Dark is a German TV series with 10 episodes that aired in 2017. In 2019 it was re-released with English dubbing, but I watched the original with English subtitles. After watching the dubbed version, I prefer it and picked up on a lot that I missed with the subtitled version.
10 out of 10 stars for a series with a lot of information. Bravo to the screenwriters. They did an excellent job.
In the first episode we are introduced to the German town of Winden which is seated at the edge of a large forest and contains one of the last standing nuclear power plants in Germany. Its 2019 and the nuclear power plant is prepping for being decommissioned. Then three children go missing, an entire flock of sheep drops dead, birds are dropping dead out of the sky, and secrets are suddenly being revealed.
Michael Kahnwald hangs himself in the opening shot and leaves a letter behind that says Not to be opened until November 4, 2019 10 PM. That letter is given to Michael’s mother Ines and on November 4, 2019 at 10 PM she reads the letter from her only son. But she already knew what was in the letter. As crazy as it sounds, she knew the whole time, from the moment he told her as a boy that he came from the future.
What we quickly learn early on is that there was an accident in the power plant in 1953 and it resulted in a great deal of radioactive waste that the plant manager, Bernd Doppler, stored in the woods. That created a wormhole allowing time travel.
This series is on Netflix with English dubbing and English subtitles. I recommend both if you want to pick up on all of the side plots.
If you didn’t see any of season 1 and would like a recap, then read on. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Michael Kahnwald is really Mikkel Nielsen. That makes Ulrich Nielsen his father. So when his wife Hannah starts an affair with Ulrich, it’s too much for Michael to handle. He’s already struggling with the knowledge that Mikkel Nielsen (himself at a younger age) is about to be trapped in the wormhole and taken back in time 33 years. His conscience tells him to warn Mikkel’s family, but if he does that his son Jonas will never be born because he would never have gone back in time and met Hannah and married her. :0
Jonas is traumatized by the fact that he was holding Mikkel’s hand when he disappeared. He keeps going back to the caves trying to discover what happened to Mikkel. He’s also searching for clues about why his dad killed himself. Then one day he discovers a secret compartment in his father’s loft and finds a map of the Winden cave system along with notes Michael made in the margins. He’s been traveling back and forth in time trying to find where Mikkel crossed and trying to solve the disappearances of the other children. So Jonas walks through the cave system and finds a door where his father has marked an infinity symbol. He opens the door with the key his father left and crosses to the other side. And suddenly he’s in 1986 where Mikkel ended up. Mikkel was taken to the hospital so that’s where Jonas goes to get him and bring him back home. Before he can do that he runs into a man from the future claiming to be him. And he explains that if he returns Mikkel to 2019 then Jonas will no longer exist. So Jonas goes home without Mikkel. Later, future Jonas leaves current Jonas a package of goodies to help him navigate the cave system. Meanwhile future Jonas is trying to close the wormhole and thinks he can do it with a device that Tannhaus builds for him. It has the opposite effect. It makes a new larger wormhole into the future and current Jonas is propelled to the post-apocalyptic world of 2052 where nuclear fallout has devastated the planet and it appears the nuclear power plant exploded in 2019.
Ulrich Nielson, Mikkel’s father, investigates his disappearance and realizes that 33 years ago when his brother Mads disappeared the circumstances were very similar. Both of them were near forest road. He reads through the case files from the 1986 case and sees that Helge Doppler was a suspect in Mads’ disappearance. But when the Chief of Police was supposed to interview Helge he didn’t show. So Mikkel goes to speak to Helge who is now in a retirement home. Helge flips out and runs outside. He’s terrified of Ulrich. The police take Ulrich away but he comes back later to interrogate Helge a second time. This time Helge has already wandered outside toward the caves and Ulrich follows him all the way through the cave system and back to the year 1953. There in a misguided attempt to prevent Mikkel’s disappearance in the first place he tries to kill 9 year old Helge Doppler by crushing his skull with a rock. 🙁 It doesn’t work and Ulrich is caught, taken to jail, and beaten nearly to death. (We’re still unsure of whether or not he is dead.) Before he entered the cave system while following future Helge he called Charlotte, the Chief of Police, his friend, and Helge’s daughter-in-law. Later when she is looking through the case file on Helge’s attack in 1953 she sees the mug shot of Ulrich Nielsen wearing the clothes she last saw him in from 2019. :0
There are several theories going around about who exactly Noah is. In 1953 when Agnes Nielsen first appears at the Tiedmann home she tells Doris Tiedemann that her husband is a priest and a violent evil man. Later we see her son Tronte covered in burns from a car cigarette lighter. That’s our first clue that Noah may be Tronte’s stepfather. There are hints that Noah has a relationship with the clockmaker Tannhaus, Charlotte’s grandfather. Then Noah picks up Elisabeth Doppler on her way home from school and gives her a watch that Charlotte recognized. It was her father’s watch, a watch her grandfather made. So Noah may be Charlotte’s father and HG Tannhaus’s son. That would explain why he moves so easily back and forth through time. It would also explain why he chose Helge as his helper because Helge would’ve been born around the same time and because their children, Peter Doppler and Charlotte Tannhaus married making Elisabeth Noah’s granddaughter. The third hint is given when Elisabeth describes Noah and says he has blue eyes. Few people in this series have blue eyes, but Charlotte and her children have blue eyes. So it’s possible that after that scene when Magnus Nielsen and Francesca Doppler have sex that she later gives birth to their son who becomes Noah, making Noah his own great grandfather.
So the big question is what’s happening to all of the children? Noah and Helge are testing a time machine with those children and it kills them. So Helge uses the time portal in the cave system to take the bodies to other time periods. Erik Obendorf and Elisabeth’s little friend Yasin are killed in the machine and their bodies are dumped in front of the nuclear power plant construction site in 1953 where no one recognizes them. Mads Nielsen’s body is dumped in 2019 where no one recognizes him at first. Ulrich eventually realizes it is his brother. It would appear that Mikkel being transported in time was an accident while the others were actually forcibly kidnapped by Helge from 1986 who is traveling through the time portal to abduct guinea pigs for their machine. Terrifying.
To help you get the creepy Winden family tree, here’s the one I made for myself.
Both seasons are on Netflix. Season 1 has English dubbing and English subtitles. I’m hoping season 2 will have both too.
10 out of 10 stars for an intricate story told with multiple perspectives.