…”
Egon stops her from repeating the gory details that decent folk don’t speak of in public. He tells her how brave she was to come forward with this. Ulrich is arrested that night.
In 2019, Noah safely drops Bartosz off where he was picked up.
The Stranger exits the caves, but it’s not clear what year he’s in.
Jonas returns to his room and finds the Stranger’s package waiting for him. When he opens it, he finds a futuristic handheld light, a geiger counter, and the letter Mikkel left when he died. It’s old, tatty and dirty, like someone’s kept it with them for years. Jonas opens it immediately.
By the time you read this, everything will have already happened, irrevocably. It can no longer be changed. I would have liked to have explained things to you sooner, but I hope that once you understand how everything is connected, you will understand my decision. The truth is a strange thing. You can try to suppress it, but it will always find its way back to the surface. We turn a lie into our own truth in order to survive. We try to forget, until we can’t anymore. We don’t know even half the mysteries of this world. We are wanderers in the darkness. This is my truth.
On November 4, 2019, I traveled through time to the year 1986. The boy from the future stayed, and in time became a man. Mikkel became Michael, who never knew where he belonged. By the time you read this, I’ll already be gone, both as a boy and as a man. I hope you can forgive me. Everything is connected.
Ines puts the book “I Am Not Afraid” on Michael Kahnwald’s grave. “This book belongs to Mikkel” is written on the title page.
Jonas sits in shock and sadness. He’s lost his father all over again, and learned that Mikkel isn’t coming home.
The Stranger enters the Clockmaker’s shop. He says, “I would like to talk to you about time.”
For suspects in the case of the missing boys, Dark has given us two of the stereotypes the public associates with pedophiles: gay/bi men (Peter) and priests (Noah). It should be noted, the connection between pedophilia and homosexuality has been thoroughly debunked (theatlantic.com 2/21/17). Priests who are pedophiles choose their victims according to the availability of the child, not the gender. The children most available are generally altar boys. And, from what we saw happen to Erik Obendorf, it doesn’t appear that sexual assault is part of what’s happening to these children.
Do colors in the red family mean something? I haven’t paid much attention to color in this show yet, probably because there’s so little. The emphasis on the red noose in the opening struck me though. The only other instances of a red-ish color that I remember were Franziska’s red lipstick, Mikkel’s red coat, Benni’s pink coat, Erik’s red hair and Martha’s lipstick and belt when she’s on stage. Maybe red/pink/orange means someone is a social outsider? It also seems to be associated with Ariadne’s thread- providing help that isn’t necessarily appreciated in the long run, and complex labyrinthine puzzles to be solved.
The torture room is the most colorful place in the show, with its teal/turquoise wallpaper. Katharina wore a teal sweater in this episode during her teenage sex scene with Ulrich. This suggests the color has to do with being voiceless and feeling trapped, like the boys in the torture room and Katharina when no one believes that she wasn’t raped.
Yellow is the other main color I’ve noticed before, since Jonas wears a yellow coat everywhere. The secret barrels hidden underground at the power plant are also yellow. Perhaps yellow has something to do with temporal anomalies. Perhaps what’s hidden in the barrels has come through time and landed in the cave. It could be more children, or something else.
The main environmental cue that shows up over and over again is rain. It’s always raining in Winden, obscuring vision and washing away evidence. Normally, water is purifying, but I don’t get that sense here. In Winden, it seems to create mud and floods, which make everything worse, rather than washing away sin.
Phones are also a big motif, both for communication and for denying communication. Dark frequently uses the state of two characters’ phone relationship to illustrate the state of the relationship as a whole. Characters express their feelings simply by answering or not answering the phone, rather than speaking, as is heavily used in this episode.
The fact that Mikkel/Michael wrote a letter on paper, rather than sending an email or making a recording, sends the message that in the end, he felt he belonged in the past more than he belonged in 2019. The past is paper-based, rather than based on technology. In 2019, only the organizational boards and police files are still paper-based.
Michael date of birth is listed as November 5, 1975. He died on June 21, 2019. He was 11 when he traveled back in time, so they went back from 1986 to 1975 for his birth year, and they gave him the day he appeared in the past as his birthday.
Why did the Stranger pick this day in particular to deliver the letter to Jonas? Was it because Bartosz was meeting Noah? Was there actually a version of the timeline where Jonas went to meet Noah and it ended badly? Or did it have to do with Jonas and Martha picking up their relationship again?
