After the Harry Potter costume party of getting to know Martha/Eva’s world in S3EP1, in episode 2 it’s finally time to visit Adam’s post-apocalypse world, which is a form of the world without Winden that Hannah and Ulrich have dreamed of for decades. Ironically, Hannah and Ulrich both flaked out on the apocalypse and have retired separately in the Winden of previous decades. Katharina followed Ulrich.
Peter and Elizabeth serve as our point of view characters for the aftermath of the shockwave as they search for Charlotte and Franziska. Charlotte has jumped forward 33 years and is now in the barren future with Adult Elizabeth. The version of Young Alt Martha who transported Jonas to her world, then left him behind, is with Stranger, Bartosz, Franziska and Magnus in 1888.
We spend much of this episode in 1987, where things have changed in the last 3 months.
Note: I’m going to continue calling Adam/Jonas’ world the Prime world and Eva/Martha’s world the Alt world, because that’s the easiest way for me to keep track of them in my head. I’ll label the characters the same way. It gets too cumbersome to say “Adam’s world Jonas” and too confusing to use a code when the character movements get complicated, though eventually I will have to differentiate the Young Alt Marthas with 1 & 2.
The episode begins with the first sex dream of the season. The Young Alt Martha who’s in 1888 dreams about having sex with Young Jonas in her bedroom, in her world. Soon Jonas disappears and her hands are coated in blood and grime, while holding the St Christopher medal that they pass between them as the symbol of their connection. She tries to stop Jonas’ bleeding the way Jonas tried to stop Prime Martha’s; she tries to wash the blood from her hands the way Prime Claudia did after Egon died; and she stands at the mouth of the cave in front of police tape the way… Well, that’s a universal experience on Dark at this point.
Then Martha startles awake in 1888. She’s in the guest bedroom at the Tannhaus clock factory B&B, or the boarding house that will become Erna’s in 32 years- where the travelers sleep in this era is never made completely clear. Stranger sits and stares at her the way Adam will watch Jonas sleep someday, only Stranger manages to be creepier about it, blowing away all of my S2 arguments that he could never grow up to be such a mean old man.
The personality change that goes along with a cycle change and another failure to save his Martha have taken their toll on Stranger’s fragile sanity. He was always a stalker, but the look in his eye now is no longer calm or benign. It’s malevolent, even though he doesn’t know this woman. It’s enough that she’s the wrong Martha.
He’s holding the letter from “Martha” that Young Noah gave him in Hannah’s kitchen in S2E8, which told him to save Bartosz, Magnus and Franziska with the device. He followed those instructions and left the kitchen, leaving Prime Martha to her fate. He’s probably figured out that this is likely a version of the woman who wrote that letter.
Stranger looks like he has a moment of hope that she’ll recognize him when she wakes up. When she doesn’t, he coldly tells her to get dressed, then leaves the room. He’s left her a pile of period appropriate clothes on a chair.
Despite what I said earlier about the world without Winden, Winden is always Winden, and it always rains there, every month except June, so it’s pouring right now.
Stranger hasn’t warned the others, so Magnus and Bartosz have the fun of thinking Martha survived, then learning it’s not her. Franziska apparently didn’t care about Martha all that much.
Alt Martha: “He’s right. I’m not Martha. Not your Martha. I promised I would make everything right again, so none of this would happen. So that you all don’t die in my world and I don’t die in yours. So that Ulrich… Dad… Mikkel… so you all come back. So all this can really end at last.”
Did she just imply that the other 4 people in that room die in her world? Which would mean Prime Young Jonas does, because her world doesn’t have its own Jonas. Hmmm.
A loud alarm goes off in the Prime world version of Jonas’ bedroom. Another joke/warning that carries between scenes. The alarm is in the form of Mikkel’s clock/radio playing the song “You Spin Me Right Round”, which played in the bunker when Erik Obendorf was held there back in S1. It’s also a little foreshadowing for what we’ll hear on the radio in Claudia’s upcoming scene.
I will never stop admiring this show’s ability to layer and multitask.
It’s September 22nd, 1987. Most of the episode takes place on September 22nd in one year or another. Something big must happen then or be close to happening, but I don’t think we know what yet.
[I’m still writing Snowpiercer recaps while writing Dark, so my head is in 2 very different apocalyptic, symbolic dystopias right now. Give me another week or so, then Snowpiercer will be done for the season and I can focus on this more closely. But also, ugh, 3 seasons of constantly rewritten details, help. As always, I reserve the right to edit my work for a while after publication so I can add what I forgot or figured out a little too late. Also, check out Snowpiercer, it’s a good show!]
Katharina wakes up in Mikkel’s bed. She was in the passage when the apocalypse hit at the end of S2. It’s 3 months later and she’s become Stranger Katharina, sleeping in her son’s bed in his abandoned house.
Did the adult version of Mikkel with the black goo/Cesium 137 appear to her in the passage, the way he appeared to Stranger Jonas at the end of S1? And if so, did that affect her sanity even more than all of these other events would have? She saw Mikkel in the guilt/love montage, so we know he’s her hallucination/ghost visitation of choice.
Katharina gets dressed and goes downstairs. Sadly, she doesn’t check the milk like Jonas and Martha always do. She does listen to a phone message for Ines saying that the phone bill is 3 months overdue, which means that Mikkel and Ines must have left the house not long after Old Ulrich tried to rescue/kidnap him in June.
Katherina has stacks of “Missing” flyers on the table with Mikkel’s photo on them. She’s searching for Mikkel here as her own child, despite the fact that legally he’s Ines child now. The flyer says Mikkel has been missing for 3 months. Katharina leaves through the French doors, where she’s broken a hole in one of the windows.
Jana and Tronte are holding the funeral and burial for Mads’ empty coffin today. Hermann Albers (Katharina’s absent father) comforts Jana that at least having the coffin and grave will give them some closure, even with an empty grave. And she and Tronte have each other. Jana looks at Tronte across the room and raises her glass to him sardonically.
Jana: “At least we have each other. Now we can get our closure together, looking at a coffin that’s empty. Tell everyone where you were when Mads vanished. F–king your girlfriend. When my son disappeared, he was screwing Claudia Tiedemann. If only you’d devoted as much energy to finding your own son as you’re wasting on finding your mistress. Then maybe Mads wouldn’t have gone.”
In the previous cycles, Jana lied to the police and gave Tronte an alibi other than Claudia. Ulrich never knew his father was with Claudia until he went through the police records in 2019 and realized his mother had lied to the police, so I doubt this conversation became common knowledge.
The conversation and the fact that the gossip didn’t spread are both shocking in a small town like Winden. Either this is the first time this conversation has happened or Tronte’s long standing affair with Claudia is such common knowledge that no one cares anymore.
Still, this is Jana’s finest moment as a character and a huge change from previous cycles- she started out in S1 as a depressed recluse, then was at least seen at a party, having fun, in Cycle 2. Now she’s able to stand up for herself and fight for what’s rightfully hers. This is the way it’s always been, but also due to the small changes Claudia and Jonas make each cycle, if we are to believe their interpretation of the eternal recurrence and its loopholes.
