In season 2, episode 2, Dark Matter, the characters confront the darkness of their pasts and their inability to repair their mistakes. Egon revisits Helge’s kidnapping and Mad’s disappearance. Jonas take Hannah back to 1987 to prove to her that Michael and Mikkel were the same person. Mikkel continues to process his new circumstances, including facing younger versions of his family. Clausen takes Charlotte to interrogate Regina, who’s kept the items that Stranger Jonas left in his hotel room. Older Claudia assigns a mission to Adult Claudia. And Young Jonas attempts to escape from the future, at any cost.
Recording of Claudia, found in Bunker:
“We have managed to successfully stabilize the God Particle, and consequently the resulting mass as well. In a stable state, it seems to create a kind of portal which possibly allows for time travel. If the matter is supplied with sufficient voltage, it can be kept in a stable state in the long-term. Sending objects through the stabilized matter has already proved possible… A generator has to provide sufficient AC current for that. Despite lengthy observation, we have yet to determine the matter’s energy source. It would appear to be running entirely on its own. The readings indicate that there is no loss of energy. It appears to be a type of self-sustaining recursive system. The matter’s radiation levels exceed control values. Still, no signs of decay have been observed. While this is consistent with conservation of energy, it does contradict the second law of thermodynamics. The matter seems to exist, independent of external temperatures, in solid, liquid and gaseous states simultaneously. Its molecules are continually rearranged in a cyclical process. The presence of the field explains why…”
While Claudia’s tape plays, Jonas works in the power plant in 2053. He’s still in the room with the God Particle, and he’s following her instructions in order to stabilize it to form a time travel portal. After checking diagrams, and some button and lever pushing and pulling, blue streaks of
lightning electricity shoot from emitters, causing the blob to turn into a smooth, stable ball which rests obediently on the floor.
But it only lasts for a few seconds before the power in the room goes dark and the ball reverts to an amorphous, fast changing cloud. Jonas realizes that the generators in the room are out of gas. He’s hella frustrated, since in 2053, all of the gas stations are closed for the apocalypse.
June 22, 1987- 5 Days Until the Apocalypse
Mikkel startles awake. His bedroom is the room we’re used to seeing as Jonas’ bedroom in 2019. The nightmares are an inherited trait. When he gets downstairs, Ines is busy making his lunch and getting ready for work. She reminds him that he only has one week of school left before vacation. He explains to Ines that he’s depressed because it’s Katharina’s birthday.
Ines: “Well, you know what we said. The past is the past, you know…”
Mikkel: “And now is now.”
She tells him it’s time to leave for the day.
Egon is at Claudia’s house, but she’s telling him that she can’t do something today, because she has to meet with the French delegation. Egon isn’t fussed about whatever it is, but Claudia is on edge. She’s yelling for Regina to hurry up so they can leave. Gretchen the dog runs into the room. Egon notices how much she looks like herself.
Claudia panics a little, which is a bit silly, because purebred dogs tend to look alike and a time traveling dog won’t be at the top of his guesses for explaining the resemblance. And so what if it is?
Egon tries to talk to Claudia about something important, but there’s too much going on, so he gives up.
In 2020, Charlotte’s already at her desk in the police station, examining the photo that Elisabeth found in her grandfather’s book. She googles Sic Mundus Creatus Est and discovers it means “Thus the world was created.”
Before she can look up any further associations, Clausen enters and asks if she’s forgotten the Tiedemann interview or if she just has something better to do. Charlotte thought he’d want to go alone, but of course that’s not true. He wouldn’t want anyone in Winden to accomplish anything.
He’s constantly baiting people, with everything he says. Keeping everyone else on the offense keeps him in control of the conversation and keeps them from asking questions about him.
Charlotte wonders why they’re starting with Regina. Clausen points out the circumstantial connections between the disappearances, the power plant and the caves. Plus there’s the door between the caves and the plant that’s welded shut. And the power plant director took his wife’s name when they married.
That last one doesn’t seem to fit.
When Charlotte leaves, Clausen notices the Sic Mundus photo.
Magnus storms into Franziska’s house and accuses her of getting her money from prostitution, based on what he witnessed the day before with the envelopes. Franziska tells him he’s wrong. She sells hormone therapy prescriptions to Benni. Peter used to pay for his visits with them. Franziska took over after Peter stopped seeing her.
Magnus can’t understand why she’d do it. Franziska tells him it’s a business transaction that has nothing to do with him. He’s the one that’s messed up, since he can’t stop spying on her. She’s sick of Winden and its secrets. It’s the way people judge and make assumptions about each other that’s the problem, not the secrets.
We might be seeing a change between cycles here. In Cycle one, it was implied that Franziska was a prostitute. It’s hard to say if that was a misdirect to feed Magnus’ paranoia or if this is an actual change.
During this conversation, Elizabeth is looking at the old book from the clock shop with the personified wind drawings.
If anyone can identify the book, let me know.
Hannah is looking through family photos at the kitchen table when Stranger Jonas brings the time machine downstairs. He opens it up and explains that it’s able to take them 33 years into the past or future. He’s realized that it’s time to stop keeping secrets, so he wants to take her to the past. He wants her to see with her own eyes that Michael and Mikkel were the same person.
