In this episode, Ulrich follows Helge from 2019 back to 1953 and we’re introduced to a generation of new characters. Most shows wouldn’t introduce an entirely new cast just 2 episodes before the season finale, but most shows aren’t Dark. I love this show so much. It takes no prisoners.
The new characters are an intriguing bunch, including middle school Helge, Jana, Ines, Claudia and Tronte, and some of their parents. Tronte’s mother, Agnes, who comes to town as a single mother, wearing a red dress and a confident, flirtatious air, is particularly worth noting. She’s hiding something.
This episode also begins to explore Helge’s origin story and to explain why Egon has always been suspicious of Ulrich. But, while he’s had some good reasons to dislike Ulrich, he’s also always been an incompetent investigator.
1953 Winden alternates with the Stranger and the Clockmaker in 1986, having a physics discussion that starts with wormholes and proceeds through time loops and the creation of time machines.
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here!” William Shakespeare, The Tempest
The quote is from Act 1, scene 2, as everyone abandons a burning ship. This does not bode well for Winden. Though we’re near the end of the season, 1953 would be Act 1 of this three part time loop cycle.
In 1953, the power plant is nothing more than a construction site and a
nightmare dream. Young Helge rides his bike along the unpaved road to the site, while Egon drives past him, blue police light and siren turned on, in his Volkswagen Beetle police cruiser.
Best police car ever. Whoever decided to put Egon in a car that could be mistaken for a clown car, you have my admiration.
When Helge gets to the site, he stays on the edge and watches. Egon gives Helge dirty looks on the way there and after they arrive at the site. The site spokesman shows Egon to the bodies of two boys found buried in shallow graves in a pile of sand. Their clothing is from one of the future time periods, so it looks like strange costumes to the people of 1953.
A billboard looms over the construction site, showing Bernd Doppler and his family looking toward the future. The message reads: An Important Investment- Nuclear Power for Every Household!
One of the dead boys has red hair.
After the opening theme, the Stranger visits the Clockmaker to talk physics. They’re continuing a previous conversation, and pick up with the Einstein-Rosen bridge.
Clockmaker/Tannhaus: “That is a passage between a black hole, the entry, and a white hole, the exit, which connects the two, coupling time and space. To pass through it is to travel through time.”
Ulrich follows Old Helge deeper into the caves. He uses his lighter to guide him. He soon finds Ariadne’s red thread, and follows that to the time travel doors. Tannhaus continues speaking as Ulrich becomes a time traveler.
Tannhaus: “Our way of thinking is shaped by dualism. Entrance, exit. Black, white. Good, evil. Everything appears to us as opposite pairs. But that is wrong. Have you ever heard of the triquetra?”
Stranger: “You mean the trinity knot.”
Tannhaus: “Nothing is complete without the third dimension. There isn’t just only going up and down. There’s a center as well. When describing the Time-Space continuum, Einstein and Rosen overlooked something. A wormhole connects not just two, but three different dimensions. It connects the past, present and future.”
Young Helge rides his bike back home, which is the mansion that in 2019 has become Regina’s hotel. Inside, he stops at the bottom of the grand staircase and waits for his mother, Greta, to come down and judge him. She’s young, attractive and stern, a dominatrix if I ever saw one. She finds Helge’s condition unacceptable and commands him to strip down to his underwear right there in the foyer, before he spreads his dirty filth to other parts of the house. She tweaks his ear, hard, when he doesn’t acquiesce to his public humiliation quickly enough.
At this point, at would be a shock if Helge didn’t grow up to enjoy torture and death, and we’re only 8 minutes into the episode. He stops, with his hands held protectively over his crotch, before he takes his pants off. Greta orders him to finish. Then she walks away, leaving him standing alone in his underwear, in front of the front door.
While Greta’s upstairs getting clothes for Helge, Berndt comes home. He already has a limp and uses a cane, so it’s likely from a war injury. Before he talks with Helge, he glances upstairs, like he’s a little afraid of Greta, too.
Were the money and the house hers before the marriage, so she has more power than normal for that era? Bernd dotes on Helge, but he doesn’t rescue him from Greta’s abuse.
