With the release of the third season, when the viewers are still unable to catch up with the key concepts like quantum entanglement and bootstrap paradox, dark remains dark or becomes even darker in an infinite loop spanning over 3 centuries and 2 dimensions born out of the original world.
Before we jump into the nuts and bolts of season 3, it’s important to understand that there is really no way to conclude a story like this in a way that would be satisfying in a normal way. The reason for this is because “Dark” is full of bootstrap paradoxes. There’s no way to resolve this paradox because it’s a self-contained loop. Charlotte had a daughter named Elisabeth, and then Elisabeth had a daughter named Charlotte, and then baby Charlotte was brought to the past and became the original Charlotte. There’s no beginning or end of this sequence.
With the time travel logic of the series, everyone is just trapped in this loop, ultimately unable to ever really break free of it from within. So, there were really only two broad scenarios that “Dark” could end on. It could stay within the loop or it could introduce variables from outside the loop that could actually bring the story of this crazy world to a proper conclusion. “Dark” creators Baran Bo Odar and Jantje Friese went with the second option. It’s also important to note that everything here is hypothetical. As in, all that matters for time travel logic in a work of fiction is that it be internally consistent.
The one thing that stunned the audience after scene 3 was the discovery of the fact that it was the antagonist “The Unknown”- the son of Jonas and Martha (of the second dimension) who was the Origin. He was the one who impregnates Agnes in both the worlds and as a result, Tronte Nielson is born. Tronte becomes the father of Ulrich who bears Mikkel who later travels back to become Michael Kahnwald and marries Hannah. Their child is ultimately Jonas. In this manner, Jonas is actually his great great great grandfather himself which again gives an illustration of the paradox.
The other thing that came out was the point that who really were the parents of Regina Tiedemann. It was Claudia and Bernd Doppler-the the owner of the power plant. The fact that Doppler was the biological father of Regina eradicates the outcome of Regina dying in the original world as she is not the part of the infinite loop. Hence, when we see Regina dying in both the worlds due to cancer in both the dimensions, she actually survives in the original world.
It became pretty conclusive that it was Adam (older Jonas) who wanted to end the cycle or the infinite loop by killing the child of the Martha, therefore erasing the existence of the very origin. But Eva (older Martha) wanted this cycle to go on forever and thus uses of what is called the Quantum Entanglement. The show makers explain this beautifully by the Schrodinger’s cat experiment when he proved theoretically how a cat can be both dead and alive to an observer at the same time for the fraction of an instant. Eva on one hand sends one Martha to rescue Jonas in one world while in the other she just pulls her back with the help of Bartosz. She is always a way ahead of Adam and never wanted the loop to end.
However not conclusive, but it was also pointed out that Helge was actually not the child of Bernd Doppler when her mother talks to Noah that the child was not born out of love. This may be the reason why Doppler does not hand the responsibility of the Nuclear power plant to Helge but makes Claudia the in-charge of it. It also became evident that the older Jonas was the man responsible for making the time machine and he was able to do so with the help of the God Particle given to her by the younger Martha.
The fact that both Noah and Agnes were actually children of Bartosz and Silja left the viewers astonished for a few moments. Bartosz who traveled back to 1888 met Silja there. It was Noah who gave Bartosz the time machine in 2019 but no one could expect that he was giving this to his own father just in his younger self. It also became quite unambiguous that the person who was killed by younger Noah in 1921 in the starting of the first episode of Season 2 was none other than his father Bartosz on the command of Adam when they were digging the caves. Silja’s history is also quite interesting. She was actually the daughter of Hannah (who traveled back to 1951) and Egon Tiedemann. In this manner, Silja is actually Jonas’ step-sister. She saves her in 1888 but the killing of Hannah by his own son was what that left the audience thrilled and unanswerable. Noah, who killed the older Claudia is eventually killed by Agnes when he tries to kill Adam after knowing that he had done nothing but made a fool of him.
It was also shown that it was H.G Tannhaus who in an attempt to bring back his son (who lost his life in a car accident), accidentally created the 2 worlds out of the original world in 1986. In the end, Martha and Jonas travel back, prevent the road accident to occur, and thus stop the creation of the 2 dimensions. In the original world, the Nuclear Power plant is never set up in Winden and the Apocalypse never takes place in any of the worlds. The Nielsons including Ulrich, Martha, Mikkel, Jonas thus lose their existence in the original world. Noah and Agnes were never born and so do their parents Bartosz and Silja. Elizabeth and Franziska, the 2 daughters of Charlotte and Peter also never exist as Charlotte was a part of the infinite loop and with its end, there are no remains of her.
When Dark answers most of the questions in season 3, it fails to throw light on some parts and drop some loose and open ends. Some of them being:
Did Jonas and Mirror Martha actually break the loop?
In the end, Jonas and Martha undo the knot between their worlds, but some users on the Dark Reddit page believe that in doing so they simply created another larger loop that will play out with different characters. Despite Jonas and Martha’s worlds no longer existing, the origin world Hannah somehow dreams of them and as if struck by inspiration, decides to name her unborn child Jonas. Is that final line meant to imply that their world is now running on its own loop?
What’s up with Alexander/Boris?
One of the more noticeable hanging threads is the origin story of Regina’s husband Aleksander Tiedemann, aka Boris Niewald. It’s implied that he committed a murder and changed his name before suddenly appearing in Winden in 1986 and later becoming head of operations at the plant. Boris’ last name is “Niewald,” a combination of the family names Nielsen and Kahnwald, which fueled fan theories about the possible significance of his backstory.
What happened to Adam’s face?
While other characters note that time traveling has “taken a toll” on Adam, Claudia’s is not similarly scarred, despite having traveled the loop countless times to figure out the existence of the origin world. So, what really caused the scars? Was it exposure to radioactivity after the nuclear blast or the injuries that were caused to him in the process of making the time machine?
What happened to Wöller’s eye?
It’s a minor detail, but we never learn how Wöller lost his eye. In the final origin world scenes, he still sports the scars, and even begins to explain how it happened, but is cut off by a crash of lightning.
Dark ends with the 5 prominent characters living a healthy and enjoyable life in Winden. These include Regina, Hannah, Katharina, Peter, and Woller. Although this was the last season of the series, the makers still tried to develop some sort of connection between the original and the real world. We can see that when we see Hannah having a Déjà vu and seeing a yellow jacket (usually worn by Jonas). When Katharina asked Hannah that what would she name her child as she was pregnant and she and Woller were expecting a child anytime soon, Hannah answers,” I think Jonas is a beautiful name.” We already know that nobody by the name of Jonas actually exists in the real world. Another instance when we see a connection is when Regina asks Katharina that if the world was to end today what would they ask for. That was actually the same question asked by younger Hannah to younger Ulrich (who no longer exists in the original world) in 1986 in the third episode of season 1. Interestingly, both younger Ulrich and Katharina answer- “A world without Winden.”
Dark thus successfully delivers the message it propagates throughout the seasons i.e ‘The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning.’ The German thriller forms a strong constructive in the minds of the viewers that it is not always the past that can alter the future but the future which can change the past and affect the present.