Dark season 2 episode 7, The White Devil, grants the wishes of some of the characters, but some dreams come true as nightmares. Old Claudia’s body is found in 1953 and identified by Child Helge as the White Devil. Hannah takes a trip to 1953 to visit the other White Devil, Ulrich. She meets the Young Adult version of Egon while she’s there.
In 2020, Katharina goes full warrior goddess. She remembers she has a daughter to protect from incest and sketchy boyfriends who have become old men. Plus, she decides she’s ready to become a time traveler.
Martha meets Stranger Jonas and learns the truth about their relationship. Thanks, Mom.
Adult Claudia puts off the French delegation again, then takes the day off to prevent Egon’s death. It’s her turn to learn that the past/time can’t be changed, even if the events she’s focusing on feel to her like they are in the future.
If you are into drinking games, taking a shot for every apology given during this episode could be fun. Or it might be necessary to help you get through the episode.
Adam’s voice over:
“People are peculiar creatures. All their actions are driven by desire, their characters forged by pain. As much as they may try to suppress the pain, to repress the desire, they cannot free themselves from the eternal servitude to their feelings. As long as the storm rages within them, they can find no peace. Not in life, not in death. And so, day after day, they will do all that must be done. Pain is their ship. Desire their compass, all that humans are capable of.”
Adam looks at Martha in her white
wedding party dress. Hannah watches Stranger Jonas sleep, then picks up the time machine. Her eyes slide over to the door, where the ghost of Ulrich is standing. Martha sits on her bed holding the St Christopher medal (which Stranger left for her to find), with the ghost of Young Jonas watching, as he looked the last time she saw him (the day she let Bartosz hit him and drive him away). Katharina sits on Mikkel’s bed and sees Mikkel wearing the skeleton costume he wore the day he disappeared.
Martha disappears from Adam’s couch. Adam is holding the medal.
Pain and desire combine to create anger, guilt and longing in these pairings.
June 26, 1954- One Day Until the Apocalypse
The coroner explains the results of his autopsy of Old Claudia to Daniel and Egon. She was approximately 75 years old, 5’7″ and had heterochromia, which attracts Egon’s interest. He confesses that the day Helge came home, she visited him in his office and apologized to him, though he’d never met her. The coroner shows them that she’s had heavy radiation exposure over a long time.
Daniel theorizes that Claudia was Ulrich’s mother and accomplice. He guesses that she was the one holding Helge hostage for the last 7 months. Then he orders Egon to show her picture to Helge to see if he recognizes her.
In a larger sense, Daniel’s not completely wrong. Claudia was a large part of the time travel circumstances that took Helge to 1986. And she is the Great Dark Mother Time Goddess of the show. If she’d wanted Helge back sooner, he probably could have come back sooner. But both his return and her death were written in the stars/predetermined, so she let them play out.
In 1987, Adult Claudia has been in her office all night analyzing the data Bernd pointed her toward. Her secretary, Jasmin Trewen, finds her at her desk and assumes she’s ready to finally meet the lost and lonely French delegation, but no such luck. Once again, Claudia takes off and Jasmin will have to makes excuses for her. It’s June 26th, the day Egon is fated to die, and Claudia wants to stop that from happening.
I feel really bad for Jasmin, who was so excited to have a female power plant director. Claudia’s moving on to even more important things, but to the normal world, it must look like something is very wrong. I hope that on season 3 we find out who ran the plant in between Claudia and Aleksander.
In 2020, Stranger Jonas makes a liar of me and does not startle awake.
What’s this about? Was he calmed by telling the truth to the coven of capable moms? Can he sense that his mom has the time machine and he’s off the hook for once, no longer in charge of saving the world? Maybe one of his parents has to stare at him sleeping to dull the startle response?
Anyway, as soon as his eyes focus, he notices the machine is gone and he startles awake the rest of the way.
Ha! This time the startle response was a delayed reaction, from a waking nightmare. Well played, Dark. Only 1 more episode to come up with a new variation on the theme.
But why was he so calm this morning after telling Hannah off yesterday? I’m sticking with my theory that there are at least 2 Strangers running around in 2020. One guy drove Hannah out of town and the other made friends with Charlotte. Or have I not explained that theory in this time period yet? That might be down in the commentary for this episode. Time travel math is hard, fellow travelers.
Also, maybe once he’d lost his father, a significant proportion of his nightmares were about losing his mother, too. He now knows he’s gotten his mother to safety, because of the deja vu effect on Dark, where, over the course of a cycle, characters gradually sense things they shouldn’t know yet, or ever.
His Jonas Sense was tingling, so deep inside he knew he’d gotten Hannah to safety, even if it was one of the other hims who has the full knowledge.
We are working with the mysteries of the universe here.
Jonas gets dressed and breaks routine by looking in Hannah’s room for her and the time machine, but she’s gone. Hannah is standing outside the cave, contemplating a future in the past.
Katherina stares at her self-made “K+U” tattoo and decides to look into time travel. She’s been told she can’t save Mikkel, but no one has told her she can’t save Ulrich. And she could still visit Mikkel.
Charlotte tells Peter that Noah is her father, the world is ending tomorrow, and only the people who shelter in the bunker will survive. And that her mother is alive. Peter doesn’t say anything.
It was a lot to take in at once. He’s probably wondering if he can sneak Benni into the bunker.
At the police station, Clausen is staring at a photo of a younger version of himself with another man. Officer Jankowski enters with documents he requested on passports issued to people named Aleksander Köhler. She tells him that he was right, there was only one issued in Marburg during the designated time frame. He’s happy about the news and repeats the quote from Freud he used during his welcoming speech to the department, “And so the eyes saw, the ears heard and nothing remained concealed.” Jankowski recognizes it and comments, but Clausen brushes her off, telling her to get Torben.
He really doesn’t like women. He doesn’t like anyone, but he’s noticably more disrespectful toward women.
Martha, Magnus, Bartosz and Franziska meet under the bridge to argue about what to do next. Elisabeth mostly stands there, because this season, no one bothers to translate conversation for her, ever. They only use sign when speaking directly to her. It’s been driving me crazy all season. No wonder she’s a stickler for the rules. At least then she has a shot at understanding what’s going on.
Magnus wants to tell someone. Bartosz wants to maintain his silence, as he’s been ordered to do. They ask Martha what she thinks. She’s thinking about Jonas. As usual, Bartosz is jealous.
But Martha is still Ariadne, the one who knows the way. Thanks to the medal on her bed, she knows that Jonas is back. A Jonas, anyway. She reasons that Jonas has more experience with the whole time travel situation than Bartosz, who’s Noah’s flunky.
Franziska agrees with Magnus that they should tell someone, since everyone’s been silent for months. Bartosz gives in, now that everyone else has voted against him. He says, “We should do it.”
This sets Martha off. “We? There is no “we”. There never has been… You knew what was happening for months. You never told me or anyone else here. Do whatever you want.”
She storms away. They all just stare at her. To be fair, Bartosz was working for a murderer and sworn to silence. But during those months he was also Martha’s boyfriend, and her father, brother and close friend have been missing. He could have solved the whole thing at any time with a word, but he followed orders and didn’t.
Back in 1954, Egon stops by the big house for Greta to breathe some fire at him. She allows him to show the photo of a corpse to Helge, and ask a few leading questions. Helge answers, “He told me about her. The White Devil.”
Egon and Greta are shocked. The baby was held hostage by Satanists, right here in Winden! Helge won’t name the man who told him about the White Devil, but he does say that she wants to kill them all. Though she’s dead, she hasn’t even gotten started yet. Baby Helge does a great job selling his Satanic rumors.
In 1987, the White Devil herself shows up at Egon’s door. Adult Claudia is in her own world, having decided Egon is moving in with her, but not really having thought through what that means for an elderly person with cancer. She can’t understand why he won’t just get in the car on command, the way Gretchen the Dog does.
Egon explains that he has his first chemo treatment now. Claudia asks to come with him. He warmly agrees.
Clausen and Torben have gone back to question Aleksander at the power plant a 2nd time. Clausen confronts Aleksander with a document he received from Marburg which shows that Aleksander Köhler is 5 feet 8 inches tall, while the Aleksander Köhler standing in front of him is 5 feet 6 inches at most. Clausen uses this as proof of identity theft and obstruction and places Aleksander under arrest. Aleksander tells him he can’t do this. Clausen gives him a self satisfied smirk.
Clausen is insufferable. What does this have to do with the missing kids? We know what happened to them, but he doesn’t. If it wasn’t clear before that he’s here on a personal vendetta, it is now.
Stranger Jonas is sitting in Hannah’s kitchen looking at family photos, when there’s a knock on the door. For some reason, Stranger always assumes that company means bad news that he should hide from. Maybe because it almost always is.
This time, it’s Martha, calling for Hannah, so he cautiously answers.
His whole aura lights up, but she doesn’t recognize him. We are reminded that the show is named Dark and this is a tragic romance.
Jonas gives her space while they sort out the situation. He attempts to be a decent host and not scare her, but she knows something is weird and starts to leave. She says she’s having deja va, and he answers that it’s a glitch in the matrix or a message from the beyond. Maybe she read it all somewhere.
Those lines are from the first conversation in the series where they were alone together, on November 4, 2019, in season 1 episode 1, in the woods near the cave, not long before Mikkel disappeared. It was the last time everything was normal for Martha.
It was the day Jonas returned to school after being away at mental illness summer camp for PTSD after Michael’s suicide. Jonas’ last normal day was June 20, 2019.
Now, 8 months later for Martha and 34 years for Jonas, they both remember every word. She turns and asks how he knows about that. He asks if she found the medal, then looks away, since this is extra awkward for him.
Martha recognizes him and they look into each other’s eyes. Her first reaction is to just be happy he’s back, even if he’s old by a 17 year old’s standards.
He’s so well preserved, I think most 17 year olds would get over the age difference fast for the love of their lives. But there are also versions of Young Jonas passing through town all the time, so she doesn’t necessarily have to settle.
We go from Jonas being gentle with Martha to Adult Claudia having no patience with such sentimentality.
As Egon lays back and lets poison drip into his veins in the hope that it will eliminate the even worse cancer that’s killing his body, he asks his daughter if she thinks he was a good police officer. Claudia tells him that she wouldn’t know. She brusquely says that she’s sure he was fine at whatever he did. It’s said the way you’d impatiently brush off a child asking a silly question.
Egon isn’t a child though, he’s an adult at the very end of his life, sorting through his history and putting his affairs in order. He deserved a more thoughtful answer, or at least a kinder tone of voice.
Both Old and Young Claudia would have known this. Adult Claudia is busy with her ambitions.
He’s a good person, so he just continues with his thought. He tells her that he doesn’t think that he was a good cop. But she’s always seen the world differently, while he has trouble seeing the world for what it really is.
He brings up Back to the Future, a fun bit of meta, saying he thinks time travel really exists. It has something to do with what happened to Mads and what happened to Helge 30 years ago.
