Dark Season 3 Episode 8: The Paradise Recap

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The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. Michael dies again, Jonas startles awake again. Claudia explains it all, then convinces Jonas and Martha to take a star bridge into space.

Adam finally goes full Nosferatu.

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I had to kill her! The fate of the multiverse depends on it!

Dark S3Ep7 Nosferatu Adam

Recap Episode 8: In Which Claudia Jonas Retcons It All

Pay No Attention to The 2 1/2 Seasons Behind the Curtain

The episode begins with a return to season 1, episode 1 and Michael Kahnwald’s suicide. Then Very Young Jonas startles awake in his bed after a nightmare about his father’s death.

He goes downstairs, sniffs the milk and tells his father about his nightmare. They hug it out, while in the background Hannah makes sure that Jonas has an appointment with his counselor, Peter Doppler, to treat his ongoing struggles with depression. 

The whole series was just one of Jonas’ very vivid nightmares. He had a run in with Bartosz’s bitter old grandmother, Claudia, last week, who’s had it in for the Kahnwald family ever since Nurse Ines was instrumental in discovering that the increased cancer rate in Winden was caused by the nuclear power plant accident in ’86.

Claudia, who was the power plant director at the time, was fired and arrested when her part in the cover up of the accident was discovered. She did jail time and her career never recovered.

Old Claudia was so vicious with Jonas that he’s not sure when he’ll be ready to visit Bartosz again. Regina and Aleksander think it might be time to put her in an institution, since she’s driving business away from their luxury spa hotel and cancer rehab center. Since the power plant closed down, their spa and rehab resort hotel keeps much of Winden employed, so they’re very protective of the business.

Jonas feels much better after spending the day with his girlfriend, Martha, who he’s not related to in any way. He doesn’t dream at all that night. The End.

I can retcon the whole thing, too. If we’re going to do it, might as well go Full Dallas.

But let’s do it their way.


Recap

The episode begins with a return to season 1, episode 1 and Michael Kahnwald’s suicide. Then Very Young Jonas startles awake in his bed after a nightmare about his father’s death.

Claudia explains to Adam in 2053 that he is the dreamer and his nightmare will never end.

Unless he listens to her.

After all, listening to her has worked out so well for him in the past. It was his childhood dream to become a mass murdering, pedophilic vampire.

Jonas gets stuck on the fact that he had Claudia killed in the 1950s. I guess he forgot about time travel.


Living Past Your Expiration Date

The God particle has pickled Adam’s brain over the last several decades and he never gives it enough time to heal in between fatal accidents and suicide attempts. If he did, he would realize that many people are alive in the future after their death dates in the past. He sent Noah into the future more than a century past his technical death date.

The time periods that a traveler visits still need to play out in real time, in chronological order, in addition to the out of sync version time travelers experience. Thus, their visits to the future, no matter how long after their death date, will still play out, regardless of whether they are alive or dead in the past. And they will still meet people who watched them die. The Time Traveler’s Wife clearly illustrates this concept.

If you think it through, we already know this, because we watched Hannah die in 1911, yet her entire life prior to that was lived in the future.


Claudia tells him that he still doesn’t know how the game is played, another line they like to repeat, then scoffs at him for putting all of his energy into destroying the knot.

That would be the knot she discovered and told him was important.

She tells him that the origin isn’t in the bindings between the worlds. It’s outside the worlds. His world and Eva’s world should never have existed.

Claudia explains that their thinking is shaped by dualities – dark and light, good and evil, Adam and Eva- but the world actually works in threes. (Remember when she told Jonas in season 2 that there were two sides to the time war, and Adam was the dark and she was the light?)

He needs to stop thinking in dualities. The nature of reality requires three dimensions. Adam suddenly remembers the triquetra knot and figures out that there should be a third world.

Which should have been obvious to him from his talks with HG Tannhaus in S1, when HG essentially said that, but okay. Like I said, Jonas has clearly sustained some brain damage over the course of this cycle.

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We go to HG Tannhaus in the bunker, where he’s preparing to turn on his room-sized time machine. This is the 3rd world. Claudia describes it as, “The world that gave birth to the knot, where everything originates, where a single mistake was made.” Tannhaus plugs cables into the machine then looks back at the photo of his son’s family on the wall.

“Tannhaus, in the origin world- like you, he lost someone. And like you, he tried to bring that person back from the dead. But instead, he split and destroyed his world, thus creating our two worlds.”

Tannhaus goes to the wall switches and pushes all 3, turning on the machine. This is the third version of this event we’ve been shown. I assume we’re seeing Origin world Tannhaus’ last three tries at increasing the power of the machine, until with the 4th try he suddenly went too far and blew up his whole planet timeline. But the previous two attempts could have taken place on other worlds- the time machine rig is slightly different this time.

Choose your own adventure. 

When Tannhaus pushes the red buttons, the machine reaction is much stronger than before. It has a new cylinder on top that sends out extra lightning. Tannhaus backs up against the wall in fear, just as the camera cuts away. 

Claudia tells Jonas that he can destroy the knot by preventing the invention of space-time travel in the origin world.

Didn’t she just tell him he shouldn’t care about the knot?

Old Claudia and Adam return to Adam’s destroyed lair in the Sic Mundus Temple of Doom. Adam/Jonas must have left something behind that Claudia wants. Claudia pretends she would have bothered to spare him pain if she could, as if she’s ever gone out of her way to spare anyone anything. She explains that the cycles have to remain the same until she’s ready to change them. Jonas asks if the scene they’re acting out now has ever happened before.

She says the rest has happened an infinite number of times, but this conversation is happening for the first time, because now, for the first and only time ever, she’s really truly going to tell him the truth. 

Imagine me banging my head against the wall. Then imagine it some more. Jonas’ father was the magician who taught us all the rules of magic, which I can see now were what I should have been repeating every other recap.

This show is a shell game. A very long, complicated shell game, played with Mikkel’s love of complexity, distraction and secrecy. But that’s all it is. A game to see which world ends up with the prize on it at the end. Claudia is the magician and Regina is the prize. Everything else is time wasting, repetitive, meaningless distraction that doesn’t matter to her. It’s only there to keep you from noticing what the magician is doing with the prize.

We’ve known all along that Claudia is the one who’s ultimately in charge. She’s said all along that she wants to save Regina, but we didn’t know what that would mean. 

Claudia explains that Jonas and Eva singlehandedly keep the knot alive and regenerating.


Gaslighting, Nietzsche, the Enlightenment and Guilt

Let me remind you that we have been shown multiple scenes of multiple Claudias plotting together to keep Marthas, Jonases and Noahs busy and on the correct path for eternity. Claudia maintains these cycles and creates the schemes that the others enact. Without her, the rest would immediately fall apart.

I have no idea why Jonas and Martha are the chosen ones on these worlds, if the worlds are indeed Tannhaus’ fever dreams. You’d think the emanations of his mind would choose or create a couple who are closer to him to focus on, like Charlotte and Peter, Franziska and Magnus or Elisabeth and Hanno, his granddaughter and great granddaughters.

Claudia is the one who has reasons to center her focus on Jonas and Martha, two people who are instrumental in advancing the time travel techniques she needs to move her quest forward. I think they were colleagues or rivals who she trapped in these cycles, essentially enslaving them.

And now she’s done the same to Tannhaus on another world.

But that’s just me writing a second layer into the story again. If it helps you make sense of Dark, use my headcanon. Actual canon is a series of thrown together, cool but mind numbingly repetitive ideas that build into an explosion which weirdly turns out to be a dissolve and an out of place, feel good song, all meant to illustrate the metaphor that all that matters is your own point of view.

When you add up all of the philosophy we’ve been given, this is what you get- We are each living in our own heads, on our own little planets, and the rest of the world is there for us to experiment on as we see fit. If you’re strong enough, take and do what you want, without guilt. If you’re weak, you are guilty of lowering the overall quality of the world for the strong and should leave. Or maybe you should stay, as long as you understand that your place is to submit to the Will of the strong.  The choice of genocide vs enslavement/oppression depends on which fascist psychopath you’re dealing with.

These views evolve from the biblical God giving Noah complete control over the Earth and come to fruition with Enlightenment and more recent philosophers such as Descartes, Nietzsche and the Existentialists. If the reality of the world is in question and individuals are given leave to use it as they see fit, when those ideas are combined and taken to their logical extremes, the end result is the disposable world we now live in and which Dark is showing. 