Tronte’s devotion to Claudia never really changes, because why would Claudia change one of her greatest assets?
I thought what Jana said was quite clear, but Tronte says that he doesn’t understand what she’s saying, which will become one of the catchphrases of the season.
Every season of Dark is about secrets, lies and confusion. S1 focused more on the confusion between what was real and what wasn’t. S2 was about keeping secrets while clearing up some of the confusion. In S3, secrets will be revealed and questions will be answered, but at the same time, the characters lie, lie, lie. To each other, to themselves, to the audience. Question everything that everyone says.
When someone does finally tell the truth, the person on the receiving end frequently says, “What are you saying?” They hear the truth so infrequently that they can’t process it. Or it doesn’t fit their worldview, so it bounces off their ears. Or, as with Tronte in this scene, it’s an inconvenient truth, so they’d prefer it remained unspoken. They’d like anyone within hearing range to believe it’s the truthteller who’s lying or delusional.
Jana’s not backing down this time. She dumps her purse on the floor. There are several newspaper articles with headlines about Claudia disappearing within a week of her father’s death, questioning if the two are connected. Jana implies that Claudia could have had something to do with Mads’ disappearance as well. Tronte walks out of the house without another word.
Finally, we really are going to post shockwave Winden, September 22, 2020. Of course it’s pouring rain. A figure in a mud gray raincoat removes a makeshift door from the front of the police station (most of the glass in town was broken by the shockwave). It’s Adult Claudia. She has the place encased in plastic and boards, locking it up pretty tight, which is a good thing, because she’s leaving her dying daughter in there alone most of the time.
I doubt Regina could get out easily if she needed to, but she’s in such bad shape that she can’t even sit up, so it’s not really an issue. Claudia has her on a makeshift bed, with a heatlamp pointed at her and a radio playing, like she’s a pet lizard. Or a science project.
The radio is playing a report about what’s known of the cause of the June 27 global natural disasters.
Radio Announcer: “The world’s scientists are still looking for an explanation for the events of June 27, 2020. The epicenter/origin of the global catastrophe is still thought to be the small town of Winden. A French research team believes it is possible that our world stood still for a fraction of a nanosecond on June 27. Tidal forces may have diverged as a result. This would explain the global tidal waves, weather phenomena, and disturbances of electrical systems, which in turn could explain the countless number of airplane crashes and the simultaneous loss of power supply to nuclear power plants worldwide. There is currently no sign of the situation stabilizing…”
Claudia turns off the radio. As a physicist, she helped create this world and she already understands what’s going on. She has work to do to achieve her next goal, but the apocalypse was no accident, at least to her older self, who was quite clear that everything had to happen the way it always has. And we’ve known since S1E10 that this apocalypse has happened before. This is where it gets a little tricky to figure out who told which version what and when. This is, at the very least, the 3rd or 4th cycle with an apocalypse, since both Young and Stanger Jonas have seen it before.
But good on the French researchers for finally figuring something out! I bet they get to see the God particle before Elizabeth executes them this cycle, too!
Claudia pulls out a tattered box of Tamoxifen, Regina’s breast cancer medication, and goes to her daughter. Regina is lying very still and breathing shallowly, as if she’s in pain. She’s bathed in red/orange light from the heat lamp. Claudia asks how she is. Regina says, “Mama?” Claudia leaves the medicine pack next to Regina and turns to walk away. When Regina realizes she’s leaving, Claudia says she’ll be back at sunset.
Well, that was cold. Regina looks like she’s barely alive and Claudia is leaving her alone in the cold, dark police station where she also left Aleksander, Regina’s beloved husband, to die in the shockwave. Do they even know if Bartosz is alive or dead, since Claudia couldn’t be bothered to save her grandson?
Adult Claudia is just the worst. She can’t find anyone to help with Regina, like a clinic or field hospital? What was the point of rescuing her from the quick death of the apocalypse for this long, slow torture? Regina is living through many people’s worst nightmare about how they’ll die. Claudia has made her a homeless person, slowly dying alone, in pain and in desperate poverty. The only comfort she has is the heat lamp, which is a fire hazard. The medication is prolonging her torture at this point.
Claudia is keeping Regina alive for her own comfort, because she can’t bear the idea of losing her daughter, but she still wants nothing to do with the mundane realities of a relationship with another human being. It’s hard to understand why she’s bothering, when she treated Egon and Tronte the same way.
She’s always, since she was a child, cared more about science and math, yet still had a need to keep a person or two on the string. There must be other people helping her with the God particle at this point that she could spend time with. But I suppose this is about the possession of something familiar, like a teddy bear, not about companionship.
Young Elizabeth and Peter Doppler are staying in Benni’s trailer on the edge of town. It’s metal, so maybe its roof survived better than regular houses and the rest is easier to board up than their house. When they leave the trailer, Peter turns on a geiger counter to see if the rain is too radioactive to go out in. The levels are safe enough, so they walk to the military encampment near the power plant that was still in place when Jonas traveled there in S1/2.
The guard tells them that the area will be closed off in 5 days. They’re evacuating the zone and sealing off the restricted portions (which includes the power plant).
Peter, becoming agitated: “What are you saying?”
Guard: “We’re walling it in.”
He lets Peter and Elizabeth through, but asks why Peter would do this to his daughter. Young Noah lurks behind a truck and watches his future wife.
Stalking future, former and alternative loved ones is such a habit on this show.
The wall they’re talking about building is the one which surrounded the power plant in the future in S2. Jonas, Silja and Elizabeth had a spot where they could sneak under it to get to the God Particle in the power plant.
Back in 1888, Alt Martha and Stranger Jonas have explained to Magnus, Franziska and Bartosz that she’s from a parallel world which ends in an apocalypse, just like the Prime world. Magnus can’t accept that there could be another world with a different history.
Stranger asks Martha how she found him. She says that Jonas told her where Stranger was when Jonas traveled from the Prime world to the Alt world. Franziska brilliantly points out that Martha said there isn’t a Jonas native to the Alt world. Stranger is at least smart enough to figure out that a version of himself could have given Alt Martha the information, but even he gets stuck on the fact that he doesn’t remember traveling to her world or meeting her before.
He accuses her of lying, then asks if she wrote the letter Young Noah gave him, what she used to travel between worlds and if Adam sent her. He manhandles her while he’s trying to get answers out of her.
You’d think backwards and sideways time travel wasn’t possible in this universe. She’s standing right in front of them, having just come from another world. That means that a future Jonas or a Jonas from a past cycle could have traveled to her world. We saw the Unknown trio take the instructions for the world hopping sphere from Adam’s lair, so Adam had that capability before 1987, even though we didn’t see him use it. Or did we? He might have used a sphere to leave 2020 before the shockwave hit after he killed Prime Martha in S2Ep8. It would explain how he traveled as quickly and quietly as he did.
