Time Travel TV Comparison: Dark vs 12 Monkeys vs Travelers

A reader requested that we write up a compare and contrast review between 12 Monkeys and Dark. Now that all of the Dark recaps are done, we thought we’d do that, and add in Travelers, the other fan favorite time travel show around here.

All 3 shows premiered and completed their runs between 2015 and 2020. They are all anchored in the present day, but also take place in the future and the past. They all deal with dystopian futures which the main characters want to prevent using time travel and the knowledge of events they’ve gained through time travel and advanced technology. All 3 also have ensemble casts that include time travelers, their handlers and mad scientists, though the groups tend to be fluid- almost everyone will time travel or have a good idea eventually.

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Dark: What Did It All Mean? Thoughts on Season 3 and the Ending

Dark S3Ep8 Jonas & Martha Disintegrate from Bridge

Because of the odd structure of season 3 of Dark, there were several ideas that I wanted to write about that didn’t fit into any of the recaps. I’m going to discuss some of the ongoing metaphors and and plot points here that I couldn’t easily explain in my regular posts without spoiling future episodes or making the final recap overlong.

Recaps for all episodes and more analysis can be found at the Dark tag, HERE.

Reader beware- spoilers for all 3 seasons and 26 episodes of Dark ahead!

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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

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Dark Season 3 Episode 7: Between the Time Recap

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In episode 6, the worlds ended, thanks to Adam’s double apocalypse. In episode 7, we meet the new world. And tie up a few loose ends.

Recap

The episode begins with a twist on the opening voice over- a segment from HG Tannhaus’ science show from the 1970s:

Tannhaus: “What is reality? Is it singular in nature? Or do several parallel realities exist at the same time? To address this, Erwin Schrodinger constructed an extremely interesting thought experiment. Schrodinger’s cat. A cat is locked in a steel chamber with a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, a Geiger counter, a vial of poison and a hammer. As soon as a radioactive atom disintegrates inside the steel chamber, the Geiger counter triggers the release of the hammer, which smashes the vial of poison. The cat is dead.

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Dark Season 3 Episode 6: Light and Shadow Recap

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In episode 6, we discover that Young Jonas is Schrödinger’s cat. Martha goes to live in a cage, like Hansel waiting for the fairy-tale witch to eat him/her. We finally learn the contents of Martha’s letter to Stranger Jonas, but of course the letter leaves him bitter, because that is Jonas’ relationship to letters from the dead. We relive the apocalypse in the Prime world, because we just can’t get enough, and live through Martha’s apocalypse for the first time.

Recap

Meanwhile, in the Prime world, we jump back to the end of S2, where Young Jonas kneels over Dead Prime Martha’s body and promises he’ll make this right, somehow, somewhere, sometime. But right now, a nuclear apocalypse is coming, so he’s going to abandon her body to its fate and run downstairs to hide in his mom’s basement.

What, that’s not how you remember the end of season 2 going? Go check the footage. I’ll wait.

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Dark Season 3 Episode 5: Life and Death Recap

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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.

Recap

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?

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Dark Season 3 Episode 4: The Origin Recap

Dark S3Ep4 Hannah & Helene

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

Recap

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

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

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Dark Season 3 Episode 3: Adam and Eva Recap

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In episode 3, we meet Stranger/Adult Alt Martha and Gustav’s father, Heinrich Tannhaus, for the first time. Old Eva and Young Jonas have a long talk before she sends him to another time period with her youngest self again. Alt Martha helps out Stranger Jonas and the teens before going back to the future, but there’s a twist. She goes to the Prime world future. After weeks of frustration, Stranger Jonas begins to find some success in the lab.

Recap

The episode begins in the Prime world 1820s, when Old Gustav Tannhaus was Young Gustav Tannhaus. We find Young Gustav and his father, Heinrich Tannhaus, riding in a carriage in the dark of night, in a raging thunderstorm.

When else would they go out for a ride?

Heinrich reads from the play Ariadne, choosing from the same speech we’ve heard Martha perform at least once every season: “From then on, I knew that nothing changes. That all things remain. The spinning wheel turns, round and round, in a circle. One fate tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that connects all our deeds.”

Heinrich is the man who started Sic Mundus. As he reads, lightning flashes as if time travel is occuring.

Maybe it is.

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Dark Season 3 Episode 2: The Survivors

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After the Harry Potter costume party of getting to know Martha/Eva’s world in S3EP1, in episode 2 it’s finally time to visit Adam’s post-apocalypse world, which is a form of the world without Winden that Hannah and Ulrich have dreamed of for decades. Ironically, Hannah and Ulrich both flaked out on the apocalypse and have retired separately in the Winden of previous decades. Katharina followed Ulrich.

Peter and Elizabeth serve as our point of view characters for the aftermath of the shockwave as they search for Charlotte and Franziska. Charlotte has jumped forward 33 years and is now in the barren future with Adult Elizabeth. The version of Young Alt Martha who transported Jonas to her world, then left him behind, is with Stranger, Bartosz, Franziska and Magnus in 1888.

We spend much of this episode in 1987, where things have changed in the last 3 months.

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Dark Season 3 Episode 1: Deja-vu Recap

 

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“You and I are perfect for each other. Never believe anything else.” – Jonas Kahnwald, June 20, 2019, in an episodic pattern of behavior with no beginning or end.

“We’re never free in what we do because we aren’t free in what we desire.” – Noah, opening voice over, S2,Ep8

Buckle up, kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. As we enter the post apocalypse prime world and the Alt Martha world and try to figure out whatever Claudia’s up to this time around, let’s keep the endgame in mind.

What is the endgame? Lol, I’m not going to give away spoilers!

Or am I? Even I don’t know anymore.

“What we know is a drop. What we don’t know is an ocean.” – Bernd Doppler, November 5, 1986, S1Ep3

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