In episode 3, we meet Stranger/Adult Alt Martha and Gustav’s father, Heinrich Tannhaus, for the first time. Old Eva and Young Jonas have a long talk before she sends him to another time period with her youngest self again. Alt Martha helps out Stranger Jonas and the teens before going back to the future, but there’s a twist. She goes to the Prime world future. After weeks of frustration, Stranger Jonas begins to find some success in the lab.
The episode begins in the Prime world 1820s, when Old Gustav Tannhaus was Young Gustav Tannhaus. We find Young Gustav and his father, Heinrich Tannhaus, riding in a carriage in the dark of night, in a raging thunderstorm.
When else would they go out for a ride?
Heinrich reads from the play Ariadne, choosing from the same speech we’ve heard Martha perform at least once every season: “From then on, I knew that nothing changes. That all things remain. The spinning wheel turns, round and round, in a circle. One fate tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that connects all our deeds.”
Heinrich is the man who started Sic Mundus. As he reads, lightning flashes as if time travel is occuring.
Maybe it is.
When Heinrich finishes reading, he tells his son that the play was beloved by Gustav’s mother, Charlotte. She’s already passed away, so he says that she would have been happy to be there with them tonight.
Heinrich has the Doppler “For Charlotte” pocket watch, the Sic Mundus cane, a triquetra signet ring and a copy of the play “Ariadne” with the infinity sign on the front. As he checks the time, Gustav asks why we die.
Heinrich: “You see, the dead are never truly dead. Maybe they’re not here now. But everything that once lived, lives on and on forever in the eternity of time.”
Heinrich believes in a Paradise outside of Time where those who formerly lived on Earth are all together forever. Adam spoke of this Paradise as part of his prophecy in S2. It’s similar to, but not really, the Christian Heaven. I believe he’s using Schopenhauer’s concept of an eternally surviving Will which retains the experiences from former lives in each new incarnation. Adam’s goal was to send souls/Wills to this Paradise by way of severing the Gordian knot that tethers souls to the Earthly plane and to each other.
We haven’t heard back from Winden’s dead, so no word on if they made it to Paradise or not. Someone did stop the world, so some people might have gotten off.
Young Gustav, who is already blind, becomes Old Gustav, who’s riding in the carriage alone at night. He has the watch and the play book in his lap, and is wearing his father’s signet ring. Someone block the road, stopping the carriage and then attacking the carriage driver. The attacker doesn’t answer when Gustav asks who they are.
It’s Adult Unknown, who comes to the carriage door and says, “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret, if his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips. Betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
This is the quote from Freud that was in the letter sent to Clausen which brought him to Winden to investigate Alexander Tiedemann in S2. I guess we know who wrote that letter now.
Gustav is confused by the cryptic ways of the Unknown. Adult Unknown confirms that Gustav is on his way to send a telegram to let the world know that time travel is real. Gustav figures out that Unknown is a time traveler. The old man wants to prove to the world that his father’s theories about time travel were right. While he continues speaking, Unknown quietly gets out his garrote.
I think that Unknown uses the quote to say that his handlers have decided to silence Gustav because sending the telegram is a betrayal of their secret society.
I still have no idea what Aleksander’s betrayal was. Lying to Regina about his origin? Hope he made it to Sic Mundus Eternal Paradise.
Unknown says, “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” He leans toward Gustav.
I wonder if this was The Beginning and The End meeting. Because of his foresight, Gustav was the true beginning of Sic Mundus. His confirmations would have given Heinrich the confidence to put everything into his theories.
And because of the murders and cover ups he’s committing, Unknown is the end of Sic Mundus. Sic Mundus began with the ocean of Gustav’s foresight, but with only a drop of scientific knowledge. Their understanding of the laws of nature has grown, but we haven’t seen any evidence of foresight/prophecy (or history or time travel) past 2053- what was an ocean has become a drop and what was a drop has become an ocean.
After the opening credits, Eva explains to Jonas:
“Our mistake is that we each believe ourselves to be an independent entity. One self beside countless other selves. While in reality, we are all just small fractions of an infinite whole.”
Jonas asks if Eva’s world is a copy of his world. Lol. Of course he assumes his world is the first world. Men never consider that maybe they are the unnecessary ones. Or that both could be necessary.
She reminds him of the words they repeat to each other in the woods- under the bridge, the lights, you, I, then waits for him to fill in the rest. He says, “A glitch in the matrix.”
He asks why he’s there. It’s not clear whether he means in the room with her or in her world or still alive in general. Probably all three, whether he’s thinking it consciously or not. These are the answers he seeks from each seeming authority figure he encounters, like the narrator of The Little Prince with his mysterious drawing, and he still hasn’t gotten satisfactory answers.
Old Eva seems kind and honest, but so does Old Claudia until you know her well. Eva and Jonas stand face to face and look into each other’s eyes. I’m loving the chemistry between them. She grounds him the same way Mikkel and OG Martha did. As she said in episode 1, she’s waited a long time to see him again. A big part of him still longs to grow into this person with her. Or to just stay in that room with all of the versions of her.
She answers the existential question “Why am I here?” with, “You and I. Adam and Eva. That’s what we are. A glitch in the matrix.”
She says that he’s there to save them, his world and hers.
