For a show that has been repeatedly compared to Stranger Things, the complex adult relationships present in Dark set the two worlds apart. In Stranger Things, the 80’s feels like a familiar dream, but in Netflix’s Dark, the time period feels more like a nightmare. There is nothing warm and fuzzy in Winden, only cold rooms with single light sources. Even when together the characters feel alone. Martha points this out when she talks to Magnus in his room. They are all family, but they don’t know each other and this is causing the mystery that is casting its shadow over the town of Winden to grow darker and darker. It seems that no adult was untouched by the events that occurred in November of 1986 and their children have been equally impacted by the events unfolding in the present day. In episode five, “Truths”, we find all our characters more isolated than ever before.
With the additional disappearance of Yasin, the police department is under even more scrutiny. Charlotte tries to get more answers out of her Elisabeth, her deaf daughter regarding the mysterious Noah, but all she is able to discern is that he wore a hat and was tall like her father. At the end of her rope, Charlotte confronts her husband Peter about his whereabouts the night Mikkel disappeared. Charlotte already knows that he wasn’t with his preferred sex worker that night, and she saw his car on the road during the time Mikkel went missing. Peter insists Charlotte has gone off the deep end, but his insistence on being secretive is throwing up a lot of red flags for Charlotte and the audience.
At the Walden hotel, The Stranger is continuing on his mission where the objective is only known to him. He leaves a package for Jonas at the front desk for Regina to deliver. Though he says he is leaving for a few days, he still wants to hold the room. it may be that he wants to spare the cleaning lady the trouble of cleaning up his doomsday papers off the wall. It’s obvious that Regina isn’t too happy about her new drifter tenant, but with the bank closing in on the hotel she isn’t in any position to turn down a paying customer. Is he from the future? Is he working with Noah?
Hannah makes an unexpected appearance at the Nielson house with a casserole in hand. It has been pretty ambiguous whether or not his wife, Katharina, suspected Hannah to be Ulrich’s mistress, but it feels as if we are getting closer and closer to her realization of their affair. Stressed from the disappearance of his son and sensing the suspicion from his wife, Ulrich cold-heartedly breaks off his affair with Hannah on the car ride home. This was too little too late. Katharina sees Ulrich’s phone bill and sees how many times he has called Hannah. Putting two and two together she realizes that Ulrich has been lying to her all along. Already carrying the grief of losing her son, this realization that her entire marriage has been a lie only adds insult to injury for Katharina.
Back in 1986, Mikkel returns to the hospital after he is unable to travel back to the present. And it’s here that Mikkel meets Hannah and immediately the dots connect. Mikkel never leaves 1986, but stays and becomes Micheal, Jonas’s father. The reason that he couldn’t tell anyone why he killed himself sooner is that that may have had a dire effect on the time loop. So the events that have befallen can’t be blamed on one single person. These events were pre-destined and needed to happen regardless of how things unfolded in the past.
At the start of episode 6, the search for the three missing children has reached a fever pitch. They are looking everywhere except right in front of them. Mikkel was in the 1987 class photo. How does Hannah not realize that Ulrich’s son looks just l like the boy she met outside of the hospital that fateful day in 1986? Unlike the residents of Winden, the audience knows that Mikkel will never return.
Ulrich questions his father about why he wasn’t there the night Mads disappeared, but his mother is the one who ultimately explains his absence. She once wanted to leave Ulrich’s father because he was a repeat adulterer. She covered for him because his dad was sleeping with another woman, Claudia. The then CEO of the power plant and grandmother of Bartosz. It still does not remove the cloud of suspicion from over his head. From what we know he still could have been involved with the disappearance of Mads since we know Claudia was in on the conspiracy as well.
Ulrich goes to Regina’s hotel to confront her about her involvement with Mads disappearance 33 years ago. Instead, Regina turned the tables on Ulrich and blames him for Mads disappearance. If Katharina and Ulrich hadn’t played a cruel prank on Regina, then maybe Mads wouldn’t have felt obligated to walk her home through the forest. The same forest where Mads ultimately goes missing. It seems that Hannah’s cruel act in response to her jealousy of Ulrich and Katharina’s blossoming relationship. When Ulrich confronts Hannah about her behavior the hypocrisy is palpable. Ulrich has done just as much damage to his marriage as Hannah has all these years. The blame cannot entirely be shifted to her, no matter how much he wants it to be.
