In episode 7 of Dark, Crossroads, people, locations and time periods begin to converge and interact that both deepen the mystery and begin to solve it. Our three lead characters, Charlotte, Ulrich and Jonas, are the focus for much of the episode. Jonas explores Winden in 1986 and makes a decision about Mikkel the boy vs Michael the man. Ulrich continues to investigate Mads’ disappearance and death, using Egon’s botched 1986 investigation as a starting point. Charlotte is granted the long awaited search warrant for the power plant, which leads her to some suspicious findings. Both Charlotte and Ulrich find new connections to Helge, his cabin and the cave.
At the end of the episode, we get a cameo by Noah and the infamous back tattoo of the Emerald Tablet. Mikkel is also connected to the framed version of the Hermetic/Alchemic text.
It’s all connected.
Yikes! We start with a close-close up of the 1953, child version of Helge, with the left side of his head covered in blood and dirt. He’s in the teal room with the killer experiment chair. He wakes up on the floor and stands up to look around the room, as if it’s the first time he’s been there.
When he touches the chair, he suddenly awakens back in 2019, as old Helge, in bed in the nursing home. It was a memory-dream. He says, “I remember. I remember everything.”
After the opening theme, we arrive in 1986, where Egon is still holding Ulrich in custody for allegedly raping Katharina. 2019 Ulrich visits Mads’ empty grave. Mikkel stands in the hall at the hospital and stares at a framed 17th century drawing of the Emerald Tablet. Jonas wakes up in 1986, in the forest fire watchtower where he spent the night. Before he leaves, he checks to make sure he still has the letter from his dad.
Ulrich visits the coroner to question her about burial plans for Mads’ body. She says if he remains unidentified, he’ll be cremated and buried in an unmarked grave. Next Ulrich asks how long Mads’ had been dead when he was found and if he could have died earlier, then been preserved. She says that Mads had been dead for 10 hours and showed no signs of having been frozen or preserved in any other way.
Jonas goes to the high school in 1986, and sees the doors covered with missing posters for his great uncle Mads. He finds teenage Regina sitting alone in the hall and asks her the day and year. She’s nice to him as they talk. He asks if she knows Michael or Ines Kahnwald. She knows Ines, but tells him that Ines doesn’t have any children.
Egon’s boss, Daniel Kahnwald, brings him the power plant shift schedule for the night Mads disappeared and orders him to interview everyone on the list so their routes and times can be checked. Egon asks if someone else can do it, because he’s busy with his personal vendetta against Ulrich, and he’d like to expand the bogus rape charges to bogus kidnapping and murder charges. His boss tells him no, he can’t base his cases on hunches anymore, the way he did in the ’50s. He has to go by the evidence. Egon only has 3 months until he retires, then he can do whatever he wants.
Ulrich spreads out the evidence from his investigation in Mikkel’s room and works his way through the connections.
Charlotte tells someone on the phone that the ground shook yesterday, like an earthquake, even though this isn’t an earthquake zone. Wöller interrupts to let her know that the power plant search warrant came through. He asks if he should call Ulrich. Charlotte doesn’t answer as she takes the warrant and leaves.
In 1986, Egon speaks to Helge at the power plant about the shift schedule. Helge looks guilty and gives suspicious answers as they arrange a meeting time on Tuesday, two days away. Egon questions Helge a little about his unusual route home and makes a note in his appointment book to ask about it again when Helge comes to the station.
In 2019, Ulrich looks through the same appointment book and finds the notation for the interview on November 11, with the question, “Why not forest road?” But the interview itself never happened.
Alexander obeys the search warrant and lets Charlotte and the police in. They fan out to comb the grounds for evidence. Ulrich calls Charlotte to inform her that Helge didn’t show up for the interview in 1986.
Charlotte asks if he’s trying to say that Helge kidnapped Mads, plus the boys in the current time. He was with her the night that Mikkel disappeared. He’s now 75 years old and has dementia. Ulrich points out that Wöller found Helge in the forest the night before Yasin disappeared. Ulrich still thinks these cases are connected to Mads. Charlotte thinks he needs to find a new direction for his investigation.