Okay then. She certainly answered his question. His existence is a mistake, but as long as he’s around, he can play his role in the “Jonas and Martha” portion of the story. Maybe he used to stick around and become Adam, but they altered the path.
What was that bit about Adam and Eva being a glitch in the matrix? That sounds like she could be saying all of humanity is an accident or a dream in the mind of an outside being.
He’s still the savior, this time of two worlds.
Over at the Alt world police station, Ulrich gives the morning briefing on Mads’ body. Despite the photo ID tag attached to the body, Ulrich doesn’t recognize the child as his brother, just like he didn’t in the Prime world. It’s been too long and it’s too far fetched. The weird thing is that he recognizes that the clothing and possessions belonged to Mads, which he didn’t do in the Prime world until he checked an old photo.
Ulrich breaks down during his presentation, so Charlotte has Torben continue while she takes Ulrich to their special romantic spot in the evidence room. She thinks Ulrich should go home, since this situation is taking such a toll on him.
Ulrich thinks a stranger saved his brother’s things for 30 years, then played dress up with a different body. He’s tortured by the sight. He says that he joined the police force to do better than the police (Egon) did when Mads disappeared. Now he realizes that he’s not any better than them, with all of his cheating and distraction. He tells Charlotte that it’s time to end their affair.
Quick jump to the Prime world, 1888, Tannhaus Factory.
Stranger’s got the machine going and is taking notes. Surprise! It’s raining.
Bartosz and Alt Martha return from their field trip to the caves and Adam’s future lair. Stranger accusingly asks Bartosz where they were and what Martha told him, cause he’s a paranoid dad now.
Bartosz: “We’ve been stuck here for weeks. The apparatus is dead. You have no idea how any of this works. All you did was lie. You knew what would happen and you told us nothing!”
Stranger: “You must realize she’s just using you. This isn’t Martha. She’s dead. No one returns from the dead.”
Just let that last statement sink in. And the fact that Jonas, who’s been hung by Elizabeth and considered dead by the town of Winden, said it. I love this show’s ultra dry sense of humor.
Martha hangs back by the door
so she can make a quick escape. Magnus says that it doesn’t matter who Martha is. Jonas’ machine might be the only way they get back home.
Bartosz isn’t ready to give up. He gets in Stranger’s face and demands that Stranger tell them how Prime Martha died. Stranger’s face goes through some complicated emotions, then he rushes out of the room.
He still can’t face Prime Martha’s death or the role he plays on either side of it.
Bartosz runs outside into the courtyard after Stranger, with Magnus and Franziska following.
Now I’m certain that the factory became the school. Of course it’s raining. So weird that no one is in yellow though. No chosen ones left here.
Echoing the fight in the school courtyard in S1Ep10, when Martha lied to Bartosz and told him that Jonas had kissed her, Bartosz shoves Stranger to the ground. He wants Stranger to confess to Magnus and Franziska that he’s Adam, which would effectively mean confessing that he killed Magnus’ sister, even though he hasn’t done it yet and can’t imagine ever doing it.
For Bartosz, it’s been 7 months since that last fight. For Stranger, it’s been 33.5 years since the argument drove him to 1986 to attempt to bring Mikkel home. Instead of reuniting with Mikkel, he was kidnapped by Noah and Helge, then locked in the killer time chair room. Within minutes, Stranger closed the passage and Young Jonas was zapped to the apocalypse in 2052.
Neither one of them has taken fight lessons in the time since their last scuffle, so they roll around in the mud again, until Magnus tears them apart. Bartosz finally gets to his point, telling the others that, just as he’s always known, it’s all Jonas’ fault, because HE’S ADAM!
Magnus looks suitably shocked. The others are stunned, including Stranger. Alt Martha looks stubborn, then the screen inverts to the Alt world and her face becomes Young Jonas’ face.
You can screw over your destiny, but you can’t escape it. I don’t know what Alt Martha’s up to, but there’s always another Jonas waiting around the next corner.
Speaking of destiny, Eva is asking Jonas if he’s ever wondered why he can’t let go of Martha.
I think it’s safe to say that it’s kept him up nights. On the other hand, I think he knows he’s been in love with her forever and he’s heard that Ariadne speech every cycle, just like we have.
She speaks of Ariadne’s invisible cord that binds them, that even Adam hasn’t been able to sever. Then she pulls out the St Christopher medal and says he gave it to her. He pulls it out of his pocket as well.
All of the Jonases are married to all of the Marthas.
Eva: “You and I. Black and white. Light and shadow. We are bound together for eternity. Bound in this eternally repeating deja-vu.”
Jonas: “What are you saying? What do you want? Why won’t you just tell me why I’m really here?”
Has anyone, ever, told him the truth about why he’s somewhere?
That being said, she just told him he’s her husband, they complete each other and it’s their regularly scheduled visitation time. She wanted to renew their vows, first taken with Hannah presiding over them at Katharina and Ulrich’s anniversary party, before they had sex.
I didn’t buy romance as her only reason for crossing worlds to get him either.
Eva: “You have seen what you will do. What Adam will do. If you want to save your Martha, you have to choose the side of light. And I’ll become what you see you have made of me.”
Jonas goes off on her, telling her he’s done with obligations. I don’t know how much of his anger is due to yet another person telling him he has to choose the light and how much is due to yet another person telling him that everything is his fault, as if they never make choices of their own, but he’s had enough.
