Dark Season 3 Full Length Trailer and Analysis: Gordian Knots and Second Natures


Netflix has released another trailer for season 3 of Dark. This one is fast paced and full of intriguing images. I’ve learned one very important thing from it.

I refuse to live in a world without Jonas. Or Winden. Why only 3 seasons, Netflix, why?

Trailer and analysis after the cut.

Things don’t seem any better in the alt world or in the 19th century than they’ve been in any other time or place, not that I expected them to. Will anyone survive the series finale?

My bet’s on Claudia. Her ashes will reform into a perfect White Devil and she’ll walk off into the sunset as the credits play.

There’s a new family tree in the video which connects the alt world with our world, with Agnes and Tronte closest to the infinity sign that connects the two worlds. Does that mean Jonas is Tronte’s father, since Jonas is the one who doesn’t have a counterpart on the other side, and is the one whose birth broke time and created the infinite loop that is the eternal recurrence? Does that mean that Mikkel didn’t go back in time in the alt world?

Tronte has mostly been a background character up until now. He’s Agnes’ son, who had injuries which suggested self harm or abuse when he and Agnes moved into the Tiedemann’s house when he was a child in the 50s. He fell for young Claudia right away. She remained aloof, but kept him on the string.

In the 80s, they had an affair, but Claudia broke it off when she became the power plant director. Tronte, who wrote for the local paper, pressured her to keep it going, but Claudia disappeared to pursue her destiny as a time traveler. Meanwhile, Tronte married Jana and had two kids, the doomed Mads and Ulrich.

In the present day, Tronte has become Claudia’s accomplice. He and Peter bury the bodies and keep their mouths shut.

It’s likely that Tronte has seen and heard a lot over the past 70ish years, but he’s never shown any special ability or knowledge. The most interesting thing about him has been his mysterious childhood with Agnes before they came to Winden. Given the huge roles most of the other Nielson males have played in the story (Ulrich, Mikkel, Jonas), season 3 may be Tronte’s turn, just as the trailers appear to show Magnus having more prominence and perhaps being less of a lackey.

Dark S3 Trailer Mirrored Family Tree

What does it mean that the alt world and the family tree are mirror images of the prime world? Do the events in our world reverberate over into the alt world? Or the other way around? Did one world to split into 2, so that the worlds will always mirror each other, even when small changes to the timelines are made? Did the creation of one of the God particles cause the split?

The Dark world is based around the number 3, so it stands to reason that there should be a 3rd world. Is the missing 3rd world the original world that was split, making it the beginning and the end? And can we get a special dispensation from the Time Lords so that Jonas can survive when the worlds recombine?

I wonder if in the original timeline, Jonas was meant to be Mads and Hannah’s son. He’s too important for the universe to leave him out of Winden’s history, so when Mads died, he and Mikkel were displaced and reinserted the way we saw in season 1. But time doesn’t like to be messed with, so it’s been trying to correct itself ever since, while various characters push events in the direction they’d prefer, trying to save their own loved ones, resulting in Adam’s tangled knot.

Which brings me to the Gordian Knot, which I can’t believe I missed in season 2. [*extreme facepalm*] All that work on the male characters and mythology and I missed the obvious connection between Aleksander Tiedemann and the Gordian Knot!!! A recappers work is never done, peeps.

(Credit goes to HBO’s Watchmen for the tip off on the Gordian Knot- it’s an amazing series, watch it if you haven’t. One of the best of 2019. It also deals with some interesting concepts of space and time and philosophy/morality. And I never want to see Tom Misner die again. I can’t stress that enough. Stay away, Jeremy Irons. First Mufasa, now this. Don’t think I’ve forgotten your treatment of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, either.)

The Gordian Knot is part of an ancient Greek legend. After a peasant was randomly crowned king in a small town, his son, the man who would become King Midas, tied the new king’s ox cart to a post with an intricate, celebratory knot that was so complex that no one could untie it. Similar to the King Arthur story with the sword in the stone (but without the watery tart), an oracle decreed that whoever untied the knot would become the ruler of “all Asia” (the ancient concept of Asia wasn’t the same as ours). The knot and the cart stayed in place for centuries, until Alexander the Great came through town on one of his military campaigns.