Back in 1987, when Mikkel gets to school, Young Katharina goes out of her way to shove him and call him a name. Young Hannah pretends she doesn’t know him. Or maybe she doesn’t know him yet in this cycle. Mikkel turns and walks away.
As Claudia approaches her office at the power plant, her secretary tells her that there’s a woman in her office who’s come to claim the dog. Claudia tries to apologize to her visitor for not returning her dog, but stops when the woman stands and faces her. The older woman has heterochromia, just as Claudia does, with one blue and one brown eye. And she knows that Claudia’s childhood dog was named Gretchen. It’s Older Claudia, who’s come to reveal herself and their mission to 1987 Claudia.
Egon gets a phone call letting him know his cancer has spread and he’s scheduled to start chemo on Friday. The cancer is what he was trying to tell Claudia about. He notices a newspaper headline saying that Mads Nielsen is still missing, and his old police diary, with the extra notation on the date he was supposed to interview Helge: Why not take the forest road?
Older Claudia explains to Adult Claudia that she remembers being on the other side of this conversation, 33 years ago. She tells her younger self that she was the one who took Gretchen when she ran into the cave back in 1953, then later sent her out to Adult Claudia. Older Claudia is making sure that history repeats itself exactly the way it’s supposed to.
Adult Claudia thinks about what Older Claudia said, and everything that happened before, in the summer of 1986. She remembers that something else happened. She doesn’t say what.
In 2053, Jonas walks through the deserted streets of Winden to an abandoned upstairs apartment. Now that he’s an engineer and nuclear physicist, he’s able to coax decades old CD players that have survived nuclear blasts to play at full volume, running on half century old batteries. Elvis sings Suspicious Minds and Jonas puts the speaker in the window. He races outside to wait for the neighbors to call the cops and complain about the noise.
This is why Jonas is my favorite. And German appliances are the best in the world.
Because of course it works. A tankload of post-apocalypse goons show up and they all run upstairs to battle Elvis and his mono speaker. One guy stays behind to guard the tank. But Jonas is magical, so he’s still able to climb up on the back, where the gas cap is, and siphon a jug of gas out of the tank’s tank 😘 before the look out gets, well, suspicious.
Then, just in time, Jonas disappears behind a wall, like the ghost that he is.
In 1987, Young Regina asks Young Aleksander if he believes in ghosts. She reading a book for school that’s about the ghosts and demons that parents pass to their children, through the generations. Aleksander is totally in love with Regina and doesn’t think she inherited anything negative from her mother. He runs a finger over the scars on her left wrist from her suicide attempt. Regina says that Claudia is never there and has never said she loves her. Aleksander says that her loves Regina.
In 2020, Clausen in interrogating Regina in her home. He asks about her relationship with Ulrich Nielsen. She says, “We don’t really have a relationship with any of the Nielsens at all.”
Except that Bartosz is buddies with Magnus and dated Martha for most of a year. Except that it was Bartosz’ idea to go to the caves the night that Mikkel disappeared.
Clausen asks why Ulrich visited her hotel the day before his disappearance. She tells him that Ulrich was asking about Mads disappearance in 1986, since she was the last person to see him alive. Clausen ignores this answer, which should be pertinent to his investigation.
Isn’t it a tiny bit suspicious that Ulrich disappeared right after he talked to Regina, especially if you know about the bad blood between them? Doesn’t he want her to recount the story of the last time she saw Mads? Aren’t these the kinds of details he keeps saying he wants to explore?
Instead, he moves on to his real obsession, Aleksander’s name. He wants to know why Aleksander took Regina’s last name. Regina doesn’t understand what that has to do with anything. Charlotte tries to end the interview. Clausen shushes her like she’s a child. Charlotte’s eyes widen at this treatment.
Clausen is certain that there’s still something else Regina wants to tell them. She tells them about Stranger Jonas’ stay there in November 2019, and says that he left his things behind when he left. She’s put all of his papers in a box. Before he left, he asked her to have a package delivered to Jonas Kahnwald.
Clausen accuses her of keeping it a secret.
Charlotte pulls some of the papers out of the box. She can see how many of them relate to the ideas her grandfather wrote about. Some are copied directly from his book.
Charlotte suddenly “remembers” that she needs to drive Elisabeth to a swim lessons and tells Clausen to take a cab home. Clausen sits closer to Regina and stares intently at her. He asks what the strange man looked like.
Regina has had 7 months to study and research everything in that box, and to make copies, while she’s been resting from her illness and treatments.
Aleksander and Bartosz would also have been aware of and have had access to it. Everything about the way Jonas thinks, and some big clues about what’s going on in the town, are right there.
Jonas leads Hannah deep into the caves, I believe to the room where the barrels were stored. Hannah asks why they’re in the caves. Jonas says, “It’s safer to travel from here.”
Because no one will see them appear and disappear, and they know that they won’t apparate partially inside a wall or some other object? In cycle 1, he told Young Jonas that the time travel murder chair was below the passage because it needed the amplification of the time juice that’s in the caves. I assumed the box worked the same way, since they keep going to the caves.
Jonas tells Hannah again that it’ll be easier to believe once she’s seen it. Then he attaches Ulrich’s phone, with the family photo still showing. A mini black bubble appears over the machine. In a moment, it grows to encompass them and they disappear.
