Dark – the original Netflix sci-fi thriller series from Germany – is obsessed with time travel. But for its first two seasons, even though Dark explored the many facets of time travel in puzzling yet fascinating ways, he refused to entertain the discussion of parallel worlds. That changed at the end of season 2 with the death of Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari), when a Martha with bangs – let’s call her alt-Martha – appeared out of nowhere and told her bewildered and grieving love. Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) that she came from another world. It basically exploded DarkThe central conceit of, for a possible theory of time travel – used in many modern fictions, including Avengers: Endgame – states that multiple realities are the result of messing with the past.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Dark season 3, you might want to quit now. Thematic spoilers and veiled references to upcoming storylines. Proceed at your own risk, if you do not want to have certain parts of Dark Season 3 spoiled for you.
Except Dark repeatedly refuted the idea that the past can be changed. In the first two seasons, many of its time-traveling characters promised to fix everything in the future by changing something in the past. But each time they tried to alter their reality, they simply contributed to what they had decided to change. In short, Dark apparently believes in determinism. Or rather, the same goes for her husband-wife creative duo Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, who serve as director and screenwriter, respectively, on each Dark episode. This would mean that there is no free will per se. In place, DarkThe universe of – now, a multiverse – is ruled by the laws of fate and fate, as often espoused by older, wiser versions of its time travelers.
This is true for much of Dark season 3 – also the final season – as you might expect, but it’s oddly upset with the help of an endgame twist. Assuming you followed DarkWell, you’ll see the twist come throughout the season. But not the result. Deconstruct Darktowards the end is a curious choice, not least because it negates what Dark tries to tell from the start, but also because it helps bring about what is bound to be a polarizing ending. Maybe it’s a case of Dark creators trying to outsmart the public and fans with their endless theories, but in doing so, Dark season 3 favors surprise over internal logic.
Where the Netflix series has always felt powerful is with its characters, mostly because its time travel mechanics – any jump you make takes you 33 years into the past or the future – allowed us to observe them throughout their lives. Dark Season 3 deepens our understanding of them in a largely satisfying way, showing how they came to be who they are, through a combination of good intentions and untold things. At the same time, the intricacies of its time-traveling complications – there’s now more than one version of the characters at the same age – somewhat diminish the sense of the big moments on Dark season 3.
From 13 Reasons Why to Dark, the TV series to watch in June
Picking up where it left off at the end of Season 2, Dark season 3 takes Jonas to the parallel world of alt-Martha. Except it’s November 4, 2019 – where the show started – in this version of the fictional German town of Winden. This is intentional, as it allows Dark season 3 to draw parallels with season 1. Martha is the one with Jonas’ yellow jacket, and she and her family live in the Kahnwald household. Instead of Jonas’ mother Hannah (Maja Schöne) and Martha’s father Ulrich (Oliver Masucci), it’s Ulrich’s son Magnus (Moritz Jahn) and Franziska Doppler (Gina Alice Stiebitz) who secretly sexual relations. Charlotte (Karoline Eichhorn), Franziska’s mother, is not the chief of police, Ulrich is. While some things are different, some are the same, due to the nature of the individual.
In many cases, the same dialogues and events of season 1 are repeated in the parallel world on Dark season 3; naturally, they take on a new meaning. Season 1 re-explore sheds new light on Dark‘s beliefs, in that we are doomed to our fate not because it is predetermined, but because of who we are by nature. It’s poignant. But sometimes, Dark season 3 is so taken up with drawing those parallels that it ends up retreading the ground of season 1. And since it’s the last season and a lot of the puzzle is already in place, that reduced the role of most alternate versions of the characters, compared to their “original” counterparts. Speaking of which, the few survivors of the apocalypse are scattered across time in Dark season 3, with some of them in an as-yet-unknown time period.
That leaves Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbäumer) – the leader of the secret time traveler society, Sic Mundus – who continues to search for “the origin of everything”, hoping to destroy it and put everything to rest. (A dialogue from The Matrix continues to serve as overt inspiration, and it’s joined by Avengers: Infinity War at a pivotal moment.) Ultimately, Dark season 3 follows up on Adam’s claim, despite all the past evidence, with the Netflix series opting for a solution that massively simplifies its multiverse. For a series that thrives on its complexity, that’s disappointing. His endgame choice also somewhat hurts the resolve of his characters and the lives they led; there is something beautiful about the human spirit of perseverance, especially in the face of terrible odds.
Choked, Dark, 13 Reasons Why, M:I Fallout and more on Netflix in June
As for the technical aspect of things, Dark season 3 is largely over the top. Ben Frost’s eerie, ominous background score does its job to the teeth, and Udo Kramer’s production design brings wonderful life to every period and every setting. Odar the director takes his time, delivering six one-hour episodes and ending with two 70-minute episodes. Nothing is ever rushed, however Dark season 3 loses a bit of momentum halfway through and in the penultimate chapter, which feels like a table-setting episode. But with two worlds now intermingled with multiple time periods, and this being the final season, the slow, deliberate pacing might actually help some viewers not feel overwhelmed and savor what’s left.
On the other hand, those who have a keen eye will read some Dark Season 3 events just before they happen. There’s still plenty of mental math needed elsewhere, with the Netflix series turning into a maze-like Westworld. It’s not the only HBO series Dark season 3 rivals; having already surpassed Game of Thrones in terms of incest, it now surpasses matricide and filicide, although the characters are not always aware of the relationship. Some of this matches the biblical overtones that carry over into the final season. It was at the heart of Dark from the beginning, as was his interest in exploring mortality, human nature, pain and loss, and determinism. What do you think of the interpretations of the last of those on Dark season 3 will hinge on your belief in a higher power.
which intertwines with Dark‘s own belief that time is a circle and that what happened before must happen again. Which makes it quite like the Battlestar Galactica reboot from the 2000s, with both shows also drawing very similar lessons. Circular narration is always poetic, and on Dark, it is integrated into the concept itself. The end is the beginning, the beginning is the end.
Dark Season 3 releases on Saturday, June 27 at 12:30 p.m. in India.
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