Dark Season 3 Episode 4: The Origin Recap

Dark S3Ep4 Hannah & Helene

In episode 4, Young Tronte and Claudia each have an encounter with a creepy old man, Hannah makes a decision that will have wide ranging consequences and Yellow Raincoat Martha gets to know Stranger Martha and her even stranger ideas. Tronte and Jana spend some quality time together, while the Unknown trio check some important items off their To Do list.


The episode opens with Tronte walking through the woods toward the mouth of the cave. He seems drawn there, though he doesn’t seem to understand why.

This stretch of woods reminds me of the German fairytale Hansel and Gretel, which is ultimately a variant of Ariadne’s thread. There have been so many kids who’ve walked through here while on their way to be sacrificed in one way or another. Tronte doesn’t die, but his life is frequently interrupted as he’s drawn to serve the needs of the knot and the White Devil Witch Claudia. Jana acts as his Ariadne/Gretel, providing the thread/trail of crumbs/home and stability that he always returns to.

Dark S3Ep4 The Woods

Plus, I could swear that the Netflix Danish show The Rain filmed in this same spot for their season 2. That show is pretty blatantly Hansel and Gretel, lost in the woods, though I can’t remember if I’ve written about it that way. It’s about an engineered, localized, waterborne plague which is carried by the rain, that is eventually traced to an original human carrier. It’s a great show- S3 comes out 8/6/20. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Adult Unknown is lurking next to the family tree, where Noah, in particular, likes to hide so that he can make a grand entrance.

Unknown: “We’re attracted to the dark like moths to the light. We are born out of darkness and so we return to it. You’ve grown, Tronte.”

For those keeping score, that’s 2 cliches and a paraphrased quote from a novel. At least he’s trying to make conversation. You can tell from the look on Tronte’s face that he just knew his dad would be weird.

Also, despite working for Eva, Unknown apparently doesn’t follow the light or even believe it’s possible. His hello to Tronte was essentially ashes to ashes, life is futile.

Tronte: “Do I know you?”

Unknown: “I knew your mother in the biblical sense. But that was long ago. You take after her. Your eyes.”

Tronte asks who Unknown is. Unknown says that he was never given a name, but he is the one who named Tronte. Old and Young Unknown join them, surrounding Tronte, who gets even more nervous, but Adult Unknown signals that he has nothing to fear. Then Adult Unknown takes out a snake bracelet and says that it belonged to Tronte’s mother (Agnes, who is frequently associated with snakes). He wants Tronte to have it. He puts it in Tronte’s hand and wraps his own hand around Tronte’s for a moment as he looks deeply into Tronte’s eyes, probably the only bit of fatherly affection Tronte will ever get from him.

Tronte says he has to leave, and does so. The Unknown trio watch him go. They are in a bright teal blue shirt, the color of mystery and time. It’s cute how all three always wear matching outfits.

The bracelet is an ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, an ancient symbol which represents infinity, eternity and creation, especially through destruction. The infinity sign is used to represent the Unknown on Eva’s family tree. Though Unknown is a person, he has mystical and scientific significance as the bridge who connects the worlds.

It’s kind of a lot to put on one person, even one who seems to manifest as a trio. It takes so much from him that two of his three selves rarely speak and the third thinks in archetypes. Or maybe they’re so disgusted with their two worlds that they don’t bother to speak or try to understand people beyond their archetypes.

Okay, moving on, let’s listen to that upbeat theme song, with those brightly colored images to cheer us up after that sad father-son non reunion.

Dark S3Ep4 Tronte Leaves Unknown

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Dark S3Ep4 Egon & Hannah Make Silja

Next we’re gonna make a baby! Egon and Hannah are making Silja.

Well, it’s probably not this specific time.

When they’re done, they get dressed. Egon tells Hannah he loves her, I think mostly because he thinks he should. Hannah looks happier at his words than she did after the sex, but doesn’t say it back. Egon doesn’t look like he was expecting her to. Guess it’s not required of the mistress.

Egon gives her a gift- the St Christopher medal that Young Jonas and Martha found on the beach the day before Michael hung himself, hours before they had sex the first time. This is its origin story. He’s afraid she doesn’t like it. She says it’s just that she’s felt off all week.

And it’s odd to give your girl on the side a Catholic saint’s medal.

As he’s getting ready to leave, she asks if he plans to come back tonight. He’s not sure. He might need to spend the evening at home. But he tells her, “You’re beautiful.” He’s glad she stayed in Winden.

So he didn’t leave Doris for her and he used Ulrich’s cheater line. That sounds like the kiss of death for their relationship.

After he leaves, she smokes a cigarette. She’s wearing a rich green robe, several shades darker than Unknown’s shirt. That’s a combination of fire with green, for the forest where danger and the fairy tale Big Bad Wolf lives. Is the fire a light in the darkness or does it mean her world is about to be set ablaze?

It’s September 24, 1954. We’re in the Prime world.

There is a bit of a fire burning everywhere, this episode, after all of those Jonases and Marthas spent the last episode together.

Teen Ines, Claudia and Jana are now in the forest before school. Ines found one of her father’s girlie magazines, Kess, which has black and white photos of semi-nude women in provocative poses. In this era of restricted content in print, TV and films, they’ve never seen anything like it before. While Ines and Claudia are fascinated, Jana hangs back. She’s worried about being late for school.

Ines says that her father told her you learn more from life than school. She and Claudia think that there should be magazines like this for women, but with men in them. Ines asks if either of the other two have seen a naked man in real life. Claudia admits to having seen Tronte, but says male genitals didn’t impress her. Ines says she thinks Tronte is strange and so is his mother.

Just When You Thought the Misogyny Was Over, Freud Jumps Out from Behind a Tree

In Other Words, “Why Don’t They Have These [Magazines] with Men in Them?”

Because cool girls know they have to reject their own identities and like what men like, but cool guys always retain their status and identity as men.

Posing in positions that are submissive to women, the way the women in the magazine photos are showing their openness and submissiveness to men, will result in a loss of status for men. A demonstration of submissiveness and low status is part of the perceived sexiness of the women in these photos.

Because it’s a sign of lower socioeconomic status to allow yourself to be exploited the way the women in this magazine are allowing themselves to be exploited.

And it’s a sign of higher socioeconomic status to exploit others. So the men who view these photos automatically feel a surge of power from the exploitation involved that they wouldn’t get from being involved with a woman who is their socioeconomic equal. This is why sex continues to be kept in the Original Sin category. It’s a useful way to keep women in a place of submission while also giving men a cheap thrill of sexual power over them.

It’s also why Daniel Kahnwald thinks wives are boring but inexperienced teenage girls are hot.

Women have been socialized since recorded history began to accept this lower status and the exploitation and degradation that come with it as normal, so most don’t question it.

I assume the conversation between the three girls is meant to show how daring Claudia is in relation to Jana, but it fails. It shows how much misogyny Ines and Claudia have internalized and how uncomfortable Jana is with the exploitation of women, just as she will later be unhappy with the way Claudia exploits Tronte and their marriage. It shows that Ines is already able to shrewdly play people against each other.

On some level, Jana will understand that her son was stolen from her to feed the town’s time travel machine, even though she’ll be lied to and her sanity will be undermined to keep the secret, as has been done for generations in Winden. Just as women’s sanity has been undermined for thousands of years to perpetuate the ideal of the powerful, rational man.

Ines will eventually steal Jana and Tronte’s grandson, Mikkel, from his family and go to great lengths to keep him apart from his parents, while drugging Mikkel so he’ll stop trying to get home. Her actions will undermine Michael’s sanity, just as his grandmother Jana’s and father Ulrich’s sanity are also undermined for the cause.

What this scene also shows is that Claudia and Ines are happy to go along with the exploitation and degradation of human beings in order to gain the approval of those in power.

Jana isn’t as willing to do that. She follows her own heart. She may be quieter than the other two, but she has the stronger character, even if it breaks a little over time.

She also understands that the system is hurting boys and girls in the long run. If people are objects to be exploited, that eventually means all people, from the women in the magazine to her son, Mads, to all of the people of Winden who are killed in the shockwave.

Egon finds his wife, Doris, waiting for him at the police station. When he left the house early for his tryst with Hannah, he told Doris he was going to work. She’s surprised that he wasn’t already at the station when she got there. He says, “Something came up.”

That’s one way of putting it.

Doris is so preoccupied with the object of her own affections that she doesn’t think to be suspicious of Egon. She was doing laundry for Agnes today and found a handkerchief embroidered with the initials “HT”. Doris thinks it stands for Hanno Tauber, Noah’s legal name. He disappeared at the same time as Agnes, so she thinks they could be connected. Agnes has been gone for 3 months. Doris is frantic with worry. For Tronte’s sake, obviously.

(The disappearances are definitely connected. Agnes killed Noah on Adam’s orders.)

Egon tells her to go home. The police will handle this. Doris knows this is his code for brushing her off, then forgetting about the case again, so she yells at him, trying to get him to take her seriously. It’s not normal for someone to disappear but leave all of their belongings and their child behind. Egon responds with, “Who knows what goes on inside the heads of you women?”

And just like that, he’s disqualified from the good guy club again. Here’s a hint to the answer to Egon’s question, boys: The same things that go on in your heads, only with more logic and intelligence. That’s why you find it so hard to follow and get so threatened when we don’t hold our real selves back. (X) (X) Or when we are the leads in films and TV and there isn’t a male through character to follow. John McEnroe can’t narrate everything for you.