While I know Jonas and Martha’s worlds are metaphors for the worlds inside their heads and therefore theoretically it’s no big deal to erase those worlds, this is the exact same philosophy that has been used to exploit and pollute our world almost to death, so I’m not going to excuse it.

At a certain point, metaphors become reality. This is that point. We can’t throw away the timeline or world we live on and go live in another reality. Magical thinking won’t save us.

We need to throw out Enlightenment era thinking, because it’s killing everything and we only have access to one reality. Even if we could access other realities, it’s not okay to continue the habit of colonization and destruction.

Claudia will gaslight Jonas about the knot and the cycles all episode, but what she says isn’t true. I have no idea anymore if the showrunners intended to portray Claudia continuing to gaslight Jonas, or if we are now supposed to believe everything she says, but gaslighting is what’s on screen. Maybe they just hoped we wouldn’t notice that she’s lying about so many things.

Maybe this is their attempt to have it both ways- the story is real and not real. Since they never verbally acknowledge the lies, whatever they might have been attempting didn’t work all that well for me. They coyly leave it in the realm of a midsummer night’s dream, but if you don’t know Shakespeare, you miss this. In the play, everything really happened. It wasn’t a dream. The characters just wish it was, because that would erase their mistakes.

Shakespeare’s characters can start over in the morning as if the world is new and the overnight changes happened naturally. But in real life, we have to deal with the way things are. We can’t undo what’s happened, but we can admit that the rest of the world is as real and deserving of respect as we are. We can ere on the side of believing in a cosmic consciousness that has a purpose for everything instead of repeating the self-serving mistakes of the past.


Over in the Alt world, Eva is explaining to Martha that everyone has to die so that they can be born again correctly. The Unknown trio join Eva and Martha. Eva says that he’s waited a long time to meet her. All three hug Martha. 

Claudia explains that Martha and Jonas just won’t stop fighting over their kid and the knot.

They act out of love, but bring only pain and suffering.

Claudia is talking about herself here.

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On screen, Martha tries not to shrink away while the Unknown touches her. She’s not excited about this baby.

Then Stranger Martha brings in the gun and clothes that Martha will use to kill Young Jonas. Eva tells her that in order for Jonas to live, he has to die, just like he always has.

Okay, now we’re back in territory I recognize. He’s the dying and reborn god again. Eva just wants to send him home to his own world without paying the time sphere fare. And Claudia probably convinced her this was necessary, for some reason.

Claudia: “Both of you have done unimaginable things on your journey, because you can’t let go of your deepest desires. You have been trying to escape what you will become, but that’s impossible. You will end up facing yourselves again and again.”

So, this right here is the breakpoint for me. As we hear Claudia say this, we watch Martha kill Jonas. And we watch Jonas die without fighting death or blaming Martha. He gives her the St Christopher medal because he loves her, but he’s able to give up his attachment to her and to his life, leaving this world behind. He leaves his deepest desires behind without a struggle.

Martha shoots him because even though she loves him, she’s able to give up her attachment to him and do what’s necessary. She also lets go of her deepest desire without a struggle. Neither of them worry about their son. Always and forever, they are the primary attachment for each other, but they both give up that attachment, and all other attachments, constantly, throughout the series and this episode.

Claudia has to constantly push them into fighting over attachments. They only become Adam and Eva because of Claudia.

The struggle to give up or protect attachments is only important because Claudia created it as a distraction.

Claudia is the one who never, ever gives up her attachments. Bernd taught her to take what she wants, by any means necessary, and that’s what she’s doing. If the showrunners wanted me to believe Claudia’s argument, they needed to make Jonas and Martha less selfless and Claudia less devious. Because what I see are two people who become evil because they are purposely corrupted and exploited by a woman who has all the information and power at her disposal. Claudia is as Machiavellian as they come- she’s proven that there are no boundaries to her ambition. 

Claudia tells Adam that Jonas and Martha and their two worlds should never have existed. He asks her how she came by this information. Especially her detailed information about the origin world.

Lol. Silly Jonas. Expecting Claudia to give a straight answer to questions like that.

She never answers the questions. We never find out.

She tells him that she’s spent 33 years looking for the answers in both worlds.

Claudia: “I’ve tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together, to understand how everything can continually be reborn from the same family tree. Until I realized that we’re not all part of the knot. Both worlds are a cancer that must have grown from something else. If you remove it, you destroy everything that was born of it. But you keep everything alive that already existed in the origin world.”

Let me point out here that  Claudia never gives any reason why the people who are part of the knot shouldn’t exist. She just says that she figured out she could get rid of them and keep everyone else alive. The knot contains all of her/Regina’s enemies and her rivals in the development of time travel.

If she gets Jonas to wipe out time travel on the 3rd world and everyone related to the Nielsens, she can save Regina, sure, but she can also reinvent time travel all by herself and take all of the credit for the scientific achievement. Taking sole credit for developing time travel, or maybe sharing it with Bernd, is much more in character for Claudia than making Regina her sole priority for an infinite number of cycles. 

As Old Claudia speaks, Aging Adult Claudia finishes decorating Prime Regina’s grave with a cross and a photo. Tronte says that he always thought Regina was his daughter. Claudia tells him that she used to wish he was Regina’s father, but it’s better this way. Since Regina’s not part of the knot, she will live.

Then she sends him off to kill Regina, who’s suffering and barely alive. She tells him that it has to be done, in order to motivate Claudia.

With the way the timelines are out of sync, Alt Regina must not be dead yet. Or we’re on a 3rd or 4th world. I can’t be bothered to make sense of the timelines anymore. They’ll all be dead or undone in a little while, so what does any of this matter? 

Wonder who Regina’s father could be? Maybe the man she inherited that giant mansion from? The mansion that should have gone to Peter when Helge became incapacitated?

But let’s go back to the first parts of what Claudia said. She didn’t tell Jonas how she figured out anything about the origin world. The magician uses distraction to keep her secrets about how the magic is done.

Claudia says she wanted “to understand how everything can continually be reborn from the same family tree.” That sounds like she’s referring to the knot and the Nielsens, but it could also be referring to the fact that cancer recurs in her family. And in fact, then she refers to the two worlds as cancer worlds that came from a cancer-free world. That’s what she’s looking for- a cancer-free world for Regina.

In case you missed it, Claudia put the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that means Jonas and Martha’s worlds are just nightmare worlds created by the time apocalypse Tannhaus created on the Origin world. She essentially likens them to tumors attached to space-time where the origin world should be or fever dreams that Time has created out of the remnants of the origin world combined with Tannhaus’ longing for the return of his son’s family.

We’re apparently going to just throw all previous time and multiverse theory out the window in favor of Claudia’s cancer world theory. It doesn’t need to make sense, it just needs to save Regina. I’m not sure why they bothered with the whole clunky and confusing Schrodinger’s cat explanation in the previous episode, if none of it mattered. You’d think the fact that they explained that theory, what, 3 or 4 times, would make it the way the universe actually works. Which would mean Claudia is either wrong or lying.

But Tannhaus is now the evil out of control villain who destroyed his own world because he selfishly tried to bring back his family members, while Claudia is the benevolent, selfless mother who’s just trying to put things back to rights. If you don’t pay attention to the fact that Claudia is destroying two worlds in order to bring her own daughter back to life, you’ll be fine with accepting this scenario.

There’s also the fact that the way she describes Jonas and Martha’s worlds as tumors doesn’t really fit the way timeline creation works, using the Schrodinger’s cat theory of the multiverse. Joans and Martha’s worlds should just be 2 alternate timelines which came from that moment, with the destruction of Tannhaus’ world being a 3rd potential reality.

If his world was really even destroyed. Without more explanation and another point of view for confirmation, it’s hard to judge the truth of Claudia’s assertion that Tannhaus’ world is gone. I’m willing to believe it is, but it’s hard not to notice that we see him turn his time machine on 4 times, with no sign of planetary destruction. Yet we’ve seen the signs of the black hole dome forming and the shockwave coming on Jonas and Martha’s worlds in multiple episodes. We don’t even get a camera shake in the bunker with Tannhaus.