33 years ago, actually. In 1954, Egon is called into his office to speak to a woman who says she knows Ulrich. It’s Hannah, who tells him she saw a photo in the newspaper that she thinks is her husband. Egon pulls out a copy of the photo. Hannah still isn’t sure and asks to see Ulrich. Egon explains that Ulrich is in a mental hospital and nonverbal. Hannah suggests that he might talk to her. She gives her name as Katharina Nielsen.
Jonas and Martha have sat down at the kitchen table. She asks him where he’s been. He picks up the medal and says that he promised he’d try to make it alright again. He apologizes and starts to pull away, just as Martha reaches for him.
She tells him that it all makes sense now, and caresses his face.
But they are interrupted by the Warrior Goddess Katharina in all her glory. She pounds on the door, shouting for Martha. When no one answers, she breaks a window, unlocks the door and stalks in, an exact mirror of what Jonas did at the Nielsen house when he left the pendant for Martha.
One of the best mirrors of the season. Katharina has fallen back on anger as her go to response to everything and blames Jonas for her loss of Mikkel and Ulrich, but there’s something of a kindred spirit between them. His dogged loyalty is from her. And he has his own anger, too, he’s just not violent toward people.
Jonas and Martha huddle in the corner, protecting each other from Katharina’s wrath. She takes hold of Martha and drags her out from behind Jonas, then tells her the truth about who Jonas and Michael/Mikkel really are to her. “My grandson, your nephew… And you are his aunt.”
Martha is in shock, while Jonas starts apologizing to Martha.
Katharina isn’t interested in whatever was about to go on between Jonas and Martha. She wants the time machine. Jonas explains that Hannah beat her to it.
Martha jumps in to tell her mother that Magnus has a time machine and that the kids used it. Katharina asks if she saw Mikkel. Martha is stunned to realize she was so close to her brother.
Katharina tells Jonas to keep his dirty old Kahnwald man hands off her daughter, then she drags Martha out of the door.
Between Bartosz, the son of her enemy, and old man grandbaby Jonas, Katharina must think Martha has terrible taste in men.
Clausen flicks the light switch on in the dark interrogation room as he joins Aleksander, enjoying Aleksander’s discomfort. He waves a gun in Aleksander’s face as a “hello” when he sits down at the table, then explains that he had a brother named Aleksander Köhler who disappeared in 1986, just like Mads Nielsen. He’s tracked down all 700 Aleksander Köhlers who now live in Germany, which was a tedious proposition.
Aleksander Tiedemann was challenging, since he took Regina’s last name. Clausen took his mother’s maiden name when his parents separated, so he knows from experience using a wife’s maiden name can make you untraceable. But 2 months ago, Clausen received a letter, which he pushes across the table and insists Aleksander read.
The letter begins with Clausen’s favorite Freud quote. “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. You’ll find the answers concerning your brother in Winden… A friend.”
When Aleksander is done, Clausen waves the gun around as he says, “I have no idea what’s going on in this town, but I’m very certain of one thing. You are definitely not my brother.”
He walks out and leaves Aleksander alone in the pitch dark again, relieved that Dirty Harry didn’t shoot him in the face.
So, I guess that was definitely his brother’s passport? But did he mean that, while Aleksander isn’t his brother, he’s another relative? The two do have a close resemblance.
It sounds like the real Aleksander could just as easily have been Boris’ accomplice as he could have been a victim. If he was a victim in the Marburg crime Aleksander is worried about, Clausen would know that he was one of the bodies. Or was he another victim of the killer time time chair? And who sent that letter? it almost has to be one of the time war factions.
On the drive out to the asylum, that smooth talker Egon tells Hannah that Ulrich never confessed, which is a half-truth. He makes it sound like the children Ulrich wanted to save were his own, so that he can use it as an excuse to ask Hannah if she has children with Ulrich. She truthfully says no. Then Egon tells her that Ulrich said he was looking for his son. Oops.
Hannah looks out the car window. Egon moves on to his next question, about the White Devil. Hannah chuckles at the idea. Poor Egon, the killer White Devil is real, but he can’t get any respect. He instructs Hannah that if Ulrich talks to her, should ask him to confess to the police.
In 1987, Adult Claudia is getting all of her facts straight from Old Egon about Ulrich, Mikkel, Ulrich’s arrest and committal in 1953 and his most recent escape attempt with Mikkel. And his threat toward Egon. Egon still wants to go for the Back to the Future tie in.
Franziska, Magnus and Elisabeth have brought the time machine to Charlotte and Peter, and told their story. Their parents mainly want to know what year they traveled to, which clues Franziska in to the fact that her parents already knew everything she’s telling them, except for the details about their own kids lives.
Just as she’s working up to a good rant, Magnus’ phone rings. Martha’s calling to tell them about Jonas. Magnus is freaked out that Jonas is old now. Charlotte jumps in to say it’s better if the kids stay out of the time war. She doesn’t sound like even she believes they’ll listen.
Franziska winds up for her rant, going all the way back to how they mishandled the truth about Peter and Benni (by not informing the kids). (Once again, Elisabeth is left out of the conversation.) Franziska leaves and slams the door behind her. Magnus’ shoulder can be seen still standing there. You’d think he’d follow her.
Egon walks Hannah to the spot where she’ll talk to Ulrich. He gives her figure a good looking over while they wait for the prisoner. Hannah asks him to give her a little space so she can speak to her husband privately. Egon doesn’t want to back off, but he does.
Ulrich is brought out in a straight jacket and manacles. Hannah is shocked by his condition. They stand on either side of a barred gate. He quickly responds to her, saying she must be an angel.
But once he knows for certain who she is, he asks her questions about Mikkel and Katharina. He doesn’t even ask what she’s doing there or anything at all about her. She’s nothing but a nearly invisible messenger who could potentially have information about the people who really matter to him.
Hannah sees the truth now, that she’ll never be first with him. Or third. She says it feels so different to be with him again. She asks him the question that Jonas asked her- If he could choose, now, today, between her and Katharina, what would his choice be?
She doesn’t bother to listen to the answer.
In a dreamlike tone, she says that she can’t remember if he ever said “I love you” during their affair. By now, Ulrich has picked up on what’s happening, that Hannah is here to make a decision, and he shrewdly starts playing for his life. He says whatever he thinks she needs to hear in order for her to help him. Now he loves her, he’ll leave his wife, he’ll do anything, if she’ll just get him out.
But Hannah is in the process of getting the closure she needed on this phase of her life. Michael left her without even adressing a note to her. Jonas left her and said goodbye, but only he knew what kind of goodbye it was. Ulrich broke off their affair and said horrible things to her. Katherina followed up on his words twice.
Now it’s Hannah’s turn. She’s not going to make it a big scene, that’s not her style. Ulrich will take care of that. She tells him that Jonas said she wouldn’t need anyone, “But the truth is, you don’t need me now.”
Which is true. He may not like it, but he put himself in this position. That’s not on her.
Had he treated her like a human being and friend, rather than something he could use, she might have tried to help him, as any friend would. He was more respectful to Egon during the arrest scenes than he was to Hannah when she showed up as his potential hero.
To try to convince her to save him, Ulrich continues to lie to her that he loves her and will do anything for her. When she walks away, he howls obscenities at her as he’s dragged away. The last words we hear are him howling, “Stay with me. She’s a liar. I love you.” And some unrepeatable names.
The endearments would mean so much more if he hadn’t been using her everytime he’d said anything like them before. She’s right. During their affair, she’d tell him, “I love you.” He’d respond, “You’re beautiful.” Then pressure her into another meeting.
When she gets back to Egon, Hannah tells him that, though there’s a resemblance to her husband, this wasn’t him. (This is true. He’s her husband’s father, after all.) Ulrich has just finished screaming her name (Hannah. She told Egon it was Katharina.). Egon is confused, but doesn’t question it. He knows what it’s like when the person you marry becomes someone else.
Back at the Nielsen house in 2020, Martha comforts Katharina until Magnus brings home the time machine. He and Martha didn’t pay close attention when Bartosz used it, so they don’t know how it works. Katharina takes the machine upstairs with her. Martha tells Magnus that Mikkel and Ulrich are alive, but in another time.
In 1986, Adult Claudia takes Old Egon back to his apartment after his chemo appointment. She orders him to grab his pills and then they’ll take off again for her house. He’s moving slowly, because the combination of age, cancer and chemo is bit much for one body. Plus, he’s still thinking about Ulrich in 1987 and the 1950s.
He wonders if there’s something in the caves that Ulrich was heading toward. Claudia becomes overly impatient, shoving the pill drawer shut and telling her father to stop this nonsense. He realizes that the caves connect to the power plant. She must already know about time travel and whatever’s hidden underneath the plant. She screams at him that none of this is real, in a totally unconvincing way.
Egon goes to the phone to call the station and tell them to search the caves. Claudia slams down the phone.
Claudia: “What’s in the caves eclipses all scientific discovery. That substance turns all we know about the universe on its head. And you want to risk all of that? For nothing?”
From Egon’s point of view, it’s for 2 boys who went missing, Mads and Helge, and 2 who turned up dead, Yasin and Erik, plus Ulrich, who’s been institutionalized without a conviction for 34 years. 5 lives isn’t nothing. Plus, he knows there’s something strange with Mikkel. As a cop, he’s got to be assuming that those are just the ones he knows about.
Egon: “You haven’t changed. It’s still all about you. You have no heart.”
He picks up the phone again and they wrestle over it. Somehow in the scuffle, he’s accidentally thrown across the room and hits his head. He falls to the floor, dying.
Egon is bleeding out and having trouble breathing, but he’s still conscious. Claudia calls for an ambulance, but hangs up instead of giving the operator the information. She quotes her older self, “There will be sacrifices. Everything will happen as it always has. But if everything goes right, she will live.’ Regina. I’m sorry.”
Egon remembers the elderly woman with heterochromia who was involved in the periphery of the case in 1954. He says, “You are the White Devil.”
Then he takes his last breath, while Claudia watches.
In 1954, Egon and Hannah have retreated back to his office at the station. As he offers her a cigarette, he asks if she’s sure the prisoner isn’t her husband. She shakes her head sadly. He apologizes for not jumping in sooner to protect her from Ulrich’s harsh reaction. She tells him it’s okay.
When was the last time anyone ever offered to protect Hannah from anything? I can’t think of a single time we’ve seen anyone do anything to take care of her, at any age, other than a few hugs and loving words from Young Jonas in season 1, and her dad’s sort of general dadness. Anything that seemed nice from Ulrich was really a way of getting into her pants.
When was the last time anyone truly appreciated Egon as a man who was capable of taking care of a woman?
He asks her if she knows Agnes, since they share a last name. She doesn’t. He notices her suitcase.
Egon: Are you traveling back home today?
Hannah: I lost everything I had at home. I’m just looking for a fresh start.
