Netflix Dark Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: Beginnings and Endings

Louis Hofmann as JONAS in DARK

Dark is one of the best Netflix original series to date. To see a description of the show and all of my episode recaps, go here.

When last we left off in season 1, the big reveal was that the Stranger was actually Jonas, so we will now call him Stranger Jonas. Mikkel is lost in 1986, Ulrich is stuck in 1953, and Jonas is stuck in a post-apocalyptic world that ends up being 2053.

The purpose of season 1 is to introduce us to all four key families, make us comfortable with the laws of time travel, and show the central conflict that all the characters face. Each wonders "Can I control the future or the past?" There are characters like Jonas, Ulrich, and Helge, who all believe they can change things. Yet, it just causes more chaos. On the other hand, you have characters like Tannhaus, Claudia, and Ines, that promote the idea of being caught up in a story and not interfering or trying to impose will upon what happens.

Episode 1 Beginnings and Endings

We open with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: "And if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. 

Cut to: The entrance to the cave. It's June 21, 1921. Two men are inside the tunnel, cutting through stone. It's the genesis of the Sic Mundus tunnel. They are working enthusiastically to finish. This is the gateway that will make time travel possible. The speak of beginnings and endings and that they are, in fact, one and the same. 

The men take a break outside and begin to wash up. One is young, perhaps 16 years old. The other is in their 30s? The younger man, whom we find out is Noah, accuses the older man of losing faith and no longer believing in the prophecy. The older man, credited on IMDB as "Man in cave," tells Noah that he should do what must be done. But he leaves Noah the younger with this challenge -- ask Adam why he took him in and called him Noah. Noah picks up a pickaxe and drives it into the man's skull and back, killing him. This is the moment when Noah becomes a prophet emboldened to do Adam's bidding to fulfill a prophecy. Once you begin to follow the orders someone gives you, it becomes more difficult to extract yourself. 

Cut to older Noah. The date is June 27, 2020. It's the beginning of the last cycle. Noah is holding a black book. 

Cut to: Theme song and title credits

Cut to: Two people are having sex, and as the scene continues we realize it's Martha and Jonas. He says to her, "I think we're a perfect match. Never believe anything else." Then Jonas wakes up. It was a dream. He is in his childhood home, but it's very dark and things are in poor condition. He gets dressed and walks downstairs, examining the 2020 calendar and the family photo still pinned up from 33 years ago. He looks at the calendar and sees the last day marked off is June 27th, which must be the day that Winden was demolished and most of the people killed. He then walks outside, pulls a mask across his face and pulls a hood over his head. We see the town of Winden is in shambles. The cinematographer uses a gray washout filter to show a world devoid of color. Everything is covered in dust, probably remainders from the nuclear blast. Jonas carries a backpack made of indestructible material with his supplies. 

It's 2053, and we learn that Winden was leveled by some kind of apocalyptic event, obviously some kind of radiation. Most people died, although there were survivors. He goes into the school, barely recognizable, but the desks and basketball goal provide context clues. Jonas gets something from the school and continues on his way. He then walk to the hatch and walks down the stairs into the bunker. On the wall, the photos of the Winden residents still remain, with strings tying them together and showing the web. Jonas puts a tape and puts it into the recorder. The tape played is of Claudia Tiedemann, who claims she is one of the few survivors. She mentions the God particle being the key if it can be stabilized. Jonas has moved the photo of Martha from the wall onto the desk and next to it is the pfennig coin that she gave him. 

Cut to: June 21, 2020, It's six days before the apocalypse. 

Hannah is in the kitchen, which is a nice parallel to how Jonas woke up. She looks at the same calendar Jonas did, only the day she marks off today is the 21st. 

Cut to: The Tiedemann home. The cancer has taken a toll on Regina. Bartosz looks on as the doctor examines his mom, telling her that things are worse. Bartosz gets a text from Martha, who asks him to come to the bridge. 

Cut to: The Winden police station. A new investigator has arrived to take over the case of the missing children. His name is Clausen, and he is going to work with Charlotte Doppler to find the boys. He runs a community meeting to tell people what he is going to do. Mr. Obendorf complains that there are so few people on the case, especially since Charlotte Doppler has been unable to unearth any leads so far. 

