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Netflix Dark Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: Endings and Beginnings

Karoline Eichhorn as CHARLOTTE

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.

In the last episode, we learn the identity of the White Devil. The Martha/Jonas reunion we have been longing for is interrupted by an outraged Katharina. Claudia stands by while her father dies in front of her eyes, knowing the cycle must be repeated. Hannah jabs the knife into Ulrich twists it hard, ready to sink her claws into Egon.


Episode 8 Endings and Beginnings

The episode opens with a camera ominously panning towards Winden. Elisabeth looks up as ashes fall onto the ground. She's in Winden post-apocalypse, 2053. She digs through the straw and finds a metal box. Inside, is the Doppler family photo., the fox hat, and some Polaroids.

In the photos, Elisabeth joyfully cuddles baby Charlotte. In another photo, Elisabeth and Noah hold their child together. Elisabeth tenderly touches the pictures, her thoughts on that happy time.

Cut to 2020: Adult Charlotte lies in bed, watching young Elisabeth sleeping in her father's arms. Shots of the mother and daughter are cut together in their respective time periods.

A group of Polaroid photos
ELISABETH looks at a stack of Polaroid photos
 
"The beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning. Everything is interconnected. Future, past, and present. I couldn't tell her who her mother is. Just as I can't tell you what your provision is. And what I have to do today. I've reflected on this moment for many years."

In 1921, Noah speaks to his younger self in the Sic Mundus lair. He remembers being in younger Noah's shoes. That older Noah wanted to tell him something. Now he understands. The truth must be concealed from young Noah. Otherwise, he will never be able to get to this moment and do what he must do. "We're not free in what we do because we're not free in what we desire." Noah articulates a worldview of determinism. Even though he could tell young Noah about Adam's betrayal, he cannot do so now. Otherwise, Noah might choose a different path. Even though without the manipulation of Adam, Noah could possibly have found happiness elsewhere. Instead, he binds himself to Adam by maintaining the lie.

Old Magnus and Franziska come out and report that "Everything is ready." Old Noah tells young Noah to go with them. Young Noah enters the door and follows the old lovers, while older Noah watches him go.

Cut to the opening credits.

June 27, 2020, the day of the Apocalypse. At the Kahnwald house, Stranger Jonas looks nervously at a clock that reads 9:23. He opens Hannah's metal box. He finds the passport and the gun and removes the gun. He glances at the spot on the floor and then puts the gun into the back of his pants, walking out of the house.

Young Jonas talks to middle-aged Claudia. He explains that his future self tried to close the wormhole to reverse everything. That he shut the passage but did not break the loop. But since older Claudia said that small changes were possible, he will be successful this time. I'm not sure what Jonas' logic is here -- why he thinks he can succeed. Whatever the case, this new Jonas seems colder and more methodical. The pain at not being able to save his father has perhaps scarred his heart and made him more impervious. Perhaps we are seeing a shadow of Adam appear in this Jonas.

A teen boy and an adult woman inside of a cave
[L-R] Louis Hofmann as JONAS, Julika Jenkins as CLAUDIA 1987
 
The camera pulls out to reveal they are conversing inside the cave, facing the wall of yellow barrels. Jonas says that big and small things operate with different rules. "Maybe nothing big can be altered but small things can. We're changing a grain of sand." As he makes this speech, he opens one of the barrels and adds a vial of radioactive waste. Claudia looks terrified.

We then cut to Regina. She's lying on a pillow with her hair wrapped in a scarf. Bartosz asks his mom about grandmother – what was she like? Regina wonders why Bartosz has become interested. Bartosz reveals that Claudia came by last fall, so she's not dead. He pulls out the photo that Claudia gave him, of her and Regina in the 80s. That Claudia felt bad and wanted to apologize. Regina begins to tear up. Bartosz kisses her forehead and leaves the house on an unknown errand.

Across town, Clausen watches a distressed Aleksander nervously scratching his hair. He looks a mess. Clausen shows him a search warrant for the power plant. Aleksander wants to believe that the special conditions that allow the plant to operate without interruption will continue, but Clausen says that the judge allowed the warrant quickly because of the charges against Aleksander. Does Clausen expect to find a ton of corpses inside? As usual, Woller looks embarrassed to be standing and listening to this.