Alexander heard the story and was compelled to untie the knot. Like everyone else, he was unable to untie it the traditional way, so he broke the knot instead, technically fulfilling the prophecy. He went on to become the ruler of what the ancients considered all Asia.

Sources vary as to whether Alexander used his sword to slice through the knot or pulled out the lynchpin that the knot was tied around. Either way, he skirted the rules by using a shortcut. This is viewed as stellar military strategy, of the “frontal assault and murder everyone you can” variety. Some scholars seem to believe that pulling out the lynchpin would show more subtle thinking, so they favor that version. Popular versions favor the drama and violence of a single whack with his sword.

There are also interpretations which view the knot as a religious cipher related to Dionysus. Religious knots are sometimes used as meditative and mnemonic devices, much like prayer beads, but they can also be used to send messages. The triquetra or trinity knot, which was seen in season 1 and 2, is another example of a religious knot.

Any of the versions illustrate a colonizer and conqueror who had no regard for the lives and customs of the people he attacked. He was all about quick and easy domination.

Like Tronte, Dark’s Aleksander is a mysterious character. He’s received more screen time than Tronte, but we know nothing of his past. He has similarities to an Alexander or King Arthur, in that he showed up and took over the “empire” of Winden, rescuing and marrying the daughter of the former director and taking over the power plant, while wielding undue influence over the entire town.

But, like Alexander, he cheated his way into Winden. Aleksander used a fake identity and passport. We don’t know how he became the director of the power plant. Cheating may have been involved there as well. Given the way Torben and others, except Regina, abandoned him as soon as his influence waned, he didn’t do much to earn the loyalty of the townspeople on his rise to the top.

Adam is the one obsessed with knots and his knot certainly appears to be a Gordian Knot, so tangled that it can’t be untangled by normal means (unless one understands the cipher). He wants to use an Alexandrian method to “untangle” it- destroying the eternal recurrence completely so the knot is obliterated.

Alexander the Great was a successful leader warrior and colonizer who conquered much of the surrounding region. He was also dead by the time he was 32 and his empire didn’t outlive him. His empire was responsible for cultural diffusion throughout the region, but also mass slaughter.

Adam also values both culture and death. It remains to be seen what the full connection will be, but if my theories about the God particle granting long life or even immortality turn out to be true, Adam may have dreams of outdoing Alexander as emperor of the universe.

Season 3 should also focus on German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche’s final years, the period when he was writing feverishly as he felt his illnesses worsening and his mind descending into madness. He knew time was running out and wanted to put a cap on his work while he was still able to, but he wanted to go out with a metaphorical bang, rather than a whimper. He was angry and not reconciled to his fate, but he was also reviewing his life and putting it in perspective, judging himself and what he’d accomplished.

Nietzsche spoke freely in his notes and books, but they have gone through a tortuous process of editing and translation by multiple people over the course of more than a century, until one has to sift through archaeological layers to find the true Nietzsche hiding under the opinions and edits of others.

During this time, he rejected his family, saying that the worst thing about the eternal recurrence was that he’d have to spend eternity with them. He was thrilled with how thoroughly he’d explored the concept that God is dead. He rejected the Apollonian and Alexandrian styles of thinking and living, in favor of embracing Dionysus.

He also confirmed his thorough rejection of Christianity and the concept of saviors. He supported the concept of individuality and the evolution of each individual through their own personal journey and suffering, leading to personal growth. He embraced his own suffering as essential to his journey, but rejected the suffering of a savior figure as a palliative for the masses.

He wrote of the evolution of his own personality as developing a second nature, as opposed to the first nature he was born with. The alt world may be symbolic of either the first or second nature, depending on which world came first.

After two seasons of Stranger Jonas as The Savior figure, it’s likely he’ll reject that designation. There were hints of this in his conversation with Young Noah in Hannah’s kitchen in S2E8, where I thought that Noah’s words to Stranger about becoming the savior were insincere and were instead a coded message.

We have two worlds and two natures, the visuals make that clear, but it’s not clear yet what the nature of the alt world is. One fascinating aspect is that this is the world without Jonas, without the dominant male ego being in charge as the main character, where instead Martha/Ariadne became the dominant main character. Ariadne is a savior in her story.

Nietzsche was a man of his time, pushed into some of his attitudes by the expectations placed on him, which grew into self loathing due to his illnesses making him unable to fulfill those expectations.