In 1987, Mikkel is fooling around in the woods near the cave when he senses the telltale signs of time travel. He runs toward the entrance, but the rumbling stops before he gets there. Adult Noah is sitting on a log outside the cave entrance, cutting and eating an apple with a knife. He asks if Mikkel is supposed to be at school.
The apple, and Noah, represent forbidden, secret knowledge, while school is accepted knowledge. Noah is the priest and the serpent, sitting under the tree of knowledge. A Hermeticist would love the combined paradox and duality, in which Noah represents all things at once, the institutional mainstream of the church and the secret society of Sic Mundus, the authority figure trying to set a child on the correct moral path and the cult leader who’s led generations of children astray. He asks such a simple question, but what does he really mean?
As Noah walks over, Mikkel realizes that he’s seen the priest before, at the hospital. Noah replies that he goes there often, because it’s a special place. He asks again about school, but doesn’t let Mikkel answer. He says, “I get it. Sometimes we don’t really know where we should be. But I wouldn’t go in there. It’s like a maze in there. Some have never returned.”
Noah’s being all measured and creepy, but Mikkel isn’t phased. He’s not Helge. He asks about God’s plan, which Noah mentioned in their visit at the hospital. He wants to know what happens if God doesn’t know what he’s doing. Like if God is wrong, or if the plan is wrong.
Noah’s face goes through a strange series of expressions, from fierce, to slightly insane, to angry at being questioned. “God is never wrong. Sometimes we just need to have faith that things will get better for us again.”
Mikkel hit Noah’s soft underbelly there. In Cycle 1, he repeatedly told Adult Helge that there is no God, to the point where I think he traumatized Helge with it.
While Noah appeared to be taking his time, he was expressly sent to the cave at that moment to get Mikkel away before Jonas and Hannah came out. When Mikkel kept talking, he jeopardized the plan. They were probably moments away from appearing. If Mikkel had come face to face with them, how could Hannah refuse to bring him home?
Old Egon visits Adult Helge, who’s living in an institution. He’s making his nature creatures.
It looks like Old Helge’s sacrifice worked. He drove into Adult Helge’s car, hoping his younger counterpart would die, and that would put an end to Noah’s experiments on children. Old Helge died instead, but if Adult Helge is institutionalized, then he’s not acting as Noah’s henchman anymore.
Egon tells Helge he’s been meaning to visit for a while. He still wants to know why Helge didn’t take the forest road home that day, and took the long way instead. Helge fearfully replies that the man with the stone (Ulrich) said that he could change everything, the future and the past. But no one can change it, not even the White Devil.
Egon is confused. Helge is talking about things from 30 years ago.
Older Claudia and Adult Claudia are in the cave with the stored barrels.
Older Claudia: “I want you to believe in an idea that is bigger than you. Bigger than any of us.”
Older Claudia is holding a vial of Cesium 137, the radioactive element that powers the time machine. As they talk, she prepares the machine for a time jump.
Adult Claudia: “What is that”
Older Claudia: “This is mankind’s greatest discovery. And also its doom. It lets you travel through time. 33 years backward, 33 years forwards. And it will take exactly 33 years until the cycle is complete again. You will stand here where I am standing and you will accept your part in all of this and every sacrifice it requires. In 5 days, everything starts over. You must stop Adam.”
Adult Claudia: “Who’s Adam?”
Older Claudia hands Adult Claudia some papers and starts the machine. Adult Claudia backs away so she doesn’t travel, too.
Older Claudia: “You don’t understand it yet. But you will soon. Until then, everything will happen the way it always has. As it must. In the end, life is just a collection of missed opportunities. You don’t have much time with Regina. But if everything works out, she will live.”
The time travel field engulfs Older Claudia and she disappears.
2020 Charlotte calls Peter once she’s in the car. She’s upset and confused about her grandfather and his secrets. He never told her who her parents were.
2053 Jonas brings his gas can back through the wall. As his head emerges on the other side, he hears the click of guns getting ready to shoot him. Silja and Elisabeth have caught him.
They put him up on the gallows, with a noose around his neck, ready to be hung. Elisabeth, through Silja, tells him that he knew the penalty for going behind the wall was death. Did he think the rule didn’t apply to him? Silja, who was unmoved when the French delegation was hung for the same offense in episode 1, is in tears.
Jonas asks why she’s lying to everyone about what’s in the death zone. Elisabeth answers by shooting him in the leg.
Jonas: “In five days, in my time, everybody is going to die. I have to stop that. There is no prophecy. The passage will never open. Your paradise does not exist. But behind the wall there-”
Elisabeth kicks the board he’s standing on out from under him before he can reveal anything else to the crowd. Jonas hangs and chokes for several seconds. It feels like longer than it is. Then Elisabeth shoots the rope so that he falls to the ground. He’ll survive being hung.
This is what caused the scar on Stranger Jonas’ neck.
In 1987, Egon is still following up on old cases. He calls the station and asks whatever happened to the guy they arrested in the case of the two dead boys in 1953, who also kidnapped Helge (Ulrich).
Ulrich has been kept in a local mental institution for the last 34 years, in a closed ward. He’s an old man now. When Egon says hello, Ulrich sniffs him to see if he smells like alcohol, a reference to his alcoholism in Cycle 1. Since we haven’t seen him take a drink yet this season, that seems to be another change between cycles. Or maybe Egon doesn’t need to drink, now that he’s retired, so he quit.
