Welcome back, fellow travelers! Let’s jump right into season 2 of Dark, since that’s what the show itself does. The action picks up in the far future of 2053 and the distant past of 1921, because why start with anything familiar?
I’ve started a new character list at the bottom of the post. You can also find a list of the characters for each episode of season 1 with the recaps and a season 1 character master list post at my Dark tag.
Dark season 1 recaps and posts
“And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Winden, the darkest place on Earth, where it almost always rains, is apparently sunny in June. Judging from the quote, in season 2 the characters will be facing the minotaur/beast/darkness within themselves. Even Ariadne can’t save you from yourself.
June 21, 1921, The Winden Caves
The rhythmic clanging of a hammer on metal can be heard, sounding like a robot heartbeat. Inside the cave, two men excavate rock from what will become the time travel tunnels. One, who has dark hair, stops and says he thinks it’s strange that the beginning and the end could be the same thing. The young man with blond hair who’s working with him quotes, “Sic Mundus Creatus Est. And thus the world was created.”
The first man turns back to his chore and works faster, chanting “Sic Mundus Creatus Est.” He has the same tattoo on his chest that Noah has on his back. The other man watches him, appearing disturbed.
When they’re done for the day, the younger man, who is actually teenage Noah, asks his companion if he still believes in the prophecy. The nameless man says, “I believe in the irony of fate.”
Young Noah reminds him that Adam says they have to repeat the time loop precisely as they have before, no matter how difficult. “In 6 days, this will be Paradise, and H–l on Earth will end.”
The nameless man with the tattoo wonders whether Paradise and H–l could be the same place. Young Noah tells him that Adam was right. He’s lost his faith.
The nameless man asks if that’s why Adam sent him. He’s been expecting this. He finds it interesting that Young Noah is the one Adam sent. He says that he hopes Noah stops blindly following Adam someday. Then the nameless man tells the younger man to ask why Adam took him in and called him Noah.
The nameless man is sitting on a tree stump, with his back to Noah. Noah stabs a pick axe into the man’s shoulder. The man collapses to the ground, where Noah stabs him twice more in the torso. He looks dead, and he looks like Bartosz, 10 years older than he was in season 1.
Coincidence? Is this tattooed man an ancestor? Or is this Bartosz, and he found it ironic because Noah would also eventually recruit him to the cause? This scene was an initiation for Noah and a death/expulsion for the other man, a beginning and an end.
But the rule of thumb is, no one is declared dead for certain until they’re buried, decapitated, or burned. Even if it was Bartosz, he’s a liar and people have come back from worse injuries. He’d be smart enough to play dead.
Older Noah opens the triquetra log and looks at an entry: June 27, 2020- Beginning of the Last Cycle.
After the opening credits, Jonas and Martha are making love. He tells her, “You and I are perfect for each other. Never believe anything else.”
Then he startles awake.
Me at the end of season 1: Just once, couldn’t it be Dream Martha in bed with Jonas before he startles awake?
The show: Ok, sure. How about if they’re naked?
Now that we’ve gotten the existential essentials, sex and death, out of the way, let’s move on to the more humdrum elements of Cycle 2.
Jonas slept fully clothed, including a muddy green-brown rain jacket. I miss you already, yellow raincoat. 🌧 😢 The dark jacket is better camouflage for the apocalypse.
But, they also want us to believe he’s already descending into moral ambiguity. I believe he’s dejected, but not morally compromised. There’s a difference between doing what you need to do, despite others unavoidably getting hurt, vs knowingly doing things that hurt others, solely for personal gain. That’s one of the dualities and gray areas Dark loves to toy with.
Jonas is sleeping in his own bed, in his family home. It’s structurally intact, but abandoned. He pulls his father’s letter out of his pocket and looks at it. Then he goes downstairs to the kitchen, his usual morning routine. Hannah isn’t there. He looks at the fridge, but doesn’t open it. Instead, he goes to the wall and touches the circle marked on the date June 27, 2020. The days are marked with Xs until June 20th, then the days in between are blank.
The blank days are the ones starting with the one year anniversary of Michael’s suicide and ending with the beginning of the next cycle. Hannah marked the days of her one year mourning period for her husband.
Jonas takes the framed family photo off the wall and leaves. Outside, Winden is in ruins. He searches through town and finds what he needs at the school. Then he goes to the bunker, where he plays a cassette recording made by Claudia Tiedemann. He has a case of cassette recordings made by her.
“My name is Claudia Tiedemann. I’m one of the few survivors of the apocalypse on June 27, 2020. Almost 3 months have passed since the catastrophe. It’s unclear what, exactly, caused the event in Winden. But the God Particle- If we can stabilize it, it might provide a way back. Back to the past. Maybe we can save them. All of them.”
As he listens to her, Jonas holds a St Christopher medal and looks at a photo of Martha. St Christopher was a Christian martyr and is the patron saint of travelers.
June 21, 2020- 6 Days Until the Apocalypse
The local radio announcer goes through the list of the Winden missing, which now includes Eric Obendorf, Yasin Friese, Mads Nielsen, Mikkel Nielsen, Ulrich Nielsen, Jonas Kahnwald, and Old Helge Doppler. Every man and boy Hannah has ever loved is on that list, other than her father. She’s a mess. It’s also the anniversary of her husband’s suicide. She marks off June 21.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED????? A Brief Tangent into Time
The calendar in 2053 should have all of the marks that Hannah will ever make on it, because it’s in the future and she’s in the past. If Hannah marks off a day on the calendar, that day should already be marked off in 2053. You know, like how normal time works. That red X on June 21 is a big ole time anomaly.
I can think of two explanations for the discrepancy. One explanation is that each cycle takes place in a new dimension/timeline. The past we’re seeing Hannah in could be in one timeline/dimension, while Jonas and the future are in another, so they don’t quite match.
That’s the most likely answer. Jonas is in the timeline created by the second cycle, while Hannah is still in the timeline that belongs to the first cycle. If it’s true that we’re seeing two different timelines, there has to also be a version of the past in the same timeline as Jonas, so we need to watch for the discrepancies.
