Netflix’s Dark is, at its most basic level, about an average-sized German town with a nuclear power plant and complicated interpersonal relationships. Except it’s actually about time travel, and secret societies, and murder, and paradoxes that will make the head spin.
Dark’s second season more than delivers on the series’ characteristic and circuitous time-travel action. Picking up “after” (a relative term, considering the timeline) the last episode of the first season, season 2 attempts to get to the core of some of the lingering questions of the series as Jonas, Claudia, and the rest of the cast attempt to unravel the temporal knot that has the town of Winden in its clutches.
However, the season ends up raising more questions than it manages to answer. With the series’ third season just having begun shooting, here are the burning questions we want to see resolved in Dark season three.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for the second season of Dark.]
Who is/was Inspector Clausen, and does his brother even matter?
Inspector Clausen arrives as basically the only new character in Dark season 2. In some ways Clausen is very much a Dark character — he has a secret about a kid that disappeared! — in other ways he’s not. He has no concern of how his actions will affect the people around him or the wider timeline. He also has no fear that his actions will trigger the apocalypse (which they do) and also does not have a time-traveling parent.
Outside of his role in causing the apocalypse, Clausen’s main purpose was to throw into doubt Aleksander’s cover story for his time-travel murder back in season 1. It could be that that’s all he was there for, but it’s also possible that Clausen’s real brother, Aleksander, the one that Boris/new-Aleksander presumably murdered in the past, could have a larger part to play in the story of season 3. If that isn’t the case, then we can say goodbye forever to Clausen, who basically just walked into Winden — and Dark — exactly long enough to cause the apocalypse.
How did Charlotte, Elisabeth, and Noah’s family tree play out?
Charlotte and Elisabeth’s relationship as mutual mothers and daughters is perhaps the most mind-boggling bootstrap paradox of the entire series. A bootstrap paradox, as referred to in Dark, signifies when an object that has passed through an infinite time loop loses any discernible origin and rather just “exists” without a particular cause.
Noah reveals that not only is he Charlotte’s father, but that Elisabeth, Charlotte’s daughter, is also her mother. The details of this are still somewhat muddy: presumably, Noah and Elisabeth develop a relationship after young Noah arrives in the bunker in 2020 where Elisabeth and her father are taking shelter with Regina and Claudia Tiedemann. Later down the line, Elisabeth and Noah have a child — Charlotte — and Noah presumably travels back and delivers a child Charlotte to be raised by H.G. Tannhaus, Winden’s clockmaker and the author of “A Journey Through Time.”
Their relationship is possibly the most difficult to wrap your head around, and raises questions as to the events which follow the Winden apocalypse of 2020. Hopefully, the third season will clear up how Noah and Elisabeth’s relationship came about, and more particularly, how Elisabeth became the leader of the Winden group in the future.
Who is new Martha and where did she come from?
It’s pretty safe to say that Alternate World Martha comes from … an alternate world. She tells Jonas that the question isn’t what time she’s from but, “from what world.” This opens up all kinds of questions about Dark’s universe. Most importantly, is this the first time someone from another world has intersected with the cycle, or is Alternate World Martha’s arrival always part of the plan? Based on how surprised Jonas was, we can at least say that Claudia didn’t warn him that New Martha was coming, but it’s possible that she could be an entirely new addition to the cycle that’s never happened before.
Another question is what exactly these alternate worlds mean for the world of the show. Do those worlds also have the cycle, do they have other cycles, are they cycleless? We know for sure that the people are the same, or at least similar. Martha’s still Martha. We know that Martha has a different haircut and based on her styling situation compared to the apocalypse we’ve seen, her world is in slightly better shape. We also know that her world is more technologically advanced. For one thing she’s got a much smaller, spherical transportation device. For another, she traveled between worlds, which I don’t even think our characters knew was an option.
The show is well aware of the fact that this encounter left us with way more questions than answers, so it’s pretty safe to say that all these alternate world questions will be the focus of Dark’s final season.
Which Jonas led Mikkel through the cave to 1986?
This is a question that seems like it should have a pretty simple answer … but this is Dark, and several characters have only recently learned that they were fathered by the younger siblings of friends through the magic of time travel, so the door is still open for a more complicated explanation. It seems most likely that Jonas Prime (the Jonas we’ve followed for most of the show, and kissed Martha by the lake) is the Jonas that leads Mikkel to the cave.
But was it possible that there was another Jonas? It couldn’t be Adult Jonas, because we know for a fact that the person who led Mikkel to the cave looked like a Teen Jonas. It could have been Final Cycle Jonas (the one we see near the end of the season, who hooks up with Martha at her parent’s anniversary party), but he seems clueless and more like the one running away from the cave than toward it.
This leaves us with two other possibilities. There could be another Teen Jonas running around as a rogue agent attempting to fix timeline mistakes as they happen and ensure the start of the final cycle. This explanation seems plausible but overly complicated, even for Dark. The other explanation is that it could be an Alternate World Jonas. The problem with this theory is that as we know from Alternate World Martha, the one difference between the primary world and an alternate is that Alternate World characters have a different haircut, and Jonas appears to have the same hair. So, our best working theory is still that Jonas Prime led Mikkel to the cave. Season 3 may have other ideas.
What exactly is Old Claudia’s plan?
This might be Dark’s biggest mystery — not including Alternate World Martha, of course. We already know more or less what Adam’s plan is: he wants to destroy the world, putting an end to the cycles and remaking it into something better. But we don’t know much at all about Claudia. We know that various Jonasses have suggested that she’s lying and we know that Adam says she’s an agent of the shadows. According to Claudia herself she’s on the side of the light, and wants to stop the cycles in order to let the world continue.
But the “how” part of her plan remains a pretty huge question. While Adam seems to have surrounded himself with at least a few allies, Claudia seems more determined to work alone and make sure that she’s the only one who knows her full plan. The fact that her only real ally is the person who later turns into Adam is itself a lingering question about her. While we can’t piece much together about what exactly Old Claudia’s plan is at this point, that’s sure to be a big focus for season 3.
What is Hannah doing after staying in 1954?
In episode 7, Hannah uses Adult Jonas’ time travel device to travel back and find Ulrich. After telling a young Egon Tiedemann that she thinks the man arrested for the child murders may be her husband, she speaks to Ulrich at the asylum. After she deems his proclamation of love and promises to leave Katharina disingenuous, Hannah leaves Ulrich to spend the rest of his life in the asylum, something we already knew would happen given Ulrich’s interactions with Egon and Mikkel in 1987.
However, Hannah decides to stay in 1954 after meeting Ulrich in pursuit of a “fresh start” — we last see her flirting with young Egon Tiedemann. It’s safe to assume that she does stay, but this begs the question of what she does afterwards. While we haven’t seen an older Hannah pop up in the 1986 or 2019 timelines, it’s unlikely that there wouldn’t be some kind of ramifications of her desire to stay. There’s a theory floating around on r/DarK (the Dark subreddit) that Hannah may turn out to be Boris Niewald’s (Aleksander Tiedemann) mother, but it’s difficult to give it much weight given that Hannah is in at least her early 40s when she travels back to the 1954. It’ll be interesting to see the ramifications of her decision to stay — one thing that the show has taught us is that there are always consequences for Hannah’s actions.