The closest thing to destruction we see is the creation of an Einstein Rosen bridge, which might create a shockwave, but we’ve already seen planets survive similar events- the apocalypses made life difficult, but they didn’t destroy Time or the planets. Maybe something in the power plant data leads to the conclusion that the original accident was actually on a 3rd world and then reverberated out into its clone worlds.

Why is she keeping so much information from Jonas? Because she’s still gaslighting him. His and Martha’s worlds aren’t cancerous tumors. They’re just alternate realities created in a destructive moment. Claudia wants to destroy them for her own purposes, so she needs to wind Jonas up.

I’m not sure if that’s what the show is trying to say or not, but it’s the logical conclusion, based on the canon that’s come before.

Claudia acknowledges that she’s also caused pain and suffering in others in her quest to save Regina. Everything she’s done has been part of her search for a way to break the chain of cause and effect. Her search to understand how everything is connected led her to the realization that their two worlds were created from a 3rd world and Regina will always die in the secondary worlds. Regina can only live in the primary world- Tannhaus’ world. 

Claudia admits that she lied to Adam and Eva to keep the knot in place. She had to keep everyone else from finding out the truth and keep everything happening the way it always has, maintaining the chain of cause and effect in both worlds.

So, in her search for a way to break the chain of cause and effect, she had to make sure no one broke the chain of cause and effect? Because otherwise cause and effect would break all by itself? And it was imperative that only she perform this investigation, without any help from all of the intelligent scientists, police officers, etc. around her? In fact, she decided that the most effective way to perform the investigation was to declare herself supreme ruler of the universe, who was making changes all along in her attempts to save Regina.

Claudia tells Jonas that there’s no free will in either world. Everyone always automatically does what they’ve done before.

OMG. Then why does she have to work so hard to make sure that they do what they’ve done before???????

On screen, Alt Ulrich finds Adult Helge at the cabin. This is juxtaposed with scenes from S1 when Prime Ulrich found Child Helge at the mansion. The two scenes play out in a similar manner, ending with Ulrich murdering both Helges by beating their heads with rocks.

Really didn’t need to see the child murder again, never mind the murder of Adult Helge, but it reminds me of something. Somewhere in Ulrich’s adventures with stalking Helge, he tells Helge that he has to stand up to his bullies even if they’re bigger than him, or they’ll never stop. Ulrich says that Helge should bite the bigger boys to make them leave him alone. Following this advice, Child Helge bites Ulrich as Ulrich is murdering him, which doesn’t slow Ulrich down a bit, proving that it’s wrong to blame the victim when a bully attacks them.

But maybe I had it wrong. Maybe the showrunners’ point was that Helge deserved to lose because he couldn’t find a way to beat a grown man. And even as an adult, he’s not as large or smart as Ulrich, who’s a trained police officer. Maybe the point of Dark has always been to encourage taking what you want, ensuring survival of the most ruthless and physically strong. And to come up with a good story to fool anyone who might find another way to stop you.

Helge will eventually win, by waiting Ulrich out, sneaking up on him, bringing a bigger blunt object and using his fictional foreknowledge of events/being prepared. I’ve argued many times for the use of stealth techniques such as those of the femme fatale, which is what Helge uses.

But Helge really wins because he has a foreknowledge of events, so he knows to bring a better weapon. It’s the escalation of defensive tactics that wins the day.

So let me ask- are they arguing for a nuclear arms race? Because I thought these creators were against the use of nuclear devices? The events of this episode flip the message of the previous 25. As long as the nuclear devices aren’t close enough to Regina to give her cancer, it might be a good idea to keep them in reserve, right? Who cares if they give someone else’s kid cancer? We’ll just blow up  bury  discredit silence dissolve those neighborhoods when they get too polluted.

The inconvenient troublemakers who stand in the way of success will become a dream, one way or another.

Alt Ulrich drags Adult Helge’s body down to the time chair room, which has bright yellow wallpaper in the Alt world. Old Claudia continues to babble on. She says, “No one can escape their fate.”

Alt Ulrich stands over Adult Helge’s body, admiring his work. Old Helge comes up behind him and says, “It was you!” He hits Ulrich in the head with an iron crow bar, knocking him out, then hits him a few more times to make sure he’s dead.

Guess what? Helge the Holy just escaped his fate.

In the Prime world, Helge and Ulrich have the opposite fates. Both live to be old, but Old Helge dies a violent death while attacking his adult self. The current scene negates everything Claudia is saying in her voiceover about everything always working out exactly the same in both worlds and finding its proper place, blah, blah, blah. It only happens that way because she makes it happen that way, so that she can tell Jonas this story.

And so that she can achieve her scientific goals. Never forget that this is the woman who watched her father die so that the passage, as the greatest scientific discovery she’d ever encountered, would remain under her control- not so that Regina could live.

If she didn’t manipulate events, Jonas and Martha’s worlds would diverge into two normal timelines.

Helge takes back his pennies.

Prime Claudia comes into the yellow room and takes in the situation. Adult Helge comes back to life. (His pennies signify that he’s a version of the ferryman who escorts souls to the Underworld. Prime Helge escorted all three dead boys right back to the Winden of Jonas’ world. You do the math.)

Ulrich does not come back. Claudia knows what happened to Helge and Ulrich on the Prime world. She gets an idea about the Power of Three to get things done.

The 3rd Helge broke the chain of cause and effect that was supposedly written in stone. She can work with that- an old man who’s so determined to get back what’s his that he’ll break all the rules, the bunker, time travel, lost children, worlds that are out of control- the story elements are all right there in that room.

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Old Claudia changes the focus of her story and tells Jonas that the real loophole is during the nanosecond of time that the world stops during the apocalypse. It momentarily breaks the chain of cause and effect. Claudia says that Eva uses this moment in time to send her younger self off in different directions. Claudia also used it for this visit to Adam. She takes out the sphere. Now she wants him to use the nanosecond loophole to send Jonas in a different direction, so they can break the cycle forever.

Claudia: “Jonas and Martha are to blame for everything happening over and over again. You must send them to the origin world, so they can finally put an end to this.”

Back to the moment of Prime Martha’s death, at the end of S2. Jonas promises to make everything right. Adam has just left. He walks back in. Jonas yells at him. Adam says they need to leave, right now, then they can talk. Jonas throws a hissy fit over the sphere, since this Jonas has never seen one before.

They reappear in the Alt world caves. Adam tells Jonas that he can avoid becoming Adam. But he has to trust Adam. 

Jonas should have broken out into hysterical laughter here, since he’d just watched Adam kill Martha, narrowly avoided a panic attack, gotten turned into golden glitter and now this. A little hyperventilation would have been appropriate, at the very least.

But, next thing we know, JONAS HAS LURED THE VAMPIRE OUTSIDE! Before the weak sunlight burns him to ashes, Adam instructs Jonas to hurry up and save Alt Martha from Bartosz and Magnus and Franziska saving her. And saving him. 

I haven’t been this worried about a vampire since True Blood ended. Geez, I really thought episode 7 had put me off the older Jonases, but NosferAdam is getting all tender with Jonas now. And that coat is still sharp, even when it’s muddy.

NosferAdam: “All these years, I thought that I alone had to change things. But it’s just as much her fault. You are two parts of the same whole. Only together can you return to the origin world. What we know is a drop. What we do not know is an ocean.”

Jonas: “What are you saying?”

He’s saying that in the 5 seconds he was away from Jonas, he’s mellowed and moved on from murder to kidnapping, but Martha is still his favorite victim. And planetary destruction is still the ultimate goal.

And Young Jonas will still do whatever anyone tells him to do. His main desire in life isn’t really Martha. It’s to follow orders and be absolved of all responsibility. Law and order are everything. The real problem with the knot is that it symbolizes chaos and the breakdown of traditional societal values.

Alt Old Helge and Ulrich come through on their way to the cave and murdering each other in 1986. Jonas and Adam hide behind the family stalking tree while they pass. Adam explains about the apocalypse and the nanosecond loophole and original sin and soulmates and having to repeatedly kill the thing you love until it stays dead… He hands Jonas the sphere and says this is really, really the last time Jonas gets to save the world by destroying it, okay?

It’s a bad habit to get into. Mass destruction is never the answer. It just feels satisfying at the time.