Helge tells Bernd about his trip to the construction site. Somehow, it’s the first Bernd’s heard of the dead boys. He races back out to supervise the situation. Greta brings Helge a pair of short pants and tells him he’s going to be late for his tutoring session with Claudia. She left Claudia’s money on the table.
At the morgue, the coroner tells Egon and the construction site manager that he’s never seen burns like this before. He suggests that they could be from a phosphorous grenade. In addition, both boys’ ears were destroyed. And he found coins from 1986 suspended on red cords around both their necks.
The coroner goes on to say that dark haired boy appears to be of Mediterranean descent, while the redhead has a strange tattoo of a unicorn. But possibly the weirdest thing is the tags in their clothing which say “Made in China”. It takes Egon a minute to remember what China is.
Ulrich wanders back out of the cave, into another time. There’s a metal gate across part of the entrance that wasn’t there in 1986 or 2019, so it’s safe to say he’s in 1953.
Before going to his lesson with Claudia, Helge goes to the cabin. The bunker has already been built. Helge pretends a stick is a gun and plays war with it. He plays his way down into the bunker. Noah’s chalk dates are on the wall. The room isn’t wallpapered, but there is a cot and shelves with food and other items stored there. Helge keeps looking over at the numbers.
Back to the Clockmaker and Stranger.
Stranger: “You write about Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence. A universe that expands and then collapses again. A universe that repeats itself endlessly.”
The Stranger shows Tannhaus the book A Journey Through Time. He’s surprised to see it, saying only 500 copies were ever printed. Stranger brings up the 33 year cosmic cycle which Tannhaus describes in the book.
Tannhaus: Every 33 years, the cycle of the moon is synchronized with that of the sun. But that number. It reoccurs in our world everywhere. Jesus performed a total of 33 miracles. There are 33 litanies of the angels. Dante’s 33 cantos in purgatory and 33 more in his paradise.”
Stranger: “It’s also the age at which the AntiChrist’s rule began.”
The screen flashes to:
Well, that can’t be good. Noah’s holding the leather bound log book which Tronte and Peter had in the bunker, and looking shifty, as the church bell rings.
Egon wonders aloud why someone would commit such brutal acts of murder. He and another man (possibly Daniel Kahnwald?) muse about what causes someone to become a murderer. The other man says that if they knew that, they could lock up the murderers before they hurt anyone.
Sort of like what Egon does with Ulrich in 1986.
Helge leaves the cabin to meet Claudia for their tutoring session, but he’s stopped by two teenage guys. They steal the money meant to pay Claudia, physically assault Helge, then urinate on him. Ulrich comes out of the woods just in time to scare them away.
Ulrich asks if young Helge has seen old Helge, not realizing who he’s speaking to. He also tells Helge that he has to defend himself, or bullies will never stop bothering him. He suggests biting them, really hard, since they’re so much bigger than him.
The Clockmaker: “Imagine you’re standing in an infinitely large, dark room, and you’re shining a light to the left. That light should then continue in that direction, to the left, indefinitely. There’s no reason to make the assumption that it could come back at you from the right. But a wormhole changes the topology of Space-Time. It bends it. Nothing is where it belongs anymore.”
To illustrate this, Tannhaus turns a flat piece of paper into a tube, so that the lightbeam which he drew pointing to the left curves back around behind itself to the right and forms a loop.
Ulrich runs toward town. He’s surprised at the old cars and dirt roads. A young woman pulls up in front of him and asks directions to his own house. She says she’s looking for Egon Tiedemann’s house, then introduces herself as Agnes Nielsen, and her son as Tronte- Ulrich’s grandmother and father. Ulrich is confused and asks what year it is. Agnes tells him it’s 1953.
The Clockmaker wonders whether time travel to the past can alter events or if it’s not possible to change what’s already occured. He tells the Stranger that scientists believe that causal determinism won’t allow us to change the past, but it’s human nature to believe in free will to determine our own fates.
He’s always dreamed of time traveling, to see the past and the future. Stranger asks if he’s done with dreaming of time travel. Tannhaus says his dreams have changed. He doesn’t belong in yesterday or tomorrow. Now his place is in the here and now.