She tells him to decide what he wants. Does he want his Martha to live?
And just like that, his choices are gone again. He has to choose this third side that is supposedly on the side of the light. He’s been used by Adam, Eva and Claudia. Another triquetra knot is complete. No way out.
Alt Ulrich stops by to visit Alt Martha and Alt Magnus at the Nielsen-Kahnwald house. Not because he wants to see how his children are holding up after encountering the dead body of their uncle. Because he wants to interrogate them as a police officer, since he’s certain they were on drugs and had a mass hallucination when they found Mads. And he thinks maybe they stole something from Mads’ remains for kicks.
He’s in the process of bullying Martha when Magnus comes downstairs and stands up to him. Martha repeats the truth to Ulrich, then Magnus forces him to leave. He only goes because Magnus is physically large enough to be threatening. If it had been Martha alone, who knows how far he would have taken his intimidation.
Season 3 Ulrich didn’t even inherit S1 and 2 Ulrich’s charm and love for his children. This slime deserves whatever fate is coming for him. In fact, he can’t leave my screen fast enough.
Hannah stops by the police station with treats for Ulrich, but he’s not there. She runs into Charlotte and Torben. She notices that Charlotte’s hair is different. Is that a ruse or did Charlotte change her hair to appeal to Ulrich? Gross. Hannah hugs Charlotte the way Katharina once hugged her to determine if she was the one Ulrich was cheating with. Hannah gets the same unhappy confirmation that Katharina did.
Hannah takes the treats into her husband’s office to give herself a minute to recover. While she’s there she comes to a decision.
Alt Martha visits Magnus in his room and asks him if he saw anything unusual in the woods last night. He didn’t. Then she wonders if she is losing her mind and if maybe Mads’ body was already in the bunker. Magnus is sure of what they saw.
Martha abruptly leaves through his bedroom window, asking him not to tell Katharina. She says she’ll be back for dinner.
Eva: “Everything repeats itself, again and again, for all eternity, because none of us are prepared to let go. It took me a long time to understand that.”
She says to Jonas he will always choose his Martha, while Eva will always cling to her own past. But trusting Adam hasn’t worked out for him.
Eva wants Jonas to help Alt Martha understand how things work in the Dark world, before time runs out.
There’s an apocalypse due in the Alt world in a couple of days. It hasn’t been mentioned in a while, but it’s actually an urgent situation. Jonas will show Alt Martha the Alt world future, so she’ll understand that she needs to join the rest of the Marthas in their cause.
Eva’s extremely vague on the specifics of everything. Mostly what I get from that conversation is that they are tragic lovers who are doomed to repeat the same tragic mistakes for all of eternity, but Eva really, really needs Jonas to do this thing right now that may or may not be helpful in a non-tragic way.
She mostly stares hypnotically into Jonas’ eyes like a snake charmer. Her argument seems to be that Jonas’ and Alt Martha’s fates are bound together. If he doesn’t help, he’s doomed in some way, too. Except, we know he’s always doomed.
She hands him a glow light and he leaves.
Mikkel taught him that asking enough questions to understand his situation would spoil the magic. Or maybe the ending.
They never want Young Jonas to have too many spoilers, at any rate. Like the Winter Soldier, he’s meant to be perpetually confused.
Back to the Prime world.
Alt Martha is in her room holding the St Christopher medal when Stranger comes in. I swear, he looks creepier by the minute. He asks her why he can’t remember being in her world with her. She says she doesn’t know and it wasn’t her who wrote the letter, either.
She asks him what Sic Mundus is. He explains that Gustav’s father, “Tried to bring someone back from the dead. His wife.” Heinrich Tannhaus thought time travel could save the world by preventing every mistake before it occurred. “But it doesn’t bring salvation. Only damnation.”
Those are Adam’s words, which became the foundation of his version of Sic Mundus. Adam wasn’t trying to prevent mistakes. He told his younger self that he was trying to put an end to all of them at one, bringing about mass salvation. The rapture, if you will. If I remember right, he was actually going for nihilism, a peaceful, dark void.
Martha tells him that everyone is dead in her world. She has to keep trying to alter that outcome. He looks at her wide-eyed, but he’s been down this futile road before, so he turns to leave. She grabs his arm, the way he grabbed hers in the Alt world high school theatre. He doesn’t remember that, but she affects him, as any Martha always will.
She takes Stranger to the woods, where of course it’s pouring rain. She buried the golden time snitch under Hannah and Aleksander’s special blackmail tree. Stranger doesn’t recognize the sphere device.
Martha opens a compartment and takes out a single glass ball, about the size of a golf ball, that’s filled with Cesium 137, the black goo that powers time machines. She tells him it’s her last one, the only way she can get back to her own world. Then she hands it to Stranger.
That’s a big sacrifice. I guess she could get more Cesium 137 in the future once he creates a God particle and gets it working as a safe, reliable time machine.
Should only take a day or two.
Back to the Alt world and Eva’s lair. The Unknown trio present her with Gustav’s pocket watch and play book plus the binder from Claudia’s office. Unknown tells her that she could have told Jonas the truth about the direction she’s sending him in and the consequences of his actions.
This is a variation of what Magnus said to Adam in S2, after Adam sent Young Jonas on his way to 2019. Adam convinced Jonas he could save Michael from suicide, but Jonas was actually about to doom him.
