Bring on the apocalypse. In season 2 episode 8, Endings and Beginnings, it’s June 27, 2020. We spend the episode counting down to the fateful moment as the key players are moved around the board one more time, so as to be in the proper places when Adam’s plans come to fruition.
This is an episode about death and salvation. Personal salvation, the salvation of the world, and the fight to save Time as an entity. The death of individuals and the apocalyptic death which engulfs Winden, which bring about the death of hope and idealism. Not every who dies is really dead, and not everyone who’s saved realizes they’re being saved. The episode is a shell game, as frequently happens on Dark.
The entire season has been about beginnings and endings, and whether they really exist at all in Winden. This episode brings an end to the second cycle, but it brings up the question again of exactly what game is being played and if anyone can really win.
The Time War Game Plan Comes Back to Nietzsche and Ancient Greece
I want to expand on the nature of the eternal recurrence, or eternal return, plus some of Nietzsche’s other concepts, one last time, before we get into the recap, because it’s so central to what is happening in this episode. The 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche theorized about this idea, first simply as a philosophy, then later as a scientific idea that could describe the nature of reality.
The eternal recurrence is a cyclical view of time, in which the current reality is finite, will end, and then begin again, in a cycle which repeats an infinite number of times. The idea is ancient and not unique to Nietzsche, but he is the modern writer Dark is working from.
Nietzsche tied his concept of the eternal recurrence with certain other ideas. He saw life as full of suffering and the goal of the eternal return was to learn to love one’s predetermined
density destiny,* even though it meant repeating the same painful moments forever, with no way out. This concept is called amor fati, love of fate.
He also thought there would be a point in each cycle where people would become aware that they were in a repeating cycle and had suffered these same fates before- the characters’ deja vu.
Nietzsche didn’t believe in religious salvation or individual reincarnation. He saw the eternal recurrence as a mechanical concept, rather than a spiritual description of the universe.
Yet even though he said the eternal return was unchanging and as mechanical as a windup clock, he left an opening for hope, Adam’s loophole. Nietzsche thought that if people managed to improve themselves enough, the course of history could be changed.
One of the questions of the series (and for our world) is, what constitutes improvement in human beings? What is the loophole? How do we get out of this mess?
One of Tannhaus’ theories from season 1, that’s been ignored in season 2, is the Big Crunch, the collapse of the universe, which would precede another Big Bang. In Big Crunch theory, this is a rhythmic cycle, like a pulse. It could be a way to explode the universe and get rid of a hopelessly knotted eternal recurrence, but it’s the least efficient way to end the increasingly twisted nature of life in Winden.
The Big Crunch doesn’t have to happen on a universal scale, though. The Earth has a phenomenon called mass extinction, in which most life on the planet is wiped out over a relatively short period of time (in geological terms) which would put a stop to something like a time war between human factions. Unlike the Big Crunch, mass extinctions aren’t just theoretical. They have happened at least 5 times in the real world. The 6th is happening now. They can be viewed as a recurring cycle in which Earth resets the start button on life.
That may be the equivalent of the loophole Adam and Sic Mundus (and elements of our own society) have chosen. Some mass extinctions have begun with explosive means such as extreme volcanic activity or asteroid impacts. Such an occurrence could bring life to a rapid, fiery end. The smaller apocalypse brought on by whatever happens at the power plant at the end of the episode could be meant to trigger larger geological reactions next season. Earthquakes from the event could lead to shifts in the planet which eventually cause cataclysmic results.
But it’s not necessary to use such a drastic method to alter the course of events within the time cycle.
There is also the interpretation that by “improvement” Nietzsche meant choosing the most ruthless, harsh, physically fit members of the species to dominate all others. Whether he meant it or not, and he said emphatically that he didn’t, that method has been tried on Dark and in real life, and it’s leading to the same result as overtly choosing mass destruction. (I realize I’m doing some speculating here when it comes to Dark and Social Darwinism, but I’m certain that all of that incest isn’t accidental. Somebody tried eugenics. It’s likely they were breeding time anomalies for a specific purpose.)
The third possibility is more subtle and more individual.
To understand the eternal recurrence in full, you have to know that Nietzsche also loved Greek tragedy and thought the arts and living life as fully as possible were the answer to suffering and nihilism. He didn’t believe in cold rationalism, he believed in messy drama, kept from spinning out of control by the thoughtful use of order and reason. And vice versa. Science and reason must be tempered by using the heart. He used the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus as metaphors for the 2 sides which keep the scale in balance. Dionysus represents art, emotion, chaos/suffering and community, while Apollo represents logic, truth, the individual and getting on with life despite the suffering celebrated on the Dionysian side.
He didn’t believe in becoming either a hedonist or a drone who was simply going through the motions of life without thinking about one’s actions. He believed the path to sanity and fulfillment lay in staying fully present in the world, no matter how much suffering was involved, facing the suffering, and using it in the creative process.
Nietzsche was a man of his time, and as such, very biased. But he also didn’t believe any human could see the ultimate truth of things, because our senses and minds are too limited, leaving us myopic and puny in the face of the unknowable. Therefore, he thought that Science, with its belief that absolute truths can be found, is as dangerous as religion, with its devotion to a God who moves human attention away from the world.
This, finally, explains why green is dangerous according to Dark’s color code. Green is science/logic and mystery/religion mixed together, symbolizing a devotion to finding the correct answer at any cost, whether the answer is deemed correct because it’s God’s will or a law of physics.
Stranger Jonas wears green all season. Oddly, Adam, who has appointed himself the Destroyer of Time, does not. He wears mystery blue. Young Jonas is in and out of his yellows and muddy indistinct colors. Stranger is the pivot point between his 2 other selves/colors, both in time and in the development of his belief system. Maybe in his development as the “savior”.
We’ve seen that important events in Jonas’ life don’t happen in what we Time Normals would call chronological order. The sequence of events in which he closed the passage at age 50 in 2019, then opened it again at age 17 in 2020, with full knowledge both times of what each self was doing, had done and would later do, is far outside the realm of normal experience.
I don’t know if any of us can relate to his feelings by the time he reopened the passage and both selves accepted that this was the necessary step at this time, even though it was the opposite of what either of them had wanted at times in their recent existences. It’s hard enough just to keep track of his movements.
It’s hard to even write about it and have it make sense and make them sound like one person, which is how the show wants it to be. Stranger Jonas is meant to be a mysterious figure and a distinct period, and person, in Jonas’ life, not just his middle aged self. For now, we are meant to be kept guessing about how Jonas becomes him and who he turns out to be.
So what does his green mean? Who is Stranger dangerous to? We assume he’s dangerous to the world, but maybe not. Maybe he’s only dangerous to himself. Or maybe he’s dangerous to the women he encounters. Loving him is dangerous.
Maybe he’s dangerous to Adam. Noah keeps telling his younger self that they have to be careful to do everything the same so that one becomes the other. Noah says that if his younger version knew too much about his future, he’d never go through with the things he has to do. Isn’t that true of Jonas as well? The oldest version of Stranger seems to know quite a bit about his future.
I think some versions of the travelers are holdovers from previous cycles, who made the jump to the next cycle intact. At some point, one or more of them wrote the triquetra log book.
Nietzsche believed the only way to search for the truth is to gather as much information, from as many sources, as possible, then put all of the information together and use it to draw the most reasonable conclusion. He thought we should question ourselves and our own actions and motivations as well as the actions and motivations of others and of institutions.
We should question everything, from as many different perspectives as possible.
This sounds like the scientific method, but he cautioned against letting ego and other interests interfere, the way they have so often with official scientific inquiry.
I believe The Loophole in the eternal recurrence is this questioning in search of the truth combined with the Dionysian open-hearted sense of self. This inner dialogue would encourage self-confidence and an instinctual sense of when things are as they should be- a gut feeling. That’s why Stranger Jonas and Noah are trying to bring people to self-awareness and telling them to follow their inner voices, after having assessed their own previous actions and motivations. They are trying to set people free from their internal biases and to get them to notice when the external world feels wrong, according to what they know in their hearts.
This is dangerous, because ultimately it threatens power structures. It’s a slow, individual method. But, it also works quietly, in the background, without drawing the attention of those in power, such as Claudia or Adam. It’s the only way to get enough people to avoid repeating the actions that continue the knots or make them worse, so that the eternal recurrence can be steered in a new and improved direction.
We can see the results of this with Helge in season 1. Somehow, somewhere, he figured out that what he was doing was wrong, went back in time, and stopped himself. Small changes can be made. He caused a car accident between two versions of himself, a relatively small change, that made ripples through time and space. I imagine we’ll discover more in Cycle 3.
*Best throwaway but actually profound Back to the Future joke ever: “I’m your density. I mean your destiny.” X (I might be all of your best memories or I might be your roadblock to a better life, as well as your future. I might also be your dark matter.)
The episode opens with Adult Elisabeth out in the woods, underneath the bodies and whatever those strange cocoons of objects clinging to the trees are. Ash is floating in the air and a ruined plane is nearby. Something happened here. Elisabeth makes sure she’s alone, then digs up a metal box of hidden treasures buried under a door from the plane.
Another Pandora’s box. Two, if you count the plane. I do.
She takes out a framed photo of her childhood family, her knit fox hat, and a stack of polaroids of an unscarred, young adult version of herself with an infant. The last shows a youngish Adult Noah with them. The photo he gave Charlotte is from the same series.
Elisabeth and Noah are Charlotte’s parents, yet Charlotte is also Elisabeth’s mother.
As a parent, how do you handle that dating situation? Dad, mom’s not old enough for you to date her yet. Stop skulking behind trees.
He’s been stalking Elisabeth for 2 seasons, waiting for her to grow up again and probably making sure she’s okay. There’s a child murderer in Winden, after all. But he didn’t know that Charlotte was his daughter until recently.
Noah, who is definitely living out a Greek tragedy, gets the last opening voiceover:
“The beginning is the end. And the end is the beginning. Everything is connected. Future, past and present. I couldn’t tell her who her mother was, just as I can’t tell you what your provision is. And what I have to do today. I’ve reflected on this moment for many years. My older self wanted to tell me something, but he couldn’t. If you knew what I know now, then you would no longer do what you must so I can get to this moment. I can’t exist in the here and now if you don’t take the same path as I did. We’re never free in what we do because we aren’t free in what we desire.”
Adult Franziska and Magnus step into Adam’s study, where Noah has been speaking to his younger self. They say that everything is ready. Adult Noah tells Young Noah that it’s time for him to go. The Noahs give each other a long, sad look. Young Noah leaves with Franziska and Magnus. Magnus gives Adult Noah a long look before he closes the door.
Nobody is happy about sending Young Noah off to the apocalypse. I don’t think they particularly trust Adult Noah anymore. He didn’t tell his younger self much that was specific, but with what he said, he let Young Noah know that something was very wrong, that it had to do with his wife and infant daughter, and that his daughter was taken away so that as an adult she and her parents don’t recognize each other. Young Noah won’t give his family up so easily in the next cycle. And he’s left with the question- should he want to exist in the here and now as Adult Noah does? Or should he try to change the course of his life?
June 27, 2020- The Day of the Apocalypse
It’s 9:25 AM, and Stranger Jonas doesn’t know where his mother is. He does know where her Pandora’s box with the gun and passport is, though. After he gave her such a hard time about the gun, he takes it and sticks it in the back of his pants before he leaves the house.
He also stops for a moment to stare ominously at a spot on the floor near the table. He’s done this a couple of times before. Take it seriously.
Aleksander’s extra passport is still in the box for a reason, though we’ll have to wait until the next cycle to find out what the story behind it is.
Apocalypses are so inconvenient.
In 1987, in the cave where the barrels are hidden, Young Jonas explains to Adult Claudia: “My future self tried to shut the hole. To reverse it all. He shut the passage, but didn’t break the loop. But you said we can change a small part of the equation, so he… so that I will be successful the next time. Then none of this sick sh*t will ever happen. Mikkel won’t disappear. Michael won’t die. Your father won’t die. The big things and the little things don’t follow the same rules. We might not be able to change the grand scheme of things, but the details… We change a grain of sand, and with that, the whole world.”
This is Claudia and Young Jonas’ method for fighting the time war on the side of the light. Slow, methodical change, like peeling back the layers of an onion one at a time, which carefully accomplishes their goals. It’s annoyingly slow, and probably creates as many problems as it solves, but they’ve got all of eternity to work out the correct solution. At some point, Jonas, or whoever Adam is, must get tired of waiting and decide to break the cycle violently instead of gently teasing it back into place.
Right now, the characterizations are telling me Adam is Bartosz, while the mythology is telling me he’s Michael and most of the dialogue is still saying Jonas. We’ll have to wait for the post-apocalypse future or past to find out.
In 2020, Regina lies in her hospital bed in her house, suffering pain and fatigue from her metastasized cancer. Bartosz sits with her and asks what his grandmother Claudia was like. Regina wonders why he’s suddenly thinking about Claudia. Bartosz confesses another secret he’s kept for months. He tells Regina about Old Claudia’s visit last November, right after Mikkel’s disappearance.
Noah must have told him to keep it a secret. Or he’s discovered the power of keeping secrets and likes it.
Regina is shocked to hear her mother isn’t dead. He gives her the photo Claudia left, from before she let her career take precedence over Regina. Then he gives her Claudia’s message. “She said that she was sorry and that if she could turn back time, she’d do a lot of things differently.” Regina cries when she hears this. Bartosz kisses her forehead, but then he has to leave on teenage time traveler business. He won’t say where he’s going, though he promises to be back soon.
Clausen stares at Aleksander in the interrogation room, watching Aleksander tear his hair out from stress. Then he shoves a search warrant for the power plant across the table, gloating that the judge issued it immediately, despite Aleksander’s protests. Whatever Aleksander was holding over the judge in season one can’t be enforced from his holding cell, proving that he wasn’t using legal means to hold Charlotte and Ulrich off.
Clausen says that he can’t prove Aleksander killed his brother, but he can bring Aleksander down some other way. Then he walks out. Clausen’s threat catches Torben’s attention. Aleksander orders Torben to get him out of jail, but Torben refuses. Must be whatever he has on Torben can’t be enforced from his cell, either, and his assets were probably frozen, since Clausen is throwing his weight around.
He needed more muscle and more payola, clearly. He doesn’t have enough blackmail material to make things stick.
Aleksander goes into panic mode, but Torben tells him it’s happening, so he should just accept that everything is going to come out into the open.
Let’s note that ultimately, the apocalypse is on Torben as much as anyone, because he didn’t want to be on the take or blackmailed anymore, or whatever their deal was. He didn’t stop to look at the facts of what would be set loose, even though he, unlike Clausen (maybe), knew it was radioactive waste.
They ran Charlotte out of the office and ended the world once they were in control. Nice job, boys. 😝
Stranger Jonas rings Martha’s doorbell. He’s sweaty and agitated. When she answers, he tells her that he never wanted any of this. She drags him inside. He tells her she needs to come with him, because everything is doomed. It’s all going to explode in a few hours and it’s his fault. Then everything will start over again. The future will start with a new cycle.
Martha doesn’t understand. Jonas asks her to trust him. He holds her shoulders. They start to feel the old chemistry, then she pulls away. She tells him they’re wrong together and asks him to leave.
He refuses and grabs her arm as she tries to walk by him. He says that he saw her die and he won’t let that happen again. She struggles and asks him to let her go, but he still refuses. Then he pulls out the gun. He says that he promised her he’d make it right and he intends to do so.
This whole scene feels contrived. Why wouldn’t she at least listen to what he has to say? Just yesterday she was telling the others that they should seek out his experience and knowledge. Then later she could see into his soul and tell he was still Jonas. Since when would she avoid him like he’s a dirty old man, because that’s what Katharina tells her, over at least hearing Jonas out?
6 Hours to the Apocalypse
Magnus and Franziska sit on the tracks under the bridge and do nothing. Bartosz finds them and yells at them for losing the time travel machine to Katharina. Then he goes into anxiety mode because he has no further instructions from Noah. Franziska figures out that Bartosz’s only job was to get the machine to Katharina, and now he’s done.