She holds her cigarette out. Egon realizes that Hannah has given him an opening. He looks vulnerable, but hopeful, as he lights both their cigarettes.
They take us into the montage.
Claudia sits with her father until she’s sure he’s gone.
The pathologist, Udo Meier, takes one more look at Claudia’s body. He could be Clausen, or Aleksander’s, brother. No really, he could be the missing brother.
Clausen looks at the letter about his brother.
Aleksander sits in a windowless jail cell.
Katharina sits in Mikkel’s room and examines the time machine.
Martha lies on her pink bed and thinks.
Stranger Jonas lies on his blue bed and thinks. He holds the medal.
Definitely a relationship between Aleksander, Clausen and Udo Meier. Did Udo also make it through the killer time chair, as I suspect Aleksander and Boris did? Maybe it was only safe enough for a one way trip? We have three names and three time periods, you’d think they’d send each to the other’s time period and switch out the passports. But I guess Boris and Aleksander were the same age, so that doesn’t work. Unless the dates were changed on Boris’ passport.
Adult Claudia goes home to her midcentury modern house. Regina left a note saying she’d be staying at a “friend’s” for the night.
So Regina must move right in with Aleksander once she realizes both Clauda and Egon are gone. He’s all she’s got left. His arrival has got to be a change in the timeline.
Claudia surveys her home, which looks like something out of a magazine, rather than a place people live. She reads Regina’s note, then frantically attempts to scrub the blood off her hands.
“Out d-mned spot! Out, I say!”
Oh, we’ve found our Lady Macbeth. I should’ve seen that sooner. I was so worried that it was Hannah. Which is ironic, because Ulrich is the other person who’s been covered with blood specks and mirrored as the White Devil with Claudia. I suspect he’s MacBeth himself, having just been felled by the hand of the one he harmed the most.
Claudia collapses to the floor in tears. A stranger lets himself into her house. It’s Young Jonas, fresh off his year long apprenticeship with Old Claudia. It’s his turn to return the favor with her counterpart. Adult Claudia brandishes a lethal looking iron skillet at him and asks why he has a key to her house. He tells her she gave it to him, right before she left him (to go let Noah shoot her). After a moment, Claudia puts the pieces together.
He goes to her, and tells her he knows what she’s done. They have to leave. They don’t have much time. But Old Claudia told him it didn’t have to happen the same way, the next time. That’s enough to peak Claudia’s interest.
Claudia: “Where are we going?”
Jonas: “To the future.”
A year later, Jonas is still dead inside.
Speaking of the rules of time (I know we were at some point), as the 2nd cycle draws to a close, these last 2 episodes become even more intense than Dark’s usual dense style and the subject matter loops back around to the beginning of this season/cycle and to season 1. It might be time for a refresher on some of the basic concepts of the show.
Season 1 Episode 5 Recap– Essays on Nietszche’s Eternal Recurrence, The Meanings of the Number 33, and Ariadne’s Thread. Also has an analysis of the life advice Stranger gives to Young Jonas.
Season 1 Episode 7– Has an essay on the basics of Dark Color Theory, though I would like to apologize to to Noah for thinking he was a sadist. I guess he was just very dedicated to the cause during the killer time chair experiments. Black and white also need to be added to Dark’s color scheme, as the more important colors in S2. I looked at how black, white and red interact in my analysis of Adam’s painting in From the Horned God to Dionysus.
Season 1 Episode 8– The meaning of the Triquetra is explained, color theory and time travel theory are explored, as are more of the connections the show makes between mythology and the characters and the unique ways time has shaped the characters. I got some things wrong in my time travel discussion, but they became relevant later: the passage only goes to 3 specific years, but the time machine device will allow travelers to travel as far backwards or forwards as desired, in 33 year increments, so read the essay with that in mind. (My thinking was ahead of its time. 😉) Within the episode, Tannhaus and Stranger have a discussion of how time and time travel work that’s worth reviewing, if you’re fuzzy.
It’s easy to forget that the number 3 is actually an essential part of the time travel equation. Adam has broken the natural order by removing it. The tension within the show between dualities and trinities that I’m always sensing and trying to reconcile is real. The world is not either/or, black and white. The muddy dark green-blue-grays favored by most of the time travelers are there for a reason, as is the red of Ariadne’s thread, worn most frequently by Hannah and Martha, but colors in the red family are also worn by Young Elizabeth. I suspect that Elizabeth will finally come into her own as a character in season 3, completing the trinity of love interests who motivate the main time travelers and are also leaders themselves.
Season 1 Episode 9– This is the first time Adam and Sic Mundus’ philosophy is clearly expressed, though Noah is the one to verbalize it. Bernd describes the power plant accident to Claudia and gaslights her about it. There is talk of the Antichrist. We see Hannah from Katharina’s point of view. In the commentary, I examined Tannhaus’ views of the universe vs Adam’s and did some character analysis. It’s a pivotal episode. These final 2 episodes of season 2 refer back to it.
I owe Hannah an apology, just like Noah. Season 1 emphasized only 1 side of both characters, and it was very slanted toward the views of their frenemies. It’s a good lesson in not jumping to conclusions too quickly, because for both, even in season 1, the evidence is there that they are more than they initially appear to be.
My guess is that there are no villains or heroes in Dark. Everyone is a victim of circumstance, both genetic and physical. If you follow each character’s history back to the origin point, including their family and cultural history, their actions will be understandable, as is true for most people in real life. That is one of the main messages of Dark. People are not as mysterious as they seem. We need to try harder to understand each other on an individual and a cultural level. Take the time to unravel the knots. I tried to do this with some of the characters using mythology in From the Horned God to Dionysus: The Men and Mythology of Netflix’s Dark. As usual, it rambles further than the title suggests.
Season 1 Episode 10 is the set up for season 2, but Stranger Jonas and Noah also each make important speeches- Noah to Bartosz in the car and Stranger to his younger self in the bunker. Both are transcribed within the recap.
It’s also where Zhangzi’s butterfly or man parable is introduced, which has hung over all of season 2, though I haven’t talked about it. There are some things I can’t discuss until the season is finished, because I have to pull in the whole season, or they’re just too broad for one overcrowded episode recap. But consider the characters this season and the nature of dualities. Are they the butterfly or the man? Then consider that Ines, who drugged her child and rescued him from his own father, introduced that parable. The parable, as it is stated, is too narrow.
Life is not an either/or question. There is a 3rd answer- you can be both the butterfly and the man. You can be Mikkel and Michael. Mikkel and Michael could have learned to merge into one psyche, and become a well adjusted adult. Michael chose the 4th answer, which is to toss out the parable completely. Escape is an option the parable doesn’t consider, but it’s the one that makes the most sense for Mikkel, the boy from the future, fan of Houdini, man who’d been pondering life and death since he was a young boy. He chose the sacrifice play. But what happens after an escape artist makes his sacrificial escape? Something to consider as you watch the last 2 episodes.
Season 2 Episode 1– I took a stab at explaining the time discrepancies that weave throughout this season. You might only notice them if you watch very closely. My gut tells me they will be explained in season 3, and some of the events in episodes 7&8 are part of the set up. There is an analysis of Sic Mundus as a mystery cult based on Hermeticism and ancient religious orders which explored the mysteries of the universe through the occult. There is also an analysis of important quotes, symbols, colors, etc
Season 2 Episode 2– I examined Cesium 137, the radioactive element that’s part of the material in the barrels and what’s fueling the time machine. It’s scary stuff. Also pulled out a few more important quotes, whose meaning has sometimes changed over the course of the season. Claudia’s use of science to describe the God Particle is transcribed.
Season 2 Episode 3– This is an essential episode, along with season 1, episode 5. I don’t believe I’ve talked much about Femme Fatales on Dark. I identified Agnes as one. Hannah is another. Claudia is the surprising one. She leaves them begging, time after time. In this episode, she walks out on Tannhaus, who I really think might be Regina’s father. Either that, or through time travel and baby switching shenanigans, he’s Claudia’s father. Since this is Dark, he might be the father of both women. Shoot, Claudia might be Hannah’s mother. I would bet that she’s influenced Hannah the way she’s influenced Agnes. Claudia is the Catherine de Medici of Dark, with a bevy of female spies.
Catherine de Medici was the one of the greatest strategists and spymasters of all time. And the Femme Fatale is one of the most powerful female archetypes, one which women need to reclaim. Never believe anything else.
We need to stop judging the Femme Fatale by misogynist male standards and look at her through female eyes. When we do, we can understand that she is using the tools she has at her disposal and reacting to her own life experiences. She is a survivor, who is making sure she gets what she needs. Often she’s also taking care of others or getting revenge for others. We applaud men when they take care of themselves. It’s time we did the same for women.
Season 2 Episode 5– Adam and Jonas meet. Adam explains his theory of human psychological development as 3 stages of loss- naivety, innocence and life. I did a detailed analysis of Adam’s concepts and also looked at Michael and Jonas in terms of seasonal myths of male foes who challenge each other, die and are reborn. Ulrich gets an honorable mention as a weakened fertility god. References to dying male gods permeate Dark, whether it’s Jesus, Dionysos, the Oak and Holly Kings, or Cain’s brother Abel. I’m waiting for the end of the season to get into Cain, Abel and Seth.
Season 2 Episode 6– Young Jonas goes back to the future, landing on June 20, 2019, the day before Michael’s suicide. By all rights, this is the beginning of the series, making it another essential episode. Not every character appears, or gets much time, if they do. But for those who do, there are major revelations which tie into the other time periods and affect other characters. Jonas and Martha reveal their feelings to each other. Hannah and Ulrich start their affair. Jonas tries stop Michael from hanging himself and instead gives him the idea. Old Claudia shows up in their kitchen and interrupts their reunion, encouraging Michael and apprenticing Jonas. None of it is straightforward, so I analyzed the heck out of it.
I am truly sorry this recap took so long, and is probably not that great. In addition to the situation in the world, which has affected me, starting in the early summer I was forced by my medical provider to wean myself off of a medication that I’d been on for over a decade, which evened out my moods and regulated my sleep. The change had nothing to do with me or my needs, it was solely for political reasons having to do with living in the US. I am even more angry than usual about health care, because I spent years trying to find something that helped my fibromyalgia and chronic migraines, before I found that particular medication and am prone to drug reactions. In addition to that, my 16 year old dog, Max, who is like my third child, always by my side, has been slowly dying over the summer. Now we are at the point where we need to decide whether to put him down or wait him out. He needs 24/7 care at this point, so it’s like running a nursing home for a dog.
Between the poor sleep and worry and grief about Max, my concentration is shot. That might color the tone of these last couple of recaps. 😝
There is a thing that Mr Olivander the wand maker says in the first Harry Potter book about Voldemort having been great in a terrible way. He did horrific things, but they were great, in the sense that they were also huge and unforgettable. So much so that people couldn’t even say his name out loud.
