In episode 5, we lose some beloved characters in some violent interactions with some hard characters. It’s a tough episode to get through.
Teen Charlotte learns her origin story from Old HG Tannhaus and meets Teen Peter. The two Adult Claudias meet for the first time. Alt Claudia gives Prime Claudia the triquetra diary. Child Elisabeth finds Young Noah in the caves.
The episode begins in the Prime world, 2020, with Prime Adult Claudia burying Adult Regina, who was recently murdered by Alt Old Tronte under orders from Alt Adult Claudia. Regina was dying anyway, so it was basically a mercy killing, but Prime Claudia wasn’t read to let go.
It’s raining, of course, as Claudia digs a hole in the ground by herself. She’s placed a wooden cross as a grave marker. The body is wrapped in plastic. As we know from our world’s 2020, it can be hard for suppliers to keep up with a heavy demand for caskets.
Sirens blare in the distance as Claudia finishes. A warning that other natural disasters are still occurring or that serious crimes, such as arson or riots, are out of control in the post apocalypse Prime world? Or a warning that this turn of events signals a new, even more dangerous direction for Claudia’s plans?
Old Claudia does the opening voiceover:
“Why do we die? What is death? Could we escape it if we knew when to expect it? Is the time of our departure predetermined? Our dying part of an endless clockwork? We all have one truth in common. We are born and we die. No matter what path we take to get there.”
Claudia questions death, but then finds it something that all beings share, the great leveler. Yet “and then she will live” has been Claudia’s motivation since early in season 1. Claudia identified the “she” as Regina early on. Now that “she” is dead in both realities.
In 2053, Adam tells Charlotte that she always ends up standing there, having her life mansplained to her by him, while the corpses of the suicides and Elizabeth’s kills dangle in the background. Charlotte is clearly questioning the life choices that led her to be this version of herself instead of the one with the blonde highlights and clean clothes over in Martha’s world.
Adam continues, saying that Charlotte is drawn to Elisabeth. Their souls will always bring them back together.
That must make Franziska feel great. At least she and Magnus have each other, since no one is risking their lives or attempting to murder anyone to find them.
He asks if Charlotte has decided whether she’ll play her part in the next stage of their plan. In one more day they can finally unravel the knot. Charlotte asks if he’ll play his part. She doesn’t say what his part is and he doesn’t give a straight answer, as is his habit.
Adam: “Eva will never achieve her goal. Her world is no more deserving of salvation than ours is. You know that.”
Still fighting with the ex, after 66 years.
Over to Eva’s Alt world, November 2019, where it’s one day until the apocalypse.
Jonas is asleep in Yellow Raincoat Martha’s bed. He’s wearing the White T Shirt of Purity, so we know that what he and Martha did last night was a Good Thing in the long run. A hand creeps over his shoulder, as so often happens in his dreams. He turns to see Prime Martha lying in bed behind him, in her white
wedding dress. There’s no black goo to be seen, for once. Time hasn’t caught up to them yet.
He wakes up. It’s not a full startle, more a slow motion shiver awake. Very effective.
He rolls over to see Yellow Raincoat Martha asleep behind him, wearing black. Of course she is. She’s no longer pure. Time and motherhood have infected her. I can see Daniel Kahnwald scratching her off his list of potentials as we speak.
Jonas just sort of accepts that this is what his life is now and gets out of bed, then gets dressed. Martha wakes up while he’s getting dressed. They look at each other, then look at everything but each other. While Martha gets dressed, she tries to accept that she’s not the Martha he was looking for, even though he’s the Jonas she was looking for.
When she’s done, she sits on her bed. He puts on his raincoat, then picks up her yellow raincoat and brings it her. She looks up at him, waiting to see what he’ll say: “Let’s go. To the nuclear power plant. We don’t have much time.”
It’s not much, but he handled her coat gently and didn’t reject her outright. A desperate girl can live for days on those little signs. Before they leave, Martha starts to say something, but changes her mind. Better not to know the answer to some questions until you have to.
Katharina is waiting for them when they get downstairs. Oops, they didn’t make it back from the future in time for dinner. It sounds like they were gone for a whole day when they went to 2052. Plus, Mom liked Kilian the former drug dealer better than Jonas. And she doesn’t even know that Martha and Jonas are related yet.
Martha hugs her mom tight while crying a little- the apocalypse is only a day away and no one has mentioned the bunker to her as a place where she could keep her family safe. Bet St Kilian would’ve mentioned it if he were the savior from the next planet over.
She tells Katharina that she has to go. Her manner spooks her mom so much that Katharina doesn’t try to stop her. Jonas basically makes a run for it, hoping Katharina has forgotten he’s there.
Over in the Prime world, September 24, 1987, Prime Adult Katharina is in the psych ward with Old Ulrich, going over their escape plans. She tells him to wait by the entrance at 10:00 PM. She plans to steal Helene’s psych ward key card when she’s done with her shift at 5:00 PM. Then she tells him they’ll get Mikkel, too.
Once she says that, you can see the shift in Ulrich. He thought the plan might work if it was just the two of them escaping back to their time, but he’s accepted that Mikkel can’t leave this time period. He apologizes to her for all of the trouble he’s caused her.
Old HG Tannhaus has the radio on in the clock shop: “One year after the horrific events of Chernobyl, 5 members of upper management at the reactor have been given long prison sentences. Meanwhile, German nuclear power plants have seen an increase in security measures and testing. Still, the government… that German nuclear power plants are safe. In the US, German Foreign Affairs Minister Hans-Dietrich addressed the UN General Assembly in NY and urged global superpowers to take further steps toward disarmament… The German research vessel Polarstern has set out to explore the Antarctic… The expedition’s aim is to research the hole in the ozone.”
While he waits for the world to end, Tannhaus is working on a pocket watch at his desk when Young Charlotte enters the shop. She’s wearing her teal cap and is out of sorts. He asks if she had a rough day. She responds by asking if he’s ever wondered if it’s possible to rewind time.
There’s a loaded question.
He chuckles and says he has. She wants to know if he thinks it’s possible to go back in time and change the past. He gives her a long look and decides she’s old enough to know more about her own past.
Tannhaus: “For quite a while now I’ve wanted to be able to turn back time. But my place is not in the past, nor the future. It’s here, with you.”