Bartosz runs off in a panic to get the machine, so Magnus and Franziska follow, because, why not? They are currently the lowliest of pawns in this game, and they want to feel busy.
Katharina brings the machine to Hannah’s house, looking for Stranger Jonas to show her how it works. No one’s home, so she searches the house, as one obviously does with friends and acquaintances. She finds Jonas’ backpack in his room, filled with all of his worldly belongings, including the light and the map.
Young Jonas and Adult Claudia reach the passage. He tells her they’re going to reopen it. She’s confused, because he told her he’d closed it.
He explains, “It took me a long time to accept that I had to be part of the disaster I wanted to prevent.”
She asks where he learned this. He tells her that she spent the last 12 months teaching him everything about the future and the past. “There are two sides out there. Adam and Sic Mundus want to create a new world. You and I want to save this one.” When Claudia asks who Adam is, he doesn’t answer.
Stranger brings Martha to the bunker, still at gunpoint, and explains that later today, it’ll be the only place. “I didn’t want any of this Martha. You kept me alive. I’m still here because of you. Jonas will come back. It’ll all happen as it always has. But I can’t stop hoping that I can change something. I have to try.”
Martha: “Jonas will come back?”
After having told her the one thing that will ensure that she leaves, Stranger tries to get Martha to promise him that she won’t leave, no matter what. She doesn’t promise, but he leaves and locks her in.
Charlotte stops by the police station. Torben spills his guts about everything except what happened to his eye. Charlotte realizes that’s what causes the apocalypse. (The rest of the story, not his eye, though the eye story is undoubtedly important and the ultimate cause of everything.)
Stranger Jonas told her something at the plant would trigger the apocalypse. Charlotte figures out that it must be something Clausen does. She and Torben head for the plant to try to stop Clausen.
No one is surprised that Clausen could be the Antichrist after all. Definitely one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
As the time when the apocalypse will be triggered approaches, Peter uses his phone to search for Charlotte and Franziska. Then he tells Elisabeth, who’s looking at the watch Noah gave her, that it’s time for them to go to the bunker. He says that he’s not sure what to believe, but since Noah said only the people in the bunker will survive, they should go. Elisabeth is worried about Charlotte and Franziska. All Peter can do is tell her it’ll be okay.
Elisabeth is playing with the watch because she’s having end of cycle deja vu about meeting Noah in the bunker.
4 Hours Until the Apocalypse
As Clausen gets the Search Warrant Special Tour of the power plant, he hones in on the cooling bank from the old reactor, where Aleksander stashed the yellow barrels and covered them with concrete. Given how huge the power plant is, he had to have been given inside information by someone in order to steer the search toward that room so early on. Maybe it was part of the anonymous tip off letter he received about his brother and Winden.
Or maybe Clausen is a Sic Mundus plant and all of this is an act. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
The power plant worker-tour guide explains that they’ll need radiation suits to go inside. Unlike a normal, non obsessed person, Clausen is undaunted.
Back at Hannah’s house, Katharina packs up Jonas’ bag and takes it downstairs with her.
Nobody respects Stranger’s stuff. It’s tough in Winden for a Time Hobo.
She’s stops when she sees the time machine and a photo album on the table. She can’t help but flip through Ines’ album of the growing up years she missed with Mikkel.
Stranger finds her there. She asks him to show her how to work the time machine. He asks her where she got it, which is an odd and interesting question.
Does he want to know if she beat his mother, then stole it from her, after catching Hannah on her way out of town?
Is he surprised because this the first cycle where she’s gotten her hands on a time machine? Yay, potential changes between the cycles.
But Katharina ignores the question and moves on to asking how she can get Mikkel back. He tells her that he can tell her how to work the machine, but it won’t bring Mikkel back.
She turns from soft and vulnerable to harsh, accusing him of choosing his life over his father’s. He tells her that he wishes it were that simple, but the past can’t be changed. They go around a couple of times, with him calmly trying to get her to understand that since he’s been born, he can’t be unborn, no matter how much he wants to be, so Mikkel can’t come home as a child.
Katharina asks why he returned to present day Winden. He says he thought he could prevent the origin, but he couldn’t do that either. “Adam is the endpoint. Maybe I can’t prevent myself from becoming what he is. But I can stop what’s become of me.”
What’s Become of Me?
I don’t completely get what Stranger Jonas means when he says he can stop what’s “become of me”, even though Adam is the endpoint. It sounds sort of third personish, in an otherwise first person sentence, as if he still thinks he can change history while he’s The Stranger. Is he referring to trying to save Martha, so he doesn’t go through the changes that brought out in him? He’s lived on the hope of saving her in this, the next cycle, for 33 years. If he fails this time, all hope is gone. Is that when he becomes Adam? He seems too self aware for it to happen that way.
My biggest stumbling block in believing Adam and Stranger are both Jonas is Adam’s violence. I can see Jonas becoming more angry and bitter and giving up, then rising from the ashes to try a new approach. But he’s just so inherently nonviolent and has remained that, through everything, whereas Adam is ruthlessly violent, even with his followers. He doesn’t get his hands dirty much, but he likes to watch and to goad, a common tactic for cult leaders.
Waving a gun ineffectively at Martha doesn’t convince me that Jonas could reach the point where he’d be fine with killing kids, including Mads, his great uncle. But then, Magnus must have been in on it, and Mads was his uncle. Erik was the teens’ friend. Yasin was Franziska’s sister’s little boyfriend. The teens Stranger Jonas rescues later in the episode all become people who condone child murder.
They seem like a metaphor for white supremacists, with the way they take part in everything from ritually executing children in an electric chair, a government approved form of executing enemies of the state, through actively participating in triggering the extermination of the entire population of Winden, right up to planning world domination and destruction.
But honestly, I don’t have much trouble believing it of Bartosz, Magnus and Franziska. We’ve already seen selfish cruelty from all 3 of them as teens. We’ve never seen anything purposeful like that from Jonas, at any age when he’s recognizably Jonas. Bartosz is the teen who has absolutely no scruples about hurting others and getting what he wants by any means necessary, and who sees himself as the victim, no matter how things really happened.
I can also believe that Mikkel would reach the point where he was okay with sacrificing other children, after all of the sacrifices he was forced to make in his own life, all of the betrayals, and all of the times he was the sacrifice. Even though he’s a sweet kid who shows no signs of violence, he has terrible things done to him which add up to abuse and torture. We don’t know what else might have happened to him and what was whispered in his ear.
We do know that Mikkel was named death, the Grim Reaper, by Young Ulrich, and is associated with death from the first scene of the series, while Stranger Jonas is consistently named as the savior who’s expected to take the blame for everyone else’s sins.
In the end, it was Jonas who had the Macbeth poster over his shoulder in Martha’s bedroom. He could succumb to his own inner madness or to someone else’s whispering voice. When we get to the third cycle, either Jonas or Michael could have Hannah, Bartosz or someone else in their ear like Lady MacBeth, pushing them into acts they might not have considered otherwise. Combined with their losses, that could be what sways one of them into becoming an evil Satanic Time Cult leader.
Meanwhile, in the Temple of Doom, Adam stares at the D*mned falling to H*ll in his favorite painting. Adult Noah enters the study and says that he knows he’s been lied to. That Adam never meant to save anyone. Adam turns to Noah and says that no one can escape their fate.
One of his typical non responses.
Noah takes out the missing pages from the triquetra diary (the ones he killed Claudia for) and says that Adam isn’t waging war against God, he’s waging it against all of mankind. Then he tosses the pages at Adam, accusing Adam of using him and manipulating him into to doing all of these things. Now Noah will do what he has to do. He points a gun at Adam.
Adam continues to stand calmly in front of the fire and tells Noah that Claudia was right. Noah still doesn’t understand the game they’re playing. He tells Noah to shoot him, and Noah tries, but the gun won’t work. Noah continues to try as Adam continues to speak, trying to explain to Noah why this was a stupid move, but one he knew Noah would make.
Adam’s speech while Noah attempts to murder him is about time, destiny and fate. It boils down to not being able to die before your predetermined time to go, even if you are mortally wounded. We’ve already seen this play out with Helge, when Ulrich killed him but he came back to life. The gun is failing to work on Adam because he’s not fated to die here and now. No matter what Noah tries, something else will go wrong. It’s the same principle as the one which keeps Mikkel from coming back to 2019 and living out his life.
Adam rubs salt in Noah’s wound. “Only when we’ve freed ourselves of emotions can we be truly free. Only when one is willing to sacrifice what one holds dearest.”
He holds out a photo of Elisabeth (who is the one Noah holds dearest, an implicit threat) and explains Charlotte and Elisabeth’s relationship (mother-daughter-mother). As a partial explanation for why he won’t save anyone, he says that since no man is without sin and guilt, none have earned a place in Noah’s paradise.
Untwisting Adam’s Words
In other words, Adam claims that he didn’t lie to Noah, he simply omitted the fact that when the apocalypse came around, he’d only be saving the pure of heart. Since humans who are pure of heart don’t exist, well, what can he do? It’s not his fault that Noah didn’t read the fine print when he signed his deal with the devil…
But that’s not what Adam’s means when he holds out Elisabeth’s photo. He means that Noah won’t be able to truly see the world clearly until he’s reached a point of complete detachment, both moral and emotional.
He sees Noah as weak because Noah still has a sense of right and wrong that’s based on Judeo-Christian morality and his attachment to his loved ones, rather than purely doing what he alone thinks is right, based on his own inner sense of morality. Adam doesn’t mean what’s right according to a code of justice, what’s best for the greater good or what would save the Earth. Just what he wants to do and therefore convinces himself is right.
This is a reference to Nietzsche’s master-slave morality and the perfect master, the Übermensch, who has the intelligence, strength and will to rise above the rest of the lowly herd and create his own morality. Since the herd isn’t capable of creating a suitable morality or vision for society, it’s up to those with the inborn ability to naturally be masters to act as saviors, and to make sure that no destructive egalitarianism gets in the way of his plans for world domination.
Despite everything that Noah has been through and has done, as Adam said, he somehow hasn’t figured out how things work in Sic Mundus and how Time affects the people of Winden. So Adam has another test in store for him in a moment. I believe some of the Noah’s we’ve seen have already been through this test, like the one who told Young Noah that he’s their inner voice, and Young Noah should only listen to him. That Noah had learned the lesson Adam is teaching him in this scene, that everyone will betray you and you can ultimately only trust yourself, so you need to follow your instincts.
Which is a strange lesson for Adam to be teaching, at this moment, but who the f**k knows what Adam’s ultimate plan is? He wants them to think for themselves, but he also also wants their unwavering obedience. Sounds like Nietzsche’s own contradictions and it sounds like a cult’s lessons in cognitive dissonance. It also sounds like Adam is planning on having a large number of minions.
But we also don’t have all of the information yet. Adam makes a couple more interesting speeches before the end of the episode which could be clues that he has more than just the destruction of the world in mind. He could be planning on world domination.
Agnes and Adult Magnus and Franziska enter the room. Agnes is now dressed in the outfit she’s wearing in the Sic Mundus group photo, a sleek man suit with her hair pinned up. She looks intently at Noah and caresses his cheek. Agnes is calm, but Noah isn’t. He knows this won’t go well for him. She takes the gun from him and clicks the safety off. Noah was so panicky that he forgot that simple step. She looks toward Adam, who nods at her.
Adam: “This knot can only be undone by destroying it completely. We cannot escape our fate.”
Agnes shoots Noah in the heart. He falls to the floor and bleeds out, while the other 4 calmly watch.
Read This Now, and Again After You Finish the Episode
Either Noah’s coming back to life, or those four have reached a super superior state of morality, since Agnes is his sister and Adam is his father figure. That was an impressive lack of emotion.
I suspect that this was an elaborate set up. In every cycle, Agnes always betrays Claudia to Noah so that Noah always kills Claudia. Noah kills Claudia so that he can read the pages and go to Charlotte, which gives her the right information to put her in the right place (the power plant) at the end of the episode. That sequence of events helps trigger the apocalypse.
Noah is also given the information, so that he will try to kill Adam over it once he sends his younger self off, which keeps him in the Underworld Temple of Doom, instead of trying to save people.
Because, if given the chance, Noah would intercept Charlotte and Elisabeth, stopping the the event which triggers the apocalypse. So, along with Stranger Jonas, he needs to be kept out of the way until they’ve accomplished their mission, and nothing short of death will keep him away from his family now that he knows the truth.
So, they use (temporary) death to keep him out of the way while they enact their nefarious plans. He’ll come back either because it’s not his time to die, he’s functionally immortal because of his exposure to the God particle, or because everyone comes back when the cycle restarts.
Or any and all of the above. Their may be multiple Adult Noahs, one for each cycle. The God particle might allow those saturated with Time to transfer to the next cycle, while also creating a new version for that cycle.
Or the current adult version is dead and he restarts as Young Noah, functionally reincarnated. I’m not happy about that, but, on the other hand, Dead Adult Noah murdered Claudia and 3 young boys, Yasin, Eric and Mads, plus probably committed other crimes we don’t know about. Maybe it was time for him to have a reset, much as we’ve all come to see his pain and love him for his devotion to his family. Maybe this version of Young Noah can do better at avoiding murder, so he won’t have so much baggage. He could be a kidnapper, but not a killer, so that everyone’s else’s story still plays out.
We’ll get to the elaborate Sic Mundus plot to keep Stranger Jonas out of their way later.
While Adult Noah dies, Young Noah exits the church in 2020.
Young Jonas and Claudia set up the time machine in the passage. When he turns it on, glowing particles float out of it and create a DNA double helix pattern. Jonas tells her that the particles are Time, and they’re connecting the past and the future.
Another connection between bloodlines and time. DNA is the method through which families are connected through time and generations. The pattern of Time is encoded into our bodies.
The Time particles reach the bunker, where Martha is still waiting by herself. Martha is directly exposed to the glowing particles, close to the source, even though she’s barely time traveled. This is what happened to Helge. He died in the bunker, a place saturated with Time, before he was meant to die, and he came back. Then he was exposed directly to Time and he survived an encounter with the rift in time which sent him forward 33 years. So did Jonas.
Martha’s level of exposure to the God particle will be important later.
Peter and Elizabeth are in the car on the way to the bunker, when a flock of birds drops dead out of the sky.
So humans are made stronger by the force of Time and birds are killed by it? That’s weird mythology. I know they said in season 1 that the birds eardrums/navigation systems were blown out of existence, but why isn’t that also happening to humans, other than in the chair?
In the course of my research, I discovered that in Victorian times, images of dead birds symbolised the soul leaving the body. Could the dead birds and the unexplained dead sheep from season 1 have become time wraiths, as the weak Higgs field they were exposed to forced their soul out of their bodies? Were the chair experiments also searching for the right frequency to turn a child into a living bodiless soul? Did they succeed with the 3 eyeless boys? The eyes are the windows to the soul, so maybe the idea was that the soul would escape the body that way.
The lights in Hannah’s house flash on and off. Stranger tells Katharina that Young Jonas has reopened the passage. She figures out that she no longer needs to fool around with the time machine, so she picks up his pack and leaves. He doesn’t stop her, cause who would fight their grandma? And who would fight a determined Katharina?
Peter and Elisabeth rush into the bunker, opening the door for Martha. Martha has read everything on the walls, which is probably also all of the most important information from the triquetra diary, if you read the walls the right way. Nows she races out the door before Peter can stop her, though he tries.
Magnus, Bartosz and Franziska are at the Nielsen house, discovering that Katharina, Martha and the time machine are gone. They can tell that the electromagnetic disturbances that are happening are the same as when Mikkel disappeared. Bartosz is mostly concerned with his jealousy over Martha and Jonas and making sure everyone blames Jonas for everything, because he has his priorities, after all.
Young Jonas and Claudia leave the cave, stepping out into 2020 Winden. He tells her to take the time machine to the bunker while he finds Martha and his mother.