In 1953, Ulrich visits the clock shop, where a younger HG Tannhaus works. Ulrich shows Tannhaus the book A Journey Through Time, with the author’s photo on the back, asking it he’s that HG Tannhaus. Tannhaus is decades younger than the man in the photo and hasn’t written the book yet, so he tells Ulrich that he isn’t that Tannhaus. But he looks like the book confuses him. Ulrich confirms from Tannhaus that they are in the year 1953. Now Ulrich is confused, muttering that it’s impossible that he’s in 1953.
The Stranger says that in the book, Tannhaus wrote that the number 33 could be the time difference between the planes of a three dimensional wormhole.
Older Tannhaus tells Stranger that the 33 year time difference is a theory of his, but it could be the crux of the matter.
1953 Claudia plays with her sweet little dog, Gretchen, then both go to answer the door. It’s Helge, who’s late again and doesn’t have her money. She lets him in anyway. They do math problems at the table.
Claudia’s mother Doris shows Agnes and Tronte around the house. They are renting the upstairs apartment. Doris explains that there are two bedrooms and a kitchen in the apartment. The water in the apartment isn’t working properly and the plumber hasn’t arrived yet.
Doris introduces Claudia and Gretchen to their new tenants, and tells them about Egon. She mentions that he’s a police officer who isn’t home much. “Sometimes it seems like he thinks he alone is responsible for our town.” So he was always a busybody.
Agnes says that her husband has passed away, but Tronte gives her a strange look when she says it, so we should question whether it’s true. Doris is mortified that she brought it up. Agnes, in her red dress, with her hat at an angle, screams Femme Fatale, rather than bereaved widow, but she accepts Doris’ apology.
If Mr Nielsen (if that’s their real name…) is dead, Agnes and/or Tronte killed him.
Doris leads Agnes upstairs, and asks Claudia to show Tronte around the neighborhood when she’s done with Helge’s math lesson.
Over in the clock shop, Tannhaus has sat Ulrich down and given him some water, probably to keep him from passing out. Young Ines and Jana enter the shop wanting to pick up Ines’ father’s watch.
Ines can’t wait to share the news that two dead boys were found at the Doppler construction site this morning. Jana heard the news from a teacher, but Ines must be the bigger gossip. Word on the street is that they were killed by aliens. Ulrich jumps out of his chair and gets in Ines’ face, making her repeat what she said. Then he leaves in such a hurry that he forgets his jacket.
At the construction site, Bernd holds a press conference on the wonders of nuclear power, the energy of the future. In the background, the police erect signs and mark off the crime scene to keep people out. He says that the miniscule atom will change the world and Winden will be the sit of the first German nuclear power plant, bringing stability and prosperity.
Later, Egon asks him for a list of all of the workers who’ve been on the premises. Bernd tells him that investigating disgruntled employees is a waste of time. He believes the bodies were planted by the Big Coal people, who are anti-nuclear because it will put them out of business. It’s no coincidence that the bodies appeared the day after he went to the city council for a permit.
Egon doubts this theory. Bernd explains that the success of nuclear power means wealth will change hands. The people who are going to lose, like the coal plant operators, don’t want that to happen.
Claudia, Tronte and Gretchen walk through the woods. Helge follows at a short distance. When they reach the cave, Claudia tells Tronte, “These are our caves. We’re not allowed to go in very far, but sometimes we do anyway. As a dare, you know?”
Tronte is about to accept the dare when Claudia decides it’s time for Helge to head home. She and Tronte walk away. Helge throws a stick into the cave for Gretchen. She chases it in, but doesn’t come out, even when Claudia calls.
Ulrich finds Egon at the police station and demands to be told whether one of the dead boys is his son. Egon describes Erik and Yasin, then asks if he’s reported mikkel’s disappearance to the police. Ulrich realizes that Mikkel isn’t one of the bodies. He asks about Helge, looking for the 2019 version. Egon tells him that the older Doppler is Bernd. Ulrich makes the connection.