Ulrich quotes the song lyrics he’s quoted to Egon before: “My only aim is to take many lives. The more the better I feel.”
Egon remembers the words, and asks what they mean. Ulrich tells him they mean he’s an idiot who understands nothing. Ulrich knows that Egon is dying, since he remembers seeing it in the newspaper when he was a teenager in 1986, but Egon doesn’t understand how he could know. Ulrich suggests it’s Egon’s fate to always be clueless. “Everybody gets what they deserve.”
Mikkel comes home late, just as a storm is starting. Ines rushes to hug him, since she knows he skipped school and she was worried. She asks what happened, but then takes a look at his sad face and lets it go. She pulls out a can of pineapple and suggests they have her favorite comfort food, Toast Hawaii. When she was a kid, they’d have it, with cherries on top, and then her dad would dance like Elvis.
Mikkel asks if she believes in God and if God has a plan. Ines says that she believes that God planned for Mikkel to be with her and for her to take care of him. She goes back to the Toast Hawaii. Mikkel gives her a big hug. He’s still wearing his backpack.
Jonas is in the dark, in a cage, with his wound left untreated. Silja brings his light in and points a gun at him. She asks why Elisabeth didn’t kill him, and who he really is. He doesn’t answer. She unlocks the cage and tells him to show her what’s really in the dead zone instead, then.
They walk through the forest with matching glow light balls, which has to mean something, but who knows what. She’s his equal in some way. Only the chosen few get the special glowy ball of light. Maybe she’s his daughter.
It’s montage time. We’re shown Silja and Jonas making their way to the power plant in the dark, avoiding the hover planes and other dangers. Stranger Jonas takes Hannah to 1987, where they stand outside of the Kahnwald house and watch Mikkel with Ines. Hannah is stricken when she sees the truth with her own eyes. Stranger Jonas holds her. Charlotte looks at the portrait of herself and her grandfather in the dark in the clock shop. Peter comes in with a flashlight and they hug. They get a side by side shot next to Hannah and Jonas hugging. At the institution, Ulrich looks out the window in the dark, while Egon continues to look through his files.
That was a lot of darkness interrupted by beams of bright white light/unfortunate truths, and mismatched pairs of lonely people making the best of things.
Jonas and Silja put on hazmat suits. He shows her the God Particle.
1987 Claudia digs a hole in her front yard, based on Older Claudia’s instructions. She finds the time machine buried there, in a metal box. In 1953, Claudia finishes burying the box in an empty lot. The house hasn’t been built yet.
Jonas pours his Elvis gas into the generator, then starts up the process of taming the God Particle again. Silja asks what this all is. Jonas explains that the woman on the tapes, Claudia Tiedemann, said it’s a portal. It’s his only way to get back home, but he doesn’t know if it works.
He pulls the levers and the cloud becomes a ball. Jonas limps over. Silja realizes he plans on stepping into it. He tells her, “Whether I die out here or in there doesn’t matter.”
He puts an arm into the ball. The fibrous mass of the God Particle spreads up his arm, but releases it when he pulls away. He looks at the portal for another moment, then steps inside and vanishes. As Silja calls out to him, the portal snaps back into a fast moving cloud.
As I was watching this season through for the first time, I lost track of all of the cheeky little references to Back to the Future, but they run through the season, so keep an eye out. You can’t miss the time traveling dog. I feel like the opening sequence of this episode, especially combined with the speaker out the window later on, was a bit of an homage to the opening of the original film, when Marty goes through an elaborate process to turn on Doc’s sound system, then gets blasted into the wall by the speaker volume. Jonas gets electricity and a Higgs boson field instead of sound waves and a Delorean.
This season, Jonas is Mad Max meets Marty McFly meets Odysseus trying to find his way back to Penelope. He’s Marty trying to get back to Jennifer asleep on the porch swing. Or Mad Max just trying to save anyone after failing to save his family. He’s a reluctant adventurer who discovers that he’s really good at it and perhaps meant to live this way.
Spiritual mythology is still layered in as well. 1987 Claudia’s bright, multi-colored outfits tell us that she’s the creator Goddess this season. She’s Demeter, the goddess of nature, and Regina is Persephone, the daughter she searches and grieves for. Both were worshipped in the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece, secret rites which were held for nearly 2,000 years, until early Christians stopped them and destroyed the ancient religion. The Hermetics who influenced Sic Mundus would have been heavily influenced by the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Young Jonas is Dionysus, half mortal god of chaos and boundary crossing who married Ariadne after Theseus abandoned her and was worshipped alongside Demeter and Persephone in the Eleusinian Mysteries as one of the dying and resurrected gods. He is one of the few who can cross between the lands of the living and dead at will.
One of my pet theories is that Dark is a reworking of the Eleusinian Mystery stories.
The noose around Jonas’ neck adds another layer of meaning to the noose made of red cord that someone placed on his bike handle in season 1. The red cord that the noose was made from is the same cord that was used to make the thread that guides time travelers to the passage in the cave. Was someone taunting Jonas or telling him what his future was? Was it Noah? Or Helge? I haven’t focused on red meaning death much since I suggested it back in season 1, but the noose was one of those examples. Blood is obviously another. Love, sex, passion and death tend to travel together, and time travel tends to attract people with strong emotions.