Two Hours Until the Apocalypse
Magnus tries to call his mother and sister, but they don’t answer. Peter texts Franziska to come to the bunker.
Don’t depend on your cell phone in the run up to the apocalypse, kids. Fake handwritten letters will be the only completely foolproof means of communication.
Bartosz brilliantly figures out something big is going on.
Franziska and Magnus brilliantly debate whether they should go to the only place where they can survive the apocalypse.
This is why they are flunkies.
Clausen and the gang don their radioactive suits and enter the room with the cooling pool from the old reactor. The pool has been been filled with concrete and sealed to become part of the green field, a normal part of the dismantling process.
Clausen orders the power plant workers to dig the concrete back up.
Regina is on the phone with the police, arguing that they have to let Aleksander go. She tells them he hasn’t done anything wrong and asks when she can visit him. We don’t hear the police responses, but they appear to be negative. Clausen has left Aleksander in solitary confinement in the Winden jail.
Clausen is on a power trip which feels like revenge, but his reasoning, because his brother disappeared in Marburg and he got an anonymous letter pointing him toward Winden, doesn’t make sense for how over the top he’s been all season. He has a larger agenda, whether it’s because he’s a Sic Mundus plant or something else.
Aleksander specifically told Clausen that he took his wife’s mother’s name so that the name wouldn’t die out in Winden, while Clausen said he took his mother’s maiden name when he reached adulthood, making him nearly untraceable. Could Regina’s father have had the last name of Clausen, making that her maiden name? Could both Regina and Aleksander have changed their names to Tiedemann when they married? Could Clausen be Bartosz? And could Aleksander have had another child in a different time period before coming to Winden? Is an adult Bartosz getting revenge on Aleksander for lying to him and his mother about his identity, plus covering up the accident at the power plant, for more than 30 years?
When Regina hangs up, Claudia is standing across the room. Claudia is still wearing the same clothing she was on the day she disappeared, 33 years earlier, and looks exactly the same. She speaks softly to Regina, convincing her daughter that it’s really her and that Regina should come with her.
Jonas sits at the kitchen table, with the gun in front of him, waiting for whatever he’s saving Martha from.
Young Noah appears in the kitchen doorway.
Everyone else who’s come in all season has pounded on the door and run in like it’s a huge emergency, but not Noah. He quietly appears, like a cat. Probably has his own key.
Stranger Jonas stands by the table, pointing Aleksander’s gun at Young Noah.
Noah: “You look different now. Since last time.”
He means when both when he saw Jonas as Adam a short time ago and when he met Young Jonas a few days ago. He’s reminding Jonas of their long history and many incarnations together. It hasn’t happened yet for Young Noah, but it has for Stranger.
Young Noah now functions as the awakened reincarnation of Adult Noah, having been mentored for many years by his older self. But his older self was restricted by the Sic Mundus cult in what he could pass on to his next incarnation. Until Young Noah learns to break free of Sic Mundus, he’ll be trapped in this warped version of the eternal recurrence.
Jonas: “He sent you, didn’t he? Adam.”
Noah: “I always wondered when you became him.”
Jonas: “I won’t do that. I’ll never do the things he did.”
A hint that it was a terrible act which created Adam, and apparently the transition isn’t common knowledge. Interesting. A point in the Adam isn’t Jonas column.
And Noah didn’t confirm that he was sent by Adam. Also interesting.
Noah: “He said you’d say something like that. He also said we’d become friends. Before you betray me.”
Noah walks toward Jonas.
Jonas: “Why do you follow him?”
Noah: What made you follow her? Claudia? We both want to believe. We cling to the salvation promised to us. If you kill him, you kill all hope of salvation. [Noah moves forward again, until his chest is pressed against the gun. He puts his hand on top of Jonas’ and speaks gently, while lowering the gun.] He’s the savior. You’ll be the savior.”
Salvation and saviors are not the answer. Did Adult Noah manage to get this across to his younger self, despite the embargo against spoiling pivotal events in their personal history? Because that line, “If you kill him, you kill all hope of salvation” reads like a coded message.
It’s Adam’s prophecy of salvation that is the problem for both of them. Noah and Jonas are the generals in the time war. If they don’t want to fight anymore, the war is over. Claudia and Adam might agree that they need to be kept apart and at each other’s throats.
This would explain the Jonas who is like a Buddhist Humanist Nihilist, attempting to get the key players in the right places, but of their own volition, rather than by interfering with Time. He has finally seen through the games of Claudia and Adam and created his own way. A third path. He understands that he needs to take himself out of his equations of how to save the world. He doesn’t need to die. He just needs to stop doing this for himself and making decisions based on what he wants from it.
Noah has been also been working with an emotional goal, the need to find and reunite his family. The most recent, oldest version of Noah started to figure out how the deck was stacked against him, and passed on what he could to his younger self. Now he and Jonas seem to be passing messages back and forth.
Saying “Because we want to believe. We cling to the salvation promised to us,” is not the same as saying, “Because I believe in the prophecy.” He was letting Jonas know that his older self taught him not to fall for the lies in the next cycle.
Once the gun is lowered, Jonas watches as Noah removes a letter from his jacket pocket. It’s identical to the one Clausen received about his brother.
Jonas: “What is that?”
Noah: “Read it. It’s from Martha.”
Jonas puts the gun away and opens the letter. His eyes open wide.
Jonas: “This is impossible.”
The look in Noah’s eye has changed. He looked warm and sincere before. Now, he’s drawn back inside himself. He was speaking the truth. Now, he’s lying. Jonas’ demeanor has changed as well. He was cleared eyed and on guard. Now, he gets a look of slightly crazed hopefulness. He locked Martha in the bunker as a Hail Mary Pass- He knew it wouldn’t work, but he couldn’t stop himself from trying to do something. He can’t get off the treadmill of the addiction that is trying to save Martha and Mikkel. If locking her up worked, and she survived the apocalypse, she’d be able to send him a letter.
This is Adam’s standard technique with Jonas. Throw something at him as bait when he won’t have time to think it through. Get him to act according to Adam’s wishes, like the pawn that he is, instead of sticking to his own plans.
Jonas knows, deep inside, that the letter can’t be real. But he’ll fall for it anyway, because he wants that hope. And he wants to save his friends anyway. It’s not a hardship to follow the instructions and ask questions later.
Except there’s a very good reason why Adam wants to get Jonas out of Hannah’s house.
Young Noah: “You must save them. Bartosz, Magnus, Franziska. And later me and Agnes. The loop has to be closed so the next cycle begins. As the prophecy dictates. And so Martha can live.”
Jonas: “No, this can’t be. Martha.”
Jonas takes the bait, packs up the time machine and rushes out the door. Adam creates the cycle of friendship and betrayal between Jonas and Noah once again, by putting Noah in an impossible situation.
How and when to save Noah and his baby sister, Agnes, was included in the letter. If Noah doesn’t deliver it, he doesn’t just change his own life, which he might be able to justify to himself. He changes Agnes’ life, and later Elisabeth’s, when he’s not in the right time and place to become her lover. Then Charlotte might never be born.
Noah’s just been sent out to survive an apocalypse. It’s too much to ask him to risk his family’s lives and his own future by not delivering the letter, so Adam wins again.
But there’s also a chance that those letters are coming from a third party, a resistance group that’s making headway against Adam and needs Stranger to do things a certain way, so as not to interfere with their plans.
Katharina heads into the cave and follows the red thread to the passage. Adult Elisabeth heads under the wall and into the Dead Zone. Adult Magnus and Franziska help Adam into a radiation suit and set the coordinates on the Sic Mundus God particle.
Clausen happily watches jackhammers dig up the concrete in the cooling pool. Charlotte and Torben arrive at the plant and are told where he is.
Claudia brings Regina to the bunker. Peter recognizes that Claudia is the White Devil whose face is on the wall.
I hadn’t thought through before that Claudia’s family board and Jonas’ file of materials are waiting in the bunker for them to find in each cycle. Claudia is finding her board now and Jonas finds his file when he wakes up in 2052 at the end of season 1. That’s another group of items that have no origin anymore, like Tannhaus’ book. I wonder if Claudia still designs the time machines or makes her tapes about the God particle in the future, or if those parts of the cycle have also been lost in the knots and paradoxes.
Plus, there have been three versions of the time machine in 2020 in the last two episodes. Stranger Jonas had the version he came to town with, which Hannah took to 1953 in episode 7. Stranger now has the version Noah gave to Bartosz. And Claudia has a version as well. Hers is likely the oldest version, since it came straight from Old Claudia, but they are all the same machine, at different points in its life.
Young Jonas goes home. The house is empty. Martha arrives moments after him. He starts to tell her the truth about what they are to each other. She tells him she already knows everything. She understands everything that’s happened now.
He watches her, waiting for her verdict. She reaches up to his face and tells him, “You and I are perfect for each other. Never believe anything else.”
They throw themselves into a kiss. For a few moments, it seems like it’ll be okay between them. Then the voice of doom speaks from the shadows.
Adam was lying in wait, watching the whole thing, preparing what he would say, waiting for the moment of maximum impact. He is loathsome. It’s not enough to ruin everything. He has to make a show out of it.
When have we ever seen Jonas behave that way? He’s never a big speechmaker, and if anything, he becomes less articulate at important moments. We’ve seen that twice in this episode.
But let’s not get into that now. We have a fridging to get through.
I’ve put it off for as long as I can.
Adam: “And so, the circle is closed.”
Martha: “Jonas, who is that?”
Adam: “Tell her who I am.”
That’s a taunt. He wants to see if Jonas has begun to guess the truth yet. Like his mother, Jonas doesn’t bother to answer.
Adam: “I told you that all of the pieces are in their places. All that’s needed is a little push.”
Jonas: “You lied to me! You wanted it all to happen again the exact same way. You’re the trigger.”
Adam: “We’re all the trigger. Each and every one of us.”
Jonas: “Why do you want this? Why do you want the awful future repeated?”
Adam: “What is created today is the beginning of the end. The dark matter must be created so that in the future I can lead it to its new purpose. The end of this world. And I am the trigger. Just not for what you think. I am the trigger only for what will make you what I am today.”
That sounds like the dark matter isn’t just a transformation of the radioactive waste into an even more toxic condition. It sounds like the visible time stream/God particle will interact with the human mind or spirit somehow and negative psychological states will be transformed into something Adam believes he can manipulate more than he’s able to control the God particle.
Is that what he gets from staring at that painting? That when the world ends, he’ll be in charge of the spirits who are released, and they’ll all be full of the dark energy’s spirit? Will time stop because people become fused with Time? Is that what the chair experiments really were? Is he going to create slaves?
While he’s speaking, Adam pulls out a gun and aims it at Jonas. When he finishes, he moves his arm and aims the gun at Martha’s torso, then pulls the trigger. Martha falls to the floor, bleeding from the bottom of her ribcage.
Adam: “Some pain you can’t forget. You will carry this pain for the rest of your life. Until you’re finally ready to let go of her.”
He moves to Hannah’s calendar and draws a circle inside the square for June 27th, as if he’s making his final mark in the tic tac toe game he and Claudia have been playing with the lives of Winden, and establishing his dominance over the scene in one final way, which will linger long after the bodies have been removed.
This is the day I win.
Adam tells Young Jonas that he’s leaving. Jonas can follow him or stay with Martha. He’ll know what to do. Then Adam walks out.
I don’t believe that Adam expects the following sequence of events, but, who knows, with a liar.
Young Jonas is already on the floor with Martha. She hasn’t said a word since she was shot, but she holds onto his collar to stop him from leaving her. He begs her not to go. She fades away.
At the power plant, Charlotte and Torben rush into the cooling pool room with their hazmat suits on and demand that Clausen stop what he’s doing. They’ve already dug the top of one barrel out and are opening it up. Clausen refuses to stop. He’s sure it’s his elephant in the room. Charlotte tells him that the contents of the barrels are dangerous and don’t have anything to do with the missing people. She doesn’t realize that he’s on a different mission.
She tries to explain that the barrels have to do with the way Winden’s future and past are connected, but Clausen has never wanted to let the truth get in his way. And he’s never been interested in listening when he didn’t already know what was going to be said. He orders the workers to finish opening the barrel, despite Charlotte’s continued pleas to stop.
Final montage time. We end with My Body Is a Cage by Peter Gabriel.
My body is a cage that keeps me
From dancing with the one I love
My mind holds the key
Stranger pounds on the door to the Nielsen house. Magnus, Franziska and Bartosz are still there, because of course they are. They’re shocked to hear that the apocalypse is upon them. Bartosz screams at Jonas about Martha, then blames Jonas for everything.
Bartosz is like an old talking toy with a pull string and only three sayings to play back- Fear that he’s in trouble, blaming Jonas for everything, and jealousy over Martha.
Future Adult Elisabeth goes through the protocol to turn the future God particle into a time machine. She doesn’t need to read instructions. She probably helped Claudia develop the sequence. Does she know how to fine tune coordinates to match the Prophecy, since she’s clearly here to carry out Sic Mundus instructions?
Future But in the Past Adult Magnus and Franziska turn on their God particle and set coordinates. They look serious, but watch the scene in front of them intently.
A new God particle cloud rises out of the open barrel in the power plant in 2020. Streams of tiny, glowing God particles flow past Katharina through the cave, toward the passage. She crawls through the tunnel, opens the metal door to the passage proper and sees a bright light. She’s now also been exposed to the pure God particle, and is in a protected area.
Noah joins Peter, Child Elisabeth, Claudia and Regina in the bunker. Noah and Elisabeth meet again for the first time.
That’s 5 people in the bunker. There’s room for 8. Young Jonas, Hannah and Martha are missing (Claudia and Jonas’ plan). Or maybe it’s Magnus, Franciska and Bartosz (Adam and Noah’s plan, theoretically, except Adam doesn’t care about saving them, so that letter probably isn’t from him, other than as a distraction which conveniently saved his henchmen). What about Aleksander? It’s almost impossible to say who the master planner for the bunker crew originally was and which family members they’d prioritize, if any, other than Claudia, Noah and Elisabeth. It’s another bootstrap paradox.
The power plant God particle turns into a smooth sphere then collapses and opens into a rift in time, just like we saw happen at the end of season 1. Only this one is much more powerful, with 3 different God particles plus the passage and the time machine box powering it, while the earlier rift only had the passage and the device for power.
A black dome forms over the power plant, a larger version of the dome from the time machine box . It grows toward the ground.
At Sic Mundus, the God particle is moving quickly, like it’s agitated. Adult Franziska and Magnus move closer and take each others’ hands. They probably also get chills at the thought of the evil they’re about to unleash.
Stranger gathers Teen Magnus, Franziska and Bartosz closer as the time machine warms up. Bartosz panics and asks where they’re going, but no one answers.
The 2053 power plant and Apocalypse Elisabeth appear on the other side of the time rift. Elisabeth and Charlotte recognize each other. They reach out to touch fingers, just like Helge and Jonas did at the end of season 1.
When they touch fingers, something cataclysmic happens. It looks and sounds like they each travel, like Jonas and Helge, but it’s the last we see of the inside of the cooling pool room, so their fate is unknown. The black dome rapidly expands outward in a shockwave across Winden, and probably a long way further.
It was hard to tell from Clausen’s face how much he knew, but I didn’t see shock or surprise on it, just interest. It was similar to Franziska and Magnus’ face. Another point toward the theory that he’s Adult Bartosz.
Hannah’s house rattles and shakes. Young Jonas promises Martha he’ll make this right.
Suddenly, there’s another Martha, dressed in black, standing behind him. He scoots away from her in shock as she’s telling him that she’s not who he thinks she is. In other words, she’s not the Martha on the floor, revived and from the future.
Which doesn’t mean that can’t happen, just that this isn’t her. Hopefully this is the Martha that’s been sent to get him out of the way so the time gremlins can scoot in and grab OG Martha before the shockwave hits her.
