A grave has been dug and a hooded figure drags a tightly wrapped body into it and covers it with the very blackest of earth. It is Claudia and she is burying her daughter, Regina, in the pouring rain in Winden woods. Regina is now at peace but Claudia is far from that. There is no ceremony apart from the placing of the cross. Then we hear a short existential monologue from Martha asking: ”Why do we die?” (remember young Tannhaus/Tiresias in the coach asking his father the very same question) and that ”We are born. And we die.” Simultaneously, we see young Elisabeth and Helge, and Peter.
We cut to see bodies of hanged humans dangling from the trees of Winden as snow falls all around. It is a grotesque scene. It has the look and feel for me, of any one of the 82 etchings made by Francisco Goya titled ‘Disasters of War‘. Adam is talking to Charlotte in these woods of horror and he asks her: ”Have you decided?” It will be just another day and the knot can be untied he tells her. Eva’s world doesn’t deserve saving and neither does ours, he tells Charlotte.
There is one day to go to the Apocalypse in the parallel world and Jonas wakes up with Martha lying next to him in the red house. All seems well. Then Martha wakes. The looks she is giving Jonas are really something. They say a picture paints a thousand words – well Martha’s face is doing exactly that. Guilt, suspicion, mistrust, and innocence all come together. Jonas tells Martha that they must go to the power station immediately. ”Jonas?” Martha says but does not finish her sentence. What was she going to say to him? As they leave, Katherina is downstairs. She does not know Jonas. Martha hugs her mum tightly. In the other ‘original’ or first-seen world Katherina is with Ulrich, planning his escape from the mental hospital by using her mother’s security pass. She is also planning to retrieve Mikkel.
Next we see Tannhaus repairing a timepiece and ‘Charlotte’ enters the shop. But this is not Charlotte. She asks him about the possibility of time travel. The here and now is all that counts he responds. Then he opens a small wooden box and inside is a photo of his dead son and family. (Remember the other box with the letter to Jonas in it). He tells this Charlotte that they died in a road accident and that even before he knew, two women brought her to him as a replacement for his deep loss. She is not his real granddaughter for she was never found he tells her. Tannhaus gives her the watch. Unsurprisingly, she does not take the shattering news well. So who is this ‘Charlotte’
Claudia returns to the police station and there waiting is Claudia from the parallel world. She tells her about the ongoing battle between ”light and shadow” for control of time and that she is on Eva’s team and Jonas cannot be trusted as he belongs to the shadow. He wants to destroy both worlds and Eva wants to save them. Claudia explains that Jonas opened the time portal three times and each time cesium residue was left behind, which is a component of that ‘black matter‘ we saw coming out of the barrels. Original Claudia responds: ”Radioactive half-life”. And death. It is the ‘black matter‘ which has created the tunnels. Other Claudia explains that everything must happen as it has (including the apocalypse) to maintain existence, to preserve ”life and death”. This does seem (and is) completely contradictory when so much destruction and death is required to maintain their world-view or Weltanschuung.
Jonas and Martha are entering the power plant to stop the barrels from being opened when Martha cuts her face on the barbed wire. Jonas remembers that the Martha who sent him here had the same cut on her face. He suddenly realises that they are not stopping the apocalypse but actually creating it. It is them. They are the cause. He is determined to confront Eva. Martha briefly looks at the power plant (the impending apocalypse in her world) and then decides to follow Jonas.
The Other Charlotte sits at that famous bus stop, and incredibly, an actual bus arrives. Finally. Off this much awaited bus, steps a young man who asks for directions to Winden. Charlotte tells him not to go there as its a ”black hole”. The irony of course is that it will be. He sits with her and they chat. It is loaded with meaning. Charlotte asks him if he believes you can bring people back from the dead? His name is Peter and his mother has just died and he is looking for his father. Life and death.
Charlotte in the Other world is still pursuing Helge for the murders and disappearances. She tells Peter that Helge was on shift that night at the power plant. But he was with us all night Peter responds. Charlotte mentions Ulrich, and Peter repeats his name in a sarcastic and loaded manner. In this universe Peter is not the one having an affair, it is Charlotte. Elisabeth is witness to all this. Then we cut to post-apocalyptic Winden where Elisabeth has returned to the caravan without her father as she no longer wants to search among the dead for her mother and sister. The rain is incessant and unremitting. The unforgettable (life and death) scene that takes place inside the caravan where an attempted rape and the murder of her father and Elisabeth’s revenge upon the ‘burglar’ (a euphemism surely, see end credits) takes place, is as brutal and as savage as anything I have seen in other films or TV shows. It is a reminder just how badly humans will behave when civilisation breaks down, whether in a fictional universe, or in reality, such as in the football stadium (which was meant to be a sanctuary) during Hurricane Katrina. Elisabeth is utterly traumatised.