The group is interrupted by an older man who’s noticed that they’re late in starting their experiments today. He’s blind, but as soon as he enters the room he senses Martha’s presence. Stranger walks out of the workshop without speaking. The older man, Gustav Tannhaus, touches Martha’s face and figures out that she’s the reason Stranger is in an even worse mood than usual. Gustav tells her she doesn’t need to be afraid of him. Even though he has the reputation for being not quite right in the head, what he really has is the gift of foresight.
In 1987, Katharina stands in the high school hallway and hands out “Missing” flyers between classes. None of the kids recognize Mikkel. Young Ulrich stops to talk to Adult Katharina and mentions that a “lunatic” might have gotten Mikkel. Young Katharina shows up and is impatient, so she and Ulrich leave for class, ignoring Adult Katharina’s questions. Young Hannah hangs back and tells Adult Katharina about the old man who tried to kidnap Michael last summer.
Adult Katharina thanks Hannah for telling her how to find Ulrich by shoving her against a wall and warning her to stay away from Mikkel and Ulrich, Hannah’s future husband and her lifelong friend.
Hannah looks at Katharina like she’s deranged. At this point, I think she is. Hannah just went out of her way to help a stranger, again, and has no idea who “Mikkel” even is.
Tronte is dealing with Jana outing his affair with Claudia by questioning Claudia’s assistant, Jasmin, about Claudia’s disappearance. Since the whole town knows about them and his wife has stopped pretending, he doesn’t have to skulk in the shadows anymore.
Jasmin tells him that Claudia, who had always been meticulous about her appearance, really let herself go in her final week at the plant. She wore the same thing twice! And her hair was a mess. She forgot about appointments. Jasmin thought it had something to do with the old woman and dog who came to visit her (Old Claudia and Gretchen), since Claudia was different after that.
Jasmin is right- Old Claudia brought Claudia’s childhood dog, Gretchen, back to her after her pet had disappeared in the caves 33 years years earlier, as proof that time travel is real. That was the final proof that Adult Claudia needed, in combination with what Bernd showed her: the barrels of Cesium 137 stored in the caves and the odd data from the power plant accident in the summer of 1986, which pointed to the existence of the God particle.
In the 2020 post shockwave bunker, Adult Claudia begins to assemble her family tree on the wall. The strings that connect the photos form one of the Gordian knots that she’s slowly deciphering.
Peter and Elizabeth have reached their destination, the official Winden corpse ID tent for the dead lost in the blast. There are rows and rows of photos showing the faces of the dead on the wall. This is what the checkpoint guard thought that Peter should spare Elizabeth. The faces of almost everyone she’s ever known are on this wall.
But Elizabeth is strong and avoiding the truth doesn’t change it. She’s always preferred to have information rather than be left out. This is the stuff of nightmares, whether you sees the photos or see the town itself.
We’re shown photos for Officer Justina Jankowski and Aleksander Tiedemann, who were in the police station. Benni was probably at home. Inspector Clausen and Torben Wöller were in the power plant with Charlotte, in the room with the barrels where the rift formed. No idea where Jürgen Obendorf was, possibly also working somewhere on the power plant grounds. Their heads are all easily recognizable and in relatively good shape, for having been through an apocalypse.
Peter and Eli look through the rows, then check with each other. Neither has found Franziska or Charlotte. A soldier tells Peter that all of the bodies that have been found are represented on the wall. When he relays the news to Eli, she suggests that maybe they time traveled. He hugs her.
We know they won’t find Charlotte and Franziska among the dead because Eli’s right, but they have no idea where their family members were when the shockwave hit.
Katharina rushes to the police station and demands information about the man in the psych ward who tried to kidnap Mikkel. Police Chief Martin Döhring says he’s told her before, he’s not going to give her any information relating to Michael Kahnwald, no matter how much she wants it. She has no proof of who she is or that Michael is her son.
But then Döhring does give in and tell Katharina that Child Protective Services has known where Michael and Ines were all along. They decided to go into hiding for a while for Michael’s safety and to give him a break. The “lunatic” is back in the psych ward, where he’s been for the last 34 years. That number rings a bell with Katharina, so she asks Döhring the kidnapper’s name, but he’s done with her and tells her not to come back again.
As Tronte is driving by the only bus stop in town, he notices Regina sitting there with Gretchen the Dog in her arms. He stops and asks if the dog belongs to Regina. Regina says that the dog belonged to Claudia.
Now that he’s established that Regina might have some information about Claudia for him, he offers her a ride.
Once she’s in the car, he mentions that the dog looks just like the original Gretchen (because Gretchen is a time traveling dog). Regina figures that’s why Claudia kept her. She asks Tronte if he thinks Claudia is guilty of the crimes she’s rumored to have committed, like murdering Regina’s grandfather and her close friend Mads Nielsen, Tronte’s son. Tronte doesn’t know.
I guess they know Claudia well. Since she did commit 2nd or 3rd degree murder on Egon, they are right to wonder what she’s capable of rather than blindly supporting her.
Tronte asks Regina if Claudia said anything about an old lady in the week before she vanished. Regina tells him no. Then he asks if she said anything about him. Both of them get emotional. Regina tells him Claudia didn’t mention him and asks to get out of the car. She’ll walk the rest of the way home. Belatedly, Tronte remembers to offer to help her if she needs anything, then drives away.
This is the man that everyone assumes is Regina’s father and he hasn’t even asked her how she’s been surviving for the last 3 months without a parent to to support her. Even if he’s not her father, he’s her mother’s oldest friend and lover. You’d think he’d care about her a little, for Claudia’s sake. It’s clear that he only cares about Claudia.
Regina is just so alone in the world. She didn’t need to be used by Tronte to further his obsession with her mother.
In 2020, Claudia begins work on the God particle. She makes the first of the tapes documenting her process. Jonas will listen to them when he arrives in the future in S2.
Peter and Eli visit the Kahnwald house, as everyone eventually must. It’s tattered, but still standing (which we knew, since Jonas sleeps there years later). Peter leaves Eli in the kitchen while he looks upstairs. Hannah’s photos are still there- blown on the floor and ragged, but otherwise still recognizable. Eli looks at one while she waits.
Young Noah startles Eli, but moves slowly so as not to scare her further. His hair is black instead of blonde, the way Magnus’ is in the Alt world. In both speech and partial sign, he tells her he’s looking for food and asks if she is, too. She pulls out a notepad and writes down “mom and sister”, then asks where he’s staying. He writes “cave” on the notepad, so she won’t forget. Now the page says “mom and sister cave”.
Peter comes back downstairs and accuses Noah of following them. He says that he told Noah to stay away from them.
Noah: “You want to protect her, I know. So do I. And I will. After you get killed.”
Noah speaks his answer, but doesn’t sign it. Then he leaves. He did speak the words in full view of Eli, so depending on her ability to read lips, she may have understood what he said.
