Netflix Dark Season 1 Episode 2 Recap: Lies

Ulrich investigates the disappearance of his son. Photo: Netflix

"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.

Episode 1.2 Lies

As we open the episode, the Winden power plant looms over the town. A murder of crows flies by, and a caption proclaims it's been 9 hours since Mikkel disappeared. 

A mysterious man walks out of the Winden caves, holding a suitcase. He looks on stoically as a search party scours the forest for evidence related to Mikkel's disappearance. The man stoops to pick up the carcass of a dead bird. 

Jonas wakes from another nightmare and hears a piercing ringing tone. As he walks to the mirror holding his ear, he notices black liquid seeping from his ears. He sees a vision of his father, covered in lots of black liquid. He starts awake again. The black liquid episode was only another nightmare. 

Back at the police station, Charlotte Doppler listens to the results of the autopsy of the dead boy who was found. He was between 10-12 years old and died about 16 hours before the body was found. In addition, it turns out the eyes were burned or melted, which caused the black material to form around the eyes like a mask. And oddly, the boy's ear drums and canal were destroyed. Charlotte asks what would cause such a thing and learns it could be a loud noise, pressure, or centrifugal force. The boy's octogenia are in the wrong place. These are fibers inside the ear that tell a person if they are upside down or rightside up. If these are damaged, it's very hard to maintain balance or orientation. The boy's octogenia are all eschew. Could this be related to the machine we saw Erik being strapped into?

While the community search party is going on, Ulrich is doing his own private investigation in the caves and discovers a metal door inside the cavern. The door is marked by the universal sign for radiation. 

Meanwhile Franziska is confronted by Magnus, who has been waiting for her in the forest on the path she travels. Somehow he knows where to look for her, further confirming my hunch that these two are into each other. Only at this moment, Magnus has other things in mind. He demands to know why she was at the caves. She confesses she overheard them planning to meet there at night but doesn't say why she was there. She tells Magnus how sorry she is, and he walks away without a word. Fun fact: Magnus' jacket has a Vupax logo on back, and many fans want this jacket as a result. Magnus is quite the style icon. 

Peter Doppler sits in his car listening to the missing report. He seems pretty broken up and fragile. Perhaps he feels guilty about something? 

Shortly after, we see Tronte Nielsen (Jana's husband and Ulrich's dad) putting a sweater in the washing machine with blood on the sleeves. Jana wants to know where he was last night and Tronte says he was trimming the rose bushes. Really, dude? She persists and remarks the car wasn't there, and he snaps that he was getting gas. Tronte is a horrible liar. 

Back at the Ulrich Nielsen home, Martha and Katharina discuss Mads' disappearance. At the time Mads disappeared, Ulrich was 15 and Mads was 12. Bartosz is trying to call Martha but she is ignoring his calls. 

The dead body was seen wearing this sweatshirt with an anti-nuclear slogan. Photo: Netflix.

We have more facts about the dead boy's body. There was red soil on the clothes but no red soil where the body was found, indicating the body was moved after death. They all recognize the clothing, shoes, and Sony Walkman found on his person were from the 1980s. The boy had a one-pfennig coin around his neck hanging on a red cord. The coin was a 1986 vintage. Fun fact: the yellow sweatshirt the boy was wearing reads "Atomenergie? Nein Danke," which means "Nuclear energy? No thanks." And is a play on the "smiling sun" slogan from the 1970s-80s that was used to protest nuclear power as an energy source. I love the amount of detail the show includes that really nail down the German-specific details. The police don't plan to share details about the dead body because they fear it will add to the panic already.

Speaking of panic, Ulrich bursts into the room to tell Charlotte about the mysterious door he found in the caves. She promises to get a search warrant that will allow him to search the power plant. Both Ulrich and Charlotte know that Aleksander won't allow them to search without putting up a fight. Ulrich also reveals that Mads disappeared in the same place that Mikkel did so many year ago. He is starting to realize there may be a connection after all. Or perhaps, at this point, Ulrich is just desperate enough to try anything. 

Back at the power plant, Aleksander Tiedemann tells Mr. Obendorf that "We must get rid of them tonight." Of course, we wonder what "them" means. Jurgen Obendorf wonders aloud if someone else should do it since the police already suspect him. But Aleksander lets him know this is an order (apparently Mr. Obendorf is an employee of the plant).

Back at the Winden Hotel, Regina Tiedemann is surprised to see a stronger in a raincoat request a room. The man (the same one we saw at the beginning of the episode) has a badly burned face. He books a room and begins to pin many objects on the wall. After a long shower, he exits the bathroom, and we can see his back is covered with scars, as well. He has a book called A Journey Through Time by H.G. Tannhaus. A small key opens the suitcase he has been carrying, and we see a machine with many gears inside. What does the machine do? 