That describes Nietzsche in this series. He hangs over everything, but I’ve hardly talked about him, beyond the eternal recurrence and a bit of nihilism, which is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around more of his philosophy this week, because these last 2 episodes bring together his ideas in a way I don’t want to ignore anymore.
Nietzsche loved both Greek tragedy and deeply confusing, often contradictory, certainly outrageous philosophical arguments. But it’s difficult to get very far without bringing in spoilers for every episode, so most of the Nietzsche discussion will still have to wait for after episode 8, possibly for a separate post.
When every time exists at once, and everything is connected, it’s difficult to avoid spoilers.
Watching Jonas and Martha suffer in their quest to be with each other is beautiful romantic tragedy, and Dark is adding its own new twist to an age old story.
But seeing Young Egon view Old Claudia’s body and watching Adult Claudia sit with Old Egon while he dies due to her mistakes, then remembering both Young and Old Claudia telling her young father that he’s too good for this world within the same episode is the type of complex web of emotion, cause and effect that is so unique to this show and that it does so well.
Along with Martha and Jonas, all of the parents and children with unfinished business who can’t quite connect are a central theme of this season. The parent child bond is the strongest blood bond, but also the most unequal relationship. Dark keeps reminding us of this.
Normally, parents and children are never at a point where they are close in age and maturity levels and can easily understand each other. Everything has to be done in hindsight, when it might be too late. The parent child relationship is even more inherently tragic than romantic relationships. Ask Hamlet. Or Inigo Montoya. Or Claudia or Jonas or Mikkel or… Egon, who said as much to Ulrich, who also knows first hand that your children won’t be with you forever and you might not connect with them the way you wish, no matter how much you love them.
The trinity of Claudia, Mikkel/Michael and Jonas all now feel responsible for the tragic fate of a parent. Claudia directly caused Egon’s death, while Jonas feels like he caused Michael’s. Michael blames himself for Ulrich being sentenced to a living death in an attempt to save him, while he knows that Jonas also gave up the chance to live a normal life so that he could find a way to save his father. Claudia also feels guilty for leaving Regina while she pursued her own scientific interests.
There will also likely be a child or children Stranger Jonas or Adam feel guilty toward, possibly his own, possibly Noah and Agnes. Or maybe one of the three children killed by Noah was Jonas’ biological child. There are cases to be made for both Yasin and Erik, who have connections to Noah other than their deaths and have been left as dangling plot threads. Once you’ve seen the entire season, a case could be made for Noah choosing his test subjects based on a desire for revenge. Except for Erik. Was Erik’s only purpose to lure in Bartosz in with his stash of drugs, or does he have something to do with Jonas?
Noah is a tragic case all on his own, with Charlotte and her mother being taken from him and each other, leaving him to work for their betrayer while also searching for them for half a century. He might actually be the biblical Job, not just Noah of the Ark. He’s also a secret agent, like his sister Agnes, and has spent decades wandering in a quiet desert of near madness, like many a spiritual prophet and pilgrim.
Just as it’s been hinted Jonas has. I can’t wait for season 3 and more of Young Noah. There is a tragic rivalry between Noah and Jonas simmering under the surface that I want explored. Noah might be Jonas’ son, but that seems too simple. I think they are brothers. They’ve been shown as mismatched twins, like Gemini twins of Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux (who had different fathers and a beautiful, troublemaking sister, Helen of Troy). We know who Jonas’ parents are, but we don’t know anything about Noah and Agnes’ backgrounds and their relationships with their parents before Stranger Jonas brought them to Sic Mundus as children.
Pain and Suffering and Nietzsche in Dark
Adam the Prophet, which sounds suspiciously similar to The Boy From The Future, now that I think about it, wants to end everyone’s pain with a giant escape act. Escape from harsh reality runs counter to every Nietzsche inspired bit we’ve been given so far in this show. Nietzsche hated Christianity and other prophecy based religions because of their detachment from the real world. He detested Christianity’s belief that suffering in this life would be rewarded in a fantasy world that would come after death or an apocalypse, because it encouraged followers to live for the future instead of the present, when the present is all we really have.
Nietzsche suffered from a fatal, painful, debilitating disease, which led to insanity long before it killed him. Yet he was still all about living life in all its messy glory while one is alive, both the suffering and the happiness. He considered his brand of nihilism to be life affirming, to be about throwing oneself into life despite its terribleness and lack of purpose or meaning.
In other words, he suggested keeping busy, making your own meaning and finding your own purpose, and thought art and creativity were what would save the world, not an apocalypse. He was a huge fanboy of the Greek tragedies, which he said force us to confront the suffering in life and find the beauty in it. He turned that idea into the eternal recurrence and its companion ideas, which involve embracing life and using order and reason to balance chaos and madness, not to obliterate them. His ideas about balance were subtle and often get lost in translation.
He was also quite literally dying from an illness that was eating his brain like something out of science fiction. Some of his more outrageous thoughts correspond to the symptoms of delusion and grandiosity typical of his illness. (General paresis, which is chronic, untreated syphilis.) And he was a man of his time period, so some of his thinking, like his thoughts on women, needs to be considered in its historical context. In other words, disgarded.
Some of the attitudes attributed to him were actually the thoughts of his anti semitic, German Nationalist sister, who posthumously rewrote his unpublished work to reflect her own beliefs before she published it. Her edits were eventually removed, but his reputation was tainted forever. The Nazi-inspired interpretation of his words has been superimposed on his thinking for so long that it’s almost impossible to see him with fresh eyes. As with Dark, there are several competing strands in his thinking that are woven together and need to be teased out to understand what is happening and why seeming contradictions and circular thinking are there.
I’m not a Nietzsche scholar and I haven’t figured that all out. Some of what he says is hard to take. Some of it is true, nonetheless. He was a genius observer of the human condition, who wasn’t afraid to acknowledge some difficult truths.
I am someone with a long-term, chronic neurological illness who knows the effects of one on writing when I see it. Even in the modern world, the effects of illness on art are often not taken into account. I don’t just mean his mental illness. I mean the literal pain, suffering, dizziness, headaches, depression, and everything else that goes along with being chronically ill.
You want to talk about nihilism, and darkness, and Dark? Let’s talk about the physical suffering of Nietzsche. Except no one ever wants to talk about those things, so shut ins, which Nietzsche was, turn to art, music and writing about other things. Or violence. Or drugs. But only the latter two are explored as reasons for art in our culture, because we don’t like to admit that chronically ill “failures” exist and that they (we) aren’t just people who’ve given up on life or who aren’t trying hard enough.
In Dark, Adam really only sees his own pain. Pain does that to you. He’s blinded by it, in fact. (Chronic syphilis leads to physical blindnes and madness, which is a form of intellectual and spiritual blindness.) He’s learned to mask it and function like he’s a normal human being, but in reality, he’s done the opposite of either leaving behind the pain (dissociating) or embracing it. He’s been consumed by it, as if it were flames, until there’s almost nothing left of the original person.
People who’ve never been in so much pain that they were truly ready to die, whether from physical or emotional pain, don’t often understand the reality of someone like Adam, so kudos to the creators.
Adam has been in both physical and emotional pain for so long that it’s all he knows. The people around him don’t even recognize that he’s in pain most of the time. This is an issue with chronic pain, that it just becomes part of who you are, invisible to your family, your medical providers, sometimes even yourself.
Sometimes you deal with the pain by ignoring it. Often you ignore it for so long that it becomes something else, unrecognizable even to yourself. Soon you are at risk of becoming lost even to yourself. Our culture encourages this process by paying lip service to pain, and then exploiting pain when it is taken seriously. Unfettered Capitalism=Bad Idea.
I love that Adam’s eyes are always teary and the other characters never comment on it. His pain leaks out of him continuously, through his tears, his actions and his plans. His pain is so huge that he wants to take the world with him when he tries to end it. But he manages to otherwise stay well groomed and buttoned up tight, so everyone has learned to politely look away from his issues the way they ignore his scars.
Why would they question their leader’s decisions? He looks fine. He speaks calmly. His thoughts follow a logical progression, as long as you don’t do any fact checking. (This is a cult. They don’t fact check.) He’s obviously okay. It would be impolite and a hassle to suggest otherwise. No one wants a hassle when the next cycle is about to begin.
(It’s interesting that two of the people we’ve seen in Sic Mundus as Adam’s minions are Franziska and Magnus, who must have been teens when they came under his influence. Teen Magnus is a disaffected loner, while Teen Franziska is an angry outsider, two types who are typical prey for cults. Bartosz was also absorbed into the cult as a teen, thanks to his greed and overconfidence.)
Another of Nietzsche’s concepts is his famously misunderstood Übermensch, the Overman who evolve beyond mere humans, into a strong leader, able to make his own rules and lead the weaker souls he was surrounded by. Because he was an ideal soul, he could be trusted to make the right decisions for his people.
Like Hitler, Adam himself is not the Übermensch, but he pretends to be, and wants to usher in an age dominated by Übermenschen. I believe he hoped Noah would be the first, but he pushed Noah too far. His breeding program hasn’t worked out, so he’s going for apocalypse now.
While Adam tries to appear to be the epitome of order, with his faux dress military uniform and courtly manners, he is actually a sower of chaos. He is a faux Übermensch, appearing to have the strength to straddle the void between chaos and order, but he doesn’t have the carnality that a true Übermensch should display.
The true Übermenschen are the blending of both reason and emotion and embrace life and worldliness. They are attached. They don’t crave destruction. They are benevolent dictators who understand that they must rule weaker beings with a velvet glove over an iron fist, so that their subjects too may know both order balanced with chaos. They are idealized Medicis, rather than Nazis.
This is the part of Nietzsche that it’s hard for many modern readers to get behind. It’s the side that attracts those who fall for the myth that he was a white supremacist and are attracted to a perceived validation of their desire to subjugate others. Nietzsche wrote extensively, but sometimes subtly, about the human love of power and joy in of crushing others (will to power).
Dark covers this as a side issue. We are told about the time war, but it hasn’t been central yet. We don’t understand Claudia’s role in it or how it started, only that she vaguely follows the “light” and wants to keep the eternal recurrence as it’s always been. Except for when she wants to change it to suit her desires. And when her apprentice Jonas wants to change it to suit his desires. And when he teaches Claudia how to change time in order to bend history to her will, even though that should be impossible.
Claudia starts her journey as a time warrior by accidentally murdering her father, while both abandoning and vowing to save her daughter. Stranger Jonas tells us that by the time of her death, she’d become everything she hated. We watch her talk Michael into suicide while saying she follows the light, and talk Agnes into betraying her brother and Claudia at the same time.
So just what does the “light” mean to Claudia? Because her version of following the light seems exactly the same as Noah’s and Adam’s, the same version that seduces Bartosz. Noah tells Bartosz that they must perform dark acts in service of the light. We see Claudia actually do that, at the beginning, middle and end of her time warrior career. We see Noah do it as well, though it’s harder to measure time passing with his lack of aging. But we know he killed a man because he was ordered to when he was young, and killed children in his more recent past.