Egon insulted his wife because he was lazy and didn’t want to bother with these missing persons cases. He never wants to bother with missing persons cases. Or possibly with any cases that don’t involve Ulrich.

Doris brought him legitimate evidence that he’d previously overlooked. He thanked her with an unprovoked misogynist attack. He told her to stop being smart, stop being curious, stop having desires and stop impinging on his life. She’s supposed to be his life partner. The underlying attitude he just exposed is hateful.

For her part, Doris gives him a cold stare and walks out.

Agnes is in 2053 with Adam, who’s currently praising her for choosing his the correct side. He gives her the newspaper clipping that describes when Claudia’s unidentified body was found in the woods, then tells her to give it to Claudia at the right time. That will be just before Noah gets the triquetra diary and shoots Claudia as revenge for her part in the kidnapping of Baby Charlotte.

Adam: “To live is a gift for those who know how to use it.”

Agnes: “You’ll tell Martha then, what the origin really is?”

Adam doesn’t answer. He turns to watch the God particle’s undulations. It’s hypnotic for him.

Alt Martha startles awake. This is the Martha who rescued Jonas at the end of season 2, dropped him in the Alt world cave, popped over to Prime world 1888, told Bartosz that Adam and Jonas are the same person and gave Stranger Jonas some Cesium 137, then bugged out of the 19th century to report to Adam in the 2050s. She’s still in the Prime world, camped outside of the ruined power plant.

Magnus has been watching her sleep. He’s about 50 and the cycle just changed. He’s in his 3rd cycle, which means I’m inclined to call him Old Magnus now, even though it’s the same actor who’s played Adult Magnus all along. IMDB has him listed as Adult Magnus throughout, so I’ll cater to his vanity as well.

Adult Magnus tells Alt Martha that he’s wondered for 33 years why she gave them the material to create their God particle in 1888, then abandoned them, when she could have used her sphere to rescue them. Now he has his answer- their older selves ordered her to abandon their younger selves in the past.

Tears run down Martha’s cheeks as he’s speaking. She apologizes. He says it doesn’t matter anymore. Adam is waiting. He doesn’t seem remotely at peace.

Dark S3EP4 Old Magnus Asks Martha About Sphere

Life in the Past

Sic Mundus lived in the past for decades, at least 33 years, with a relatively primitive level of medical care available to them, among all of the other issues with being stuck in the past. That means no vaccines, no antibiotics, no insulin, with most doctors not even believing in germ theory or washing their hands.

It took its toll on them. There was no emergency room to take care of Jonas when he hurt himself and no mental health treatment for his mental illnesses. Now they live in a harsh future, but they can at least jump to eras where decent medical care is available.

The show will never point this out, but, for another example, Magnus and Franziska are childless after living through their adulthood in an era with no reliable birth control. What happened there? Were they infertile? Did all of their children die young or in the 1918 flu or from other communicable diseases? I suspect Magnus looks so heavy in this scene for a reason.

Quick change to November 6, 2052, Alt world, bright sunlit daytime in the desert that the woods have become.

Oh my God, my eyes. Make it stop. When Eva said Erit Lux- There Will Be Light, she meant it. Does the apocalypse in this world boil away all of the water from the atmosphere, or what?

Stranger Martha has made her notes in white chalk directly on the bunker walls- everywhere, including the ceiling. She says that this is Yellow Raincoat Martha’s future, 33 years from their yesterday. The notes are so jumbled, it’s hard to tell what she means. It doesn’t matter anyway, because Young Martha is busy flipping out over seeing the grizzled future version of herself and vowing to stock up on moisturizer before the apocalypse hits.

Jonas remembers having the same feeling about grizzled old Stranger Jonas in S1 and begins to go to her, but then thinks better of it.

Young Martha asks Stranger Martha about the passage. Stranger explains that it’s a road which connects the future and the past. Young Martha asks why so many names on the wall are crossed out. Stranger explains that they’ll all die in 2 days, when the same apocalypse that has already happened in Jonas’ world happens in theirs. Young Martha verges on hyperventilating. She refuses to believe this is real. Stranger tells her that it is indeed real, if she and Jonas don’t stop the apocalypse.

Dark S3Ep4 Alt Bunker CeilingDark S3Ep4 Stranger Martha in Bunker

Back to the Prime world.

Hannah is at a doctor’s appointment. The doctor works on a test while chatting her up, then announces that she’s pregnant. He tells her that a pregnancy at her age can be risky, so she should be careful about her activity level. Hannah looks like she wants to bolt, then sits down and makes it clear that she’s not happy about this. The doctor says, “Some gifts come into our lives unexpectedly, and yet they’re still gifts.”

Egon stares into space. Greta Doppler walks into his office with perfect posture, because she will always be better than you. She asks if there’s any news. Egon assumes she’s asking about Helge’s case.

Of course not. She’s asking about Noah. Strictly because she’s worried about the devil taking over the church if Noah’s strong arms aren’t there to beat him off, mind you. Egon asks if she ever saw Noah in the company of a woman, which Greta takes as blasphemy. With a fire in her eyes, she orders him to find Hanno Tauber.

Doris visits the church herself, since Egon clearly isn’t going to do it. Though he might now, since he’s scared of Greta. The Unknown is there, acting as minister, all three still dressed alike. Adult is standing by the altar. When Doris asks if he’s the minister, he says that he used to be, long ago. She tells him that she’s looking for her former tenant, who vanished.

Agnes said that her husband was a minister who’d died. Doris thought it was worth checking at the church, in case the former minister who vanished when Agnes did was her ex-husband and Agnes went back to him. Doris doesn’t think Agnes liked her ex-husband much.

Unknown: “Not all human bonds are the result of fondness.”

Doris says that she’s concerned for Agnes’ son.

Unknown: “With every lie, the human soul dies just a little bit... You’re not interested in the boy, you’re interested in the woman… The ways of the heart cannot be explained. It wants what it wants.”

As they’ve been talking, Doris has been confused as to how he knows about her and Agnes. Old and Child Unknown get up from the pews where they’ve been sitting and surround her.

Adult Unknown tells Doris to talk to Egon about what the heart wants. He suggests that Egon might have been going to work early and coming home late for the last few months because he’s having an affair with another woman.

Adult Unknown: “It’s difficult for us to let go of what we desire deep within ourselves.”

He has the triquetra diary in his left hand, as if it’s a Bible. As he speaks, he reaches into his right pocket to put his hand on his garrote. He doesn’t take it out, since Doris makes a hasty exit.

Finally, a woman on this show who recognizes a dangerous man.

Also, I thought he was murdering according to a plan, but I think he just told us he’s a serial killer who really likes killing people. Maybe his deal with Eva is that he can kill anyone who won’t be missed from the timeline, in addition to those he’s assigned to kill, like Old Gustav.

Maybe his real name is Michael and he’s the archangel from Adam’s favorite painting, sending fallen angels to their doom. Or maybe in this case he personifies one of the many wrathful beings in Dante’s Inferno who are ready to dole out punishment whenever a sinner wanders by.

Dark S3Ep4 Church with No GraveyardDark S3Ep4 Pastor Unknown with Triqetra BibleDark S3Ep4 Doris & Unknown TrioDark S3Ep4 Winden LakeDark S3Ep4 Jana LurkingDark S3Ep4 Tronte & Jana

Moving on, nice shot of the lake. It’s neither raining nor misty. Weird. Maybe no deadly sins are happening here. Yet. Oh wait, Tronte’s sitting by the lake and he’s got a snake that’s eating itself. Jana lurks by a tree, because she’s auditioning for the Nielsen family.

She makes sure they’re alone, then sits next to Tronte. She asks about the bracelet and tells him it’s beautiful. He puts it away. She asks why he wasn’t at school.

Nothing like your messed up family to make it difficult to concentrate.

She asks what he’s doing at the lake. He says that he likes it there because it’s so desolate.

His dad understood him. Tronte’s had a dark childhood.

He tells her that he likes to write stories. She smiles. He says she has a nice smile.

That sounds a lot like, “You’re beautiful.”

Egon is now staring out his office window, instead of staring into space at his desk. I’m sure he’s going over evidence and solving cases in his mind.

When Hannah enters, he panics and tells her she can’t be seen at the police station. She tells him she’s pregnant. He had been standing next to her. When he hears the news, he scurries to the other side of the room and blames her for the birth control failure. THEN THE SCUM ASKS IF THE BABY IS HIS.

Hannah reacts like the righteous goddess that she is and backs him up against the wall. She tells him he’s no better than all the other men who think the world is theirs and that they can take whatever they want. She says he’s like an animal wallowing in the mud, not the God he and most men think they are.

Egon, of course, assumes that she’s a hysterical woman who doesn’t know what she’s saying, the usual dismissal of a woman who forgets she’s supposed to be nice all of the time and tells a man the truth.

No unconditional love for Hannah in the 50s either, then. You could see that she already knew Egon wasn’t the decent man she’d hoped he was.

Dark S3Ep4 Egon Looms Over HannahDark S3Ep4 Hannah Tells Of Egon

Claudia waits to tutor Helge in the foyer of the Doppler mansion. This must be her first time back after Helge’s disappearance. Bernd is in the next room, on the phone arguing with someone about the building permit request for the power plant. Bernd thinks that whoever is supposed to approve the request has been bribed by the coal industry to deny it so that coal will continue to be profitable.