Meanwhile, back in the Prime world, in Adam’s destroyed lair, probably in the 2050s but who really knows, Old and Aging Claudia have one last meeting. Old Claudia fills Aging Claudia in on her day. As she talks, she closes her backpack and we get a glimpse of a rectangular time machine with a golden handle, that we’ve never seen before, probably made from the design Eva passed to Claudia for Tannhaus.

This must be how Claudia travels to worlds we’ve never heard about, where she found the “origin” world. Aging Claudia doesn’t seem to know about the machine. Old Claudia is supposed to be going off to the 50s to die now, so you’d think she’d leave it with her younger self. How many secret lives does she have? Maybe she drops it off with Adult Bernd while she’s in 1954. A bunch of his problems suddenly get solved around that time.

I really like the idea of Claudia and Bernd traveling the time universe together, like a pair of Indiana Jones, if only they would use their powers for good. Or not for evil.

They hug goodbye and Aging Claudia asks Old Claudia to tell their dad, Egon, she’s sorry. Old Claudia reminds her, “If all this works, Regina will live.”

Old Claudia does visit Adult Egon in 1954 to deliver the apology. He has no idea who she is or what she’s talking about until 32 years later, when she watches him die in 1986 without calling for help. When it finally matters, the apology becomes meaningless. That’s who Claudia is.

Back to the forest road scene. Bartosz peddles his bike for all he’s worth. Jonas runs to meet them. Old Franziska and Magnus stop Bartosz and Martha. Jonas hides behind a tree and watches.

He’s the Jonas they’re convincing Martha to go save. Did a replacement Jonas already pop into existence to grieve Prime Martha? If Jonas misses her at this junction, and she doesn’t go with Bartosz once she’s outside the house, it would be really awkward for her to find her own dead body alone on the floor when she goes inside. Would she then run to the basement and become a Stranger Martha who zapped the cosmic egg with Claudia for 30 years?

While Martha decides whether to stay or go, Jonas winds up the Time Snitch, puts it in his pocket and runs toward her at full speed. They disappear together just as he reaches her and grabs hold, reappearing in the middle of the bus stop intersection.

Martha is stunned, then extra stunned when she realizes it’s a live Jonas- but not the Jonas she just lost. He’s having his own moment, taking his first good look at Alt Martha. They go through the usual let down of each being a soulmate, but not the soulmate the other one was hoping for.

Jonas explains that they’re on the Prime world, June 21, 1986, the day that “his” world created their worlds.

Jonas: “Tannhaus the clockmaker will open the passage for the first time today. We don’t have much time. We have to stop it from ever happening.”

He looks over at the power plant stacks, then runs into the woods, toward the caves.

Martha: “Wait! What does that mean?”

Words are still bouncing off of ears, though to be fair, no one ever clearly tells anyone the whole truth.

And everyone rushes around, saying there isn’t much time, as if they don’t have time machines in their pockets.

Dark S3Ep8 Jonas & Martha Sphere Out 1Dark S3Ep8 Jonas & Martha Sphere Out 2Dark S3Ep8 You Look Like HerDark S3Ep8 You're Not HimDark S3Ep8 Adam with Gun & TorchDark S3Ep8 Adam Ready to Burn Paintings

Back to the Alt world. It’s finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Adam stands in the Erit Lux HQ, gun in one hand and a lit torch in the other. That’s right. It’s time to burn those poor tortured masterpieces.

Why go through with it, when Adam knows everything is changing? Why not, I ask you? There hasn’t been near enough symbolic fire in this show to suit my tastes (lightning just isn’t the same), though I’d rather see buildings burn than priceless works of art. Burning down the church and Bernd’s mansion every cycle might’ve reduced the tension in town and opened up some productive lines of communication. It always does wonders for the story in 19th century novels. 

Anyway, Painting Adam and Eva take the hit. Adam goes back to Eva’s God particle room and prepares to return to his world. Then he pauses, looking thoughtful.

On the Prime world, Jonas and Martha reach the entrance to the cave. Martha asks where they’re going. Jonas says they’re bringing someone back from the dead. She asks what that means. He says it’s hard to explain.

These two need to learn to mindmeld.

He says they need to reach the person they’re saving before they die, a recurring theme. Martha grabs his arm, also a recurring theme between them. And asks again what exactly it is he plans to do. 

Jonas finally slows down and treats her like a person, sort of. He doesn’t tell her the whole story. But he does make a more direct appeal, using language he knows she’ll respond to. He turns and stands face to face with her, looking her in the eye. “You and I- we’re the reason that all of this happens, time and time again. Because you can’t let go of what you want and I can’t let go of what I want. But we are the glitch. The glitch in the matrix.”

Martha: “You’re saying that they never existed. Your world and mine. That we never exist.”

He nods his head and turns toward the cave.

This is the truth that the characters haven’t wanted to see and hear, all season long, every time they’ve asked what someone was really saying. This is why the Unknown doesn’t have a name- because he’s simply representative of Tannhaus’ missing granddaughter, whose fate is- unknown. This is the nightmare that’s been underneath all of the other nightmares, from the first episode- the fear that nothing is real. That the origin is a nightmare and the end is nothingness.

What happens, in an existentialist universe, when you discover that you are nothing more than an object in someone else’s world? What if, like Ariadne, you accidentally took center stage, believing you deserve equal time? Do you listen to the one who tells you it’s their world and you need to get out or do you fight for the right to exist?

In the world of Dark, you move over and allow that person to become the star of the world. And then, you allow them to convince you that your entire world should never have existed, because they need to destroy it to save their own world, which they messed up.

In other words, 2 worlds become disposable so that a 3rd world can survive.

Does it actually matter how the 2 worlds were born? They exist now. Why do they matter less than the one world where Claudia wants her daughter to live a beautiful, cancer-free life? In season 1, Jonas’ world wasn’t any more unfixable than ours.

There are real world implications here- this is what happens when poor regions are colonized and polluted so that wealthy regions can maintain their lifestyles without compromising their own environments. This show is encouraging our current model of late stage capitalism that destroys the planet and maintains social inequalities while trying to hide what’s happening behind a poof of golden glitter.

Martha takes a moment to accept the totality of the planetary death sentence Jonas has just shared with her. Then she follows him. Fascism and elitism win again.

Dark S3Ep8 Jonas Leads Martha Into DarknessDark S3Ep8 Martha the Glitch in the MatrixDark S3Ep8 Eva Holds St Christopher's MedalDark S3Ep8 Eva Tells Adam to Shoot Her

Adam walks back into Eva’s lair. She’s waiting for him, since this is how their game usually plays out. He’s decided to mess with her one last time, rather than dying alone. Their love has become a toxic addiction, but it is still love. Fire and lightning burn, but they are still Light.

Try as she might, Claudia has never fully removed them from Love or Light. That’s why they are the ones to cross the bridge, not her. Her connections aren’t True in the same way, not even to herself. The knot may be chaos, but it is also a deepening of familial connections that refuse to be broken. It’s an intensifying of everything that families and love are, creating unbreakable bonds. Claudia’s method is to erase bonds, even within her own family.

We have never seen Regina with her father.

Adam strolls over to Eva, gun in hand. She says she knows why he’s here, and she’s excited to become Young Martha again.

Joke’s on her.

Adam stares at her silently. She tells him to shoot her, reminding him of the steps they take at this point in the cycle. She even pulls the trigger for him, but, like Noah before him, he’s cleverly removed the bullets.

Martha is stunned. It’s as if she doesn’t know that changes can be made in the cycles. 

Adam assures her that they’ll both die, along with everything else.

Does NosferAdam ever die, in the normal course of things?

Martha asks what he did this time to screw up her life. Or, actually, her death.

I’m going to transcribe this speech for old time’s sake, because S1 Stranger Jonas is the best of all the Strangers. I will always remember him and Young Jonas as they were on that bench in the graveyard, a pair of sweet guys remembering their beloved dad.

At least Mikkel wasn’t retconned into someone terrible. He is the Sun King to the end.

Adam: Life is a labyrinth. Some wander around inside it until their death, in search of a way out. But there is only one path and it leads ever deeper inside. Only when one reaches the center, will they understand. Death is incomprehensible. But one can reconcile themselves with it.”

Next is the part that normally encourages the listener toward self reflection. That’s not going to happen here, because we are now living out a lie. Apparently we have been for a while, depending on which interpretation you want to take away from the whole thing. As a minotaur and the twisted king of the dying light, Adam goes for the extreme guilt and self-loathing that Claudia and Bartosz spent almost 7 decades instilling in him.