Older Tannhaus asks why Stranger is so fascinated with time. Stranger replies, “I want to understand if I can change it.” He wants to know if everything has a purpose. If it does, then who decides the purpose? Do we have free will? Is the universe just random coincidence? Does God decide our destiny? “Or is it all created anew, in an eternally recurring cycle? And we slaves to the laws of nature and nothing but victims of space and time?”
Sounds like his travels haven’t gone well, if he’s considering the eternal recurrence, the ultimate time loop, as a strong possibility for how the universe works.
When Egon returns home from work, Doris tells him that their new tenants have arrived. She tells him that Agnes is odd, but nice. Doris thinks she’ll take the rooms. Egon has forgotten all about it.
On the English dubbing, it really sounds like Doris says that Agnes is hot (instead of odd). Pretty sure she’s thinking it.
Egon acts tired. Doris asks if something bad happened, but Egon denies it. Then Doris introduces him to Agnes. They have a polite, friendly conversation, but Agnes spends much more time looking at Doris than Egon. Egon questions her like she’s under suspicion, while Doris tries to soften his “curiosity”. Agnes tells them that her grandmother was from Winden and always spoke highly of it.
Egon asks her grandmother’s last name, but they’re interrupted before Agnes answers. Claudia and Tronte rush in, frantic that Gretchen is missing. Doris suggests she’s with Helge and sends Egon to check.
Which makes you wonder if she’s just fine with Egon’s long hours. (She does ask him not to be late, right after she’s given him a new case to solve.)
Older Tannhaus: “Time loops have a significant impact on the principle of causality, the relationship between cause and effect. As long as a wormhole exists, there will be a closed time loop, which means that inside of it, everything is mutually dependent.” Inside the time loop, the past and the future influence each other. Everything is connected.
Ulrich seeks out Helge at the mansion and finds him looking at dead birds he’s collected in a box. Charlotte will do the same thing 33 and 66 years later, as an investigator. Ulrich confirms that this is young Helge, then shows him one of the pfennig coins from the bodies. He asks if Helge has seen it before. Helge hasn’t.
Helge asks if Ulrich found who he was looking for. Ulrich says he has. Helge notices that Ulrich looks sad. Ulrich asks what’s in the box, then asks if Helge killed the birds. Helge says, “They fell down dead from the sky. They just plop down. I just collect them. They’re beautiful when they’re dead.”
Ulrich tells Helge that eventually, in the future, he’ll become a killer. But Ulrich can change that. If he changes the past, then Helge can’t kill the others. Helge figures out what coming and runs. Ulrich catches him at the cabin, where he uses a rock to beat Helge’s head until he’s bloody and unconscious.
Egon goes to the mansion and speaks to Greta Doppler about Gretchen. Greta is certain the animal didn’t come home with Helge, since they don’t allow animals in the house. After Egon leaves, Greta goes outside to call Helge. She finds his box of birds.
Ulrich drags Helge into the bunker and closes the door, leaving him to die alone.
Doris and Agnes make the beds in the apartment together. As they work, Agnes runs her hand over Doris’. Doris is… unsettled. Each woman eyes the other when she thinks the other isn’t looking.
Claudia is despondent over Gretchen.
Tronte makes sure no one’s looking, then checks the cigarette burns on his arm.
Egon stops on the forest road and looks at his rosary.
Another version of the bunker is stockpiled with weapons such as grenades, fuel, and possibly booby trapped to shoot anyone who tries to enter. It’s the version with the murder board. Sometime in the future?
Clockmaker’s voiceover: “All of our lives are somehow connected. One fate inextricably bound to another. Every deed is a response to some previous deed. Cause and effect. Nothing but an endless dance. Everything is connected to everything else… But that’s merely a theory.”
The Stranger asks what Tannhaus would think if he told him that everything in his book is correct. Time travel is real. His theory that wormholes are formed through gravitational impulses is true. There’s a wormhole in Winden. The Stranger has traveled from the future, through the wormhole, to 1986.
He takes out the wooden box with the gears that he had in his hotel room and opens it in front of Tannhaus. Tannhaus is shocked to see it. He built it, but it seems like he didn’t think it worked. Stranger tells him that it opens a portal 33 years into the past or future, but it’s currently broken. He needs Tannhaus to fix it.