He says that “Nuclear power is the future and the future cannot be stopped! I don’t care what the mayor says!”

Adult Bernd hangs up and comes into the foyer. He’s surprised but delighted to see Teen Claudia, who’s dressed fashionably. He gushes over what an attractive and intelligent young lady she’s grown up to be.

He pulls out a money clip to pay her for tutoring Helge and gives her some cash. She tells him it’s too much money. She’s already old enough and smart enough to understand that with extra pay, sometimes there are extra expectations.

Bernd gets right in her face and says, “I have some advice for you Claudia. A lesson. If you really want something, then take it. Things don’t just happen by themselves.”

Claudia takes the money and goes upstairs to Helge.

Bernd is about 30 years older than she is.

There’s her Faustian devil. Bernd mentors her career as a physicist and gives her the God particle, but what he wanted from her in return was pretty clear and pretty gross. Claudia understood she was accepting a double edged sword along with the cash.

Dark S3Ep4 Bernd Teaches Claudia a Lesson About What Men WantDark S3Ep4 Child Unknown with Gun

The Unknown trio meet the Mayor of Winden outside the Town Hall, with Old Unknown pretending to be the Mayor’s driver. Once the Mayor is in the car, Adult gets in the other front seat. Child Unknown gets in the back seat and sticks a gun in the Mayor’s side. The Mayor is confused.

He seems like such a nice, normal man. Must be new in town.

Adult Unknown gets philosophical with the Mayor, explaining that the “gold” the mayor is taking for bribes won’t get him the future- his own future. Though he might think he’s immortal, only one heartbeat separates any of us from the afterlife.

The Mayor sensibly asks what Unknown wants. Adult Unknown hands him the building permit application for the nuclear power plant and a pen, then says, with perfectly creepy intensity, “To the future.”

Is that the first Back to the Future joke of the season or did I miss some?

In S1Ep1, we were told the building permit for the power plant wasn’t approved until 1960, when the Atomic Energy Act was passed. In this cycle, the plant will be built 6 years earlier, in 1954.

Adult Unknown’s weapon of choice is the garrote. Child’s is a gun. Wonder what Old Unknown uses.

That was both a long and a fast turnaround on getting the permit signed. The time between the scene with Bernd’s phone call and this scene seemed instantaneous to us, but in reality, Claudia had to grow up, invent time travel, figure out that she needed to make incremental changes, recruit allies, wait for the Unknown to grow up, then tell him to travel back to the date and time she overheard Bernd’s conversation.

This is a good reminder that even when Adult Claudia disappears for episodes at a time, her unseen hand is always at work in the background, moving the pieces where she wants them, by whatever means necessary. We aren’t always shown how pieces fall into place.

This confirms that the Unknown trio also work for Claudia, either directly or through Eva.

Nuclear Death Zones or Why The Characters Should Actually Feel Guilty

This looks like the town didn’t want the power plant, so it was forced on them by Sic Mundus machinations.

Coal has many issues of its own, but it’s not even close to nuclear’s league when it comes to long term planetary destruction. Nuclear energy has certainly been a mixed blessing in Winden, between its domination of their economy and that whole thing with the meltdown and shockwave that killed most of the townspeople. Then there’s the real life incident in Chernobyl, referenced repeatedly by Dark. The full consequences of that horror still haven’t been revealed or dealt with.

Seriously, people. Nuclear power and experimentation are a bad idea. Don’t foist your problems off onto the future. Or people who live in rural areas. We don’t want your spent nuclear material.


New Mexico has its own nuclear restricted zone, with plans to make it look a lot like the one in Dark’s 2050s, once it’s done being purposely made into a death zone that will last for 10,000 years. Germany has a similar nuclear storage facility, built on the site of a salt mine where the Nazis used concentration camp prisoners as miners. So ironically inappropriate to enslave future generations to dealing with our deadly poisons at the site where concentration camp victims were enslaved, yet so like scientists and government officials to not see anything wrong with doing so.

To the (dead) future!

The first atomic explosion in history took place on July 16, 1945 at the Trinity Test Site on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. When the explosion occurred viewers from 10 miles away saw a flash of light as bright as the sun, felt heat like they’d opened an oven door, and then were hit by the sound and shockwave. People in the surrounding communities, many of them Native Americans, weren’t told they were about to become test subjects.

They still feel the health effects caused by radiation from early nuclear testing. The US government still refuses to help with medical bills. This is true of radioactive sites around the country, on land that formerly belonged to Native Americans. We have our own issues with ironically inappropriate uses of land and the victimization of people.

Once people and places are equated with trash in the minds of the ruling class, that attitude is passed down. Just as radiation lasts for 10,000 years, human judgements and the sins of the parents last for generation upon generation.

I can’t help but think that it’s not a coincidence that Trinity Knots, which can symbolize eternity, are so important in a series about nuclear power, in which two main characters who live near the power plant get cancer. Dark makes the point that the same things happen in both worlds, but not at the same time or in the same order, and no one is without guilt.

Trinity is the place where our nuclear sins began, one of the Origins the characters are looking for.

By the way, after the explosion, the sand at Ground Zero was transformed into a radioactive green glass named Trinite, found only at the Trinity Site. It’s a bottle green. Most of it was scraped up and taken away, but bits of it are still there. Most, maybe all, radioactive minerals, like uranium, are green, which adds another layer of meaning to the color when used in Dark.

Stranger Jonas wore green throughout S2. The preferred color for Claudia and everyone who lives post apocalypse or is a time hobo is a muddy brown green.

(I’ve visited the Trinity Site National Historic Landmark. It’s usually open to the public 1 day a year, though this year (2020) may be different.)


Back to the fictional Alt world, 2052, in the bunker.

Stranger Martha tells Young Martha and Jonas that they can stop the Alt world apocalypse if they prevent the barrels in the nuclear plant from being opened. Jonas asks what they do next to prevent his Martha from dying. Stranger Martha says that Eva lied. They can only save one world, not both.

She tries to convince Jonas to save the Alt world. If he helps the Marthas, then the version of everyone that’s in Eva’s world can live, including Martha and Mikkel. He can stay there and live, too. He and Martha can be together.

But he has to give up on the Prime world. It’s a yucky world anyway, with the Adamness of it all. There’s boy germs all over it. The girl world has taken care of their toys people, so it’s a nicer place to live.

Young Martha tells them they’re both insane and walks out. Jonas finishes listening to Stranger Martha’s sales pitch, then follows Young Martha. He catches up to her on a sand dune. She asks if he believes they’re all doomed. He doesn’t have to answer. They’re surrounded by the answer.

She decides she must have gone crazy. He sits next to her and gives her his patented soulful Jonas stare, telling her to trust him, because he knows how she feels. Of course she believes him.

He assures her that he knows there’s a way to make things right and he wants to keep looking for it. He thinks Eva is still trying to make things right, too.

It’s his sincerity that can’t be denied.

Dark S3Ep4 Jonas Listens to Alt MarthaDark S3Ep4 Alt Martha Listens to JonasDark S3Ep4 Agnes & SiljaDark S3Ep4 Jana Tronte & Claudia

Back to the Prime world, 2053.

Adult Agnes hugs Teen Silja goodbye. Silja is Agnes’ mom, but they’re currently reversed in age, as Jonas and Mikkel were when we met them.

I have a sense that the parents who lose a child are often given a different child to raise, the way Ines raised Mikkel. Maybe Agnes and Elizabeth raised Silja in the future after giving up Tronte and Charlotte.

Adam tells them it’s time for Agnes to leave. She puts on a hazmat suit, then goes into the God particle room. Magnus activates the blue lightning to send her to the right time. Adult Franziska and Alt Martha also watch.

I wonder if this is the only time travel method they have access to, besides Alt Martha’s sphere. The cloud probably doesn’t rely on the 33 year cycle anymore, doesn’t require fuel and doesn’t need to be brought back like a device would, but it’s dangerous and requires a hazmat suit. They only have so many of those. Plus it makes the return trip difficult. You’d think they’d get ahold of the device or build a sphere based on Martha’s. But that might not fit Jonas’ current pain and suffering aesthetic the way the cloud does.

As Jana and Tronte walk home through the woods, she asks about his family and childhood. He doesn’t know where Agnes is. She didn’t tell him much about his father, other than that he was bad. Agnes abandoned Tronte once before and left him to live in a group home, where he was abused. He shows Jana the cigarette burn scars on his forearm.

Then he asks if she can keep a secret. He reveals that he doesn’t want to know if the Unknown is his father and he’s glad his mother left. He takes out the bracelet and gives it to Jana. It’s not a romantic gift. He doesn’t want the connection to his family.

Claudia approaches them and asks Jana why she’s still in the woods instead of already at home, as if she’s the boss of everyone. I guess she will be, someday. Then Claudia possessively takes Tronte’s hand and tells him that it’s time for them to go home. Tronte passively allows Claudia to lead him away, but he does tell Jana that maybe he’ll see her tomorrow.

