Netflix Dark Season 2 Episode 4 Recap: The Travelers

The Emerald Tablet hangs on a wall in 1921

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.

The last episode centered on the Tiedemann family and the parallel journeys of Egon and Claudia. In this episode, most of the narrative stays on the present time period, with many characters realizing that time travel exists for the first time. While many of the characters receive this news with a sense of awe and wonder, others feel mostly anger and confusion. They are having to come to terms with the news that their loved ones are not dead -- but still unreachable. We also find out the fate of Jonas after he disappeared into the god particle in the year 2053.  

Episode 4 The Travelers

To start, Jonas wakes up in a wheat field, gasping for air. He looks around, unsure of where he is. He buries the hazmat suit and prepares to walk in search of answers, until he notices the still-fresh gunshot wound on his leg. He leans against a tree, reeling from the pain. 

Two men come upon him, dressed in work clothes. They want to know how he got the injury and where he came from, but Jonas isn't sure what to say. Truth be told, Jonas looks pretty bad after he was almost killed by hanging. The men assume he's a returning POW and offer him some food in town. Jonas is hesitant at first, but they insist that a woman named Erna has a soft spot for the wounded. 

As Jonas walks into town with the two men, there are mourners walking alongside a coffin. It's a somber scene that only adds to the feeling that Jonas has strayed far off the path he intended. I'm getting The Witch vibes. The men stop near a young girl sharpening a stick on the ground and tell the girl to go tell Erna to get some food ready. "Agnes, go and let Erna know." So this must be our Agnes as a little girl. 

Inside the local inn, Jonas noshes on a bowl of soup and get asked more questions. Jonas decides to go along with the POW story and informs them he's from the Eastern front. Erna decides to put him up in a bedroom for a week or so. He finally gets brave enough to ask them what year it is, and they reveal it's 1921. So we have cracked open a new time period in Winden history.  

Cut to the Dark title credits and theme music

It's June 24, 2020: 3 days before the Apocalypse. The camera pans up two bodies entwined together. It's Jonas and Martha making love. Jonas says, "I think we're a perfect match. Never believe anything else." Martha wakes up in a sweat, sobbing as she realizes that it's just a dream. Jonas went so cold and then disappeared, and she can't understand why these dreams feel so real if he's really dead. 

Two farmers greet Jonas in 1921

Cut to: The Winden police station, Investigator Clausen studies the evidence board on the wall -- adding a sketch of The Stranger. In walks Torben Woller to inform him that Charlotte Doppler has called in sick. Woller tries to slink out the door, but Clausen decides that Woller will accompany him on his calls in Charlotte's absence. 

Inside her grandfather's study, Charlotte is going through files of her own, pulling out diagrams and charts, one of them being the specs for building the time machine. She gets a phone call from Hannah Kahnwald.  

Cut to: Hannah's house. Stranger Jonas comes downstairs fresh from the shower. He looks at the photos on the table and then opens the metal lockbox to find the handgun and passport Hannah hid inside. He question her about the items, but she just suggests that it's time to make breakfast. 

Cut to: The Nielsen house. Martha and Magnus sit on the couch, wondering what they should do about their mother. Katharina has been either upstairs in Mikkel's bedroom or in the caves exploring, leaving the kids on their own. Franziska knocks on the door, Elisabeth in tow. She wants to talk to Magnus privately. 

She's still upset that he accused her of messing around with Bernadette, but she pseudo-apologizes for what she said. It's an angry attempt at making up. But before Magnus and Franziska can talk too much, Martha interrupts, wondering if she's going to be relegated to babysitter while the two of them make out. Franziska counters that she had to bring Elisabeth because their parents have been in absentia for two days. The parents in this show do seem to have a very bad habit of neglecting their kids. 

Magnus decides it's time to go all Scooby gang and visit the caves for himself. Since he can't have makeup sex with Franziska with her sister around, they might as well make good use of their time. 