The fact that Jonas is Mikkel’s son, but existed before Mikkel went backwards in time to create the anomaly that led to his birth, suggests that time is unchanging, and the time travel loops have always been part of it. Winden is in a stable, closed time loop that has repeated itself an unknown number of times.
Mikkel is such a sweet, adorable kid, in a town full of jerks and bratty kids, which makes it even harder to accept that the season began with his death, and he died at age 44. He should have had another 33 year cycle in him. Mikkel, Martha and Jonas all take after Katharina with her compassion and good sense. They grew into it faster than she did, maybe because they had her/Michael as role models.
The Stranger’s Speech to Jonas
“No, but I knew your father. It was a long time ago, but I knew him well. He saved my life back then. Only I didn’t understand that until later. Life is like a labyrinth. Some people wander around their whole lives looking for a way out, but there’s only one path and it just leads you ever deeper. You don’t understand it until you’ve reached the center. Death is incomprehensible, but you can make peace with it. Until then, you should ask yourself everyday if you’ve made the right decisions.”
The Stranger must be a hoot at parties, if this is his idea of small talk. I can relate. Who cares about the latest gossip? Let’s go sit in the corner and discuss the meaning of life, especially as represented by every character ever.
“No, but I knew your father. It was a long time ago, but I knew him well. He saved my life back then. Only I didn’t understand that until later.”
I’ve seen the entire season, so I don’t want to spoil what hasn’t been revealed yet. However, there were so many clues as to the Stranger’s identity in this episode, if you think about it, you can probably guess:
He had the letter that Jonas’ father left for him.
We saw many split screens in this episode. Most of them were younger and older versions of the same thing, whether it was the 2 police chiefs or the same person.
The Stranger seems to have intimate knowledge of Jonas’ life. He knew what drawer the map would be in on a particular night, and he knew what night Jonas needed to know about his parentage, before he got in deeper with Martha.
He knew Michael well, a long time ago, but didn’t fully understand their relationship at the time. Michael helped him in ways it took him a while to see. Either the Stranger isn’t very perceptive, or there was some major difference in status/age between them.
“Life is like a labyrinth. Some people wander around their whole lives looking for a way out, but there’s only one path and it just leads you ever deeper. You don’t understand it until you’ve reached the center.”
Here we circle back to the Ariadne’s thread references. The Stranger’s advice is to accept the confusion and darkness, and face them, rather than denying or running away from them. Only then can you come out on the other side. Understanding is at the center, where you face the monster, the unvarnished truth- of yourself, of the world, of the darkness.
Notice he doesn’t recommend getting someone to spot you with a ball of thread while you find the center of the labyrinth, then make your way out again. As with Niezsche and the eternal recurrence, you have to accept your fate if you want to avoid being swallowed by the darkness/ becoming a victim of the minotaur. It’s only in facing and accepting the worst possibilties that you can rise above them. If you know you have an easy way out, you haven’t really faced anything.
All of the people leading double lives in Winden are looking for an easy way out. They want money to rescue them, or a lover, or their careers, or their good behavior, or their ability to cover up evil. But it won’t work, as long as they’re using those things as distractions from the truth of their lives. They’ll continue wandering in the labyrinth, with no way out and no way to go deeper.
“Death is incomprehensible, but you can make peace with it. Until then, you should ask yourself everyday if you’ve made the right decisions.”
Some things, like death, are unchangeable and simply have to be faced and accepted as they are. For the rest, the key is self-reflection and clear thinking.
The Stranger is sharing with Jonas the wisdom he lives by and has gathered over a lifetime. In a world that doesn’t always make sense, the Stranger has stayed sane by always being honest with himself, and ruthlessly examining his internal life on a regular basis, to keep himself on track.
The Stranger says all of this fairly quickly, without much preamble, and then leaves. He wanted to make sure Jonas had this advice before he left town for a few days. What does the Stranger know? What is coming?
Meanings of the Number 33
The number 33 has astronomical and astrological significance, which has been known to various cultures, dating back to ancient times. Charlotte makes it sound as though there’s some sort of grand conjunction between the sun, moon, stars and planets every 33 years, which isn’t the case. There are a number of real world instances of 33 year cycles though.
When she refers to the lunar-solar cycle, I believe she’s referring to the differences in length between the lunar year and the solar year, which occurs because each lunar month is 29.53 days long, making a 12 month lunar year only 354 days, which is 11 days shorter that the solar year of ~365 days.