That afternoon sets the dynamic for the rest of their lives. Tronte spends most of his time with Jana and has children with her. Their son Mads is eventually sacrificed to the time travel experiments, while Ulrich has his own children to continue the Nielsen ouroboros loop. Claudia works with Bernd, has affairs with and uses Tronte and gives birth to Regina, but is driven by her need to understand the God particle. Tronte is obsessed with Claudia, but knows he can never fully have her, so he accepts what she gives him. Jana struggles with her cheating husband and the loss of her son.

Egon takes Hannah home, then asks her what happens next. She tells him she doesn’t want to keep the baby. She wonders why some people get to have everything they want, while others end up with nothing.

She echoes Stranger’s words to her at the end of season 2: “All my life I’ve been trying to hold onto things that I just can’t. But now I finally understand. I don’t need anyone. None of you.”

She tells him to leave. He writes down Mrs Obendorf’s name, the local illegal abortionist, and says that Daniel told him about her last year. “She does it properly.”

There’s just too much wrong with Daniel Kahnwald recommending an illegal abortion and equating that with something that could be done properly to get into here. I wonder how many girls have died after Daniel Kahnwald raped them and then sent them to have an illegal abortion from an unqualified practitioner in unsanitary conditions. Mrs Obendorf’s son and grandsons grow up to be drug dealers and Aleksander’s henchman. Daniel Kahnwald is the chief of police.

Egon leaves the information and some cash on the table before he walks out.

Women getting exploited and paid off like they’re hookers all over the place here in the 50s. Can’t wait to leave this decade.

Back to the Alt world, 2052.

Young Jonas and Yellow Raincoat Martha go back to the cave so they can take the passage back to November 2019. Back in the bunker, Stranger Martha writes Jonas and Martha’s names on the wall, then draws lines connecting the two of them. She connects that line to the Unknown’s square in the family tree, signifying that they are his parents.

The last of the conditions which guarantee his conception must have been fulfilled for this cycle.

Alt Adult Noah enters the bunker from the back door and confirms that the kids are on their way home. He looks at the new markings and says, “The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. We are all born of Him (the Unknown). You gave Him His life. And now He will give us ours. Him. Agnes. Tronte. Jana. Ulrich. Katharina. You. A line with no start or end. An infinite circle.”

The only thing I can figure here is that, as the author of the triquetra diary, which they see as a Bible, Erit Lux is assigning the Unknown to a God-like position, to replace the combination of Sic Mundus’ prophecy. And they’re replacing the S1&2 importance of the Mikkel-Jonas-Michael connection with this distorted version of the Nielsen genealogy, which doesn’t even make sense. Did you notice that they took Jonas out of the knot and assigned Virgin Mother status to Martha? It’s all distorted, as I said, since the diary applies to the Prime world and the Unknown obviously isn’t center of the Knot anymore than Jonas and Mikkel were. Maybe there’s a version of the triquetra diary for the Alt world that we haven’t seen. But there’s no way to make the knot start with the Unknown. Believing distortions like this is part of the characters’ particular blindness and tendency toward cultism.

Dark S3Ep4 Hannah Doesn't Need AnyoneDark S3Ep4 Stranger Martha & Alt Adult Noah

Dark S3Ep4 Infinity on Bunker Wall
This is a misreading of the double family tree. They are the words of a religious fanatic who doesn’t understand how science works.

Dark S3Ep4 Egon & Doris on Stairs

Back to the Prime world, 1954.

When Egon gets home Doris is sitting on the stairs in the dark. She doesn’t answer when he asks if she’s okay. He gives her flowers and apologizes for insulting her, saying that he knows she was just trying to help. He says he hasn’t been himself lately.

Doris tells him that she knows he’s been having an affair and she wants a divorce. Egon is shocked. Doris says that she should have left him earlier. She doesn’t want to live with so many secrets. Egon says he can explain, but Doris says the ways of the heart cannot be explained. It wants what it wants.

When Hannah goes to see Mrs Obendorf for an abortion, a very young woman lets her in, then leads her to sit down in a hallway to wait. The young woman tells Hannah that her mother says the fetuses will go to H–l. Hannah says she doesn’t believe that. She thinks H–l is what people make of their lives on Earth.

The young woman introduces herself as Helene Albers. Hannah realizes she’ll eventually be Katharina’s mother. Hannah introduces herself using the name she gave when she came to the 50s, Katharina. Helene likes the name. Helene also admires the St Christopher medal.

Mrs Obendorf calls Helene in for her procedure. Hannah decides not to go through with it and leaves the St Christopher medal on the chair for Helene with her things.

Helene looked very young, yet her name was already Albers. Was she married that young or did she marry a cousin later? She named her daughter after the kind stranger she met at the clinic. Maybe Hannah inspired her to keep Katharina.

Egon spends the evening getting drunk. When Claudia and Tronte come home, he tells them, “The ways of the heart cannot be explained. It wants what it wants.” And keeps drinking. Tronte takes Claudia upstairs. Her childhood is over. Tronte never had one.

Bernd finds the signed building permit on his front stoop.

In 2053, Adam looks at a photo of the Unknown trio, then shoves it into the triquetra diary and stares at the God particle until Alt Martha joins him. She tells Adam that it’s time for him to keep his promise to her. He promised to tell her what the Origin is and how to destroy it.

Adam says it took him more than 66 years to understand how everything is connected. He’s ready to explain it to her.

He says he’ll tell her the truth, but, as always, he’s a little coy about it. This conversation has echoes of the conversation in S2Ep5 where he promised to tell Young Jonas the truth. Back then, he was haunted by his Young Martha. Now he’s thinking about his son.

He must know what day it is, despite Stranger saying he doesn’t remember conceiving the Unknown.

Dark S3Ep4 Egon Gets DrunkDark S3Ep4 Winden Castle 2053Dark S3Ep4 Adam's Photo of Unknown

Dark S3Ep4 Photo of Unknown and Last Few Pages of Triquetra Diary Back in Place
Adam has the book, including the missing pages. Next question: Does the book always report the truth and give all of the pertinent facts? Whose truth?

Dark S3Ep4 Adam with Triquetra Diary in Front of God Particle

Back to the Alt world. It’s dark and misty again.

Jonas and Yellow Raincoat Martha return to November 2019 and go back to her house. She brings him up to her room. No word on whether they got back in time for dinner or Magnus had to cover for her.

Martha tells Jonas that the first time she saw him, she felt as if she already knew him, as if it was from a dream. He interrupts her before they can go through the whole glitch in the matrix conversation again. He says he’s sorry for everything. She asks what the other her was like.

He doesn’t want to think about the Martha he lost. He touches her face. She touches his. They’re both crying a little.

This is a real-not real situation. The feelings are very real, but they both know that all they have is this moment and they both should be with their counterpart from their own world. Except the knot has messed that up, too, so there was never any hope. The dreams always become nightmares.

They kiss. Then they give in to it.

This is her first time with any Jonas. His love life has been an out of order mess. At least he gets to do the whole love sequence in chronological order this time, unlike the oddity of June 2019, when his year older self, who’d been to 2052 and 1921 since 2019, kissed 2019 Martha on the beach, then went and accidentally caused his father’s suicide. Later at her parents party, 2019 Martha slept with 2019 Jonas. He was happy but confused. Not long after, he went away to the mental health treatment center, because he was traumatized by his father’s death. June 2019 was an awkward month for Jonas. He still doesn’t actually understand where he fits into the grand scheme of things.

Dark S3Ep4 Martha & Jonas Kiss

Dark S3Ep4 Unknown Judges His Parents
If I had a dollar for everytime my kids have given me that same sour expression…
Dark S3Ep4 Unknown's Clean Hands
Hardly an adult on this show with clean hands, and most of them have literally gotten dirtier each season- some of their faces, necks and hands are coated with grime now. But this guy has pristine skin. He judges himself without sin or guilt.
Dark S3Ep4 Last Page of Triquetra Diary
The top of the page looks like a small solar system from one of the season 2 alchemy books, with the labyrinth and minotaur representing either the center world or the sun.

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While his parents conceive him across town, the Unknown sits at Eva’s desk and tries to not be completely grossed out. Maybe he’s wishing he was never born. His alternates stand in front of him. It’s an awkward time for them, too. What did they tell the Child?

Adult opens the triquetra diary to the final page and writes at the bottom: “I am left to die alone and I am my sole judge. Me. The beginning is the end. And the end is the beginning.” Then he carefully closes the book.

Unpacking the Unknown

Unlike everyone else in their universe, the Unknown is not a twin. (Jonas may not have been born in Martha’s world in recent cycles, but they’ve imported one. There are too many versions of him to keep track of. He’s not alone. But he also has similarities to the Unknown that no one else shares.) And the Unknown really hates his parents. Maybe his whole family. And his entire existence. He’s ending his book as this cycle reaches his beginning, which makes his life an infinite loop.

His last words aren’t a quote, as far as I can tell. I can’t read the German handwriting well enough to get the exact wording. It’s close to various things said by philosophical introverts from Nietzsche to Thoreau, who were quite happy to be alone and hated the way extroverts misjudge those who enjoy solitude.

ETA: Oops, actually the entire last page of the book is one of Ariadne’s speeches. I’ve added another essay below, but everything else I said here still applies. Unknown has a love-hate relationship with his parents, and using an Ariadne quote reflects that. Thanks to commenter Karl Naylor for translating the page and identifying the quote.