Tannhaus asks if the device created the Winden wormhole. Stranger explains that a few months ago, the nuclear plant released a blast of energy that created the wormhole. The device is capable of repeating the process and creating new wormholes. Tannhaus assumes that Stranger intends to create another wormhole, but Stranger wants to use the device to destroy the existing Winden wormhole.
Tannhaus orders him out of the shop. Stranger insists that Winden is a festering wound and the townspeople are part of it. With the device, he can change that. Tannhaus asks him to leave, again. Stranger packs up his suitcase, but leaves the device. On the way out, he stops. “I’ve seen the future. I know what will happen. Things have to be set right. And you have to help me.”
Once Stranger is gone, Tannhaus pulls an identical wooden box from the back of a tall shelf. It’s a pristine version of the time machine.
Young Tannhaus closes up shop for the night and notices Ulrich’s jacket on a chair. He hangs it on the coat tree and takes out Ulrich’s phone. When he examines the phone, he pushes the button that turns it on.
The future is now. What would Ulrich have downloaded into his phone and how much of it would Tannhaus get through before the battery ran out? Probably not Stephen Hawking, but maybe some modern scifi that makes assumptions and has exposition based on current theory.
Ulrich sits in the dark and watches the bunker door. Eventually, a knocking comes from the inside.
My previous discussions of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, the symbolism (and pretend science) of the number 33, and Ariadne’s thread are in the episode 5 commentary.
Bernd’s theory that the Big Coal producers’ were killing children and planting their bodies to discredit nuclear power as a viable energy option was way too out there to be real. He was trying to distract Egon away from something. Probably whatever is in those yellow barrels in 1986 and 2019. Barrels full of dead children is still a distinct possibility.
I have to wonder though. How much did Egon eventually figure out? Did he start drinking because of the time travel and the cases that didn’t add up? Did he remember enough about Ulrich to know who the teenage Ulrich would grow up to be? His daughter and his grandson in law both became directors of the power plant. They were let in on the secrets, and this is a world with time travel. Did someone come back and give him hints?
Now that we’ve watched Ulrich and Jonas stumble onto the red cord and follow it to the time travel doors, it’s much easier to understand how others, like Mikkel, are accidentally finding their way through.
Watching multiple people find the center of the maze by following a cord that’s permanently tied down also makes me wonder how many men Ariadne sent to the Minotaur with a thread and a promise that they’d never leave her. Maybe Theseus was just the first one who actually beat the Minotaur and came back. All signs point to Ariadne being the brains of the operation and Theseus merely being the muscle with a nice
Who is responsible for the time travel version of Ariadne’s thread? The implication is that there’s a woman involved in the background somewhere who’s the brains of the operation. Is it Claudia? Charlotte? Is Noah the Minotaur? Ulrich? Does this make Jonas/Stranger Theseus? If we’re going through 3 repeating cycles, that would suggest that there are at least 3 versions of each, one for each generation.
Everything comes back to Dante and alchemy. See The OA, season 2. Or A Discovery of Witches, the books or TV series.
Now that we’ve seen a few of these bodies show up, because they all have the same wounds and and other attributes, this looks like a serial fetish killer, or a cult. Egon thought of Satanism in 1986, because he has no imagination or ability to do research, and he hoped he could pin it on Ulrich. His idea was in the right general direction, non Christian groups based on vaguely ancient, paganish ideas, but that was only by chance. The 1953 scene in the morgue reveals that he’d seen bodies with destroyed ears before he came across the sheep in 1986, but either forgot or didn’t make the connection.
Tannhaus panicked when Stranger said he wants to close off the connection between 1953, 1986 and 2019. He knows more than he’s sharing with Stranger. Is he afraid that the entire loop will collapse and their timeline will cease to exist if Stranger breaks it? Did he have something to do with the wormhole’s creation? Did he actually do some time traveling and have a child in the wrong time period, so that Jonas isn’t the only one who shouldn’t exist and will theoretically disappear if the wormhole is destroyed? Or it could have gone the other way, a female time traveler found him and had his child while she was in the wrong time, similar to the way Jonas came to be born.