Eva says that Jonas will never stop trying to break the cycle. He’ll never understand that the knot must be preserved. “His Martha must perish so that all the others can live.”
I sense Claudia’s manipulative hand in the way Adam and Eva are at odds with each other, with exact opposite beliefs about such similar goals. She needs them following certain separate paths into old age, not happily settling down together or imploding into Romeo and Juliet out of guilt.
Eva opens the binder. The power plant keys that Unknown stole from Bernd are inside. The front page inside the binder says “Winden Nuclear Power Plant Volume Control System”. She says, “The beginning and the end.” He looks at her with an unreadable expression. Anger? Dread?
Though Unknown gave Eva the same message that Magnus communicated to Adam, he didn’t use the same words. This is the first time that we’ve heard him have a meaningful conversation that didn’t use either quotes or simple demands.
I was worried that with each act of erasure, a piece of his mind was also being erased. He seems like he’s all there in this conversation with Eva, though it’s possible he was lurking in the shadows during Magnus’ similar conversation with Adam, which would make this simply a rephrased statement.
He took Jonas’ side in the argument, which could be taken as a sign that he can think for himself or as a sign that he’s also working with Adam.
Jonas leaves the caves. Alt Winden is foggy again.
Alt Charlotte visits the bunker to do her own inspection, as she once did in the Prime world. She finds Helge’s pfennig on a string under a bench. Prime Charlotte found a piece of the wallpaper from the killer time chair room.
White out/lens flare from Charlotte’s flashlight, just in case we forgot that the penny means Helge is a psychopomp, one who escorts the dead to the Afterlife.
Helge is at home in the Doppler house and senses what just happened. Or he has foreknowledge that tells him it’s time. He leaves the house.
Yellow Raincoat Martha visits Kilian at the Obendorf trailer. Kilian guesses why she’s there, because everyone has been asking him if he slipped drugs to the rest of the kids the night they found Mads. He got kicked out of the group home because Ulrich called about it. Kilian says he didn’t, and hasn’t been involved in the family drug business, which carried over from the Prime world, for 2 years.
Kilian thought Martha saw him as more than just the trash that everyone else views him as. Now he sees that she was only dating him to rebel against her parents. When she doesn’t deny it, he breaks up with her. Martha still doesn’t argue.
That was a weird talk, since Kilian had it mostly with himself. Once Jonas came into the picture, Martha was going to break up with Kilian eventually. It’s too bad he got caught in their crossfire.
Jonas was lurking in the shadows, listening to their conversation.
Hannah visits Aleksander at work, long after business hours are over. She gives him her condolences over the loss of Regina, then gets down to business, mobster to mobster. She offers him a deal and pulls out an old plastic bag- the bag that he buried his passport and gun in when he came to Winden in 1986. She tells him not to worry, the passport and gun are safe.
He asks if she wants money.
Please. Don’t insult the woman with such a crass idea.
She wants Charlotte destroyed. “I want her to lose everything. All of it.”
Charlotte drives through the mist to
Noah’s Peter’s church. She walks in on a counseling session between him and Benni, who is presenting as male in this world, just to keep us on our toes. They try not to look guilty as they say goodbye, and fail. They also almost kiss, then look totally smug about it.
It’s not clear from her reaction whether Charlotte knows about Benni and Peter in this world. Maybe she doesn’t care, since the marriage is on the rocks.
Once Benni’s gone, Charlotte jumps into interrogating Peter. She throws out one question after another, without giving him time to answer.
It’s the inverse of that time Peter interrogated himself in their living room while Charlotte just looked at him. Good times.
The questions are about Peter and Helge’s history in Winden. She mentions that Peter came to town in 1987. In this world, Helge went to live in the nursing home after the car accident, as he did in the Prime world.
(In the Prime world, the car accident was caused by Helge’s Old self ramming into his Adult self, hoping to stop himself from helping Noah murder anymore children. I’ve assumed that it worked, since Adult Helge went to live in the nursing home. The chair also began functioning properly, sending Child Helge back to the 1950s alive but with facial deformities, so they didn’t need to sacrifice boys to test it anymore and moved on to working on the box device.)
Eventually, Charlotte shows Peter the coin she found in the bunker. Since Old Helge carries the same coin with him all the time in the current day, he’s now her prime suspect. Peter insists that Helge was with him and Elizabeth all night. They’re interrupted by a phone call from the police station telling Peter that Old Helge has turned himself in and confessed.
At the station, Peter reiterates that Helge was at home with him and Elizabeth when Mads’ body appeared in the bunker. Helge says, “I killed the child.” Charlotte tries to get more detail out of him, but he repeats the same thing. Then Ulrich barrels in and grabs Helge by the front of his collar, shaking the frail old man violently and getting up in his face, repeatedly yelling, “What did you do to Mads?”
Helge is shocked to see Ulrich, saying, “You’re alive,” then repeating “It was him,” and pulling out his coin, which is an exact match for the one Charlotte found in the bunker.
Ulrich: “What are you saying?”
“You’re alive,” is one of the other catchphrases for the season, “alive” being a somewhat relative term.
Yellow Raincoat Alt Martha didn’t listen to me and has gone for another walk alone in the woods at night. Didn’t Ulrich and Katharina ever read any German fairy tales to their children? Maybe just Magnus.