As he’s speaking, he retrieves a small leather box from a cabinet- another Pandora’s box. Except this one is THE Pandora’s Box. He takes a photo from inside the box and hands it to Charlotte. It shows a young couple with an infant. She asks if they’re her parents. She’s been told that there are no photos of them.
Tannhaus: That’s not you in the photo. Those aren’t your parents. That’s my son and his wife. And my granddaughter. They died in a car accident. That night, when it happened, I woke up. There was a noise downstairs in the shop. Two women were there. Strange looking. They were carrying a bundle. That bundle was you. They said that on that night, everything would be taken from me and then I’d be given everything. And then I got the call. On the bridge, a truck had forced my son’s car into the river. They only ever found the bodies of my son and his wife. My granddaughter was never found. This is the only thing you brought with you.”
He gives her the “For Charlotte” pocket watch that’s been passed down through generations of the Tannhaus family since at least the early 1800s.
If Charlotte isn’t his granddaughter, how did she get the Tannhaus family watch? Was it passed down through a side branch of the family? Why doesn’t HG know that the watch is a family heirloom? Is this another bootstrap paradox? The pocket watch needs an episode of its own so that we can follow its 200+ year journey.
Charlotte is confused and angry. She asks who her parents are, who she really is, but he doesn’t know. She runs out of the shop.
Over to the Alt world, November 2019 and Blonde Highlights Charlotte, who clearly knows she’s got the best deal of all the Charlottes. Other than the apocalypse that’s coming in 1 day that no one’s told her about.
But she will die young and leave a beautiful corpse, as some dream of.
She’s waiting for Aleksander again in his office, looking mildly confused about the dirty plastic bag on his desk
that’s evidence in a murder case and a potential blackmail case. Prime Charlotte would have taken photos of the bag, sent them to the crime lab and had the results before Aleksander walked in. But Prime Charlotte also touched her daughter’s hand at the end of S2, went through the rift and became a cult member in the future (because she has no other options), so you know, curiosity killed Schrödinger’s cat and all that.
When Aleksander enters, she tells him she needs to ask him some questions about the body in the bunker. He realizes the incriminating bag is still on his desk and fails to act nonchalant. She notices that he’s nervous and asks if something’s wrong. He says everyone at the plant is nervous right now, while they’re planning the demolition and decommissioning of the power plant for next year, when the plant will go offline. He never expected his career at the plant to end this way, but everything has its time.
He’s just watched his beloved wife of 30+ years die of cancer and he’s helping to end his own 30+ year career. That takes it out of you. Bartosz is all he has left.
Charlotte asks when he arrived in Winden and when he began work at the plant. He tells her that he came to Winden in Fall 1986 and began working at the plant soon after. He wonders why she’s asking. She doesn’t say. Then he asks if she received the power plant shift schedules she asked for. Charlotte asks if previous shift schedules are archived, going all the way back to 1986.
Since Aleksander is a wanted man, this makes him more nervous, but Charlotte, like Ulrich, is narrowing in on Helge.
There is a drumbeat instead of the swoop to change worlds, but the switch happens, nonetheless. We move to the Prime world, September 2020. Obviously, it’s raining.
This is some kind of terrible post-nuclear-black hole-quantum-entanglement-apocalypse radioactive fallout rain going on in Winden that you do not want to be caught in. This stuff probably evaporates into the black goo/Cesium 137 and they scrape it up off the streets, then store in in barrels, similar to what they did with the Trinitite green radioactive glass formed at the first nuclear test site.
Adult Claudia makes her way into the boarded up police station where Regina died and where she apparently now lives. She can sense someone waiting there and picks up a piece of rebar to use as a weapon. It’s Alt Adult Claudia- this is their first meeting. Alt Claudia says hello as they circle each other warily.
Prime Adult Peter and Young Elisabeth leave Benni’s trailer, then make their way to the military encampment to search for Charlotte and Franziska again. Elisabeth refuses to enter the encampment, despite Peter’s pleas. She’s given up hope for finding her mother and sister alive and can’t bear to look at any more corpses. Peter tries to convince her to keep looking, but she walks away from him. He hesitates as she walks away, unsure whether to follow her or keep searching as planned.
Alt Claudia explains to Prime Claudia that she’s from another world and is there to guide Prime Claudia into the Light.
Maybe that sounds different to Germans and not like she’s the Angel of Death.
Alt Claudia continues: “There are two groups out there who are fighting for superiority in time travel. Light and Dark. I want you to join our side. Eva’s side. I know you thought you could trust him, but you can’t do that.”
Prime Claudia is confused about Eva, then confused by “him”. Alt Claudia clarifies, “Jonas. He belongs to the dark.”
Prime Claudia believes that Jonas died in the shockwave, since he didn’t make it to the bunker and she hasn’t seen him since.
Claudia tells her that Jonas isn’t dead. “He wants to destroy both worlds forever and untie the knot. He doesn’t know that death is what he’ll want in the end. But all his impulses on this journey will lead to that end. But Eva wants to save both worlds.”
So much irony here. Here is a rule you need to remember from here on out: Claudia lies constantly and ruthlessly, even to herself.
We already know that Eva doesn’t want to save both worlds. Jonas does want to destroy both worlds, but that’s not the end of that story. And I don’t think there’s been a single time on this show when someone has recruited someone to the side of “the Light” that they’ve had that person’s best interests at heart or were telling them anything close to the whole truth.
At this point, the light and the dark are meaningless distinctions. We saw in the Alt world’s 2052 that light can be deadly and dark can be protective, as the darkness of the cave and bunker have been at times. They do not automatically equate to good and evil.
Prime Claudia says that Jonas wants to change the cycles. He taught her that if they change one small piece, they can change everything. Alt Claudia says that Prime Old Claudia taught Jonas that, which Prime Adult Claudia already knows. It was one of the first things Jonas told her. But Alt Claudia acts like she’s making a big reveal about the “positive feedback loop” of Claudia and Jonas mentoring each other in time travel.
Alt Claudia: “Jonas opened the passage in 2020. The older Jonas has closed it in 2019, as well. After it had been opened for the first time in summer 1986. In all three moments, they left behind traces of Cesium residue, a component of the black matter.”
Prime Claudia: “Radioactive half-lives.”
Alt Claudia: “In each cycle, in all three moments, this Cesium is carried through the tunnel and back before it’s completely decayed. It exponentially expands endlessly.”
Prime Claudia: “So that’s how the passage was created.”