The other explanation is that since the strange event that sent Jonas to 2052, the Windens of those two time periods are linked in a bizarre way. It could be that artifacts in Winden that have remained in the same place, untouched, since the time when Jonas and Helge touched fingers on November 12, 2019, all the way through June 21, 2053, are linked differently through time. They may be able to affect each other backwards, forwards, simultaneously or to mirror whatever affects each other.
In other words, maybe the next time we see it, the calendar in 2053 will show the X on the 21st, because it’s responding to changes in 2020 as if they’re happening in it’s own present day. Or because of some other strange time anomaly. This could be like the field of dead sheep in 1986, one of those strange things that happens in Winden because time is so broken there.
Or both theories could be true: There are at least two timelines, and the normal rules of temporal cause and effect are even further out of whack than they were in the first cycle. In cycle 1, the main effect we saw was like the ouroboros- a blurring of origins to the point where it often isn’t clear, metaphorically, which came first, the chicken or the egg. Now there has been so much more time travel, and especially backward time travel (which, in real life is considered to be extra impossible and A Very Bad Thing, even if it were possible), and who knows who, from different time periods, having babies with each other, and contamination of the timeline by artifacts from the future moving to the past, then back to the future, that it’s likely Jonas and Mikkel are the least of the problems. Now there are time hybrids (people, artifacts and events) everywhere which can’t be fixed.
I think a new timeline/loop/dimension is created with each cycle, each one slightly different from the last, which means that Dark exists in a multiverse. The timelines are gradually shifting away from the rest of reality and Winden is in the process of becoming its own separate little world. Like Brigadoon or the town of Germelshausen from the German story of the same name, it’s becoming out of sync with the rest of the universe.
Perhaps eventually, Winden will only be in sync with the outside world for a week out of every 33 years. At any other time, you won’t be able to get there from here. Then Winden will either be Paradise or the opposite.
Noah and his people are trying to control the changes and create a perfectly repeating Eternal Recurrence. Stranger Jonas tried to blow the whole thing up. Neither was completely successful. What they are in the process of achieving is on the tipping point of chaos. That may be the ultimate goal. But it’s not actually clear what anyone is ultimately trying to achieve.
ETA: Third theory- the shows creators’ aren’t all that careful with their props, their editing or their quality control, which we all thought couldn’t be the answer when season 2 was released. This show seems like it’s put together so carefully that we thought the numerous discrepancies fans were finding had to be on purpose. Alas, Netflix has started going through and making changes to to the show to “correct” what are apparently mistakes, without acknowledging that they’re doing it. So, that doesn’t help a recapper out much. It’s unclear whether all of the discrepancies were mistakes, or just some of them, so I’ll leave my theories here. Sometimes I turn out to be right in the long run. Small changes that turn into big changes are a theme this season, so some of these differences have to be real.
The extra “X” on the calendar is apparently a mistake, but the Xs and the O are still important. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about it until episode 8.
I’ll keep these screencaps with my first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which the ghosts come out of Harry’s wand in the wrong order.
Regina’s cancer has progressed and she’s now nearly bald due to her treatments. Her doctor is worried about her test results, and considers admitting her to the hospital, but Regina insists on staying at home. The doctor agrees to wait until they get more test results. He tells her they may have to stop the hormone treatment she’s been on and go back to chemotherapy.
Bartosz and Aleksander sit silently through the appointment. Bartosz gets a text from Martha, asking him to meet her.
Clausen: “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear, may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips. Betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
At a town meeting in the school auditorium, Clausen, the head of the new Winden Missing Persons Task Force, introduces himself with some inspiring words from Freud. He goes on to explain that they’ll be reexamining every aspect of the each case until they find the clues hidden within the secrets of Winden’s population. He’ll be sending out subpoenas to start interviewing everyone again. The people of Winden don’t seem thrilled with the notion of a stranger coming into town and digging around.
Eric Obendorf’s father, Jürgen, asks who’s on the task force. Clausen admits that it’s himself and Charlotte Doppler. Jürgen and the rest of the townspeople aren’t impressed.
Clausen answers them by saying that ten people who see an elephant from ten different angles will give ten different descriptions of an elephant. But one person who looks at the elephant from all ten angles will be able to piece together his observations and figure out that it’s an elephant.
Jürgen tells him that none of his metaphors will bring Eric home. And if there’s something as big as a elephant in the room, it shouldn’t take a detective and ten witnesses to figure it out.
On the surface, Clausen seems very impressed with his own intellect, and otherwise, useless. He also thinks like a spy, constantly watching everyone and taking in every detail, no matter how small.
As they sit by the lake, Magnus asks Franziska if Charlotte ever talks about the investigation. Franziska says that she doesn’t talk about it in front of the kids. Magnus is so tired of waiting for news that he feels like it would be easier if his missing loved ones were dead. Franziska tries to comfort him. Then she gets a text and says she has to leave, since Elisabeth has been staying with a friend.
Katharina heads into the cave with a map, a pack and a determined look.
She must have found everything Ulrich left behind from his investigation.
In 2053, Winden now has a wall and warning signs. Jonas also has a pack and a determined look, though you have to look closely under the scarf over his face to tell.
Jonas doesn’t go to the other side of the wall. Instead, he goes to the Winden graveyard, in front of Noah’s destroyed church. He puts the family photo at his father’s grave and stops to look at Martha’s. Her grave marker is more elaborate than the others. The survivors were people who were closer to her.
In 2020, Martha and Bartosz meet on the forest road, which I guess is also the bridge where Bartosz always meets Noah. Bartosz says he’s tried to call Martha, but she hasn’t picked up. Martha says there’s a lot going on, but, “Can we talk?” Bartosz understands the code for “this is a break up”, or maybe Noah told him it was coming. It’s hard to tell what’s really Bartosz anymore and what’s been orchestrated by his evil cult handler.