Phosphorus grenade= Munitions have been made since World War 1 using white phosphorus, which is self-igniting, highly flammable and produces copious amounts of smoke. Bits of burning phosphorus stick to the skin, then continue burning until the phosphorous is consumed, producing particularly nasty burns. Egon’s guess wasn’t out of line, since the dead boys’ burns fit the description of phosphorus burns, as long as the boys were wearing protective clothing everywhere but around their eyes, or they were protected in some other way so that only the area around their eyes was exposed. White phosphorus continues to be used in weaponry to this day, for holy hand grenades and much more.
Einstein-Rosen bridge= A more serious sounding name for wormholes , which honors the scientists who first theorized about their existence.
In the episode 7 commentary, I wrote about my theories on the colors blue, yellow and red in Dark. Briefly, yellow is the color of reason, logic, science, curiosity, and selflessness, but also doubt and closedmindedness. Blue is the color of time, mystery, transition, loyalty, devotion, fear and loathing. Red is the color of pain, death, loss, love, passion, stong emotion, Ariadne’s thread, and Martha. Red is desire and what comes of desire, good or bad, but it’s usually not joyous in this show.
After watching this episode, I want to add dark forest green to my color theory. It’s associated with Helge, Egon and the forest. I’m not completely sure what it means yet, but all three are dangerous without intending to be. I think there was an association with Ulrich and dark green earlier in the season. He would fit this pattern of unwitting darkness. Maybe forest green is the Dark. Danger that comes from ignorance and lack of control, the 7 deadly sins, since we’re now talking about Dante and deep cosmology.
The many shots of the forest and the discussion of why Helge took the forest road on that fateful night in 1986, just like the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood taking the forest path, can’t be ignored. The ongoing themes of children walking through the forest, meeting strange men in the forest and disappearing in the forest, while surrounded by the evergreens, seem to be pointing to big bad wolves. So far we have three, plus Peter and Tronte as suspects. But Noah, the leader of the pack, wears black, and mostly stays in dark caves and black cars.
What was that reference Stranger made about the Antichrist when Tannhaus was listing connections to the number 33? That came out of the blue, and it seemed to be more than just random knowledge. Foreshadowing alert! Since the screen flashed to Noah to suggest he’s the AntiChrist, I wonder if he was born in one of the years when the wormhole was open, probably 1921, then began his work/rule in the next round of the cycle, 1953.
The triquetra, or trinity knot, has a history spanning Europe and Asia which covers the last 5,000 years. It has had many meanings to many different cultures over the course of time. Symbolism is derived from the shape of the knot, the fact that it’s a knot, the geometry and math of the triquetra, the artistry and craftsmanship of the finished product, its connection to the number 3, the fact that it’s made using one line, and it’s connection to other cultural symbols, such as women, a three part deity or the moon. This is a thorough overview of the triquetra.
In Celtic symbolism, the triquetra represents eternal life and the human connection with both the natural world and the divine. Clearly on Dark, the most direct connection is the most obvious-with time- past, present and future.
“This symbol also suggests three different but interlocked levels of the mental, spiritual, and physical or phases of time, as in the past, present, and future. Finally, the Triquetra is a symbolic representation of triple deities, such as a lunar goddess called the Great Mother and the war goddess Morrigan.”
We can now say for sure that birds drop dead out of the sky with their ears and inner navigational systems destroyed, whenever the Windham wormhole is in use. In Celtic mythology, birds represented freedom and acted as intermediaries between the Gods and humans. Not only are the birds dying, but their method for navigating between earth and sky, Heaven and the Living, is being systematically destroyed. If the AntiChrist and Celtic mythology are involved, Winden is being cut off from Heaven/Paradise/the Deities, possibly so the people can be enslaved by the AntiChrist:
“Celtic birds represented freedom and transcendence as birds can soar up into the heavens. They also symbolized the liberation of the human soul and were believed to bring messages, guidance, and prophecies from the gods to humans. In this way, birds were seen as mediators between the human world and the world of the gods.”