That evening, it’s still pouring rain. Bartosz visits Alt Martha in her room and apologizes about Jonas. Just, you know, his general surly Jonasness. (It’s all Jonas’ fault.)
When they left 2020 at the end of S2Ep8, Stranger wasn’t aiming for 1888, but they traveled at the exact moment of the shockwave and this is where they ended up (this is where Time sent them). The device is out of Cesium 137 and they can’t get anymore in this time period, so they’re stuck here until Jonas can create a new God particle.
Bartosz doesn’t seem to consider that someone else could come from the future and rescue them. Or Martha could help them. But they’d have to have a destination in mind if they left, so maybe that’s the issue.
Martha asks about the workshop, Gustav and what they’re doing. Bartosz doesn’t answer her questions. Instead he tells her he needs to show her something.
Down in the workshop, Gustav asks Stranger if Martha is a traveler, like they are.
Gustav: “When I found you, now that was a sign. A God-sent miracle. Whatever this woman means to you, don’t forget what we’re going to create. Paradise. Every calamity can be reversed. The world’s suffering can be destroyed before it even exists. A perfect world. Sic Mundus Creatus Est.”
Jonas listens to what he says. He still hates the sound of Sic Mundus, but he’s drawn to rest of Gustav’s prophecy, now that it’s not coming from Adam. He wouldn’t be Jonas if his mind weren’t spinning in self-hating circles.
He’s reached his Faust moment of temptation and he hates himself for being drawn to the same ideas and promises that he thinks corrupted Adam. Gustav is his White Devil, promising him a world without Winden, where suffering has ended, if only Jonas will put in the hard work and self sacrifice necessary to bring it about.
Gustav referred to the travelers as a miracle from God in all sincerity, but Jonas knows what that future brings. The temptation is to give in and believe it will turn out differently this time. Yet, what choice does Jonas have, other than to keep walking the same path? Bartosz and Alt Martha won’t let him settle down in the 19th century and forget about who he really is. Neither will his own conscience. And another White Devil, Old Claudia, always shows up eventually to stir the pot. Or she sends an emissary.
Katharina goes to the mental institution to look for Ulrich. She discovers that the nurse at the desk is her mother, Helene Albers. Helene is wearing the St Christopher medal that we’ve usually seen with Jonas and Martha. When Katharina asks for Ulrich and explains that he’s her husband, Helene judges Katharina for being with a patient who’s also a much older man and refuses to let her see him. Katharina uses her knowledge of the medal to talk her way in. She says that her mother also had a medal just like that. St Christopher renounced the devil and carried Jesus, the creator of the world. She begs Helene to let her see Ulrich.
Katharina describes the medal to show she’s a pious Christian, a good woman by her mother’s standards. But calling Jesus the creator of the world in that moment is an inside joke based on Ulrich’s favorite song, Pleasure to Kill by Kreator. “My only aim is to take many lives. The more the better I feel.” If I remember right, Helene never liked Ulrich. Katharina passed the favor down to Martha by pulling her away from Stranger Jonas.
Helene says that Ulrich was just released from solitary. He’s sitting at a table, playing chess by himself. Katharina sits with him. As soon as she gets his attention, she promises to break him out.
Jasmin is the last one at the power plant. She turns out the lights as she prepares to leave. The Unknown Trio turn them back on, then surround her threateningly. After confirming her identity, Adult Unknown tells her, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
He shushes Jasmin, who is about 8 months pregnant, then strangles her with his garrotte.
At least he made sure to kill the correct pregnant secretary.
Jana fiddles with an ouroboros bracelet as she sits in her living room in deep thought. Tronte comes home and sits next to her. She tells him that at some point he’s going to have to choose between his family with her or Claudia. He says that he saw Regina today. She looks like a grown up. Jana remarks that Claudia has never said who Regina’s father is and she’s always wondered if it’s Tronte. Tronte doesn’t respond directly to that opening. He agrees that he has to decide between the two families and takes Jana’s hand.
It’s not hard for Tronte to choose Jana right now when Claudia has disappeared without a trace or a word. He cares even less about Regina than Claudia does, that was made clear, though we’ve never seen much evidence that he cares about Ulrich either. He imprinted on Claudia when he was young and everyone else will always come second, no matter what. We know he runs right back to her when she shows up again.
In 2020, Regina is alone and trying to sleep in the damp police station while it storms outside. Old Tronte comes in and squeezes her hand, saying, “I’m so sorry, but it has to happen. She said it’s the only way to save you.” He smothers Regina with her pillow.
Well, at least Regina’s suffering is finally over? I don’t think she ever did anything worse than say a few snappish words to the people who had done terrible things to her. And people were so awful to her. I hate the way both she and Aleksander died alone, after they were so devoted to their little family in life.
Prime Old Tronte wasn’t saved from the shockwave by any means that we saw, so how is he alive now? And did Claudia or Eva send him to kill Regina? Regina was definitely right to be nervous around him when she was young.
Back in the trailer, Peter heats up cans of soup while Eli thinks about Noah. She asks Peter what Noah said to him, but Peter refuses to tell her. She pulls out the triquetra diary, which he’s somehow held onto since season 1, and demands that he tell her more about what’s going on. They shove each other back and forth in the trailer, but not hard enough for either to get hurt.
Peter must know from the book where Franziska and Charlotte are, but he won’t tell Elizabeth, out of a misguided attempt to preserve her childhood. Or else we’re now in the period that was covered in the missing pages Noah, Claudia and Adam fought over in S2.
Leaving her in the dark is worse than telling her a little of what he knows and turning it into a story she can handle. This is why fairy tales exist.
On September 22, 2053, Charlotte sits in the cave and looks at Elizabeth’s photo of Noah, Eli and herself as a baby. Eli returns from outside and sits next to Charlotte. Charlotte gets up to leave, maybe to take over standing watch outside the cave. Eli tells her it will be okay and they press their foreheads together.
In 1987, Young Katharina does her homework and listens to music at the kitchen table. Helene smacks her on the back of the head, hard, and in a vicious voice, tells her to clear the table.
We’ve seen Magnus smack people the same way, especially Mikkel, many times, though not as hard. This is another version of an eternal recurrence. The behaviors and personalities that recur in families down through the generations, in addition to physical similarities, become like seeing the same people and the same dynamics repeated over and over, with no exit possible other than blowing up the cycle by walking out and not reproducing.
Or going through extensive self examination and being self aware at all times, in order to avoid falling back into old patterns, as Stranger recommended. But the Faustian White Devil of similar personality types will always be there, bringing with them the temptation to revert to old patterns of behavior. Nietzsche was specifically thinking of never ending relationships with his difficult mother and sister when he worked with the ideas of the eternal recurrence and amor fati, love of fate. Dark shows these recurring behavior and thought patterns through the generations in each family cluster in Winden, even before we know that characters are related.
It’s montage time. This episode, the song is Broken Sleep, by Agnes Obel.