Jonas goes upstairs to his father's studio. Based on the paintings on the wall, we gather that Mikkel did a lot of painting. Many of the images are disturbing in nature or abstract. Jonas lies down to take a nap or meditate. As he stands, he notices a loose board in the ceiling. It turns out there is a hiding spot. Searching in the hole allows him to find an elaborate map of the Winden Caves. But who did it belong to? Was it his father's? And how did his father come to find or create this map? 

Jonas finds a map of the Winden caves hidden in his father's studio. Photo: Netflix.

Jana Nielsen visits the tomb of her son Mads. She replaces one figurine with another (perhaps a He-Man character) atop the grave marker. The grave reads: Mads Nielsen, 4.12.1973 - Infinity, with the word "infinity" indicated with the sideways figure 8. Apparently, no one thinks Mads is dead. Or since the body was never found, they have no date. 

The Nielsen family is experiencing intense isolation, although each expresses things their own way. Katharina is on constant watch, standing in the rain, waiting for her two remaining kids to come home. Martha is blocking all calls. Magnus is punching the walls until his knuckles are bloody. Clearly the family is in distress. Similarly Ulrich is ignoring Hannah's calls, to the point she finally comes to the police station. She is ready to bone, but Ulrich tells her that he can't "do this right now," meaning until Mikkel is home, there won't be any hanky panky. 

We get one more glimpse of Erik being strapped into the chair again and hear his moans of distress. The next time we see him, his body is being dragged in a bag by a man in the raincoat, presumably the same man we have been seeing with the strange machine. While Erik is being tortured, the man watches a TV program about science. 

Since Martha is ignoring his calls, Bartosz takes the opportunity to search the bag of dope and finds a cellphone. The screen warns him that he has three tries to unlock the screen. He tries one code, but gives up, probably scared to get locked out of the phone. 

As Ulrich looks at tire tread patterns found near the dead body, he realizes they come from a van. Grabbing at straws, he remembers that Obendorf has a van. He takes it upon himself to search Jurgen Obendorf's property. He finds a jar of creepy objects and then a metal hatch. There he is confronted by Jurgen himself, who tries to stop him from opening a bag attached by chains to the floor. When Ulrich opens the bag, it's just more dope. Mr. Obendorf admits that he and Erik were selling the dope together to help Erik save up for a scooter. Sorry, Ulrich, this man knows nothing about Mikkel's disappearance. 

Ulrich demands to be allowed to search the Winden power plant. Photo: Netflix.

We then see Aleksander monitoring some items being loaded into a large tractor trailer. What is in the trailer? Dead bodies or something else? Aleksander knows that soon enough Ulrich will be back with the search warrant, so what did he want removed? 

When Katharina comes home, Ulrich finds her in Mikkel's bedroom. She tells him that no matter what, he shouldn't keep secrets from her. As they share a moment of grief, lights begin to flicker in the bedroom. We then see lights flickering all over town, at the high school, at the Kahnwald residence, the hotel, and the police station. Charlotte departs the police station, only to find the sidewalk covered in dead birds. 

The stranger puts a new clipping up on the hotel wall. It reads "Where is Mikkel?" He crosses out the word "where" and replaces it with "when" to read, "When is Mikkel?" 

As if in answer, we finally see Mikkel climbing out of the caves and running home. Only when he arrives, his key doesn't work. A teenage boy comes to the door. Mikkel is confused because this is his house. Only the boy laughs and refutes him. They exchange names and the teenage boys reveals his name is Ulrich. Whaaaaa? A teenage girl comes to ride to school with him, and she turns out to be Katharina. Mikkel sees the morning paper reads November 5, 1986. And, that's a wrap. 

What happened to the dead boy's eyes and ear drums? 
Why does Peter Doppler seems so guilty? 
How did Tronte Nielsen get the blood on his sleeves?
Where does the door that Ulrich found lead?
What does Aleksander want to get rid of? 
Does the phone Bartosz found belong to Erik? Will Bartosz guess the code? 
What did Aleksander want removed from the power plant? 
How did Mikkel get to 1986 and how can he get home? 

Musical Interlude: "Industry" by Mire Kay

Yes, here we are folks. Only two episodes and this show has just opened a new level of goodness. Hey, we expected drama. We expected murder, lust, kidnapping, foul play. But we didn't expect time travel.

Moritz Jahn as Magnus has the haunted eyes of the damned here. Photo: Netflix.
 
Can I say hear that the standout performance so far is Moritz Jahn as Magnus? We are still building the story, but even though Magnus isn't on screen very often, he brings such emotional resonance. Episode 1, he played the role of cool skater boy. The only thing that seemed to throw him off base were his interactions with Franziska. Once Mikkel goes missing, his eyes take on a haunted and tormented look. When he confronts Franziska on her walk home, she initially pushes past him, but stops fighting once she sees the look in his eyes. The whole Nielsen family is beat up but Magnus clearly feels guilty that he didn't take better care of his brother. The seen where he punches the wall repeatedly allows the viewer to feel the weight of his grief. I'm sure these type of scenes aren't easy to do as an actor and he brought a rawness to the act that made it convincing. 

Until episode 3, then ...

Sic Mundus Creatus Est

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