The Other Claudia hands Claudia the triquetra journal. This is the knot that you must stop Adam from untying, states Claudia. You must lead Jonas, Noah and Elisabeth to that end. You will have to lead Jonas and then defy him later. And with that she opens her golden device and disappears. So that is how Claudia acquired the journal. As Jonas and Martha are about to enter the caves they stop. Martha asks Jonas what is he going to do if only her universe can be saved. Jonas desperately wants to return to his own world. Martha is upset. For she is now in love with this Jonas and it seems that Jonas is in love not with her but with the memory of his other dead Martha. She reminds him of last night and kisses him passionately. ”Is this wrong?” she asks and before he has time to answer she heads straight into the cave.
Katherina follows her mother, Helene, in the woods to get the key-card from her but there is a really vicious and violent fight between them. Katherina tells her: ”Mom, stop it!” to which Helene later reacts to, by smashing in her daughters head with a rock whilst saying: ”I got rid of you!’‘. She repeats the sickening words of Mrs. Obendorf about abortions that we heard in the scene with Hannah. I am reminded of the words of Shakespeare from ‘Romeo and Juliet‘: and used in ‘Westworld‘ so effectively that: ”These violent delights have violent ends”. The scene itself is reminiscent of the one when Ulrich smashes Helge’s head with a rock. It also seems to take place near the site where young Tronte was sitting with Jena and remarking how ‘desolate’ it was.
So, we now know where the St Christopher came from that Jonas found and gave to Martha at the very beginning of ‘Dark‘. It has had a long and bloody journey being given to Hannah by Tiedemann and then by Hannah to Helene and then by Jonas to Martha. It is another memento mori. Of the death of poor Katherina who was only trying to save Ulrich and Mikkel. Life and death. To make matters even worse when Helene returns home she notices a love-bite on the now future-dead Katherina and she starts beating her. Again. ”I should have got rid of you, too.” she coldly tells her daughter. There are no words for such an evil comment as that. Only, that this is neither love nor death.
Jonas and Martha return to the parallel world and enter the sacred space of Eva’s kingdom. ”It is what will become of you” Jonas says to Martha as they both look up at the diptych. Eva enters and looking at them both says: ”And thus everything starts over again”. Jonas responds vehemently: ”You lied”. Eva then repeats that dark version of the ‘Riddle of the Sphinx‘: the loss of naivete, then innocence, and then, life itself. It is the same one that Adam has recited to Jonas before. Ominously she continues: ”Yours ends here and now”. Suddenly the Mad Max Martha appears along with Martha with the now double scarred face who seems deeply ill at ease. ”I am sorry” she says to her other self which is herself, but not yet and she shoots Jonas in the chest at point blank range. He collapses, dying and Martha covers his wound with her hands to try and stop the bleed-out. It is the mirror-image of the death of Martha and it is just, heartbreaking. As he bleeds out, laying flat upon the stone memento mori, he has, instantaneously, become part of it. As he dies, he passes to his other Martha that very special St Christopher, the one from his beloved. Love and death. Again.
This episode in particular (and ‘Dark‘ throughout) for me undoubtedly incorporates and explores one of Sigmund Freud’s most important psychological theories: that a persons instincts fall into one of two categories: the Eros category or the Thanatos category. Eros was the Greek god of love and represents the instinct of life, whilst Thanatos, was the Greek god of death and the antithesis of love and life. According to Freud in his 1920 essay ‘Beyond The Pleasure Principle‘, humans struggle with these two opposing forces or drives and people will instinctively choose life or death when making decisions. Freud had already felt in 1919 that he could safely postulate: ”the principle of repetition compulsion in the unconscious human mind”. (My italics) We are in Schopenhauer and ‘Dark‘ territory here. (Remember the Schopenhauer quote which begins Season 3). Freud concluded his essay with this: ”vision of two elemental pugnacious forces in the mind, Eros and Thanatos, locked in eternal battle”. Enough said.