Stranger Katharina takes her leave of Old Ulrich in the psych ward. They both have the same air of desperation about them, despite how far apart they are in age now. Ulrich’s advanced age didn’t make Katharina hesitate even for a second, after she tried so hard to keep Stranger Jonas and Martha apart.
In 2020, Prime Adult Claudia finds Regina dead in bed and is devastated. She wasn’t the one who ordered Tronte to kill her daughter.
In 1987, Young Aleksander comforts Young Regina, who misses her mother.
Adult Jana sleeps with her head on Tronte’s lap. Mads is still missing. So is Claudia. They are lost in their separate grief.
In 2020, Young Elizabeth looks at the page in her notepad that says “mom and sister cave”. Whether it was on purpose or not, Young Noah told Eli where her mom is. She’s just 33 years in the future.
Young Noah works to clear rubble out of the passage. If he can clear it out enough so that it works, Charlotte and Young Elizabeth could make contact. In his life, it’s probably not that long since he finished building the passage the first time. No wonder he seems slightly resentful.
Stranger Jonas enters Martha’s room, probably hoping to creepily watch her sleep again. She’s the wrong Martha and she’s not there, but he’s still drawn by the unbreakable tether between them.
Martha is on a field trip with Bartosz to the caves. He takes her to the Sic Mundus Temple of Doom, which has has fallen into disuse. The room that will become Adam’s study is set up as a classroom, with a triquetra knot in the place of his favorite painting. While Stranger is looking for her, she’s looking at what he’ll become.
Bartosz: “It’s like a secret society. Old Tannhaus is the only one of them left. His father was convinced he could supercede the rules of space and time. He dedicated his entire life to doing just that. And so did his son.”
Martha: “They tried to build a time machine back then?”
Bartosz: “Jonas is trying to rebuild things the way he saw them. He’s been here already. Not now. In the future. He asked you something earlier. If Adam had sent you. He said that Adam killed Martha. Who is this Adam?”
Martha: “He didn’t tell you that? He is Adam. Jonas.”
We swoop to the Alt world, where Old Eva is telling Young Jonas her truths.
Old Eva: “We don’t know our end, but our end knows us. Salvation or damnation. We can indulge in the illusion of free will if we want, but we cannot escape our ultimate destiny. The choices we make in each world may be different, but nevertheless, they converge on the same moment. Things may not happen in the same way, or at the same time. But they always happen. You believed a world without you would be a better one, but they’re all going to die. Mikkel. Mikkel will die. Everyone will die. The apocalypse occurs in my world, just as it does in yours. In mine, it will happen in 3 days time.”
But no pressure.
As they’ve been speaking, she brings him over to a family tree that’s made from stone inlays in her floor. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that even when something is literally written in stone, it isn’t always true.
Old Eva confirms that the 2 worlds are roughly parallel, though not exact mirror images. Her world operates under the same fatalism that the Prime world is subject to, so it probably doesn’t matter whether there’s 3 years or 3 hours until the apocalypse, it can’t be stopped. Let’s get Jonas home before it hits though, ‘kay?
I know we’re working on letting go of attachments this season, but I’m pretty sure Jonas is an essential part of the symbolic balance of light and dark in this universe, so we need him, or the rainbow ponies will take over and it will be all sparkles, all the time.
Sun fairy Metamaiden asks what would be wrong with that? (She has actual rainbow hair.) I am a creature of the night okay? (How do you think I knew Jonas didn’t want to be left alone in the light?) I’m just advocating for balance here.
I’m convinced the Kahnwald house is the black hole machine that gives birth to other black holes. There’s a device hidden there that Jonas put under his bed and then forgot, 200 cycles ago, when they were all new at this. Everyone is drawn there and will eventually sleep in that bed. In fact, it’s probably the bed that’s the ORIGIN everyone is looking for. The time travel plot was hatched there, in the distant early twentieth century past, and won’t be destroyed as long as the house and the bed are standing. 😉
The school and the factory have similar silhouettes. Could the factory have been reworked into the school?
Katharina and Ulrich have both gone about their investigations in an uncompromising way that didn’t gain them any trust from the authorities, despite the fact that they are both local authorities themselves. But it’s not like there’s a rule book to follow for losing your child to someone else in another time period or solving child murders and kidnappings by time travelers across 3 times periods.
The soldier at the checkpoint, played by Maximilian Dirr, seems familiar to me. I think he might still have been one of the guards in the 2052 episodes, but IMDB isn’t crediting him. If I notice him when I get to that point next time I rewatch, I’ll note it here. Or someone else can let me know in the comments. Maybe he was a cop or worked in the power plant.
Family Trees- Skip If You Don’t Want to Know What’s on Them Yet!
My screencap of Old Eva’s full family tree might come out too blurry to read, so I’ll add the family tree on the Netflix website for this episode, though they are a little different. If you visit the website yourself, make sure to stop on the home page first and select which episode you’re willing to be spoiled up to.
Katharina’s father is listed as Hermann Albers (Thomas Arnold), the farmer whose sheep died in S1Ep3, Past and Present. In hindsight, the death of the flock of 33 sheep and the Bible verse Albers quoted to Egon were warnings to Egon that he’d be dead soon. Albers told Egon he was a member of Noah’s church. (Mark 13:33, “Be on your guard. Be alert. For you do not know when that time will be.”)
In the same episode, Mikkel spends his first day in 1986, Claudia starts work as the director of the power plant and HG Tannhaus finishes work on the time device. It must be that once those things had happened, Egon’s future was solidified. Helene Alber’s religious medal also pegs her as a member of Noah’s church.
Old Gustav Tannhaus is HG Tannhaus‘ grandfather, with Leopold Tannhaus in between the two as Gustav’s son/HG’s father. Gustav was born in 1813 and HG was born in 1913, 100 years apart. Gustav’s father is Heinrich Tannhaus. Sic Mundus’ history stretches back as least as far as Gustav’s birth in 1813 and forward at least as far as 2053, the farthest we’ve seen anyone travel forward, a period of 250 years.
The big shocker on these trees is the pairing of Bartosz and Silja (Girl from the Future) and then them being the parents of Noah and Agnes. Agnes is Tronte’s mother and Tronte is Jonas’ great grandfather, which makes Bartosz his great great great grandfather. Silja is the child of Egon and Hannah. Agnes and the Unknown give birth to Tronte in both worlds.
So now that Bartosz knows about Adam, he’ll figure out that EVEN MORE STUFF is all Jonas’ fault. That should make for some fun times ahead. Maybe Bartosz isn’t so much blaming Jonas for everything as exasperated with him, the way you get with a favorite child who just can’t stay out of trouble, no matter how hard you try to keep him safe. Bartosz wants to keep his favorite progeny alive and well and Jonas keeps screwing everything up. But Bartosz also prods Jonas along his dark and uncomfortable path.
Was There Originally A Jonas in the Alt World?
