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Dark Season 2, Explained: What You Need to Remember

Netflix's sci-fi series can get pretty confusing, so we're here to help

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Kaitlin Thomas, Sadie Gennis

The final season of Netflix's thrilling sci-fi series Dark is now streaming. The German drama revolving around the interconnected families of a small town, the roles they play in the apocalypse, and the future of humankind, is easily one of the best shows Netflix has ever produced. It deals heavily with the themes of time travel and the multiverse and features an exceptionally intricate and complex narrative that loops back in on itself as well as travels into the future and even to another world, thus creating a knot that is just begging to be unraveled. 

It's been a over a year since Season 2 aired and filled in some of the gaps of how the Jonas we met in the series premiere became the future versions of himself, so if you don't exactly remember what happened (or when) in the show's centuries-spanning timeline, that's OK. We re-watched all of Season 2 so you don't have to. Here's everything you need to remember about Dark Season 2 before watching Season 3. (If you need to refresh your memory about Season 1, we have an explainer for Dark Season 1, too.)

There are four families at the center of the series. In the simplest of explanations, Dark follows the Kahnwalds, Nielsens, Tiedemanns, and Dopplers, who are all connected by their intertwined family histories, which can get quite complex even without the complications of time travel. 

Dark Timeline: The Netflix Show, Explained

The God Particle allows people to time travel. The God Particle, a swirling mass of black matter and glowing blue light, is created in 2020 at Winden's nuclear power plant. When stabilized, it acts as a portal, and people and objects can travel through it and thus through time. Jonas (Louis Hofmann), who is in 2053 at the start of the second season, finds the God Particle in the plant's ruins. Although an adult version of Elisabeth (Sandra Borgmann) nearly kills Jonas for entering the plant, which is off limits to her followers, he escapes with the help of a young girl named Silja (Lea van Acken) and eventually is able to stabilize it long enough to travel through it. 

Dark

Dark

Netflix

Adam is a future version of Jonas, and the leader of Sic Mundus. After Jonas travels through the God Particle from 2053 to 1921, he is introduced to Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbaumer), the leader of Sic Mundus. The group is a secret society of time travelers in Winden who are waging a war on God and time. During Adam and Jonas' conversation, Adam reveals he is actually Jonas 66 years in the future, a revelation that horrifies the younger Jonas. The other known members of Sic Mundus include Noah (Max Schimmelpfennig), Magnus Nielsen (Wolfram Koch), a woman we presume is Franziska Doppler (Carina Wiese), Bartosz Tiedemann (Paul Lux), and Agnes Nielsen (Antje Traue), who had left Sic Mundus but returned in 1954, thus abandoning her son, Tronte Nielsen (Joshio Marlo), and lover, Doris Tiedemann (Luise Heyer), in the process.

Adam and Claudia are on opposite sides of the war. While Adam and Sic Mundus want to destroy the world and start a new one, Claudia wants to stop Adam. The older version of Claudia (Lisa Kreuzer) teaches Jonas all about the past and the future so that he can team up with her younger self (Julika Jenkins) to take down Adam, his older self. The older Claudia allows herself to be killed by adult Noah (Mark Waschke) after seeing a newspaper clipping announce her death on the date, but not before she tells Noah's sister, Agnes, to use the guise of selling her out to infiltrate Sic Mundus. 

Dark Season 1, Explained

A new inspector is investigating the many disappearances in Winden, but he has an agenda. After receiving an anonymous letter claiming that Inspector Clausen (Sylvester Groth) could find answers in Winden about his brother, Aleksander Köhler, who went missing in 1986, he heads to the small town under the guise of investigating the six people who have gone missing since Oct. 2019: Erik Obendorf (Paul Radom), Mikkel Nielsen (Daan Lennard Liebrenz), Yasin Friese (Vico Mücke), Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci), Jonas Kahnwald, and Helge Doppler (Hermann Beyer). Clausen knows the man now calling himself Aleksander Tiedemann (Peter Benedict) is not his brother, though he cannot prove he killed the real Aleksander or stole his identity, so Clausen settles for trying to uncover whatever Aleksander is hiding at the nuclear power plant (which we know are the buried barrels of radioactive waste). 