The most interesting part is the emphasis on Me, as if he’s fought for self determination his entire life and judging himself at the end is the one choice he can make. It’s Existentialism in its purest form. When you have nothing left, you can still choose what to do with nothing. Jean-Paul Sartre was French, not German, but I’m reminded again of No Exit. (Sartre was influenced by Germans, such as Martin Heidegger and Søren Kierkegaard.)

Everything about the Unknown says that he thinks “H–l is other people.” Sometimes I think Dark is an extended version of Sartre’s play about 3 souls who are d—ned to spend eternity locked alone in a room together. All of the same elements are there. It’s a play whose time has come back around. H–l in the time of COVID.

The Unknown is the Valet in No Exit who shows the three main characters into the room they’ll spend eternity in together as punishment for their sins. The 3 sinners spend the play arguing, confessing, trying to bargain with and kill each other- generally doing everything humans do to avoid and escape inevitable fates. The Valet has a minor role. He’s only seen at the beginning and the end, but he has no eyelids, and his uncle is the head valet.

The implication is that the Valet is forced to watch everything, but can’t intervene or tell himself comforting lies to smooth over the truth (blind himself). His role is an inherited role, based on the sins of his forefathers. He is the most tragic figure to Western eyes, because he has so little agency, but the 3 self-absorbed characters in the room barely notice his existence.

He is the connection between all of the rooms, as Unknown is, the Serpent/Original Sin that can’t be undone, the subconscious, the darker side of the Will. But he’s also the perpetual observer who watches the things we do with horror, yet can’t or won’t stop the Will from taking what it wants.

The neutral devil is the most dangerous devil.

He is also born as innocent as anyone else who’s born, and his sins are everyone’s sins. He is both The Tempest’s Ariel, the sophisticated judge, and Caliban, the untamed beast. He is potential that can be shaped in either direction, according to his environment. He sees everything, but needs to be given a framework of human culture to make sense of what he sees and to be shown compassion and fairness to be able to show it to others.

Every character is born as a tipping point, as he was. The others grow into whatever their environment and their internal natures create. The Unknown is unique in that he remains a tipping point, since that was the role he was conceived to perform. It’s allowed him to write the triquetra diary and perform the acts deemed necessary by Claudia and Eva to protect the cycle, but it also sets him outside of human society. He’s forever in the hallway, in purgatory, neutral, neither saved nor d–ned, not allowed to choose a side.

Forever the child standing between his two parents, not allowed to move on and make a life of his own. (Look at how tiny that infinity sign seems as it balances those two giant, messed up family trees on either side of Eva’s floor. He’s Sisyphus with the weight of 2 warring worlds on his shoulders, or any lonely child of an ugly divorce.)

His attitude suggests that he doesn’t care for any of them. His actions suggest that he chooses the side of the Archangel Michael, sending the doomed, rebellious angels to the Underworld with Satan. That may be part of why Adam spent so much time staring at his painting.

Remember all of those theatre costumes and props in the high school hallway in S3Ep1? Those all came out of the Unknown’s mind. Snakeskin, from the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Caliban, the untamed beast from The Tempest. Ferdinand and Miranda, first cousins who marry, from the same play. Two angels, one dark and one light, both probably fallen, traveling with a saint, like a little family. A horned god, symbol of uncontrolled lust. Bottom, the lovesick, cursed fool from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The ghost sisters from the malevolent, haunted hotel in The Shining- once you check in, you can never check out.

A hotel with a mind of its own, which had a maze/labyrinth in the movie. (It was a topiary in the book, which has interesting correlations with Dante’s Wood of the Suicides. I’ll get there in another episode or 2. Spoilers.) Like No Exit, The Shining takes place in a closed environment with three main characters who are ushered into their H–l by a fourth character, who then leaves them to their fates until the end of the story, when they’re given the choice of staying or leaving after they’ve thoroughly examined their personal and inherited sins.

The loophole Jonas continues to search for.

This season has put a particular emphasis on its locations and weather, and referenced works whose stories are also dependent on their locations and weather. Weather and location are two ways of telling the viewer where and when the story takes place in Space-Time.

In one sense, the Unknown is independent of both Space and Time, since he doesn’t have a home world and all of his age iterations exist at once. But in another sense, he’s a Space-Time slave, born chained to his parents’ two worlds and to his place in the Knot between his parents and his two progeny, the Tronte of each world. If the Unknown is the bridge, then he can’t die when he wants to, any more than the other chosen one, Jonas, can. His soul is permanently tethered. Chains, cords, ties, threads. They all bind.

ETA: I Alone Tie My Bonds

As I said in the essay above, at first I didn’t have the translation from the German for the last page of the triquetra diary and didn’t pick up on the fact that the Unknown is quoting one of Ariadne’s speeches. (For some reason the subtitle translations to English of the same speeches and quotes are slightly different each season, so they don’t necessarily register as the same quote, even in a search.) Anyway, a commenter, Karl Naylor, translated the page and identified the quote. Thank you!

Martha first spoke these words in season 1. Unknown edited the speech for his entry. Here is the translation of the diary page using the same wording as her S1Ep6 speech:

“Just as he once descended into the maze, I now descend into mine… And so we all die alike. No matter which house we are born into, no matter what clothes we wear, whether we grace the earth for many years, or briefly. I alone tie my bonds, whether with my hands extended or with them slapped away. We all face the same end. Those above have forgotten us. They do not judge us. In death, I am all alone. And my only judge is… me.”

He adds “The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning.”

Unknown leaves out Ariadne’s references to her identity, all tied to men- she was a brother’s sister, a man’s wife and a king’s daughter. Now she is no longer any of those things, and so, instead of having her own identity, she is alone and in darkness. This is her death speech. Her eyes are turning black and she is starving. She also says, “I am a loose end in time.” Instead of being bound, she is now untethered.

Unknown may be alone and judging himself, but he is still tethered to two worlds. On one world, his mother was murdered before she could conceive him. On the other, she’s fought to protect him from his father since before he was born, and that fight has consumed her. It’s a complicated mother-son relationship.

Maybe the Eva who covers herself in head to toe black isn’t the pure, good person anymore that Martha in the white dress who died young was, the Martha that Adam dreams about, but she and her son both live long lives, well into old age. Eva the dark mother did whatever was necessary for herself and her child to survive. Because she survived, he survived.

In fairy tales, and many, many, many other stories, mothers don’t survive. The pure, good woman dies young and lets everyone else have an exciting story without her making them feel guilty or over protecting them. Often, fun/bad dad gets to come along on the story-ride.

Good Girl Eve ate the Bad Girl Apple and got to leave paradise instead of going to heaven. Pandora opened the box and got the blame but got to live. Young Alt Martha will soon put the Yellow Raincoat of Golden Goodness away forever and put on the Black of Fate. Boys won’t like her, and her son will be angry with her, but they’ll both live.

Unknown seems like he might be acknowledging his mom’s hard work and sacrifice. But he wouldn’t be the first kid to reject his mother because he disagrees with her views or methods. So he could be writing the words angrily, as one last accusation against his mother. Maybe he thinks she’s the origin of his problems because she’s the origin of his existence.

I don’t think so though. He took Ariadne out of the speech and made it his own. And he took her out of the labyrinth. The threads connect Theseus-the Minotaur to the two worlds, as if he’s the light that shines on both of them.

dark-s3ep4-last-page-of-triquetra-diary cropped

Even though we’ve only heard him refer to himself as darkness, he represented himself as light here, placed between the alpha and omega symbols. Erit Lux.

There will be light soon and Time/God will judge whether His followers were loyal enough to Him as they passed through the darkness.

Image from the Sic Mundus/Alchemy/Hermetic book stored in Tannhaus’ clock shop in S2Ep1. The winds of Fate are blowing the worlds from either direction.

Montage time. The song is The Labyrinth Song by Asaf Avidan.

Dark S3Ep4 Hannah & Her Coat Leave Winden

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Hannah takes her suitcase (and the time travel device she used to get to 1953?) and leaves her apartment for good.

Martha and Jonas undress each other, then make love.

Egon keeps drinking. He’ll still be drinking in 1986.

Doris smells the shirt that Agnes left behind.

Moment of silence for S2 Agnes’ sense of fashion and use of color in her wardrobe. S2, I miss your jewel tones. Who wouldn’t pick Agnes over Egon, given the information Doris has? Agnes brought Doris to life, then left her wanting more. Doris doesn’t realize that this is part of a toxic pattern for Agnes and Sic Mundus, but she does know that she doesn’t want to stay in Kansas anymore.

Tronte sits on the edge of his bed and looks at his scars, perhaps remembering the last time he was abandoned and wondering how bad it will get this time. Especially now that things are falling apart between Doris and Egon.

Claudia comes into Tronte’s room wearing her nightgown and shuts the door. Without saying a word, she takes off her nightgown. Tronte looks at her, but there’s only a flicker of a reaction on his face. He’s not sure if she’s just showing him her body the way he showed her his, or offering more.

I imagine she’s taking Bernd’s advice and going for what she wants. If she’s also going to have to play nice with Bernd, she might want to have Tronte first. And I’m sure she’d very much enjoy beating Jana to him.

Jana lies in bed and fidgets with the bracelet.

Joans and Martha are still having sex. It seems to be going really well. Didn’t turn into a nightmare halfway through or anything.

