Season 3 of Dark ended the story of Jonas and Martha powerfully, but several dark spots remain. The debate is open and heated and although there are no official explanations, some seem particularly convincing.
The apocalypse has happened. The knot has been untied. And Dark has come to an end. But even if Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese have made a complete conclusion to the series, many things remain obscure (moreover …). The debate has started and the feeling is that it will go on for a long time. Because the explanations multiply and chase each other and all are potentially valid. At least until the creators of the world of Winden (indeed, of the worlds) give their version. But will they do it?
While waiting to find out (if it ever happens), here you will find some reflections on the meaning and the ending of the last season. With the due warning that these are interpretations and theories and that there is nothing official or definitive.
- Dark’s metaphysical engine
- The origin of the node and the infinite cycle
- How the knot and consequences are untied
- Dark’s ending
- The paradox of the paradox
Dark’s metaphysical engine
In the third and final season of Dark the event (the moment) is revealed which materially gives rise to the infinite cycle experienced by Jonas, Martha and all the others. But beyond the physical chain of cause and effect, the series has a metaphysical engine. To knot the threads in the inextricable tangle of the story of Winden and its inhabitants is the (eternal) dualism between love and death. All the characters of Dark act in his name and the actions of those who can be considered the three main protagonists are (in fact) what tighten the knot and untie it.
Jonas starts traveling through time to save Mikkel / Michael and then Martha. His experiences led him to become Adam and to choose to destroy his world and the other to preserve the people he loves from pain (albeit in a distorted way). The alternative Martha and her older self, Eva, act to save their own son (The Unknown), who was conceived with Jonas and is the link between the two realities (and as such, can only exist if they exist) . Claudia moves between different eras and worlds to make Regina not only survive, but really live. Their motivation is the same, but the consequences at a certain point diverge.
Jonas / Adam and Alternative Martha / Eva tighten and preserve the knot. The former acts to stop the cycle, but does nothing but perpetuate it. While the second works incessantly to make sure that everything continues to happen as it always has. Instead, Claudia dissolves it. The woman’s love for her daughter and the will to prevent her from dying lead her to understand that there is a third reality, to break the pattern and to stop the cycle. And ultimately, to destroy the worlds of Jonas and alternative Martha and the self itself that exists in them.
The origin of the node and the infinite cycle
Adam believes that the origin of the node is the son who generated with the alternative Martha, as The Unknown is (in fact) the bridge between the two worlds and the one from whom the intricate Winden family tree takes shape in a reality and in the other. For this reason, Jonas’s old self moves the pawns on the chessboard so that everything repeats itself always and leads to the moment in which it kills with the Particle of God Martha alternative and the baby she carries (in the erroneous belief that she poses end of cycle).
For her part, Eve is not so much focused on the question of the origin itself, but on the desire to save her son and make her live at all costs. And for that to be the case, the alternative Martha’s old self also makes everything happen as it always has. The result is that – in one mo (n) do and in the other – the cycle repeats itself indefinitely and there is no possibility of exiting the loop (at least, if we consider those of Jonas / Adam and Martha alternative / as only realities) Eve).
But as Claudia explains to Adam, the origin of the node and the infinite cycle is not the son of Jonas and Martha alternative. But an event that happened in another world, which is, so to speak, “original”. To start everything was H.G. Tannhaus. Following the tragic death of her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in a car accident on the outskirts of Winden in 1971, the watchmaker begins work on a time machine project (perhaps) to “resurrect before they die” people he loves. After finally having finished assembling the device, Tannhaus turns it on on June 21, 1986 (the moment when the passage in the Winden caves opens for the first time) and creates the realities of Jonas / Adam and Martha alternative / Eva.
To all intents and purposes, starting the machine is the origin of the node and the infinite cycle. And to dissolve the one and put an end to the other, the chain of cause and effect that led to the switching on of the device must not occur. That is, the son of Tannhaus and his family must not die in the accident and the watchmaker must not design and build the machine.
Dark’s ending shows that this theory is correct. But it remains a shaded area. That is, what happens in the world of Tannhaus when man turns on the device? If the watchmaker goes back in time and saves his son, his present self should exist in a different way. In other words, he shouldn’t build the car and consequently he shouldn’t create the worlds of Jonas / Adam and alternative Martha / Eva. On the other hand, the device may not work for the purpose of Tannhaus, but still give rise to the other two realities without the knowledge of the watchmaker.
However, who can say that Tannhaus’ is really a time machine? What if the watchmaker had consciously created a device to multiply the worlds? In this case, as in Schrödinger’s cat paradox (of which Tannhaus speaks extensively), the watchmaker’s son and his family would have died in “original” reality, but live in at least one other. And such awareness would be consoling for the mathematical mind of Tannhaus.
How the knot and the consequences are untied
The mechanism that leads to untying the knot and ending the infinite cycle of events is triggered by Claudia. In the near future after the apocalypse, the former nuclear power plant manager decides to fight Adam alongside Eva because Martha’s older self has promised her that she will save her daughter and all the towns of Winden. Claudia begins her mission to preserve the knot, however this does not prevent Regina from continuing to die (in one world and another). But at a certain point, the woman remembers some words that her elder said: “If all goes well, Regina will live”.
At that moment, Claudia not only understands that Eva has (always) lied to her, but that there must be a third way beyond that followed by the woman and Adam ad infinitum. The former head of the plant kills itself of the alternative reality, takes its place and begins to move between eras and worlds in search of the key to the skein. And in the end he finds it.
Claudia discovers that the origin of the node and the infinite cycle is the death of the son of H.G. Tannhaus and his family. And he understands that it is necessary to prevent this from happening in order to prevent the watchmaker from building the device that causes the worlds of Jonas / Adam and alternative Martha / Eva to appear. But how?