It’s a lovely thing, being a selfless, self-sacrificing person, which Jonas, Martha and Mikkel all have in common. Until a psychopath comes along and exploits you and your lover into becoming suicide bombers who take out a couple of planets. Y’all should go look up Stockholm Syndrome and Patty Hearst.

“All that we’ve done will ultimately be forgotten. We are responsible for this never-ending deja vu. And we’re the ones who have to end it. We are the mistake. You and I. Both of our fates are bound together in eternal damnation. Across both worlds. Everything is cause and effect. Every pain tempts us to act, shapes our will.”

While Adam speaks, Jonas and Martha make their way to the center of the passage. Adam continues, telling Eva about the car accident that drowned Tannhaus’ son and his family. (We’ve never been shown a river in Winden [the body of water is a lake]. The one bridge we’re frequently shown goes over railroad tracks. I don’t know what to make of the idea that their car went off the bridge and into a river.)

Adam: “Jonas and Martha must take his pain away so that he never looks for a way to undo everything. They must go to the origin world and prevent our two worlds from ever being created.” 

Notice how this is phrased, at least in English- Jonas and Martha aren’t saving lives. They’re taking away the reason Tannhaus invents time travel and they’re stopping the creation of Jonas’ and Martha’s worlds. 

Taking away all of Claudia’s rivals. 

We’re shown a 4th version of Tannhaus preparing to start the time machine.

800px-triquetra-vesica.svg_

4 attempts to invent time travel=4 worlds?

Part of my 4 worlds theory comes from the triquetra. It has 3 fins and a center space- when it’s used as a Venn diagram, the center is the part that shows what all 3 outer parts have in common. Is the origin world one of the fins or the center world? Or a world that shouldn’t be part of this diagram at all? Did Claudia force it into the mix in order to make it the new Prime world, so she could give it to Regina?

There is a case to be made that Franziska was a chosen one in S1, then she was marginalized and eventually even her voice was taken away, which would make her the 4th chosen one. Martha, Franziska and Bartosz have each taken their turn with red as their color. I don’t think Jonas has worn true red, though he’s associated with burgundy, his painting and with fire. That would make him, with his OG yellow coat, the true Prime, center world.

But the show never went anywhere with the hints about Franziska, such as the bird necklace (equivalent to the St Christopher medal/birds are the equivalent of souls), the box buried under the bridge and her fake death, so never mind. It’s all just Chekov’s blue balls.

Dark S3Ep8 Jonas & Martha & 3 Timestreams

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Dark S3Ep8 Passage Opening

Meanwhile, back at the bunker, sweet old Tannhaus is about to destroy his good world and create two evil worlds, because he’s just too attached to his loved ones. His Will is out of control.

Jonas: “This is the moment the passage was first opened in any world. Tannhaus wanted to travel back to a world in which the death of his family never happened… Anytime now, a bridge will come, connecting all 3 worlds.”

He explains that they need to travel to Tannhaus’ world, back to the moment when his suffering began. As they sit side by side in the passage and wait, he asks her what the Jonas in her world was like. They both cry a little, but she doesn’t tell him that he was supposed to be the Jonas in her world.

Tannhaus turns on the machine again.

Back to to the bunker. Little time sparkles stream through the bunker. This has happened before, during major Time events. The bottom of the time machine sends out a time laser which cuts into the rock below, creating the passage. 

Lights flicker in Eva’s lair. Adam and Eva are excited and hug.

The time sparkles flow in 3 separate streams- the past, present and future? Everything whites out for a second, as Time saturates the passage. When Jonas opens his eyes, he is in the Time bridge- there is nothing around him but the time stream. (I thought for a second it was the Speed Force and he was now The Flash.) He calls for Martha, then looks for her. Martha is doing the same.

One end of the time bridge opens up for each of them. At first, it’s blank space. Then, Jonas sees Toddler Martha’s closet gradually materialize. She sees him in the back of her closet, as if he’s somewhere deep in Narnia. Katharina, who is pregnant with Mikkel, asks what Martha is doing. Martha says she sees a sad boy.

Martha sees Toddler Jonas watching her in his basement closet. Adult Mikkel/Michael asks what Jonas is doing. Jonas tells him he sees a girl in the back of the closet. Jonas is wearing a yellow raincoat. Katharina is in red. Both Marthas are in black.

Once the closet doors are shut, Martha and Jonas back up through the time bridge until they find each other. It’s a three way, Y shaped bridge, like the passage. Instead of waiting for the connection to the third world to open up, Jonas takes out the time sphere and sets coordinates. He and Martha walk toward the third arm, disintegrating as they go.

Dark S3Ep8 Martha & Jonas in the Time Bridge

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It’s 1971 in Tannhaus’ clock shop. His son, Marek, is complaining that he always brings up the same things and never listens. “No wonder Mom couldn’t take it anymore.”

Tannhaus says, in a bewildered voice, that he thought Marek would want the store, if not now, then eventually.

Marek: “Your endless lecturing… Big Bang, Big Crunch. Have you ever asked Sonja if she’s interested? In all these years, have you ever asked if I’m interested? Or what I want?”

Tannhaus: “It’s raining outside.”

It’s raining, it’s all HG’s fault, too much science, bad relationships, what are you saying?

Very efficient. That was the entire series dismissed in about a minute.

Wait- Baby Charlotte is wrapped in a red and black blanket. The shop walls are teal. There’s a yellow clock. Here comes the secrets, oceans, and unknown child. 

Marek: “You told me the world outside is full of secrets and that what we know is a drop in an unending ocean. At least you were right about that. You may know everything about black holes and Einstein Rosen bridges, but about me- you know absolutely nothing about me.”

Marek walks out. HG tells Sonja he thought they’d stay longer. Sonja assures HG that his son will cool off.

This scene gives you everything you need to know about the mysteries of Dark. Time took a two minute argument in the clock shop and repeated it ad nauseam for 26 episodes. My work here is done.

Okay, I’ll let the angels do the work of the white devil first.

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Marek and Sonja drive away in the rain, toward the bus stop. Sonja tells him he was too hard on his dad. He complains that she has no idea what it was like to grow up with a father who was only interested in big ideas and never really saw him. Sonja reminds him that he can’t choose his family. Marek says he chose her. Sonja says she chose him, too, and they kiss. While Marek is driving the car and Sonja is holding the baby. In the pouring rain.

Jonas and Martha materialize in the middle of the road, next to the bus stop, just as Marek and Sonja reach the intersection. Marek and Sonja are still kissing. He swerves and barely misses Jonas and Martha. He stops the car and gets out to yell at them for standing in the middle of the road.

They stand stiffly and don’t respond immediately, as if they aren’t fully in this world yet. Then Jonas tells Marek that the bridge is closed because of an accident. Marek starts to walk away. Jonas says, “What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.” Marek pauses. Martha tells him that his father loves him and would do anything for him. 

Marek goes back and asks what they said. At the same time, Sonja gets out and asks what’s going on. They all look at each other, then Marek tells Sonja that the bridge is closed. She hurries him back to the car, since Baby Charlotte is crying and wet. Once they’re back inside, Marek tells her she was right- they should wait to leave until the next day.

Martha and Jonas watch them drive away.

HG is surprised to see them back at the shop. Sonja tells him that Marek thinks he saw a pair of angels. Marek tells her not to mock him. He says he suddenly had this… feeling. HG hugs him and says he’s glad they came back. Marek takes their bags upstairs. Sonja lets HG hold the baby while she follows Marek.

It stops raining. Jonas and Martha are still in the street. Martha wonders if it worked, since they’re still there. Jonas tells her he saw her, as a child, when they were in the light. He thought she could see him too. Martha remembers seeing him in her closet.

Martha: “That was you? It wasn’t a dream.

Jonas tells her no, it wasn’t.

She wonders if any part of them will be left behind or if they’re just dreams who never really existed. He doesn’t know.

Now that they’ve completed the connections between the worlds by acknowledging their own connections, they begin to slowly dissolve into gold glitter. Jonas steps closer to Martha and says, “You and I are perfect for each other. Never believe anything else.” They hold hands.

The camera reveals that there is no nuclear power plant on this world.

Gosh, what a coincidence. How convenient for Claudia.