Alt Claudia: “And that’s how it must continue to exist for eternity. Everything has to happen again. Jonas bringing the matter into the passage. The opening of one of the drums in the plant triggering the apocalypse. Everything in this loop repeats itself. Life and death.”
Back to the Alt world.
Jonas cuts through the chain link fence which surrounds the nuclear power plant so that they can sneak into the facility and stop the barrels from being opened. Martha asks what’s in the containers. Jonas says he doesn’t know exactly, just that the substance is what’s leftover from the 1986 accident at the plant and is what makes time travel possible. The trucks carrying the barrels will arrive later, so they’ll lay low until dark.
So why are they rushing to get there, if nothing is going to happen for hours? Because that’s what Jonas does. The Alt world storyline is supposed to mirror the Prime storyline, but without Jonas the pieces don’t fall into place properly. So characters are moving around the board like playing pieces in an Alice in Wonderland chess game who aren’t sure why they’re making the moves they’re making, they just know the moves are very important and need to be done quickly, or off with their heads!
This is part of why I’m certain that Martha was always the chosen one in this world, but Jonas also existed there as a natural part of the world until a fairly recent cycle. They are working too hard to compensate for his absence for it to be a natural part of this world.
As they crawl through the fence, Martha’s cheek gets scratched. She tells Jonas it’s nothing but he realizes that it’s the same scratch that the other Alt Young Martha had, the one who grabbed him from the Prime world apocalypse at the end of S2 and dropped him in the caves. She said she was trying to change the eternally repeating loops, just like him, but Martha’s scratch proves that so far, everything has stayed the same. If they continue on the same path, nothing will change and Yellow Raincoat Martha will become Alt Dark Emo Martha.
Jonas asks Martha why Eva lied to him about saving his world, but I think he’s mostly asking himself. Martha answers anyway, trying to get him back on track. She reminds him that they’re supposed to be stopping the apocalypse in her world. He interrupts her, wondering if they’re actually the ones who trigger the apocalypse and if maybe that’s what Eva wants.
That would correspond to the way Charlotte and Torben walk in on Clausen with the barrels in the Prime world. But the apocalypse will happen, one way or another, no matter where Martha and Jonas are. If they aren’t there to trigger it, Time will send someone else. The mirroring between the two worlds wasn’t a lie.
The differences between the two apocalypses would be in how energy is being used to further the goals of Sic Mundus, Erit Lux or Claudia, what that means for how they’ll manipulate the placement of
pawns people and what events they might try to synchronize with the opening of the barrel.
Martha doesn’t understand this system at all yet or why Eva would want an apocalypse. Jonas isn’t able to wrap his head around explaining time travel theory and the knot from the beginning so that Martha will understand, so he just starts where he is, in the middle: “Because they’re lying. I always do it. They keep telling me I have to, but it’s them. No matter what I do, it just gets worse. I have to go back to Eva. I finally want to know what the truth is.”
He might want to start by doing what someone else, who’s not so intimately involved, wants to do, instead of following his own instincts or the authority figure’s instructions every time. Maybe listen to the rest of the Scooby Gang for once. Yeah, it’ll never happen.
I love the way he pretends like he hasn’t demanded the truth from everyone, every time, and like they haven’t assured him that they were telling him the truth, for real this time, every time. He is eternally ready to try again, once he comes out of his latest suicidal depression, like the springtime after a long winter.
He goes back through the fence. Martha reluctantly follows.
Back to the Prime world, September 1986.
Teen Charlotte sits in the shelter at the one bus stop and traffic light in town. A bus pulls up and a teenage boy gets off, but Charlotte doesn’t get on. Like Teen Regina, Ulrich and Hannah, she’s using this as her thinking spot.
The boy asks how long the walk to Winden is. Charlotte tells him,”I’d turn back if I were you.” Winden is a black hole that sucks your life away and never lets you leave again.
She’s feeling a little dramatic. But it’s also true.
The boy is into that kind of thing and sits down at the other end of the bus stop bench. When he asks if she’s okay, Charlotte tells him, “It’s complicated.” He agrees that life is complicated. She asks what brings him to Winden. He repeats, “It’s complicated.” But after a moment, he continues, explaining that his mom recently died, so he’s come to live with the father that he’d never even heard of until a few days ago. His mother told him his father’s identity on the day she died.
Charlotte asks if he thinks someone can be brought back from the dead. He asks if she has a specific plan in mind. She says she was thinking of using time travel- she’d take the person out of their timeline before they die. Without a time machine already in place, that’s further than the boy can manage with this thought experiment right now, but he’s intrigued, so he introduces himself. He’s Peter Doppler, Charlotte’s future husband.
Back to the Alt world, 2019.
When Charlotte gets home, Elisabeth is sitting on the living room couch. Charlotte calls for Peter and asks why Elisabeth is home. Mother and daughter don’t seem to be close here. Elisabeth says she didn’t go to school today. Peter enters the room. Charlotte tells him that she got the 1986 power plant shift schedules from Aleksander.
Helge worked until 6:00PM on the day Mads disappeared. Then Mads disappeared around 6:21PM. Peter tells her again that Helge was with him all night when the body appeared in the bunker. He doesn’t know why Helge confessed, but he has dementia, so she should let it go.
Charlotte insists that Helge’s confession is valid, so he may be involved in the murder of 2 boys. She says this with no emotion other than annoyance that Peter can’t understand why she’s pursuing this important case so enthusiastically. There’s no acknowledgement that this is a family member who lives with them and the idea that he could be a murderer hurts the people who love him, like her own daughters.
Charlotte must have been looking for a way to get Helge out of her house, she’s so excited to be able to pin some murders on him.
Peter pulls her out of the room, since they’re having this discussion in front of Elisabeth. He tells Charlotte that Elisabeth isn’t deaf. Charlotte doesn’t respond directly. She brings up Erik Obendorf and Helge’s penny instead, then says that Ulrich is right. It’s all connected. Peter isn’t happy that she brought him up, though he doesn’t mention the affair. Charlotte goes back to the station.
Back to the Prime world, September 2020, raining.
Elisabeth returns to the trailer and locks the door. There’s a strange man already inside stealing food. When she tries to leave he tells her not to be scared, then smashes her forehead against the window, knocking her unconscious. When she awakens, she’s on the bed with her hands and feet are bound. The man is heating up soup on the stove. He pretends to be friendly and chats her up.