Among the obstacles to me writing more quickly: My goldendoodle, Koko, thinks every dog and horse on TV is real and tries to get to them. She was VERY taken with Gretchen. If Gretchen doesn’t come out on the other side of the wormhole, Koko may be writing a letter to the producers. The needs of the doggie audience have to be considered, too.
How Ulrich (and 2019 Helge) Got to 1953
Stranger and Tannhaus explained in this episode that the 33 year cycle is a universal constant in the Dark canon. They explained that time travel uses wormholes as tunnels through time, but because wormholes are a distortion, the tunnel fractures into 3 directions rather than just two, as humans tend to imagine. So each wormhole will allow the time traveler to go forward or backward 33 years, as symbolized by the 3 part triquetra that’s repeated throughout the show’s imagery.
When starting in 2019, the choices would be 1986 and 2052. Helge will have chosen 1986, just as Mikkel and Jonas did. In order to go further back in time, he can briefly exit the tunnel (or maybe just turn back, but there isn’t really room to maneuver) then re-enter from 1986. Now his choices will be 2019 and 1953.
Since the show is being called a trilogy with 3 seasons/cycles and this season has been spent in 1953-1986-2019, I’m considering 1986 the center of this cycle. It’s the pivot point of the three time periods focused on this season. Ulrich, Mikkel and Jonas are the pivot points of the story, especially Mikkel. Mikkel stayed in 1986 and had a child who shouldn’t exist. Jonas, that child, became a time traveler and does something important that hasn’t been revealed yet.
(Charlotte and Helge are also important, and either may be without a native time period, like Jonas.)
Because Mikkel disappeared, Ulrich, Mikkel’s father, went to 1953 and attacked young Helge. This has affected the rest of Helge’s life in ways we don’t understand yet. We do know that episode 7 opened with Helge, still bloody from Ulrich’s attack, awakening in the torture room, which connects him to Noah and the Lost Boys from a very young age. And we know that Helge has another “accident” in 1986, based on Charlotte’s conversation with Peter. That sounds like Ulrich tries again to kill him, when he discovers that Helge isn’t dead.
As the video shows, a time traveler could, theoretically go forward or backward long distances in time by exiting and re-entering the tunnel. At about 8:25 in the video, the narrator describes a theoretical Infinity Tube, which allows one to transfer from small time machine to small time machine within a larger machine, until the desired date is found.
ETA: When I wrote this, I didn’t understand yet that 1986 is the focal point for the wormhole, so I explained time travel as if they were moving through time without an anchor. But in Dark, 1986 serves as the anchor point for time travel using the cave wormhole and any time travel builds away from that date in 33 years intervals. So, while the infinity tube stuff is cool, and I still think they could use it eventually on Dark, it doesn’t apply to season 1.
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 Nielsen, 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 Nielsen, 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 Nielsen in 1953, 1986 and 2019. Son to Agnes, husband to Jana, father to Ulrich and Mads.
Claudia Tiedemann, 1953, 1986 and 2019(?). Director of Winden Power Plant in 1986. Daughter of Egon. Mother of Regina and mother in law of Aleksander. Grandmother of Bartosz. Had extramarital affair with Tronte Nielsen in the 1980s. Appears to be a survivalist at some point in the future.
Egon Tiedemann, 1953 & 1986. Winden police officer. Husband to Doris. Claudia’s father and Regina’s grandfather. Aleksander’s grandfather in law. Bartosz’s great grandfather. Teenage Ulrich’s nemesis. Alcoholic.
HG Tannhaus, 1953 & 1986. Clockmaker, inventor, amateur physicist and author of the book A Journey Through Time. Advisor to the Stranger.
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 time traveler who appeared in 2019 and is living in the Tiedemann’s hotel. He is investigating the Winden wormhole and time travel, hoping to correct the timeline.
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 Nielsen, 2019 (and 1986). Michael Kahnwald, 2019. Mikkel Nielsen changed his name to Michael Kahnwald when he was adopted by Ines Kahnwald in 1986.
Images courtesy of Netflix.