This is as timely a scenario as ever, as our world still places high expectations on men, then undercuts them through creating barriers to anyone who isn’t a healthy white man, born into a relatively well off First World family, with either inherited wealth or certain marketable STEM skills. Everyone else is told by society that they aren’t economically successful because they aren’t trying hard enough, when, in fact, the system is as rigged against them as it was in Nietzsche’s day.

And the issue is doubled for Nietzsche’s feelings about women. He hated his female family members, particularly toward the end of his life, when he blamed them for the deterioration of his relationship with Lou Salomé, an extraordinary woman who was involved in a love triangle in 1882 with Nietzsche and their friend Paul Rée.

With regard to Salomé, Nietzsche went through a characteristic cycle of obsession (he proposed to Salomé 3 times in less than a year), disappointment, rejection and angry, masochistic depression which also involved lashing out at both of his former friends. The deterioration of the relationship was helped along by his narcissistic sister, Elizabeth, who inserted herself between her brother and Salomé, then went on a campaign to discredit the woman she viewed as competition.

But relationships can survive scheming relatives, so the blame falls squarely on Nietzsche for not taking a firm stand in support of the woman he professed to love. In truth, though she was a woman, and thus had many fewer opportunities but just as many expectations placed on her, Salomé was everything that Nietzsche wished to be, but was not. That must have bruised his ego after a while. Salomé lived a long life, full of professional acclaim, exciting romances and the type of individual growth Nietzsche wrote about.

Salomé and Rée may be partial inspirations for Martha and Bartosz. Alt Martha, in particular, would be Salomé, living life as Nietzsche’s equal in his absence. Adam would then be a version of the older Nietzsche, the one who was at war with the world, bitter over her loss and angry at himself for driving her and Rée away.

In addition, Nietzsche internalized his anger over the way his mental and physical illnesses made it impossible for him to realistically keep up with them in the long term, which fed his masochistic bouts of deep depression. (Personally, I think he was bipolar, leaning toward depression.) Again, we can see the similarities to Adam, who murdered Martha in order to encourage his younger self to become a bitter, disfigured old man who lives in a deep, dark cave, surrounded by his memories and apocalyptic art, scheming to end the world in order to end his own pain.

If that’s not a metaphor for severe depression, I don’t know what is.

But another part of Nietzsche moved past this, because with Nietzsche there’s always a dichotomy that readers can barely make sense of (unless you’ve dealt with your own severe disability or chronic illness and understand the way it splits you into two people, the healthy person who might have been and the struggling person who has to face cold reality with whatever resources you can still muster in your failing body). The more idealistic side of Nietzsche strove to hold onto the Dionysian ideal inside himself, symbolized by the continued existence of Young and Stranger Jonas. Though they are earlier versions, they still exist in the 3rd cycle and can still impact its outcome.

Adam can still grow or be conquered by his better nature. Or by someone else’s better nature, should he turn out to be someone other than Jonas. Or he can be defeated by someone other than Jonas.

The Gordian Knot can be lovingly untied according to Claudia and Jonas’ Dionysian cypher (their slow method of changing the timeline a little at a time) instead of exploded by Adam’s Alexandrian/Apollonian methods. The June 27th apocalypse doesn’t negate that possibility.

Ariadne can marry Dionysus, as she does in the ancient myths, even though Lou Salomé and Nietzsche didn’t work out.

Because even Nietzsche couldn’t stand the thought of a world without Dionysus Jonas.

Everything I’ve ever written about Dark can be found at my Dark tag. In the Season 2 Episode 7 Recap (The White Devil), in the Commentary section under “Let’s Review”, I summarized where some of my more explanatory essays and commentary on Dark can be found, such as the discussions of the eternal recurrence or color theory.

In this video, Pete Peppers describes what we’re seeing in each shot of the trailer. It’s very helpful for identifying what’s going on in those fast and overly dark scenes.

Images courtesy of Netflix.

4 thoughts on “Dark Season 3 Full Length Trailer and Analysis: Gordian Knots and Second Natures

  1. I’m avoiding reviews and almost everything but the trailers. I like going in with an open mind, too. Trying to rewatch the 1st 2 seasons and brush up on Nietzsche while we wait!


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