Kidnappers and rapists are so weird this way, pretending they’re nice guys while they’re invading your home and forcing themselves on you in some of the worst ways possible. Then acting like you’re the rude one if you don’t cooperate, because their expectations seem reasonable to them. There is a purpose for all of that socialization of women to be nice at all times. Makes it much easier to victimize us when it goes against to grain to disturb other people.
I mean, don’t women like to be tied up the way Elisabeth is right now?? In that man’s mind, he can convince himself she’s sitting quietly because she likes it. Or she will once he’s done with her.
Once the soup is hot, he sits next to Elisabeth on the bed. She’s supposed to be maybe 9, at most 10, in the Prime world, but this anus thinks he’s on a date now. When she refuses any soup, he decides she’s ready for him and tries to rape her. Peter walks in on them and a fight for their lives ensues. The anus stabs Peter in the chest with a knife and kills him. Before the anus can turn around, Elisabeth turns her attacker’s head to pulp with a fire extinguisher. When she’s done, she’s in shock and covered in blood.
In September 2053, Adult Elisabeth stares at the God particle.
In this scene, we get a good look at Elisabeth’s blind eye, which is frequently left in shadow. Were we supposed to figure out that her eye or optical nerve was damaged in the fight for her life? We’re not going to get another explanation for what happened to her eye, so let’s go with that. The optical nerve is actually squeezed between bones on its way to the brain. So a blow to the head like the one she just got could have shifted bones or caused swelling that put pressure on it, damaging the nerve. Combined with a lack of medical treatment, she’s probably lucky to be alive, even though she escaped the attack.
Adult Elisabeth, Franziska, Charlotte and Adam are having a family reunion in the God particle observation room. Franziska hugs Charlotte and Elisabeth tight. Adam says that it’s time and tells Franziska to let the other two go. Elisabeth and Charlotte put on hazmat suits and go to the God particle, while Franziska watches like the Rapture has come to take them. Maybe it has, since it seems they won’t be back.
In 2020, Alt Adult Claudia hands the pristine triquetra diary to Prime Adult Claudia and tells her that she has to stop Adam from untying the knot. “You need to lead them. Jonas. Noah. Elisabeth.”
“I don’t understand. Lead them where?” Prime Claudia is confused about where she’s supposed to be going. That is the question of the day. Where is all of this going?
Alt Claudia takes out the Golden Time Snitch and says they’re not going anywhere.
Prime Claudia should lead her young friends along the same path that they’ve always been on. She must maintain the knot, cycle after cycle. Alt Claudia will be doing the same in her world. She reiterates that Claudia needs to work with Jonas for a while, then turn against him. It’s all in the book. As she’s disappearing in a puff of golden glitter, she says they’ll see each other soon.
Prime Claudia kind of liked the idea of going somewhere, though. She’s always been a daring adventurer and pioneer. Repeating the same life for eternity was never going to sit well with her. Plus, while Alt Claudia is still the director of the power plant, Tronte’s lover, Regina’s mother and perfectly groomed, this version is alone and wearing muddy plastic while living in a dirty hellscape. She wants out. She views the triquetra diary not as an instruction manual for maintaining the status quo, but as a Bible she can use as the starting point to decipher a way out of the eternal recurrence.
So- this is where Claudia got the diary and why she’s been following it up until now. But it’s always been clear that the original sequence of events is not being followed from cycle to cycle, even though both Eva and Claudia pretend that’s what they are doing. Adam and Jonas’ relationships to the book are too hard to even keep track of anymore.
The Unknown (and maybe others we haven’t seen) has gone through and changed events, then written down the new sequence in the diary in order to make sure it’s followed. The triquetra diary itself is necessary because so many changes have been made to the cycle that the characters will no longer naturally make decisions necessary to maintain the new cycle. These are the bootstrap paradoxes, the parts of the cycle that don’t make sense anymore.
The fact that Alt Claudia gave Prime Claudia a pristine new version of the triquetra diary suggests that they’ve just made new changes in the book and the cycle. Otherwise, they could let the book change hands as a bootstrap paradox each cycle and become worn, with no one sure of its origin, the way copies of HG Tannhaus’ book have done.
Back to the Alt world, November 2019.
Jonas and Martha march back to the Erit Lux HQ in the caves. Martha stops him outside the entrance to get an answer to her real question, finally.
Martha: “Jonas, what if it’s the truth, though, and only one world can make it? Either yours or mine?”
The camera spins around them as they stand face to face, equals who could be enemies or lovers. Jonas doesn’t answer.
Martha understands his non answer. She steps closer as she speaks. “You decided long ago. You want to return to your world.”
Jonas almost whispers: “I didn’t want any of this. You have to believe me.”
Men are raised to think lawful karmic neutrality is most honorable. Women are raised to believe loyalty to loved ones is most honorable. Why does our culture create these clashes?
So Jonas thinks that it’s reasonable to tell Martha that he didn’t want what’s happened between them, because, to be fair, he was basically kidnapped by Dark Emo Martha. But he definitely wasn’t coerced into having sex last night. That’s obviously on Martha’s mind, and this being her first rodeo, she doesn’t realize where he’s going with his argument.
When she questions whether he didn’t want what happened between them last night, he says, “This here is wrong. I am wrong here.”
She kisses him. They kiss. I think she might have actually taken his soul with her this time, but when she asks him if that was wrong, he stays still and silent. After a moment, she turns and walks toward the mouth of the cave. He follows her.
At least he finally figured out that sometimes, it’s better to say nothing if you can’t spill out the entire 10 page thesis of nuance.
Back to Prime world, 1986.
Helene Albers takes the forest path home from the hospital. She’s wearing a bright pink jacket. Pink is an ambivalent color in this world, dark mixed with light. Katharina approaches her from behind with a knife. She has on a similarly ambivalent purple-pink.
Helene hears Katharina and asks what she wants. Katharina demands the keycard from Helene’s work and comes in close to put the knife up in her face. Helene says she thought she knew Katharina from somewhere when she came into the ward. Katharina grabs for Helene’s bag. With both of her hands occupied, it’s easy for Helene to grab Katharina and overpower her. Katharina forgets and says, “Mama, let go!”