After Clausen leaves, Aleksander begs for Woller to intervene and let him out. Woller speculates that maybe it's for the best that it's all coming out now.

Meanwhile, at the Nielsen house, someone begins to bang on the door. Martha comes downstairs to find Stranger Jonas. He begs her to come with him. He confesses his faults: "It's my fault everyone dies. It's all going to blow in a few hours." That a new cycle will begin. He touches his forehead to hers. Martha is temporarily lost for words, but then pushes him away. She delivers the fatal blow: "This is wrong. We're wrong. Please leave now." He tells her no. That he saw her die once and can't do it again. He pulls out the gun and threatens her with it.

A man and woman touch foreheads
Andreas Pietschmann as STRANGER JONAS, Lisa Vicari as MARTHA
 
Six hours to the Apocalypse. Teenage Franziska and Magnus sit together under the bridge. Bartosz arrives. He is surprised to find them there without the device. Magnus admits his mom has it. Bartosz begins to freak out because this isn't how it's supposed to happen. Wisely, Franziska wonders if he did exactly was he was supposed to do – show them how it works. Bartosz runs off to try and find the device.

Katharina walks inside the Kahnwald house, device in tow. She's looking for Jonas, probably wanting him to show her how it works. No one is home, of course. She rifles through the things on his desk and in his backpack. She finds the globe light and the map, with the Stranger's markings on it.

1987, Inside the caves: Jonas and middle-aged Claudia find the wormhole. Claudia only traveled with the suitcase/machine before, so this is her first experience with the passage. Jonas announces that he plans to open the passage. Claudia protests this decision because shouldn't it remain closed? Jonas says, "It took me ages to accept having to be part of the disaster I wanted to prevent." Claudia is curious how he knows so much. He explains that for the last year, her older self has taught him everything. It was older Claudia who taught Jonas everything, and now Jonas will show younger Claudia, I suppose.

"There are two sides. Adam and Sic Mundus want to create a new world. You and I want to save this one. Claudia wisely asks, "Who is Adam?"

We then see Adam watching a clock that reads 11:05. It looks like Adam has an oxygen tank.

In 2020, Jonas points the gun at Martha to lead her down into the bunker. She sees the walls covered with evidence about time travel. He explains that this is a safe place – the only safe place. She asks him if the story with Mikkel is true. Jonas openly weeps, begging her to forgive him. He never wanted any of this for her. But that Jonas will come back, as he always does.

Martha grabs onto this hope: "Jonas will come back?" He asks her to promise she won't leave the bunker.

Teen Jonas and Claudia maneuver through the passage together, finding the blocked tunnel.

Across town, Charlotte enters the police station. She finds Woller, and he tells her about Clausen arresting Aleksander and getting a search warrant for the power plant. She's about to run off, but Woller grabs her arm and tells her he needs to confess something: "On the nuclear power plant grounds, Aleksander buried something in concrete there. Radioactive waste. I helped him do it. I'm sorry."

A woman in a cave follows a string of lights
Jordis Triebel as KATHARINA
 
Charlotte quickly realizes that this is what triggers the apocalypse and mentions that Jonas knew. Woller struggles to keep up with this conversation, assuming she means teen Jonas. For once, Charlotte asks Woller to come with her.

Peter calls Charlotte and tries to get ahold of her. He wants to know if she has Franziska. Elisabeth examines the pocket watch, with the inscription: For Charlotte. I suppose Peter knows the apocalypse is coming, too. He makes a decision and tells Elisabeth that they are going to the bunker now. He no longer knows what to believe, but Noah said that only the people in the bunker would live. Elisabeth is worried about her mom and Franziska, but Peter says it will be okay. His face tells a different story.

Four hours to the apocalypse. At the Winden Power plant, a staff person escorts Clausen through the plant. He isn't sure exactly what Clausen wants to see. Clausen uses one of his famous sayings: "Just because a task seems too big doesn't mean it's unsolvable." He stops in front of the door with all the yellow suits hanging up next to it. Of course, Clausen wants to know what's behind this special door. The man tells him that it's the spent fuel pool for the old reactor. It's been out of use since the 1990s.

Clausen wants to see this area immediately. The man responds that there's radiation. Clausen points out there are safety suits nearby. Problem solved.