Martha tries to elaborate, but Bartosz tells her not to bother. They haven’t had much of a relationship for a while now, anyway. Maybe it’s for the best.
Then he remembers his sense of entitlement, or maybe his instructions from Noah, and accuses her of breaking up with him because of Jonas. Martha doesn’t even know how to respond to that, since Jonas has been missing for 7 months.
It’s not exactly likely she’s been cheating with Jonas. If she’s pining for him, it’s her own business.
Martha tells Bartosz the reasons she’s done with him, regardless of her feelings for Jonas: They hardly ever see each other He’s changed. She thinks he’s hiding something. She doesn’t understand him.
Bartosz says that his mother’s dying and yes, he is hiding something. He’s involved in something he can’t talk to her about, but it’s stressful, okay? She has no idea how hard his life is, with the dying mother and the demanding evil cult. Martha points out that half of her family and the actual love of her life have disappeared into thin air in the last year, plus her mother has gone insane and forgotten she and Magnus even exist.
They come to a pain and suffering stand-off, so Martha leaves. Bartosz gets a text from Noah, arranging their next meeting: “This evening.”
Cult membership is a demanding hobby.
Over at the nuclear power plant, Aleksander gives a speech to his employees about the virtues of nuclear power. He thinks it’s the safest and cleanest and all around most perfect form of energy.
Guess he hasn’t visited Chernobyl, or the large dead zone around it, lately.
He specifically says, “The outside world demands progress.”
What does he mean by the outside world? Isn’t Winden part of the world?
The plant will be decommissioned in a week. Aleksander thanks the employees for their loyalty. Then one of his employees shows him to the room where they intend to bury the yellow barrels in concrete. The room is already radioactive from its previous life as part of the reactor’s process, so the radiation from the barrels will be masked and the barrels will be undetectable.
Hannah now keeps the decorated metal box that holds Aleksander’s gun and passport sitting out on the kitchen table. This is a woman with nothing left to lose. In fact, she briefly points the gun at her head, until she hears someone at the door.
It’s Stranger Jonas, who uses his 34 year old key to unlock the door and come in. He tells Hannah this when she questions him, then shows her a scar on his arm that he got from falling off his bike as a kid, and tells a couple of other family stories to prove who he is. He tells her about Michael spilling oil while making pancakes and reminds her of the time in 1986 when she and her father offered him a ride, only she didn’t know it was him.
He convinces her that he’s really her son, but a much older, time traveling version. She touches his face and hugs him, trying to understand how this is real.
Franziska checks her box under the train tracks and exchanges one envelope for another. Magnus follows her, staying out of sight.
Katharina explores the caves, making notes on a map.
Noah replaces the Clockmaker as the voiceover narrator this season:
“There are no coincidences. Every path is predetermined. Everything happens when it is supposed to. At the right time, at the right place, as if the world was a carpet made up of an endless network of infinite threads, each in its place. But only a handful of people know where the journey takes them.”
To his younger self: “You’ve taken your first step. Adam will be proud of you. I felt the same way. It will pass.”
They are sitting in Noah’s church, which is under construction. Both look a little green. Young Noah is crying. He asks why Adam took him in. Adult Noah says that all answers will be revealed when the time is right. Young Noah wants to know how to tell right from wrong, good from evil. Adult Noah tells him to listen to his inner voice, and not to follow anyone but himself/themselves.
Adult Noah: “Our true character shows not only in our deeds, but also in their purpose. I am you. I am your inner voice. Never forget. Everything is connected. You, me, the past and the future.”
Noah just said that the end doesn’t justify the means, after spending Cycle 1 insisting to Helge that it did. He’s realized that intentions matter. Helge’s death must have hit him hard. Cycle 2 Noah is a sensitive soul with a conscience.
Interesting, since Stranger Jonas is now staying with his mom, instead of remaining a stranger in town. The time travelers are evolving, or revealing a tendency toward community and love that’s always been there, but they couldn’t indulge until now.
That was also the essence of Aleksander’s speech to the power plant employees. He’s not the cold hearted mobster he was in Cycle 1. Now that Aleksander is about to lose everything he holds dear, he’s found humility, which is a fascinating response.
In 2053, Jonas walks through the forest, which is filled with dead bodies and their belongings (?) hanging from the trees as warnings. He hears gunfire and shouting, so of course he goes toward it. Someone is yelling in French. “Who are you? You are hiding it! We saw it! We followed the signal. ‘Til the dead zone. You’re hiding God! You mustn’t hide God! He’s not yours alone!”
It’s a group of travelers who have been captured trying to enter the dead zone. Adult Elisabeth Doppler, who is in charge of Winden, orders them to be executed by hanging.
Elisabeth’s interpreter, Silja, is the woman who knocked Jonas out when he arrived in the future at the end of season 1. Through her, Elisabeth says, “Any passage into the dead zone is forbidden. Any attempt will result in the death penalty. Those are the rules. We are the future. Sic Mundus Creatus Est.”
Everyone leaves the area but Jonas. Elisabeth and Silja ask where he’s been. When he doesn’t answer, Elisabeth tells him that there’s nothing in the dead zone. The only hope is the passage. The faithless have died. “The prophecy will come true, and the passage will open and lead us to Paradise.”
Jonas doesn’t have time for her prophecy. He reminds her that everyone is dead, whether they had faith or not. Everyone he knows will die in 6 days, in his time. He doesn’t need their Paradise. He just wants to go back to 2020, where he belongs. He asks what’s behind the wall. Elisabeth doesn’t answer.
2020 Elisabeth is in the clock shop with Peter. HG Tannhaus died years ago, but Charlotte boxed up everything in the shop and kept it. Peter explains to Elisabeth that Charlotte kept Tannhaus’ belongings because they’re all she has left of her family. She doesn’t remember her parents, because they died when she was so young. Elisabeth finds a photo of teenage Charlotte with Tannhaus. She shows it to Peter. There’s a rack of clock keys on the wall behind him.
