×
Back to IndieWire

‘Dark’: Season 2’s Insane Ending and All the Burning Questions Season 3 Needs to Answer

Netflix's mind-bending sci-fi series really goes 'round the bend in the finale, setting the stage for an epic conclusion.

Carlotta von Falkenhayn, "Dark"

Carlotta von Falkenhayn, “Dark”

Netflix

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Dark” Season 2, including the finale. If you haven’t watched yet, you can read the non-spoilery review.]

The second season of “Dark” ends with far more questions than answers, but for the love of all that is unholy, some of those answers are completely and utterly bananas. Which is to say, they’re everything a “Dark” fan could ask for.

In the series, the town of Winden has been experiencing mysterious child abductions that turn out to be linked to an epic battle between good and evil. Teenager Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) is at the center of the melee and travels back and forth through time in an attempt to save Winden and everyone he loves from an impending nuclear holocaust. As more and more Winden residents begin to also hop around through time, they’re shocked to learn just how connected they all are.

And yes, this is even crazier than Season 1’s shocker that the boy Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz), who goes missing in 2019, actually traveled back to 1986, befriended and then eventually married Jonas’ mom, making him Jonas’ dad. But then Jonas realizes that he’s been romancing Mikkel’s sister Martha (Lisa Vicari), who is now technically his aunt. “Dark” is a modern-day sci-fi Greek tragedy.

Season 2’s final episode saves its nuttiest revelations for last, one of many extreme left turns the series takes. Despite these crazy shenanigans, the show remains engaging and often heartbreaking by establishing a few rules that create the semblance of order.

First, it introduces the Higgs boson particle, aka the God Particle, that gives everything mass and is through which the show’s time travel is possible. The nuclear power plant in Winden is one source of the God Particle.

Next, the show states that all events that have happened and will happen are always existing in a never-ending cycle. It’s a grim concept of inescapable fate that constitutes one of the biggest tensions in the series.

The final rule is basically what allows for some of the more batshit crazy surprises this season. Co-creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese are in love with the Bootstrap Paradox, or Causal Loop Paradox. The show’s time machine creator H.G. Tannhaus (Arnd Klawitter) explains it as, “an object or information from the future is sent back to the past that creates a never-ending cycle in which each object no longer has any real origin. It exists without having been created.”

With those concepts in mind, here’s what Season 2 revealed, followed by the big questions the show left unanswered to tackle in Season 3:

Major Revelations

Louis Hofmann and Dietrich Hollinderbaumer, "Dark"

Louis Hofmann and Dietrich Hollinderbaumer, “Dark”

Netflix

Jonas Is His Own Worst Enemy: This season introduces the main antagonist, and it’s not the scary priest Noah (Mark Waschke), but his boss, Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbaumer). Adam is a traveler who has set up home base in 1921 where he has a room devoted to a God Particle device that can go to any point in time, not just abide by the 33-year cycle.

Although he’s scarred beyond recognition, a tell-tale ligature mark on his neck reveals that he’s in fact, an older Jonas 66 years later. Adam and his followers are devoted to the idea of breaking the cycle of repeated events by undoing time itself. Part of Adam’s strategy is to put younger Jonas on his same developmental path, and that apparently requires Adam shooting and killing Martha as Jonas watches, unable to save her life.

Claudia Is the White Devil: Winden nuclear power plant head Claudia Tiedermann (Julika Jenkins) has become a traveler and after reading of her father’s death in 1987, is determined to prevent it. Unfortunately, when Egon Tiedermann (Christian Pätzold) discovers that something dangerous is going on at the power plant, the two fight, and she accidentally kills him. As Egon is dying, he recalls meeting an old lady in 1954 who was apparently an older version of Claudia and whom Adam’s followers identify as the “White Devil.”

Jonas Caused Mikkel’s Disappearance and His Death: After speaking to Adam, Jonas believes that if he can go to the origin of the craziness — the day that his father Michael (Sebastian Rudolph) killed himself and thus set off a chain of events — then he can prevent everything, including the nuclear meltdown. Sure, Mikkel wouldn’t have disappeared into the past to become Jonas’ dad Michael, but obliterating his own existence and Adam’s in one blow is the price Jonas is willing to pay. Unfortunately, Old Claudia reveals that Jonas can’t prevent the suicide — Jonas’ role in the fight is too important — and is actually instrumental in making sure that Michael actually does kill himself and that Mikkel finds his way to the time tunnel.

And while it’s one example of the Bootstrap Paradox time loop that makes no logical sense, this is also one of the most gut-wrenching episodes. Finding and losing his father all over again and then knowing that he’s the cause of heartache for the entire Nielsen clan rightfully messes with Jonas’ mind.

