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Dark: Unravelling the Threads of Season Two

Our recap continues of Netflix’s Dark, a superb German sci-fi drama about time travel. Each season grows increasingly complex and intriguing as the mysteries of the show’s timeline unfold. Set in the German town Winden, Dark revolves around four families, their histories, and the unfolding intergenerational time loop which leads to the apocalypse. Characters run into their younger or older selves, cause events in the past that influence their futures, and are prone to manipulating the timeline. So many stable time loops and paradoxes occur, they would make Doc Brown’s head implode.

In this article, we’ll cover the second season of Dark. As per usual, there are full on spoilers ahead.

In the first season, Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) copes with the suicide of his father Michael (Sebastian Rudolph). Several children disappear in Winden, including Mikkel Nielsen (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) whilst exploring the town’s creepy caves. Jonas discovers the existence of time travel, Mikkel wound up in the 1980s, and grew up to be his father Michael. Jonas attempts to bring Mikkel back to 2019, but is warned by the mysterious Stranger (Andreas Pietschmann) doing so will alter history. The Stranger turns out to be an older Jonas, who is trying to alter the timeline himself to prevent an upcoming apocalypse.

We learn a wormhole exists behind a door in the caves, able to send people through time between 1953, 1986, and 2019, across 33 years. This is possible using the God Particle, a substance made of radioactive waste from Winden’s power plant.

The children are being kidnapped by sinister priest Noah (Mark Waschke) and Helge Doppler (Peter Schneider). They are taken back to Helge’s bunker in the 1980s, killed in tests on an electric chair-shaped time machine, and their bodies dumped across time. Ulrich (Oliver Masucci), Mikkel’s father, follows an elderly Helge (Hermann Beyer) into the caves. He winds up in the 1950s, where he attempts to kill a young Helge (Tom Philipp) to alter history. Helge survived, making him easy for Noah to manipulate. Ulrich is arrested for child murder and institutionalised. Jonas goes back in time again to save Mikkel, only to be trapped in the bunker by Noah. The Stranger leaves him there, going into the caves to close the wormhole using his suitcase time machine. This causes a rift to open in time, throwing Jonas into the apocalyptic future, and a young Helge into the 1980s.

The God Particle

At the start of the second season, Jonas is stuck in 2053, where the apocalypse has destroyed Winden. He discovers the bunker, finding tapes left by Claudia Tiedemann (Julika Jenkins), a fellow time traveller. He is directed to the ruined power plant. A group of survivors are led by a merciless, adult Elisabeth Doppler (Sandra Borgmann), who executes those who try to go into the ruins. Jonas sneaks in himself, discovering the God Particle, a shifting orb of black matter. When stabilised, it can solidify into a time portal.

Jonas is caught by Elisabeth, who hangs him, but changes her mind at the last second, leaving him with a nasty neck scar. Jonas is jailed, only to be freed by Elisabeth’s scarred interpreter Silja (Lea van Acken). They go into the power plant, where Jonas stabilises the God Particle, stepping through it. Silja confronts Elisabeth, who explains salvation will come with the guidance of Adam, leader of Sic Mundus.

Sic Mundus

Jonas is transported to 1921, where he meets Noah and his younger self (Max Schimmelpfennig). They take him to a hidden room beneath Winden’s church, introducing him to Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbaumer), Sic Mundus’ leader, and Jonas’ elderly self. Adam was horribly burnt by time travel experiments, becoming much more ruthless than Jonas.

Sic Mundus is a secret society of time travellers, hoping to change events in time. Adam reveals they are caught in a neverending time loop, thanks to an event or person called the Origin, which he wishes to destroy. We learn Sic Mundus’ members include the adult Bartosz Tiedemann (Roman Knižka), Magnus Nielsen (Wolfram Koch), Franziska Doppler (Carina Wiese), both versions of Noah, and his sister Agnes Nielsen (Antje Traue). Agnes and her son Tronte (Joshio Mario) moved to Winden in 1953, where Agnes is looking to rejoin Sic Mundus.