In 1986, Jonas walks down a deserted street in the pouring rain. Egon pulls over and harasses him a little, then gives him a ride to the hospital. He asks a bunch of intrusive questions along the way. Then he asks Jonas if the kids are into Satanism these days. Jonas laughs and tells him no.
Charlotte takes a walk over to the state road, the way that Helge took instead of the forest road. She finds tire tracks in the mud- evidence of trucks having been in this deserted portion of the property. Then she finds the fence and gate that Berndt showed to Claudia in 1986. She rappels down into the same cave where Berndt sent Claudia to look at the piles of barrels.
They’re all gone now of course. That’s why Alexander fought the search warrant for so long. To give him time to get the barrels out and dispose of whatever evidence they’ve been hiding for decades. Charlotte finds some bits of yellow that have broken off the barrels. She continues through the cave and finds the metal door that leads to the power plant basement (or does it?). It looks like it’s welded shut, or someone tried repeatedly to force it open, or both.
She looks very surprised to see it, like she thought Ulrich was lying about it when he said he found it.
Ulrich goes to the nursing home and wakes Helge up in order to question him. He starts right in with the questions, rather than giving Helge a minute to wake up, and he puts his hands on the old man’s chest. He ignores Helge’s obvious distress.
Helge’s vitals start going wonky, so nurses come to check on him and discover Ulrich. He continues to ask Helge about Mikkel as he’s dragged from the room. Helge looks at Ulrich and recognizes him. He tells Ulrich that he can change the past and the future, but he needs help. Tick tock.
Jonas finds Mikkel and Ines outside on a bench. He’s watching them from across the parking lot when the Stranger finds him and gets intense.
Stranger: “How little we understand of the world.”
Jonas: “Is this real? Or am I crazy just like my father? Do you even exist? Or are you only the hallucination of a lunatic?”
Stranger: “You’re not crazy, and neither was your father. Sometimes it’s hard for us to grasp the things that go against what we’re conditioned to believe. How did people feel the first time that they were told the Earth was round?”
Jonas: “Yes, it’s totally insane.”
Stranger: “What if it isn’t?”
Jonas: “How can that be? Are you saying there’s a crack in time in that cave? So Mikkel stays in 1986? So he’s my dad?”
Stranger: “Even if you don’t want to believe it, that is your father.”
Jonas: “That means Ulrich is my grandfather and…”
Stranger: “Martha is your aunt.”
Jonas: “That’s bull. I’m taking him back and making this right.”
Stranger, shoving Jonas up against an ambulance: “Don’t you get it? If you take Mikkel back, you’re meddling in the sequence of events. Then your father never meets your mother, they don’t fall in love or get married, do they? And you’re never born! If you take him back now, you’re erasing your own existence. The role you play in this is much bigger than you think. But every decision for something, is a decision against something else. A life for a life. What will you decide?”
And with that, the Stranger makes his dramatic exit.
Charlotte suspends Ulrich from the force and sends him home. Before he leaves, he tries to convince her, again, that the dead boy they found (Mads, but Ulrich hasn’t revealed his identity to anyone) is connected to the missing boys, and that she should question Helge further.
In 1986, Helge leaves work, eats a Raiders candy bar, and drives off to do Noah’s bidding. Meanwhile, Egon doesn’t question Helge. Instead, he tries to coerce teenage Katharina into admitting that Ulrich raped her. She insists on sticking to the truth.
Present day Ulrich goes home to Katharina and apologizes for not being there much, but says he’s there now. She tells him he hasn’t really been there in a long time. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She says that she knows about his affair with Hannah.
The first thing Ulrich does is ask if Hannah told her. She says she thinks she’s always known on some level, but didn’t want to see it. He offers to explain, but she tells him not to bother. She passes on the message that Jana called and only wanted to talk about Mads, not Mikkel.
In 1986, Jonas watches as Hannah and Mikkel run into each other in the hospital hallway, then walk away together. He watches his parents get to know each other, looks at the letter, and remembers what the Stranger said to him. Then he leaves the hospital without talking to Mikkel.