Her stalker arrives, having been given permission to pursue her by Eva. She asks him why he won’t stop following her or tell her how they know each other. He pulls down his hood and says they’ve always known each other.
Then he describes some of the childhood memories he and Prime Martha shared, ones which Eva confirmed she also shares. He tells Alt Martha that he was there for all of them, though she doesn’t remember him. In his world, they were always together.
Martha tells him he’s crazy and tries to walk away. He grabs her arm and tells her that her future self told him that she saw herself last night in these woods. He says he knows it sounds crazy. At first he thought it was crazy, too. She asks who he really is. He offers to show her how everything is connected.
Back to the Prime world.
Stranger puts the
memory Cesium 137 into a pensieve heavy rock basin, then moves to turn on the caged lightning. The teens watch. No one is wearing safety gear. He’s the worst foster dad ever.
He messes with his instruments until blue lightning shoots out of the 3 metal poles that surround the Cesium 137, striking the ball of black goo. After a minute, the lightning stimulates the goo into growing and undulating, then gradually becoming the glowing, gaseous God particle we all know and love.
The cloud form only lasts a few seconds before subsiding into a bubbling puddle. It was enough to prove that Jonas can make a time machine. They don’t have any hazmat suits, so early travel will be damaging.
While Stranger does his experiment, Alt Martha stands in her usual spot in the back, near the emergency exit, looking mildly guilty. She always has that look on her face and a bit of an otherworldly glow to her when she’s in this room, as if she’s not really there with them. It’s a nice visual touch to remind us that she’s not our Martha.
Prime Martha was frequently separate from the group as well: on the beach instead of in the lake, on stage instead of in the audience, in her bedroom instead of downstairs during the party. Then, in the bunker alone or Hannah’s house instead of the Nielsen house when the apocalypse was nigh.
Though she was often with Jonas, having intense feelings, it was Bartosz who she officially dated. He lied to her the entire time. Like Hannah and Claudia, Martha is in the center of everything but can only count on herself.
Which is what she does now. After the God particle drops back into the basin, Franziska looks around the lab and notices that Alt Martha is gone.
She has spoken so little this season that I forgot she’s not mute in the Prime world.
Martha runs to her bedroom and pops another ball of Cesium 137 into the time sphere. She disappears in a puff of golden glitter, just as Stranger and the teens come looking for her. She lied to Stranger so that she could make a quick getaway.
She had at least one more ball of fuel besides the one she used. I’m guessing that each ball lasts for multiple jumps, since we’ve never seen them switched out before and one was enough to create what will be a self-sustaining God particle in the future.
Stranger and Bartosz stare at each other, each sure it’s the other’s fault.
Back to the Alt world.
Jonas takes Yellow Raincoat Martha on a date to the Alt world passage with his glow light and a montage. The song is called Inside by Chris Avantgarde, feat. Red Rosamond.
Helge is in a cell at the police station (replacing Aleksander).
Peter and Charlotte leave the station together. They stop and glance at Ulrich, who is sitting at his desk, brooding. Charlotte looks very close to the Prime version of herself now.
Hannah is home alone. She looks at her empty bed and walks out of the bedroom again.
Jonas and Martha reach the three doors in the passage. They each say Erit Lux- Let There Be Light, instead of Sic Mundus Creatus Est- Thus the World Was Created. This is the name of Eva’s gang of loyal henchmen and time travelers, just as Sic Mundus is the name of Adam’s.
Eva holds the St Christopher medal and looks at the Adam and Eva paintings. The montage singer pauses, then sings, “Time to say goodbye.”
Back to the Prime world.
It’s September 23, 2053 and snowing radioactive ash or snow or both at the former plant. Alt Martha, still in her dress from 1888, walks into the reclaimed area of the plant. Adam asks if she gave it to him. She nods her head, yes. He says that he always has been too gullible and that she did the right thing. They are in an observation room overlooking the power plant God particle.
Back to the Alt world again. It’s 2052 there, daytime and a desert.
Once they’re out of the cave, Martha is confused about what just happened. Jonas says she’ll explain it to herself. Stranger Martha makes her dramatic appearance, her face swathed in scarves to protect her from the harsh sun. “Welcome to the future.”
At least she didn’t hit either of them in the head.
I should have mentioned sooner- 1888 was the year before Nietzsche descended into severe mental illness and stopped writing. A few years later, his hated sister, Elisabeth, took over his care and took custody of his work, rewriting his original ideas to fit her own. She was a proto-Nazi, who eventually became good friends with Hitler. It took until the mid-20th century for scholars to access his original notes and publish new versions of his work, so that we now know what he actually said.
The three versions of Jonas are on this heartbreaking journey this season, traveling even deeper into their own pain and suffering. The end is the beginning. As Stranger said, you can’t avoid the labyrinth. You have to go through it, at least if you want to be one of the characters who’s fleshed out and real.
Alt Hannah’s wish for Charlotte to be destroyed has already happened to Prime Charlotte. Over there, she’s 33 years in the future, living in the caves, having lost everything but Elizabeth. I think Charlotte and Elizabeth’s souls are bound such that they can’t ever permanently lose each other. But they are involved with Sic Mundus and should have access to time travel, so I wonder if this is more a case of giving up worldly distractions in favor of a cause, rather than the revenge it sounded like Hannah wanted.