Clausen starts by setting up his workspace opposite Charlotte’s desk and asking her questions in a random order which keeps her off balance. He asks if Charlotte was born in Winden. She says that her grandfather was and he raised her. Then he changes gears to ask if she’s ever considered that Ulrich could be the murderer/kidnapper. Charlotte hasn’t. Clausen tells her he knows that Ulrich left her a message the night he disappeared. Charlotte says she’s deleted it, since it wasn’t anything important.
Wöller brings in a box of old files, then leaves. Charlotte tells Clausen she’s had an office set up for him down the hall. He’s happy where he is, thanks. He tells her that expectations lead to disappointments. She’s disappointed in him because she expected someone different. His mother used to tell him to have hope, but not expectations. He doesn’t believe in coincidences. He believes things happen because they’re supposed to.
In other words, he believes in fate and the time loops. He’s really there as an enforcer, probably sent by the evil time cult.
Martha knocks on Mikkel’s door, looking for Katharina. The room is empty and the door is unlocked, for the first time in months. Ulrich’s police files are still on the floor, with all of the additional information he, and then Katharina, added. Martha gets to work. She finally has a chance to go to the center of the labyrinth herself.
Katharina continues to explore the caves, with no luck.
What happened to Ariadne’s thread?
Noah stands and stares at a medieval painting of sinners in agony in the underworld, while Adam rambles on about the hopelessness of life for the unwashed masses:
“It’s remarkable that people don’t go crazy, knowing the futility of their own existence. An endless cycle of life and death. What is the origin of all this suffering? Did you tell Bartosz? [Noah nods yes.] And he doesn’t suspect anything? He was always naive by nature. The apocalypse has to happen. Are you having doubts? [Noah shakes his head no.] What must you do with an old forest so trees can grow?”
Noah: “You burn it all down.”
Adam: “There’s very little time left. You must find the missing pages.”
Noah nods his head. He’s holding the leather triquetra log book. Throughout the conversation, he’s looked somewhere between apathetic and nauseated. A woman enters the room to inform Adam, “They’re waiting for you.” Before he leaves, he reminds Noah, “Six days left.”
Noah gets an extreme close up and looks straight into the camera. He’s stepped outside of normal existence to see reality as it truly is.
Magnus watches the spot where Franziska buried her box. Benni eventually digs it up and switches envelopes. When she leaves, Magnus follows her, all the way into her trailer. Once inside, she tells him her prices. He realizes that she’s a prostitute and takes off out of there as fast as he can.
The truck holding the yellow barrels is still parked in her parking lot.
Jonas explains to Hannah that he exists infinitely and is always Jonas, every moment between his birth and death. He’s always the same, but not the same. Like everyone else, he changes as time passes relative to him, no matter where he is in the timeline.
Hannah asks where her Jonas is. He smiles at her a second, because he just finished explaining that he’s right there, but he knows what she means. The Jonas who should be sitting at the table with her in 2020 is in the future and can’t get back to his own time because Stranger Jonas tried to destroy the time passage and only succeeded in closing it instead.
Finding out for sure that Young Jonas isn’t coming back is another blow to Hannah, who was holding a gun to her head an hour ago. She asks why Stranger Jonas is there. He looks at a spot on the floor next to the stairs, then says he’s going to put an end to it all, once and for all.
That should help Hannah’s frame of mind.
Elisabeth looks through some of Tannhaus’ books on alchemy and Hermeticism. If the apocalypse does come in 6 days, she’ll be stuck with a medieval world view.
She finds an old black and white photo in one of the books, which she shows to Peter. A group of people posed for the picture. One of them is Noah. Agnes Nielsen, Ulrich’s grandmother, is standing next to him. Peter texts Charlotte to let her know.
Charlotte is listening to Clausen treat her as if she doesn’t know how to do her job. She smiles and nods politely when he tells her to listen to everything the witnesses say and watch for discrepancies. She leaves when she gets Peter’s text. On her way out, Clausen says that he needs a ride from her the next day.
Noah studies Adam’s version of the Winden family tree/murder board, then leaves with his time machine in a suitcase. Adam’s version is much simpler than Claudia’s. For one thing, he doesn’t bother with strings to show connections.
Jonas takes a stroll through the apocalyptic wasteland to gather supplies from the bunker, including the St Christopher medal. He keeps branches covering it as camouflage, like Helge did, and moves the same way Helge did when he throws them aside. Coincidence? Are there coincidences on Dark?
Magnus finds Martha in Mikkel’s room, still going through Ulrich’s files. Martha shows him a photo of the portal door (Sic Mundus Creatus Est) and says she thinks that’s what Katharina is looking for in the caves. She figures out that Winden has a secret, and everyone knows at least part of it, except for them.
Bartosz goes to the cave to meet Noah, who cryptically asks if he’s prepared. Bartosz nods his head and takes one last look back toward home as they enter the cave. I’m not sure Bartosz has the guts for this business.
Toben leaves Benni’s trailer and thanks her for the coffee. He gives her an envelope and she gives him the keys to the radioactive truck. He hugs her goodbye, and tells her to get in touch with their mom.
Yup, they’re siblings. They almost had to be, since they look so much alike.
Peter and Charlotte meet at the 2020 bunker and he shows her the photo that Elisabeth found. She turns it over and sees that it says January 8, 1921, Sic Mundus Creatus Est on the back. She hangs it on her organizational wall. She doesn’t recognize the people or the phrase.
Franziska and Elisabeth wait for Charlotte and Peter to come home. It’s implied that they’re out late, investigating, most of the time these days. No one’s watching the kids in Winden.
Magnus isn’t picking up Franziska’s calls. A repeat of Jonas/Martha/Bartosz in the first cycle.
Stranger Jonas is asleep in his childhood bed, shirtless. Hannah sits on the edge of the bed and almost touches the scars on his back. He still doesn’t quite seem like “her” Jonas to her.
Regina sleeps in a tricked out hospital bed in her living room.
Aleksander supervises as the radioactive yellow barrels are buried in concrete, hopefully forever. He and the workers wear bright yellow hazmat suits.