[I’m still wondering what his original exit plan was, since he didn’t have time to get to the bunker and he gave Claudia the time machine. Does he assume he’ll survive the shockwave no matter what, since he’s got older selves, and anyway, he doesn’t much care if he dies? That seems to be his basic life strategy.]
Jonas tries to ask Alt Martha how this is possible, but she tells him to stop asking questions because there isn’t time. He has to come with her, right now, then she’ll answer his questions later.
She pulls out an honest to God Golden Time Snitch, which is the best time travel device ever and almost makes me forget they fridged my Martha. As she twists the dials, it lights up and whirs. Then she puts it on the floor.
Jonas looks like his eyes are going to pop out of his head just before he passes out next to his Martha on the floor, but instead he manages to ask what time she comes from.
Alt Martha: “The question isn’t what time. The question is what world.”
They stand over the time snitch. Our perspective changes to the exterior of the house, just as the shockwave blast hits.
Let’s assume they beamed out to a new world, shall we?
The End of Cycle Two
If there’s one thing we know for sure will happen on this show, it’s that at key moments, someone will show up to distract Jonas from what’s really happening. The shell game is the magician’s stock in trade. Everyone in the time war seems to use it.
As a matter of fact, in the pilot, Michael showed up to distract Jonas while his other, slightly older self took Mikkel to the cave. Michael’s head was covered with goo and he only appeared briefly, as if he could be a hallucination. Now I wonder if he had an accomplice with a Time Snitch. Maybe he was from the Alt world.
Alt Michael has shown up two other times that I recall, both in season 1. He appeared to Young Jonas in his bedroom once, and he sat with Stranger Jonas while Stranger closed the passage.
It could be the goo is the stuff that was in the barrel and he’s so saturated with the God particle that he doesn’t need a time machine to time travel anymore. He’s a time ghost or time wraith, and from one of this world’s earlier cycles, instead of being from the Alt world.
We know from Young Jonas’ time in the future that Winden will become a ghost town, with most of its structures destroyed by the shockwave and a large graveyard. We don’t know what’s in those graves. They could be simply ceremonial markers over empty graves. We don’t know how big the Dead Zone is or what/who’s inside in addition to the God particle. The same goes for the caves under the town. We do know that the rift and shockwave in season 1 didn’t kill anyone, but it might have transformed them.
Alt Martha will get Jonas to the other dimension, fast, then someone else who’s in the next room will use their time snitch to get OG Martha to a safe place just before the shockwave hits. She’ll come back to life on her own, the way Helge did, or they’ll save her. Adam pointedly didn’t shoot her in the heart or head.
Or they’ll leave her there to be transformed with everyone else, not realizing she’s already been exposed to the God particle.
Why would they hide that Martha’s alive?
You heard Adam’s numerous speeches all season long, right? He knew Martha wouldn’t die, but he knew that Jonas, like Noah, would be easily fooled, and would suffer for decades over the loss, doing exactly what Adam wanted.
This is all my theory, of course, based on Helge dying but not dying at Ulrich’s hand and Adam telling us that the characters can only die under very specific circumstances. He lies all the time, but their immortality wasn’t a lie. Every cast member who’s been exposed to the glowing God particles has some form of immortality or extended life. Time travel can also confer the same immunity from death. Plus, no one in Winden can die before their time.
But I could be horribly wrong. She (and Noah and Aleksander) could just be dead-dead. Aleksander and Noah both committed multiple deadly crimes which led to their fates. Even though we can also see their good sides and love them, it’s not an injustice for them to be punished for taking and risking lives.
Martha is a different story.
Martha Was Fridged and in Season 2, the Rest of the Women Were Demoted
Martha and Jonas were always fighting to be together, and fighting the misogynist tropes placed on them. As Ariadne and Dionysus and as Odysseus and Penelope, their stories are laden with sexist layers.
A female character is fridged when she is killed off in order to give her male love interest something tragic to react to. Feeling the pain of her loss will allow his character to grow, while she is expendable. The death has nothing to do with her character or her story arc.
Martha’s death is a classic example of a fridging.
I expected better of a show with a female showrunner. Stupid me.
And then, EVEN WORSE, we are expected to be okay with the fridging, because the Martha we’ve loved and rooted for as we’ve watched her passionately fight for her family and the love of her life is quickly replaced by a look alike “dark” version.
Ooh, the male gaze perks up. She’s so hot, and probably kinkier.
Well, as long as she’s replaced by a hotter
sex doll version. What could be wrong with that?
I guess we know what notes they were given by the network last season.
Whether or not she comes back in her original form, she is dead for now. She had to go through the experience of dying in order to further Adam’s agenda for Jonas. Adam says this straight out. Her death had nothing to do with her as a person.
Stranger made a feeble attempt to save her, but only ensured that she’d be right where she should be. Bartosz made a lot of noise about her, but never left his cozy nest in her own home to find her and bring her to safety. Her mother appears to only care that she doesn’t have sex with the wrong man. Her brother cared even less.
She didn’t get any meaningful last words. She didn’t go down fighting. Her body is left behind like she’s an empty take out container. Jonas doesn’t even pick her up to take with him for a proper burial.
The message couldn’t be more clear that she doesn’t matter, other than as a chew toy for the boys to fight over.
Whereas Noah, the other character who died on camera in this episode, had all of the agency Martha lacked. His death was about his decision to follow Adam, which led him to do things he regrets. He feels guilty for murdering 3 young boys and Claudia, and for leading Helge into a life of doing the same sorts of things.
There was a symmetry in the way Noah and Agnes have betrayed each other and the leaders they follow. She is now a secret agent planted in Sic Mundus, so Adam has likely sown the seeds of his own destruction with Noah’s death, even though Noah himself was unsuccessful in his attempted murder. Adam tried to create his beginning with Martha’s death, even as he unintentionally was creating his ending with Noah’s death. But one death was well written and earned, while the other was a throwaway.
Symbolically, although Martha struggled to hold onto her designation as Ariadne the independent rebel, she was moved into the role of Ariadne, the doomed, shunned girlfriend. And, more subtly, she became Lady Macbeth, the doomed, shunned potentially infanticidal, husband-dooming femme fatale of Shakespeare’s tragedy, while one version of Jonas became MacDuff and the other became Macbeth. Yet this still all happened without Martha understanding the plots going on around her until the very end, if even then, unlike the real Ariadne and Lady Macbeth, who were both fully involved in court intrigue and in their eventual fates.
This type of treatment wasn’t an isolated incident for a female character this season.
Season 1 of Dark gave us some amazing female characters and spread the focus between the men and women. Season 2 made it clear that the men are who the story is really about, while the women are their pawns, motivations, temptations and villains. Even Old Claudia, who is supposedly in charge of one side of the time war, dies early on. After that, her younger self is led by Jonas, who already resents her older self for leaving him and getting murdered by Noah.
If Adam really is Jonas, then most of the time, the war is actually Old Jonas against Young Jonas, with Middle Jonas resisting the other two. Cool concept. Next time, don’t mislead me into thinking you have a woman in charge when what she really does is train Jonas, then fade away, like some fairytale mentor.
This season, almost every female character was left at home to wait for the men and usually not even told what was going on until the end, if then. Not Regina, not Martha, not Charlotte, not Hannah, not Katharina, not Silja, not Elisabeth, not Franziska. Over the course of the season, we’ve watched the agency of the female characters erode, at varying speeds.
The agency of the men eroded as well, since one of the themes of season 2 was the tightening of the noose that is predetermination. Choices disappeared until only one course of action was left.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. Unlike the men, the women were left on the sidelines, left out of the decision making, and driven out of their roles as leaders. They were, in general, isolated and driven out, from Claudia down to Young Elisabeth. They were sent from their places of work, school and leadership into their homes and/or into the caves or under the bridge, symbolically marginalized spaces where the witches, monsters and trolls live.
Some of the women created their own action on the side, as witches are wont to do, by selling hormone prescriptions (spells) or trying to figure out what was going on (scrying). When the men discovered their side actions, they told the women to stop, to shut up, got angry, or told them they were evil and sneaky. Whatever form the reaction took, it boiled down to controlling the women.
Except for Peter, who had already been compromised by his affair with Benni and his part in disposing of Mads’ body. But we still saw Peter’s controlling reaction to Charlotte’s silent judgement of his affair in flashback, while in the present, Clausen stepped in to disapprove of Charlotte and drive her out of her job.
Every woman had a male who told her she was wrong. Some, like Charlotte and Hannah, had more than one, and also women who wagged disapproving fingers at them. Other women can maintain and improve their own status by joining men in reasserting control over women who step out of line, so they are often the first line of defense in continuing the status quo. This tactic applies to any oppressed group, of course.
This season, Charlotte came to realize that she was central to the larger narrative, and turned the focus of her, now literally underground, investigation toward figuring out how. She never did solve the mystery. Instead, the 2 people who emerged as our leading men, Jonas and Noah, solved it for her, and explained to her what her parentage meant.
In this episode, Young Noah is given a moral dilemma, in the form of a letter, which then becomes a moral dilemma for Jonas.
Indirectly, the subject of Charlotte and her centrality to the narrative returns. But only the idea of Charlotte is essential. No real power or centrality returns to Charlotte herself. Charlotte will get some action later, but she’ll be moved around the board like a pawn. She won’t be given an interesting choice to make, which would add complexity to her character. Torben will make the decision of whether she gets information or not. By the time anything gets to Charlotte, it’s obvious what needs to be done, because she has all of the necessary information to make the correct decision.
We don’t take chances with morally fragile women and dicey situations. Charlotte becomes a more complex character over the course of the season, but only because of the men swirling around her. Unlike Ariadne, who takes decisive action within her story, in Charlotte’s story, she is an infant pawn who is moved through space and time, and remains one until the final moments of the final episode.
I suppose she is one of the famous babies in a basket of mythology, Moses or maybe Supergirl. Horus is one, but all signs point to Noah as Horus. Charlotte is, however, the most moral and unsullied character on this show, and it could be that the bunker was her Mount Sinai. Maybe next season she’ll come into her own and lead the others to the promised land, once all of the male saviors are done sacrificing themselves.
This is Noah’s moral dilemma (which happens off camera, as so much does on Dark): The letter Adam gives Noah to bring to Stranger Jonas, which is meant to get Stranger Jonas out of Hannah’s house while Adam murders Martha, includes how and when Jonas should rescue Noah and his baby sister Agnes when they’re kids. If Noah doesn’t deliver it, he doesn’t just change his own life, which he might be able to justify. He changes Agnes’ life, and later Elisabeth’s, when he’s not in the right time and place to become her lover. Then Charlotte might never be born.
In that sense, Charlotte was right about her centrality to the narrative. Noah makes his decisions because of her, so that she can be born and survive. She is central to the way the cycles play out.
So, in that moment, Noah morally compromises himself and betrays Jonas, in order to take another step toward making sure Charlotte is born, even though he and Jonas have just told us how important they are to each other, as well. Adam sets Noah up, knowing that he can’t make any other choice if he wants to protect his daughter.
This is why Noah walks around looking ill most of the time. Adam forces him into these decisions on a regular basis. This is also how we know that Noah is ultimately a good person. (It’s also why we have to wonder about Magnus and Franziska, loyally standing by Adam’s side for 33 years, despite his deplorable actions.)
Adam also forces Jonas into the same types of decisions by playing on the same type of sentiment, using Jonas’ father instead of his child. Jonas is as central to everything as Charlotte, since Mikkel refused to change his actions, because he didn’t want to reverse Jonas’ birth.
That is why Bartosz can get away with running around blaming everything on Jonas, and Jonas accepts it, even though it’s clearly ridiculous. The version of Stranger Jonas in this episode (and maybe all of the versions) hates himself for causing his father’s pain and death, and can’t move on from it. It’s his self-loathing which is the real problem, not Mikkel’s choices, which were freely made. Jonas’ self-loathing causes him to continuously make the wrong choices.
Charlotte is central to the story as a MacGuffin, essentially an object that motivates the characters, like the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. A MacGuffin doesn’t have to have any other purpose in the story other than to motivate the characters’ actions. It doesn’t even have to appear in the story.
The difference between Charlotte, Jonas and the One Ring as MacGuffins is, Jonas and the One Ring got to go on the adventures, while Charlotte stayed home, unaware even of her own importance.
In Dark season 2, when a woman decides she’s going to make herself part of the adventures, like Hannah and Claudia, they become the enemy. Clausen was brought in as the main male voice of this attitude. The more he perceives that a woman stays home, sits still and is quiet, while approving of her man, the more he respects her. The more she inserts herself into the action, the more negatively he judges her.
He loves a Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus who waited by her loom for her husband for 20 years, and hates an Ariadne, who engineered an escape for both herself and her boyfriend. And he loves Regina and hates Hannah. As the show has also directed us to do.
All of the old myths this story refers to have mothers, wives and daughters fighting next to their loved ones, or even as the main character, at the center of the story. The goddesses and other mythological beings in those stories are complex and fierce.
Nietzsche, on the other hand, was a jilted lover who didn’t get along with his sister and thought women were only good for having babies. Is that what’s being illustrated? The 19th century public attitude toward women? Haven’t we already got The Handmaid’s Tale for that?
I wasn’t going to talk about Nietzsche’s concept of master-slave morality this season, because, honestly, the political events in the real world are enough to leave me exhausted and angry, and some of Nietzsche’s writing on the subject of masters vs slaves is just plain abhorrent. Some of it makes sense. Nietzsche’s writing is complex, and he evolved over time. I believe the show is following his evolution, in some ways.
But, the irony of the situation is that Dark gave the women so little agency this season that in order to illustrate slave morality, the show had to use two white men, Noah and Jonas. In the real world, it’s the women and people of color who hold the slave positions.
The one group of women who had agency and accomplished their goals this season would be the show’s femme fatales. The femme fatale uses the tools of a slave to get what she desires from those she manipulates. But she uses her target’s own desires against him in a way that requires sexual oppression, so her methods traditionally haven’t been open to self-respecting heterosexual men, the dominant group of masters. (They’ve also been used by homosexual men on each other through the ages.)
The femme fatales were the women who were turned into villains, across the board, proving that they were “slaves”, by Nietzsche’s definition.
When Jonas and Noah act out slave morality, we are directed to feel sorry for them, because they are beautiful, idealized members of the dominant group, so their fall from grace into “slavery” is Greek tragedy. When the women act out the same slave morality, the show directs us to judge them as inherently morally wrong, because they are, y’know, weasely, sly slaves who can’t be trusted or expected to know any better.
As far as I can tell, there are no people of color on Dark, so that issue is being totally bypassed. If I’m wrong, let me know.
The treatment of the queer population is sketchy, with Benni relegated to the edge of town with the toxic waste and Doris apparently having disappeared when her “deviance” was revealed. She was exploited for Sic Mundus’ purposes, then the character was dropped without explanation. Not quite a buried lesbian, but very close.
Agnes has gone
back into the closet undercover with Sic Mundus and Peter has gone back into the closet back to his family.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but it does seem to have had the effect of hiding Peter’s queer side. Agnes is an enigmatic character who hides in plain sight, so she could go in any direction. She could essentially be a queer-baiting character, who was using Doris long enough to get what she needed from her. There were hints that was the case.
As a member of the most dominant group to ever exist, but also a failing, weak member of that group, Nietzsche couldn’t wrap his head around slave mentality and see any benefit to it, and he couldn’t follow the downsides of master mentality to their logical extremes, as we have now done in our real world experiment, culminating in the US installing a psycho in chief and sanctifying corporate personhood. So Nietzsche couldn’t predict that adhering to master morality would ultimately destroy the human race and the planet, with the leaders of the world using his philosophy as their rallying cry.
Nietzsche is widely misunderstood and misused and this is the worst of it, so let me direct you to Wikipedia and Spark Notes for descriptions of how master-slave morality works. It’s hard to find unbiased sources, as most are either pro Nazi/master or obsessed with glorifying the gentle correctness of the slave mentality (“When they go low, we go high.”). Which is how we got where we are today.