For Claudia and Adam, the end justifies the means. The only difference is the end they are trying to achieve.
Everyone else, including Jonas, Noah and Agnes, is a pawn of both. They’ve all been betrayed or coerced into betraying people they care about, artificially continuing the cycle of pain and suffering. There was never a time when Jonas wasn’t a pawn. I suspect that Claudia was initially a pawn of Bernd. But was Bernd a pawn of someone, such as Adam? Or was he the ultimate creator of Adam? Where does Tannhaus fit in?
Power games are a major part of Nietzsche’s philosophy, but I’ve only scratched the surface of reading about his ideas. A war is by definition a powergame.
Claudia and Young Jonas are more accepting of reality as it is written in the unyielding stars, but they both also fundamentally want to change the world, just like Adam. They want a slow apocalypse instead of a fast one. Between the three of them, they’ve created it. Time is a mess, even though Claudia is the symbol of reason, the Time Goddess. In the real world, nothing is seen as more orderly and dependable than the passing of time.
Stranger Jonas is the enigma to me. Some versions of him could still be working for Claudia, while others could be working with Adam. But I think there is a version who’s accepted and faced his pain, and doesn’t shy away from it. He’s preaching acceptance and living life with self awareness, but not despair. I believe he’s preaching a unique nihilism, which includes elements of Humanism and Buddhism.
There is still the mystery of how the Jonas who is Claudia’s partner becomes the independent Jonas and how that Jonas becomes the Adam of Sic Mundus, if he does. If he doesn’t, there is the mystery of how someone else becomes an imposter who claims to be Jonas and why Stranger Jonas lets them.
Nietzsche spent his life searching for the truth, even as his illness made it more elusive. If Jonas is Adam, his journey would mirror that descent into madness. If Adam is someone else, by telling Jonas they are him, Adam may be trying to force Jonas into madness brought on by the wait for a destiny that never arrives.
Claudia’s analysis of the God Particle data:
“The data suggests that the particle regularly decays into two protons, at a mass of
1.21 gigawatts 125 gigaelectron volts. In one case, however, it decayed into four muons.”
As we can see, in this one instance, Dark cheekily follows Back to the Future rules and creates the necessary amount of energy for time travel. Don’t correct my math/science. I just work here. Claudia rushes from the room for a different reason. The 4 muons must create the predetermination.
Since when is the Kahnwald house surrounded by other houses? All we’ve ever seen surrounding it is greenery. Yet now it has other houses nearby. More evidence of a time anomaly?
This episode is an example of why I find Magnus hard to read. He’s so disconnected. Plus, he turned me off right from the start, when he wouldn’t stop hitting Mikkel in the head in S1Ep1. Those head smacks hurt and they aren’t funny. Martha and Mikkel are both passionate people who take on the issues of the world at young ages, while Magnus just stands there (seriously, he freezes when things start happening), hits his little brother in the head, gets stoned and tries to have sex with Franziska. Not terribly inspiring. Maybe season 3 will be his time to step up.
Bartosz always comes between Jonas and Martha as a rival, but Mikkel and Katharina were in the next room when they had sex. Mikkel and Katharina are both rivals for Martha and Jonas’ affection. When Mikkel got old enough to understand the sequence of events, he could have been mad at Martha for her perceived lack of faithfulness to Jonas. Any of this could affect the future, including Bartosz’ longstanding, unrequited feelings for Martha and his jealousy.
I was surprised to hear Egon tell Hannah that Ulrich hadn’t confessed. In S1Ep9, the morning after Ulrich attacked Helge then locked him in the bunker, Egon chases Ulrich to the mouth of the cave. When Egon catches up to him, Ulrich is covered in Helges’ blood and specifically says, “Helge is dead. He will never be able to kill again.” He also talks about changing the course of time and that the 2 boys found dead at the power plant should be alive again.
Later, in S1Ep10, while he’s having his mug shots taken, Ulrich says that he didn’t kill the boys at the power plant, he was trying to save them. He now says that Helge must be alive or else the other 2 boys would be alive by now. When Egon asks where Helge is, Ulrich refuses to answer, instead saying that he can save the other 2 boys if Egon will let him go.
I suppose that could count as recanting his earlier confession, but at the cave he definitely confessed to killing Helge. He was smart enough to make it an implied confession; he didn’t straight out say the words “I killed Helge.” You’d think the circumstantial evidence would also be enough to convict, though.
This is one thing I have to question about Clausen’s investigation. People lie about their height and weight all the time, even on official documents. Plus, you actually do get shorter as you age. 2 inches is a lot, but if he had a spinal injury, that could explain it. Maybe it’s different in Germany, but the evidence seems too thin to me to be used by itself to prove identity theft.
It also brings up the question– Can time travel change other minor characteristics besides eye color? Could Aleksander have started out at 5’8″, but have gone through the chair instead of the box, and come out shorter?
He was very specific about arriving a few weeks later than when the boys went missing. Maybe he was the first success story. Or maybe he was part of the experiments that created the captive God Particle.
Maybe some of his chronic pain is due to other internal issues because he didn’t quite rematerialize correctly. He could have advanced quickly at the plant because Bernd was waiting for him to arrive from the past or the future.
This is a wild theory, but could Regina and Egon have cancer because they slept next to Aleksander and Hannah for a long time? It probably doesn’t make sense for Egon and Hannah, unless she picked up radiation from Michael first, or was radioative from childhood exposure.
Claudia’s radioactive body was shown to us for a reason though. Her radiation could have somehow reverberated forward and backward through time to affect her father and daughter, but it makes more sense that they would have been exposed to other time travelers because they were related to her.
This also goes back to the theory that Aleksander was specifically sent to Regina. Could it be that originally Ulrich and Katharina got out of hand and something terrible happened to Regina? It’s odd for a stranger on the run to jump in and defend someone so forcefully. Aleksander took a big chance, exposing himself and the gun like that.
Was that scene one of the instances of “then she will live”, where Claudia used her one small change per cycle?
We’ve been directed to pay attention to eyes all season, and indirectedly pointed at height. Clausen made sure Torben, specifically, was in the room when he arrested Aleksander, and he told Aleksander, “You’re not my brother.” Torben has an eye patch and a sibling who was born his brother but has transitioned to being his sister.
It feels like we’re dealing with the older and younger versions of the same people here, or siblings separated by time. When Clausen says, “So where are they?” Referring to the missing two inches, the camera cuts to Torben, with a slightly ill look on his face.
Is Torben or Benni the missing brother?
So many options, so many people who could even be the same person.
Hannah & Ulrich and Criminal Insanity… And Karma
Okay, kids, let’s talk about Winden’s most dysfunctional pairing, Ulrich and Hannah. They’ve known each other at least since high school. Ulrich is a bad boy who eventually tries to be good, but often fails. Hannah is a femme fatale who, like all femme fatales, looks for love in all the wrong places. Neither can quite quit the other, despite their marriages to other people. Culturally, we love a bad boy with a good heart and sneer at a girl who keeps choosing the wrong men.
Hannah takes care of herself because no one else is going to do it for her. It’s been this way since she was a child. Ulrich takes advantage of Hannah because she lets him. She’s always thought she needed someone to take care of her or at least love her, making her desperate. But in S2Ep5, Jonas gave her permission to take care of herself without feeling a desperate need to depend on someone else. He’s the savior, so she took that to heart.
I’m not in the business of justifying why men like Ulrich cheat on their amazing wives like Katharina. I’ve explained elsewhere that Hannah was legit being emotionally neglected by Michael for a long time. Michael had his own understandable reasons for having priorities other than his marriage. But his marriage did suffer as a result and we were undeniably shown that.
Maybe Ulrich was also feeling neglected or bored or having a midlife crisis. Maybe we’ll be given a reasonable explanation in season 3. I will say that in my experience, if cheating is happening, there are usually bigger problems in the marriage. But sometimes the bigger problem is that one person is about to self-destruct, for their own reasons, and the other person hasn’t seen it yet or can’t stop it.
Which is what Ulrich proceeds to do, and what I think would have happened even if Mikkel hadn’t disappeared. Ulrich was pushing Hannah into a more intense affair while avoiding giving her more emotionally. Hannah wouldn’t have put up with it forever. Katharina would have found out eventually.
Ulrich seemed like he wanted to be caught. He pushed Hannah into going to the meeting at the school so they could have a rendezvous. He wanted her to go away with him on a work related trip. Both were incidents where they could have easily been seen by someone who would report back to his wife. That type of recklessness couldn’t have gone on much longer before Katharina found out. Without her depression over Mikkel, she would have been much more angry over the affair.
Ulrich was a time bomb. Michael probably was, too.
But let’s go back to Hannah for a minute, everyone’s favorite character to hate. She slept with Ulrich for the first time the night of the anniversary party. The very next day, her husband, who she still loved, killed himself. Within a very short time after that, Jonas was hospitalized for months and she was estranged from Grandma Ines. Jonas was helping Ines on the day of the party, so the estrangement came later, but we haven’t been given any clues that I’ve caught as to what happened. Hannah’s father hasn’t been spotted since 1986.
Hannah went from living in a stable family situation with the husband and son who she loved to literally losing everyone overnight. On top of that, she had the guilt of sleeping with Ulrich and not noticing her husband planning his own death. She continued to turn to Ulrich in her grief because she needed to feel like she wasn’t completely alone and unlovable. This isn’t uncommon, but it’s unhealthy. She didn’t need an affair, she needed therapy.
Ulrich took advantage of Hannah when she was in a terrible, terrible situation, and frankly, it pisses me off that no one ever stops to think about how Hannah must have felt during their affair. What we have been watching is a suicidally depressed woman occasionally lashing out in anger at herself, her husband and yes, Ulrich.
Hannah loved her husband. His death hurt her. She was as grief stricken then as Ulrich and Katharina were later when Mikkel disappeared. She didn’t need Ulrich toying with her affections. She needed someone to care about her as a human being, not a sex toy. But no one on the show and no one in real life ever stops to remember that she was a grieving widow dealing with a very depressed child at that point. They assume she was having sex for jollies or to hurt Katharina, rather than as a desperate attempt to prove to herself that Michael hadn’t killed himself because she was so worthless and unlovable. She even says this to Jonas at the end of season 1, and Jonas assures her that Michael did love her.
Everyone discounts Hannah’s emotions as narcissistic, because even the production frames her that way. I bought into it myself until I rewatched and paid closer attention. I’ve debated rewriting those section of my recaps, but I don’t like altering what I’ve written based on what I’ve learned from later episodes. But being led into misogynist conclusions leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I hope that there’s a point to the way they’re telling the women’s stories, because this is starting to feel like a show that blames women, with all of the Eve and Pandora imagery, combined with the emphasis on male suffering.