The key is in an (infinitesimal) suspension of time that occurs when the apocalypse occurs, during which the chain of cause and effect is interrupted. Claudia discovers its existence from Eva, who uses the loophole in Adam’s world to send herself younger (alternative Martha) “in both directions to safeguard the cycle”. And she herself uses the breach to make an intermediate version of herself make two different journeys: one leads her to be killed by Noah and the other brings her to Adam in 2053.
The meeting with the founder of Sic Mundus, which has never happened before, breaks the pattern and starts the new course of events that leads Jonas and Martha as an alternative to preventing the death of the son of Tannhaus and his family. And since the watchmaker does not lose the people he loves, he does not build the machine that creates the worlds of Adam and Eva. In a final temporal paradox, Jonas, alternative Martha, all their incarnations and the inhabitants of Winden who were generated by the node and perpetuated it in their progeny (in both realities) vanish because they never existed.
Dark’s ending rewinds time to the event that starts everything and prevents it from happening. As a result, the worlds of Jonas / Adam and alternative Martha / Eva are not created and with them the two Winden and their respective inhabitants. In this sense, they never cease to exist, but they never existed. As Claudia explains, the only reality is the original one. And in it live those who are not part of the knot in the two alternatives. This is because the node (The Unknown) was generated by two anomalies, namely Jonas and Martha alternative.
The dinner scene demonstrates this theory. At the table sit Peter Doppler, the brothers Benni and Torben Wöller, Hannah Krüger, Katharina Albers and Regina Tiedemann. The family tree that appears in the third season (below) reveals that none of them descend from The Unknown (represented by the symbol of infinity) and ultimately from Adam and Eve.
In particular, Regina is present because she is not the daughter of Tronte (born from Lo Sconknown and Agnes) and the Tiedemann are out of the knot. But who is his father? A clue gives him a photo that in the original reality replaces those of the (torn) family of the Nielsen and the Kahnwald and the confirmation comes from the official family tree on the Dark website. Regina is the daughter of Bernd Doppler (whose family, again, has no connection with Adam and Eva) and apparently the man and Claudia are (were) a happy couple.
By the same logic, Ulrich is not there because he is the son of Tronte and Mikkel / Michael because he is the son of Ulrich. The appeal is also missing Charlotte, who is not only the daughter of her daughter Elizabeth, but has for father Noah / Hanno Tauber, whose mother is Silja, or the stepsister of Jonas / Adam. Cascading, in the original world not all of their direct and indirect descendants exist.
Instead, the absence of Aleksander Tiedemann / Boris Niewald remains mysterious. Claudia’s successor at the head of the plant is not Winden’s and is not part of the knot and therefore it is reasonable to think that it exists in the original reality. On the other hand, her younger self knows Regina and falls in love with her because at least in an alternative world she defends her from Ulrich (and Katharina). And since Ulrich does not exist in the original reality, the meeting between Regina and Aleksander did not take place. At least, that way.
In a sense, the worlds of Jonas / Adam and alternative Martha / Eva can be considered a distorted mirror of the original one. In the latter, the knot and all that belongs to it does not exist. But Dark’s ending suggests that alternative realities in it may reverberate like an echo … or a déjà-vu. Hannah’s reaction to seeing a yellow jacket and her dream (which is also a metaphor for the essence of the series) are an example:
I know it may seem absurd to you, but last night I dreamed of what happened here. The light has blown. There was a loud thunder and darkness fell suddenly. And I knew the world was over. It was dark and the light would not return. I had this strange feeling. As if it were a good thing that it was all over. As if suddenly I was free. Neither will nor duties. A boundless darkness. No yesterday. None today. No tomorrow. Nothing.
Just as are the words she says when asked if she already knows how to call the child she is expecting from Torben:
I think Jonas is a nice name.
The paradox of the paradox
The Dark ending has an indisputable logic and completeness. And it is undoubtedly powerful, touching and moving. But does it all really end with the destruction of the two alternative worlds and the disappearance of Jonas, Martha and the other characters that are part of the knot? A Reddit user, pavish73, suggests that there may be another reading.
According to the Redditor, it is possible to think of the time of the original reality as a straight line with a triquetra that develops in coincidence with the accident of the son of H.G. Tannhaus and his family (in the drawing below). The diagram has two convergence points, one in the center and the other at the base of the three-pointed knot. The first (node 1) is created when Alternative Martha saves / does not save Jonas. The second (node 2) when Magnus and Franziska take alternative Martha / Jonas takes alternative Martha.
These two points lead to a division of the timeline within the loop. From node 1 a timeline is generated in which Jonas saves himself from the apocalypse and becomes Adam and another in which he is saved by alternative Martha and with her gives life to The Unknown. From node 2 a timeline is generated in which the two alternative worlds are created and the original world is destroyed and another in which the two alternative worlds are not created and the original world continues to exist.
As the Reddit pavish73 user explains, node 1 and node 2 lead to the existence of two different components. One has the form of a circular paradox in which events proceed in the original world, the accident occurs, Tannhaus creates alternative worlds, Jonas and Martha alternative prevent the accident, Jonas and Martha do not exist and the accident occurs. The other is linear and in it events proceed in the original world, Jonas and alternative Martha prevent the accident and events continue to proceed in the original world.
These two components not only exist and occur at the same time, but both originate from node 2 which is also where the alternative worlds that continue to exist in loops take shape and the original world that proceeds along a straight line.
So whenever Jonas and alternative Martha destroy the alternative worlds and allow the original one to continue to exist, they also end up creating the alternative worlds and destroying the original one. Consequently, the original world exists and does not exist at the same time. And as the alternate worlds keep repeating their loops, the original one is saved over and over again. In an eternal, insoluble paradox of the paradox.