One last montage. Versions of Jonas and Martha on all three worlds slowly dissolve while What a Wonderful World by Soap & Skin plays. Once they’ve killed the parasites who saved their lives, everyone else will finally get to live happily ever after without those ugly knots dragging them down.

Adam and Eva hold hands and face the paintings. They don’t have to fight Claudia’s war anymore. Unscarred Stranger Jonas sits on his bed, holding the St Christopher medal. He won’t become Adam this time. Stranger Martha and her chalk family tree disappear from the bunker. The knot is erased. Aging Claudia and her version of the knot on the Prime world also dissolve. On the origin world, the last remnants of Jonas and Martha float into the air. Fade to darkness. 

Not light.

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What Just Happened? The Timestream as the Light 

That looked to me like a soft reboot, or non-violent cycle change, instead of a hard reboot or violent cycle change, like we usually see, since it didn’t appear that any actual worlds were destroyed and only a few people were involved. They very pointedly showed that all three worlds remained behind- only certain people were removed, including Claudia, who didn’t think she was part of the knot.

Relationships which were connected to the events of the series were erased, regardless of whether Claudia had decided the people involved were genetically part of the knot. But that doesn’t mean the people were erased forever, because by Claudia’s own reasoning, many of the people on her board weren’t part of the knot and shouldn’t have been erased if that was the case.

This suggests to me that the natural order of things was being restored and/or a larger cycle was ending so that a new one could begin, similar to the end of a decade instead of a year. And that the characters’ overall existences are not necessarily tied to the existence of the knot. Instead, they are oversouls who travel within this larger cluster and will continue to be reborn together in various configurations.

But what do I know? 

The space bridge that appears is an Einstein Rosen bridge, or wormhole, as discussed by Tannhaus and Jonas in season 1 and mentioned again by Marek. Tannhaus mentioned that Einstein Rosen bridges go in 3 directions through space-time, which this one does.

In one of his TV segments, Tannhaus noted that scientists didn’t know how to get a human through a wormhole. Claudia figured it out. You saturate the humans in the timestream, bind them to their own timelines/worlds and human connections, and bind them to each other’s worlds, so they are immortal chosen ones on their worlds- connect them to True Love and Light.

I’ve previously discussed chosen ones and the various soul connections between characters over time. In the season 2 episode where Martha and Jonas have sex for the first time, Katharina and Mikkel are lying in bed together in the next room, while Ulrich and Hannah have sex downstairs. I suggested then that we were being shown the true soulmate bonds. It appears they are also a soulmate cluster, with Ulrich and Hannah on the periphery.

Though Hannah isn’t on the bridge, she gets the last visual and last word of the season- she is still the all-mother goddess of this universe and her son won’t be denied his place in it. Zeus/Ulrich is represented in the final scene by the lightning and thunder storm. Just what does he want Torben to continue hiding from the others?

Katharina, Mikkel, Jonas, Martha and the Unknown are all present in the Time bridge. (Martha is pregnant with the Unknown.) Katharina and Unknown are each only represented once, so they are the next closest bonds to Jonas and Martha after Mikkel, which is comforting in the case of the Unknown, given the way those relationships appear in the material world. All 5 characters sacrifice their lives for others. Katharina dies for Ulrich and Mikkel. Like his parents, the Unknown dies a savior’s death, destroying himself and the worlds to save them.

I expected the bridge to go to 3 worlds and that there would be a 3rd person on the bridge with Martha and Jonas. I’m surprised that it’s Mikkel, but now that he’s there, it makes complete sense for it to be him. He’s close family to both Martha and Jonas and has a close, loving bond to both. He died so that Jonas could live on the Prime world and Martha and Jonas conspired to keep him alive on the Alt world.

Like Charlotte in season 2, in season 1 Jonas was sure that the repeating time loops were about him and Mikkel. Maybe they were, before Claudia tampered with them. The fact that Fetus and Adult Mikkel are at the end of 2 arms of the bridge suggests that the 3rd arm should connect to his world, since Toddler and Young Adult Martha and Jonas are shown. Jonas and Martha make Ariadne’s thread type connections with each other’s worlds. It makes sense for them to also be connecting to the Mikkel of 3 worlds.

The bridge opened up for them when they were in the passage and the connections to each other’s worlds opened up by themselves. Logically, the connection at the end of the 3rd arm should have also opened up on its own, given a little more time, and shown them Mikkel. Maybe their alternates would also have been there, at a time when all 3 looked in a closet together. Then they would have completed the connections between the 3 worlds and a portal would have opened to Mikkel’s world.

Instead, Claudia’s machinations were all so that she could hijack this 3rd connection away from the world it naturally connected to. Claudia set up a stable wormhole, then switched the connection to the new, cancer-free world, probably when they use the sphere instead of the portal at the end of the 3rd arm to exit the bridge.

It might have taken the energy of both the bridge and the sphere to get both travelers to the origin world and secure the time energy connection in the way Claudia wanted, since the origin world isn’t similar enough to Jonas & Martha’s worlds to be nearby in the timestream/multiverse. Which is part of why I doubt it’s really the origin world in the way Claudia described. I think that’s a story Claudia made up to sell this mission to Martha and Jonas and the creation of the passage is more like a divergence point in the timestream, with many potential outcomes. By 2020 or 2053, the timelines would have diverged even further from each other and created more branches/timelines.

Once they’re on the 3rd world, Jonas and Martha make emotional connections with Marek, Sonja and Baby Charlotte. When Tannhaus holds Charlotte and then Jonas and Martha acknowledge the new connections, the process is complete.

We know Claudia is a form of the Devil or a trickster goddess/Loki who’s seized control in order to overthrow the rest of the gods and goddesses. The Unknown wrote the Bible, is the son and willingly sacrificed himself. He’s on the Time bridge in spirit, if you will, as an embryo, and the characters see him as the father of the knot on two worlds. He’s set up as a father/son God to oppose Claudia’s devil/dark mother trickster, but he remains in the background.

In order to write the triquetra diary, which is what Claudia originally followed, the Unknown had to have a form of his own omniscience, observing the entire cycle, every cycle. We are shown that he makes changes and it’s not always clear who he’s working for. Claudia eventually moves beyond him and it’s implied that she visits many other worlds, but her worldview is determined by what she learns from him and she still needs to return home and use the Unknown to enact her final plans.

But, in the end, he remains a mystery. We have no idea what the Prime world was like in the beginning, before time travelers tried to fix it. The season started with the idea of the Unknown as balance and judge. He was the karmic centerpoint between the cold, empty void that stares back at you and the heated madness brought on by following desires to their extreme. When Claudia became self-aware in episode 5, he faded to the background and the tone of the season changed.

Dark is influenced by German Expressionism, an abstract early 20th century style in art and especially film making that leaned toward pessimism and turmoil as themes, using light and shadow, visual distortions and hyperrealism, especially in the expression of emotion. The horror genre has been particularly influenced by German Expressionist films. 

But I believe the key to understanding the series as a whole lies in the 1930 German film The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings. The film made Dietrich a star and was the first of many collaborations between her and the director, the most to date between any actress-star and a single director. It was the beginning of the end of Emil Jannings’ career as a star. He eventually died in a Nazi concentration camp, in a chilling case of life imitating art.

Critics debate whether the film is a true example of German Expressionism. It appears to be so on the surface, telling the Faustian story of a middle class professor who becomes so caught up in his desire for a cabaret singer that he walks out on normal life in order to marry her and join her troupe of traveling entertainers. She’s a femme fatale who can’t be satisfied by one man. Eventually, the protagonist is reduced to working as a clown and living as a public cuckold. When the cabaret troupe returns to his hometown, he visits his old classroom and dies from intensity of the living he’s done.

In his masterful review, Mike Prokosch shows that there is a symbolic layer of Romanticism underlying the film’s pessimistic surface. Though he dies, the protagonist is ultimately better for having pursued his dream, loved and lost, and followed the light in his own way, than he would have been had he allowed himself to continue as another tool of the bureaucratic machine:

“Janning’s pursuit of light, though it leads him into humiliation and death greatens his soul. Sternberg’s emphasis on light-attraction over darkness’ terror, on personal triumph in the middle of degradation, are Romantic themes whose Christian roots are fundamentally opposed to German Expressionism.”