Across town, Katharina comes downstairs. This time she has Jonas' backpack. This is almost too much. We are happy for Katharina, but Hannah has stolen Jonas' machine, and now Katharina takes all of his supplies. She stops to look at a photo album. The photo album is labeled Michael. Katharina hesitates before opening the book, as she can sense this might be emotional to see her son's memories. Inside are photos of Mikkel, growing up with Ines as his mother. These years have been stolen from Katharina – years she could have seen him grown into a young man.

Stranger Jonas interrupts her browsing. He's shocked to find her there. She asks him how to use the machine. Of course, he's wondering how she came to possess such a thing. She wants to bring Mikkel back. He tells her this is impossible. She accuses him of just protecting himself. He protests that it's not that simple. That because he exists, Mikkel can't come back. That if she tried to bring him back, she would fail. But he would willingly exchange his life for his father if he could.

He tells Katharina that he tried to prevent the origin, but Adam is the endpoint. "Maybe I can't prevent me from becoming him, but I can stop what has become of me."

We cut to Adam in the Sic Mundus lair. In walks adult adult Noah. Noah confronts Adam about his lies -- that he never wanted to save anyone. He pulls out the missing pages from his lapel: "You aren't waging war against God. You're waging it against humanity." He throws the pages at Adam. He then pulls out a gun, full of righteous wrath and ready to exact justice on Adam.

During this speech, Adam remains unaffected. He shows no signs of fear. He tells Noah, "Claudia was right. You still don't understand how this game is played." Noah then shoots Adam, but the gun doesn’t go off. Adam knows Noah won't kill him because it's not his fate to die just yet.

A gloved hand points a gun at the camera
ADAM shoots MARTHA
 
"Only when we're free of all emotion are we truly free. Only when one is ready to sacrifice what one holds dearest." He holds out the photo of Elisabeth. "Charlotte is your daughter. She's Elisabeth's daughter. And her mother. No human is without guilt. None of them have earned a place in your paradise." Adam seems to be saying that Noah is too connected to his family and that it's ruining his ability to break free and make a good decision.

Older Magnus and Franziska now come out. Agnes joins them, wearing her victory crown braids. She places her hand on Noah's cheek. She then takes the pistol from his hand and shoots her brother in the heart. Note: While it might be natural to assume that this scene takes place after Agnes left 1953, I have heard it speculated that the Agnes here is pre-1953. That she kills her brother Noah before the scene in the yellow dress. That this is an Agnes deep in Sic Mundus, which is why she betrayed her brother and is wearing the victory braids. This may even be Agnes before she gives birth to Tronte. We have to remember that in this show time is not linear. I'm not sure where I stand on when this scene happens in her timeline.

As his older self dies, teen Noah emerges from the Sic Mundus lair in 2020. In the Winden caves, Jonas and middle-aged Claudia still sit outside the blocked Sic Mundus passage. Jonas pulls out the cesium he got from the barrels. He turns on the machine and watches it work. As they prepare the open the passage, we see Martha in the bunker. Magical dust begins to form – the time travel dust.

At the power plant, Clausen and the other deputies prepare to enter the radioactive pool. The lights flicker. Peter and Elisabeth drive together towards the bunker. A mass of dead birds falls from the sky. At the Kahnwald house, Stranger Jonas explains to Katharina that Jonas has opened the passage again. Once Katharina hears that the passage is open, she leaves the house and doesn't take the machine with her.

Peter and Elisabeth enter the bunker. Martha uses the opportunity to run outside. Peter tries to stop her. At the Nielsen house, Bartosz and Franziska watch the lights flickering. I guess Charlotte and Peter didn't tell their kids what to expect. Otherwise, Franziska would know where to go. The machine is gone. Bartosz begins to panic.

Now in 2020, Jonas and middle-aged Claudia come out of the caves. They have used the passage. Claudia wonders where to go. Jonas gives her the suitcase and tells her to bring it to the bunker near Helge's cabin. Jonas plans to find his mother and Martha, not knowing that Hannah is gone.

Two hours to the apocalypse: Magnus calls Martha, asking her to call him back. Franziska finally gets a text from Peter, asking her to come to the bunker. Magnus asks her to wait 30 minutes to see if Katharina and Martha show up.