Ulrich asks Jana she would still want to know if Mads had died, after all this time. She tells him no, she wouldn’t. Tronte was the one who wanted the empty grave, because he thought it would help her find closure. But she still imagines Mads as alive, happy and free. “You can never give up on hoping. There’s as much light out there as darkness. Don’t forget that.”
Next Jana tells Ulrich the information she called about: “One week before Mads… I didn’t tell the police this back then. I didn’t even remember it. I saw something. Outside, I saw a priest arguing with a man. I have no idea what they were talking about. But I found it strange that a priest would be arguing like that. Just this morning, I saw the same man again. Not the priest. The other man. It was the same man. I know because there was something about his ear, it was scarred or disfigured. But he wasn’t a single day older. He looked exactly like he did 33 years ago. I know that sounds crazy, but it was the same man.”
As Jana is speaking, 1986 Helge is shown walking toward the bunker, then removing dead branches which disguise the entrance and going inside.
Torben Wöller brings Charlotte a map of the cave system, since she asked if the caves extend as far as the forest road near the Doppler cabin. He explains that the entire cave system hasn’t been mapped out, “But at least part of it extends under the south part of the forest road.” Wöller asks if there’s a reason why she’s looking into the area around the cabin, if she’s found something there. Charlotte, as usual, brushes him off.
I hope Wöller keeps a log of everything he sees and everything he’s been asked for. He could probably solve cases that way by himself.
After dark, Charlotte drives to the cabin. Before she gets out of the car, she calls Peter to question him about Helge. He says that he didn’t know that his father was supposed to be questioned by the police in 1986. Peter didn’t move to Winden until 1987, so he doesn’t know much about the events of 1986. Charlotte asks why Helge kept the cabin “after all that happened to him there?” Helge’s accident was on November 12, 1986, 3 days from today. Peter does his best to deflect Charlotte’s simple questions, rather than answer them, saying he doesn’t know why she’d need to know if Helge lived in the cabin or used it again after he was hurt and telling her to stop investigating because her kids miss her.
As Ulrich is driving home, he finds Mikkel’s yellow game pawn on the floor of the car. He remembers Mikkel saying, “Dad, the question isn’t how, the question is when.” Mikkel was talking about when he moved the piece during a magic trick. Ulrich turns the car off his intended route.
Charlotte goes into the bunker to investigate.
Jonas goes back through the magic time travel door. A choir of angels sing and the lights flicker in two time periods.
Mikkel has taken the framed Emerald Tablet back to his bed to examine more closely.
Egon is drinking straight from a bottle of hard liquor.
Teenage Ulrich, still in his cell, is strangely comforted by the light phenomenon.
Helge gets out of bed. Tick tock. It’s time to fix things.
Space-Time settles down in the bunker. Charlotte finds marks on the floor and a discarded piece of the wallpaper from the torture room. She gives it a horrified look, as if she recognizes it.
Jonas emerges from the cave, back in 2019. He goes home and sits by his mother’s bed, staring at her until she wakes up and asks him what’s wrong. He asks if she believes in fate. She replies, “I don’t know. Maybe it’s my fate that men leave me.” Jonas consoles her, “I really think Dad loved you very much.”
They hold each other close. This is the most unguarded, loving moment we’ve seen between them, or from Hannah at all. Later, Jonas sits in Michael’s studio and burns the letter.
But how does the Stranger get it, to give back to Jonas, if Jonas burned it? Were there two copies? An alternate timeline?
Ulrich returns to Helge’s room in the nursing home. He finds one of the acorn people, the book “A Journey Through Time” by HG Tannhaus and a one pfennig coin on a red cord. Those items link Helge to Mads’ body (coin), Yasin’s disappearance and the torture room (acorn crafts), and however time travel relates to the disappearances (book).
Helge’s door to the outside is open, and he’s only just left, so Ulrich follows him. He marches straight to the caves. As they get closer, Ulrich leaves a phone message: “Charlotte, the question isn’t who abducted the kids, but when. I was right, Helge Doppler. Not now, but in 1986. Call me back as soon as you get this.”
Once inside the cave, Helge opens a secret panel where a lantern is hidden. He uses it to light his way to the time travel doors. Ulrich follows.
