Bittersweet finality. The mind-bending Netflix sci-fi series, Dark, gives the ultimate toast to the delicacies of time-travel and human emotion in its third and final season. The German-based thriller continues to masterfully juggle its interwoven time loops, concurrent narratives, and paradoxical storylines in this epic conclusion.
The precision with which this show has been artfully told and directed continues to blow my mind. Each new successive piece of information that is revealed throughout the series feels as if it was carefully placed to coincide with a clock ticking down time. As if there weren’t enough to wrap our heads around, this season added another dimension – or shall I say, alternate reality – to the equation. One that paints an eerily similar, yet different portrait of Winden. One in which Jonas (Louis Hofmann) never exists.
At the close of season 2, Jonas witnesses Adam killing Martha (Lisa Vicari). As he grieves over her lifeless body, another Martha appears – leaving viewers speechless. As the show so famously says, “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”
When we move into season three, the new Martha takes Jonas back to her world. While the characters are the same, Mikkel never time-travels in this version of Winden, meaning Jonas was never born. What starts as an inexplicable bond between Jonas and Martha, slowly unravels into an intricate web of manipulation and lies – all driven by their future selves, Adam and Eva. Both Adam and Eva play a game of deception, each with their own agendas.
As the “creators” of their two worlds, Jonas and Martha’s future transformation into Adam and Eva is symbolic of their biblical counterparts. While their love runs deep, they are ultimately divided by conflicting objectives. For Adam, he wants to destroy the endless time loop and “knot” between the two worlds. Eva wants to preserve the knot that binds their two realities. I was shocked to discover Eva was responsible for recruiting the man with the cleft-lip, which we see murdering characters tangential to the central plot as his adolescent, adult, and older self (all existing simultaneously). Presumably, these stages of life are separated by 33-year increments – a number that becomes a defining force for the series’ time-traveling rules.
Once you think you’ve finally begun to untangle who the puppet masters are and why they’re pulling the strings, along comes Claudia. As we come to learn, “The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end.” Famous last words. Within this labyrinthine timeline, Adam seeks to discover the “origin” point – i.e. the catalyst that birthed these two worlds into existence. Adam believes the cycle’s origin is his and Martha’s son (a child born out of time, from two worlds that didn’t originally exist). That made sense. I could get behind that. But, nope. Wrong again. Claudia is the one to discover the event that preceded the creation of Jonas and Martha’s worlds.
The culprit? The third world. Duh. So glaringly obvious. Kidding – this had me like “WTF.” Though, to be honest, this reveal wound up being a lot more digestible than some of the events that occurred in previous seasons. It all started with the “origin world.” H.G. Tannhaus – the clockmaker, grandfather of Charlotte Doppler, and author of A Journey Through Time – decided to pursue the invention of time travel after losing his son, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law in a tragic car accident. His all-consuming grief pushed him into experimental-mode, with the hopes of preventing their deaths altogether.
Tannhaus’ meddling with time, and one experiment gone horribly wrong, provokes the creation of Jonas and Martha’s worlds. After Claudia divulges the truth to Adam, it leads to Jonas and Martha using quantum entanglement to travel to this origin world to stop the car accident from occurring. With his family safe, Tannhaus never invents time travel. The theoretical science behind this season’s complexities begs to ask a bigger question related to cause and effect: To what extent are we capable of influencing time or changing the course of events?
In the origin world, the Nielsen family tree never exists, meaning Martha, Jonas, and all those connected to them never come to be. The dissolution of the two worlds is emotional. After all, Jonas and Martha knowingly make the choice to erase both their worlds. However, it’s a satisfying end to a show that explores moral quandary and the battle between fate and free will.
Oh, and can we all agree the third season was riddled with amazing quotes?
What did you think of Dark Season 3?