It is odd that Stranger doesn’t remember going to Alt Martha’s world when he was Young Jonas. I get the distinct impression that there used to be a Jonas in Martha’s world, but he wanted to be erased. So they kept Mikkel from going back to 1986, just like Jonas wanted in the Prime world, and as Eva indicated to Prime Young Jonas. To make up for Jonas’ absence in the Alt world, they have to bring him over from the Prime world for a brief time to interact with Martha to trigger certain events.
That’s an arguable interpretation, it’s true. It’s never said straight out, but Eva has said to Jonas twice now that he wanted a world without himself, with the hope that it would be a better place, but it’s not. In this episode, she specifically said that even Mikkel dies, and as a child instead of as an adult, so there was no point to making a world without Jonas.
But she didn’t say that there had been cycles where Jonas existed as a native in the Alt world. However, the way she practically blames him suggests that the Alt world exists in its current form because some version of Jonas, either from his world or hers, talked her into trying out the “world without Jonas” concept he’s been so keen on for 2 seasons. So either he used to exist there as a native or the Prime version has been visiting there for a while and talking Eva into experimenting.
There is a 3rd option, that Jonas willed Martha’s world into existence as a place where she could live and he wouldn’t be there to kill her. It’s an attractive option. But she still goes and gets Jonas and brings him to her world in every cycle, so either Martha didn’t agree to Jonas’ plan, that’s not the correct option or Jonas just can’t be written out of Martha’s code because he’s too essential to the way her story goes. Jonas’ own story seems to require Martha at various points.
But I do think Martha was always the chosen one in the Alt world, whether or not Jonas was ever native to it. That’s one reason why it didn’t make much of a difference for Jonas to disappear there, if he was removed.
Did Season 1 Show A 3rd World?
The way that Martha’s world reflects her personality and Jonas’ world reflects his, argues for the main actor within the world being the one who imagines/dreams/Wills the world into being, with the world following the characteristics of that person’s mind. And that makes me wonder if we’ve actually seen a different world each season. I haven’t thought it through enough to figure out whose world it would have been in season 1, but season 2 was Jonas’/Adam’s world.
Since we know we’ve seen Jonas and Martha’s worlds, I wonder if there’s something about being young that makes it easier to create the new world or connection between worlds? I think if S1 isn’t also Jonas’ world, Teen Charlotte is the best option for whose world it is. Charlotte is both the only person we know of who’s time traveled as an infant and who is connected to Tannhaus (the narrator of S1). He set the tone for the scientific understanding and the worldview of the season.
We see quite a bit of Charlotte as a teenage and an adult investigator that season and of Tannhaus in two time periods, 3 if you count his TV show. Charlotte’s daughter Elizabeth also plays a part, with Noah seeking her out and Yasin disappearing. The two of them revolve around each other exactly the same way Mikkel and Jonas do.
And then in S2, Charlotte talks about herself as if she’s a chosen one, saying she feels like the events in Winden revolve around her. She turns out to be Noah’s daughter, his motivation for much of his involvement with Sic Mundus. Tannhaus left her the clock shop, where she discovers the Sic Mundus photo and old alchemy texts, evidence that there’s a wider conspiracy involved in the town disappearances.
Or else it could be Mikkel’s world, but I feel like Mikkel has too little control. Same with Helge. It could be Claudia’s world, since she’s all about control and definitely about science, but I still think she’s the project manager who’s overseeing the whole enterprise.
Sic Mundus Creatus Est: Faust meets the Devil and a Prophet Meets a Saint
From a scientific point of view, Jonas ends up taking over Sic Mundus because he figures out the importance of their work to improving on the scientific work he’s already done with Claudia. For that reason, the scene where Bartosz introduces Alt Martha to the Sic Mundus classroom and tells us their true history for the first time is important. It shows that Sic Mundus wasn’t just a crazy cult that Adam made up to keep his followers in line or a symptom of his madness.
Instead, the organization has a rich history of scholarship and alchemy created by multiple generations of researchers who devoted their lives to the work. Jonas/Adam drew from this history to create his own version of Sic Mundus, which added elements to the overall time travel scheme that were missing from the approach based purely on scientific theory.
HG Tannhaus eventually stored some of the sources Sic Mundus studied in his clock shop along with the Sic Mundus group photo, suggesting that elements were incorporated into the version of time travel that worked. Tannhaus’ ideas were largely based on Einstein, but even Einstein couldn’t solve everything.
Foresight like Gustav’s is believed to be seen through the metaphysical 3rd eye, located in between the eyebrows in the lower forehead. I talked about Sic Mundus as a mystery school back in S2Ep1 & S2Ep8. Though Bartosz doesn’t characterize it that way, Gustav’s foresight firmly locates it in that arena, rather than as simply an academic and scientific endeavor.
Gustav: “When I found you, now that was a sign. A God-sent miracle. Whatever this woman means to you, don’t forget what we’re going to create. Paradise. Every calamity can be reversed. The world’s suffering can be destroyed before it even exists. A perfect world. Sic Mundus Creatus Est.”
This is the prophecy Sic Mundus lives by in the future versions of the organization that we’ve seen, including Adult Elizabeth and Teen Silja in the 2050s: Forsake family ties in favor of the Paradise Sic Mundus will create, with Jonas as the savior. In Paradise, all of the suffering will have been worth it, because the suffering will be reversed, as if it never existed, and more.
Stranger Jonas fought for decades to avoid becoming Adam, to avoid becoming the leader who believed in and led others to believe in this prophecy, yet now he’s falling into the trap that he knows will lead him there, based on promises he swore he’d never listen to.
What changed? Why is this temptation ensnaring him now, when it never has before?
His frame of mind has changed. Emotionally and mentally, he’s been pushed beyond anywhere even he’s been before. His last chance to save original Martha, the one he spent 33 years pinning his hopes on, has failed. He’s stuck in the 19th century, helpless. Or maybe hiding. He really hasn’t been honest with the teens about his full history.
This episode is notable for how exhausted so many of the characters look. Everyone is tired of the fight right now, and Stranger is not only tired, he’s more hopeless than he’s been since he had to send Mikkel back to 1986 and Michael to his death.
He doesn’t have the strength to push down what his heart wants anymore. He wants to believe what Gustav said: that Paradise is possible and that free will isn’t. That it’s preordained he’ll succeed, so he will. That he’s always given in to the lure of Sic Mundus, so he might as well do so again.
Stranger needs some kind of relief and religious conversion can be an incredibly soothing drug.
Jonas has met his White Devil, and the devil told him he’s the savior who can bring about Paradise. Up until this point, Jonas has always believed that change was possible through his own sheer determination or Claudia’s science and plans or Adam’s authority and knowledge of the future. Here in 1888, as far as he can tell, that all lies in ruins at his feet. He’s failed; he’s been betrayed; the very universe is working against him.
Maybe it’s time to make a deal with the devil and study the occult/alchemy seriously. Maybe science isn’t enough and the missing ingredient can be found there.
Jonas has fought a mighty struggle for more than 30 years, which probably should qualify him for sainthood. Most saints have these sorts of relapses into doubt and despair, then find their strength again, even Jesus. Especially saints who mostly go it alone and live in their own heads, like Stranger.