Everyone knows time travel is real. The adult version of Jonas (Andreas Pietschmann) reveals himself to his mother, Hannah (Maja Schöne), early in Season 2 and explains time travel to her, even taking her to 1987 to see Mikkel and explain how Mikkel becomes Michael Kahnwald (Sebastian Rudolph). Meanwhile, while investigating the caves, Magnus (Moritz Jahn) and Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari) and Franziska (Gina Alice Stiebitz) and Elisabeth Doppler (Carlotta Von Falkenhayn) witness Bartosz Tiedemann returning from another time. He explains the time machine to them and takes them to the 1980s as proof that it works. Eventually, Katharina (Jördis Triebel), who has been exploring the caves on her own, discovers time travel is real after Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn) and adult Jonas explain it. She confirms Mikkel is in the 1980s through an old class photo she finds at the school and becomes determined to rescue him. Regina (Deborah Kaufmann) also learns about time travel when her mother, Claudia (Julika Jenkins), appears in 2020 to rescue her dying daughter from the impending apocalypse.

Ulrich is trapped in the past. Having been arrested in 1953 for beating the young Helge Doppler (Tom Philipp) with a rock, believing that if he killed him he could stop Mikkel from disappearing, Ulrich is also charged with the murders of Erik and Yasin, whose bodies are found on the future site of the nuclear power plant. He is locked up in a psychiatric hospital for 34 years and doesn't tell anyone his real name in all this time. However, Egon Tiedemann (Christian Pätzold), having learned he has cancer and is dying, decides to revisit the case. He visits Ulrich (Winfried Glatzeder) and eventually figures out who he is. After Ulrich learns Mikkel is living in 1987, he escapes the facility, finds his son, and the two attempt to flee into the caves and back to the future, but they are stopped by Egon and Ines Kahnwald (Angela Winkler), who continues to drug Mikkel afterwards to keep him from escaping again.

Dark Season 2

Dark

Netflix

Hannah is also living in the past. Hannah has not gotten any better in Season 2. She steals the adult Jonas' time machine and travels back in time to 1954 to save Ulrich, who is locked in a psychiatric hospital. She lies to a young Egon Tiedemann (Sebastian Hulk) and tells him her name is Katharina Nielsen and that she believes the man who was arrested the previous year for killing two children and assaulting Helge is her husband. When she meets with Ulrich, though, he asks about his wife and children, and although he tries to convince Hannah that he loves her and will leave Katharina, she knows it's not true and leaves him locked up. She then decides to stay in 1954 and start over -- perhaps with a young, married Egon, if that flirtation between them was hinting toward something more.

Claudia lets Egon die after he learns time travel is real. Through his visits with Ulrich at the psychiatric hospital, and after intercepting Ulrich and Mikkel attempting to flee in the caves in 1987, Egon learns time travel is real. He wants the caves investigated by the police, as he understands they are important to time travel, but Claudia wants to protect the God Particle at all costs and engages in a struggle with him to stop him. Egon is left critically injured after hitting his head; Claudia initially calls for help but then lets him bleed out and die in order to keep time travel and the God Particle from being discovered. After a trip to the future, Claudia had learned that this was the date her father died and had tried to prevent his death in the '80s, and she was devastated when she realized she was the cause of it. After Egon's death, a young Jonas tells Claudia that if he comes with her they can prevent Egon from dying, so she abandons her life and daughter, Regina (Lydia Maria Makrides), to try and break the cycle.

Here's How Everyone Is Connected on Dark

Adam tricks Jonas into having Michael kill himself. One of Jonas' biggest motivations in Season 2 is preventing Michael's death. After Adam says that saving Michael's life will save everyone else's (including Martha's), Jonas travels from 1921 to June 21, 2019, in order to convince his father to not take his own life, even showing Michael his suicide letter. However, it's revealed that Michael was not considering ending his life until Jonas explains the situation to him. During the conversation, Michael also shares that it was a future version of Jonas who led him into the caves as a child and caused Mikkel's disappearance in the first place. Despite knowing this, Jonas still asks his father to live on now, but Michael decides to sacrifice himself so that Jonas can be born. The older Claudia explains to Jonas that Adam manipulated him into causing his father's death, but she agrees with Michael that this is a necessary sacrifice because a world without Jonas isn't necessarily a better one.

Noah is Charlotte's father, and Elisabeth — her own daughter — is her mother. Halfway through the season, Noah discovers the missing final pages of the triquetra notebook and finds out his daughter is Charlotte Dopper. Noah then finds Charlotte in the clock shop of her grandfather, H.G. Tannhaus' (Christian Steyer), and reveals the truth to her. It's unclear who took her from her parents or why, but Noah tells Charlotte that her mother loved her and that she still loves her and is very much alive. What Noah leaves out is the fact that Charlotte's mother is Elisabeth Doppler, Charlotte's own daughter.

