dark season 2

7 Brain-Melting Questions Ahead of Dark’s Final Season

Searching for answers on this show only leads to more questions. Photo: Netflix

Netflix’s German-language time-travel show Dark is one of those series in which asking questions only begets more questions. Even the most basic questions you may have about this show — like, “who is that?” and “what in the hell just happened” and “why is that teen continuing to hook up with his aunt?” — only lead to more mystery. When you finally untie one knot, you find three more that need unraveling.

Impossible as it may seem, the second season of Dark was even more mind-bending and brain-melting than the first: An impending nuclear apocalypse! Fratricide! An escalating war against Time itself! Like, so much rain! A woman discovering she gave birth to her own mother! THE MULTIVERSE. It’s as if season one was walking around town being like, “Nothing can top my twists!” and season two was like “Hold my hefeweizen.”

All of which is to say, by the time you finish season two and the nuclear apocalypse has come for all of Winden’s interconnected inhabitants, you are sure to have a whole mess of questions that you’d like answered in the series’ third and final season, which will premiere on June 27 — which, yes, also happens to be the date of the apocalypse within the show. Here are seven of the most pressing.

Where is alternate Martha from and why is she here?

The big bomb dropped in the season two finale —you know, aside from the nuclear apocalypse—is the introduction of a multiverse. Just as Teen Jonas is weeping over the dead body of his beloved girlfriend/aunt Martha, who was shot right in front of him by Adam, who, as we found out earlier in the season is actually Old Jonas (!!), another, chicer Martha With Bangs walks through the door. She is here to save Jonas. When Jonas asks her what time she’s from, her response is a game-changer: “The question isn’t from what time, but from what world.” Then she uses her fancy orb, more advanced than any time-traveling apparatus we’ve seen thus far, and whisks them away just as the nuclear plant explodes. As if keeping track of the multiple time periods people are hopping in and out of didn’t make our brains hurt already, now we’ve got multiple worlds to deal with.

Setting aside the simple matter (LOL at the idea that anything involving Dark is simple) of where this Martha comes from, her appearance leads to other questions: Was an Alternate Martha showing up to save Teen Jonas always a part of the loop Winden is stuck in, or is this something completely new? If she’s always been a part of the loop, why didn’t Adult Jonas/The Stranger or Adam ever mention multiverses? If this is something new, what action caused the change? Regardless of whether she’s part of the loop or not, what’s her plan for Jonas and where is she taking him? Most important of all: Where did Alt-Martha get her hair chop? Hey, when your brain is melting, you have to have priorities, people!

What was in the letter from Martha that Young Noah gave to Adult Jonas, and where in time does Adult Jonas take Teen Magnus, Bartosz, and Franziska?

One of the more puzzling cliffhangers we’re left to ponder in our already knotted brains at the end of season two is the contents of the letter that Young Noah delivers to Adult Jonas on Young Noah’s way to Helge’s bunker. Noah says it is from Martha and that Adult Jonas must save Magnus, Franziska, and Bartosz, and at a later date, him and his sister Agnes, to complete the prophecy so that “the next cycle can begin.” It is the only way Martha can live. Of course Adult Jonas is like, WTF you weirdo, Martha is over with Teen Jonas dying RIGHT NOW. None of this makes sense to us, the audience, but Adult Jonas seems very convinced, and he rushes over to get the three teens to another time before the blast. We already knew Magnus and Franziska survived, because we see older versions of them working with Adam. But what of Bartosz? And when does Jonas have to save Noah and Agnes? And how can a dead Martha be writing a letter like this? And why do I love a show that gives me so many headaches? The truth can’t be contained forever, Dark! Just kidding, it probably can.

How does Jonas become Adam?