These ideas are difficult to grapple with. Some of them reveal hard truths. Some of them are toxic trash. Besides the toxic nature of the trash, the difficulty is that hard truths can almost never be applied fairly in the real world. We now live in a world where for more than a century Nietzsche’s ideas have been misused to commit atrocities and run governments.
Nietzsche was betrayed by his own proto-Nazi sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, before he’d even died. She was a femme fatale in her own right, but I give you leave to hate her, 😜. She rewrote his later work to match her own ideas, then published it after he died, ruining his reputation.
That’s the power of the slave mentality when used with confidence. She was able to do an end run around his wishes by using the slave tactics of waiting patiently for her opening and then rebelling against her brother’s wishes. This was a terrible thing to do, but on the other hand, he was a huge, controlling misogynist and she took care of him in his final years. She probably figured he owed her one.
Outcry from the public and Nietzsche’s friends eventually forced her to allow his longtime secretary to rewrite the posthumously published works back into their original form. But thanks to his sister, the Nazis still claim him as one of their own, even though he would have hated them.
Nietzsche was wrong in his contempt for “slaves.” “Slave” beliefs and tactics can be very useful, but they must be used with judiciously and with confidence and pride, rather than with meekness and self loathing.
I’m not getting over OG Martha’s death anytime soon.
With her death, we’re given the message that all that matters is a woman’s appearance. As long as we have a character who looks like Martha on the show, we should be happy. Her death and quick replacement tell us that she’s nothing but an insignificant member of the “slave” class, who isn’t meant to have her own story.
As with Charlotte, her significance lies with her importance to Jonas and Adam. She motivates them, thus she only indirectly drives the action. That’s her reason to exist. As long as the Jonases have someone to pine for, it doesn’t matter which Martha it is.
For me, that is so far from the truth that I feel like spitting nails. I didn’t think that was the show I was watching.
Within the show, killing Martha was our shocking initiation into the next level of the mystery school. The cruel trick that we didn’t see coming and can’t forgive, that changes our view of it forever. It was Young Jonas’ initiation as well. These events serve as rites of passage, meant to weed out candidates who aren’t suited to go deeper into the mysteries the school/show are exploring.
I get it. Like Noah and Jonas, I don’t like it, and I’ll be suspicious from now on, but that’s part of the point of the initiation, to dispel youthful naivety and trigger adult cynicism, moving from Level 1 to Level 2 in Adam’s developmental scheme. Season 3 will be the darkest one yet. But will there be light at the end? Will there be balance?
Another issue I have with it is, this is the real world, which didn’t used to be a death cult. In the show and in the real world, the woman became a disposable part of the men’s education, instead of continuing on as a student herself. It’s becoming apparent that all of the female characters are simply here to serve the men’s story. Cutting out half of the population to serve the other half, then calling them evil or killing them when they don’t, is the darkest twist of all.
For the women in the audience, the lesson we were taught is that this show is not an ally. Dark is catering to the needs of the male audience. They aren’t very interested in keeping their female audience happy or engaged.
The one woman whose story we follow all season proves the point. Claudia goes from being the Great Mother Goddess in season 1, who designs the time machine and creates time travel, to murdering her father and becoming Young Jonas’ apprentice in season 2. She’s revealed to have orchestrated some of the most traumatic events, like Mikkel’s disappearance and Michael’s suicide. Stranger explicitly states that he now considers her an enemy. I’m fine with Claudia being a dark mother goddess. She was all along. It’s the reduction in status, along with all of the other women, that’s not acceptable.
Meanwhile, Adult Franziska has barely been allowed to speak. The audience hasn’t even been told for sure that she’s the woman by Magnus’ side. That woman might as well be a door stop, for all the power she appears to have in Sic Mundus.
Besides Charlotte, Regina is the only blameless woman left, and she is weakened to the point of dying, in a public bed, so that all can worship her beautiful, helpless martyrdom. She would have been beloved in the 19th century.
Or, really, anytime. Throughout history, the one thing that’s been agreed upon is that the best woman is a helpless woman who’s unconscious, dying, or dead. Even better if she’s a girl instead of a woman, which is why we have references to Charlotte, the premature infant fathered by a serial killer, and Elisabeth, the deaf girl who is left out of the conversation, loses her only friend, and is put in jeopardy by the serial killer. There is nothing that tugs at the heartstrings like innocent blonde girls who might die.
And how does the season end?
I love the male characters on this show. I love their storylines. I gave them their own post, which I never do.
But I want to watch stories about women. I want rich, deep stories I can dive into, that feature complex women who don’t hate themselves or identify with patriarchy. I can find stories about men anywhere. I don’t need to bother to with subtitles and Nietzsche.
If you can’t make your women complex and give them agency, then I have no time for you.
Please, Dark, in season 3, move on from Original Sin, slandering women who make their own decisions, and Pandora’s Box. Give me enough to work with so I can make an entire post about the women and their mythology. Or else just go ahead and destroy this misogynist version of your world for good. Because then I’m on Adam’s side after all.
Bring on the mass extinction.
But Wait, There’s Less…
Now that I’ve said all that, let me also say, I get that Adam kills Martha because his real enemy is the most evolved version of Stranger Jonas, the wanderer who’s working with the most evolved, post resurrection Noah, to bring self-awareness to the others. Maybe with Old Claudia, too. At least that’s my theory.
I also get that Martha didn’t necessarily permanently die, anymore than Noah did. She was exposed to a strong version of the God particle, so it’s now a part of her and she could be functionally immortal. Her fate could have changed, even if she stayed dead in previous cycles. There’s also no reason why Adam should have been able to kill her if it wasn’t her time, any more than Noah could kill him. Maybe Jonas was just tricked into leaving her behind.
It wouldn’t be the first time he was tricked into leaving someone behind, after all.
It seemed like this was the first time Stranger put her in the bunker. Someone knew he’d do it, but there’s no indication that it was Adam. Those letters could just as easily be from Claudia, who wants the cycle to play out as it always has, aside from her own small changes. It could be that Young Noah was supposed to deliver a verbal message from Adam to Stranger, and the letter changed the instructions. Or that letters were swapped out.
Even if Martha isn’t really dead, it doesn’t excuse the laziness and blatant, anger inducing misogyny of the fridging. But apparently this is the predetermined storyline I have to work with, so I will.
However, show creators, you, too, are disposable. I don’t need to keep you on as parts of my world, when I already have enough aggravation.
Creating disposable and replaceable women is something I hate with a passion and won’t tolerate.
Adam, Martha and the Evolution of Stranger Jonas
To backtrack a little, this is where time -and now space- get really confusing in Dark. We don’t fully understand the creators’ concepts yet, but it’s possible that there could be versions of each time traveling character, from each cycle, still running around in the new cycles.
Or something similar.
Those closed cycles/loops/flat plains of existence, or however you want to think of the repeating, but separate, individual Space Time Continuums, one of which constitutes each return of the Eternal Return, aren’t really so closed, if you understand the physics involved and have the technology to travel between them. Bernd, Claudia and Tannhaus created that technology, apparently starting with the accident in 1986 that created a rift in space and time. From there, it’s just a matter of creating stronger fields and improving the technology so that the field can be contained in a smaller device, rather than requiring a bomb-sized reaction.
If Stranger Jonas evolves away from his bitterness, self loathing and anger, it threatens the existence of Adam. The Adam we know might not cease to exist, because there are versions of him in this and previous cycles and theoretically, in this universe what already exists can’t be forced out of existence, but the version of Stranger from newer cycles might not turn into him.
If Stranger Jonas has already stopped evolving into Adam in each cycle, that older Stranger could be who Adam meant when he referred to his “counterpart” or “the unpredictable other” when he was speaking to Young Jonas in his study. It could be that the Adam we know is not from this cycle at all. It could be that we’ve already reached the point where an Adam from an earlier cycle or the Alt world travels into each new cycle to lead Sic Mundus and fight Stranger and Claudia. That could be why he’s now so disfigured. World and cycle hopping could be harder on the body than jumping within a particular cycle, which is what we’ve seen so far.
I think there is a version of Stranger who’s left his attachment to Michael behind, but not to Martha, and I think there might be one who’s able to leave Martha behind as well, or who is completely secure in the fact that they are soulmates who will always be reunited somehow because of the eternal return.
Adam talks a lot about forcing Jonas to leave his attachment to Martha behind, but he tries to force it in a negative way, where what Jonas/Adam really does is look for a new, better world that won’t hurt him the way the old world did, and/or where he destroys the old world first as revenge for hurting him so badly.
Adam thinks he’s taken himself and his emotions out of the equation, but in reality, he’s still at the center of it. That’s why Adam was in the opening voiceover montage of S2Ep7, which showed some characters picturing another character they were emotionally hung up on. But Stranger slept through it. That version of Jonas has moved on and accepted the loss of Michael and Martha, perhaps knowing that the eternal return means he’ll see them again eventually in the next cycle, perhaps knowing that their souls are linked and they’ll be drawn together again some other way. (Adam pictured Martha, and Hannah pictured Ulrich. She was standing over a sleeping Stranger Jonas.)
In S2Ep8, Adam thinks he can motivate Stranger by killing Martha while Stranger is still Young Jonas, changing the course of his life. We don’t know if that’s true. We know this is the second cycle where he shot Martha, because Stranger Jonas has waited 33 years to attempt to stop Martha’s murder. I think Stranger evolves after he puts Martha in the bunker and fails to save her. Either he accepts that he can’t save her, or it ultimately works, because she’s been exposed to the God particles.
What I think might be new in this cycle is Alt Martha taking Jonas to another dimension. I think Claudia has already been to the other dimension, but he hasn’t. What will that change? No idea. (But I’ll circle back to the Alt world eventually.)
We didn’t see the most evolved Stranger Jonas in this episode. He let the course of events play out from a distance, probably because you can’t reason with people who are panicking, as people were in this episode.
I believe Adam decided to kill Martha as his next move because he could see that Evolved Stranger has moved past his self-loathing over Michael’s death and his general feeling that he ruined Mikkel’s life. This allowed Jonas to evolve and become an effective time warrior, who put aside his own desires and improved on Claudia’s strategies.
Stranger Jonas has had several interactions that lead me to believe he might have already evolved away from becoming Adam. Two in particular stand out- the one in S1Ep5 with Jonas on the bench in front of Michael’s grave and the one in S2Ep1 in Hannah’s kitchen where he explains what he’s been up to since he left 8 months/33 years ago.
In S1Ep5, Stranger sits next to a depressed, confused Young Jonas and gives him the following life advice:
Stranger: “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.”
I’ve analyzed this speech before. There are layers of meaning to it, and this is another one. It’s not just Michael’s death he’s made peace with. His mention of the labyrinth and it’s single, unavoidable path signals that he’s also made peace with Martha’s death. He’s telling Jonas that this is possible, trying to plant a seed of endurance in his younger self before Adam has a chance to poison him with the notion that negativism is the answer.
This scene is followed by the scene where Hannah and Mikkel meet for the first time as children. Then Martha performs in the school play as Ariadne, reciting a long monologue about how an apocalyptic flood has affected her mother, who now sees shadows of the old world constantly, like ghosts. Her mother longs for what she’s lost, and is thus unable to make peace with the past. Martha finishes by speaking of the man who has abandoned her. Young Jonas is in the auditorium and she says the lines directly to him:
Martha as Ariadne: “From then on, I knew that nothing changes. That all things remain as before. The spinning wheel turns in circles, round and round. Each fate tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that stitches together all our deeds. One cannot unravel all of the knots. They can only be severed. He severed ours with the sharpest knife. And yet something remains that can’t be cut. An invisible bond. Many nights he tugs at it and I awaken startled, know that nothing has ended. All will be the same.”
The physical thread/body/life are merely symbolic manifestations of the invisible bond which ties Jonas and Martha together. Neither death nor the cataclysmic end of a cycle can sever the bond. Since he can’t feel this, either Adam has lost touch with his inner voice or he’s not Jonas.
In S1Ep8, Stranger has a long conversation with Tannhaus in the clockmaker’s shop when Stranger brings the time machine in for repairs. Tannhaus asks why Jonas is so interested in Time. Stranger is thinking about how the universe works beyond the purely physical and scientific, a big step toward accepting what he can and can’t change.
“I want to understand if I can change it. If everything has a purpose, and if so, who is it that decides about this purpose? Coincidence? God? Or is it us? Are we free in our actions? Or is it all created anew in an eternally recurring cycle? And we can only obey the laws of nature and are nothing but slaves of space and time.”
Tannhaus tells him that, “Time loops have a rather significant impact on the principle of causality.” Then he continues on about how time loops cause all of the problems and nothing can change within them. This fits the mechanistic view of the world you’d expect a clockmaker to have, but we know from season 2 that he also studied the Hermetics and was involved with Sic Mundus. He was much more than just a clockmaker or even an inventor who didn’t know what he was doing, as he’ll eventually lead us to believe.
Tannhaus gives Stranger the idea of destroying the passage, temporarily distracting him from his philosophical thoughts and evolution, and pushing Stranger into being the person who triggers the end of the cycle (because everything is Jonas’ fault, as we know). He coincidentally sends Stranger in the direction Adam wants him to go, instead of allowing Stranger to continue in the direction that allows him to bring about meaningful changes to the timeline and to people.
When Stranger goes back for the machine in S1Ep10, Tannhaus continues in a similar vein, wondering if everything in a person’s life can be leading them to their one predetermined moment of destiny. Stranger eats it up with a spoon. Tannhaus’ speeches are straight out of the handbook for creating suicide bombers by cults. He never tells Jonas what to do. He plays the benign old man who’s simply musing about science and philosophy. Everything appears to be Jonas’ idea, giving the cult plausible deniability.
This is how cults manipulate their members into doing things they’d never do on their own. We don’t even find out that Tannhaus was a member of Sic Mundus until Season 2. Some former cult members never fully rid themselves of the manipulative ideas instilled by the narcissistic con artists who took advantage of them. Jonas may turn out to be one of those former members who can’t face how badly they were fooled and continue to repeat the same mistakes because of it.
In S2Ep1, Stranger confesses to Hannah that he’s Adult Jonas and is a time traveler.
Jonas: “You could say that I exist infinitely. I’m here now. And I exist for every second between my birth and death. I’m always Jonas. I’m the same as I was, and yet not the same, just as you’re not the same person who came through that door an hour ago.”
This Stranger Jonas, at least, told us he’s not Adam. He’s always Jonas. He can hear his inner voice and knows who he is and who he’s connected to. He knows that his life and identity make up that tapestry of ultimately unbreakable cosmic threads that Ariadne spoke of. I think that, like Noah, he ages very slowly, so there won’t be a separate Old Jonas. He’s The Stranger because he’s a wanderer. In his 33 years away, he’s never settled down anywhere for very long. We’ve seen him referred as a stranger 2 or 3 times already.
It could be that this means that none of the Jonases become Adam, or it could mean that some do. But I don’t think they all do. It could mean that Adam is an entirely different person. I think Stranger tried to warn his loved ones not to fall for Adam’s lies, but we don’t know yet if he was successful with any of them. Except for the version of Noah he’s already working with.
This Stranger may not have lost Martha for the second time yet. He looks toward the spot on the floor where she dies. But that could also be reflexive.
Or, who knows? Maybe I’m completely wrong, and having Stranger go from being the one who counsels everyone else into self awareness to the one who wants everyone to help him destroy the world, because he thinks that surely this explosion is the one that will finally break the laws of the universe, is just where these writers are going. He’s been so easily led all along, maybe he’ll let one conversation with Tannhaus about time loops and cause and effect lead him right over the edge into an elaborate, century and a half long plan for global destruction. Maybe he’s leading them into a self-awareness of everything that’s wrong with themselves and the world and what can’t be fixed, as Adam suggested. 😜
Stranger things have happened.
Stranger’s Rough Timeline:
When Stranger left Regina’s hotel in November, 2019, he told Regina he’d be back in a few days and left most of his things in his room. He used the passage and went to see Tannhaus in 1986. They had their philosophical conversation and Stranger left the time machine for repairs, which allowed Tannhaus to use it as a model so he could finish building the original machine for Claudia.