Max Schimmelpfennig as NOAH in 1921

Cut to: 1921, Jonas wakes up to find he's in a strange bed. His wounds have been tended to, both his neck and leg. It's dark in the room, but set up looks very similar to the bedroom of his youth, with an A-line roof over a bed on the left side of the room. A voice informs him that he's been sleeping for 24 hours, and Jonas realizes he's not alone. Teen Noah is in a chair by the bed, waiting for Jonas to wake up. He's using a sharp knife to clean his fingernails. Noah states that he expected him to look different. Jonas has no idea what this means. Noah just smiles and leaves the room. Jonas then looks around and notices a framed picture on the wall that looks familiar. He recognizes the words Sic Mundus Creatus Est. [Remember this image is called the Emerald Tablet and Noah has a tattoo of the image on his back.]  With a new sense of urgency, Jonas pulls on his clothes and grabs a lantern. As he walks out if the inn, a young Agnes sweeps the floor. 

Cut to: 2020, the 1980s Claudia approaches the gate of the Winden power plate. She asks if she can speak to Claudia Tiedemann, perhaps hoping to see the older version of herself. A bored security guard informs her that Aleksander Tiedemann is in charge now. Claudia looks a little surprised, but she doesn't ask to see Aleksander. Remember that she had no idea that Regina would marry Aleksander, and of course, it's somewhat confusing that he is going by the surname Tiedeman now.  

Inside the power plant, Clausen is questioning Aleksander about his interactions with Ulrich. They are discussing why Aleksander wouldn't let him on the grounds. Aleksander just says that there was no reason to suspect any boys would be there since strict security standards would make this difficult. As far as the door in the cave, it was installed in the 1980s and welded shut, so case closed. There was no way any boys could have wandered onto the plant grounds. 

Clausen makes a point that no one in the town ever leaves. Aleksander agrees but speculates that there is no cause to leave since the power plant was a good source of income for many families. Now that the power plan is closing, that may not be the case. Clausen then points out that he (Aleksander) arrived in 1986 around the time the boys disappeared. Clausen says that no, it was a little after that. It becomes very clear that Aleksander is a person of interest. 

As Clausen gets ready to exit the office, he asks why Aleksander took his wife's last name. Aleksander explains that the Tiedemann's were important to the city and that Regina has no siblings. They chose to preserve the family name. At last Clausen asks the final question, "What is your real last name." It's Kohler. While all of this sounds like a normal and perfectly logical conversation, the tension in the room is palpable. Woller seems embarrassed to be there. He informs Clausen that the next person to visit is Hannah Kahnwald.

Andreas Pietschmann as STRANGER JONAS 

Cut to: The Kahnwald home. Stranger Jonas is still questioning Hannah about the gun and passport. Hannah says it's an insurance policy. Stranger Jonas is surprised that his mother would blackmail anyone and says, "Who are you?" Hannah shoots back: "Who are you?" A knock at this door turns out to be Charlotte Doppler. Against Stranger Jonas' wishes, Hannah has called her to share the news. I'm not sure exactly what Hannah's motive is here. I never got the feeling that she and Charlotte were that close. Perhaps she suspects that out of everyone in town, Charlotte will be the most level-headed and helpful in making sense of everything. 

In any case, Hannah introduces Charlotte to the older Jonas. Charlotte realizes he was the man who visited Regina at the hotel. She shows them the old Sic Mundus photo and points to Noah's picture, "Who is this man?" He tells her the man's name is Noah, and the group is called Sic Mundus, or the Travelers. Charlotte knows about time travel, so it's Hannah's turn to feel left out. How could Charlotte knows and not tell her. Charlotte says they both need to see something. 

Cut to: The Winden Caves. The teen team of Magnus, Martha, Franziska, and Elisabeth enter the caves. Elisabeth is afraid, but Franziska tells her she stick with her. 

Cut to: The Winden Library, Claudia asks the librarian how she can access the town's history. The librarian tells her that all of those files have been digitalized and goes back his task. Claudia then asks how she can access the files and gets introduced to the digital age real quick. I always love-hate depictions of librarians in TV shows. As a librarian myself, we are very helpful! We don't act this cold or snooty when approached for help. 

That being said, this library scene injects a rare moment of humor in an otherwise bleak show. Claudia sits down in front of a tablet, trying to figure out how to use this new strange tool. Frustrated, she finally asks a young lady behind her where to find the keyboard. The girl just laughs and turns back, and Claudia notices that she is typing on the screen itself. Well, Claudia seems to pick it all up quicker than any 1980s gal I've ever seen. She finds out that her older self disappeared in 1987 after being named the first woman to ever run the power plant. 