Dark S3Ep4 Jonas & Martha AfterDark S3Ep4 Triquetra Family Tree PageDark S3Ep4 Jonas Puts His Hand & Martha's Hand on Her Pregnant Belly1Dark S3Ep4 Jonas Tells Martha She's Pregnant2Dark S3Ep4 Jonas Hand Lingers for a Moment3Dark S3Ep4 Martha's Hands on Pregnant Belly4

Back to the Prime world. Flakes are falling in the 2050s.

I really think that the Prime world is slowly disintegrating, as the counterpart to the desertification of the 2050s Alt world. They’ve stretched time to its limit and now it’s falling apart, with no explosions needed to destroy the knots.

Adam brings Alt Martha to his old bedroom to explain that this is the place where it all began. She and Jonas created the seed in her bedroom. He shows her the family tree diagram in the triquetra diary, with an infinity sign linked to her and Jonas as its/his parents. She’s shocked.

Adam puts her hand on her stomach. His hand lingering there, he says, “This is the Origin. What’s growing inside you is the bridge between both worlds… It is the beginning of the knot. And eventually also its end. Your son. He is the Origin.”

He pretends that he had nothing to do with the baby’s conception, but he didn’t have to bring her all the way back to his bedroom to tell her this. Despite everything he has done and has yet to do, he still has feelings for her.

Back to Eva’s lair in the Alt world. While Adam tells Alt Martha that she’s pregnant with him and that he’s the seed of destruction, Adult Unknown stands in front of the infinity sign inlaid in the floor and looks up at the Adam and Eva paintings.

It’s a complicated father-son relationship.

Dark S3Ep4 Unknown Looks Up at Adam Then EvaDark S3Ep4 Adam in PaintingDark S3Ep4 Eva in Painting

Dark S3Ep4 Unknown with Adam & Eva Paintings
Look at them, 2 ideal parents who hang on the wall and never make any mistakes, other than the first one. It’s so easy to romanticize them, while setting a high bar for real, live human beings.


Some prominent themes and mythology for season 3:

Fertility and creation in general, but especially creation through destruction. The dark mother goddesses are rampant this season.

Original sin and guilt. Especially that of women, who are radioactive, whose desires are out control and just too intense, and who have gone beyond opening Pandora’s boxes, as they did in S2, to participating in the 7 Deadly Sins they released from the boxes (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth).

Men are guilty of wallowing in deadly sins, as well. When caught, they either use the Biblical Adam’s defense- variations on “she tricked me”- or they justify their crimes using one of 2 opposing explanations: logic and reason (Alt Ulrich) or the insanity defense (Prime Ulrich).

Since women bear and care for the children, the Knot will always come back to them. Prior to and during the Christian conversion of Europe, women used contraceptive and abortifacient herbal preparations to control their own fertility, in combination with ritual, including ritual knots and incantations. The Church made women’s control of their own bodies and knowledge of the use of medicinal plants illegal, so that this knowledge was lost to average women by the “Enlightenment” period (or the Rich White Male Supremacist period, as I like to think of it), leaving women dependent on much more dangerous forms of fertility control or none at all.

Women were purposely put at the mercy of the men in their communities. Mrs Obendorf’s dangerous and illegal surgical home abortions descend from both the tradition of women taking care of each other and the way that the line of fertility and contraceptive wisdom passed through untold generations of wisewomen was broken.

The priestesses of the ancient mother goddesses of Europe and the Middle/Near East, especially Isis, included knots in their clothing to represent fertility, life, protection, binding and releasing, and the joining of opposites. The first time we saw Stranger Martha, she signaled that she’s a priestess by the knots in her scarf. The St Christopher medal, which was given to Hannah by Egon and passed from her to Helene, is currently on a chain, a symbol of bondage. When Martha and Jonas find it, it will have been purified by the elements. Martha will put it on a knotted cord, making it part of the magic between her and Jonas.

Women are responsible for the Knot, with the exceptions of Jonas and the Unknown, who are also tightly bound into the knot. The sins of the father are revisited on the sons, so it’s the Unknown’s fault, just as it’s all Jonas’ fault. Claudia, Jonas and the Unknown make up a Father/Son/Wisdom or Spirit/ Holy Trinity, with Martha/Eva as the Holy Mother. Mikkel/Michael takes on an aspect of John the Baptist/Prophet, harbinger and test case.

Hannah moves into the place of Asherah, original Semitic fertility and mother goddess and the Hebrew god Yahweh’s wife, who was suppressed by his followers. (Keep that in mind for when Jonas turns into Adam, taking on the name of the first man created by Yahweh.) She is also Demeter, Hera and Isis- generally the Queen of Heaven and the Earth Mother. Hannah answers prayers on Earth, when she can, while Claudia usually can’t be bothered.

Salvation isn’t possible for worlds or people. Ashes to ashes and darkness to darkness. Even angels fall eventually. It isn’t possible to live without sin, because our desires/Will supersede our goodness, so we are all d–ned and doomed to repeat our mistakes and the mistakes of our forebears.

Heaven is probably a lonely place, since so few make it there.

On the other hand, I still maintain that almost the entire town of Winden may have gotten Raptured when the shockwave hit. The jury is still out on that one. We may be watching the souls who were Left Behind. Maybe simply trying to live a decent life, as characters like Jana and Torben quietly do in the background, is enough to eventually earn salvation.

Hannah’s red coat, which is cut like a large cloak, symbolizes the Nielsen bloodline and its threads (fates), which are woven together by the Fates/Moirai, starting with Silja in her womb. All of the Nielsens descend from Hannah and Egon on one side, who create Silja, and Regina and Aleksander on the other, who create Bartosz. Claudia earns her spot at the top of the pantheon through her position as Regina’s mother.

Silja’s birth was ensured when Hannah decided not to get the abortion. I think Bartosz’s birth might have been ensured back when we saw Young Regina and Aleksander sitting on the couch together, after Tronte gave her the ride home. Bartosz wasn’t born until years later, but all of the necessary variables were in place long before. The variables are in place for all of the major couples in the Niesen line by the end of this episode, which is one reason why the Unknown is done writing the triquetra diary.

Agnes and Unknown were sent to break up Egon and Doris on purpose and to drive Claudia toward Bernd. Tronte was sent to Claudia as a consolation prize (which she shares with Jana), so she wouldn’t be completely alone, the same way Aleksander was later put in place to take care of Regina when Claudia left. Bernd left Regina his house around the same time that Aleksander showed up, having fulfilled his part of the plan and become disposable to Claudia/Eva. Claudia has probably arranged these particular details over time as she’s tried to maximize how much gets accomplished in each cycle and minimize how much time she has to put into taking care of her people as she goes through her Groundhog’s Day cycles an infinite number of times.

The Unknown Is a Time Baby, But Not the Origin- Other Than Maybe the Origin of Jonas’ Nightmares 

I will concede that once any event is added to the timeline, its consequences stretch into the past and future as if the event has always existed. I still don’t think it makes sense for the Unknown to be the origin of the Knot. There is no way to create him as the beginning. Jonas, Martha and the rest of the Nielsen line come first, no matter how you analyze it.

The Unknown is the center of the labyrinth, both Theseus and the Minotaur, but that’s not the same thing. Symbolically, nothing and no one that I’ve equated the Unknown to is an origin, unless we’re now calling a child the forbidden fruit, which is repulsive. A child might be the result of “sin”, but they aren’t the sin. I’m not going there.

Jonas is a great time travel engineer, but being good at building things and science and math is not the same thing as having basic common sense or the ability to understand and analyze people or stories. I come from a family of engineers and am married to one- this is a pretty common personality type for engineers. I love them, but sometimes you have to explain their own emotions to them, never mind the rest of humanity’s. Same goes for any kind of complex metaphor. There’s a reason I analyze stories with my daughter and not my husband, OMG. But put him in front of a computer and you’re golden.

You’d think Jonas would be able to figure out what we can figure out, but he doesn’t have all of the information we have. He’s emotionally involved and perpetually overtired. And he throws out logic in favor of hope, which is a thing people are particularly prone to doing when the people they love are involved. Or causes they feel strongly about.

Plus, Claudia plants lies to keep Jonas and Eva busy with each other while she’s up to something else in the background. The Mission to Search and Destroy the Origin is just another distraction. She’s had an infinite number of cycles to figure out how to play them both, so of course she’s good at it.

Since he’s the latest target, you can’t blame the Unknown for resenting how gullible his parents are.

I really want to see where the Unknown sleeps and what his wake up routine is. His murder preferences are all well and good, but whether or not he startles awake and sniffs the milk every morning is what’s really important here.

Could we have this added as a DVD Boxed Set extra please?

Also, a BTS short of a day in the life of busy single mom Eva/Stranger Martha/Young Martha taking care of Old/Adult/Child Unknown while running Erit Lux and keeping Claudia in line. Preferably done in the reality show style of “What We Do in the Shadows”. I will also take a fan video edited to look like said BTS extra, just point me to it.

Remember when Stranger Jonas dreamed that he and Martha were having sex, and then time goo came streaming out of her stomach? I think blaming Alt Martha and his kid for ending the world might have something to do with that. He doesn’t remember making the baby, but they’re all connected somehow in the Oneness of the Universe. Pretty sure I just heard that somewhere.