After the colors were few and their tones were intense last season (other than Benni’s pink), this season they’re highlighting the bright colors of the 80s and using blended tones instead of primaries. Purples, pinks, cranberries, mint green, pale blue. Everyone’s ambiguous and multicolored.
Olive green is a favorite color, especially for the time travelers, a blend of mystery and science. But also the color of danger and soldiers. Stranger Jonas wears it in almost every scene. It’s a lighter, more defined, less depressed color than the dark, muddy brown-greens they usually wore last season. They understand what they’re doing better in this cycle and their purpose is more defined.
Young Jonas wore a blue hood in 2053 when he popped his head through the wall and Elisabeth stopped him. The blue hood, worn while he was halfway in the world of regular people and halfway in the secret world of science, mystery and time travel, combined with the way the God Particle literally embraced him at the end of the episode, says to me that he’s no longer truly able to return to normal life, no matter how much he might want to. He’s said several times that he just wants all of the sick stuff to end, even if it means erasing his existence. At the end of this episode, he’s accepted that fully, stepping into the dark abyss of the complete unknown, based on the words of a scientist-goddess.
But there’s also the fact that time embraced him, rather than trying to destroy him. He’s an anomaly, but in Dark, Time seems to love her anomalies like they’re her children. As with the half immortal-half mortal children of Greek and Roman mythology, the God Particle isn’t rejecting what she helped to create. Instead, she’s keeping a close eye on him.
The tapes Claudia made to teach others how to use the God(dess) Particle are the scripture of Cycle 2. The scriptures of Cycle 1 were the book A Journey Through Time, by HG Tannhaus and the triquetra diary, whose anonymous authors I suspect were a combination of Jonas (much of the material on his hotel room wall matches material from the book) and Claudia (she would have started it, then passed it on to him as her apprentice).
We are being shown the pink and blue exterior of the Kahnwald/Nielsen family home repeatedly, which makes me wonder if those two colors mean something. For example, pink and blue are the colors used for baby girls and boys, so maybe they’re representing the Adam and Eve family lines, which come together under the Kahnwald roof.
I have a sense that there aren’t really 4 families, there are two, as there would be if there were an Adam and an Eve who everyone is descended from. Their identities don’t necessarily have anything to do with the man who calls himself Adam, since we know stolen, altered and misunderstood identities are a theme. In this episode, Franziska made a speech about the way people misjudge others based on shallow perceptions, after Magnus was wrong about her and Benni. Plus, Aleksander changed his name. Noah’s name was changed. Benni is trans, which suggests there’s been confusion about her identity. Mikkel’s name has been changed to Michael, while Ulrich refused to give his name for more than 30 years. Numerous people have lied about themselves and others. Dark loves to gives misdirections about names and identities.
Is it me, or are they visually framing Stranger Jonas and Hannah like lovers? There’s definite chemistry between the actors. I don’t think they’ll go there, but I do think they’re making suggestions for potentially incestuous couples, preparing us to discover that it’s not just Martha and Jonas.
I don’t think we’ve been given any hints about Silja’s parentage, beyond the fact that she’s another round faced brunette, like Martha, Hannah, etc., but she went beyond baby colors and got both light and dark, plus a matching yellow hazmat suit tonight. If Jonas ever moves beyond his aunt, Silja’s next in line.
Clausen made Charlotte go to Regina’s house, then he wouldn’t let her speak. He knew that Regina had Jonas’ stuff, and wanted Charlotte to see it, to trigger her reaction. That suggests he’s part of Sic Mundus.
On the other hand, Jonas was trying to destroy the passage when he left his hotel room. He knew he probably wouldn’t be back. He left his things in his room on purpose for Regina to find. He was also trying to trigger something or bring it full circle. Who did he leave that information for? Regina? Bartosz? Charlotte? Someone who finds it in the future?
It’s starting to look to me like the differences between cycles are building up and the cycles are bleeding together. Maybe there’s only meant to be one timeline, and fracturing it into a multiverse is wrong? Maybe the hope was that the blast that causes the apocalypse would be strong enough to fuse the timelines back into one, but it didn’t, just like Jonas couldn’t destroy the passage in season 1.
I wish they’d explain more clearly why they want to keep everything the same, or why they’re lying about it. Everything isn’t the same between cycles. All of the expert time travelers lie. Even the Jonases aren’t completely truthful all the time, and they try to say nothing when they can’t tell the truth.
Older Claudia to Adult Claudia: “You don’t have much time with Regina. But if everything works out, she will live.”
So, for Claudia, the whole point of changing the timeline is to cure Regina’s cancer?
Older Claudia to Adult Claudia: “You must stop Adam.”
This is one of the few times that Dark has felt disingenuous to me. Why bother to even mention Adam, if you’re not going to say anything useful? There are millions of Adams in the world. At least give her some identifying information and a reason why she needs to stop him. But no, instead of telling the other Claudia how to fight Adam, complain about missed opportunities.
Mikkel: “The thing about God, how he has a plan for everyone. But what if God doesn’t know what he’s doing? If the plan is wrong? If God is mistaken?”
Noah: “God is never wrong. Sometimes we just need to have faith that things will get better for us again.”