This is what we ultimately find at the end of Dark. Everything the characters do, no matter how dark, they do in pursuit of the Light, the greater good as they see it, to save their loved ones and their own souls from eternal torment or a violent world. In the end, Jonas refers back to the Time bridge, which is made up of the timestream and flows like water, as the Light. He’s able to return to the beginning, when he understood that Love and connection to Light are all that’s necessary.

Along with a little patience.

Claudia doesn’t “win”, despite being a form of Nietzsche’s Übermensch. (Remember when this was a show about Nietzsche? Somehow it became a show about Schopenhauer in S3. Eternal recurrences and amor fati became unbridled Will and Schrodinger’s cat.) She temporarily hijacks a time bridge connection which still exists. I guess she just wanted to see the Promised Land of a world where Regina doesn’t get cancer?

You will never convince me that Claudia bothers to destroy every world in the multiverse where Regina doesn’t live to 100. In the origin world, Claudia influences Bernd to let the coal interests win in 1953 so that the power plant contract goes to a different city. Without the radiation from the power plant, their daughter and Claudia’s father won’t get cancer.

What would be the point of preventing Regina’s death on many worlds, if Claudia understands the true nature of the universe? I don’t think she does have a deep understanding- I think that might be the point. She’s so caught up in her own ambition that she doesn’t understand the nature of the cosmic consciousness, reincarnation of the soul rather than the persona or the world outside Plato’s Cave. She figures out some of the the mechanics, but nothing more.

Regina is always going to die eventually, then be reborn. Which is why I think Claudia’s underlying goal was to steal credit for inventing time travel, then enjoy the control and accolades that brings her, with the side benefit of watching Regina live a longer life, removing Claudia’s guilt for being a neglectful mother who kept Regina’s father from her.

I have a feeling the Unknown reset a few things of his own, but we’ll never know. Except for that dream Grandma Hannah has…


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The lights come back up on a stormy night in the origin world. A group of friends is having dinner at Hannah’s house, which is now Regina’s house. Regina has a photo of herself with her parents, Claudia and Bernd, on a side table. They look like a close, happy family. Regina is a teenager in the photo.

Katharina, Peter, Benni, Torben and Hannah toast to Regina. Benni thanks Regina for the invitation. Everyone looks great. Hannah is pregnant. Torben (whose name means “the thunder god’s bear”) has scarring under his eye, but otherwise he seems intact. The others ask him to explain what happened to his eye. He starts to say, “Last summer…” But his voice is drowned out by thunder and the lights go out.

Hannah is spooked by the thunder. She stares at the yellow raincoat by the stairs and says she had deja vu. All of this is just like a dream she had last night- the storm, the lights, the darkness… “Then the world had ended. It was dark and never became light again. It felt good for everything to end and to be free of everything. No wants, no needs. Unending darkness. No yesterday. No today. No tomorrow. Nothing.”

Benni tells her she should see someone about it. Hannah tells Benni it’s just the pregnancy hormones.

Regina asks what they would wish for, if they only had one wish at the end of the world. Katharina says she’d wish for a world without Winden. They all drink to that. The lights come back on.

Katharina asks what they’re going to name the baby. Hannah says she’s always liked the name Jonas.

Dark S3Ep8 Jonas Is a Good NameDark S3Ep8 Origin World Yellow Raincoat Red Pillow & Blue Butterflies

Sounds like Jonas is happy where he is. He finally found the exit.

Or did he? There are blue butterflies on the lampshade next to the yellow raincoat, symbols of resurrection since ancient times. Maybe Jonas has left yellow and green behind, ascending into blue.

Now it’s Bartosz’s turn with the Yellow Raincoat of Fate. (Regina and Aleksander will find each other in every timeline, come what may. Never believe anything else.)

Or maybe the raincoat and butterflies are meant for Regina. She has 3 red candles/Ariadne’s red threads behind her head and she asks for her friends’ wishes. Is she Fate on this world?

1986 Ulrich first wished for a world without Winden in season 1, episode 3, while sitting in the Bus Stop of Destiny with Hannah, 5 months after the power plant accident, the day after Mikkel came back from the future. 

Have a video of Marlene Dietrich singing Falling in Love Again from the film The Blue Angel, instead of the recently overused and tonally out of place Wonderful World. And then a mini playlist for the heck of it. 

In my mind, Adam and Eva slow dance and sing Falling in Love Again to each other as they dissolve. And then somehow we transition to Lorde’s version of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Claudia’s theme song.


Commentary

Images courtesy of Netflix.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Dark Season 3 Episode 8: The Paradise Recap

  1. After reading some other reviews of the finale, I was beginning to think that I was the only fan who was annoyed that the creators trashed all of the established rules for the intricate Dark universe in order to force a happy ending (that wasn’t really that happy). On the other hand, I’m not sure what an emotionally satisfying ending to the series would have looked like.

    Thank you for the recaps and analysis. I haven’t commented before, but I read them all. They greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the series. You have a real talent for picking out details and making connections.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed my recaps. I never expected a happy ending. I don’t usually have expectations for show endings, beyond hoping to understand what the creators were trying to do.

      It’s not like anyone has issues with the ending because they thought Martha and Jonas were going to live happily ever after together. It’s that the creators tried to have it both ways- the “was this real or a dream” ending, which is fine and typical these days, but they didn’t do it very well. Then they complicated it so much further than that, to the point where you lose the thread. It took me weeks to find a way to make sense of it, combined with what came before, and I still had to leave pieces of the puzzle on the table. I’ve looked all over and I haven’t found anyone who’s made anymore sense of it than I have. There are a couple of good theories about how to make it agree with a deterministic universe, but I’m not terribly concerned with that. Everything that we saw could easily have been predetermined to happen the way it did. Whether the rules of predetermination were broken is only an issue if you believe Claudia, and I don’t.

      Maybe someday some Galaxy Quest level Dark geeks will go through all 3 seasons with 3D holographic flow charts and they’ll find every single clue, snap them all in the right places and the mysteries of the Dark universe will finally be solved.

      Or in a few weeks the creators will edit in another voiceover explanation that points toward Goethe. I’m rooting for a miracle caused by the intervention of St Hildegard of Bingen, though. All this talk of Germans and the Light, and no Hildegard??

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  2. We’re pretty much in agreement, and I didn’t expect a Jonas-and-Martha-happily-ever-after ending, but I think that an ending in which they achieved something significant was important to close out the series. To me, the most logical ending based on what came before would have been for their sudden appearance on the road to cause the accident and restart the cycle, but that would have obviously been frustrating and unsatisfying for the audience. I just didn’t care for the abrupt and confusing twists they used to make it possible to end the cycle.

    I also had a rather negative interpretation of the dinner scene. It looked like the characters were supposed to be happy or at least content because all of the time anomaly characters never existed. It treated not only the alternate universes, but also Charlotte, Mikkel, Ulrich and the rest as cancerous tumors that needed to be removed for the rest of the characters to have a good life. Of course, the creators have the right to do whatever they want with their characters, but it just left me feeling a little sour.

    I like the idea of bringing in ol’ Hildegard for a miracle. If everything’s random in the last episode anyways, why not?

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  3. Yes, after all that talk about fighting for the light, the way they decided that most of the cast was toxic for having people they cared about, but Claudia’s overwhelming ambitions and desires were noble and acceptable, outraged me. It took me a long time to watch those episodes rationally enough to realize that she was saying one thing but the visuals and the plot interludes were showing something else. I still don’t know what the creators intended, because they say this is a love story and about predetermination, neither of which have anything to do with the main plot of the last episode, even though Claudia makes it seem like they do.

    The A plot of the main episode is about Claudia tricking Jonas and Martha into creating a connection to Tannhaus’ world and stopping his son from dying so that he won’t invent time travel on that world. Claudia has chosen that world as a place where Regina can live a long, cancer free life and she needs Marek to survive to create the correct conditions. Claudia exploits Jonas’ and Martha’s love for each other and tendency to blame each other and themselves for everything. That’s all we know for certain.

    Claudia tells Jonas that she can’t get rid of the Prime and Alt worlds by herself because he and Martha are too attached to each other- then Jonas repeats that to Martha. Yet the last scene, when all of the iterations of those characters dissolve, emphasizes that they are still attached- if anything, their attachment has grown and gained clarity. That’s another facet of her lies that I didn’t really get into in my recap. She made it sound like they had to give up their attachment so their worlds could die, when actually it was their attachment that allowed them to travel and stop the accident. Whatever that dissolve is, whether it’s the destruction of their worlds or a cycle change, it’s caused by their True Love, not by them letting go or being a toxic love.