Cut to: Clausen and Woller in the car. Clausen asks Woller what he knows about Hannah. Woller tells him the sad facts and reports that Hannah might have had an affair with Ulrich. Woller finally asks Clausen why he took the job to come to Winden. We then find out that Clausen was not assigned. He volunteered for this job. 

Julia Jenkins as CLAUDIA 1987

Cut to: the bunker near Helge's house. Stranger Jonas and Hannah examine the web of pictures and clues on the wall. In particular she Hannah lingers on the compelling photo of Ulrich announcing his arrest in the 1950s for the murder of the missing boys in that time. Peter Doppler is there, too, and he informs Hannah that Claudia told them (he and Tronte) exactly what to do and what would happen. It was all written in the little date book. Hannah is still upset that Charlotte withheld this information from her. And she wants to know if Katharina knows. Charlotte agrees it's time to tell her. 

Cut back to the library: Claudia continues to research stuff about her family. She finds the news of her daughter's marriage to Aleksander Tiedemann and the announcement about Regina opening the Waldhotel Winden. She then turns her attention to her father, Egon. She is devastated to find out that her father was found dead in his apartment on June 26, 1987.

We then witness a tightly cut batch of scenes that switch between Jonas in 1921, the teen group in 2020, and the adults in 2020. Jonas travels to the caves and tries to find the Sic Mundus tunnel. Things look different but he manages to make his way to where the portal should be -- only, he is met with a sheer rock wall. The tunnel is not complete yet. Jonas screams in frustration. He just can't seem to get to the right time. 

The teens travel inside the caves with only their mother's map and a flashlight. They are searching as best they can, when Elisabeth realizes the ground is shaking. Someone else is in the caves. That someone turns out to be Bartosz, holding his own flashlight and a suitcase with the time machine. This is getting a little confusing because there are two time machines. One is with Claudia, and Bartosz holds another. But we also know that Stranger Jonas has a machine, since he just returned from taking Hannah. Well, there isn't enough time to contemplate that for too long. Like everyone who is being left out of information, the teens are immediately suspicious of Bartosz. He is carrying the suitcase, but won't tell them what it is or why he's in the caves. Add to that Martha's already great disappointment with Bartosz as a boyfriend and you have a formula for violence. They tie him up, beat on him a little, and decide to leave him there. You have to feel for Bartosz. We are set up to dislike him in season 1 because of our allegiance to Jonas, but Bartosz fell in love with Martha, found out she likes Jonas, was dumped, and now is basically alone in the world. His Mom is dying from cancer. Now his ex girlfriend lets her brother beat on him. 

Catharina finds Mikkel in the class of 1986 photo

In the adult storyline, Charlotte brings Katharina to the bunker and let her in on the time travel secret. Katharina is trying to make sense of it all and it understandably still pissed at Hannah. She doesn't take the news well and assumes they are all playing a prank. Jonas tries to assure Katharina that Charlotte is telling the truth. Katharina laughs and asks if he's Hannah's new lover. But he breaks the news that he's Jonas -- "her son ... your grandson." Katharina is hysterical at this point. All she wants is her son and husband back. It's more than she can handle, and she ends up running out of the bunker. 

To conclude this wild trilogy of quick cuts, Clausen asks Woller how he lost his eye. All of us are waiting to find out with baited breath; we want to know, too. But the story is interrupted when Woller barely manages to stop himself before running over Claudia, who walks across the road in typical pedestrian mode -- not a care in the world. Hint: whatever happened to Woller, happened last summer. 

Cut to: Katharina runs to the high school, searching frantically in the archives. After looking up the name Michael Kahnwald, she finds his class picture. There, in the photo, is her Mikkel. She's heartbroken. Does she recognize that little boy she bullied so many years ago? This is one of the most emotionally powerful moments of this show. A mother, who wants only to protect her son, realizes that her child was lost. 

Cut to: 1921, Jonas comes out of the caves. Young Noah is there and confirms his suspicions. The tunnel is not open and will not be open for 32 years. And now he has come to take Jonas to them. Who? Sic Mundus, the Travelers. Jonas follows Noah. He has no choice. He needs answers and help to get home. 