In this sense, he’s not really a classic Faustian character. Claudia and Ulrich, the 2 White Devils from S2Ep7, the episode of the same title, are much more like the classic Faust, the character who can’t resist following their Will and Desires and so is easy prey for the Devil.
Ulrich is the classic Faustian sensualist with a heart of gold, who we root for but who just can’t stop himself from following his big heart into the next barrel of trouble he’s attracted to, whether it’s a new woman or thinking he can save the children. He’s a boy who will never grow up and we love him for the innocence at the center of his mistakes, even though eventually he becomes too toxic to live with, since he never stops to consider the consequences of his actions. The devil promises him he can be a hero or be a king, but he’s always eventually the architect of his own demise because he can’t control his tendency toward excess.
Claudia’s Deadly Sin of choice is ambition, in the form of scientific advancement at any cost. Literally any cost, whether it’s her child or her soul. Or anyone else’s soul. Since Goethe’s Faust was a sheltered academic who left his books behind to gain experience of the world and was then burned by falling in love and getting an unmarried woman, Gretchen, pregnant, Claudia is probably meant to be a combination of the Devil, Gretchen and Faust.
One of the important implications of Goethe’s Faust is the concept of earning salvation vs escaping damnation. Though characters ostensibly are meant to use their lives accruing points that will send them in one direction or the other, in the end, God acts as a referee with veto power. He can use His Grace to do whatever He wants with the characters. If He decides He likes their style, or their deathbed conversion, no matter how they’ve behaved previously, He can pick them up and bring them into Heaven. Or He can send them in the other direction. Christianity has a lot of loopholes and God is fickle.
Personally, I’m going to stick with karma/eternal justice.
Ulrich is the King David model of Faust, God’s chosen one who’ll always be forgiven eventually. Jonas is more in the tradition of Job, where God makes a bet to see how far He can push someone before they crack. In this context, Claudia is a version of Eve, who won’t stop until she’s eaten all of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and ruined Paradise for everyone. God sets her up for both great success and great pain, for His own reasons.
Martha is a saint, the opposite of a Faust. We were told this from the moment we met her in S1Ep1, when she was on a hunger strike to save starving children. Same with Noah. Everything he’s done has been for his family and he’s suffered terribly because of it. Martha is a compassionate saint and Noah is a martyred saint. Those are two ways to transcend to a higher plane of existence, which is why saints can perform miracles. Mikkel also martyred himself for his family and the greater good.
A lifelong sinner who repents and redirects that energy toward God also becomes a saint. This is the reason God loves to make bets with the Devil. It builds up karmic energy, which eventually creates a surge in one direction or the other. This will be true of any unbalanced life, whether it leans too far toward good or evil, saint or sinner. In Dark, Time is God, so the build up of karmic energy and the surge of it seeking eternal justice at death will affect Time.
Martha and Jonas are tied together to balance each other as light and dark, care for the individual (he saves those closest to him) vs care for the greater good (she saves the planet) and hope (she finds comfort in myth, stories that prove she’s never alone) vs nihilism (he’s always a stranger, always alone). Claudia is a third element, the neutral, unstoppable centerpoint of the will, which assumes it’s balance, but is merely unfeeling.
S1 can be read as Part 1 of Goethe’s Faust and S2&3 can be read as Part 2, but I’m not going to do a close examination. Part 2 is also a blatant rip off of Dante’s Divine Comedy and I’d rather just discuss that source, even though it’s not German. I have no trouble with the many other versions of Faust, and there are many, from the original 1580s religious commentaries, which are fascinating, to Pinocchio, which most everyone knows in some form, but was originally written as a novel in 1883. Goethe’s version of Faust is based on so much misogyny that my brain forms a protective wall and won’t let me take it in too deeply.
If you want to look more closely at the ties between Goethe’s Faust and Dark, here are a few links:
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” -Shakespeare and Adult Unknown
This is a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest which is relayed secondhand to a deposed king. While the surface meaning of the quote is obvious, the nuances of what it means coming from Unknown’s mouth as he kills a very pregnant secretary depend on which character you take to be the true author of the words.
The original speaker was a prince who was leaping from a ship that was burning because it had been set on fire to gain revenge on the king, his father, who was on board. Prince Ferdinand had nothing to do with his father’s crimes. Unknown is sympathizing with the fact that Jasmin herself is largely outside of the Winden social circle that’s involved with time travel conspiracies. She’s collateral damage. (As far as we know.)
But in the play, the audience hears the line spoken by Ariel, a magical being, who relays it to the former king, Prospero, the brother of the current king, Alonso. Many years ago, Alonso betrayed Prospero and drove him from his kingdom. Ariel reluctantly works for Prospero, who is also a magician, in return for his freedom from an evil sorceress, Sycorax. Prospero ordered Ariel to set fire to the ship in order to wreck it and bring its occupants to Prospero’s new island so that the former king can carry out an elaborate revenge plot.
Coming from Ariel, the line applies to just about everyone.
In the play, Ariel is the symbol of justice personified, much as I have compared Unknown to Schopenhauer’s Eternal Justice or karma. Unknown’s use of Ariel’s line suggests that he is aware that he is playing the role of both Eternal Justice and Prince Ferdinand, rather than blindly following orders or randomly perpetrating acts of violence.
Prince Ferdinand becomes the love interest for Prospero’s daughter, Miranda, who speaks the famous phrase, “brave new world”. From the close up on Eva’s family tree we know that Unknown is Tronte’s father in both worlds, making him part of the Nielsen family line and the only one who spans the two worlds. Prince Ferdinand and Miranda’s pairing helps bring the two warring kings back together, which means that Ferdinand also acts as a bridge between kingdoms.
Ariel has worked for two powerful masters and also has his own power. Both masters have been dubious, but Ariel has chosen to stay with Prospero. I believe Unknown has ties to both Claudia and Martha, maybe also to Jonas. When this scene occurs, he’s just watched the Prime world go through an apocalypse which either helped create Martha’s world, created a link to it or solidified the link to it. Another apocalypse is about to occur in the Alt world.
Ariel has watched Sycorax perform evil acts, and now is watching Prospero risk lives for his own purposes. This is another layer to Unknown’s use of the quote. Is he expressing despair that he has to watch these apocalypses occur, but can’t stop them? Is he, like Jonas, trapped in this never ending loop of death and loss that has to be repeated every cycle and he can’t get out of it?
There are several potential reasons why someone might want Jasmin dead. For one thing, there are the bootstrap paradoxes. Those have been created over time by erasing their causative events and memories, so that only results remain. Both Jasmin and Bernd were instrumental in providing Claudia with the information she needed to figure out the complete theory behind the God particle, which she and Jonas then used to turn the God particle into a time machine.
In the scene where Jasmin dies, she walks in on the Unknown examining the binder which held Claudia’s early research into the God particle. This is the binder which was originally handed to Claudia by Bernd when he gave her the data related to the accident at the power plant in 1986.