The 1986 version of Helge brings a boy’s body up out of the bunker in 2019. It’s wrapped in a canvas tarp. The boy (is it Yasin?) is wearing another coin necklace. Helge is nearly crying. He hates this job.
A young Noah is down in the bunker, using a broom and water to scrub blood stains out of the floor. He’s shirtless, and the Emerald Tablet tattoo is revealed on his back. He turns to look straight at the camera, then walks past it to the wall of the bunker. The date 5.11.1953 is already written there in chalk. Now he adds 9.11.1953.
5.11.1953= November 5, 1953
9.11.1953= November 9, 1953
With 1953 in the mix, we are now dealing with 3 time periods, as expressed by the Venn diagrams on the time travel doors. Young Helge, the injured boy from the cold open, comes from 1953. It’s possible that young Noah also does. This makes 1986 the center and pivot point of the current cycle.
Regina was a different person in her hallway conversation with Jonas, but then she was being taunted before the conversation even ended. She didn’t have to be the bitter, angry person she is today. So far, it seems like Alexander is the only person who’s ever really cared about her. Who might she have been if Mads had lived to continue protecting her?
Raiders candy bars are Helge’s favorite. Those wrappers are important clues, so keep an eye out for them. We’ve already seen one or two of them in the present day.
Jana to Ulrich: “You can never give up on hoping. There’s as much light out there as darkness. Don’t forget that.”
What amazing words to put in Jana’s mouth. Her husband cheated on her for long stretches of time; she lost a child. She doesn’t seem like much of her life has gone the way she wanted it to, but she’s still found some kind of inner peace and optimism. She might quietly be the happiest character on the show, because she’s chosen to be, by rising above her struggles.
Jana and Regina are two sides of the same coin. Faced with ridicule and harassment, Regina continued to live a very public life, but became bitter, angry and sharp-tongued, creating a suit of armor around herself. When faced with the same thing, combined with terrible loss, Jana became philosophical and reclusive, retreating into her own world.
What is the connection between Noah, Mikkel and the Emerald Tablet? Did Mikkel/Michael study alchemy, Gnosticism and Hermeticism is his quest to understand what had happened to him? Did he seek counsel from Father Noah after all, after he’d rejected Noah’s initial advances? Why did the hospital have a drawing of the Emerald Tablet? Was that a recruiting tactic?
The marks Charlotte found on the bunker floor were leftover from Noah scrubbing the blood stains. It seems like the bunker and other parts of the cave system exist outside of the normal Space-Time constraints. Time is fluid there, and multiple time periods can exist at once, or a spot can exist outside of Space-Time.
Has this anomaly always existed in the caves or is it the result of experiments? Does Noah control the phenomenon or is he simply surfing it while doing his scientific/alchemic work? Hopefully we’ll eventually learn more about the Space-Time anomaly in the cave system and its history.
A Journey Through Time is the book Helge gave Claudia in 1986 when she started as director at the power plant. The Stranger also has a copy in 2019.
Where is Claudia in 2019, anyway?
The Emerald Tablet, hospital plaque, back tattoo, acorn/nature people, bunker, wallpaper, time travel door, and the venn diagram representing three time periods were all shown in episode 5. Some were also shown in other episodes.
The coin on a red cord Ulrich found in Helge’s room is the same as the one that was on Mads’ body when it was found. In this episode, there’s one on another body. Who made the necklaces and how many did they make? The cord looks the same as the Ariadne’s thread cord that guides time travelers to the tunnel and the red hangman’s noose someone put on Jonas’ bike. Do the coins and cords signify members of a time travel club?
The Police Investigations and the Parents
Charlotte, Egon, Ulrich and Martin Döhring (Egon’s boss) all bear some responsibility for how badly this case has been handled over the years. Each has let their personal opinions and connections lead them in a certain direction, while dismissing the concerns and actions of others. That dismissal leads to the creation of the circular aspect of the cycle.
Because of ageism, Martin Döhring dismissed Egon, meaning he didn’t take Egon’s actions seriously enough to step in when Egon held Ulrich based on the statement of one unreliable witness. And he didn’t follow up on Egon’s questioning of Helge closely enough to discover the mistake Egon made in not pursuing Helge’s suspicious activity.