Adam, mysterious leader of Sic Mundus, arch enemy of Claudia, hater of Time, dweller of that secret fancy bunker in the 1920s, man who could really use some moisturizer, reveals himself to be, if you can believe it, Old Jonas Kahnwald. All of his traveling through time has not been kind to his face or his heart, but he shows Teen Jonas his own scar around his neck and convinces him that he is who Teen Jonas and Adult Jonas will turn into someday. This might be one of the most interesting things to watch for in season three, since neither Teen Jonas nor Adult Jonas seem anywhere close to turning into the callous, manipulative puppetmaster that Adam so clearly is.

Adam is sure trying his hardest to inflict the misery and hardships that turned him into the man he is today, um, whenever today actually is. Things like, you know, telling a vulnerable teenager that he’ll send him back to the day before his father committed suicide so that he can stop him because that is the event that sets off the entire chain of events of the loop (Adam has a giant dark-matter blob in which you are no longer bound by the 33-year rule, but can travel to any specific date you want), only for that teenager to realize that him coming back to talk to his father about not killing himself is the reason why his father killed himself in the first place. (Uh, yeah, so if you thought the Mikkel/Michael story was already sad enough, this will rock your world a little bit.) That’ll surely sting. Oh, also, you could chip away at his pure soul by murdering his (your!) girlfriend/aunt in front of him. That might leave an everlasting mark that will one day assist in turning you into a monster.

Again, both of those horrors happen to Teen Jonas, and Adult Jonas still seems to be working against turning into such a hateful creature. What could cause such a dramatic change and when does it happen? Fight the power, Jonases!

How and when did Noah, Elisabeth, and Charlotte get split up?

The most melt-your-brain moment of season two comes when we learn the true parentage of 2019/2020 Winden Chief of Police Charlotte Doppler, who was raised by builder of time machines H.G. Tannhaus but was in constant search of answers about how she came to be. Well, the answer is simple: Her father is creepy time-traveling priest Noah and her mother is Elisabeth Doppler … who also happens to be her younger daughter. Let that sink in!

In 2020, Charlotte puts her young daughter Elisabeth in Helge Doppler’s bunker along with her father Peter, so that they can survive the impending nuclear apocalypse Adult Jonas warned them about. As the apocalypse draws near, Young Noah from the 1920s walks into the bunker, sent there by Adult Noah. This means that at some point post-apocalypse, Noah and Elisabeth have a daughter, Charlotte, and that daughter is taken from them and sent to live with Tannhaus in the 1980s. Charlotte then grows up, marries Peter Doppler, and has two daughters, Franziska and Elisabeth, who then goes into the bunker and … well, you get it. Or do you? Fun fact: This boot-strap paradox means that Charlotte and Elisabeth are each their own grandmothers. BRB, gotta go scoop my brain off of the floor.

Leaving alone the question of how in the world that is even possible (answer: Time travel, baby!), we still don’t know the logistics of the entire thing. We know that after Charlotte is born and taken away, Noah continues his work for (and also against!) Adam, leader of Sic Mundus. We also know that in 2053, when Teen Jonas travels to the future, he discovers that an Adult Elisabeth is a leader in the Sic Mundus movement and in charge of the rebels who survived the nuclear apocalypse in Winden. She knows about the dark matter time-travelling goo ball that exists in the burned-out power plant, but has been keeping it a secret from all of her followers until Teen Jonas arrives and blows up her spot.

There are a few other unanswered beats to this story: We still don’t know when Charlotte was actually taken from Elisabeth and Noah, nor do we know who took her. Also, when Elisabeth gave birth to Charlotte, did she know she was giving birth to her own mother? If yes, holy shit that’s a lot to unpack. As if these mothers and daughters haven’t already had a wild ride, season two ends with 2020 Charlotte and 2053 Elisabeth seeing each other through a rift in time created by black matter released when those yellow nuclear waste cans are opened. They touch each other and we cut out. The last time two people touched each other through a rift in time and space, it was Teen Jonas and Little Helge Doppler, and both were propelled into the future. Where will Elisabeth and Charlotte end up? Hopefully somewhere with a therapist so they can sort out this whole “My mom is my daughter and my daughter is my mom” thing. Some lucky therapist is going to be getting a nice boost of billable hours!