A woman in a yellow hazmat suit stares through a time portal at a woman.
CHARLOTTE and ELISABETH see one another across time
 
Charlotte and Woller drive together in the car. She has shared some information with him about Noah claiming to be her father. And that today will be an apocalypse.

Clausen and the power plant and sheriff's deputies enter the reactor room. Before them is the pooling floor for the old reactor. The man explains that the floor has been sealed. That it's standard procedure to do this. Clausen insists it must be broken open again.

At the Tiedemann house, Claudia calls the station and asks for them to release Aleksander. She's all alone at home, dying from cancer. Suddenly middle-aged Claudia enters the house. They haven't seen each other in 33 years. Regina breaks down at this sudden appearance. She's never understood why Claudia just disappeared one night. Claudia apologizes for leaving her but says that Regina must come with her right away. Regina is unable to move though. They embrace. A clock on the wall reads 2:34 p.m.

At the Kahnwald house, Stranger Jonas stares at the gun sitting on the kitchen table. He's on high alert where this gun is concerned. The house is in obvious disarray since Hannah disappeared. Someone enters the home, and he rises to his feet as if expecting the intrusion. In walks teen Noah. Stranger Jonas remembers him from their last encounter at the Sic Mundus lair. He assumes Adam sent Noah. Noah speculates that he's always wondered when Jonas became Adam. Jonas states that he will never do what Adam did. Noah smugly reports that Adam said he would say that and that Adam also said they would become friends before Jonas betrayed him.

This reunion feels like a showdown. Jonas and Noah are the ultimate frenemies, both following different leaders. Noah says, "If you kill him, you kill all hope of salvation." Like his older self with Helge, Noah walks straight into the gun, unafraid. He calls Adam, and therefore, Stranger Jonas, the savior. He hands Jonas a letter that he claims is from Martha. That Jonas must save Magnus, Franziska, and Bartosz … and later he and Agnes. The loop must be closed so that Martha can live. That means Stranger Jonas has to leave the house and give up his post as guardian.

A man and a woman hold hands
[L-R] Carina Wiese as FRANZISKA 1921, Wolfram Koch as MAGNUS 1921
 

Across town, Katharina prepares to enter the caves with her new load of supplies.

In 2053, Elisabeth takes the opening under the wall to visit the God particle.

In 1921, adult Magnus and Franziska equip Adam with a suit and breathing tank.

Back in 2020, men drill through the concrete of the nuclear reactor pool.

Inside the bunker, young Elisabeth sits on the bench with her father, wearing a red hoodie and red watch on her wrist. Peter checks his phone. They hear footsteps coming downstairs. In walks middle-aged Claudia with Regina. Peter seems stunned when he first sees Claudia. He looks at the picture of old Claudia on the board. He says, "You're her. Claudia."

Katharina easily finds the ouroboros handle with the red string. However, she doesn't have the Geiger counter that would allow her to "follow the signal."

The men continue to drill and uncover the first of the yellow barrels. Clausen anticipates what they will find. The suspense is really building through these quick cuts. We then see Charlotte and Woller accompanied by a third man, walking towards the reactor room.

Teen Jonas enters the Kahnwald house. He told Claudia he was looking for his mother, so I suppose he hopes to find Hannah. With Stranger Jonas gone, the house is now empty. In walks Martha, calling for Jonas, but which one did she expect to find?

Martha now stands before her Jonas, the boy of her literal dreams. He starts to tell her what he knows, but she tells him she knows everything. That she understands why he rejected her in the rain. She touches his face, and he closes his eyes in rapture at her touch. She says, "We're a perfect match. Never believe anything else." They kiss exultantly.

A group of people in yellow protective suits stand in a nuclear power plant
The god particle appears
 
Adam appears. "And so, the circle closes." Adam tries to make a speech about all the pieces being in place, but Jonas expresses his anger that Adam lied. Jonas wants to know why Adam would want the cycle to repeat. Adam says, "Because what is created today is the beginning of the end." That the dark matter must be created so that in the future it can lead to its new purpose. That Adam is the trigger that will make Jonas into what Adam is today (sounds like Noah telling his teen self the same thing). He shoots Martha in the heart.