This is a fascinating use of the color yellow, if it still means clear thinking, logic and reason, since this is the most brightly colored scene in the episode. All signs point to Aleksander doing the right thing, but logic and reason are also being buried in stone. Which is the correct interpretation?
Then we switch to Clausen, examining evidence and looking at a letter. He’s smoking a cigarette, breathing smoke and fire at the evidence board. That just can’t be good. He’s about to burn this town down, trying to get at the truth and end the suffering.
Jonas goes to the wall, then through a hole in the wall, then into the ex power plant, using his big glowing light the entire time, even though we can hear aircraft circling and the penalty for going beyond the wall is death. His older self is alive, giving him the best plot armor there is, so he doesn’t have to worry about being caught. According to Dark’s time and time travel rules, you can go to the past, but you can’t change it, so he can’t be killed for at least the next 33 years of his life. At least in timelines close to his own.
He follows the geiger counter signal until he’s outside the room where Aleksander buried the barrels in 2020. Jonas stops to put on a hazmat suit, then enters. He discovers a huge, black and blue, floating, glowing, amorphous ball- the God Particle that Claudia discussed in her recordings. Jonas turns to look at the rest of the room. There are open manuals and computer terminals that look intact, despite the overall destruction of the room. It’s evidence that someone before Jonas has tried to do science on the fast moving energy cloud. He turns back to the God Particle.
In a universe where everything moves through cycles, circles and changes, leading them to become their opposites over time, it’s important to watch for the (cosmological) constants. Dualities are huge in Hermeticism, which makes a comeback in this episode, by way of the Clockmaker’s library. Dark loves to play with them, and to have people appear to be one thing when they are actually the opposite. Or at least to have people and situations appear to be black and white when they are filled with shades of gray, and to reveal that slowly.
Think of Helge’s journey in season 1, in which we saw his inner conflict revealed slowly. Then we saw that it had been going on for decades, and the ways that his childhood had led, inescapably, to his involvement with Noah. Early on in season 1, he appeared to be the enthusiastic, evil accomplice to a child murderer, but the truth was much more complicated than a duality can hold.
Helge didn’t change his nature, though he did go through the life journey that any human does, which involves growth through experience. Our knowledge of him is what went through a fundamental change.
Then there’s the dance between Egon and Ulrich. There was a constant shift between who had the power and who was powerless, who was right and who was wrong, who was working in the light and who was in the dark. Meanwhile, some aspects remained the same, because Egon and Ulrich remained the same people, at every age and through every era. Ulrich is violent and Egon is not. Egon is cautious and Ulrich is reckless. Ulrich was primarily concerned with his own life and Egon was an obstacle that he kept finding in his way. Egon developed an obsession with Ulrich that carried through the ages, superseding all logic and normal rules of cause and effect.
As with Helge, they didn’t change, our perceptions changed as we gained more information.
I have a feeling that every romantic relationship in Dark is incestuous, since the characters are all closely related, so there’s not much point in worrying about it, or in age differences, since the constant time travel makes that moot. I tend to think that souls are trapped there, in some kind of purgatory, being endlessly reborn in these cycles. Their familial relationships or relative ages in a given cycle are irrelevant, since this is akin to Greek or Egyptian mythology, outside the rules of normal society and Space-Time.
There’s still the question of why Adam, Claudia, Noah- whoever really started this- thinks the answer is to force the time loops to recur, and to do it by repeating the previous loops as exactly as possible. Or why burning it all down would help anyone.
So far, we have three potential antagonists for Cycle 2: Elisabeth, who always had a rigid view of the rules, even though she loved to break them, is in charge in the future. Clausen, who seems relentless in his quest for the truth, is taking charge in the present. And Adam, who is dogmatic and also relentless, with a desire to start the apocalypse, is in charge of the past, Noah and the time travelers.
Sic Mundus Creatus Est, The Kybalion and Mystery Schools
While looking through boxes in the Clockmaker’s shop, Elisabeth found the photograph of Sic Mundus inside a book called The Kybalian: Hermetic Philosophy. The Kybalian is one of the core works of the Hermeticism revival of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was published in 1912 under the pseudonym “The Three Initiates”. It is a summary of Hermetic principles for the student of Hermeticism. The book is in the public domain and is online HERE.
The Emerald Tablet, which is tattooed on Noah’s back and on the front of the man he killed in the opening of this episode, is one of the core historical texts of Hermeticism. It was also hanging in the hospital hall in Winden in 1986. Mikkel took the framed plaque down and brought it into his room to examine more closely.
Through the ages, the knowledge of Hermeticism, and its sister tradition, Gnosticsm, has been guarded by secret societies. Its deepest wisdom has been handed down in stages, over many years, to carefully chosen students, in mystery schools run by these secret societies which claim to have knowledge of reality and the truth of how the universe works beyond ordinary understanding.
Mystery schools existed in ancient times nearly as far back as there are written records. They’ve been dedicated to all sorts of deities and nature religions. The point is the mysteries of the universe and existence, not any particular religious belief. Most believe that all religions are speaking of the same universal phenomenon. Mythology is used as metaphor, to aid the mind in understanding deeper truths, which is the essence of storytelling anyway. The mystery schools also teach/taught knowledge of the occult/magic, such as astrology, alchemy, astral projection, tarot, reincarnation, secrets of mind control and enlightenment, and access to energy fields unknown to other mortals.
Dark is playing with science fiction versions of these concepts.
I believe that Sic Mundus Creatus Est is a Hermetic secret society and mystery school, based specifically on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This real life secret society was formed in the late 1800s, included a mystery school, went through a dramatic rise and fall, a rebellion and splintering, then a long expansion. It lasted until the 1970s, before several new groups formed to continue its work, some of which still exist today.
There are specific instances in its history which I think mirror Dark, which maybe I’ll touch on in later recaps. Perhaps most importantly, in the early 1900s one of the branches changed its name to Alpha et Omega. Beginning and End.