Back at the present day school, the entire school of Winden is watching the most depressing school play ever performed. Martha insisted that the production continue to distract the residents, but the dark theme of the play is only mirroring the grief around them. As Martha recites her dialogue about death and depression she crumbles on stage. Her mother, Katharina, rushes her off and they are taunted by an exasperated Regina in the hallway. Katharina, who is already escorting her sobbing daughter has found that she’s at the end of the rope takes her frustration out on Regina by attacking her. It’s unfortunate for Regina’s character that even though she is the one attacked, the audience still finds itself siding with Katharina, just like when they bullied her back in 1986.
We begin Episode 7, Crossroads with Ulrich realizing that the corpse they found in the woods is Mads, his long-lost brother. This seems impossible since the body was only 10 hours dead, but Mads went missing 33 years ago. So either the body was preserved perfectly, which was deemed impossible by the autopsy doctor, or, there is another layer to his death that Ulrich hasn’t quite figured out yet. However, after digging through officer Egon’s police reports, he realizes that Hegle and the forest road may have something to do with it and of course he’s right.
At the start of the episode, a boy awakens in the same room we saw Erik in, covered in blood. He appears to be amazed by the wallpaper and the structure of the bed, it appears the boy was transported from the past. Just then Helge awakes saying he remembers everything. He was the boy from the past and since arrival had worked as a janitor at the hospital ever since. He was never questioned in regards to Mads’ disappearance. Ulrich visits Helge and him sents his heart rate spiraling, but through his heart palpitations, Helge insists that he can change the past and future. Ulrich’s mother saw young Hegle Doppler a week before Mads disappeared in 1986 and again in 2019. Helge’s accident was on November 12th, 1986 so it was clear the power plant was trying to cover its tracks.
Charlotte and her team get a search warrant for the power plant, but it’s obvious that it’s a ruse. The plant has now had enough time to hide any evidence of wrongdoing. Charlotte careens down into the pit where they were storing toxic waste, but the evidence has been moved. However, with her investigating from the outside and Ulrich looking more into Helge’s past, they’re bound to unwrap the tangled mystery of why the priest and the power plant have been traveling through time and why they need young boys to do it.
Cut to the forest. Jonas explores the cave and follows a rope to the trap door. He pushes through causing another power surge. When he is met with a fork in the tunnel he chooses the door on the right side which proves to lead to 1986. He is offered a ride from young Hannah, but avoiding some sort of insane space-time paradox he opts to walk instead.
Jonas takes a ride with the sheriff and sees Mikkel talking to Hannah at the hospital. Just as he is about to intervene The Stranger stops him. If he took Mikkel back to the present it would have disastrous consequences on the present, mainly erasing his own existence. Which as The Stranger hints, may be more important that Jonas just graduating highschool. Jonas goes back to the present with the somber realization that he can’t do anything to help Mikkel in the past or his father closer to the present. It also means that Ulrich is his grandfather and Martha is the Dany to his Jon Snow (for any non GOT fans his aunt). So Jonas now is out of a father and a girlfriend.
The time web then thickens at the close of the episode when we see Helge dragging a dead boy’s body away from the cellar door with the same eye injury at Mads. His clothes are different so we know it can’t be the same person, but another unfortunate casualty. Inside the cellar, a tattooed, shirtless priest is mopping up blood and writes 1953 on the wall. Could this be past Noah? The same priest who met Bartosz in the present and Mikkel in 1986? As Katharina told the local news station to say that she thinks this isn’t a simple case of missing children, but there is a murderer in the midst. After all according to her, “Winden is a festering wound and all of us are a part of it”. Only time will tell the roles they have to play.
Season 1, Episodes 5-7 (S01E05-07)
Dark streams on Netflix.
Armani Barron | Contributor