    This was the creators’ first time doing TV and I think it just got away from them. They added too much complexity then didn’t have the time or ideas to wind it all back up properly. It happens frequently in TV. I didn’t even bother with most of Legion season 3 because it went in the same type of direction- the writers were too in love with too many cool ideas and taking every character to their extreme, so that you didn’t care about any of it by the end, unless you only care about having your mind blown. For me, that becomes superficial and boring after a while.

    It would have made sense with the rest of the show to have Martha and Jonas cause the accident. It would also have been comeuppance for Claudia’s attempts to make herself the supreme ruler of the universe and give her daughter the one world that was left, which would have fit with the show’s biblical themes. It’s hard for me to reconcile all of those biblical and gnostic themes with Claudia, the white devil, ruthlessly pillaging her way through the universe like a Viking and massacring the people she found distasteful (including the old, sick versions of her father, daughter and lover, Bernd), then getting rewarded at the end. Right now, it feels like Hitler won. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to go back and watch the whole thing at once and see it differently, but I doubt it. I don’t see how you can get around the murder of two worlds to give one world to the princess. They clearly show us that none of the people who survive are any better than the people in the knot, even though Claudia tries to make it sound like they are.

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  4. And in the end, are the people in the so-called Origin World any happier than the people in the two created worlds? Given Hanna’s nihilistic comments about the end of everything and every one toasting the idea of a world without Winden, why did Jonas and Martha even bother?

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    1. Ah, but in the end, the show wasn’t about Jonas and Martha and this wasn’t a happy ending. This was Claudia’s ending. She changed the focus toward making the new Prime world a place where her daughter isn’t ill and the world is a healthier place, by her standards. She got rid of everyone who didn’t live up to her standards or got in her way, until only the strong and healthy survived. Surely that sounds like a familiar philosophy?

      The show quite glaringly skipped completely over the period from 1921 to 1952- from the Weimar Republic, which was the post WW1 period of both excess and inequality that was followed by the takeover by Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933, which ended with the end of WW2 in 1946. I don’t know the immediate post war period well, only that there was deprivation and chaos, then eventually the Cold War ramped up.

      Anyway, my point is, they skipped over the conditions that gave rise to the Nazi Party and the rule of the Nazis, probably partly so that WW2 wouldn’t take over the story, but also to be coy about the fact that Claudia is essentially a Nazi. There are no Jewish people or people of color in Winden, so her Final Solution is taken out on the Useless Eaters, as Man in the High Castle called them- the elderly, sick and disabled. Maybe the people who would be genetically distasteful to Claudia and Bernd had already been disposed of by the time we enter the cycle, other than Yasin’s family. But Useless Eaters will always pop up and need to be taken care of. She killed the sick version of her father, both sick versions of her daughter, the weaker version of herself, and the wheelchair bound version of Bernd, so that she could create new, strong, healthy versions on a new, utopian world. Then she made sure the power plant and time travel wouldn’t be based in her backyard of Winden on this particular world (NIMBY), and erased everyone she saw as having inferior DNA because of the combination of the two on the Prime and Alt worlds.

      She created the eugenicist utopia the Nazis were working toward, but it’s hard to put those pieces together because of the way the show is structured- we see Bernd’s death early in the season and don’t know why he’s killed. We don’t realize his true place in the story until the final moments of the series. She tells Tronte that she realized Regina would live because she’s outside the knot, but never explains why the knot has to die. Jonas wants to die, so the audience gets swept up in his relief that his suffering will end. He explains it to Martha as saving Marek’s life, while saying their planets should never have existed.

      But why? Why shouldn’t they have existed? In universe, no one ever questions Claudia’s interpretation that two entire planets full of people outside the Winden knot are cancerous and deserve death, nevermind the ones within the knot.

      I don’t think what she does works anyway, which is why Jonas is about to be born again. Whether it’s just a new cycle starting or Jonas is angry that Claudia lied or he just doesn’t want to come back, I don’t know. But Dark shows an unfair world that’s muddling along and getting worse. Claudia then seizes control and turns it into an elitist utopia in the image she prefers while wiping out most of the people she hurt through time travel and nuclear energy. It ends with the dark god of hope about to be reborn.

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  5. I think we all feel cheated…. Because we were so intent on “solving the mystery” of the first two Seasons. But let’s be honest – they pulled it off they gave us the “Jonas and Marta” get together in the end – they together sacrificed themselves, We did NOT get the “cycle starts again” ending which would have been utterly disappointing…. SO they did it!

    But yes we feel cheated because the story of DARK, has been relegated to being a DREAM.

    Our investment in the story of DARK and the time travel idiosyncrasies which we loved – have been laid empty, a mere dream. Don’t you want to know who Benni’s Mom is? But alas it really doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

    And yet except for the (super convenient) ability to travel to the origin world and prevent the original PAIN from happening, they left us with this beautiful admittedly unsatisfying perfect ending. “Life is but a Dream”. And yet just like we still don’t know what happened to Torben’s eye [Which I did call that we would never find out – after the first time the story was interrupted] – we are now left with an ending with a world of characters that we have no real attachment to. And that is why this is a difficult ending to swallow, and yet why I believe at the same time, so true to everything in the whole series.

    I love the way you put it: “He’s able to return to the beginning, when he understood that Love and connection to Light are all that’s necessary.”

    In this way DARK gave us everything. A DARK TWISTED WORLD, in which we are doomed to repeat ourselves, and do horrible things, all while striving to find the light. Destroy everything time and time again. Only to eventually break the cycle, for the HOPE of something without all the perpetual suffering. (paraphrasing) “In order for one to survive, something must be sacrificed”. We thought that only pertained to individuals in Season 1 & 2. We didn’t realize it was the ultimate sacrifice, for a world we don’t know, these two worlds must end. And so we mourn the loss of the two worlds we spent so much time getting to know, and the struggles of all these intertwined souls.

    Just like Jonas and Marta we are faced with the same choice. We must give up Seasons 1,2 & 3 for a Fourth Season we will never know or experience.

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  6. The issue, for me, is that it feels like they only decided that it was all just a dream while they were writing season 3- possibly while they were writing episode 5. I’m not a big fan of that type of framing technique. It’s a way of softening and cheapening the story.

    To give a couple of examples, in The Wizard of Oz books, the land of Oz is a real place, not the dream world it was turned into for the film. The film works because the dream is clearly telegraphed at both ends of the film and Oz is a dreamlike place, but in the long run Oz was able to become a book series because it was real, not a fantasy within the book universe. The film’s framing device precluded sequels, which is fine, the story as told in the film works better as a stand alone.

    But it means that the adults can tell Dorothy that everything she learned in Oz was just part of an unimportant dream and now she’s back to reality. She doesn’t need all of that troubling independence and self-reliance she developed now that she’s back in the real world. She’s no longer a leader and a hero, she’s just a child who needs to listen to her elders. If Oz is real and Dorothy really did everything that happened there, the implications for her life are very different, even subversive, for a girl in the early 20th century. Possibly even for a girl in the early 21st century.

    Another example is the influential 1920 German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari which uses its framing device to flip the meaning of the story as well. The story within the frame is anti-authoritarian, but once the frame is applied, it becomes a pro-authority story. The writers said that they didn’t want the portion of the frame that undermines the original message, but were forced to include it.

    I’ve been watching and studying media for decades now and over and over, creators give one story to the press when their media is released, then tell a different story years later when their obligation to the corporation that funded the media is done. Maybe this ending is what the creators of Dark always planned and they just botched the storytelling or maybe Netflix didn’t like where they were going. We may never know. Some writers just aren’t great at writing endings or at pacing.

    What I come back to is the weird use of Wonderful World at the end. It’s so completely out of place that it feels like a cry for help or a slap in the face. After all of the perfect musical choices, how did that song get there?

    Because the two other worlds weren’t actually a dream. They were real and supposedly we just saw them get murdered. Playing that song over mass murder is horrific. Imagine playing that song while watching the atomic bombs fall on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what they’re showing us, without acknowledging the horror of the events. That’s a show that’s too twisted for me.

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