In the Prime world, in S1, Hannah asked Aleksander to destroy Ulrich’s life. Before Aleksander had a chance to do anything, Ulrich destroyed his own life by taking his grief over the loss of Mikkel too far and going on a rampage in 1953. On the other hand, unlike the rest of Winden, Ulrich has been physically safe for 34 years at last count, so maybe he won that bet. He hasn’t been free, but by Claudia and Adam’s standards for their loved ones, he’s doing pretty well.
Maybe Magnus quietly set up the variables in a way that keeps his father safe and out of trouble, the way Stranger Jonas quietly goaded Hannah into taking the device back to 1953 before the apocalypse. I don’t think anyone’s going to bother to save Alt Ulrich, who’s endeared himself to exactly no one.
Once the rain let up, the Alt world was misty for much of the episode, giving it a ghostly feeling again. Are the characters all ghosts who don’t know it, like in The Sixth Sense? Sometimes it seems like they’re following the rules for the dead from that film (SPOILERS for a 20 year old film): They don’t know they’re dead, they don’t recognize other ghosts, they only see what they want to see and they’re everywhere.
I wonder if Dark might be working with the concept of an oversoul, where every Jonas on every world is the same Jonas, in that they ultimately share part of the same connected soul cluster (another layer of meaning for “Jonas is always Jonas”), in addition to souls/Wills retaining their identities between incarnations. That would explain some of the oddities like Alt Peter recognizing Jonas in the graveyard.
It could also explain the way that close relatives or husbands and wives react to each other when they meet each other for the first time, even when at the time one is a child and one is an adult. For example, Young Hannah and Elizabeth both primped before meeting their future husbands for the first time, even though they were random meetings. And the relationships between Mikkel and Jonas; Elizabeth and Charlotte; and Jonas and Bartosz were unusually intense, no matter who was the adult or child, before they knew the uniqueness of their situations.
For future reference, this is what it looks like when we swoop between worlds:
This was a transition between Martha’s face and the stone basin in the workshop.
Bartosz and Jonas and Time Travel
Bartosz’s role is changing, without Prime Martha to fight for and the rest of his family to back him. He and Jonas have always been close, but until now he’s been Jonas’ rival and best friend, often taking the role of leader.
Stranger Jonas and Young Bartosz are so far apart in age and experience that they’re no longer rivals. Bartosz is a reluctant follower now.
And sometimes, he becomes the only sensible person in the room. When the Cesium 137 came alive, Bartosz looked like he suddenly realized what a bad idea the whole thing was and turned to look at Martha, but she was unfazed. It did feel a little like watching the tiny plant in Little Shop of Horrors begin to grow, and to grow HUNGRY. We know what people will do to feed their obsession with that cloud.
Bartosz is right that everything is Jonas’ fault, in the sense that he’s one of the main drivers of time travel. And in the sense that Jonas saved their lives and brought them to 1888, but now they can’t leave on demand. Where is it that Bartosz wants to go and what is it he thinks he can change when he gets there?
He’s no longer the princeling of the town. He’s now dependent on a half mad Jonas and he’s only making Jonas’ state of mind worse. Revealing to Magnus and Franziska that Jonas is also Adam had to happen eventually, but doing it the way Bartosz did just deepens Stranger’s shame and guilt over the situation, driving him into the mindset that leads him to become Adam.
In this cycle Stranger has dropped his zen attitude and lost all hope for himself. He’s continuing on because he has no choice. He can’t die and he’s responsible for the three teens anyway. He has a general idea of where his future heads, so he’s moving in that direction. Bartosz made sure that everyone in his life sees the dark side of him first. There’s no one in 1888 to pull him back toward the light.
But why is Bartosz so certain that Jonas doesn’t know what he’s doing? While Jonas is frustrated and surly when we see him in the lab, neither of those emotions means he’s inept. He appears confident as he handles the equipment, working without hesitation. He knows the steps he needs to follow, he just doesn’t have the correct materials, so he’s having to improvise to compensate. It seems to be the only thing left in life that he cares about and he’s driven to succeed at it, and he does succeed, once he has the one raw material he can’t duplicate easily.
Jonas apprenticed with Old Claudia and HG Tannhaus, the only two people it’s possible to learn about time travel from, then he taught Adult Claudia in turn. He’s trying to do something that’s almost impossible in any time period. Except he’s in the late 19th century, without access to the modern equipment they had with the power plant God particle. Major inventions take years or decades, not weeks. But eventually that little glass ball turns into the first time travel machine that’s disconnected from the 33 year cycle. The sphere is descended from it, in what’s become a bootstrap paradox.
Here is a shot from S2Ep5 of a disassembled time travel box. With the case removed, you can see how it’s related to all of the other time travel devices. The chair had those copper coils on the back. The sphere is made by refining the parts such that what’s left can fit into a case that surrounds the round piece on the left, which must be the essential component. Given the size of the sphere, the round piece has been made smaller as well, since in this episode we saw Martha pull out the cylinder that the Cesium 137 goes into, and it takes up a fair amount of space. That cylinder is in the upper right hand corner of this machine, if I remember right.
It looks like someone is tinkering with the box, probably working out how to take it to the next level. Or this is the box when it’s in the process of being invented.