Helene recognizes her daughter’s voice and is so spooked that she drops Katharina’s arms and runs away. Katharina chases her to the beach, where they fight each other for the bag until Katharina hits Helene in the head with a rock. Then she walks a few feet away and turns her back on Helene while she searches for the keycard.
While Katharina is searching, Helene wakes up, takes the rock and hits Katharina in the head as hard as possible, stunning her. Katharina drops to the ground. Helene tells her that she’s not her mother. She says Katharina must be an apparition sent by the devil. Katharina pulls Helene’s St Christopher medal off as Helene beats her head with a rock until she’s dead. Then Helene fills Katharina’s backpack with rocks and drags her body out into the lake.
Katharina is the dead woman in the lake that Bartosz told Martha about in S2 when they were swimming.
Ines and Mikkel/Michael pull up to their house. Katharina has only been dead for moments, but Ines knew it was safe to return home. Michael is in a daze. He barely responds to Ines. But he notices the broken window in the door that Katharina left. The first thing Ines does is offer him more drugged hot chocolate.
Teen Katharina is doing homework at the kitchen table when Helene gets home and starts drinking straight from the liquor bottle. Helene is covered with blood and Katharina is worried. She tries to get her mother to tell her what happened. Helene insults Katharina and hits her repeatedly, then says Katharina isn’t worthy of her name. She wishes she’d gotten rid of her as well.
She did, just decades later than she planned.
She leaves her daughter crying in the kitchen.
Montage time. The song is In the Woods Somewhere by Hozier.
The St Christopher medal lies on the beach, where it will stay for 33 years, until Martha and Jonas find it.
Ulrich waits for Katharina, but he already knows she’s not coming.
Alt Charlotte looks at Ulrich’s empty office.
Old HG Tannhaus looks at the photo of himself and Teen Charlotte. To HG’s relief, Teen Charlotte returns to the shop.
Teen Peter goes to his new home with Helge. Or not. Adult Helge should be in a care facility and Peter’s grandfather Bernd is dead.
Alt Adult Peter sits with Alt Child Elisabeth on the couch, where she is asleep with her stuffed animal. He wins parent of the episode, maybe the season and series. Everyone is ready to go out and fight in this show, but so few are ready to simply stay close and protect.
Prime Adult Peter is still dead. Didn’t even have the courtesy to move his own body.
Prime Young Elisabeth remembered what Young Noah told her at the Kahnwald house and went to the caves to wait for him. He finds her, still in shock and covered in blood.
Prime Adult Claudia reads the entire triquetra diary.
Back to the Alt world, Erit Lux HQ, time period doesn’t matter, but probably November 2019.
Young, Kidnapped Jonas and Yellow Raincoat Martha enter. It’s her first time here. She asks what this place is. Jonas says, “It’s what will become of you.”
They stop to look at the Adam and Eva paintings until Old Eva makes her dramatic entrance. “And thus everything starts over again.”
Jonas accuses her of lying to him when she said he could save both worlds. He asks if it’s even true that they can only save one world? He demands to go back to his own world, now.
Eva speaks to him like an annoyingly patient mother. Of course he wants to go home, but that’s just not possible. Jonas responds with, “What are you saying?”
And now we get Eva’s version of Adam’s three lives speech. She’s not offering him an education, though.
Eva: “A human lives but three lives. The first one ends with the loss of naivety. The second, with the loss of innocence. And the third with the loss of life itself. Yours ends here and now.”
Plot twist! Eva is a busy single mom. She doesn’t have time to fool around with a baby daddy who thinks she and her kid are wrong for existing. It’s time for Jonas to say hello to the end of stage 3. Stranger Martha appears from the shadows.
Old Eva says that Jonas has done what he was meant to do in the Alt world. Yellow Raincoat Martha argues that they haven’t done anything. They haven’t even stopped the apocalypse. Stanger Martha shushes her. Dark Emo Martha appears from another corner.
The two Young Marthas step close to each other and Yellow Raincoat Martha asks Dark Emo Martha who she is. Dark Emo Martha says, “I’m sorry.”
Then she shoots Jonas, just the way Adam shot Prime Martha.
Jonas takes a moment to fully act out his reaction to being shot, then he falls down. I thought for a minute he might spin around a few times before he fell, like a cartoon character. He’s been trying to die for a long time. Maybe this time, it’ll take and he’ll get some peace. He’s gonna give Eva her money’s worth with his death scene, either way.
Once he’s down, Yellow Raincoat Martha drops down next to him to cry and mush her hands around in his bloody torso and tell him she can’t live without him. He takes the opportunity to rub some blood on her face and give her the St Christopher medal so that the Alt world will always have one to remember him by. Even in death, he’s thoughtful like that.
Eva must have a bowl full of them.
The Greek Chorus of Other Marthas watches them for a minute, then wanders off. It’s probably the Unknown’s bedtime and they have to decide who tells the Old Man his story. He looks to me like he’d be picky and a little deaf and expect a different voice for every character.
Jonas gets really pale and lethargic. Yellow Raincoat Martha tells him she’ll make this right, mirroring his words over Prime Martha’s body.
Gosh, this would be so ridiculously sad if they hadn’t spent 2.5 seasons teaching us that Young Jonas can’t die.
Cue the haunting music.
In this episode, the themes of taking what you want, survival of the most ruthless, domestic violence and the fragility of love and family bonds move to the forefront. Almost everyone who shows or even feels love or compassion is punished for it. Guilt is also used as a tool to take advantage of other characters. The relatively innocent forces of Young Mikkel’s S1 magic by distraction and secrecy and Hannah’s S1 magic by intention and Will have grown into forces that can create and destroy planets.
From what I can tell, everyone in Adam’s gang is disposable once they’ve served their purpose, except for Magnus and Franziska, who must act as the maid and butler. Sometimes the Sic Mundus alumni are murdered, sometimes Fate gets them, as with Ulrich.
I have a growing sense that the woods we see in the future with the hung corpses and the giant knots in the tree trunks are Dante’s Wood of the Suicides, where Adam’s leftovers go to die after they’re done serving his death cult. Or maybe an occasional member manages to leave town and start over somewhere. Let’s be hopeful. But, while Martha’s world came out of her mind as a Harry Potter-Dante’s Purgatory mash up, Jonas’ world came out of his mind as the Circles of He11, with him as Dante chasing his unattainable lost love through eternity, so, yeah.