While Stranger’s waiting on the machine, he stops Jonas from talking to Mikkel in 1986. When Stranger picks up the finished machine, he goes to the cave to destroy the passage instead of back to his hotel room as he’d originally intended. He also leaves Young Jonas locked in the killer time chair room (where Noah and Helge have put him) while he closes the passage, ensuring that the first time rift opens and is breached by Young Jonas and Young Helge (who are sent 33 [Helge] and 66 [Jonas] years into the future).
8 months after the passage is closed, he shows up at Hannah’s house and uses his own keys to unlock the door. He leaves his things behind at the hotel for Regina to find and eventually pass on to Clausen and Charlotte. He shares his secrets with Hannah, Charlotte and Katharina and tries to save Martha from Adam. The information Charlotte receives because of him sends her to the power plant when the rift opens, so he can be blamed for her presence and the apocalypse, as well as the first rift.
Does he realize he’s being used and set up as the scapegoat? Or is he, as Adam, sending instructions backwards in time so that he can accomplish his goals retroactively and take personal credit for everything as the God of the new world?
It could also be that we are seeing two or more different cycles mingled together, or a knotted version and a repaired version.
*This is just what I pieced together in my head without going back to check, it’s not meant to be exhaustive and may be slightly out of order. Feel free to correct me.
It’s clear there are gaps in even Stranger’s short term history and we have no real idea what he knows about events in Winden and the actions of Sic Mundus and when he knows it. He has some knowledge of how time and time travel work and what’s happened in the time war, but he could be as culpable as Claudia and Adam or Claudia could have lied to him and omitted important information so that she could lead him around blindly the way Adam did. Since Noah was only half aware of what was happening, that could also be true of Jonas/Stranger. Tannhaus also seems to have become less aware over time, as information is hoarded into the hands of the few who need to know and bootstrap paradoxes are used more frequently to maintain control.
TVGuide Timeline for Dark Seasons 1 & 2 – This is complete and pretty good, with just a few small omissions and times where they didn’t catch characters’ lies.
Could It Be… Regina?
Though this seems like a wild theory, I can’t get it out of my head. A case can be made for the foreshadowing of a potentially trans Adam. Adam has erased not just all personally identifying characteristics from himself, but also all sexually identifying characteristics. We only identify him as male because of his name, because we’re told he is and because of his dress and voice.
But among the very elderly and severely ill, external sex characteristics, such as hair and breasts, become much less prominent. Androgyny is the norm. Voices deepen and get husky, making it harder to tell male from female. It’s one of the reasons elderly women are culturally turned into monsters in ways men tend not to be. The fading of secondary sex characteristics makes older women confusing and scary to some.
This makes it easier for older and severely ill women to pass as men. In season 2 episode 1, it’s mentioned that Regina is on testosterone hormone therapy for her cancer and has lost her hair. She’s one of the characters in the bunker at the end of the season, while Franziska, who’s supplied hormone therapy prescriptions to Benni all season, is rescued by Stranger Jonas. So even post apocalypse, Franziska could use the device to time travel and get testosterone for Regina.
Regina is also nearly completely bald in season 2 from her chemo, while Adam is hairless. Maybe it took some massive, scarring doses of radiation to cure Regina’s cancer for good, leaving her permanently bald. We know Adam keeps every inch of skin covered except his hands and head, right up to his chin. Maybe that noose scar wasn’t real. Or maybe it was, but Regina was also hung and didn’t die. Maybe testing whether you could die or not became a Sic Mundus rite of passage. Or a drinking game.
Physically, Adam is about Regina’s height and build. His bitterness, demeanor and swagger are very similar to the angry season 1 Adult Regina, who wore fitted dresses and a tailored wool coat. And Regina has a lot to be angry about. Claudia abandoned her teenage daughter for 33 years. When she came back, she saved Regina, but not Regina’s son or husband. Bartosz has been saved by Stranger, but he might not have always been. And, according to the graveyard, Aleksander still dies. Meanwhile, her enemies the Nielsens almost all survive.
Adam hasn’t actually revealed much knowledge about Jonas, but Regina had Stranger’s hotel room to study through 8 months of her illness and her son, Bartosz, was Jonas’ childhood best friend. Between those 2 sources, she should be able to form a detailed picture of his history and how he thinks. But mostly, Adam just uses the magician’s trick of letting the other party fill in the blanks for him, while he talks around a subject enough to make them think he’s said something substantial.
Adam was fairly desperate for the missing pages of the triquetra diary, pushing Noah hard for them. Jonas and Claudia worked so closely together and he’s so independent in his movements that it’s hard to imagine what he would need from the diary at this point. He may even have written it or it may have been notes kept by both him and Claudia at various times, passing the book back and forth. Adam clearly needed some important details about the end of cycle 2 for his nefarious plans. Both Young and Stranger Jonas already had details about the end of the cycle in their heads.
Maybe Adam’s whole motivation was to give Noah a look at the pages, which would trigger him to kill Claudia, then to try to kill Adam. Maybe he knew what was in the pages. He was unconcerned when they went flying to the floor. The most intriguing part of the whole thing is that, when Noah attempts to shoot him, Adam says, “Claudia was right. You still don’t know how this game is played.”
How does Adam know what Claudia said? Was he lurking in the bushes to watch her die?
It would make sense for Regina to want to be there when her revenge on her mother plays out. Jonas does have a tendency to lurk, but I don’t think he’s as likely to care about watching Claudia die.
By the end of season 2, Aleksander has been destroyed by Clausen and left in prison to die in the shockwave. Bartosz is barely saved by Stranger. Mikkel and Martha Nielsen are dead, Ulrich has been committed to an asylum for 33 years, Magnus has switched sides, and Young Jonas has just watched Martha die, ostensibly so that he’ll be hurt the way Adam was hurt and turn into someone like Adam.
Capulets and Montagues Sharks and Jets Tiedemanns and Nielsens have been decimated in their ongoing war.
Who else has been hurt like Jonas was just hurt and what could they want?
Regina is the only other character with a long term, consistently shown soulmate who dies. If Regina is Adam, then she kills Martha in the hope that Jonas will turn against Claudia like she has. Claudia convinced Michael to kill himself. Claudia also killed Egon before she left town, leaving Regina alone, other than Aleksander, who became the only constant in her life.
Stranger also tells Martha that she’s the one who kept him alive, even though they weren’t physically together.
Young Jonas had to leave town because Bartosz drove him away over Martha and he wanted to bring Mikkel back, then Claudia took him away because of Michael’s death. Then Adam killed Martha to fully and finally separate them when it was clear she wouldn’t ever choose Bartosz, in the hope that he’d hate that choosing to follow Claudia in the time war had ultimately led to Martha’s death.
For an Adam that’s actually Regina, it’s a three for one to kill Martha. She kills one of Katharina and Ulrich’s children, furthering her revenge on the Nielsens for what they did to her as a kid (which might have caused her cancer and which ultimately killed Mads, who she was close to) and for Martha choosing Jonas over Bartosz. She hopes to turn Jonas toward her cause the way she’s already turned Magnus, Franziska and Elisabeth. Let’s not forget that Adam is the most likely source of the prophecy that all 3 are devoted to for the next 30+ years. And it’s a major coup in the war against her mother, who might be dead at the moment, but will be revived when the new cycle begins, could still be alive now as a bodiless time wraith, and might even have popped right back up when the autopsy was over, knowing this show.
Why would Regina, who’s usually so forthright, bother to hide her identity? She’s at war. It’s good strategy to direct the hits at the enemy, especially because there are so many more Nielsens than there are Tiedemanns, even when the Tiedemanns combine with the Dopplers (because then we have to count the Kahnwalds as Nielsens). By sending Bartosz and Noah out to spread the word that she’s Jonas, a known associate of Claudia, who’s turned on Claudia, and saying that everything is Jonas’ fault, Regina would discredit both Jonas and Claudia, while leaving herself untouched.
Only the inner circle would even know she’s part of the war. Bartosz is made to look unimportant, so he’s devalued as a target, and Aleksander is either dead or his death is faked (once he’s saved) so that he’s also not a target.
Meanwhile, she can draw her unsuspecting targets right into her lair.
If Regina were Adam, she would have fulfilled Lady Macbeth‘s fantasy of becoming unsexed (having her female characteristics removed) and able to fulfill her ambitions by whatever means necessary, up to and including killing the children who are a marker are her female gender, instead of waiting, frustrated, on the sidelines for less capable men to accomplish what needed to be done.
The Audience Is Being Initiated Into Sic Mundus the Mystery School
In S2Ep1, I said Sic Mundus is a Mystery School. They’ve shown us over the course of the season that it’s a mystery cult obsessed with death. Rebirth is also part of the belief system, but it’s not the joyous rebirth of Christ at Easter. In Sic Mundus, rebirth is the rebirth of soldiers into war to fight the Battle of Armageddon in the biblical book of Revelation. The lessons are about hardening the heart.
[Meanwhile, Claudia’s side is following Nietzsche and modern, scientific/secular humanist methodology and philosophy.]
My theory is that the show is taking us through the levels of initiation. The voiceovers tell us the principles to be learned in each episode. We’ve been in different classes, with different teachers. The mystery schools based their teachings on both intellectual and experiential learning.
Season 1 used the wisdom of the hermetics and gnostics, and the benevolent Tannhaus was the main teacher. It was the introductory level, which any seeker can try out. Everything we learned is public knowledge, framed a new way. Even the cave passage and the knowledge of time travel are there for anyone who is brave and curious enough to follow Ariadne’s thread deep into the dark.
The first mystery is the knowledge that time as we think of it is an illusion. To have full knowledge of the mystery and be ready to move on to the next level, the seeker has to experience that knowledge firsthand and become a time traveler.
We saw this with Katharina at the end of season 2, as she reluctantly learned about the initial mysteries from Charlotte, Jonas and Hannah. She wasn’t put off by what she learned, and kept seeking knowledge, so eventually she stumbled onto Jonas’ map and light, then found and followed the thread into the passage in this episode. Jonas was her guide to the mystery.
One of Jonas’ personal mysteries must be that the map and the light will alway come back to him.
Season 2 used Greek mythology and the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Entrance into level 2 involves participating in a death. The second mystery involves accepting that death, and by extension life, are not what we think they are. We saw Helge die, but not die permanently. We had multiple teachers, but Adam is our advisor, who will decide if and when we are ready to move on.
Initiates need to figure out the meaning of these lessons on their own, and their education is personalised for each student. Whether or not a student grasps that they’re being taught a lesson, and then whether they can understand the lesson itself, determines whether or not they move forward.
Moving into level 3 means dying and being reborn, attaining a visceral knowledge of the mystery of time and death combined. Initiates to level 3 know they are functionally immortal and that the teachings are true in a way the lower levels are only aware of theoretically.
Initiates to level 3 are gods. They are Nietzsche’s Übermensch, charged with making decisions for the rest of humanity and the world.
Season 3 will go to the next level, deeper and more ancient. The biblical Old Testament and the Book of Revelation will likely continue to be important. There have been hints that the mythology will focus on the Egyptians. I think there might also be more overt science fictions elements, with nods to two German films which have already been influences, Metropolis (1927) and Cloud Atlas.
Each level ends with a rite of passage that involves human death. Season 1 ended with Helge’s death and rebirth, and the reveal of the lifeless Winden. This season ended with Martha and Noah dying on Adam’s orders, plus the beginning of the apocalypse in Winden.
What is the end product of this education? Adam’s levels of loss ended with death, but his initiates don’t truly die. Exposure to the God particle makes them long lived.
My theory is that he’s trying to create time saturated human souls, either with or without bodies, either true immortals, or time wraiths of some sort who will do his bidding. He’s trying to expose as many people as possible to the strongest Time particle field possible.
I’m not sure the people of Winden are actually dead and gone after the 2020 shockwave goes through town. I think they could be transformed into something else, making them the first wave of Adam’s army. Then he intends to deploy them across the Earth, throughout space and time. He’ll use the energy they can create to generate an even larger field and take out the entire world the next time.
He has a radioactive Army of the D*mned, his master race who have been carefully bred to withstand the intense radiation of the first shockwave, hidden in the caves under Winden. He’s preparing them to rise up and take over the world.
That’s what he sees when he stares at the painting.
But probably only the innermost circle fully understand what the prophecy means.
As students, we are following Noah on the inside of Sic Mundus and Jonas on the outside. We saw Young Noah kill the tattooed Bartosz look alike early in the season, who probably didn’t die. Or maybe the Bartosz look alike did die, and the lesson there is to become comfortable with being an agent of death. The next person Noah tried to kill, Claudia, did die.
After that, he tried to kill someone who couldn’t die, Adam, so we know that the lesson that death isn’t what we think it is was eventually taught to Noah, albeit not as thoroughly.
Now we’ve seen Noah be killed, but I think he’ll be resurrected. He will have been through the death mysteries, and living at Sic Mundus will have given him the rest of the knowledge he needs. He maybe just needs to thoroughly process what’s stored in his head.
He’s maybe not going to come to the conclusions Adam wants when he does that, though apparently he doesn’t leave Sic Mundus. Hopefully he’s rebelling from the inside.
I suspect Jonas left when it became a death cult, but Sic Mundus is still popping up in his life periodically to make sure he gets trained right. He is their future savior, after all.
The God Particle: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nuclear Meltdown
On the science side of things, the real life God particle, or Higgs boson, was theorized about for decades before its existence was confirmed by experiments using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Europe. The God particle was a necessary addition to the Standard Model of physics in order to explain the existence of mass. The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson and the Higgs field gives greater weight to the accuracy of the Standard Model. Beyond, that, you’re on your own for an explanation of particle physics. The wiki page for the Higgs boson is pretty understandable for non physicists.
There are a couple of theories associated with the Higgs boson/field that are interesting, which I think the creators of Dark could be working with:
From the Stephen Hawking article:
The Higgs boson is about 126 billion electron volts, or about the 126 times the mass of a proton. This turns out to be the precise mass needed to keep the universe on the brink of instability, but physicists say the delicate state will eventually collapse and the universe will become unstable. That conclusion involves the Higgs field.
The Higgs field emerged at the birth of the universe and has acted as its own source of energy since then, Lykken said. Physicists believe the Higgs field may be slowly changing as it tries to find an optimal balance of field strength and energy required to maintain that strength.
“Just like matter can exist as liquid or solid, so the Higgs field, the substance that fills all space-time, could exist in two states,” Gian Giudice, a theoretical physicist at the CERN lab, where the Higgs boson was discovered, explained during a TED talk in October 2013.
Right now the Higgs field is in a minimum potential energy state — like a valley in a field of hills and valleys. The huge amount of energy required to change into another state is like chugging up a hill. If the Higgs field makes it over that energy hill, some physicists think the destruction of the universe is waiting on the other side.
But an unlucky quantum fluctuation, or a change in energy, could trigger a process called “quantum tunneling.” Instead of having to climb the energy hill, quantum tunneling would make it possible for the Higgs field to “tunnel” through the hill into the next, even lower-energy valley. This quantum fluctuation will happen somewhere out in the empty vacuum of space between galaxies, and will create a “bubble,” Lykken said…
The Higgs field inside that bubble will be stronger and have a lower energy level than its surroundings. Even if the Higgs field inside the bubble were slightly stronger than it is now, it could shrink atoms, disintegrate atomic nuclei, and make it so that hydrogen would be the only element that could exist in the universe, Giudice explained in his TED talk.
But using a calculation that involves the currently known mass of the Higgs boson, researchers predict this bubble would contain an ultra-strong Higgs field that would expand at the speed of light through space-time. The expansion would be unstoppable and would wipe out everything in the existing universe, Lykken said.
“More interesting to us as physicists is when you do this calculation using the standard physics we know about, it turns out we’re right on the edge between a stable universe and an unstable universe,” Lykken said. “We’re sort of right on the edge where the universe can last for a long time, but eventually it should go ‘boom.’ There’s no principle that we know of that would put us right on the edge.”