This is one of those times when Noah has to say something that goes completely against his own beliefs in order to move someone else in the proper direction, and you can see how much it takes from him to do so. Sic Mundus doesn’t believe in God, they believe that we’re stuck in an eternal time loop. There’s no point in having hope in the future if things are preordained. In the mechanical, predetermined universe they believe in, nothing can be changed, morality is irrelevant and so is God. Everything ends in death. The plan is the plan. The rules are the rules. The gears of the clock keep the clock ticking. That’s the way the universe works. Prayers won’t change how the clock works and neither will ideas of right or wrong. Tick tock.
Elizabeth to Jonas: “You know the rules. Do you think they don’t apply to you?”
Actually, the normal rules of Space-Time don’t apply to him, in so many ways, starting with his very existence.
Ulrich to Egon: “My only aim is to take many lives. The more the better I feel.”
For two seasons he’s been saying this. I think it means something. There is an argument that everything began with him and Katharina tying Regina to a tree, which exposed her to the radiation from the accident at the power plant in 1986, led to her cancer, and gave Claudia a compelling reason to interfere with time. It also led to Mads walking Regina home, which meant he was in the right place, at the right time, to be kidnapped by Helge. But we won’t know for sure until we finally find out what caused the creation of the God Particle to begin with.
Jonas to Silja: “Whether I die out here or in there doesn’t matter.”
Jonas is hardcore. We’ve established he’ll run headlong into anything with no regard for his personal safety, but he lives a semi-charmed life.
Sometimes, when the world has ended without you, you’re just hoping to catch up.
But what is the connection between him and Silja? Did they have a brief romance while he was stuck in the future?
Who is Silja? Is she also from the past?
Cesium 137 or What’s in Those Barrels?
Since I didn’t look at this radioactive element in Cycle 1, let’s take a quick look now. It’s what’s in the vials that power the time machine and it’s a product of nuclear fission, either from a nuclear reactor or a weapon. Or an accident with radioactive materials.
From the EPA:
“Radioactive cesium-137 is produced spontaneously when other radioactive materials such as uranium and plutonium absorb neutrons and undergo fission. Cesium-137 is therefore a common radionuclide produced when nuclear fission, or splitting, of uranium and plutonium occurs in a reactor or atomic bomb.”
Cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years, which Dark may be fictionally stretching to 33 years. It emits beta particles and gamma radiation as it decays into Barium 137.
From the CDC:
“Small quantities of Cs-137 can be found in the environment from nuclear weapons tests that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s and from nuclear reactor accidents, such as the Chernobyl power plant accident in 1986, which distributed Cs-137 to many countries in Europe… So people are exposed to some Cs-137 every day.”
Health risks due to exposure to Cesium 137:
“External exposure to large amounts of Cs-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and even death. Exposure to such a large amount could come from the mishandling of a strong industrial source of Cs-137, a nuclear detonation or a major nuclear accident. Large amounts of Cs-137 are not found in the environment under normal circumstances.
Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of the presence of high-energy gamma radiation. Internal exposure to Cs-137 through ingestion or inhalation allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue, which increases cancer risk.”
The barrels that Torben has been lugging around town are full of radioactive waste from an accident at the nuclear reactor. Let’s hope they’re lead lined. I guarantee they aren’t being stored and contained properly though. If the truck were in an accident, it would mean disaster for the people of Winden.
Dark hasn’t explained how the nuclear accident in 1986 led to the creation of the God Particle/Higgs boson/Higgs field. In real life, the Higgs boson’s existence was confirmed in 2012 in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
It seems like a bad idea for Jonas and Claudia to be carrying vials of this stuff in their pockets and suitcases.
I think Noah was lying to Bartosz at the end of season 1 when he blamed Stranger Jonas and the time machine for creating time travel while trying to destroy it. It doesn’t make sense. He was only talking about the passage at that point anyway. But Noah lies more often than he tells the truth, so I don’t trust much of anything that he says without outside corroboration. Especially now that we know he’s just a henchman taking orders from a supervillain.
One last last tidbit from the CDC to think about: “If the lead containers of Cs-137 are opened, the substance inside looks like a white powder and may glow.“
If you watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, you’ve seen a real life, scary example of the glow. If you haven’t watched it, I recommend it, but not right before bed. After binge watching it over 2 nights, it reawakened all of my 1980s nuclear holocaust nightmares for a week.
Season 1 Character Board
Season 2 Characters and Connections
Jonas Kahnwald, time traveler. Also known as the Stranger. Originates in 2019-20, but appears in every time period. Son of Michael Kahnwald/Mikkel Nielsen and Hannah (Krüger) Kahnwald. Star-crossed lover of Martha Nielsen. Former best friend of Bartosz Tiedemann.
Hannah (Krüger) Kahnwald, 1986-87, 2019-2020. Time Traveler. Massage therapist. Married to Mikkel/Michael. Jonas’ mother. Has an extramarital affair with Ulrich Nielsen. Blackmails Aleksander Tiedemann.
Ines Kahnwald, 1953, 1986-87, 2019. Mikkel/Michael’s adoptive mother. Daniel’s daughter. Jonas’ grandmother. Hospital nurse in the 80s. Adopts Mikkel after she gets to know him during his hospital stay when he arrives in 1986. Eventually figures out that he really is from the future. Encourages him to forget about the life he had before she adopted him. Is estranged from Hannah and Jonas by November 2019, for unknown reasons. Tells both Mikkel and Jonas to leave the past in the past and the future in the future.