“This is a problem since after about 3 years, the lunar months are out of cycle with the solar year by about a month. And this problem would just continue. To make the lunar calendar work in China, farmers would add in a leap month every 3 years. This would mostly get the lunar month to line up with the solar year, but they still drifted apart somewhat. For some calendars used for religious purposes, such as the Islamic Hirji calendar, they never bothered to sync up the calendars and let them drift. It takes 33 years for the cycle of lunar years to get back to the original position.” — UniverseToday: Lunar Year
Charlotte is right about the length of the solar year/solar cycle. Because of the slight difference in length, if you mark the locations of sunrises and sunsets very precisely, as our ancestors did, it takes 33 years for the sun to set in the exact spot again on the same day:
“The 33-year repeat cycle is based on a solar year which is 365.24242424+ or 365 and eight thirty-thirds in length. The astronomical truth is that the seasonal or solar year is 365.242199 days in length. The 33-year repeat cycle is therefore accurate to within 20 seconds, while our modern calendar is, each year, in error by over 11 minutes… After thirty-three years, 12,053 days or sunrises, one can observe an exact repeat of the original equinoctial rising behind the marker stone.” —Skyscript: The Astronomy and Astrology of the Solar Hero Myth
When Charlotte referred to the stars, she might have meant the Leonid meteor showers, which are brightest every 33 years.
Every 33 years there is a planetary conjunction when Saturn passes between Pluto and Earth, so that all three line up. At the midpoint of this cycle is another 33 year cycle, with Pluto and Saturn on opposite sides of the Earth. (StarIQ.com- Saturn-Pluto Cycles)
33 is also a mystical number, associated with the Freemasons, Christianity and ancient Irish and British hero mythology. It’s association with hero myths may come into play on Dark eventually. Both the Stranger and Jonas could become heroes, while Noah has a sinister air. The British and Irish solar hero myths often involve long, dangerous journeys, such as the Stranger might have taken (he came from the caves with the detailed map, he has deep scars on his back).
In our universe, the various phenomena are out of sync with each other. In Dark’s universe, all of the different 33 year cycles might occur on the same schedule, so they recur at the same time every 33 years, along with others which don’t occur in our timeline.
Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence
Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence is one of the most famous concepts written about by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche used the eternal recurrence as a thought experiment and psychological test. He asked the question, “How would you react if you were told that you would have to repeat your life over again, an infinite number of times, and it would be exactly the same life, down to the smallest detail? Would you be grateful or horrified?
Nietzsche assumes most people’s first reaction would be negative, since they’d have to relive all of their suffering. He saw the ability to be grateful for the chance to live again as life affirming and he believed in the importance of “embracing amor fati (love of one’s fate)”, even if that fate consisted of endless suffering. —ThoughtCo- Eternal Recurrence
There is a scientific theory embedded in Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence:
The eternal return as a scientific theory is the idea that all events and experiences in the universe will be repeated again and again for all eternity. Nietzsche based this theory on a few assumptions: 1) that the universe contains a finite quantity of energy (law of conservation of energy), 2) that the possible states this energy can assume is finite, and 3) that time is infinite. Based on these three premises, he concluded that everything that happens will be repeated ad infinitum. From a personal point of view, this means that our own life and everything that happens to us and everything we experience, will be repeated again and again, and again….and again. — AcademyofIdeas.com
The Big Crunch, which Charlotte refers to, is a form of eternal recurrence on a cosmic scale. It is the theory that the universe expands to a certain point then collapses in on itself again. When it’s done collapsing, another Big Bang occurs, reforming the universe and starting the cycle all over again. In theory, the universe could have done this an infinite number of times before our iteration was formed. The Big Crunch
On a smaller scale, we appear to see cycles and events repeating themselves in Winden, just as Charlotte and others have noted. In both 1986 and 2019, children are missing and dying; the police are distracted with their own personal matters and having difficulty focusing on the case; something shady is happening at the power plant, but is being covered up; birds are dying the way they did at Chernobyl, but not exactly the same way; and strange things are occuring in the caves.
Many of the same people are repeating very similar events. Charlotte and Helge have felt the similarities all along and now Ulrich feels them as well. Peter isn’t talking, but that red soil in his car and his general air of guilt point to some involvement. Tronte is also repeating the same behavior of disappearing at night without being able to give his wife a satisfying explanation as to why.
Now we have Noah, who looks almost exactly the same in both time periods and is approaching children in both.