Charlotte and Ulrich began the season trusting each other as partners, but have drifted apart. Charlotte realizes that her husband and father in law are probably involved, and is compromising herself in order to protect them while also searching for the truth. As Ulrich gets closer to the truth, it’s sufficiently out of the ordinary to give Charlotte an excuse to call Ulrich delusional.
Ulrich has already discovered pieces of the truth and is close to learning more, but he’s too close to the case to think clearly. He’s dismissed Egon’s 1986 investigation because of their feud, but has finally realized there is valuable evidence hidden there. His erratic behavior has gotten him in so much trouble that he almost doesn’t dare tell anyone what he’s discovered, lest they think his mind has snapped. He would normally present the evidence he’s collected to Charlotte, but she’s made it clear that she’s not open to any theory that implicates her family. By the end of the episode, Ulrich has collected so much evidence that he’s ready to bring it to Charlotte and attempt to show her the truth.
If Ulrich presents evidence to Charlotte officially, she has to acknowledge Helge and Peter as suspects and possibly remove herself from the case. If she continues to collect evidence quietly, on her own, as she’s been doing since 1986, she thinks she might find the answer. The problem is, she has a massive blind spot in Helge.
She and Ulrich have complementary strengths and weaknesses when it comes to this case. Combining their information and talking to a scientist would make a huge difference. Torben Wöller also asks good questions and could be promoted in Ulrich’s absence, but we’ve seen Charlotte deliberately try to throw him off the scent.
When Ulrich said that this case was stalled because no one in power had lost a child, he was so right. Charlotte is honest and hard working, but she gained new urgency for a while after Elizabeth’s disappearance. Alexander has blatantly slowed the investigation down in order to protect the power plant and its interests, rather than prioritizing the missing children. Yet we’ve seen that Bartosz is very important to him and Regina.
Erik Obendorf’s father is a maintenance worker at the power plant, so after a few days, the police found it easy to send him and his wife home, branding them as overemotional. Ulrich is one of their own, so he’s been taken more seriously, but he’s also getting the overemotional parent treatment now. Yasin Friese was a disabled child whose parents don’t appear to have had any connections, so he’s almost been forgotten. He’s only remembered because he was Elizabeth’s friend.
Looking at Jana, it’s easy to see that she was treated the same way in 1986. She took Mads disappearance hard, and is now seen as mentally off. She’s not. She’s just reclusive, and who can blame her. Tronte emotionally distanced himself from the family and is seen as slightly villainous, but sane.
In 2019, Katharina is the parent who hovers on the edge of respectability, trying to keep awareness of the search for the Lost Boys in the public mind without also appearing overemotional. Her radio call was truthful, but not something people want to hear about themselves, as evidenced by Regina’s reaction.
More on Dark Color Theory
The scene of Helge’s bleeding face, with the torture room behind him, is one of the images most saturated in color that we’ve seen all season. The chair might be for science experiments, but I have a feeling whoever’s using it (Father Noah) is a sadist. There is sky/ocean/Virgin Mary blue and blood red, all through that room, deeply saturated, while the rest of the world is in faded, muted tones, like it isn’t quite real. To some, Heaven is the place that’s real, and it takes the blood of a martyr to get there. This sadist seems happy to help young boys achieve their martyrdom.
Yellow, the color of Jonas’ raincoat and geiger counter, plus the barrel fragments Charlotte finds, is the color of science, curiosity, reason and logic. Also selflessness and clear thinking. When the science and clear thinking fail, they become self-doubt and closed mindedness.
Red, Martha’s color, Ariadne’s color and the color of the copper pfennig coin plus the cord it hangs on, is the color of pain, love, empathy and strong emotion. It’s also the color of death.
Blue is the color of time, dimensional shifts, transitions, liminality, religion- all of the things we don’t understand yet, the theories that try to explain them, and the people who have an affinity for the mysterious, whether artistic, scientific or religious. It’s emotional tones are loyalty and devotion, which can be twisted into fear and loathing.
What does it mean that in Winden the sky is always gray, hardly ever blue?
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, 1953, murder suspect. 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.