Adam prophecies that Jonas will carry this pain his whole life, until he's ready to let go. It's Adam who circles the date of June 27th on the calendar. It's the day of the apocalypse but also the day of Jonas' festering wound. Adam gives Jonas a choice of stopping him or saving Martha. He then walks out of the house. 

At the Winden power plant, Clausen prepared to open a yellow barrel. Charlotte and Woller finally enter, trying to stop him. Clausen believes this barrel is his elephant. Charlotte assures him it is not. She tells him this has nothing to do with the missing boys, but the past and the future. Clausen orders the opening of the barrels to continue. Inside, are rocks covered in black ooze.

Our interlude music begins: "My Body is a Cage" by Peter Gabriel.

Across town, Stranger Jonas bangs on the door of the Nielsen house. Bartosz, Franziska, and Magnus hesitate to let him in. None of them have ever seen Stranger Jonas so they are freaked out. Bartosz seems to realize it's Jonas and blames the whole situation on Jonas. Stranger Jonas nods his head but proceeds with setting up the machine. There's not much time before the world explodes. He is here to save them from the apocalypse. Bartosz wants to know where Martha is, which is sweet. Jonas just stares him down.

In 2053, Elisabeth turns on the god particle. In 1921, adult Franziska and Magnus turn some dials on their machine. The atomic matter inside the barrel in 2020 begins to ripple. The matter forms like tendrils and becomes a large pulsing sphere exactly like the others. The people in yellow suits stand back.

A man and woman in a living room with a small golden globe on the floor
[L-R] Lisa Vicari as ALT-MARTHA, Louis Hofmann as JONAS
 
Katharina studies the map inside the caves, trying to figure out her next step. The matter sparkles, perhaps oozing from the god particle above her. It forms a pattern, leading her to the passage.

Elisabeth opens the pocket watch: For Charlotte. The lights inside the bunker begin to flicker. In walks teen Noah. He looks at all of them, most deeply at Elisabeth. A hint at their future relationship.

In the power plant, the god particle becomes a perfectly stable sphere. It expands and then shrinks rapidly. Everyone is just watching this like it's a fascinating circus act. The sphere turns on its side and opens up like a portal between two worlds. Charlotte and Elisabeth see each other through the opening and walk towards one another. They reach out to touch one another.

The apocalypse begins. Strange Jonas encourages Magnus, Franziska, and Bartosz to steps towards the machine as it boots up. Bartosz demands to know where they are going. Jonas says nothing.

In 1921, adult Magnus and Franziska go to hold hands. We wonder why they never left Adam, especially if they had the ability to travel.

The black blob covers the power plant and blasts out. At the Kahnwald house, the world begins to shake. Jonas doesn't move though. But then another Martha walks in. She's got shorter hair, bangs, and a dystopian-appropriate outfit. She says, "I'm not who you think I am."

She takes a golden globe out of her bag. It looks very steampunk and Golden Compass. He asks what time she's from. She says, "The question is not from what time, but from what world." Jonas looks back at his Martha once more. He doesn't want to abandon her. But just then he has not choice because the world explodes.

A house surrounded by black clouds
The Kahnwald house engulfed in atomic blast
 
If I may give an Adam-like speech at the end of this season, I remember my mental state as I finished this episode and this season. I wanted to quit. Having Jonas finally get to be with Martha and only to have that happiness shattered in pieces is almost too much. This is a world of fatalism and a frustrating lack of agency. The good cannot prosper here. Jonas is beginning to tire and be changed by the futility of doing anything right. 

The only person that seems to find happiness or satisfaction of any kind is Hannah, since she can continue to screw up others' lives by manipulating the time periods. Who knows what trouble Hannah will get in now that she has figured out how to control the system.

Converting the narrative from time travel to the multiverse provides new storytelling opportunities, but it also dashes all hope you have in a happy ending in this world. Perhaps this very frustration gives us insight into how the characters may be feeling as they meet nothing but walls. In hindsight, this episode skillfully balances a crescendo of activity that escalates into a climax. 

Burning questions:

  • What happens to Bartosz?
  • Is there any hope for Martha and is alt-Martha really a new person or a clone of Martha?
  • Can any change happen for Winden?
  • Will Aleksander ever see his family again?

Sic Mundus Creatus Est

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