There’s no doubt that we’re dealing with Hermeticism in Dark. It’s been shown in images repeatedly and the ideas have been discussed by the more philosophically minded characters. Noah spoke of Young Noah and the murder as if he was going through an initiation. Adam and Noah also spoke about Bartosz as if he was being introduced to a new level of knowledge in his Sic Mundus membership, the nature of which might test his fortitude and commitment. The way the people in the Sic Mundus photo are arranged speaks of an organized hierarchy, founders and most advanced members in front. It definitely looks like the members of an organization.
Martha said to Magnus that everyone was part of a secret, except them- foreshadowing for the reveal that almost everyone in town, in every era, is part of a secret society that’s working to fulfill a prophecy. It’s training its members using a mystery school and creating the perfect population through a breeding program/eugenics, overseen by Adam, their prophet. (Eugenics were also popular in the first half of the 20th century, and not just in Germany.)
Jonas to Martha: “You and I are perfect for each other. Never believe anything else.”
Soulmates are soulmates.
Man in the Cave to Young Noah: “Ask why he took you in, and why he called you Noah.”
To be continued.
Adult Noah to Young Noah: “Our true character shows not only in our deeds, but also in their purpose. I am you. I am your inner voice. Never forget. Everything is connected. You, me, the past and the future.”
He’s pouring his own moral wisdom into his younger self as fast as he can, while Adam’s not there to interfere. And he especially wants himself to follow his own beliefs, according to his own experiences and morals, rather than listening to anyone else. That “never forget” is haunting. He truly hates Adam. I think he has since this first murder, but he had no choice in the matter at the time, and nowhere else to go. Reliving it has brought it all to a head again.
Clausen: “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear, may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips. Betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
In other words, how the characters behave is more important than what they say. Words might lie, but actions don’t. Watch, as well as listening. If the two don’t match, it’s the actions, mannerisms, and facial expressions that are the truth. Clausen is annoying, but he’s not wrong.
Jonas: “You could say that I exist infinitely. I’m here now. And I exist for every second between my birth and death. I’m always Jonas. I’m the same as I was, and yet not the same, just as you’re not the same person who came through that door an hour ago.”
This sounds god-like, but also human- as long as he’s alive, he always exists, somewhere, even if he’s not in the time period he belongs in. He’s a time traveler who could be anywhere, which includes infinite possibilities. But he acknowledges that he will die, so he’s not claiming innate god-like abilities, simply noting the reality that he could be anywhere at any time. But he’ll still always be Jonas at his core, no matter what. Age and experience changes everyone, but it doesn’t change the core essence of who you are. Jonas is always Jonas, quiet, introverted, loyal, loving, gentle, patient, methodical, consistent, slow to anger. He’s had to rise above many of the mundane realities of most people’s everyday lives, because his lifestyle is so different. But he’s not claiming that, as a human being, he’s better than or different from Hannah. He is a mystic whose growth is based on his own lived experience.
Adam: “It’s remarkable that people don’t go crazy, knowing the futility of their own existence. An endless cycle of life and death. What is the origin of all this suffering?”
Adam is asking the questions of a mystic, but he puts himself both outside and above the experiences which would help him answer them. He doesn’t speak of “I” and “you”, the words of personal experience, as Jonas did. Instead, he only speaks of distant others, in the third person, who have nothing to do with him.
I suspect he is the “prophet” of “the [nihilistic] prophecy”.
He doesn’t see any common experience between himself and the masses or feel any compassion. Since he’s not privy to their inner lives, he thinks all they do is mindlessly live and die. He thinks of them the way that he would think of livestock or crops, living things meant to be used and discarded, who have no more significance than an inanimate object.
After this exchange, he announces that you must burn down an old forest so that new trees can grow. The older trees/people are all living pointless lives anyway, or at least that’s what it looks like from his lofty perch, so he might as well end it for them, and end their suffering. He’s actually doing them a favor by bringing about their deaths. The only thing that matters is finding the answer to his question and fixing his dilemma.
Adam is domineering, impatient, rigid, violent, narcissistic and manipulative. And scary.
Season 2 Colors, Symbols and Imagery
Remember way back in season 1, episode 7 😘, when I interpreted blue as meaning time, transitions and mystery? I’m definitely sticking with that interpretation for season two, since that’s a perfect description of the God Particle. As you can see in the photo way up at the top of the page, it has a black, constantly changing exterior, with a constant blue glow inside- the bright blue that’s one of the 3 prominent, bright colors used in season 1.
Jonas has traded his yellow raincoat for a yellow hazmat suit, now that he’s in the future, but yellow still means science, reason, logic and clear thinking. It’s still his color.
Red doesn’t appear in the future. Maybe because Martha, the standard bearer for red, is dead in that time period. There doesn’t appear to be any passion or desire there, and death has already taken almost everyone.
In the future, Elizabeth is the guardian of the God Particle. In the past, as a child, she continues to wear her deep red lipstick, which matches Martha’s from the Ariadne play. As with Martha, she’s both passionate and a necessary thread. There’s no other reason to continue to put that lipstick on an 8-9 year old, after Franziska made such a big deal about her stealing it in season 1.
Overall, we’re being directed to notice eyes and eye color. Not only are faces being shown up close and straight on, so we see their round shape, the characters’ eye color is highlighted over and over. Eye color can change, but generally only because of disease or injury. We see this in adult Elizabeth, who appears to be blind in one eye in the future as a result of an injury which turned her eye white. She now has heterochromia, two different colored eyes.
The glowing ball light which Stranger Jonas passed down to Young Jonas is also shown in this episode, and round images of planets, moons, suns, lights and faces are emphasized this season. Time is a circle, and so is everything else. We were frequently shown faces in season 1, as well, especially the aging faces of characters in succession and accompanied by a voiceover. It’s important to pay attention to what changes and what doesn’t change, especially amongst the time travelers.
I think the glowing ball light is also indicating who is (unchangingly?) on the side of light. You don’t get to use it unless you try to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t work out. You can be flawed, but not selfish.