Someday, let’s figure out what Bartosz’s 3rd world would look like. We aren’t being shown the trio photo over and over and reminded that Bartosz comes from a happy little family of 3 people all season for nothing. Now Tannhaus’ son’s little 3 person family has been added to the group of 3s. A Trio of Young Chosen Ones, Triquetra Knots, “Past, Present and Future”- 3 worlds are necessary to balance the system. If you haven’t guessed that yet, let me remind you that Tannhaus told us in S1 that the Einstein-Rosen bridge/wormhole through space-time would go in 3 directions, not 2, just as the passage does.
The connection between worlds is an expansion of that science. It’s not new science. I’ll go into the theory more in episode 6, but for now, keep in mind that Dark is a system based on the number 3, rather than a system based on dualities. As soon as there was a 2nd world, there was almost automatically a 3rd. Listen to Tannhaus’ science, not Claudia’s. Claudia knows the truth, but usually when we hear her speak, she’s lying to someone to get what she wants from them. Pay attention to actions, not words. She has an agenda of her own and most of what she leads the others to do is either distraction or in service of her underlying agenda.
RIP Prime Alt Young Jonas, Katharina and Peter. It doesn’t pay to be a pretty good person or parent in these worlds.
I really wanted to see Jonas pop up off the floor and tell the Marthas that he was just kidding, he can’t die. Nice try though, he hadn’t shot himself yet in all of his suicide attempts.
The main characters who were primarily parents, who were on the outer edges of the knot, are being taken out, one way or another. Daniel, Egon, Regina, Katharina, Peter, Bernd, Jasmin- dead. Hannah and Doris- driven out. Young Egon was gotten out of the way by being driven to drink. Other than Claudia, who is in charge, Alt Aleksander might be the last adult mom or dad standing who’s not inside the knot. Prime Ines died in the shockwave and Alt Ines wouldn’t be a mom, since she didn’t adopt Michael. I think Greta left town when Egon refused to find Noah for her.
A certain amount of the knot and of Adam’s actions are about creating and destroying close bonds between souls. The bonds between some parents and children are broken so that Jonas or someone else can encourage cult like loyalty. Now he’s particularly collecting daughters from within the knot- Alt Martha, Franziska, Charlotte, Elisabeth, Silja, Agnes. In the past, there were sons who were chosen ones or close to chosen ones- Mikkel, Helge, Noah, Magnus, Bartosz. All but Magnus have served their purpose.
Now that we know that Katharina is the lady of the lake, that means that there may not be a dead woman in the lake in the Alt world or the story surrounding her may unfold differently. Which means that the circumstances that brought Magnus and Franziska together in the Prime world and the Alt world and which kept them together had to be completely different.
The only thing that’s mirrored is that they’re together. In the Prime world, In June 2019, Bartosz tells the lady of the lake story while they’re swimming, then Magnus notices Franziska floating face down in the water and uses the story as an excuse to talk to her. He watches her in dance class and follows her when she exchanges money for meds for Benni. Since she’s deaf in the Alt world, she’s unlikely to be in dance class and Alt Benni doesn’t appear to be on hormones.
They stay together as part of Sic Mundus, stuck in the past and then in the future. In the Alt world, they aren’t part of Erit Lux, but they are still devoted to each other. I haven’t given them much credit as a couple, but I have to admit that they’ve been through a lot in both worlds and I’m touched by their quiet, enduring devotion to each other. Whenever things get intense, in a good or a bad way, the camera always shows them grabbing each other’s hands and holding on tight. Claudia, Eva and Adam have separated almost everyone, but not them. Magnus and Franziska are inseparable in both worlds.
Both Prime Charlotte and Unknown wear teal, suggesting that Prime Charlotte may also be a child of more than one world. But she’s not connected to different worlds in the same way that the Unknown is. Alt Charlotte wears navy blue, probably because she’s not self aware of her true nature in the way that Prime Charlotte is. Prime Charlotte has always had a connection to the mysterious.
In the absence of Jonas, Alt Charlotte seems to have connected more closely to Ulrich. That’s thrown off her intuition, her connection to Elisabeth and to the rest of her family.
In the Prime world in S2, Ulrich was obsessed with investigating the dead and missing boys, while Charlotte sensed that she was at the center of the mysteries in Winden and began investigating her own past. Her intuition in S2 both made sense and didn’t make sense- it panned out, but she never gave us a firm reason why she thought she was connected. The story of Tannhaus’ lost family and Charlotte’s mysterious appearance in his life brings that into focus. Did the two women who brought baby Charlotte to HG also run his son’s vehicle off the road?
In the Alt world, Ulrich is still obsessed with the case, but without the loss of Mikkel and with Mads sort of ID’d (Can’t they run a DNA match on the body? Wouldn’t that be a normal step to take in 2019?), his focus is more narrow. Alt Ulrich is trying to find Mads’ killer rather than to stop more children from being taken and to undo the kidnappings in the past, the way Prime Ulrich hoped to do when he attacked Helge.
Charlotte is picking up more of the police investigation than she did in the Prime world, but Stranger Jonas isn’t there to leave his box of clues in Regina’s hotel, so she won’t be given that help. (That’s why Stranger Martha’s bunker has chalk writing- there’s no tradition of paper and string.)
Without Jonas, we’ve barely seen Alt Mikkel all season. His connections, even to his own nuclear family, are broken as well. Alt Katharina isn’t passionately keeping track of her child’s welfare the way Prime Katharina did even before Mikkel disappeared. She’s barely mentioned him. Mikkel is a lynchpin character, but only when he’s connected to Jonas. Without Jonas, he fades into the background, even within his own family.
Without the Mikkel-Jonas-Michael circle, Alt Magnus didn’t become closer to either of his siblings the way you’d think he would have. He and Franziska have become an isolated unit instead.
Without Jonas and Michael, Alt Hannah has faded into the background as well, since Alt Ulrich ignores her in favor of his job, his obsessions and Alt Charlotte. Her pregnancy is her only ongoing storyline outside of her marriage.
With the shocking death of Prime Katharina, Prime Ulrich’s part in this cycle is done. Mikel’s family is now gone, other than Magnus, who is in the future, and Ulrich, who has been locked up in the past for his crimes for more than 30 years. Michael’s suicide is a necessary part of the cycle because it instigates Jonas’ journey, which is what instigates everything else, from one perspective. But I suspect that he also dies when he does so that he doesn’t have to watch the disintegration of his family of origin and then die in the apocalypse anyway.
