WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Season 2 of Netflix's Dark, steaming now.
Netflix's Dark is one of the most intricate and engaging time-travel television series in quite some time. Season 1 focused on the fictional German town of Winden with a series of macabre events linked together: kids going missing and others were found dead, a nuclear power plant whose radioactive waste turned a cave into a wormhole, and lastly, a bunch of families whose past and present connected to shape a dystopian future.
At the center of it all were Jonas (Louis Hofmann) and his middle-aged self known as the Stranger (Andreas Pietschmann). Season 1 saw them navigating the time-stream to stop the apocalypse while Season 2's finale sees the younger Jonas understanding he has to let it happen if he's to find the "beginning" he's searching for in order to break the time loop Winden's been stuck in. This leads to a violent confrontation on D-Day in 2020 when his scarred future self Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbäumer) arrives to put Jonas on the path to becoming a scarred, bitter villain.
JONAS' INESCAPABLE PATH
Just before Adam and Jonas meet up in 2020, Jonas tries to stop his father's suicide the year before -- aka the event which started the entire series. However, as they reunite and converse, he realizes his dad, Michael (Sebastian Rudolph) has to kill himself so Jonas can start traversing the timestream to figure out the loop. What's shocking is Jonas also discovers he ushered young Mikkel into the town's temporal cave in 2019, allowing him to get stuck in 1986 and grow into Michael.
In other words, these catalysts which shaped Season 1 were all due to Jonas, because it's after their conversation that Michael/Mikkel is pushed to hang himself as he knows Jonas is part of a bigger plan to save the world. It's all ironic because we're now seeing that while all these scenes were occurring in Season 1, Jonas was already working in the background while his 2019 self remained none the wiser. We all thought this unseen entity was some shady villain, but now the truth's been revealed and Jonas is actually "the trigger" for last season's pain and tragedy, including his own.
ANOTHER EARTH EXISTS
When the nuclear meltdown begins, thanks to wormholes syncing up and opening in 2053, 1921 and on D-Day in 2020, Jonas meets Martha (his lover and Mikkel's sister, making her his aunt) at his house. As they embrace, deciding that no matter what, they're meant for each other, Adam arrives from 1921 through his time machine and shoots Martha (Lisa Vicari), killing her. He does this knowing Jonas will now jump through time to become the Stranger and move a step closer to transforming into Adam.
Adam then leaves knowing the path laid out for Jonas but suddenly, another Martha shows up and tells him they need to escape before the nuclear wave hits them. She pulls out an orb, her own temporal device, and when Jonas asks her what time she's from, she reveals she's actually from another world. Martha 2.0 activates the orb and they teleport out the house, leaving Jonas' dead Martha behind as the house is destroyed.
It's a surprising development as Dark has usually dealt with one Earth but given how the space-time continuum has been messed with repeatedly, it seems the show's expanding to a multiverse.
THE SALVATION BUNKER
Over the course of the series, we found out Adam's evil group was known as the Travelers, and he was manipulating the priest Noah (Mark Waschke) to carry out killings. This was all to put Winden on the path to nuclear meltdown in 2020, thanks to its God Particle in the radioactive waste. When Charlotte (Karoline Eichhorn) tries to stop her police officers from opening the nuclear containers, the meltdown is triggered.
But by that time, Charlotte's husband Peter, her deaf daughter Elisabeth, as well as Claudia (Julika Jenkins) and her cancer-ridden daughter, Regina (Deborah Kaufmann), all take refuge in Noah's murder bunker. They've been guided there by Jonas and the old Claudia (Lisa Kreuzer) to survive as they'll grow to play key roles against the Travelers. This helps Claudia become the White Devil, Adam's nemesis, and also Elisabeth will grow into a military leader in 2053.
Ironically, Elisabeth activated the wormhole in 2053 as we found out she was actually Noah's wife in the future, and their daughter is Charlotte, thus creating a biological paradox where they're both mother and daughter to each other. Ironically, both see each other as the wormholes sync up, meaning they might be lost in time now. To complete the big picture in the bunker, though, a young Noah (Max Schimmelpfennig) also arrives from 1921, sent by Adam to ensure he and Elisabeth fall in love.
NEW ENEMIES AND ALLIES FORM
Before Adam killed Martha in his encounter with young Jonas, young Noah told the Stranger at that same house that he needed to save Martha's brother, Magnus, as well as Magnus' girlfriend Fransizka (Charlotte's other daughter) and Regina's son, Bartosz. Noah then reminded him he'd have to rescue him and his sister, Agnes, at some other point in time.
The Stranger leaves Noah and rescues the aforementioned trio, using his time-box to teleport them out of the apocalypse, not knowing young Noah was playing him before he headed to the bunker. These people the Stranger would save actually grow up to be Adam's Travelers.
In fact, it's the older Magnus and Fransizka who activate the wormhole in 1921 and then time-jump somewhere with their own boxes. Sadly, Young Noah doesn't know old Noah was killed by Agnes and Adam, after figuring out Adam didn't want to fix the loop, he wanted to end the world as part of his war on time (which he viewed as God). In playing the Stranger, young Noah is unaware he's going to be Adam's pawn for the next few decades.
Now, we don't know where the Stranger has taken the teens but again, he too is eating out of Adam's hands. It's worth noting that old Claudia was killed by old Noah in 1953, and only then did he get her diary which shed insight on Adam's schemes, so it seems both Jonas and the Stranger will have to find allies in the war to come. With Magnus' mom, Katharina, in the cave in 2020 as the apocalypse happens -- as she's trying to find Mikkel -- she could prove to be an ally according to whichever timeline she's stuck in.
However, with Jonas' mom, Hannah, remaining in 1953 to make Mikkel's time-trapped dad, Ulrich, pay for scorning her, her role might conversely prove detrimental to whatever Jonas and the Stranger have planned to try to derail and eventually defeat Adam.
Created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, Dark stars Oliver Masucci, Karoline Eichhorn and Jördis Triebel. Season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.