Either all of space-time exists on this razor’s edge between a stable and unstable universe, or the calculation is wrong, Lykken said.
If the calculation is wrong, it must come from a fundamental part of physics that scientists have not discovered yet. Lykken said one possibility is the existence of invisible dark matter that physicists believe makes up about 27 percent of the universe. Discovering how dark matter interacts with the rest of the universe could reveal properties and rules physicists don’t know about yet.
The other is the idea of “supersymmetry.” In the Standard Model, every particle has a partner, or its own anti-particle. But supersymmetry is a theory that suggests every particle also has a supersymmetric partner particle. The existence of these other particles would help stabilize the universe, Lykken said.
From the Squarks article:
But the collider has so far failed to produce any evidence of supersymmetry. Also known as SUSY, it is one of the leading theories physicists have put forward as an extension of the Standard Model of physics.
Such an extension is needed to explain the remaining mysteries in the universe that the Standard Model does not account for, such as the nature of dark matter, the invisible stuff that is thought to make up most of the matter in the universe. So far, it has not been possible to observe it directly…
According to the supersymmetry theory, the early universe was filled with very heavy supersymmetric particles — exact copies of the particles that exist today, only much heavier. Over time, these particles disappeared, decaying into dark-matter particles and so-called ordinary particles, such as quarks and leptons.
“Supersymmetric particles are not around today, [except for] perhaps in dark matter,” Allanach said…
So far, neither the neutralino nor any other supersymmetric particle has been found. But Allanach said that to net them, researchers need to account for a loophole in the way they read the collision data.
This loophole is the existence of so-called multiple solutions, or several ways to interpret the results of proton-proton collisions. “We’ve found out how to find these multiple solutions, and it is now possible to check on a case-by-case basis whether your interpretation is safe or not,” Allanach said.
Unfortunately, 5 years, later, there’s still no evidence for supersymmetry, despite the loophole.
But the theory and the loophole were there when this show was being created. According to current models, which may turn out to be wrong, the Higgs Boson, or God particle, is so unstable that it keeps the universe constantly on the edge of tipping into chaos and destruction. The Higgs field is able to create its own energy and is currently searching for the optimal state in which to perpetually maintain itself. But an unlucky energy event could destabilize the God particle so much that it would turn into a Higgs Field bubble which would essentially be the worst bomb imaginable. The bubble would expand through the universe at the speed of light, like a shockwave which destroys everything in its path.
That sounds distinctly like the bubble and shockwave formed by the God particle in Dark, though of course they aren’t really the same. Dark’s is just an artistic representation of an unstable universe.
But physicists know they could be wrong, and the Higgs boson/God particle could, in fact be stable. Dark matter, which theoretically makes up 27% of the universe but hasn’t actually been discovered yet, is a popular choice for theories explaining why the universe isn’t about to end. One theory for how stability is maintained by the God particle is the existence is a set of shadow twins for everything in existence (on a particle level).
This is the supersymmetry theory, which says that we haven’t found these twins yet because they’re made of dark matter. We haven’t been able to measure dark matter, whatever it is, yet, or dark energy, which makes up about 68% of the universe. Yes, you read that right, physicists can’t find 95% of the universe. Nietzsche was right, kids, science is a religion.
Imagine how many alternate universes are stored in all of that missing stuff. Or maybe it’s just heaven and h*ll. 🌞😇😈 Whatever it is, it’s very good at hiding from from us, so good on it.
Alt Martha’s world is probably our dark matter twin, and that’s why everyone has to wear black. Otherwise the physicists would find and enslave them.
In particle physics, the loophole is that your data can probably be interpreted a number of ways, so no one can ever really say that your theory is wrong and completely dismiss it. It’s just that the instruments aren’t sensitive enough to find what you’re looking for. (I’m not making that up.)
On Dark, the loophole is also everchanging. It’s whatever you think might be the right change to make now. The apocalypse will come or it won’t, but the cycle will always end eventually. Who can say what the impact of a small change is?
When the warp bubble bursts, it was probably always going to do it exactly the way it did, no matter what you did to change things.
Disclaimer: The God particle in real life physics and the God particle in Dark aren’t the same thing. In real life, the God particle is like air, or the molecules that make up all matter. It’s the fabric of the universe that permeates everything. Undulating black and blue clouds of captive time have nothing to do with particle physics. I just think the creators were inspired by a few other concepts from particle physics besides the name “God particle”. The bubble and shockwave seem like obvious ones.
In S1Ep10, after Tannhaus and Stranger Jonas show each other how their machines work, Tannhaus says: “The device generates a Higgs field [using radioactive cesium 137]. It increases the mass of the cesium. An electromagnetic impulse [from Ulrich’s cell phone] causes it to implode into a black hole. The same thing must have happened during the nuclear power plant incident [during the summer of 1986, which is the previous summer for him].”
There’s no way the power plant incident in the summer of 1986 was an accident. You don’t randomly generate a Higgs field like the ones on Dark. And how interesting that Tannhaus knows so many details about the incident, which Bernd kept a secret.
Block Universes and the Nature of Time Cycles on Dark
ETA: I’ve had a couple of questions and done a little more research, so I’m adding a few things to the science section of the recap.
Hopefully this is my final theory of how time works on Dark for season 2.
First, the concept of time existing all at once is tricky, but that’s the way it is on Dark. Try to think of it as everything, all of history, being in the present. There isn’t really a past, present and future. Our minds create the illusion of those different time periods, but in fact, all of time always exists, like all of the numbers on a ruler or a timeline, and we move along the preexisting line.
Our biology creates the perception of time, in the same way that we only perceive parts of the spectrum of light, and can only breathe certain types of gas and consume certain types of matter as nutrition. Maybe eventually we’ll discover that dark energy is related to what we perceive as time, the same way we’ve discovered light outside the visible spectrum. Maybe there will be a conservation of time rule added to the laws of physics.
Agent Fitz explained the concept really well in an episode of Agents of SHIELD:
Despite Fitz’s excellent explanation of the “block universe” theory of space-time, to which Einstein subscribed, it’s important for Dark viewers to remember that this isn’t the entire theory of time in the Dark universe. As I described at the beginning of the recap, the show adds the element of Nietzsche’s eternal return, in which the “block universe” encapsulates a finite amount of time. That block universe of time repeats itself an infinite number of times.
On Dark, each repeat is called a cycle, and each season depicts part of a cycle. We don’t know if only Winden is caught in the eternal return or if the entire universe is cycling. And we don’t know if the cycles that restart every 33 years have a time frame of billions of years, or simply the time frame we’re shown in a season- 1953-2052 for season 1 and 1921-2053 for season 2.
We also don’t know if it’s possible to make changes in the cycles, or if everything we’ve seen is something that was always there. It could be that Winden is caught in an extra complex set of cycles, where there are patterns within patterns, the way there are days, weeks and months within years. Any discrepancies could be like the differences between the verses of a song, small variations in an overall pattern that make a whole.
In other words, any or all of the characters could be wrong. We may be watching a trilogy that’s 3 chapters of one book-long cycle instead of 3 repeats of the same short story cycle. In fact, we, the audience, haven’t seen 2 repeats of the same thing, so the evidence so far leans in this direction. Maybe events in Winden always take 3 times through the time cycle to work themselves out, then the overall cycle starts at the beginning again.
The odds are very, very good that this will be the truth. In that case, however events play out is how they play out, and characters would do well to develop Nietzsche’s Amor Fati, love of fate. Or as Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
There’s no sense fighting fate. The only way to find happiness, or balance, as I like to think of it, is through acceptance of things that can’t be changed, maybe even love and appreciation of them as the gifts we’re given to work with in this incarnation. In season 1, Peter quoted the Serenity Prayer, which encourages this very thing.
Nietzsche’s theory allows for humans to evolve, in which case we’d move further along the timeline of our block universe eventually, and the events of the cycles would change. That’s the war Sic Mundus, Adam, Jonas, Noah and Claudia are fighting. They have opposing visions for what the next point in the sequence of cycles should look like, as the universe progresses through its history. Adam wants a Winden which looks very different to the one he was born into. Claudia wants to make a few tweaks, but otherwise leave things the same.
An eternal return doesn’t naturally mash up with a static block universe, which makes this harder to understand. Then there’s the possibility of change layered on top. It’s a unique system, and we haven’t had the details explained yet.
Now we have another dimension or alternate world, maybe a multiverse, added to the mix. The Alt world could be a twinned mirror world, created by something Sic Mundus or the power plant did or it could be something that’s always existed, that’s necessary according to the laws of physics in the Dark universe. It could be the first sign of an infinite multiverse.
The addition of an infinite multiverse would be an odd development with only one season left, but it would also be just the type of thing Dark would do. A multiverse full of Windens with every type of predetermined history possible would provide endless alternates for the characters, but no hope for changes to the timeline for “our” Winden.
What it could set up is the possibility for jumping to a better world/dimension. Each character could theoretically find a world without them, and without an apocalypse, and jump there, in order to escape the barren world Adam has turned the original world into.
Everyone Is an Apollonian Tiedemann or a Dionysian Nielsen- Random Theories About Family and Connections
These theories are just for fun. I expect them to come true on the order of random chance or less. But you never know. 🤓
Before we get into mythology and random ideas about who parented who, let’s double back to the idea that there are really only 2 families on Claudia’s board.
It’s obvious that the Kahnwalds are Nielsens.
The Dopplers fit in with the Tiedemanns, it just isn’t genetically clear how yet, other than the obvious blondeness of it all. But look who was in the bunker together at the end of the season: Noah, Elisabeth, Claudia, Peter and Regina. Noah’s ark put together the Tiedemanns and the Dopplers.
And no matter who the person calling themselves Adam is, whether it’s really Old Jonas (75% chance) or someone else (Michael, Bartosz, or Regina- or literally anyone who’s not too tall), Jonas is the Adam of Winden. Everyone will turn out to be descended from him, in a series of incestuous loops and twists like we’ve already seen with Michael and with Noah.
I’m going with the bold choice of Claudia as the Eve to Jonas’ Adam. Probably more like his Lilith, because who wouldn’t want to be descended from the woman who walked out before she could be saddled with Original Sin, anyhow?
I also think that we’re going to discover some triplets, and maybe some twins, exist. Tannhaus was much too certain about the importance of the triplicate nature of time- past, present and future- and that was largely forgotten in season 2, in favor of sets of 2: couples, pairs, twins, dualities. For each character, we often focused on only a pair of their age alternates this season, usually the young and adult versions, but sometimes, as with Claudia, Ulrich and Egon, the adult and old versions. Next season, we should see their triplicate aspect again, unless the world is out of balance in every time period because of the shockwave, or we’re done with the world we’ve been watching and will only be in the Alt world.
Setting things right, if that’s going to happen, is going to require the power of 3 in all of its aspects, to borrow a phrase from the TV show Charmed. Mom and Dad and baby make three, so maybe we’ll see the beginnings of the teens’ families. We could see Magnus and Franziska have Egon or Silja and Noah and Elisabeth have Charlotte. We could see more families with 3 siblings born the normal way, like the Nielsens.
I do think there will be some twins and triplets though. Older women are more likely to have multiple births. I’m rooting for Hannah and Claudia. Hannah could give birth to Benni and Torben, who are unclaimed by a family, but appear to have a mother they stay in contact with.
Claudia and Jonas could have Noah, Agnes and Regina. Claudia takes Regina to be raised by her younger self. She keeps Noah and Agnes for a while, but then she discovers the existences of the Alt world and goes there, leaving the kids behind. She’s been living with Adult Tannhaus and maybe also has another child with him, maybe not. I’m pretty sure they had an affair though. He went nuts when he thought Jonas might succeed at destroying the device and the passage, and someone had to talk him down after Jonas left. His reaction had to be because it would have taken away Claudia’s ability to travel.
Unless Tannhaus is involved with Adult Agnes and is Tronte’s father. That would be amazing. Tannhaus could have been involved with both Claudia and Agnes, at different times. Young Ines was hanging around the shop, as well. Please, let’s go with playboy Tannhaus, father to Doris, Greta, and a bunch of those look alike brunette women in the mid twentieth century. Tannhaus has to enter into the genealogy somewhere, with his big brain.
At any rate, I know Agnes and Noah appear to be about 10 years apart in age, but time travel could explain the difference. (Agnes stays in their birth year, say 1910, while Noah is taken to 1986 for medical treatment or to hide out for a while. He stays ten years, then is brought back to their birth year. Agnes is still a baby, but Noah is now 10. Anyone looking for twins or triplets will never suspect them.) Or maybe they both have Jonas for a father, but different mothers, and someone else is the third triplet. Maybe Silja or Egon.
The only person who makes sense to be the unknown person in the Doppler family on the upper left of their panel is Noah. Noah, Regina and Mikkel could actually be Claudia and Jonas’ three triplets. Mikkel and Jonas would then be in the same position as Charlotte and Elisabeth, child-parent-child which makes complete sense for the relationship we’ve been shown between them, which is very similar to Charlotte and Elisabeth. It would also, in a sense, make Jonas a brother or cousin of Noah and Mikkel, which has been heavily implied in both cases.
Then, between Regina, Noah and Mikkel, every family grouping in the center of the board is covered as direct descendants of Jonas and Claudia. Agnes as a triplet would take the Nielsens further back in the family tree, but Mikkel ensures that Jonas is born in each cycle, so that Winden can also be reborn. Maybe it will turn out that it’s not Regina who’s the third triplet, but Doris, so that Claudia can also be in a bootstrap paradox to ensure her birth. Maybe Agnes and/or Regina was fathered by Tannhaus, as I’ve wondered before.
So why would Jonas, Young or Stranger, sleep with Claudia, you ask?
Well. I mentioned before that Young Jonas’ life strategy seemed to be to not care if he died. I actually think that it’s possible he attempted suicide after Michael died, before he went to the mental health clinic, and that he certainly does later on. He’d rather die than take Mikkel into that cave, I’m certain of it, and I can’t imagine the guy we see during that period, who’s so dead eyed, hasn’t tried it multiple times, both on himself and on other versions of himself. I have an image in my mind of multiple Jonases jumping out from behind trees, trying to assassinate himself before he can get to Mikkel. It never works, but whenever he has access to the Sic Mundus God particle or whatever, and is in the wrong mood, he tries again.
And if not that moment, other moments. The noose scar on Stranger’s neck stays awfully red for a decades old scar. I wouldn’t be surprised if he just randomly checks to see if he can die yet.
So, at some point, Claudia or someone would have decided that he needed a reason to live, and to turn his focus back toward the world, as Nietzsche wants us to do. They would have known that he becomes the father of the town. After a big loss, having kids to take care of keeps people going. Jonas isn’t the kind of guy who’d walk out on his kids when they were young. He might not always be right there, but he wouldn’t die.
Once he loved and felt responsible for his own kids, he’d begin to understand his own father’s actions. Having kids to protect would help Jonas move on from the loss of Michael and Martha and also give him people to put before himself, the way thoughts of Charlotte and Elisabeth inform all of Noah’s decisions, even when they’ve been separated for decades.
I have a feeling that Jonas as Dionysus, God of Wine, might go through a period of heavy drinking, or at least severe depression and mental haziness. People turn to each other for comfort during those times in ways they normally wouldn’t. If Stranger Jonas is the father (instead of Young Jonas), he and adult Claudia are about the same age. He’s just failed at saving Martha, and she’s just accidentally killed her father. I can tell you from experience that it only takes one time to get pregnant.
As an infant, Mikkel would be swapped out with whoever Katharina actually gave birth to, meaning Jonas might not be as closely related to Martha as he thinks he is.
Maybe Ines knew this and that’s why she told Jonas not to worry about the incest with Martha. She was a nurse at the hospital. (Maybe Eric was the stolen Nielsen child. Ulrich does go out to Eric’s house and get involved with the case, and he goes to 1953 when he’s trying to find his missing son, which is where Eric’s body is.)
