We begin with what seems to be a lecture for television explaining the thought experiment of Erwin Schrodinger in 1935 known as ‘Schrodinger’s Cat‘. Schrodinger had intended his experiment to further the discussion of quantum superposition which Einstein had found deeply troubling after he had been made aware of quantum mechanics in 1927 at a famous meeting in Brussels. Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen had highlighted their concerns in a famous article (EPR article) written in 1935. According to Schrodinger and our lecturer the Copenhagen interpretation (a quantum system remains in superposition until it interacts with, or is observed by the external world), implies, that the cat inside the sealed box remains both alive and dead, until, we open the box to observe that poor cat.
But what if this is not just an outcome in the quantum mechanical world? Our lecturer continues with the highly controversial ‘Many Worlds Theory‘ to explain the possible repercussions of Schrodinger’s experiment in the macrocosm. It originated out of Hugh Everett’s Princeton Ph.D thesis of 1957: ‘The Theory of the Universal Wavefunction’. The MWI (Many Worlds Interpretation) posits that, the dead cat and alive cat states, continue to exist, even after the cat has been observed and the ‘observer‘ (us) becomes entangled in the timeline of whatever the outcome is. Therefore, we now have a plausible scientific basis for the multiverse if we accept the real and not the unreal MWI. We witness Martha not entering/entering the Red House as Bartosz prevents Martha from entering the dead cat world and tells her that he knows what the ”origin” is. Both the ”alive and dead cat” scenarios are in superposition in ‘Dark‘.
It is 1974 and the lecturer who we now know is a middle-aged Tannhaus, is building a strange device. This is a different Tannhaus. He is surrounded by clocks but he is not building or repairing a clock. We see him at the grave of his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. We are in another world. The dead Tannhaus family world. We hear the voice of the older Tannhaus telling us how much we hold onto the past and wish we could turn back time to recover our loved ones who have died. He asks, is it not possible to go back in time and change the timeline, if reality is a simultaneous overlapping of possible outcomes. Tannhaus is here referring to Schrodinger’s cat and the Everett interpretation. MWI views time as a many-branched tree, wherein every possible quantum outcome is realised. So there must be a universe in which his son and family did not die. This is the multiverse.
Next we see a young Noah and young Elizabeth digging inside the caves. It is 2021. They have found another door. Elisabeth has the watch and as she opens it, asks Noah about ”paradise”. Noah answers, it is free of suffering and pain and everything is forgiven and the dead return to life. Adam will keep his promise he tells Elisabeth. We cut to Jonas in 1890 where with a supercharged machine he is attempting to open the portal again. However, he suffers a severe burn to his arm. Now we know how he becomes so disfigured. Bartosz is waiting for him and confronts him about not really wanting to stop the Apocalypse. Jonas tells Bartosz he wants to find the origin to destroy it. Once it is destroyed then ”paradise” is possible. Bartosz has had enough. We see the girl from the future arrive in 1890 and hide her suit. She arrives just as Bartosz is walking through the woods. They meet and she tells him her name, finally. It is ”Silja”. From Bartosz’s reaction it is love at first sight. Clever Adam.
Claudia and Jonas are in 2023 and are unsuccessfully trying to open a portal. Jonas tells Claudia that he cant keep doing this and Claudia tells him not to ”lose hope”. Jonas returns to his Red House and looks around at the bleak remnants of death forever memorialised inside. This whole house is a memento mori. Jonas attempts to hang himself but Noah arrives and cuts him down. You promised us ”paradise” he angrily says to Jonas. He tells Jonas he cannot die and hands him his gun. Jonas puts it to his head and pulls the trigger. Nothing. Noah then fires it to prove it. ”Time” will not allow you to die because your older self exists. But will time allow you to bring back the dead? I have found a door to ”paradise” Noah tells Jonas and we see them in the caves. It will open again Noah says and you will lead us into ”paradise”. This door has been worn down by time and looks ancient.
We jump to 1904 and witness Silja give birth to a baby boy who she names Hanno. Then we see our physicist Tannhaus turning the bunker into a laboratory with the voice of the elder Tannhaus declaiming that we can in the course of a lifetime through stubborn will attempt to turn the tide of time back and we see a large device being constructed by Tannhaus. The machine gets larger and larger as Tannhaus ages and the voice describes all human ”progress” as being down to an ”unquenchable will”. We will only let go when we have finished our mission. The machine looks like a modern-day compact nuclear fusion reactor. But what is it for? Have an educated guess.