Dark S2Ep5 Stranger Is Shocked That He Created a Monster
You’re pregnant? I thought YOU were using birth control! Is it mine?
Dark S2Ep5 Martha Is Upset Over Her Time Baby Belly
You men are all alike. Let me up.
Dark S2Ep5 Martha's Time Baby Belly
The Unknown as Eternal Justice springs forth from his mother’s womb to defend her honor. I knew the creation of a God particle using Cesium 137 from the other world was important and connected to the Unknown’s conception, but, Yikes! The poor kid is Frankenstein’s monster meets the alien blob, with some tentacles thrown in for good measure (As in, “Don’t let her/him get her/his tentacles into you.”). I knew I should have pointed out the little hairlike tentacles that were created when I posted the bubbling “after” photo the first time. The Unknown: Jonas’ fear of fatherhood and responsibility or an actual monster?

Dark S3Ep3 Living God Particle in Pensieve

Dark S3Ep3 God Particle Grows Out of Basin
Feed me now, Daddy. (X)

Maybe Adam shot Young Martha so that she couldn’t get pregnant in the Prime world, in addition to wanting the pain of her death to trigger Stranger Jonas to lose all hope and become Adam. Then some version of Jonas convinces Eva that they don’t need a Jonas in the Alt world, saving Mikkel and stopping Unknown’s conception. But Eva/Martha and/or Claudia eventually creates another path to the Unknown by bringing Prime Young Jonas (lol) on a field trip to the Alt world, which not so coincidentally means the baby is born of two worlds and becomes a bridge between the worlds.

Almost like the whole thing was planned by some mastermind from the beginning to the end.

Or like this whole show is some twisted nightmare about Jonas having ditched his pregnant girlfriend and instead devoted himself obsessively to his work and other interests, with the encouragement of his devilish mentor, Claudia, which resulted in the death of his girlfriend and child. Oh wait, that’s Goethe’s Faust again, isn’t it? And then, in a twist of fate, when he changes his mind and tries to start over with his family, the girlfriend and child don’t want or trust him anyway. So they shut him out of their lives, symbolically dying in Jonas Faust’s mind, because, men. If they don’t need a particular woman anymore, she’s in the way, disposable and very quickly dead.

Women can make men disposable, too. Just sayin’. What happens in one world happens in the other world.

And is mirrored in the way multiple generations abandon their children and partners for their obsessions, leading to dire, repeating consequences.

The End of the Next Cycle Is a Tipping Point Which Will Need to Restore Balance

The post apocalypse Alt world is in worse shape than the post apocalypse Prime world. There’s been enough dark, light and rain to keep the trees alive- probably because it had Martha and Jonas, a balance of light and dark, until recently, while without Jonas in the Alt world, there’s been an excessive amount of light in Martha’s world, creating a desert.

But with Martha gone from the Prime world, it’s always dark in 2053 now, just as it’s always bright in the Alt world in 2052. The two worlds are diverging, or disintegrating, rather than building toward something at the end of this cycle. The Prime world became more complex over the course of the first two seasons, building toward the energy release of the apocalypse.

Now, even though there are two worlds, their complexity is being stripped away. Perhaps there’s a metaphysical battery somewhere that the energy is stored in for the next big event. Perhaps keeping the bridge between worlds open takes too much energy.

Something is out of balance, since the self-sustaining God particle shows us that Time itself is meant to be a self-sustaining system that’s perpetually in balance with the Space that’s experiencing it. If Space-Time isn’t able to maintain homeostasis, then it’s because it’s been thrown so far out of kilter by the Space-Time experiments of Sic Mundus and Erit Lux that it can’t compensate anymore.

But something more is out of balance than just the dark and the light. The number three has also returned to prominence, with its connection to the past, present and future; to trinities and trios; and to another form of balance, the balance of the scale with the tipping point in the middle. On the human side, Time is connected to the lack of balance in the Unknown’s silent scream of a life.

He misses the little family of 3 that he should have been part of, but was denied. The God particle is the other child in his family, relegating Unknown to the God-like roles of Observer and Eternal Justice, while his parents fight an endless custody battle over Space-Time and who gets to live there. Eva stares at her paintings and family trees, while Adam stares at the God particle and used to stare at his painting. Neither spend much time interacting with their physical worlds outside of their lairs.

Unknown told Tronte that they’re “attracted to the dark like moths to the light.” Jonas and Martha are perpetual moths to a flame, drawn together though they know they can never work out. Both keep trying to save their worlds, even though it never works. But they will keep throwing themselves against that brick wall forever, just as moths unwisely get too close to light.

Unknown speaks from his position as Eternal Justice, as someone who’s traveled through more than a century of time and generations of his family, watching them make the same mistakes, over and over again. But also watching many of them sacrifice themselves for their children, spouses or parents, attempting to save them and willing to die trying.

Unknown to Tronte:

“We are born out of darkness and so we return to it.”

Which sounds like>> “To the blessed darkness from which we are born, and to which we return.”

Translations and paraphrasing and whatnot aside, I think Unknown might have read this book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. He also might be making a Harry Potter reference when he tells Tronte that he has his mother’s eyes. People frequently tell Harry the same thing, referring to the fact that though Harry looks like his father, his character is more like his mother’s.

So Unknown may be saying that Tronte’s personality also takes after Agnes’ instead of his, which would probably be a good thing. Agnes gave her loyalty and time to Sic Mundus instead of her son, but she only killed one person, as far as we know, and left Tronte in relatively safe places (parenting standards are low on Dark). Neither of Tronte’s parents is someone to look up to. Tronte has also only killed one person.

Harry was also a sacrificial chosen one, carrying good and evil inside him, light and dark, himself and his enemy. He was born to die- his beginning was his end, in a sense. He came from a legendary family, who had died legendary deaths, but he still had to make the choice to sacrifice himself. When he did, he was reborn- only the evil inside him stayed dead. Once he found true balance inside himself, he was able to kill Voldemort in the real world. It wasn’t enough that Harry’s mother had made the choice to sacrifice herself for him when he was a child. That protection wore off at a certain point.

Making Voldemort think that Harry was permanently dead was an important part of the story. His temporary death was part of the typical cycle of life-death-rebirth for chosen ones. We’ve watched Dark play with this same cycle for 2.5 seasons, with Jonas and others- Helge, Charlotte, Mikkel and Martha in particular.

The name Helge means holy, by the way. Helge is also a chosen one with an unusual life and death cycle (Ulrich kills him in S1, but he comes back because it’s not his time, but then the rift sends him from 1953 to 1986), who eventually sacrifices himself to stop the killer time chair experiments. He is the first child who survives the trip, though he is left scarred. Then he dies as an old man by crashing his car into his adult self’s car, in a successful attempt to stop himself from helping Noah with the killer time chair. He is also a surrogate child to Noah.

Sadly, as far as I can tell, Prime Adult Noah actually died when Agnes shot him, so he’s only chosen one adjacent, one of the apostles and Judases. He sees Jonas as his betrayer, his Judas, which is an interesting twist, since Noah is a betrayer, in the name of revenge. An eye for an eye never ends. I think I might know how Adam convinced Agnes to kill her brother, but the show won’t reveal it for a few more episodes.

Unknown’s words to Tronte could also refer to a cycle: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, darkness to darkness. He could be warning Tronte that another cycle is coming to a close, this time with a particularly dark ending.

The Unknown, the Triquetra Diary and the Laws of Nature 

This is an episode about sin and desire, brought on, I believe, by Jonas and Martha spending all of the previous episode together in both worlds. In the Prime world, Martha and Jonas are out of sync, so they channel their desires into something other than lust, but that drive is still in the world. In the Alt world, because they didn’t grow up together, it’s easier for them to give in to the intensity of the day and their emotions, which are layered on top of their desire. Because these are their worlds, everyone and everything within them are affected when Martha and Jonas are affected so deeply.

After the scientific orientation of season 1 and the mythological complexity of  season 2, I think this season is following Unknown as its ultimate point of view character, with morality, the law, sin and judgement as the framework. Those elements have always been part of the series, but as we approach the end of this season, we approach Judgement Day, in a sense. The end of every cycle brings a Judgement Day, but the end of season 3 seems like it’s the end of a larger cycle within the cycles of eternal recurrences.

In reality, Unknown has been the point of view character for the entire series, since the triquetra diary has been guiding the characters’ paths and the plot since the beginning. As the author of the book that the others must follow, he is, in effect, God in the Prime world. As an omniscient God, we didn’t know he was there, behind the book, until he chose to reveal himself to us.

Now we know that he saw himself as a judge while he was writing the book and creating the path/legal framework that would be followed in future and past cycles. We may never know how his point of view affected the way the bootstrap paradoxes are shaped.

Like Jonas, he also judges himself. We don’t see his verdict in this episode.

There doesn’t seem to be a triquetra diary in the Alt world, but it could be that we just weren’t shown it. Eva seems very committed to following a certain path.

I think it’s also safe to say that the Unknown judges other people. He’s associated himself with the snake, who in the Bible can be seen as testing Adam and Eve, setting them up to be judged by God. The snake both creates and destroys, as necessary, and creates through destruction.

The Unknown seems to enjoy discussing sin with the people he murders and coerces. He’s brought it up, one way or another, everytime, from the forbidden fruit he pointedly handled with Bernd (lust for underaged Claudia), to the gold he mentioned with Winden’s mayor (accepting bribes out of greed), and the soul killing lies he mentioned to Doris, who wouldn’t admit that she was worried about Agnes for herself (deceit and lust).