Ulrich acts as the Judas to Helge’s Chosen One in both worlds, which is an odd role for him to play, given how separated they are in time and in the Winden social world. Charlotte is the only connection and she doesn’t interact much with her elderly father-in-law. Both Ulrichs use women and children badly and Helge is a child of rape who both Ulrichs try to murder, so maybe there’s some karmic debt being paid there.
Jonas tells Young Alt Martha that Eva/Erit Lux is “what will become of you.” We’ve heard that phrasing once before, from Stranger Jonas in S2, who used it in an odd way, as if he weren’t speaking about himself, when he said he couldn’t stop Adam, but he could change what becomes of him. This season, I’ve wondered if that was actually an Alt world version of Stranger Jonas, from a cycle before he was removed from Martha’s world. I already had the theory that there were two Strangers in S2. Now we’ve seen 2 Claudias in the Prime world. I think that Alt Stranger Jonas also traveled to the Prime world to help keep the cycles on track, before he convinced Martha/Eva to remove him from the cycles so that he wouldn’t become Adam.
Claudia, Jonas, Tannhaus, Time Travel and Quantum Entanglement- Some Theory
Alt Claudia mentioned the passage in connection to Jonas and made it sound as if he’d created it in the summer of 1986. We’ve never been shown any evidence of that, so I’m assuming she’s either lying or wrong. But the passage does seem to be bound to Jonas and Mikkel in some way, using quantum entanglement, so maybe she’s right in some sense.
Let’s start with some theory that I consider common sense- Eva stated very clearly that certain people and events will always be born or occur. They must happen, genetics, probability, etc be d-mned. Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. The Dark universe simply doesn’t work if you don’t accept that truth about the Prime and Alt worlds.
That means that Jonas could still be born of different parents, in a different time period. His undying Will is the crucial part of him that would be reborn. For TV purposes, Louis Hofmann would still be cast as Jonas, but he could look like anyone. Or he could look like Jonas. Some people drastically overestimate the variety in the northern European gene pool. Doppelgangers exist in the real world. Truth really is as strange as fiction. And fictional universes can operate under any rules they want, as long as they follow those rules consistently.
[[If you’re not going to define, in your own mind, the fundamental principle which your universe is centered around until you write your third book, and then you’re going to try to cover up your inadequacies by having your main character commit suicide for no apparent reason, and then you’re going to run around retconning your entire universe to fit your last minute change of plans, you have no business creating alternate universes, in my humble opinion. But I’ll complain about Divergent some other time. Death and suicide= the most overused plot devices of the 21st century.]]
Magnus and Franziska illustrate the basic idea behind the mirroring of the 2 worlds- their relationship happened in both worlds because it was meant to, even though it came about in completely different ways on each world. One of the Doppler sisters was meant to be deaf, but it was Elisabeth in one world and Franziska in the other. And in every world that’s close to Martha and Jonas’ world, they don’t have children.
That’s the second half of the theory- this only applies to worlds that are close neighbors of Martha and Jonas’ worlds in the multiverse. Worlds that are many orders of probability away from these two worlds will look very different from them. These two worlds were largely mirrored, but they weren’t exact, which is why Kilian existed as a character this season and Hannah is pregnant in 2020.
Okay, back to actual time travel theory.
My theory is that the loop in time that Young Jonas makes from 11/2019 to 11/2019 during his S1&2 travels, stopping in every time period except the 1950s (Jonas never appears in the 1950s) was orchestrated by Adam and Noah and was probably needed to create or stabilize the connections between time periods, especially 2052 and 1921. I have a feeling that Jonas didn’t originate the passage in his world, but he’s bound to it and has been responsible for expanding its capabilities, just as we’ve seen him expand time travel capabilities in other ways.
Tannhaus and Jonas have similar skill sets and have worked on the same machines. Tannhaus mentored Jonas in time travel theory. And Tannahus is bound very closely to his shop. In this episode, he told Charlotte that he wanted to time travel, but he was required to stay in the present, something that he repeats like a mantra every time the subject comes up. There’s something unusual going on with him and with his connection to Jonas.
Maybe Tannhaus is an anchor to a particular time and place, allowing time travel to occur as the connections radiate out from that point. The Chosen Ones may be like Christ’s apostles, but anointed through quantum entanglement so that they are able to create, stabilize and enhance connections in time and space. Possibly Charlotte, Ulrich, Jonas and Claudia are entangled with Tannhaus.
Ulrich makes a long loop through time, from meeting Child Mikkel in 1986 when Ulrich is a teen to attempting to rescue Child Mikkel in 1986 when Ulrich is an old man. This loop through time is similar to the one Jonas makes, but Ulrich largely stays in place as time passes naturally. He only time travels once, back to the 1950s from 2019, but doing so eventually connects 1986, 2019 and 1953, through his encounters with time traveler Mikkel. He also encounters Helge, another Chosen One, in the other 2 time periods, 2019 and 1953, so it could be that between the 3 of them they do something important for the passage. This might be one of the earliest knots that helped create or stabilize the passage and that’s why it relies so heavily on time passing naturally.
Ulrich gives Helge his first death and puts him in place to go through the rift, then eventually helps Mikkel understand that he can’t go back to his native time period, so his actions are essential. In a sense, it’s one sacrificial child from each era. Ulrich, the one from the central period, had to make contact with the other two periods and children. The other two children had to come to the central period. Helge made it to 2019.
You would think that Mikkel should have gone to the 1950s as well, in order for the knot to be complete, but I think they keep certain people far away from Adult Tannhaus, maybe so that he doesn’t wake up in some way. He could be an anchor or he could be under house arrest/a long term hostage. He and Bernd were born in the same year, 1913, in the same small town, and both became physicists.
Tannhaus wrote the book on time physics and engineering and was descended from the family of time travel experts. He had Sic Mundus memorabilia in his clock shop, so he knew them well. But then he’s largely shut out of the process and Bernd becomes Claudia’s mentor. He doesn’t remember doing his own research or writing his own book, which means that they bootstrap paradoxed his memories away.
He’s allowed to keep enough of his memories to raise Charlotte, repair the time travel device, and do some essential mentoring with Jonas, which was probably his original role. Somewhere back in time, it’s possible that Jonas was Tannhaus’ protege just as Claudia is Bernd’s protege. Because some things have to happen as they always have, Jonas must still go father the Unknown, and Tannhaus still has to mentor Jonas.