We then jump to 2040 where Claudia, Jonas and Noah are trying still to open the portal. Jonas and Noah have both aged into their mature iteration. Noah is questioning Claudia’s loyalty and Jonas reminds him that he was lied to and that he will not become Adam this time. This time he will travel back and make everything right because he has changed the ”components” in the passages. ”We can’t trust Claudia” Noah declares. We see Claudia with her parallel world iteration talking about Jonas not knowing that the other world exists. He is deliberately being kept in the dark. Claudia is working with Martha to keep the knots secure in both worlds but suddenly she pulls out a gun and declaiming that there must be a way to untie the knots without destroying all life in both worlds she shoots dead her other self. I will find a path that allows ”Regina to live” she declares. Claudia pretends to be the other Claudia and travels to see Eva where she is handed the blueprint of the time machine and told to give it to the older Claudia who will pass it to Tannhaus.
We jump back to 1910 and Silja has died in childbirth. the young boy Hanno is deeply affected by his mother’s death. We can now clearly see his motivation as an adult for wanting to create ”paradise” where the dead will return. In 2040 Elisabeth asks Noah again to tell her about ”paradise” and as he does Charlotte and Elisabeth enter their hut and remove baby Charlotte. As Elisabeth picks her baby up she is in tears and Charlotte observes with difficulty. That much-traveled watch was lying under her. Charlotte takes it. When Noah returns they realise the baby is gone. Noah rushes to the bunker and grabs Jonas accusing him of taking Charlotte. But he is not Adam. ”I wish you all the suffering in the world” Noah says as he leaves. ”I will find her” he tells Elisabeth and picking up the triquetra book he departs on his long journey between the time.
The voice of Tannhaus repeats the line of Schopenhauer as we travel to 1986 and see him in the bunker with his shiny glimmering mysterious machine. As he looks at the photo of his dead son and family he tells us that it is our deepest desires that determine the paths we take ”no matter how grave and unimaginable” and he powers up his creation. Back to 1910 we go and Hannah arrives to the great surprise of Bartosz. He recognises her small companion. It is a young Silja (Tiedemann’s daughter). Hannah goes to see Jonas/Adam. He is now disfigured because of the machine. She tells him the girl is his sister to which he does not respond. He just stares. So unsettling. ”How did you find us?” he asks in a voice devoid of emotion. Eva visited her and told her that he (Jonas) was looking for her. At that she starts crying and exclaims; ”Its all my fault’‘. She touches his burnt face and he is unmoved. He has undoubtedly suffered too much. He orders Bartosz to ready the ”chamber”. Even the tears of his wayward mother will not work upon a darkened soul.
We are now back in a modern Gothic horror mode and ambiance as the thunder and lightening rage outside (and inside) as Jonas/Adam appears from the shadows where his mother and sister are sleeping. He could be Frankenstein’s creature about to murder Victor’s beloved, Elizabeth, yet it is perhaps worse, as Jonas/Adam proceeds to cold-bloodily suffocate to death his own mother, so that the pieces are in the right place. Truly horrific and truly monstrous. The only comparable murder it comes close to is the brutal and calculated murder of Elizabeth by the creature in ‘Frankenstein‘. Adam then takes Silja away. Another child taken from their mother. Their murdered mother.
Noah arrives in 1920, meets his younger iteration and goes to see Jonas who has now transformed into Adam. It was not me but Claudia who lied to you, Adam tells him and you must find the last pages of the book, this will lead you to Charlotte and to ”your paradise”. Helge will help you and he hands Noah a bible and then he tells Noah that ”Everything in life happens in cycles” and finally that this cycle will be the last. We jump to 2052 where aged Claudia is in front of those photos in the bunker, and telling Jonas with the suitcase, that Tannhaus will fix the time machine and then the passage and the knot can be destroyed. As Jonas leaves we see her tear those final pages from the triquetra book. Scenes from the past then reinforce how everything was and is connected and how we are all where we are now.
We return to the beginning as Bartosz takes Martha into Eva’s sacred space. Martha looks at the burnt diptych and is horrified that she has been brought there. Bartosz declaims that ”they are the light” and Eva enters. “It has taken me 66 years to realise that one cannot change an individuals destiny,” and she slices Martha’s face. ”A memento” declares Eva. So Martha remembers whose side she is on. Choose Adam, choose death and complete annihilation. Or choose us and choose to live. Martha is like the cat in the experiment of Schrodinger who is both alive and dead simultaneously. And Jonas too. We observe Adam murdering Martha, and the origin within. As she dies in agony, Adam waits and waits. But nothing happens. Where is Paradise? Suddenly the door opens and an aged and alive Claudia is standing there. ”Hello Jonas” she says. The best laid plans of mice and men and….cats.