Cut back to the bunker, in 2020: Stranger Jonas says that everything will happen as it always was. But Adam said there's a loophole. According to Jonas, Adam wants the last cycle to happen in 3 days. He (Jonas) plans to stop Adam. He looks at Claudia's picture and says, "She tried, but she became what she wanted to fight." Jonas walks out of the bunker. We know a little more about his plan now. He plans to stop Adam from finding the loophole. 

Cut to: Claudia comes out of the cave in the 1980s. 

Jonas is lead to the great room, where he meets Adam. 

Cut back to 1921, young Noah brings Jonas to the church and out comes older Noah, surprising Jonas with the realization that he is looking at two Noahs, 33 years apart. Remember that the last time Jonas met older Noah, he knocked him out and brought him to the chair. It's Noah's actions that put Jonas out of time. At that moment, Jonas was about to approach Mikkel, but that might have changed history, so Noah stopped him. "You've already made my acquaintance." 

During the interlude, we see Bartosz tied up on the floor of the cave. Katharina looks at the pictures of her son. Her kids come in, looking sad and worried for their mom. No one speaks, and the kids just go upstairs. Katharina is still probably processing things for herself so she isn't sharing. Elisabeth and Franziska look at the empty sofa, aware that their parents are still gone. Both Noahs lead Jonas through a series of caves. Claudia comes home to look at Regina sleeping on the sofa. Clausen writes the name Aleksander Kohler on the evidence board. 

Cut to: 2053. The Girl from the Future is in the room where Jonas walked into the god particle. She walks outside and is confronted by Elisabeth. Elisabeth confronts her angrily, but the girl from the future is no longer the obedient assistant. She demands to know what Elisabeth knows about the god particle. Elisabeth signs, "They say it's a piece of god, but it's a piece of the devil!" 

Cut to 1921: Young Noah talks to older Noah and wonders aloud who wrote the book with all the prophecies. Older Noah has no answer, but states that whoever wrote it had seen the future and the past. This is a very good question, because if this book is giving them guidance that they follow, they must trust the source. Young Noah then asks what will happen next. Old Noah says that Adam will send him [Jonas] so the last cycle can begin. Older Noah also is distracted since he's looking at the missing pages.

Cut to: the great room. Jonas comes face-to-face with Adam. Knowing Jonas will be disturbed by his scars, Adam shares that all the time travel took its toll on the body. The body is not meant to withstand so much radiation. Before the hazmat suits were invented, Adam did a lot of travel through the mines with no protection. Adam then asks Jonas if he's ready to begin, but Jonas is ready for this to end. 

Jonas asks who are you? Adam then lands a doozy. He is Jonas, and proves it by unbuttoning his dress shirt and showing Jonas the scar on his neck. Jonas reels from the news, tears streaming down his face. Adam ends by saying everything is lined up and just needs a push. Although we don't know what will happen, it's likely that Jonas himself created the original portal as a means to get back -- so he may indeed be responsible for creating the thing he hopes to end.  

Dietrich Hollinderbaumer as ADAM

While the Travelers isn't as powerful plot-wise as many episodes, this episode sets up many intriguing scenarios for the future. Many characters discover new information that puts them in a position where they can do something. Claudia discovers her dad is destined to die very soon and seems set on stopping that from happening. Jonas realizes that getting home will not be possible without assistance. He will need to partner with Adam and Noah. Katharina learns that her son is in the 1980s. Martha and Magnus now have a time machine, although they don't know that's what it is. Hannah also knows how to travel, and she has a portal of her own. Will all of this new knowledge and power give birth to a new generation of travelers? 

Burning questions: 
  • What will Jonas do now that there is no portal? 
  • Is Adam telling the truth or has he set up Jonas as a pawn? 
  • Who did write the book? 
  • How did Woller lose his eye, and is it connected to any of our plotlines?
  • Will Bartosz tell the teens about the machine? 
  • What is this loophole that Adam has found, and why does Jonas think he can stop Adam, especially if he is Adam? 
  • Why does Clausen seem so interested in Aleksander? 

Sic Mundus Creatus Est