Last season, phones were a huge part of the way the characters communicated, or didn’t communicate. Every episode, phones, phones, phones. It turned out that the key to making the Clockmaker’s time machine work was for Ulrich to go back to 1953 and forget his smartphone, so that Tannhaus could incorporate it into the design. Every time the time machine is used, a phone is attached. Connection is essential.
Connection to what? People. This episode, we’re seeing photos, books, papers and images, especially close ups of faces and being asked to look closely for light, shadow and what’s in their eyes.
Jonas’ face is often obscured by the scarf or a beard. Sometimes he’s in shadow, but he’s also carrying his own round, bright light with him, and he has Martha’s photo and the St Christopher’s medal in the future, now that he doesn’t have Ariadne’s thread to follow. He’s going to need the light, since he’s facing the blue mysteries this season, and leaving his yellow clarity behind.
Meanwhile, Adult Noah and Adam are hanging out with an image of H-ll, and are surrounded by fire. Young Noah is digging a passage to the underworld and forcing himself to commit mortal sins for Adam. Adam the devil is promising a return to Paradise in return for ignoring their inner voices and burning down the forest. He’s much more than a Big Bad Wolf.
Last season, I said that yellow meant clear thinking. I wonder if this season we’re looking for clear eyes instead, on the faces of the ones who are thinking clearly and using compassion, rather than eyes filled with guilt, hate, envy or the need for revenge. Maybe the triquetra has been narrowed down to dualities, guilty or innocent, stay or go, love or hate, live or die.
Adam and Noah
The nameless tattooed man’s parting words: “Ask why he took you in, and why he called you Noah.”
The ominous music played as he said that.
The Clockmaker, inventor of mechanical time travel, was the key to Cycle 1 and the narrator. In Cycle 2, Noah is the narrator, and we’re following his younger and older selves. We’re seeing his inner life and the evolution of his thinking. We also continue to follow Jonas’ younger and older selves. Noah is joining him as one of the main point of view characters.
So why did Adam call him Noah?
The biblical Noah was a genetic bottleneck, just like the biblical Adam. If you believe in the book of Genesis, then everyone alive today is descended from Adam, because he was the first man God created, and from Noah, because he was the father of all of the men who survived the Great Flood (the First Apocalypse).
Though Dark hasn’t so far, let’s also give credit to the mothers of humanity, Adam’s wife, Eve, and Noah’s wife, who, like the goddess Isis, has many names. The Gnostics called her Norea.
[Also, biblical Adam didn’t make decisions for Noah. God did. Dark’s Adam is putting himself in the place of God. Mythological stories never end well for characters who presume to play God/ fly to too close to the sun. But then, it looks like Adam already has experience with that, and hasn’t learned the lesson. Instead, he’s going to take God/Time on again.]
Tattooed man’s comment suggests that Noah was chosen as the prime specimen who would survive the June 27, 2020 apocalypse and be the forefather of everyone else who follows. Genetic diversity would perhaps be introduced by bringing in mothers who weren’t too closely related to Noah. That would explain the family tree boards.
I have a feeling that Adam, Claudia or someone else has been supervising a breeding program in Winden for several generations. I know we all had trouble telling characters apart last season. There were all of those teenage girls, across three generations and every family in Winden, who look alike. Now we have Aleksander, Clausen, Bartosz and the tattooed man. They could all be the same person.
Maybe some of them are, maybe not. Maybe some of them are practically genetic clones, due to so much inbreeding. Look at Egon, Ulrich and Noah, who aren’t supposed to be related, but look like brothers. Then put Greta, Doris, Hannah, Martha and Silja next to each other. None of them are related, as far as we know. Hannah and Martha, in particular, look like mother and daughter.
Which also makes me wonder how often babies are purposefully switched at birth in Winden.
Dark has been incredibly precise with its casting of the characters, making sure that the younger and older versions all match and that families look alike. If characters share a resemblance, it’s on purpose. But I’m also starting to wonder- How many times has Winden been through the time loop, and how many versions of each similar “type” of person are there, extras who are then pruned off when Adam decides that they aren’t the version he needs for his plans?
There were only 8 people on Noah’s ark.
Season 1 Character Board
Season 2 Characters and Connections
Jonas Kahnwald, time traveler. Also known as the Stranger. Appears in every time period. Son of Michael Kahnwald/Mikkel Nielsen and Hannah (Krüger) Kahnwald. Star-crossed lover of Martha Nielsen.
Hannah (Krüger) Kahnwald, 2020 in Cycle 2. Massage therapist. Married to Mikkel/Michael. Jonas’ mother. Has an extramarital affair with Ulrich Nielsen. Blackmails Aleksander Tiedemann.
Bartosz Tiedemann, appears in 2020 in Cycle 2. Time traveler and follower of Noah. Son of Regina and Aleksander Tiedemann. Grandson of Claudia Tiedemann. Former boyfriend of Martha and former best friend of Jonas.
Regina Tiedemann, 2020. Wife of Aleksander and mother of Bartosz. Daughter of Claudia. Formerly owned a hotel which was forced to close after the disappearances started. Dying of cancer. Currently on hormone therapy, but may have to switch back to chemo.
Aleksander Tiedemann, 2020, director of the nuclear power plant. Regina’s husband and Bartosz’ father. Arrived in Winden in 1986 with a gun and two passports under different names, while being hunted by dogs and police. Told Regina his name was Aleksander Köhler. The other passport said Boris Niewald. Has helped keep the yellow barrels of radioactive waste hidden since 1986. Dies on the day of the apocalypse, 6/27/20.
Katharina Nielsen, 2020. School principal. Ulrich’s wife. Mother of Magnus, Martha and Mikkel. No information on her family background, except that her mother was violently abusive, frequently leaving Katharina with bruises. Obsessed with using Ulrich’s files to continue investigating the disappearances.