If only Bartosz knew how rarely time travel, or really any plans, work out the way Jonas thinks they will. Sometime we should count up how many times he’s been kidnapped, coerced or conned out of his plans. Even Adam’s plans don’t always go right. The apocalypse he worked so hard to create didn’t break the knot or lead to Paradise for any of the major players.
We know now that Bartosz is a pretty special guy, all on his own, since the Nielsen line is descended from him. He doesn’t need to feel jealous of Jonas’ specialness or envy his relationship with Martha. What we don’t know is if he’s still operating under orders from anyone, such as Claudia or Noah, or if this Jesus/Judas- Cain/Abel relationship just comes naturally to the two of them.
Chosen ones do need a push in the seemingly wrong (but actually right) direction at times and if Claudia isn’t there to be Jonas’ devil, her grandson, Bartosz, is there to pick up the slack.
Soul Mate Quality Time
Wow, I did not see the scene between Adam and Alt Martha coming. Hearing Adam’s voice come out of nowhere like that was a jump scare for me. I guess I didn’t expect Adam to want to escape the shockwave all that much, never mind by jumping forward rather than backward to where he’d come from. He probably still can’t die. Wonder if he’s tested it lately.
I always assume he’s testing it frequently. Maybe it’s now part of his morning routine. Startle awake, attempt suicide, smell the milk.
I definitely didn’t expect Alt Martha to be taking orders from him in the future. How did that happen?
Is there something about Martha’s missing future in this world and Jonas’ missing future in the other world that means she needs to touch base with every version of Jonas in each cycle? Young Jonas has now met all three versions of her in the Alt world as well, though Eva cleverly made it look like meeting Stranger Martha was for Yellow Raincoat Martha’s benefit, not because some quota of Jonas-Martha interactions need to be fulfilled on each world. Using the sphere, Jonas and Yellow Raincoat Martha could have gone to any time period to prove the truth to her.
We’re meant to assume Adam was asking Martha about the ball of Cesium 137. I guess he thinks Stranger was gullible for believing it was the last of her supply? Adam is so sure that he’s smarter than his previous selves. I think it’s mostly that the scars allow him to dissociate from himself like crazy.
I’ll bet he’s happier in the post apocalyptic future though. He can be just Jonas again, as he continues his nihilistic campaign for underworld domination or whatever the ultimate plan is this time. I can’t see him enjoying playing Lord of the Manor the way he did in the 1920s. It might have been overcompensation to make others comfortable with his scars. In the post shockwave world, he won’t stand out as much. Unlike Eva, Jonas was always meant for the ascetic lifestyle, which is why it was so hard to reconcile the Adam we were introduced to in S2 with the other Jonases.
Adam got a fabulous new coat for the apocalypse, though. Really sharp. He may be into self denial, but he’s never gotten over his attachment to weather gear that makes a statement.
Erit Lux: Let There Be Light
Erit Lux, the name of Eva’s band of followers, which is carved into the passage doors in the Alt world, is translated to Let There Be Light by the Netflix subtitles. This is a quote from the Bible verse Genesis 1:3, when God creates light, then dark. But the phrase Let There Be Light is generally written in Latin as Fiat Lux or occasionally Lux Sit, so it’s odd that Dark would use Erit Lux. The Bible translations I checked used Fiat Lux in Genesis 1:3.
The Dark creators could have meant to translate Erit Lux as Let There Be Light and just decided to use an obscure, but still basically correct, translation, in which case, skip the rest of this. However, the Latin phrase Erit Lux is used in a few other places in the Bible. Isaiah 30:26 and Zechariah 14:6&7 are the two that seemed most prominent. Both admonish believers to remain loyal to God in the face of hardship, promising that they will make it through the darkness and be rewarded when the light returns. In these verses, the translation of Erit Lux is closer to There Will Be Light.
Over the course of the last few episodes, we’ve watched Eva use love and loyalty, and their inverse, guilt and shame, to push Jonas and her younger self, Alt Martha, into doing what she wants. Adam tends to use more straightforward lies that appeal to his younger self as a hero and savior. Eva wants Jonas to work with Martha to save the world, while Adam sent Jonas off alone to save their father. Claudia is keeping her distance from Jonas this season, but in the past, they’ve always felt like their own self-contained little unit who are putting The Work first for The Greater Good.
26 et erit lux lunae sicut lux solis, et lux solis erit septempliciter sicut lux septem dierum, in die qua alligaverit Dominus vulnus populi sui, et percussuram plagae ejus sanaverit.
26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
6Et erit in die illa : non erit lux, sed frigus et gelu. 7Et erit dies una quæ nota est Domino, non dies neque nox : et in tempore vesperi erit lux.
4On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake a in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
6On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. 7It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light.
A Peek into Eva’s Philosophy
Eva did bring up one interesting concept- she said that everything repeats because no one lets go of their attachments. I don’t think we’ve heard anyone but Stranger Jonas and Noah consciously argue for the suppression of the Will through lack of worldly attachments as the existential way out, and neither of them have done it this season.
But Eva/Martha isn’t arguing for an ascetic way of life. She’s saying that it’s impossible to follow through with a life that’s stripped of all materialism and relationships, so other options need to be explored.
It’s the eternal disagreement between her and Jonas. He chooses the path of self-denial to the point of the disintegration of the self into the Oneness, while she chooses love and expansiveness until the soul merges with the Oneness. Either is a valid path to transcendence, if followed to the end, but they’re hard paths for 2 people to walk side by side.