Bartosz Tiedemann, 2019-20. 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, 1986-87, 2019-20. 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, 2019-20, 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.
Claudia Tiedemann, 1953, 1986-87, 2019-20. Time Traveler. Regina’s mother. Egon and Doris’ daughter. Bartosz’ grandmother. Director of the power plant in 1986. Her older version is known as the White Devil by the followers of Adam. Developed the process that stabilized the God Particle into a time travel portal. Fighting a time war against Adam. Has heterochromia (one blue eye, one brown eye).
Egon Tiedemann, 1953, 1986-87. Police officer. Husband of Doris. Father of Claudia. Grandfather of Regina. Arrested Ulrich for murder and kidnapping in 1953 and rape in 1986. Was an alcoholic in 1986. Was in an unhappy marriage in 1953. Tries to do the right thing, often fails. In 1987, retired and dying of cancer.
Gretchen the Dog Tiedemann, 1953, 1986-87. Time Traveler. Claudia’s childhood dog. Older, White Devil Claudia brings Gretchen to the future to help prove to Adult Claudia that time travel is real. Recognizes every version of Claudia as if she hasn’t aged, proving that the time travelers aren’t fundamentally changed by the experience, or at least Claudia hasn’t been.
Katharina Nielsen, 1986-87, 2019-20. 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, 1986-87, 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 in 2019. Becomes obsessed with finding Mikkel and convinced that the 1986 version of Helge Doppler is responsible for the disappearances. Arrested in 1953 for allegedly kidnapping Helge and murdering 2 boys, after he tried to kill child Helge and locked him in the bunker. Committed to a mental institution in 1953. Still there in 1987.
Magnus Nielsen, 2019-20. 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, 2019-20. 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, 1986-87, 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, 2019-20. Therapist. Charlotte’s husband, father to Franziska and Elisabeth. Son of Helge Doppler. Mother unknown. Moved to Winden in 1987. Frequently visited Benni in the past, but promised Charlotte he’d stop and has kept his promise.
Charlotte Doppler, 2019-20. Police chief. Wife of Peter. Mother of Franziska and Elisabeth. Raised by her grandfather/guardian, HG Tannhaus, after her parents died when she was very young. The identity of her parents hasn’t been revealed to her or us. She and Peter are running an in depth investigation of the Winden disappearances, which includes the knowledge of time travel, out of the bunker, unbeknownst to the rest of the police force or Clausen.
Franziska Doppler, 2019-20. Daughter of Charlotte and Peter. Sister of Elisabeth. Magnus’ girlfriend. Sells hormone therapy prescriptions to Benni when Benni can’t get them from Peter anymore.
Elisabeth Doppler, 2019-20, 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. Strict enforcer of the law in 2053, but relents and doesn’t kill Jonas after he trespasses into the dead zone. Does kill the French delegation.
Helge Doppler, 1953, 1986-87, 2019. Time Traveler. Noah’s assistant in the development of the evil chair time travel device. Father was Bernd, the builder and first director of the Winden Nuclear Power Plant. Mother was Greta, strict disciplinarian who had a thing for Father Noah and thought Bernd might not be Helge’s biological father. Father of Peter. No information when he fathered Peter or who with. He didn’t raise Peter. Was in an institution in 1987. Was in a nursing home with dementia in 2019. Kidnapped Mads, Eric, Yasin and maybe more for Noah to experiment on and kill, then he disposed of the bodies. The 2019 version died in a car accident in 1987 while trying to stop his younger self from helping Noah.
HG Tannhaus (with Teen Charlotte), 1953, 1986. The Claockmaker. Time machine inventor, author of the guide to time travel “A Journey Through Time”, owner of the clock shop. Charlotte’s guardian/adoptive grandfather. Had some connection to Sic Mundus which hasn’t been revealed. Studied Hermeticism. Exchanged information with Claudia and Jonas.
Noah, 1921, 1953, 1986-87, 2019-20. Time traveler. Taken in when young and named by Adam. Pastor of the Sic Mundus cover church, 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. Hasn’t been given a last name, though his sister Agnes uses Nielsen.
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. Buys hormone therapy prescriptions from 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. Accepted his fate. 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. As in the story of Joseph, they don’t always die. But some do, such as amongst Adam and Eve’s sons.
Honestly, can you imagine Bartosz digging in the tunnels, alone with just one other man, without complaining about the hard labor he was doing?
Images courtesy of Netflix.
8 thoughts on “Dark Season 2 Episode 2: Dark Matter Recap”
I’m foggy on what (when) is being referred to by Cycles 1, 2, or 3. Can someone please explain that?
Btw, these are great! Very thorough stuff.
LikeLiked by 1 person
The short version- a cycle is either a season of the show or a 33 year time loop in which theoretically everything repeats itself exactly as it has before.
But the idea of cycles is complex, like everything else in Dark. I’m going to take a stab at explaining it now, but I’m on vacation and my brain isn’t completely in the Dark headspace, so I might revise it later. Others can, of course, correct me or add to what I say.