Noah turns on Adam after learning about Charlotte. Noah has a crisis of faith after learning the truth about Charlotte and that Adam lied to him in order to get him to do his bidding. He says Adam isn't waging a war against God but against humankind itself and then tries to kill Adam, but the safety of the gun is stuck. He is then killed by his sister, Agnes, who was an ally of Claudia and has infiltrated Sic Mundus in an attempt to stop Adam.

Dark

Dark

Netflix

The triquetra notebook is a record of time-traveling in Winden. The triquetra notebook is seen throughout the series, with multiple copies existing at the same time due to time travel. It seemingly includes records of all the time-traveling events in Winden and has been seen in the possession of Noah, Tronte Nielsen (Walter Kreye), Bartosz Tiedemann, and Jonas Kahnwald. It's unclear who wrote the contents of the notebook, but finding the missing pages is a prime concern of Adam's in Season 2 -- although that may have only been a means to manipulate Noah.

The apocalypse is triggered during a series of simultaneous events. The 2020 apocalypse occurs when the God Particle is activated "simultaneously" across the three cycles. On June 27, 2020, the God Particle is formed after Clausen orders the barrels of radioactive material buried at the plant, which is to be decommissioned that day, to be opened. Meanwhile, Elisabeth activates the portal in 2053, and Magnus and the woman we assume to be Franziska do the same in 1921. Charlotte, who's in 2020, and the adult Elisabeth, who's in 2053, touch through a rip in time created by the God Particle just as the apocalypse occurs, and it's unclear whether their paradoxical relationship helped set off the apocalypse or if Charlotte traveled to safety in the future before the 2020 world was destroyed.

Most of the main characters survive the apocalypse. At the end of the season, Peter (Stephan Kampwirth) and Elisabeth Doppler, Regina and Claudia Tiedemann, and a young Noah (Max Schimmelpfennig), having traveled via Adam's God Particle to 2020, are in the bunker together and are able to survive the apocalyptic blast. However, the teenaged Magnus, Franziska, and Bartosz also survive because they are saved by the adult version of Jonas at the last second using his time machine. The adult Jonas decided to go and save them after the young Noah gave him a letter that was allegedly written by Martha with instructions for him. Meanwhile, Katharina is last seen entering the passage in the caves right as the apocalypse happens, so it's likely she survives as well and is now in a different time.

Dark's Season 3 Trailer Reveals a Lot More of the Other World

Jonas and Martha are in love and do not care if they are related. Upon learning the truth about who Jonas is in relation to her, Martha is visibly shaken and upset. But she eventually decides she believes she and Jonas are a perfect match — which is what 2020 Jonas told 2019 Martha when he visited her at the lake before trying to save Michael's life. Even knowing the truth of their relationship, the two kiss, clearly giving no f----s that they are technically aunt and nephew. And the medallion for St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, that Martha and Jonas found in the sand at the lake that day becomes a totem for their love.

Martha dies after being shot by Adam. Knowing that Martha dies right before the apocalypse, adult Jonas attempts to save her by forcing her into the bunker at gunpoint, but she escapes and reunites with the younger Jonas at the Kahnwald residence. Adam arrives from 1921 and shoots her in the abdomen, and she quickly dies in the young Jonas' arms. Adam reveals he kills her to ensure Jonas eventually becomes Adam. "Some pain you can't forget," he says. "You'll carry this pain with you all your life until you are ready to let go. Of her."

Other universes also exist. Jonas nearly dies in the apocalypse while he is mourning Martha, but he is saved by a different version of Martha, who has bangs. "The question isn't what time," she says when he asks her what time she is from. "But what world?" Martha then pulls out a golden device that turns out to be a small time/space machine and the two escape just as the shockwave from the apocalypse reaches the Kahnwald house. As we know from the trailer, Season 3 will prominently feature the second world, introducing other alternate versions of all of the characters.

We still don't know how Wöller lost his eye. We were so close! Wöller (Leopold Hornung) was prepared to explain to Clausen how he lost his eye the previous summer, but just as we were about to learn the truth about Dark's greatest mystery, a bewildered, time-traveling Claudia ran out into the middle of the road and Wöller had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting her. Will we ever find out the truth? 

The third and final season of Dark is now streaming on Netflix.