Claudia first discovered financial discrepancies in the power plant’s books thanks to obscure records which Jasmin obtained for her. Jasmin looked over the records as well and noted the issues. Bernd told Claudia that the plant was cooking the books to hide the accident, then Claudia demanded to see the records of the accident.
Unknown takes the binder with him and kills the two people who know about the data trail. Is he trying to erase the memory of the origin of the God particle in future cycles? Is he stopping someone else from investigating in the future?
Or maybe there was some reason why Jasmin’s baby couldn’t be born? She’s always at the power plant- maybe she knew too much in other ways, as well?
The deaths of Jasmin, her baby, and Bernd, along with the destruction of the abandoned Sic Mundus lair, all in 1987, must be part of some larger plan.
I was struck by how exhausted and ragged the Unknown look in this scene. This is hard on the Child and Old versions, especially, as it should be.
The Day the Earth Stood Still- The Science
According to those tenacious French researchers, the Earth stopped spinning for a nanosecond during the shockwave, which is 1 billionth of a second, then started spinning again.
The video above is the best explanation I could find for what would happen if the Earth stopped spinning, but it describes what would happen if the world just stops cold and never restarts. It’s more catastrophic than what would happen, though the basic process is the same and I think we’d all still be very dead eventually in reality.
The video goes on to discuss some fascinating concepts of time, such how atomic clocks measure time and the fact that all sorts of things affect the speed at which the Earth rotates, so it’s not an accurate way to measure time. Did you know the Earth is turning more slowly as time goes on? We’ve lost more than 20 seconds since the 70s. Time is relative.
The show listed just about all of the apocalypses- tidal waves, earthquakes, hurricanes and other intense storms, electromagnetic pulse, all of the planes crashing at once, all of the nuclear power plants melting down at once. They didn’t list war, plague and famine, but those sometimes take a few months to develop in the aftermath of the other disasters. If they showed us the world outside of Winden in 2025, it would be filled with disease, hunger and people fighting over the few resources that are left.
My best guess is that the tiny lack of movement when the Earth stopped for a nanosecond, combined with intense inertia causing everything possible to move a teeny tiny bit, would create small, hairline cracks in everything that was attached to the Earth’s surface. As the Earth restarted, then continued to move, those cracks would grow, and things would crumble and fall even worse than they normally would in the resulting tidal waves, earthquakes and storms.
Also we are such a nerd family that we had loud disagreements about the theoretical physics of this. Don’t ask.
This is the result of my husband the mathematician’s calculations on the issue. Despite the way he wrote it, I am the practical catastrophist in the family who believes the apocalypse is always nigh and should be prepared for. He is the theorist who never believes there will be damage in the real world. Metamaiden is the balanced middle.
Since the speed of Earth’s rotation varies based on latitude, I chose the latitude of the city of Weimar in central Germany, which is at about 51 degrees north. Earth’s rotational speed at that latitude is 655 miles per hour, or 1,054 kilometers per hour, or 293 meters per second (calculated at https://www.vcalc.com/wiki/MichaelBartmess/Rotational+Speed+at+Latitude).
That means the Earth’s surface would move 293 nanometers (billionths of a meter) in the nanosecond that the Earth stopped. That’s about a thousand times the diameter of a water molecule (0.27 nanometers), and about 29 times the diameter of PG5, the largest synthetic molecule ever made (10 nanometers). Depending on how closely packed together two substances are, that 293 nanometers of travel could provide plenty of room for the molecules of one substance (say, water) to smack into the molecules of the other substance (say, rock) in that billionth of a second, potentially triggering havoc.
As more comparison, the width of a human hair is 75,000 nanometers. 293 nanometers, the distance inertia would shift everything on Earth when it stopped, whether it was attached or not, is so small it’s hard to imagine, but it’s enough to throw off cycles, set off chain reactions and fracture inflexible masses when done with the weight and velocity of the Earth behind it.
They are definitely referencing the film.
In this short documentary, Decoding Klaatu Barada Nikto, the filmmakers and others discuss how The Day the Earth Stood Still purposely relates to the Cold War, fear of nuclear proliferation and and the pro United Nations sentiments of the filmmakers. Dark has spent 3 seasons showing us how a group of people who were interested in traveling to other times and to other timelines/worlds will stop at nothing, not even global mass destruction and death involving all of the apocalypses at once, to achieve their scientific goals. And nuclear science is at the heart of what they do.
The Day the Earth Stood Still believes scientists, with the help of the UN, can save the world. Dark seems to be saying we can’t trust the scientists anymore. Unless the message is that the scientists will take us to the golden glitter Harry Potter world, which I’m totally okay with. But that world is threatened, too, so it’s not the ultimate answer.
The science and technology that came out of the Enlightenment and have continued through the Industrial Revolution to the present day have led to many of the ills our culture and planet now face, even though scientific progress has also done untold good in the world. Unless we somehow put the brakes on- stop the world- the apocalypses we currently live in will only get worse.
As I write this, it’s currently 102ºF (39ºC) outside my window, there is smoke in the air from the forest fires that are burning all over the Southwestern US, including one about 20 miles from my home, and my state diagnosed a record number of COVID-19 cases yesterday. That’s 3 apocalypses. Famine from joblessness isn’t far behind. How many riots and shootings does it take to make a civil war?
We need to start getting the message and acting on it without worrying about the details.
Which brings me to the importance of the code phrases. Klaatu Barada Nikto is a code phrase which the alien, Klaatu, his human friend, Helen, say to his robot guardian after he’s killed, to stop the guardian from destroying Earth in retaliation. It tells the robot that the damage done to the alien is repairable by their standards, so the situation can still be salvaged. But no direct translation for the phrase was ever written into the script or otherwise. It’s been left to the viewer to interpret the exact meaning, though the gist of it is clear. Fans have obsessed over its exact meaning for decades and even the cast and crew all have slightly different interpretations.
The important thing about the phrase Klaatu Barada Nikto is that it triggered the correct state of mind and action in Klaatu’s robot, Gort. The meaning helps trigger Gort’s action, and it’s extremely important that Gort understand the message correctly, so it’s worth analyzing, but on the level of meaning, not exact wording. Having an exact direct translation might help us, but isn’t essential for Gort or Helen, who brings him the message in the film.
In the same way, the characters in Dark are triggering each other with certain words and phrases. Sometimes the meaning matters, but I don’t think it always does. Sometimes just the sound of the words acts as a reminder to their inner selves of where they are in the cycle and what the next step is. Many of them are following difficult paths and want out, while at the same time their memories are being erased to form the bootstrap paradoxes. They need nudges along the way to keep them following the same footsteps they’ve created in previous cycles.
Are the bootstrap paradoxes a reference to the way history tends to be forgotten in the real world, so that we are condemned to repeat it endlessly, never correcting our mistakes, repeating the same platitudes and religious doctrines to justify our actions?
Images courtesy of Netflix.