Adam tells Jonas that he must prevent Michael’s suicide. However, when Jonas returns to 2019, he inadvertently cements his father’s need to kill himself. Old Claudia (Lisa Kreuzer) appears, revealing Adam tricked Jonas into ensuring Michael’s suicide. They then leave together so Old Claudia can teach Jonas how to master time travel. She also makes the comment that a world without Jonas isn’t necessarily a better one.

Claudia’s Journey Through Time

A middle-aged Claudia becomes aware of time travel in 1987, when she reunites with her childhood dog Gretchen, who vanished in 1953. Claudia digs up a portable time machine buried in her backyard 33 years earlier by her older self. She uses this to travel to 2020, discovering her daughter Regina (Deborah Kaufmann) has cancer, and that her own father Egon Tiedemann (Christian Pätzold) is found dead in 1987. She returns to the past, intending to prevent her father’s death.

In the 1950s, a young Egon (Sebastian Hülk) continues to investigate the child murders, having arrested Ulrich as the culprit. He is unaware that his wife Doris (Luise Heyer) is having an affair with Agnes. Agnes is actually working for Old Claudia, acting as a spy to infiltrate Sic Mundus, though nothing really comes of this plot. Old Claudia gives Agnes a newspaper clipping, which is then passed to Noah, detailing Claudia’s death. Agnes uses this as a bargaining chip to get into Sic Mundus. Noah has been looking for Old Claudia, instructed by Adam to kill her. Claudia has the missing pages of Noah’s notebook about the timeline, which apparently are vital to Adam’s plans.

Old Claudia visits Egon in 1954, apologising to him for something yet to happen. Egon is haunted by Old Claudia’s presence, later referring to her as the White Devil. A young Helge returns to 1954 thanks to Noah, using a better time machine. Egon further connects the White Devil to Helge and the child murders. Noah confronts Old Claudia, who claims he is only a pawn in Adam’s game. She is then shot dead by Noah, who obtains the missing pages. He discovers they relate to his missing daughter: Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn), Elisabeth’s mother. Upon returning to Adam, Noah claims Old Claudia didn’t have the pages.

Everyone Finds Out About Time Travel

In present day Winden, the entire cast begins to learn that time travel is real. Jonas, Mikkel, Ulrich, Old Helge, and the other children have been missing for months. A criminal investigator, Inspector Clausen (Sylvester Groth) arrives to pick up the case. He takes particular interest in Aleksander Tiedemann (Peter Benedict), the power plant’s director. Clausen’s brother Aleksandr Köhler disappeared in 1986. However, for once it isn’t related to time travel! Turns out Aleksander Tiedemann accidentally killed Clausen’s brother in a robbery, fled to Winden, and stole his identity, actually named Boris Niewald. Unable to get proof, Clausen instead focuses on uncovering the secrets of the power plant. Aleksander buried the radioactive waste under concrete with help from policeman Wöller (Leopold Hornung).

Meanwhile, the Stranger, the middle-aged Jonas, returns home, introducing his mother Hannah (Maja Schöne) to the concept of time travel. Charlotte and her husband Peter (Stephan Kampwirth) learnt the truth last season, whilst Katharina Nielsen (Jördis Triebel) joins the growing conspiracy. Upon learning Mikkel is in the 1980s, she borrows Jonas’ cave map to find the time travel door. The Stranger, upon learning of Hannah’s affair with Ulrich, disowns her. Hannah retaliates by stealing his time machine, going back to 1954 to free Ulrich from prison. But, when she realises he has never loved her, she abandons him. Hannah then strikes up a romance with the young Egon.

Last season, Noah handed his own portable time machine to the teenage Bartosz. Bartosz is caught by his friends Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari), Magnus (Moritz Jahn), Franziska (Gina Alice Stiebitz), and Elisabeth (Carlotta Von Falkenhayn). He briefly takes them through time to 1987. Magnus then confiscates the time machine from Bartosz.