His parents symbolize light and dark, which puts Unknown in a tough spot. It automatically makes him neutral, the balance or tipping point on the scales of justice. The Unknown quantity. He doesn’t naturally have a side, forever without a true home.

Which means he’s loyal to everyone and no one. He’s infinity and alone. He’s both dark and light. He’s the bridge between the two worlds and the energy that binds them.

He probably can relate to Claudia’s cold amorality, but she is Neutral neutral to his Lawful neutral (X). We know for sure that he works with his mother, but doesn’t always agree with her. And he shares Jonas’ tendency toward moralizing and nihilism.

I think this season has an aspect of the worlds and characters being on trial and reduced to their elemental natures because of it. The future is lost in both worlds, if the dead environment and dwindling populations are anything to go by.

The rational laws of nature/alchemy/science would be under the Unknown’s purview as well.

This season in particular, we’re shown frequent exterior establishing shots of the natural world and the weather. The four elements, earth, air, fire and water, have been emphasized. For water, the lake and rain are frequently shown. For fire, the lightning in Jonas lab, natural lightning and the fiery glow in lanterns has been shown. For earth, the brick Tannhaus factory and church are shown, lots of dirt, the stone decor in Eva’s lair, the ruined power plant and the desert. For air, we’ve heard the music that’s so much a part of the show and seen frequent evidence of the wind blowing, mist, and whatever the flakes are that are always falling in the 2050s.

The natural laws break down when Time has been pushed too far, as it was at the end of S2 when the Earth stood still. We don’t know if the Unknown is an independent God with a plan of his own or if he’s obediently enforcing Claudia’s rules, so we don’t know what he thought about the shockwave in the Prime world. He didn’t seem happy with Eva’s plans for an Alt world apocalypse, though.

The real time war could be between between whatever Claudia is doing while she sends Jonas and Martha off on their wild goose chases and whatever the Unknown is creating, or destroying, with his bootstrap paradoxes. Eva and Claudia may give him instructions, but that doesn’t mean the Unknown always follows them.

Images courtesy of Netflix.

8 thoughts on “Dark Season 3 Episode 4: The Origin Recap

  1. As usual, a really phenomenal post. I’ve finished the series and, boy!, did I miss you – no one doing recaps and reviews of this show comes close to doing it justice except for you. I’ll read all your posts as you publish them because not only do you catch things I miss, but you give such nuanced analyses; the show feels unwatched properly until I read your work.

    Lurking Jana auctioning for a part in the Nielsen family was my favourite line among many great ones. I laughed.

    Question for you, if you’re so inclined to answer: you mentiom Claudia having infinity number of cycles to perfect her manipulations. At the risk of outing myself as someone who is barely literate in terms of this show – how does she do this? Isn’t every cycle new to her as far as she knows?

    Final thought: you are the one person in all the internet who sees Hannah as a sympathetic, compassion-worthy human and you’ve shaped my understanding of her. Thank you for that. And thanks for all your feminist critique. I enjoy it so much.


    1. Thank you! I’m glad I’ve helped Hannah’s reputation in some small way. The way people dislike her but forgive other characters really drives me toward Nietzsche.

      In each incarnation, Claudia has created conditions within the cycles that “wake her up” and educate her quickly. There are signals built into her life to trigger reactions that move her along the correct path. That’s one meaning for predetermination: the environment is set up such that it’s like we’re on a bobsled track with no turn outs.

      In any Groundhog’s Day loop, the main character often develops a routine of racing through their setting, stopping injuries from occurring. Claudia has done the equivalent of this with her life by tinkering with the cycles, except she’s freed up her time instead of helping people. She’s smart and ruthless, even with herself.

      She now gets involved with Bernd when she’s very young and gives up almost all other attachments. I believe the statements the characters repeat to each other, like the drop-ocean saying, act like post hypnotic suggestions to trigger deep memories that carry through their incarnations.

      Reincarnations theories generally believe that the soul will retain memories from one incarnation to another, but may or may not consciously manifest them in each new incarnation. The more evolved a soul is, the more likely they are to remember previous incarnations.

      Claudia probably scientifically figured out what is involved in the evolution of souls and reached that point herself, so that she gets the memories of past lives back quickly. She is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. Jailbreaking her soul wouldn’t be beyond her.
      And she’s set up her various mentors to help get her up to speed at the right times- Bernd, Jonas, Tannhaus. She also gets the triquetra diary at some point.


  2. Did you ever watch Millennium? That series would be right up your alley I would think. The Oroborus (from Millennium) plays a key role in that series. End of days type of stuff, biblical references etc. I can’t believe I caught up to you with this episode. I don’t know whether to wait for you to continue on or plow through the last episodes. Great great website, these recaps have been a godsend. I rush through everything unfortunately and end up missing a lot. It is good to read a great recap and you go well beyond that.


    1. Thanks. There’s nothing wrong with watching the whole season, then rewatching an episode when the recap comes out, if you’re up for that. It’s easier to understand that way and, while I’m trying to avoid spoilers, I can’t talk about much this season if I don’t pull the season long themes together early and give hints. I don’t think this season can be understood an episode at a time during the first watch anyway. The entire season is a single puzzle knot and you need all of the pieces to see the picture. Especially episode 7, when they go into a knot tying frenzy that should have been fleshed out into 2 seasons of material.
      I’ll check out Millennium!

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  3. The page we see Unknown writing on reads as follows in German:

    Wie er einst ins Labyrinth hinabstieg, so steige ich nun in meins. So sterben wir alle gleich. Egal in welches Haus geboren. Egal in welches Gewand. Ob auf Erden kurz oder lang gewesen. Nur ich selber knüpf mein Band. Selbst ob ich Hände reichte oder Hände schlug. Geht es für uns alle gleich zu Ende.

    Die dort oben haben uns lang vergessen. Sie richten uns nicht. In Sterben bin ich ganz allein und mein einziger Richter. Ich.

    Der Anfang ist das Ende. Und das Ende ist der Anfang.

    And my amateurish, non-native German speaker attempt at a translation:

    As he once descended into the Labyrinth, so I now descend into mine. So do we all die equal. No matter in which house we are born. No matter in what garments. Whether we were on the Earth briefly or long. I alone forge my bonds [? not sure how a native speaker would understand this part; “Band” has many translations along the lines of cords, straps, tape, shackles etc.]. Regardless whether I joined hands or slapped them away. The end comes for us all just the same.

    Those above have long since forgotten us. They do not judge us. In death I am completely alone and my only judge. Me.

    The beginning is the end. And the end is the beginning.

    Starting from “So sterben wir alle gleich”/”So we all die equal”, the text is almost identical to Martha/Ariadne’s speech in S1E6. Martha breaks down after “Ich.”, but I assume the play as written did not include the final two lines.


    1. Thank you! So it’s all a quote. This is the speech from S1Ep6, which is Ariadne’s death scene:
      “Nothing but darkness surrounds me. Eternally lurking shadows. I have not eaten in days. My eyes are turning black. The end is near. Just as he once descended into the maze, I now descend into mine. I now stand before you, no king’s daughter, not a man’s wife, no brother’s sister. I am a loose end in time. And so we all die alike. No matter which house we are born into, no matter what clothes we wear, whether we grace the earth for many years, or briefly. I alone tie my bonds, whether with my hands extended or with them slapped away. We all face the same end. Those above have forgotten us. They do not judge us. In death, I am all alone. And my only judge is… me.”

      It’s sweet that the Unknown quotes his Mom at the end. If he sees himself as another Ariadne, guiding the world, who is that in the middle of the labyrinth? Jonas? Claudia?

      In S1Ep6, just before Martha goes out on stage, Bartosz asks her to run away with him. The beginning of her speech is intercut with Jonas using the red thread in the cave, tied to the snake bracelet, to get to and then use the passage. He goes to 1986 and meets teenage Hannah, who warns him to stay out of the radioactive rain from Chernobyl. If Martha had gone with Bartosz and Jonas had listened to his mother and stayed away from radiation, this would be a very different story. Somewhere in the multiverse, they’re alive and unscarred.

      In S1, when Martha finishes her speech, she breaks down because it reminds her of Mikkel. Now her son uses it to describe his death. Regina and Katharina also get in a physical fight in S1Ep6. Regina tells Katharina she should leave town. In S3, Katharina moves to 1986. In S1 it’s revealed that Regina is dying from breast cancer. Saving Regina becomes Claudia’s main motivation.

      In S1, Ulrich discovers Tronte’s affairs with Claudia, that Jana lied to the police about Tronte’s whereabouts the night Mads disappeared and figures out the unidentified body belongs to Mads. In S3, Alt Ulrich suspect Helge of murdering Mads. The beginnings of the Jana-Tronte-Claudia triangle are shown.


  4. Love reading your commentaries. How long does it take to write these ? It’s amazing. Also, When can we expect to see your review on Episode 5 and onwards ?


    1. Glad you enjoy my writing. I do a lot of research for my recaps of Dark and I can’t predict how long that will take or what direction it will take me in. I also have health issues that flare up unpredictably. I’ve given up on making predictions for when I’ll finish things, because whenever I do the Fates step in and laugh at me, so it’s better if I just work at my own pace.

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