Both the noose that was left for Jonas and the reading given by Martha are references to Ariadne’s thread. Ariadne is a character from Greek Mythology, a Cretan princess who helped a prince named Theseus escape her father’s labyrinth and the vicious minotaur by giving him a ball of thread so that he could find his way out again. There are many versions of the story, but in almost all, Theseus accepts Ariadne’s help and promises to take her with him so that she doesn’t have to face her father’s wrath. He then abandons her at the first opportunity. Most of the time, Dionysus later marries her. At some point she’s either murdered by Perseus or she hangs herself from a tree.
Almost all of the women in the Kahnwald and Nielson families have elements of Ariadne, as well as Mikkel and Jonas. Hannah puts Ulrich in the place of Theseus in 1986, but won’t ever let him go. Katharina wanted an adventure, with no kids ever, and ended up tied down, one of the most responsible people in town. Did she marry Ulrich to prove he didn’t rape her, similar to the way Ariadne had to marry Dionysus to save her own reputation?
The minotaur and Ariadne are half siblings, because of her mother’s affair with a bull. Through no fault of their own they were pitted against each other, because of their parents’ messed up lives. Martha and Jonas are caught in the same type of messed up situation. It was bad enough when it was just Martha’s dad having an affair with Jonas’ mom. Now we discover that Martha is his aunt, since she’s Mikkel’s sister, and Ulrich is his grandfather, which means his grandfather has been sleeping with his mother. His mother has been stalking his grandfather for decades. Jonas has kissed his aunt.
One theme of the story of Ariadne’s Thread and Theseus is duality. Ariadne saved Theseus but betrayed her family. Theseus saved the other sacrifices, but abandoned Ariadne. Theseus had to find his way into, then out of, the confusing, twisted labyrinth. The journey into the labyrinth is the metaphorical journey into the darkness, then back again. To find the way in and out again by one’s self shows maturity and strength of character.
On the surface, Theseus and the minotaur are mirror images of each other, the handsome, heroic prince and the monstrous, rejected prince. On the inside, they aren’t that different. Theseus didn’t find his way through the darkness to slay the demon using his own strength. He had help from Ariadne, the person who truly solved the puzzle. After the incident, he gets rid of her as quickly as possible, in order to avoid facing is own inadequacy.
We see this repeatedly in Winden. So many of the characters are living double lives, and hiding it from each other. They use Ariadne’s thread, in the form of cheating, lying, stealing, etc. to get what they want, and then they need to cover up the evidence in some way, through lashing out, manipulation, more lying, etc.
Jonas and Martha were living accidental double lives until Bartosz lied to Martha about Jonas so that she’d date him instead. Now they’ve been manipulated into skulking around. And on top of that, Jonas realizes that they have to stop. Bartosz accidentally did him a favor.
Mikkel/Michael has also been accidentally on purpose living a double life. He didn’t mean to time travel, and once it happened, he had no choice but to settle in and make the best of his situation. He did try to get back. The map is proof that he explored the caves extensively.
On first glance, Michael’s suicide appears to make him a selfish monster, like the minotaur. But when you look below the surface and consider the suffering he must have endured, watching his family from afar for 33 years without being able to be with them or tell them who he was, his strength becomes clear.
He stayed alive until Jonas was nearly an adult, then moved on before he had to watch his family go through the trauma of losing him. He’d already watched them go through losing Mads. (Another doubled storyline.) He probably knew he wouldn’t be able to watch his parents suffer without being tempted to tell them the truth. He’d completed his 33 year circle of time, gone to the center of the labyrinth and made it back to the starting point.
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, teenage 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.
Elisabeth Doppler, 2019, daughter of Peter and Charlotte, granddaughter of Helge, sister of Franziska. Yasin Friese, 2019, best friend and classmate of Elisabeth. Missing. Both communicate using sign language.
Torben Wöller, 2109, detective who works under Charlotte. Benni, 2019, prostitute who works out of a trailer parked on the edge of Winden and who Peter has frequented in the past.
Sebastian Krüger, 1986, Hannah’s father, drives van for dry cleaning business.
Noah, 1986, parish priest at St Christopher’s Church, Winden. Noah, 2019, priest and Erik Obendorf’s drug supplier.
Mikkel Nielson, 2019 (and 1986). Michael Kahnwald, 2019. Mikkel Nielson changed his name to Michael Kahnwald when he was adopted by Ines Kahnwald in 1986.
Images courtesy of Netflix.