Cut to: Magnus and Franziska sit by the lake. Magnus looks miserable. He asks Franziska if her mother talks to her about the case. Franziska says no. Both of them feel useless and neglected at home. Franziska gives him a kiss and tells him that she has to go pick up Elisabeth. Magnus looks upset and then gets up and sets off somewhere. 

Cut to: Katharina Nielsen makes her way to the entrance of the cave. She's got a map and a flashlight, and she enters into the cave looking determined.  

Cut to: 2053. Jonas walks through a field of graves. He places the family photo he took from his kitchen at the grave marked Michael Kahnwald. He then gazes at the grave of Martha Nielsen and walks on.

MARTHA (Lisa Vicari) breaks up with BARTOSZ (Paul Lux). Photo: Netflix

Cut to: 2020. Martha rides her bike towards the bridge to meet Bartosz. He is waiting underneath. The two start the conversation awkwardly. Bartosz is mad that Martha has been ignoring his calls. Martha accuses Bartosz of hiding things and changing. Bartosz snaps that his Mom is dying, and Martha complains that her father and brother disappeared. They both are under a lot of stress, and they end up breaking up. Bartosz looks at his phone. There is a message from a unknown sender that says "This evening." 

Cut to: The Winden power plant. Aleksander Tiedemann is having a staff meeting during which he announces that in six days the Winden power plant will be decommissioned. He thanks everyone for their years of service. After the meeting, he, along with an employee, walk to the reactor room and put on hazmat suits. The staff member says everything is ready for transport.  

Cut to: Hannah. She sits at the kitchen table and opens a decorated box. Inside is a passport and a gun. She picks up the gun and seems to contemplate using it on herself. Just then, the door opens. It's Stranger Jonas. She has no idea who he is and wants to know he got a key to the house. With some well-chosen facts, he is able to convince her that he is her son. 

At this moment, you actually do feel sorry for Hannah. Her husband killed himself, her lover has turned away and gone missing, and now Jonas has vanished. After she realizes it's actually Jonas, he embraces her, and she seems to feel much relief to find someone showing her care. And Jonas seems weepy, too. How long has it been since he has been able to hug his mother like this. It's a genuinely touching moment. 

Cut to: Franziska walks through the woods and put something into a small wooden box, hidden near the railroad tracks. Magnus is watching her do this and seems suspicious.

Cut to: 1921, The middle-aged Noah is speaking with the younger Noah of 1921. Noah tells his younger self that Adam will be proud of him and that his guilt about committing murder will pass soon enough. Noah 1921, remembering the words of the man in the cave, asks "Why did Adam take us in? How do we know what's wrong and right? Good and evil?" Noah 1954 says that he must learn to listen to his own inner voice. This is truly an odd thing to say because both Noahs are being influenced by Adam. Adam is the voice they are listening to, but Noah is so indoctrinated that he believes his own voice is his guide. 

Cut to: 2053, Jonas walks through a field of corpses hanging from the trees. He overhears gunshots and a man yelling. It turns out he is yelling at the group of militants Jonas encountered when he first came to this time. The man is yelling: "You are hiding it. We found it. You must not hide God." He and two other men have nooses around their necks. 

Welcome to the future, Jonas. Photo: Netflix

The leader is a middle-aged woman with short blonde hair. She speaks in sign language and looks fierce. Her face is scarred. The one person we know who was deaf and spoke in sign language was Elisabeth. Could this be her older self? Elisabeth says that no one can enter the dead zone. It's forbidden. Elisabeth gives the order, and the men are publicly executed by hanging. Everyone walks off but Jonas, and the two leaders ask him where he was before this. Jonas wants to know what's outside the wall. Neither party gets answers to their questions. Elisabeth reiterates that the prophecy will only be fulfilled if people obey the law. Jonas snaps at them about the fact that his family and friends back in 2020 could still be helped. 

Cut to: 2020, we see younger Elisabeth. Peter Doppler and Elisabeth are visiting Tannhaus' store. Elisabeth is curious why Charlotte never sold it. Peter says that it was the only thing she had from her family, and that she never knew them. But then Elisabeth finds a photo of her and Tannhaus standing together. Peter just smiles and keeps looking through boxes. 