And that would be why Jonas took in Noah and Agnes, because they’re his own children. Maybe they needed to keep the fact that he was the father a secret for some reason, perhaps because boys and men connected to the Nielsens were disappearing and dying. We won’t know until June 27, 2020. But we do know now that Agnes goes by the last name Nielsen and Noah feels a special bond with Jonas. He teaches many of Stranger’s lessons to his younger self, not Adam’s lessons. We know that Regina’s father is unseen and unnamed and Aleksander shows up out of the blue, just when he’s needed, to rescue her, like she’s a princess and he’s a time traveler. Someone was watching over her, and it probably wasn’t Claudia.
Claudia has the capacity to love and many other useful qualities, mostly as a strategist and scientist, but she’s not meant to be a hands on mother or caretaker. This season, she is a distant deity, just like Tannhaus.
If by some wild chance I’m right about Regina being Adam, it could be that she wants revenge on Jonas for leaving her to be raised by Claudia, a mother who ignored her and let her be bullied, or for taking Claudia away from her when Claudia and Jonas became a time traveling duo.
Nietzsche’s sister was named Elisabeth and his mother was named Franziska, which adds another layer of importance to their characters. Peter feels more and more disconnected from the rest of the family all the time. I’ve never considered him as a candidate for Adam before, but Noah has messed with his wife and daughter, he’s in the bunker at the end of the season, and he’s going to lose Benni, the other person he loves. I don’t really think he’s Adam. But I do wonder if either Franziska or Elisabeth has a missing twin, since it seems that Elisabeth should have a brother.
Benni and Torben could be Franziska and Magnus’ children- they could be their twins. That would explain why Franziska was drawn to Benni and helped her, despite the threat she posed to Franziska’s parents’ marriage.
Peter could also be Franziska and Magnus’ child, placing them in a parent-child-parent loop similar to Charlotte and Elisabeth’s. Peter’s origin story isn’t all that different from Charlotte’s in its vague implausibility.
At different times, both Franziska and Stranger Jonas stand between the trucks in the parking lot and stare at Benni/her trailer. Stranger then goes into the truck with the barrels and removes some of the contents to power the time machine. Franziska begins selling Benni hormone prescriptions when her affair with Peter ends. Since Benni has a sign that says “love” in her window, she seems to be equated with the platonic ideal, just as the barrels contain the platonic ideal of time. Maybe Benni is at the bottom of the incestuous, time anomaly family tree, and that’s why it’s fine for her to live next to and guard the God particle. It poses no threat to her, because she’s the end result of the eugenics program. She would be the end result of love and time combined.
Magic, Illusion and the Boy from the Future
Mikkel to Teen Hannah in S1Ep5, right after they’ve met: “There is no such thing as magic, just illusion. Things only change when we change them. But you have to do it skillfully, in secret, then it seems like magic.”
Moments later, Hannah names him the Boy from the Future, which he will keep for the rest of his life, and use in his suicide note, replacing Ulrich’s moniker of the Grim Reaper.
After 2 full seasons of Dark, I get a few new things from Mikkel’s statement. First, he’s just defined Sic Mundus’ way of operating in the world. Whether he is Adam, or he passed his beliefs on to Jonas and Hannah, then one or both of them use his philosophy to guide the cult remains to be seen. But Mikkel/Michael’s influence on Sic Mundus is undeniable.
Second, Jonas was right. Michael loved Hannah very much. His life was messed up and complicated and he couldn’t prioritize their relationship, but he never forgot that she was the person who saw the real him when no one else did. If he’s Adam, one of his major motivations may be to try to create a world where they can be together without so many complications. Or Adam-Jonas may be trying to do that for his parents as much as he’s making a place for himself and Martha outside of time, space and
gang war family complications.
Third, it’s important to watch Dark closely, since events are shown out of chronological order and everyone is potentially a secret agent. Mikkel’s words tell us that there’s more going on beneath the surface than we realize, but we have to watch carefully. We have to watch for the magician pulling the strings behind the magic, and go over things we thought we already knew, as Stranger tells Jonas in the same episode.
Ironically, Stranger’s speech to Jonas could be meant to distract us from Mikkel and Hannah’s conversation, another round of the shell game Dark is playing with the audience. Stranger and Jonas discuss how they each remind the other of Michael.
But in an episode filled with people who care about each other, or think they care about each other, but don’t truly see each other, it’s little Mikkel and Hannah, sitting on a bench outside the hospital in 1986, the pivot point for the series, who give each other the gift of being seen and heard, and who actually communicate a life strategy both will adopt.
I don’t think their story is over. In season 3 they may be friends and collaborators instead of lovers, or Egon may end up with Doris or someone else, while Hannah and Michael find a way to be together. But Hannah and Michael have more to accomplish together, even if it’s causing the end of the world.
The Origin of Love
I might be going out on a limb here, but I feel like the “Origin of Love” has to come into this story sooner or later, whether it’s overtly or as an influence. The combination of a Greek author, Plato, and a fictional German character, Hedwig Robinson, who made the story famous in recent times, makes it relevant. It’s about proto humans deciding to overthrow the Gods and being severely punished by being cut in half physically and in their souls, losing their soulmates in the process. That’s Dark all over. The song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch explains the story:
There are nods toward androgyny all through Dark, from Claudia to Young Jonas to Adam. In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the character begins the story believing in the message of the Origin of Love and that she must find her missing soulmate to be happy and feel complete. She is a gay man in the beginning, who physically becomes a woman for love and freedom. In the course of her journey, she realizes that she doesn’t need a soulmate or a gender to be a complete person. I wonder if escape from those societal constructs is part of where Dark is going.
Even More Mythology
What can I say, science and mythology are my jams.
Moments before this, Young Noah was standing next to Adult Noah. Now, where Young Noah was, there is an image of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, one of the earliest great mother goddesses, with her son Horus. Notice that it’s the pattern in the wallpaper which gives Hathor her characteristic horns. She also has what looks to me like a grain/wheat plant growing out of her head, and corn plants on either side of her. The grain plants associate her with two of Hathor’s descendant goddesses, Isis and Demeter. Isis was also a mother of Horus. Don’t try to make sense of it, Egyptian mythology is convoluted. Demeter was closely associated with Dionysus and Persephone. I can’t see the original statue well enough to tell which of the many Mediterranean goddess-son pairings it’s supposed to be. I don’t think it’s Mary and Jesus, but they fall into this category as well. It’s most likely Isis and Horus.
If this is a real clue, it’s exciting. It could be that someone in the props department thought it was a pretty statue, and randomly placed it there, and the wallpaper is a coincidence, so I’m not going to put much time into analyzing it.
Horus’ father, Osiris, was eventually conflated with Dionysus into a religion with a mystery cult. I had already named Claudia as Hathor before I saw this. It could be an indication that next season Dark will explore more Egyptian mythology. It would seem to indicate that Noah is Horus, who is a savior figure, moving Noah further toward the savior category he wants to be in.
Claudia, Jonas and Noah are tied together in their desire to save people and their inability to do so. They are also likely tied together as parents and child. Adam seems to play all three of them against each other to keep them distracted while he carries out his plans. In the Egyptian myth, at one point Isis (who is sometimes Isis-Hathor) and Horus team up to search for their husband-father Osiris, who is dead at the time.
Isis also has a powerful magical knot connected to her, the Tiet, or Knot of Isis. Given that the triquetra is also a magical knot, that adds another dimension to Adam’s wish to destroy the Time knots rather than untangle them.
How many of the knots are binding spells put on him by Claudia and others?
Here are some links if you want to explore these myths further:
There are also confusing biblical strands running through the season 2 storyline having to do with Adam and Eve and their children Cain, Abel and Seth. Adam was the first man made by God. He had an unruly first wife, who was banished from Eden and the Bible, named Lilith. His 2nd wife, named Eve, listened to the serpent, ate the apple and got them thrown out of Eden, then had 3 sons, named Cain, Abel and Seth. Cain became jealous of Abel’s successes and murdered him, then was punished, leaving Seth to populate the earth.
Noah eats apples, which associate him with Adam. Agnes has a snake pin which associates her with Eve. Jonas wakes up in a wheat field that’s ready to be harvested, which associates him with Abel and every dying and reborn god ever. Even Jesus did a couple of things with loaves of bread. Noah kills boys and locks Jonas in the kill room, associating him with Cain. He has a huge tattoo, which could be the mark of Cain. Cain is driven from his home and forced to become a wanderer who is denied the presence of God, which describes Jonas.
Agnes seems like she could be Seth, since she has a long line of descendants, but then she kills Noah. Oops. Now she’s Cain as well. Cain himself goes on to marry and have many children, who are all evil. One of his descendants becomes the biblical Noah’s wife, mingling Cain and Seth’s bloodlines even after God tries to wipe out the wickedness in mankind.
Oops again. What was the point of that apocalyptic flood? Maybe the earth was just overpopulated, not filled with wickedness. Seems like in the end, everyone is the same.
There’s that number three again, though, in Adam and Eve’s three sons. Two is unbalanced and it takes a third to sneak in and accomplish the task. Jonas is frequently paired with a second person, whether it’s Bartosz, Noah, Michael, Claudia or Martha, but he only has limited success. He’s twinned with Michael and with Noah. I think he needs to be in a trio before he’ll reach true success.
Throughout his life, Noah lurks behind his tree outside the cave of eternity and watches Elisabeth, Mikkel and Jonas. He visits both Mikkel and Elisabeth as children and watches Young Jonas sleep. We know that Elisabeth is his soulmate. Who are Jonas and Mikkel to him, really? Brothers, father? Both?
There are a number of important sets of twins throughout mythology. Castor and Pollux, the Greek Gemini twins, had the same mother, but different fathers, and died separately. Yet, they remained steadfastly loyal to each other, even after the death of one, and became the constellation of Gemini. On the other hand, the Roman twins Romulus and Remus fought each other, killed their father, then Romulus killed Remus before founding Rome. There are elements of Castor and Pollux in Noah and Jonas and Romulus and Remus in Michael and Jonas.
There is also a Dionysus and Apollo twinning, in the sense Nietzsche described, between Jonas and Noah, between Ulrich and Egon and Jonas and Claudia. In general, the Tiedemanns and Dopplers are on the Apollo side of the scale, while the Kahnwalds and Nielsens are on the Dionysion side of the scale.
The apocalypse can’t be stopped and Winden can’t be saved until the Apollo side is stopped from following reason into cold criminality and the Dionysus side is supported through their emotional crises. One way to do this is to confront the darkness of the labyrinth, in the form of the past, present and future.
This is where both Shakespeare and mythology come in. In Macbeth, there are the characters of the 3 Weird Sisters, who represent the fates and start the characters on the path toward destruction with their prophecies. For a minute in season 2, Hannah, Charlotte and Katharina become the Weird Sisters when the 3 share information with Stranger Jonas in the bunker.
In mythology there is the concept of the triple goddess, in her aspects of maiden, mother and crone- child, adult and old woman. Claudia is the woman we’ve spent the most time with in all three life phases, which is fitting, since she’s the great mother goddess of Dark. But every character has all 3 aspects, whether we’ve seen them or not. Since all of time exists at once, every character’s entire lifespan already exists at once. Some characters just want to deny some phases of their lives, rather than accepting themselves as whole people.
The 3 Fates of Greek mythology, on whom Macbeth’s 3 witches are based, are known as the Morai. They are weaving goddesses who assign each individual’s destiny at birth. Each fate had a specific task in determining the fate of mortals and was associated with an aspect of time. Clotho, the present, spun the thread of life, giving birth to the child. Lachesis, the future, measured out the allotted length of the thread, and thus the adult’s lifespan. Atropos, the past, cut off the end of the thread with her shears, making the end of the lifespan non negotiable.
The three ages of maturity must be fit into the length the fates determine for each life and not the length we mortals desire. Adam wants to change this, eliminating time/the fates’ hold over death. Nietzsche’s eternal return also seeks to subvert the fates by granting eternal mortal life. But it’s a sterile life, with no true birth or death, just the same repeating events forever. And he knew that it would be unbearable, without the spark that true birth and death bring to life.
The wisdom of all three ages and all 3 time periods are important and necessary. It’s no accident that wisdom and fate are represented by women. Women are the balancing factor that Nietzsche and so many others, including a few major religions, neglect to include in their systems, leading them to fall into to chaos and destruction.
Ultimately, in an existential sense, creation doesn’t happen without a female to give birth. Birth, life and death are inextricably linked in a healthy system. Creation and destruction can’t exist without each other. Because of this link, all mothers are ultimately dark mothers, or they are simply childhood fantasies, not living, breathing, complex women.
This season, Claudia traded in her older guise from last season, Sophia, goddess of wisdom, for Circe, a Greek goddess of magic and nature. She has an affinity for herbs, potions, and turning people she doesn’t like into beasts. Her sister gave birth to both the Minotaur and Ariadne. Circe is well known from The Odyssey, where she waylaid Odysseus on an island and eventually gave birth to three sons by him. But he wasn’t there by choice. She bewitched him, forcing him to stay and have sex with her for years.
Really. That’s the way Odysseus and Homer told the story, so it must be true.
In the meantime, Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, stayed home and waited for him for 20 years, weaving the same scrap of cloth every day, then unraveling it every night so she could reweave it again in the morning. This convinced the men who wanted to marry her for her inherited property that she was a faithful wife, perpetually mourning her husband. She was creating her own version of the sterile eternal return with the threads of her life, while her husband had adventures that became iconic.
Why yes, this story, The Odyssey, is a male fantasy.
But Dark isn’t that different.
In this episode,
Odysseus Stranger Jonas literally locked Penelope Martha in a CAVE at gunpoint. He didn’t stop to explain the situation to her until she understood it properly. He dragged her there and took away her agency because he considers her his, to do with as he pleases, because HE NEEDS her to be alive, waiting at home for him.
He might have thought he was a good guy who was acting in her best interest, but in fact, he was acting for himself, because the thought of her is what kept HIM alive.
Moving Martha’s body around like he owns it, especially while pointing a gun at her, is no better than Adam shooting her for his own purposes. It doesn’t matter that Stranger thought he was helping her. He took away her personhood. Even if she’d lived, that would have been true.
Here is one last mythological association. For a while I tried to figure out which woman on Dark was the Pandora of Pandora’s box, the Greek Eve. Then I realized that they all are. A woman who opens the box is a woman who takes action, rather than sitting at home, safely waiting, like the good, ideal women who sits, still and quiet at her loom, waiting to be blamed anyway for things that aren’t her fault.
I said at one point that Hannah was wearing siren red, and then realized how appropriate that comment was. And I also realized that if I dug deep enough into the origins of the myth, the sirens were probably innocent creatures who were punished for something that wasn’t really their fault. That, in fact, they were punished for the acts of men or reacting to the acts of men. Like almost every single other female villain I’ve ever researched.
Sure enough, that was true. The sirens were teenage girls who were punished by Demeter for being unable to stop Hades, God of the Underworld, from kidnapping and raping Persephone.
If we are villains, it’s because we’ve been made into what we are. As long as the women are punished and removed from the story, with their function in the world denied, it won’t end well. Zeus and Plato and Nietzsche and Dark and even Shakespeare can send all the lightning bolts down they want, but we’re here for a reason. Social constructs like androgyny and gender presentation aren’t the issue. Who someone chooses to love isn’t the issue. But women have to be included in the story, the decisions and the adventures. And our creative role can’t be denied.
While you’re waiting for season 3, I recommend these series:
12 Monkeys (Syfy/Hulu)
Fringe (IMDBTV– Free with Ads)
Kiss Me First (Netflix)
Altered Carbon (Netflix)
Eureka (Prime Video)
The Man in the High Castle (Prime Video)
The OA (Netflix)
Orphan Black (Prime Video)
Years and Years (HBO)
Cloud Atlas and Metropolis (1927) are 2 films which have heavily influenced Dark. If you haven’t seen them, they’re worth watching.
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? (Noah?), 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.