Or maybe a Tannhaus has to- the Unknown kills Gustav while Stranger is working in the 19th century and we never meet Gustav’s son/HG’s father, Leopold, who would have been an adult while Stranger/Adam is stuck in the past. The Tannhaus family and Sic Mundus have largely been wiped from time travel history and we never really hear their side of the story.
Instead, Jonas is driven mad (keep your eyes on Claudia’s grandson, Bartosz), Tannhaus is basically given severe memory loss/dementia, Noah is half mad over the loss of his only child, one Martha is murdered and the other is kept busy protecting her only child. Ulrich and Helge- locked up. Mikkel- convinced to commit suicide. Hannah- well, her time is coming. The only one who stays alive, sane and in control throughout is Claudia. And Bernd, until the Unknown murders him.
I suspect that Jonas stabilized or opened new connections to 2052 and 1921 during his S1-2 loop through time, since Adam and Sic Mundus seem to have been stuck in the past until just after Jonas left. Then they abandoned the cave lair and moved to the 2050s for reasons that aren’t clear- possibly they didn’t want to be around for the Nazis and then the power plant interfered with their activities.
As a reminder, the past present and future are all recreated at once whenever changes in the space-time continuum are made. Once the new connections were opened, it was as if they had always been there. Even just the intention and variables all falling into place can be enough to create the intended events, so it’s hard to retroactively put events in order in the Dark world.
Specifically, starting at the end of S1, Young Jonas made the loop over the course of the next year in his life. Young Jonas went from 11/2019 to 1986 in hopes of rescuing Mikkel. He saw Child Mikkel in the hospital, but then he was kidnapped by Adult Helge and Adult Noah, who were also in the hospital room, and locked in the time chair room in the caves, which is next to the bunker and the passage. He saw Stranger Jonas, then he and Child Helge, who was in the bunker in 1953, touched hands through the time rift while Stranger Jonas was closing the passage. Young Jonas became entangled with 1986 Noah, Mikkel and Helge from the encounter in the hospital room. A vision of Adult Mikkel/Michael sat in the passage with Stranger, so the child and adult versions of Jonas, Helge and Mikkel, 3 Chosen Ones who have sacrificed themselves/died and come back, were in the cave/entangled at the same time while Stranger raised a large amount of time energy by creating a feedback loop between the passage and the device.
The feedback loop opened up the rift between 1953 and 1986, allowing Young Jonas and Child Helge to touch, which propelled each of them forward 33 years. Using that destructive energy, Helge became the first child to survive the trip through the time chair back to 1954 and Jonas time traveled to 2052, and then later back to 1921, where he met Young Noah and remet Adult Noah. Creation through destruction- Stranger destroyed the passage and broke the device, but he opened up 2 new time periods and helped get the time chair working properly, which led to the invention of the other time travel devices.
Don’t try to make it make linear sense- time isn’t linear in the quantum realm. There are real world theories that Space-Time itself is created by quantum entanglement, rather than existing independently, and that quantum entanglement is what makes up the threads that hold the fabric of the universe together.
When Young Jonas left 1921, he went to 6/2019, ostensibly to prevent Adult Mikkel’s suicide, but actually to instigate it. From there, the timeline gets murky, but we knows he teams up with Old Claudia and learns about time theory and engineering from her, while also making a pit stop in 11/2019 to help Child Mikkel back to 1986. Then Old Claudia goes on her way while Young Jonas goes to 1986 and picks up Adult Claudia, who’s fresh from murdering Old Egon. They reopen the passage so that it can be part of the energy exchange/apocalypse when the barrel is opened in the power plant in 2020, then go to 2020 to rescue their families from the ensuing apocalypse. Thus, Jonas also made a loop in time from 1986 to 1986 and saw Child Mikkel at each end.
The knots are being tied through entanglements in location/space-time plus various forms of creative and destructive energy plus incestuous family relationships as individuals make contact with each other during time travel. They form a trinity knot in this way. If you look closely, you can see the places where the bindings occur, even though the Unknown is erasing many of them to create bootstrap paradoxes in an effort to stop them from being changed.
Just as Stranger told us you have to complete a labyrinth rather than circumventing it, and face your demons in the center, I don’t think there is a way to untie the knots, even without the paradoxes, but Eva must have sensed that someone is trying, since she’s making sure they can’t be undone. I think you have to consider the knots a spell that was cast by someone else or a past action that’s ultimately unchangeable, and continue your own way through the labyrinth/continue working the same sort of spell, with the same sorts of energies, to gradually bring the worlds back to where you want them.
This is essentially what we were told in S2. The characters need to face their own demons and tame them, no matter how long it takes or how far into the darkness they have to go. Cheating doesn’t work. You can’t simply erase a demon with a bootstrap paradox or a little incest. The same situations will continue to arise on every world they travel to, in every cycle, no matter how many superficial changes they make.
In this episode, Alt Adult Claudia was dismissive of her Older Prime self and what she taught Jonas, but we’ve seen many small changes happen between cycles, and a few larger ones, like the appearance of the Alt world. I think the 3 cycles we’ve been shown are separated from each other by time jumps of many cycles. These are 3 cycles in which something bigger changes.
One of the bigger things that happens in this cycle is that once both Reginas are dead, Claudia’s attitude changes. She’s usually much too focused on what she sees as purely practical matters to ask questions about the nature of death and dying, predetermination and whether humans are more than gears in a machine. In her voiceover Claudia refers to philosophical and spiritual concepts normally associated with HG Tannhaus and Stranger Jonas, rather than the theoretical physicist of the bunch who speaks the language of pure science. She’s moving into the metaphysical area of the quantum realm and opening up her thinking about the universe as a whole, asking questions about what might be possible and applying science to those questions.
In her voiceover about death, Claudia only acknowledged the truths we have in common. She didn’t accept them or show any sign of letting go of her questions. She’s always had an innate ability to keep quiet, an extremely valuable asset. She often lies, but frequently she doesn’t have to. She lets others fill in the blanks for her and create the lies in their own minds. Only later will they realize that she didn’t say what they thought she said.
Claudia’s new questions and goals bring out her ruthless side as well as her philosophical side. Bernd told her to take what she wants because nothing happens on its own and she took his advice.
Images courtesy of Netflix.
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