Will we ever get more details on Noah?

This Noah guy! He’s out there murdering kids for Adam, recruiting vulnerable people like Helge and Bartosz to his cause, and then once he discovers that Adam’s promise to save his family was one giant manipulation, he tries to murder the leader of Sic Mundus, only for his gun to jam and for Adam to order Noah’s sister Agnes Nielsen (!) to kill her brother in order for her to rejoin Sic Mundus (she had been kicked out of Sic Mundus and was working with Claudia for a bit). But before Noah is completely betrayed, he is the most loyal of minions to Adam. How and when does Adam recruit him in the first place? And if Adult Noah was extensively mentoring his younger self in the 1920s as he begins his initiation into Sic Mundus, wouldn’t the fact that he never saw an older version of himself tip him off that he would die soon? Of all the creepy stuff going on in Winden, Noah is the creepiest.

What is Hannah doing in the 1950s?

Oh Hannah Kahnwald, you villainous bitch. Did you go back in time and write the screenplay for Fatal Attraction? Honestly, if that were true, it would be one of the least insane twists on this show. Season two starts out a little rough for Hannah, who is dealing with Jonas now being missing for six months on top of losing her husband and Ulrich. Things are bleak — she contemplates suicide — until Adult Jonas/The Stranger comes waltzing through her door and teaches her (and Charlotte, Peter, and Katharina) all about time travel.

You’d think actually seeing that her husband is the son of the man she was having an affair with would floor her, but Hannah presses on. She steals Adult Jonas’s time machine and heads back to 1954 — where, thanks to Charlotte, she knows Ulrich is — to be reunited with the object of her obsession. Only when Egon Tiedemann brings her to Ulrich (she tells him she’s Katharina Nielsen and she thinks this man might be her missing husband), who is now being held in a psych ward, she doesn’t believe Ulrich when he tells her he loves her more than Katharina and so she leaves him there! You guys! We already knew Ulrich remained trapped in that psych ward for over 30 years, since we see him as an old man getting a visit from Old Egon Tiedemann who informs him Mikkel is there (that reunion does not go well!), but seeing that scene play out between Hannah and Ulrich is rough.

We’re supposed to be choosing sides between Adam and Claudia, but the real twist is that Hannah Kahnwald is the truest villain on this show! After ditching Ulrich, she is seen cozying up to Egon (whose wife Doris is having an affair with Agnes Nielsen), talking about staying in town and getting a fresh start. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS WOMAN. We haven’t seen an older Hannah pop up in the ’80s or later, so what exactly she gets up to in the 1950s and how long she stays there is a mystery for season three, but you can bet there will be some consequences.

What is Aleksander’s deal, and how is he tied into the larger Winden narrative?

Why would we spend such a large portion of season two on Aleksander Tiedemann’s past catching up to him if he doesn’t have some larger role within the Winden time-travel story? We first met him in season one, when he appeared with a gunshot wound in the Winden woods and buried his own passport — his real name is Boris Niewald — taking the passport and identity of Aleksander Köhler. He hooks up with Regina Tiedemann, hides those yellow barrels from the nuclear plant at the request of Claudia Tiedemann, and eventually takes her place as the director of the nuclear plant when she disappears.

In season two, Special Investigator Clausen rolls into Winden under the pretense that he’s investigating the disappearances in the town, but he later reveals that Aleksander Köhler was his brother who went missing in 1986, and a few months ago he received a letter signed by “a friend” telling him that he would find answers in Winden. Aleksander, you have some explaining to do! Why did he take on someone else’s identity? Isn’t it weird that his real last name, Niewald, looks like a combination of Nielsen and Kahnwald, two of the main families in this story? Also, Who! Sent! That! Letter!

7 Brain-Melting Questions Ahead of Dark’s Final Season