Failed Rescues

In 1987, Egon, now retiring from the police force, discovers he has cancer. Claudia, knowing he will die, asks Egon to move in with her and Regina. Egon reopens the cases of Mikkel and the missing children, equally puzzled that Mikkel claimed his father was Ulrich Nielsen. He visits a now elderly Ulrich (Winfried Glatzeder) in the mental hospital, beginning to realise that time travel is real, especially when Ulrich quoted lyrics in 1953 from a punk rock album that came out in 1986. He then realises that the two Ulrichs are the same person.

During one visit, Egon asks Ulrich about Mikkel, showing him a photograph. Ulrich realises his son is nearby, breaks out of the hospital, reuniting with Mikkel. They make a break for the caves to return home, but are thwarted by Egon and the police. Mikkel is drugged by his adoptive mother Ines Kahnwald (Angela Winkler) to pacify his habit of wandering off. Ulrich is carted back to the nuthouse, seeing Martha, Magnus and co. appear on the roadside as he is driven by.

Claudia, who is becoming increasingly fixated on time travel, tries to prevent Egon’s death. Now convinced that time travel exists and is related to the Winden caves, Egon plans to arrange a search. Claudia stops him, Egon realising she knows the truth. A struggle leads to Egon falling over and injuring his head. Claudia lets her own father die to preserve the timeline, Egon realising she was the White Devil. Claudia goes home, visited by Jonas, who becomes her time travel guru as her older self was to him.

Noah Meets His Maker

Noah, having acquired the missing pages of the timeline notebook, learns what has become of his daughter Charlotte, who he was told was stolen by Claudia. Earlier in the season, Elisabeth found a photograph of Sic Mundus, including Noah, in the shop of her great-grandfather H.G. Tannhaus (Christian Steyer). When Charlotte searches the shop, she is confronted by Noah, revealing he is her father.

In the future, the older Elisabeth prepares to activate the God Particle. Beforehand, she digs up an box containing her belongings. This includes a photograph, revealing she is Charlotte’s mother, and Noah is her husband. So, Charlotte and Elisabeth are each other’s mothers! This family tree!

Noah sends his younger self to 2019 to meet Elisabeth. He then angrily confronts Adam about his lies, using him to manipulate Helge and murder children. Noah attempts to shoot Adam, only for his gun to jam. Agnes walks in, and on Adam’s orders, shoots her own brother dead, the priest’s role fulfilled.

The Apocalypse

The apocalypse is to occur on June 27th 2020 in Winden. The event is triggered simultaneously by the activation of time machines across history, Katharina opening the cave door, and the discovery of the radioactive waste beneath the power plant by Clausen. Jonas and Claudia appear in the present day to rescue their loved ones by hiding them in the bunker.

The Stranger reunites with Martha, his long-term crush, and technically his aunt. Although Katharina reveals their blood relation through Mikkel, the Stranger holds Martha at gunpoint, taking her to the bunker to prevent her death in the apocalypse. Peter and Elisabeth go to the bunker to hide, Martha escaping to find Jonas. Claudia reunites with Regina, who she unintentionally abandoned, taking her to the bunker as well.

Young Noah meets the Stranger, instructing him to save Bartosz, Magnus, and Franziska. Young Noah then joins Elisabeth in the bunker. The Stranger locates his friends in the Nielsen household, activating their portable time machine. Charlotte races to stop Clausen from opening the waste barrels, but it is too late. The activation of the God Particle causes a time rift to open, Charlotte and the adult Elisabeth encountering each other and touch hands. A black dome covers the power plant and the apocalypse begins.

Jonas and Martha finally reunite, throwing caution to the wind, declaring they are a perfect pair. Too bad Adam shows up, needing Jonas to evolve into him, and fatally shoots Martha! However, moments later, a final twist is thrown at Jonas. A second Martha shows up, dressed in black, sporting bangs, and wields a flashy time travel orb. New Martha then reveals she is not from the future, but from another world altogether, and she transports herself and Jonas to safety just as the apocalypse destroys Winden.

What are your thoughts on the second season of Dark? Which twist was the most mind-blowing? Leave a comment below, or on our Twitter feed!

About the author

Mark Russell