The simplest concept of the cycles is that they each correspond to a season- season 1=cycle 1, etc. Next, as the Clockmaker/THG Tannhaus explains to Stranger Jonas (I think) in season 1, in the Dark universe there are astrological cycles of 33 years in which the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars all align. Every 33 years, everything is as it was 33 years previously. I examined the fact and fiction aspects of the 33 year cycles in the commentary for my S1Ep5 recap.
There is also the aspect of the cycles as time loops, with a loop ending/beginning at the end of each season. Michael’s death on June 21, 2019 begins cycle/season 1. Ulrich’s attack on Helge on November 12,1953, which corresponds to Young Jonas being locked in the bunker and Stranger Jonas trying to destroy the passage on November 12, 2019, begins cycle/season 2. There is another event at the end of season 2 which leads to season/cycle 3.
The confusing part is that each of these cycles is a 33 year cycle, which exists in its entirety the moment it forms. We just view a small part of it. This is Dark’s view of time- all times exist at once, thus everything that ever will happen already has happened.
In other words, it’s like Time is a Netflix show that’s released all at once, not a broadcast show that’s released sequentially. The cycles in Dark are beginning so close together because Sic Mundus is forcing them to for its own purposes.
Normally, the cycles are 33 years, such as the time between the jumps of a time machine-1921, 1954, etc. but Sic Mundus is messing up that rhythm. Most of the time travelers on Dark have believed in Nietztche’s concept of the Eternal Recurrence, which I also wrote about in the S1Ep5 recap. Basically, the Eternal Recurrence means that everything repeats exactly the way it has before in each repeating time loop, forever. Claudia and Adam say this is what they’re after, but there’s strong evidence they’re both lying.
In my S1Ep8 recap, I wrote commentary called “How Ulrich (and 2019 Helge) Got to 1953”. I got a little ahead of the show, and most of what I wrote didn’t apply to season 1. But it does apply to season 2 and the use of time machines which jump 33 years at a time.
There should have been many repetitions of the eternal time loop, unless it was specifically created by the accident at the nuclear power plant in 1986. In that case, 2019 should have been the end of the first loop (1986 + 33 = 2019). So the incident appears to have had ramifications that spread forward and backward in time. In some ways, 1953-1986 is the first cycle, 1986-2019 is the second cycle. We don’t know whether the other cycle will reach back to 1921 or forward to 2053. Or maybe a sixth time period will be added so their will be two groups of 3 cycles which mirror each other.
First, I want to thank you for your recaps. I am amazed at and grateful for the work you have put in to doing this.
I was a big fan of Dark from when I watched it when Season 1 came out; and felt I needed to watch Season 1 again before watching Season 2. When doing this I came across your recaps, which I read after each episode rewatch and really appreciated. I have been meaning to thank you for a while and have only just got round to it.
I must admit that I am struggling to understand the philosophy of time travel in Dark. I am one of those who has the simplistic view that the past has already happened and that, if backwards time travel were possible, travellers could not make any changes as everything they did is already in the history. My head hurts when I try to understand what is happening in Dark that is different to this, although it certainly does seem to be the case that various parties are trying to change things and/or believe they need to take explicit action to avoid changes.
A couple of minor points:-
In your Season 1 recaps I felt you had an unfair downer on Egon. To me, while he was hardly a hero, he wasn’t that bad a person either. When we visited 1953 what I saw was a diligent, hardworking young police officer who was about to lose his wife and be left with a young daughter to bring up. So I sympathised with him. But having read your first two Season 2 recaps, I felt you were not so critical of him any more. Am I right?
Also on the Tiedemanns, I was struck in this episode by what I thought was a dramatic change in appearance of young Regina. Have they changed the actress? Or has she just ‘glammed up’ to attract young Alexander?
I’m glad you get something out of my recaps! I do put a lot of work into them, and, like every writer, sometimes I use them to work out my own neuroses.
Time and time travel in Dark are confusing because the rules are so different from most other time travel shows. We’re used to automatically assuming Back to the Future rules. Plus, they did a weird mash up of Nietzsche’s eternal return and Einstein’s theory that time doesn’t actually progress, we just perceive it as something that changes. It’s hard to reconcile cycles with all of history existing at once, especially since we only see a small piece of each cycle in each season. And Adam is disrupting the normal course of the cycles.
I did kind of fall in love with Egon in season 2! I think I apologized for misjudging him and Hannah in one of the recaps. I didn’t like the way Old Egon harassed Young Ulrich in season 1. As it turns out, he had good reason to. But the show also changed some things about his characterization. He was an alcoholic and a bumbling detective in season 1. In season 2, he must have stopped drinking. Ulrich smells his breath for alcohol in one episode. And he seems more methodical than bumbling as a detective, maybe because he’s sober. I’m interested to see where his character goes in season 3.
Young Regina got a boyfriend and a makeover. She feels better about herself this season, now that Aleksander is protecting her from being bullied by Ulrich and Katharina, and that’s reflected in how she’s taking care of herself.
I am new to the show and binged watched seasons one and two this past week. I discovered your recaps midway through season 1 and now are the only resource I use after each episode. Thank you for writing and researching for us. It is a difficult show to watch without input and discussion from others and your recaps fill that bill.
Thanks for your comment! It’s a complicated show, but worth the effort.
Comments are closed.