So, yes, when Ulrich turns on her at the end of their affair, she returns the favor. All of the anger she’s been storing up toward Michael for leaving her, toward Ulrich for using her when she needed real affection and was too vulnerable to tell the difference, and toward everyone else who’s injured her, gets directed at him. She uses her blackmail material to attempt to extort Aleksander into hurting Ulrich.
But before Aleksander can act on her orders, Ulrich takes himself back to 1953, kidnaps and tries to murder Helge, then gets caught and sort of confesses to the crimes. Helge is the son of the most important employer in town and he goes missing. Ulrich runs around town causing trouble like a lunatic before he confesses. He shows up at the same time as the bodies of two other children. The police are under pressure to find a culprit. Ulrich hands himself to them on a silver platter.
Once he’s in custody, Ulrich continues to act strangely, refuses to provide so much as a name or to tell the police where Helge is. He’s treated as criminally insane, a danger to himself and others, and locked away in an asylum.
The police took the right steps. This wasn’t an unjust arrest.
At this point, Ulrich is criminally insane. He shows all kinds of signs of having lost touch with reality. He committed premeditated attempted murder and kidnapping of a child based on something he thought the child might do in 33 or 66 years. Then he sat and listened to the child’s screams to be released and treated.
If that didn’t turn your stomach, I don’t know what to say to you. There are lines we simply don’t cross in a civilized society, and killing children because of what we think they might do as adults is one of them. Helge wasn’t Hitler. Ulrich didn’t have definitive proof, and in fact, Helge didn’t murder the missing boys. Ulrich’s actions caused the events he was trying to prevent, as is typical on Dark. Ulrich wasn’t acting as a police officer. He was acting outside the law. He was the bad man who taught Helge that the world is a scary place, leaving him vulnerable to Noah and Sic Mundus.
By pushing Helge into working with Sic Mundus, Ulrich became the song lyric he is so fond of quoting, “My only aim is to take many lives. The more the better I feel” (Kreator, Pleasure to Kill) . He became part of the cycle that leads to the deaths of Erik, Yasin and Mads. He added Helge to the list of boys and men who have gone missing in Winden over the years.
Later, in 1986, after his botched attempt to bring Mikkel back to 2020, he tells Egon that he’ll feel better when Egon is dead, too, especially if he’s the one to take Egon’s life. He attaches himself to Satanic death imagery early in life and he never lets go of it. It’s not the Satanic part that’s important, so much as his lifelong focus on the negative and his automatic responses of anger and violence.
Ulrich time traveled backwards in time. He had historical records to work from. We’ve seen other characters do this, like Jonas, Charlotte and Claudia. Had he done more research before he went back, he would have known about the other two bodies, and could have taken steps to avoid becoming a suspect in those cases. He is an adult and a police officer. We saw him telling the parents of other missing children to stay calm and let the police do their jobs, yet he was unable to do either.
He could have set himself up with a cover story as a police officer from out of town and worked with Egon to find the real truth, in either 1953 or 1986. No other parent of a missing child does what Ulrich did. Ulrich was not a hero in this situation. He lost touch with reality, became violently out of control, and needed to be locked up for the safety of those around him.
You know who were heroes? Egon. Charlotte. Jonas. They painstakingly did the required footwork required of detectives, solved the case, and either tried to report their results or tried to figure out a nonviolent solution, since they couldn’t go through normal channels. Jonas lost just as much as Ulrich, including his mind. But he didn’t turn to violence.
Hannah shows up many months after Ulrich’s arrest, suggesting he might be her husband. Ulrich hasn’t been acting any more sane or provided any identifying information. Helge has returned and identified Ulrich as the man who tried to kill him. That, combined with Ulrich’s confession, is enough to put Ulrich away for a long time.
Hannah convinces Egon to let her talk to Ulrich, though Egon informs her that Ulrich is in bad shape. Because she’s quiet, as opposed to Ulrich’s screams, Hannah’s motives aren’t clear. Was she actually considering trying to claim and save him? She had no idea just how bad his situation would still be, based on the one newspaper clipping she saw.
Maybe she thought she could bail him out or provide an alibi. Whatever she intended, she changes her mind when she sees him and discovers that he cares about everyone but her. It’s a massive reality check for her.
But whether she came out of hate and looking for revenge or out of love and friendship, hoping to save Ulrich, he’d already sealed his own fate.
When she really looks in his eyes, she can see that he’s snapped. Look at the screen cap at the very top of this recap. It’s a raw, beautiful piece of work by both actors. When you look in their eyes, on both sides, you can see pain, hope, love, vulnerability, and a feral need to protect themselves above all others. And on Hannah’s side, there’s the intelligent clarity of sanity, while on Ulrich’s side, there’s the childlike film of insanity. It’s not just the drugs. A part of him has left the building.
Egon doesn’t ever suggest that they’ll release Ulrich to Hannah. He suggests she might get him to give them more information about the case. The police aren’t going to release him because a woman with no documentation shows up and says he’s her husband. The most Hannah was going to do was give him an official name.
It’s crazy to think she had the power to do anything other than get herself some visitation rights and give him a backstory with the police. She’d be crazy at that point to tie herself to him, and she sees that within a few minutes.
Hannah can’t save Ulrich from himself.
And she’s an average woman alone in the 1950s, not a ninja warrior. To expect her to break into the prison so that she can use the time machine to save him is ridiculous. Ulrich is a large male cop. You’d be better off expecting him to break out and make another run for the cave. Put the responsibility for saving Ulrich where it belongs, back on the man himself.
It seems like she’s being cruel, but Ulrich has gotten himself into this situation. Hannah can’t get him out, and she actually doesn’t owe him the rescue. She theoretically got him briefly put in prison when they were kids, while he took advantage of her when her husband died. They’re even. Now, she’s just leaving him to his fate. She’s not actually injuring him, even though his screams make it seem like she is. She tells Egon the truth. He’s not her husband.
Seeing her makes Ulrich face the situation he’s gotten himself into and of course he hopes for a miraculous rescue. Their conversation isn’t pretty, with him saying whatever he thinks he needs to say to manipulate her into helping him, then turning on her when she doesn’t. She can now see clearly that he’s always manipulated her. She’s no slouch at using words to hurt people, so she twists the knife as hard as she can. It’s not nice, and our culture prefers that women be nice, especially pretty women. But Hannah is enjoying a little revenge for once.
She walks away and decides it’s time to start over. Young Egon is good looking, has a good job, his marriage is on the rocks, and he wants the same thing she does. She already knows that he won’t die young. Both are looking for someone to love who will also love them. They both just want to be someone’s first choice for once.
We don’t know where Hannah’s future goes from here, and we don’t know what happened in her childhood to damage her so that she’s been desperate to be loved. Maybe karma will catch up with her, in a good or unpleasant way.
Ulrich also isn’t dead. He has time to redeem himself, be rescued by his family, or benefit from someone changing history.
Either way, I don’t think their story is over.
When Jonas Ran Hannah Out of Town in 2020
In S2Ep5, Stranger Jonas told Hannah off for her affair with Ulrich. She accepted the blame, because she’s as prone to internalized misogyny as any of us. Hannah has bought into the view that if she puts her own needs first, she’s evil. She believes that if she’s falls from the pedestal of the perfect, giving woman, even unknowingly, it’s makes her a terrible person.
She is self-loathing because of this, and acts accordingly, because she doesn’t think she deserves to be treated with respect and decency. This sets her up in the bad girl, femme fatale cycle. She thinks she’s evil, so she appears evil, and accepts blame, even when she hasn’t done anything wrong. When she is part of the problem, she accepts sole blame, while the people who are generally doing things at least as bad, if not much, much worse, like Ulrich and Katharina, have no issues with self-love, so everyone believes them when they lie or twist the truth.
Welcome to the land of sexism and internal bias.
Ulrich is the man. In fact, he’s an alpha male. Ulrich approves of Katharina and his opinion must be the correct one, according to the cultural biases of Western society. Hannah stays quiet or acts “sneakily”. Therefore she’s the one who can’t be trusted. Unless you stop and really pay attention to details, the bias you’ve been raised with and the way the story is framed lead you to believe the story the way our male dominated culture is telling you to.
Internalized and institutionalized misogyny explains much of the town’s and the audience’s reaction toward Hannah. It also explains the film Fatal Attraction, the archetype she’s been assigned to in many people’s minds. The show’s creators are doing this purposely, to some extent. To some extent, they are working with their own internalized misogyny. Even in this interview, they talk as if Hannah acts with omniscience, instead of generally being left out of the loop.
They also speak as if Hannah has never done anything good, which is a blatant lie. For example, Katharina only knows about time travel and where Mikkel and Ulrich are in the past because Hannah insisted she be told. Charlotte, Peter and Stranger Jonas hadn’t even considered telling Katharina.
Hannah had nothing to gain from that. In fact, she knew how Katharina would react to her. But she’s accepted that she’s the villain of the piece, because of her internalized misogyny. Hannah was thinking as a mother and wife, and knew that Katharina, another mother and wife, and despite everything, Hannah’s friend, deserved the truth.
My hope is that Hannah’s true nature will be recognized in season 3. One of the showrunners also said this: “Friese also warned viewers from making assumptions about certain characters, such as Jonas’ mother Hannah (Maja Schöne)…“I love her!” said Friese. “As with every character in ‘Dark,’ when you’re sure you know who the villain is or who’s doing the bad thing, you should be open for what made them that way because. No one is just evil because they want to be; everyone is reacting to their own hurts and wounds. The past shapes you and everything that happens.”
Hannah is blamed by the author of the Indiewire interview for taking the time machine when there’s an apocalypse coming. She forgets that Hannah didn’t realize that she’d be stranding people just before an apocalypse. We have no idea whether Hannah had a plan for how to return the time machine. Hannah had 66 years to get the machine back in place, as Adam points out to Jonas earlier in the season. Maybe the time machine has been gathering dust in the Kahnwald closet since 1954, where Hannah left it when she was done with it.
We don’t see Hannah again this season, so it’s only personal bias and misogyny that’s causing the assumption that she didn’t try to return it. And that she didn’t try to break Ulrich out after charming Egon, for that matter. Maybe she planned to pull a cartoon Mata Hari and sleep with him, steal the keys to the prison from his pocket, then slip Ulrich out to the cave in the dead of night after she’d tricked the guards into taking a sleeping potion.
But I don’t really care if she didn’t return the time machine, just like I don’t care what her original intentions toward Ulrich were when she traveled to 1953. He deserves what he gets. What I really want to talk about is her conversation with Jonas in S2Ep5, when he says he’s just discovered her affair with Ulrich. The next morning, she leaves with the time machine before he wakes up.
I believe that Jonas was using that conversation to purposely drive Hannah out of town. He knew she’d take the time machine and go. That’s what he wanted her to do. The Jonas who has that conversation isn’t the same one who’s staying at the house.
I’m not sure what else he did while he was in town, but I know there are at least two Stranger Jonas’ running around during these last few episodes, just like there are two or more Young-ish Jonas’ running around town.