Maja Schöne, "Dark"

Maja Schöne, “Dark”

Netflix

Hannah Is the Worst: This is more of a confirmation than an actual discovery. In Season 1, Jonas’ mother (Maja Schöne) had already shown herself to be self-absorbed and malicious. (Falsely reporting a rape out of jealousy is just pure evil.) This season, she proves her complete selfishness by stealing a time machine and traveling to 1954 to simultaneously taunt her ex-lover Ulrich (Oliver Masucci) who’s been falsely incarcerated in a psychiatric facility and to make a new life for herself. We’d say good riddance, but that’s probably not the last we’ll see of her.

The Past Can’t Be Changed: This feels like a hazy rule that the show only adheres to when it’s convenient, but it’s cited a few times to explain that someone who is seen alive in their older state cannot be killed when they’re younger, no matter what sort of time travel happens. But this also means that if someone dies, going back into the past can’t really help to save them because it’s already happened since, according to the theory of eternal recurrence, time is a never-ending cycle. Of course, Adam and Claudia believe that somehow Jonas is the key to breaking this cycle, but he has to make sacrifices — such as letting Michael die — in order to reach that goal.

Magnus Nielsen and Franziska Doppler Follow Adam: In the year 2020, teenage Magnus (Moritz Jahn) and Franziska (Gina Stiebitz) are a couple and then later are saved from the nuclear holocaust by the adult Jonas, aka the Stranger (Andreas Pietschmann), with his time device. They’ve apparently become travelers because in 1921, an older man and woman are seen as Adam’s disciples and appear to know all about Jonas. At one point, the woman turns to the man and says, “We all have to make sacrifices, Magnus.” Later, they hold hands, suggesting that they’re in a romantic relationship, which means the woman is likely to be an older Franziska.

Noah Is Charlotte’s Father: When the time-traveling priest Noah obtains the missing pages from the leather notebook that Old Claudia is carrying, he discovers the whereabouts of his daughter, who had been taken from him. It turns out that child was given to Tannhaus to raise and is now the Winden Police chief, Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn), whom he shows a Polaroid of himself holding her as a baby. She was apparently born sometime after the apocalypse but then taken back in time, possibly to hide her from Noah. Charlotte isn’t terribly thrilled to learn this since Noah had abducted and killed several boys from Winden throughout the decades. But then she finds out about her mother…

Charlotte’s Mother Is Her Own Daughter, Elisabeth: In 2020, Charlotte Doppler’s hearing-impaired daughter Elisabeth (Carlotta von Falkenhayn) is one of the four people who are in the underground bunker when the nuclear apocalypse happens. In 2053, Jonas encounters a blonde woman who also communicates through signing. Later, she’s seen digging up a box full of personal treasures: the crocheted fox hat she used to wear, an old family photo of the Dopplers circa 2020, and photos of herself with Noah holding a baby.

Let’s let that sink in for a bit. Charlotte and Elisabeth are both mother and daughter to each other, creating a biological causal loop with no origin. This means that they’re each their own grandmothers, and so on through the cycle. But that also means Charlotte is both Franziska’s mother and niece, and is both Peter’s wife and granddaughter. Yes, this game can be played all day.

Lisa Vicari, "Dark"

Lisa Vicari, “Dark”

Netflix

Martha Is Alive… in Another World: According to “Dark” rules, Martha is definitely dead after Adam shoots her. But shortly after that event, a black-clad, bangs-sporting Martha shows up to save Jonas from the impending apocalypse. She pulls out a baseball-sized brass device that appears to be a smaller version of the time machine and says she’s from another world. As they’re whisked away to who knows where/when, Season 2 ends.

Season 3

At this point, only the show’s cast and creators know where Jonas went since Season 3 is currently in production. On his Instagram account, bo Odar had posted a photo of the first Season 3 script with the following message:

“And it‘s official! We are working on Dark Season 3. It is the final cycle of this great journey. We always had three seasons in mind when we developed Dark and are happy to tell you that we will start shooting the third and final season in 4 weeks so we can deliver you guys the final chapter of Dark next year. Thank you Netflix for trusting us! Thank you to ALL THE DARK FANS AROUND THE WORLD! You are amazing! We love you!”

Although “Dark” fans would probably want the show to last longer, it’s actually encouraging news that the producers planned for the third season to be its last. A closed loop, so to speak, is likely indicative of the creators having a specific storytelling plan in mind, which means that the final season will probably be just as meticulously detailed and wrought as the previous two.

Continue to next page for Season 3 burning questions>>

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Television and tagged ,


Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox

Newswire