What’s interesting is that Eva’s HQ is decorated so sparsely, and in the future she appears to be living a primitive lifestyle. Meanwhile Adam’s Sic Mundus lair was richly appointed and he always had people with him. While Eva says she’s trying to preserve the cycles and worlds, she’s sending Unknown out to destroy pieces of them.
Their thinking may be more alike than they let on. When it comes down to it, both have few attachments and their focus is turned away from the self, which is what is required for self actualization or merging with the Oneness.
Heinrich’s Ariadne Speech
I’ve analyzed the Ariadne passage before, but let’s look at it one more time, since it takes on new meaning, coming from Grandpappy Time Travel Tannhaus. He lost his Charlotte and that loss has echoed through 240 years and two worlds of connected lives, tied into knots that shouldn’t be possible.
“From then on, I knew that nothing changes. That all things remain. The spinning wheel turns, round and round, in a circle. One fate tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that connects all our deeds.”
The narrator realizes that everything is connected, in an unbroken, unbreakable cycle, made from human lives connected by time and fate. This is an eternal recurrence. It’s also a reincarnation cycle, with a soul cluster traveling together, their fates woven together into the cloth that the three mythic fates make of their lives and deaths.
The spinning wheel and thread are traditional symbols of the fates. A single thread is a single human life. When threads are woven together, lives are woven together as well and individual destinies become dependent on other lives. This is symbolized in the Ariadne speech by the tug on the thread, which is still felt by both people despite their emotional and physical separation. Their destinies are intertwined and that doesn’t change with time or distance. The blood red symbolizes both life and bloodlines, the familial connections that make Dark tick.
The spinning wheel and the carriage wheels are wheels of time. Old Gustav, who connects two versions of Sic Mundus, gives the sense of Aion, Time God of Eternity. He passes the mantle to Jonas before he dies. Aion is frequently identified with mystery religions, Dionysus and Osiris. He often travels with an earth or mother goddess, such as Claudia/Sophia and Martha/Eve/Persephone. (X) Aion is also associated with snakes, which were carved into the Erit Lux Alt world passage doors, among others uses.
Aion and his female counterpart, Aeternitas, are also associated with the phoenix as symbols of rebirth and cyclical renewal. (X) Jonas is currently in the process of putting himself through the fire/lightning to be reborn as the phoenix Adam. His female counterpart, Martha, also renames herself as the phoenix Eva, though we don’t know what form her fire takes yet.
That puff of glitter when the time sphere is used could be interpreted as a phoenix dying and being reborn each time the sphere is used. That has interesting implications for the way various characters have aged, if the human soul, which is often equated with birds, is the phoenix. In early Egyptian mythology, their version of the phoenix, the Bennu, was Osiris’ soul.
Aion is usually pictured as forever young, while the other version(s) of time, Chronos/Cronos, is pictured as an old man, Father Time. Humans can’t stay young forever, so their metaphorical personification as Gods in a human body won’t have that attribute, but Gustav’s prophecy keeps him alive, in a sense, for at least 240 years.
Jonas time travels so much that he seems to be young for ages. We’ve seen him as an adult during the period from 1888 to 2052, 164 years. That’s pretty eternal by human standards. Those years aren’t lived in a linear fashion, but that’s part of the magic of being a time god. Who knows where and when Claudia has traveled? I’m guessing it’s further than Jonas.
Three Concepts of Time
This is a wonderful reflection by Stephen Chamberlain, which isn’t very long, on the difference between three Greek words for time, aion, chronos and kairos. It’s worth reading just as food for thought. But it could also help with understanding the ways the Dark characters think about time.
Aion means eternal time, as noted above, the long term cycles of the universe. If you are an immortal vampire, you probably slip into living according to these rhythms more than we mere humans do.
Chronos is clock time. HG Tannhaus, the clockmaker, is the father god, Chronos, of this universe because he understands its mechanics and the timing of the resulting cycles best. But he doesn’t understand its metaphysical seasons.
Kairos assigns meaning to time. It’s the concept of pairing specific times with specific actions (or inaction) according to the quality of a particular chronological time. This concept gives us astrology and the signs of the zodiac, the idea of quality time vs a set amount of time, and seasonal observances. The Bible passage in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 that says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven,” is speaking of this view of time. When we speak of the seasons of life, we are doing the same thing.
This is how the characters in Dark view the cycles/eternal recurrences. Each cycle is a season in their eternal lives, which they remember on a soul/Will level. Some are more self aware than others, depending on how advanced the character is. Most who live in Winden aren’t self aware at all. Claudia is very self-aware.
There are seasons within the cycles as well. I suspect that there are also larger cycles that we don’t know about yet- Big Crunches and Big Bangs.
Just as we use systems like astrology, religion, meteorology and state holidays to mark the passage of time and motivate our activities, the characters in Dark have set up systems to both explain and affect the cycles. They debate whose system is the most effective and whose is junk science. They debate whose motivations are the ones that deserve priority. Save Mikkel? Regina? They set up reminders so that they will remember what they want to do from cycle to cycle, as we do from year to year. And as families sometimes do, they sabotage each other so that their kid will be the one who inherits Grandpa’s fortune/is saved from the apocalypse, instead of the first wife’s kids.
Images courtesy of Netflix.