One of the Strangers is scraggly, careworn and a little bit crazy. The other is clean, almost glossy and in good shape mentally. The one who’s in better shape talks to Hannah. The scraggly one discovers she’s taken the machine the next morning. Glossy Jonas is from a later time period, after they’ve escaped the apocalypse and started Sic Mundus.
In this episode, when they’re coming out of the cave, Young Jonas tells Adult Claudia that he needs to get his mother and Martha to the bunker to save them. His mother is already gone, so he can’t find her. Stranger Jonas and Young Jonas are busy with other things for the rest of the cycle, and Hannah is forgotten, right up until the apocalypse happens. Jonas doesn’t make any further effort to rescue her.
But no matter where she was when the apocalypse hit in earlier loops, at some later point Jonas figured out a way to save her. He tells Claudia in the cave that they can change one small thing in each cycle. Jonas, Claudia and Adam are always trying to keep a woman alive. Sometimes it’s Regina, sometimes it’s Martha. Maybe they’ve already saved Hannah.
This could explain the discrepancy in the x’s on her calendars, way back in S2Ep1. Jonas alters her history. There was an extra time travel method in the mix, and Jonas assigned it to her.
He got her out on June 26th, before everything went crazy in Winden, by purposely goading her into walking out on 2020 and everyone in it. He knew she wouldn’t just abandon everyone with an apocalypse about to happen, and he couldn’t save everyone, so he had to trick her into leaving alone.
On Apocalypse Day, June 27th, she’s stashed safely in 1953, and eventually someone will go collect her.
The conversation where Jonas goads Hannah into leaving with the time machine in S2Ep5 echoes the conversation that Stranger Jonas and Young Jonas have while sitting on the bench in front of Michael’s grave in S1Ep5, which focuses on the love triangles between Katharina, Ulrich and Hannah and Jonas, Martha and Bartosz. 1986 and 2019 Hannah, Martha and Bartosz are having trouble letting Ulrich, Jonas and Martha go. Bartosz also gets stood up by Jonas when he goes to meet Noah, which is the first time we meet Noah. Jonas kisses Martha, then discovers Mikkel is his father. Both happen after he’s spoken to Stranger.
Hannah turns in Ulrich for a rape he didn’t commit. Hannah describes what a rape looks like in excruciatingly clear detail. We should maybe ask why she’s able to do that. The episode is about the obsessions, lies and secrets we use to help us survive. A sense of desperation pervades the episode.
S2Ep5 is titled Lost and Found. While S1Ep5 was called Truths and was full of lies, this episode is full of truths, but dashed hopes. The truth doesn’t always set you free, at least not right away. It takes time to let go. Jonas has returned home to Martha, but he’s now too old for her. Ulrich has found Mikkel in 1986, but he’s too old and mentally addled to effectively stage a rescue. Katharina discovers that Mikkel was home all along, but remained out of her reach. She rejected him when he approached her when they were young together. Young Jonas has a long talk with Adam, in which Adam pretends to be honest but conveys very little truth. Martha plus the other kids get Bartosz to talk about the time machine, but he can’t tell them much that’s of use.
Stranger Jonas leaves with the time machine. Hannah is afraid he’s gone for good, because that’s the general theme of her life, especially with Mikkel/Michael and Jonas. She was obsessed with keeping Ulrich because she always loses people. He’s one of the few she consistently tries to keep, maybe because he’s one of the few who’s been around for the whole thing and acted like he cared about her, most of the time.
Think about that for a while. It must have been terrifying to walk away from him. He’s been her only constant source of affection (not romance), and at the prison she could see in his eyes that he was lost to her because he’d succumbed to madness. Sometimes Hannah isn’t much more than a tube of lipstick and bravado. Jonas knows this and loves her for it. He inherited the strength to keep going from her.
Let’s move on to the actual conversation between Hannah and Jonas in S2Ep5. It takes place after Hannah and Jonas have been separated all day. Jonas left with the time machine before she woke up, in a mirror of the way Hannah would leave in episode 7. Later Katharina found Hannah at home viewing family photos and accused her of taking the people who belong to Katharina, an unfair attack. Katharina leaves when Clausen arrives. He’s also unprofessionally insulting toward Hannah, as he is toward all of the women, except possibly Katharina.
Jonas finds her still looking at photos, with a photo of Katharina, Ulrich and herself in her hands. She jumps up, happy at his return, and asks where he went as she tries to hug him. He backs away from her and they stare into each other’s eyes for a moment. He looks away. You can interpret it as him looking toward the photos or him having to look away from her before he purposely hurts her.
Jonas, nodding toward the pile of photos: “Did this ever mean anything to you? Did you ever actually love Dad? I know you had an affair with Ulrich. If you could choose between Dad and Ulrich now… With all this mess, I thought you were the only person I could trust.”
Hannah: “I messed up everything, I know that.”
Jonas: “Maybe you always have.”
Jonas: “You need no one. You only need yourself.”
This is another one of those conversations that sounds like something it isn’t. When I first heard it, I reacted the way Hannah did, and thought he was criticizing her the way Katharina and Clausen just had. I think he was counting on her taking it that way. But he’s also counting on her eventually thinking it through.
Hannah has been told she’s selfish so many times recently that she believes it. The minute a woman looks like she might put her own needs first, she’s told she’s selfish, even by other women. Her emotions are running high, with everyone coming and going from her house all season, and all of the revelations and accusations she’s endured. Of course she takes Jonas’ questions as accusations and the rest of the conversation as Jonas telling her she’s a selfish scew up and always has been. We heard it that way.
But when you pay close attention, that’s not what Jonas is saying. He manages a cold look on his face a couple of times, but most of the time he looks neutral, or even warm. He gets a small smile on his face when he tells Hannah she doesn’t need anyone. His tone of voice is quiet and almost gentle throughout the conversation.
His message mirrors the conversation between Stranger Jonas and Young Jonas on the bench in front of Michael’s grave in S1Ep5, which I analyzed within the S5 recap, but Young Jonas is a teenager, trying to understand his father’s suicide and his relationship to his father. His life and mistakes are ahead of him. Hannah is a middle aged adult, trying to come to terms with her past and face the future, who feels like all she’s done is make mistakes. Stranger takes a different approach with each. To Jonas he says:
“No, but I knew your father. It was a long time ago, but I knew him well. He saved my life back then. Only I didn’t understand that until later. Life is like a labyrinth. Some people wander around their whole lives looking for a way out, but there’s only one path and it just leads you ever deeper. You don’t understand it until you’ve reached the center. Death is incomprehensible, but you can make peace with it. Until then, you should ask yourself everyday if you’ve made the right decisions.”
Now let’s compare:
To Jonas: “Until then, you should ask yourself everyday if you’ve made the right decisions.”
To Hannah: “”Did this ever mean anything to you? Did you ever actually love Dad? I know you had an affair with Ulrich. If you could choose between Dad and Ulrich now… ”
He advises Jonas to be self-reflective as he goes through life, questioning his own choices and whether they’ve kept him on the right path. Hannah has already made most of the major choices of her life, so he prompts her to ask self-reflective questions about her choices.
He is not criticizing her choices. He wants her to think about her own life and what she’d change or keep the same if she could live it over again.
One of the major philosophical concepts of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence is coming to terms with the life you’ve lived and embracing the fact that you will repeat the same life for eternity. This acceptance is seen as life affirming and known as amor fati (love of one’s fate). The goal is to not just accept, but to love even pain and loss as an essential part of life. It is to know, unequivocally that if the pain and suffering are removed, the whole tapestry falls apart, and to be grateful for that. (The world without Jonas.)
Thus, what we consider the darker parts of life are as integral as the light, joyful parts, and we should love them just as deeply, for one can’t exist without the other. Jonas is trying to awaken Hannah and Young Jonas to this aspect of reality. Maybe for themselves, maybe in the hope that they’ll get through to Adam or Noah.
On the other hand, because Nietzsche himself was one giant contradiction, he also thought that a person might be able to bring some knowledge or awareness with them into the next repeat of the cycle, which might help them make better decisions in a future cycle. So Nietzsche himself theorized about the unchanging nature of the cycles but also about how they could be changed. In this episode, Jonas is trying to stimulate this process in Hannah, as he did with his younger self.
To Jonas: “No, but I knew your father. It was a long time ago, but I knew him well. He saved my life back then. Only I didn’t understand that until later.”
To Hannah: “With all this mess, I thought you were the only person I could trust.”
Young Jonas needs to hear that someone else saw the same things in Michael that he did. His core faith in his ability to judge people and judge reality has been shaken but what felt like his father’s sudden suicide. And that things can be different from what they appear to be at first, but the truth will eventually reveal itself. Stranger gives him that, with the story about Michael and the advice that sometimes it takes time before we fully understand the events of our lives.
With Hannah, he makes the same sort of admission. It sounds like he said he thought he could trust her, but now he doesn’t, and she takes it that way, but that isn’t at all what he says. In fact, he says the opposite. He says that he thought she was the ONLY person he could trust. Meaning, he still trusts her, but now he trusts a few other people too.
After Jonas confessed his secret to Hannah, she called in Charlotte, who took them to the bunker, where Peter was waiting. Then Hannah insisted that they tell Katharina. Now Jonas knows there are at least 3 other people he can trust with his secret. And he’s seen that no one who’s been told reacted so badly that they wanted to turn him in. That means that he could probably trust more people. Hannah gave him that gift by insisting on calling in Katharina and Charlotte.
He’s thanking her, in a roundabout way. He tells Young Jonas that Michael saved his life. Hannah saved his ability to have faith in other people, which has given him allies in this cycle and will lead to more in the next cycle.
A little more conversation:
Stranger To Young Jonas: “Life is like a labyrinth. Some people wander around their whole lives looking for a way out, but there’s only one path and it just leads you ever deeper. You don’t understand it until you’ve reached the center.”
Hannah: “I messed up everything, I know that.”
Jonas: “Maybe you always have.”
Stranger advises Young Jonas to accept the darkness and and keep going. You have to keep walking forward in life, even when the path is dark and difficult, rather than trying to avoid your fate. Eventually, you’ll reach the center and self-awareness, then you can find your way out again.
Stranger and Hannah both acknowledge that she’s walked the path through the darkness and has probably reached the center. She needs to accept her past so that she can move on. I think his response might be an unfinished, leading sentence. Maybe she always has… but that doesn’t mean she always will. With self-reflection, she can find her way back to the light.
The last part, though it’s out of chronological order, because it’s Dark, so of course it is:
To Jonas: “Death is incomprehensible, but you can make peace with it.”
Jonas to Hannah: “You need no one. You only need yourself.”
The core words of advice each needs to hear. Jonas will never truly make sense of Michael’s death. He has to accept it as inevitable and move on in order to also make peace with himself.