Cut to: Winden police station. Charlotte and Clausen are looking through case files, but it's clear that he is low-key interrogating Charlotte, too. He keeps bringing the conversation back to Ulrich and wanting to know if Charlotte suspects Ulrich. Charlotte is giving away nothing. We know that she found the photo evidence of Ulrich being stuck in the past during season one. Charlotte clearly plans to do her own investigation for now and not give Clausen any clues. 

Cut to: Martha enter Mikkel's room, looking for her mom. Instead she finds all of the files that Katharina has been studying. 

Cut to: Katharina is in the cave trying to use the map she found. But she comes to a dead end and sits down, looking quite dejected. 

Cut to: Adam and Noah having a conversation in the elegant room. Adam wants to know what Noah told Bartosz and tells him to find the missing pages from the black book. He also reiterates the apocalypse must happen. 

Cut to: After following Franziska to the metal box under the railroad tracks and then watching her leave, Magnus hangs out behind a tree waiting to see what happens next. Eventually Benni comes to pick up "the package." And Magnus decides to follow her to see what happens next. Benni walks past the trailer truck parked across from the gas station and into her trailer, marking herself open for business. After a moment or repose, Magnus walks in and Benni assumes he is there for some sexual services. Magnus leave, obviously upset that he thinks Franziska is getting serviced by Benni for sexual favors. 

Cut to: The Kahnwald house. Hannah continues her conversation with Stranger Jonas. She wants to know where "my Jonas" is, and he explains that Jonas is in the future. That he tried to close the passage but accidentally destroyed it instead, getting stuck in the future with no way to return. 

Cut to: Elisabeth continues to look through the boxes of her great-grandfather's things and comes across the Sic Mundus photo. She recognizes Noah from their encounter in the woods and shows the photo to Peter. 

ELISABETH (Sandra Borgmann) is now a military leader. Photo: Netflix

Cut to: The Winden police station. Clausen and Charlotte are still looking through evidence, when Charlotte gets a text from Peter. He asks her to meet him in the bunker, telling her, "I've found Noah." Charlotte makes her excuses and leaves to meet Peter. 

Cut to: The Nielsen house. Magnus comes home and finds Martha in Mikkel's room. She shows him the maps and speculates that Katharina has gone to try and follow the trail. We briefly see Katharina still looking for a hidden passage or door. 

Cut to: Bartosz stands outside the cave, waiting for Noah. Noah comes out of the cave carrying a suitcase. He asks Bartosz if he's ready. 

Cut to: Woller comes out of Benni's trailer. We come to find out that Benni and Woller and siblings. Woller gets into the trailer truck and drives it away. 

Cut to: The bunker. Charlotte comes down the stairs and meets Peter. He shows her the photo, explaining that Elisabeth found it at the store. When Charlotte turns over the photo, it reads 1921. 

Cut to: Musical interlude: "It's Happening Again" by Agnes Obel

Cut to: 2053. Jonas breaks the rule and enters the dead zone. As suspected, at the center of the dead zone is the Winden power plant. He carries the globe light and the radiation detector. Following the signal, he comes to the reactor core and finds the black and blue pulsating God particle. 

And that's where the episode ends. 

This episode kicked of season 2 well. We touch base mostly with the 2020 time period with the secondary attention being paid to Jonas, as he explores the future. Jonas still believes he can make an impact for the good. Guided by the post mortem voice of Claudia Tiedemann, she has convinced that he can make a different choice and somehow save the people of 2020. He wants to save Martha, his Mom, and even if his dad, if possible. As Jonas tries to stop the apocalypse from happening, Adam assures Noah that the apocalypse needs to happen, so the two are at cross purposes. While it wasn't the most riveting episode plot-wise, I'm excited to see what happens next. 

Burning questions:
  • How did Elisabeth's face get so scarred and disfigured? 
  • Will Jonas be able to use the God particle to travel back to his time? 
  • Now that Charlotte and Hannah both know that time travel exists, how will they use this information? 
Sic Mundus Creatus Est

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