Ulrich Nielsen, 1953, 1986, 2019. Time traveler. Police officer. Katharina’s husband. Father of Magnus, Martha and Mikkel. Son of Tronte and Jana. Grandson of Agnes. Has extramarital affair with Hannah Kahnwald. Becomes obsessed with finding Mikkel and convinced that the 1986 version of Helge Doppler is responsible for the disappearances.
Magnus Nielsen, 2020. Son of Katharina and Ulrich. Brother to Martha and Mikkel. Oldest child. Franziska Doppler’s boyfriend. Suspicious of Franziska, causing arguments between them.
Martha Nielsen, 2020. Ariadne. In love with Jonas. Bartosz’ former girlfriend. Daughter of Katharina and Ulrich. Sister of Magnus and Mikkel. Middle child. Dies on the day of the apocalypse, 6/27/20.
Mikkel Nielsen/ Michael Kahnwald, 1986, 2019. Time Traveler. Artist. Magician. Interest in Hermeticism. Youngest son of Katharina and Ulrich Nielsen. Brother of Martha and Magnus. Adopted in 1986 by Ines Kahnwald and raised as Michael Kahnwald. Married to Hannah (Krüger) Kahnwald. Jonas’ father. Hanged himself on 6/21/19.
Peter Doppler, 2020. Therapist. Charlotte’s husband, father to Franziska and Elisabeth. Son of Helge Doppler. Mother unknown. Moved to Winden in 1987. Frequented Benni in the past, but promised Charlotte he’d stop.
Charlotte Doppler, 2020. Police chief. Wife of Peter. Mother of Franziska and Elisabeth. Raised by her grandfather, HG Tannhaus, after her parents died when she was very young. The identity of her parents hasn’t been revealed. She and Peter are running an in depth investigation of the disappearances, which includes the knowledge of time travel, out of the bunker.
Franziska Doppler, 2020. Daughter of Charlotte and Peter. Sister of Elisabeth. Magnus’ girlfriend.
Elisabeth Doppler, 2020, 2053. Leader of the apocalypse survivors in 2053. Daughter of Charlotte and Peter. Sister of Franziska. Briefly taken by Noah in 2019 and returned with a pocket watch of Charlotte’s. Deaf, communicates using sign language. Silja is her interpreter in 2053. Yasin, one of the missing/dead boys, was her friend and crush in 2019.
Noah, 1921, 1953, 1986-87, 2019-20. Time traveler. Taken in when young and named by Adam. Pastor who doesn’t believe in God, follower of the Prophecy who also seems to have doubts about that. Does Adam’s dirty work, from murder to recruitment. In Cycle 1, Helge did his dirty work. Mentored by Adam. Mentors himself. The older version barely seems to age.
Silja, 2052-53. The girl from the future. Elisabeth’s interpreter. The first person Jonas met when he arrived in 2052 after touching fingers with young Helge through the rift in time.
Clausen, 2020. Head of the “task force” meant to start a new investigation into the missing persons cases in Winden. Sent by the national government. Believes in the power of careful observation and catching people off guard. Seems to assume that everyone is guilty. Despite the title of “task force”, he’s the only person sent to Winden. He insists on working closely with Charlotte, staring her directly in the face.
Torben Wöller, 2020. Police officer. Benni’s brother. Tells her to call their mom, so she’s still living, though unnamed. Lost an eye before the series began, but we haven’t been told how. Dedicated and conscientious police officer. Also works for Aleksander on the side. Responsible for the truck with the radioactive yellow barrels while they couldn’t be stored at the power plant. Dies on the day of the apocalypse, 6/27/20.
Benni/Bernadette (Wöller?), 2020. Trans sex worker. Torben’s brother. Object of Peter Doppler’s desire. Watches the truck with the yellow barrels for Torben. Involved in some kind of transactions with Franziska. I have a hunch that she and Torben are more important than they appear, especially since they’ve had custody of the truck for months. That’s a lot of exposure to whatever’s in the barrels.
Justyna Jankowksi, 2020. Police officer. Dies on the day of the apocalypse, 6/27/20.
Jürgen Obendorf, 2020. Maintenance worker at the nuclear power plant. Erik Obendorf’s father and drug dealing partner.
Adam, 1921? Leader of Sic Mundus, fanatical megalomaniac. The Devil, the Demiurge, the Bond villain. Or maybe he’s the biblical Adam, God’s first and most perfect human creation, who’s been led astray by an evil woman (Claudia?), and is now trying to restore mankind to his proper place in the universe. Only time will tell.
The Nameless Tattooed Man, 1921. Helped create the passage. Lost faith in the Prophecy, but was able to keep his sense of humor and emotional distance about the situation. Was attacked and potentially killed by Young Noah, on Adam’s and Adult Noah’s orders, likely as an initiation rite for Young Noah. Had some prior connection to Noah that made him an interesting choice for the job. Has the same tattoo as Noah, but on his chest and abdomen, instead of his back. This also suggests a connection to Noah, and to the several episode titles referring to beginnings and ends. The end credits call him “Man in Cave“. We’re probably supposed to think he’s Bartosz. I don’t believe it. I think he’s a different founder of Sic Mundus, but probably a close relation of Bartosz. He could be Noah’s brother. This season is already big on sibling relationships, and Genesis has important murderous siblings. Like in the story of Joseph, they don’t always die. But some do, like amongst Adam and Eve’s sons.
Images courtesy of Netflix.
5 thoughts on “Dark Season 2 Episode 1: Beginnings and Endings Recap”
Excelent. I’m from Brazil! I’d liked so much.
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It seems that a couple of production errors have been fixed, such as the calendar missing a day in 2053.
Figured I’d post that here since this blog made me aware of the discrepancy in the first place 🙂
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Ugh, thanks for letting me know. I hate when that happens. There’s always the risk that the production will make mistakes or the writing won’t be as good and consistent as you think it is, so meta theories are based on what are essentially illusions. I know there were a few people on reddit who had a whole list of discrepancies. Now I don’t know whether to take small differences seriously or not, when Jonas specifically makes it a plot point. Sloppy work on their part. They highlight that calendar page in close ups all season, and no one in the production noticed til now?
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