Hannah is desperate not to be alone. Like many women, she thinks she needs a man to survive (because that’s what she was taught), which drives her to make terrible mistakes. Jonas tries to convince her that she’ll be okay by herself. She needs a period of independence, to develop confidence in herself and her own self worth, before she’ll be capable of making healthy decisions for herself that aren’t borne of a desperate need for love.
Hannah takes his words to heart. She leaves the next morning to confront Ulrich and answer some questions for herself. Once she has the perspective gained from being in a new place and time, she can see Ulrich in a new light, and realizes she’s been using him as an emotional crutch.
She decides Jonas is right, she doesn’t need anyone else, but does she want someone else? Like many women, she comes into her own at midlife, once her child is grown. She’s finally free from the responsibilities of family life and can focus on her own personal growth. Her personal growth may include another romance, but that romance probably won’t include the amount of caretaking she’s been doing for the last 18 years, with a child and a shut in mentally ill husband to care for in addition to her career.
It’s entirely possible that after Jonas reconnects with Hannah in the 50s she becomes one of the founders of Sic Mundus. She could have had a fling with Egon and been barely pregnant when she left. Or not. Egon could have left mid-twentieth century Winden for a while to go to the past with Hannah. The woman in the Sic Mundus photo who is standing behind and between Agnes and Noah could be an older Hannah. The man to Noah’s right could be Egon (Yes, he looks short. We know Sic Mundus are tricksters and have large rooms. They may have used various techniques in the photo, like forced perspective, to disguise identities of time travelers who were out of place. That’s what happened to the missing two inches. 😉).
It could be that Noah and Agnes are Hannah’s children, who were raised by Jonas and Sic Mundus after her death, or while she was sent to do other work. I can’t get over the idea that Agnes, Noah and Jonas are brothers and sister. More on that after episode 8.
I also have a wild fantasy that Adam isn’t really scarred. He’s wearing a scarred bald cap and mask as a disguise, and someday he’ll reveal the truth. He’ll turn out to be Michael, handsome as ever, and he and Hannah can resume their romance as time traveling nihilists. It’ll be great.
It’s straight out of Phantom of the Opera, which Adam definitely cribbed from when he designed his study, and actually his entire underground lair. I’m waiting for him to take Hannah on a boat ride on the underground river.
Sometimes I think the happier Stranger Jonases I catch a glimpse of must have discovered that Michael is still alive. Jonas could be asking Hannah who she’d choose because Michael is still an option.
It would be just like Mikkel and this show to reverse the Phantom trope and have the guy under the mask look normal on the outside, but use the scars as an excuse to hide because he has agoraphobia and trauma induced anxiety issues.
Season 1 Character Board
Season 2 Characters and Connections
Adam’s Family Tree Board: All individual photos are young versions of the characters. Left Panel: Hannah, Jonas; Doris; Egon, Claudia; Regina, Aleksander/Boris; Bartosz. Center Panel: Hannah, Jonas, Michael/Mikkel, Ines; Peter, Charlotte, Franziska, Elisabeth; Aleksander,Bartosz, Regina; Ulrich, Magnus, Martha, Katharina, Mikkel; Solja, Noah, Agnes. Right Panel: Upper left??, Charlotte; Peter; Franziska, Elisabeth; Tronte, Jana, Mads; Katharina, Ulrich; Magnus, Martha; Mikkel.
Jonas Kahnwald, Time Traveler. Also known as the Stranger. Originates in 2019-20, but appears in every time period, except possibly 1953? 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.
Daniel Kahnwald, 1953-54. Chief of Winden police. Ines’s father. Michael’s adoptive grandfather. Egon’s boss in the early 50s. Tells Egon that married women aren’t interested in sex because they’re married to their kids and advises Egon to cheat on his wife. Leads the police officers who beat Ulrich with clubs. Seems to have a loose relationship with the truth and the law.
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. Becomes estranged from Hannah and Jonas after Michael’s death, for unknown reasons. Tells both Mikkel and Jonas to leave the past in the past and the future in the future. In 1987, she regularly drugs Mikkel with prescription sleep medication she steals from the hospital she works at. Is responsible for stopping Old Ulrich and Mikkel from escaping back to the future in 1987. Calls in Egon to help her.
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. Hides his knowledge of time travel and Sic Mundus from everyone for months until his friends catch him in the cave with the time machine.
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, 1986-87, 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, 1953-54, 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, 1953-54, 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 from cancer.
Doris Tiedemann, 1953-54. Wife of Egon, mother of Claudia, Agnes’ lover and landlady. Starts affair with Agnes while still married to Egon.
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, 2019-20. 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. It’s not clear if he ever had an ongoing mental illness other than the trauma of losing Mikkel, and then everything, or if the “illness” was a combination of the side effects of the medications of the mid 20th century and his strong reactions to anything related to his real life.
Magnus Nielsen, 1921, 2019-20. Time traveler. Son of Katharina and Ulrich. Brother to Martha and Mikkel. Oldest child. Franziska Doppler’s boyfriend. Suspicious of Franziska, causing arguments between them. Found out about time travel from Bartosz. As an older adult, becomes a member of Sic Mundus and travels to 1921 to work with Adam.
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, 2019-20. 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. Mentally ill due to his untreated childhood trauma. Takes after his Grandma Jana and becomes a recluse.
Tronte Nielsen, 1953-54, 1986-87, 2019-20. Journalist. Husband of Jana, father of Ulrich and Mads, son of Agnes and lover of Claudia. He and Peter Doppler placed of Mads body in the woods in 2019 on the night of Mikkel’s disappearance, based on Claudia’s instructions. They continued to be involved in the events of Cycle 1 during November 2019 in other ways, guided by the triqueta log, which Claudia gave them.
Agnes Nielsen, 1953-54. Tronte’s mother, Doris’ lover, Noah’s sister, Ulrich’s grandmother. Renting rooms at the Tiedemann home. Was working with Claudia, until Claudia ordered Agnes to betray her. According to Tronte, before they moved to Winden she was sad and he was living in an orphanage.
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. Along with Tronte, helped Claudia in Cycle 1, guided by the triqueta log.
Charlotte Doppler, 1986, 2019-20. Winden police chief. Daughter of Father Noah. Wife of Peter. Mother of Franziska and Elisabeth. Raised by her grandfather/guardian, HG Tannhaus, after she was taken from her parents as a premature infant. The identity of her mother hasn’t been revealed to her or us, but Noah claims her mother loves her and is still living. What that means to a man who time travels through a century on a regular basis is anyone’s guess. Charlotte and Peter are running an in depth investigation of the Winden disappearances out of the bunker, unbeknownst to the rest of the police force or Clausen. Jonas solved the murders for her when he told her about Noah, but she still has many more questions to answer.
Franziska Doppler, 2019-20. Time traveler. Daughter of Charlotte and Peter. Sister of Elisabeth. Granddaughter of Noah. Magnus’ girlfriend. Sells hormone therapy prescriptions to Benni when Benni can’t get them from Peter anymore. Values her independence, but also fights to keep her family together. Found out about time travel from Bartosz. As an older adult, presumed to become a member of Sic Mundus and travel to 1921 to work with Adam.
Elisabeth Doppler, 2019-20, 2053. Leader of the apocalypse survivors in 2053. Daughter of Charlotte and Peter. Sister of Franziska. Granddaughter of Noah. 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, 2019-20. 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 on when he fathered Peter or with who. He didn’t raise Peter. Was in an institution in 1987. Was in a nursing home with dementia in 2019. He also has some form of undiagnosed developmental disability. 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.
It’s possible that his “dementia” is just a misunderstanding of his ramblings about time and time travel. He gave Claudia her copy of A Journey Through Time with the hope that it would help her understand him. He actually does seem lucid, right up to the end, but no one understands that he means time travel and Noah, so he repeats himself frequently and tries to solve the problem himself.
Greta Doppler, 1953-54. Helge’s mother. Bernd’s wife. Strict disciplinarian. Follower of Noah.
Bernd Doppler, 1953, 1986-87. Founder and original director of the Winden nuclear power plant. Father of Helge. Husband of Greta. In charge of the power plant during the accident in 1986 that creates the God Particle and responsible for the cover up. Considers the plant his legacy and doesn’t want the accident made public.
HG Tannhaus (with Teen Charlotte), 1953-54, 1986-87. The Clockmaker. 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, 1953-4, 1986-87, 2019-20. Time Traveler. Father of Charlotte. Grandfather of Franziska and Elisabeth. Brother to Agnes Nielsen. Taken in when young and named by Adam. Pastor of the Sic Mundus cover church, but 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 the younger version of himself. The older version barely seems to age. Given Charlotte’s age, he’s old enough for there to be a third version of him, as there is with Claudia and Tronte, but the adult version also serves as the old version, as far as the audience is shown. Hasn’t been given a last name, though his sister Agnes uses Nielsen. Charlotte was taken from him and her mother, who hasn’t been identified, when she was a premature infant and not expected to survive. He searched for her for more than 50 years and only found her when he read the missing final pages of the triqueta diary, after murdering Claudia out of revenge. He has a tattoo of the Emerald Tablet which covers his entire back.
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. She and Jonas have a connection. She helped him escape from the future using the God Particle after Elisabeth almost executed him.
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. When Charlotte is unavailable, he makes Torben his driver.
Torben Wöller, 2019-20. 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, only hat something happened the summer before the series began. 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?), 2019-20. Trans sex worker. Torben’s sibling. 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. And they could be twins, which becomes an important concept as the season goes on. Benni is an oddly underdeveloped character, who seems hungry for affection. We’ve seen her as a business woman with Magnus, a jilted lover who ultimately does the right thing with Charlotte, and as Torben’s helpful sibling who’s possibly not speaking to her mother. Oddly, though her main relationships is with Peter, we haven’t seen them speak together, only in montage. She’s involved in a fair amount of the action, for a character who’s kept at a distance, literally, in her parking lot at the edge of town, and figuratively.
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. Time Traveler. Says he’s Old Jonas. Does not give convincing evidence. Leader of Sic Mundus. Fanatical megalomaniac. The Devil, the Demiurge, the Bond villain. Philosopher-King. 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? Martha? Hannah?), and is now trying to restore mankind to his proper place in the universe. Only time will tell. Tells Young Jonas that he’s declared war on time and seeks to create a new world order with no time and no death. Has a replica of the God Particle from the future which he can control precisely. Plans to bring on the apocalypse in a couple of days. Maybe just a touch insane. Lives deep underground in an abandoned mine in the Winden cave system that’s been turned into a steampunk Temple of Doom. Has an artist’s sense of style and presentation.
Why does Adam have such extensive scarring when none of the other frequent time travelers do? Noah is ageless and Claudia aged beautifully. After his first trip in the chair, Helge seems to have traveled without damage and aged normally. Has anyone checked to see if Adam’s scarring is even real? Will we get an end of the series reveal when he pulls off the whole thing and he’s beautiful underneath, the beast returned to his true appearance? The minotaur remembered by his sister Ariadne and rescued from his imprisonment?
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.