Netflix Dark Season 1 Episode 7 Recap: Crossroads

A new character shows up in the blue wallpaper room -- a place of nightmares. 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.

We open the episode with a new character -- a little boy dressed primly in shorts, a sweater, and a blazer -- almost like a member of the Family von Trapp. The left side of his face is bloodied up pretty bad. He stands, and we can see he is in the blue wallpaper room. He touches the machine on the part that covers the eyes, and next we see elderly Helge waking up from a nightmare. He says, "I remember. I remember everything." Could the little boy be a younger version of Helge?

We next see electric lines criss-crossing the Winden landscape. In 1986, Egon opens a panel in a door and looks inside, where teenage Ulrich sits. The screen then changes to show adult Ulrich in 2019. He sits looking at Mads' grave. Now that he's found his brother's body, it must be difficult for him to look at this empty grave. Mikkel then comes on screen. In the hospital, he stands in front of a print of the Emerald Tablet. Last, we see Jonas waking up in the 1986 timeline. Apparently, he spent the night in a deer stand, since he had no place to go.

Adult Ulrich enters the room where the medical examiner has been doing autopsies and asks what will happen to the dead boy's body. If it's not identified, the body will be cremated. Ulrich asks again how long ago she estimated the time of death. The body had been dead 10 hours before it arrived for the exam. He asks if it's possible the body has been preserved for longer, say 33 years? She laughs at first, but tell him if that was the case, there would be traces in the tissue showing freezing had occurred.

Jonas is now visiting Winden High School in 1986. He walks down the hall, and finds a young girl sitting against the wall, all alone. It's young Regina Tiedemann. He asks what day it is, and she tells him it's November 9, 1986. She asks if he's looking for someone, and he says Michael Kahnwald. Regina seems very sweet here and responds to Jonas' lost look. Perhaps she sees something of herself in him. She recognizes the name Kahnwald from nurse Ines, who works at the hospital. She suggests he might find Ines there. As other students come into the hall, Regina gets pushed against the wall by some bully, highlighting how Regina doesn't fit in with her peers.

At the police station, Egon examines the photo of Ulrich and Mads and puts a big question mark in black marker over Ulrich's face. I guess policemen didn't worry about tampering with evidence back then? His boss, Martin Dohring, comes in with new orders: go to the power plant and confirm who was on guard duty the night Mads disappeared. Egon tries to get out of this job so he can continue harassing Ulrich some more about the possible rape charge. Now he wonders if Ulrich is responsible for Mads' disappearance. Martin tells him he's 3 months away from retirement and can do what he likes then and reminds him that police investigations are based on evidence, rather than hunches. 

Egon finally has Ulrich where he wants him. Photo: Netflix.

Adult Ulrich sits on the floor, surrounded by a circle of papers he has pulled out of his brother's case file. The image of Ulrich surrounded by papers seems like such a motif, as the characters in this show are obsessed with complicated investigations. So far, we've seen both the Stranger and Jonas sifting through different items, looking for clues and trying to solve the mystery. In a way, these characters represent us, as we are trying our best as viewers to keep track of all of the characters in different time periods, all of the clues, all of the events, because we hope somehow it will all make sense and make us feel right with the world.

Egon is now at the power plant in 1986 pressing the buzzer to gain entry. Middle-aged Helge comes to answer. Egon tells him Martin would like to corroborate the evidence about who was on duty the night Mads went missing. Helge says he has to work right now, but he will make an appointment to visit the station. They set an appointment for the following Tuesday. Egon seems suspicious and asks if Helge drove his car that night. Helge says yes and that he took the state road. Egon asks, "Why not forest road? Isn't it quicker?" Helge quickly makes an excuse that he needed to pick something up for his father and goes back to work. Egon makes some notes in his journal. Oh, one more question, did you see Ulrich Nielsen that night? No, says Helge.

Back in 2019, Ulrich looks at the same journal Egon used and finds the note saying, "Why not forest road?" Next Ulrich finds the file of people who were questioned from the power plant and finds information that Helge was scheduled to come to the police station but never showed up for his appointment.

At another part of town, Charlotte finally has the search warrant and arrives at the power plant with multiple police cars and extra manpower. Aleksander comes to greet them accompanied by several heavily armed dudes, but after Charlotte shows him the search warrant, he has no choice but to let them in. As the group does a thorough sweep of the grounds, Ulrich calls and tells Charlotte that Helge was supposed to be questioned but failed to show up in 1986. Charlotte reminds him that Helge suffers from dementia, so even though he has acted weird the last few days, that doesn't make him guilty of murder.

Back in 1986, Jonas walks in the rain and Egon stops to pick him up, automatically suspicious of this new stranger. Why aren't you in school? Jonas replies that he's sick and is on his way to the hospital. Egon asks him other questions about who his parents are and why they didn't drive him. Egon also sees Jonas' white earbuds poking out of his raincoat and asks him what they are. Jonas tells him earphones, and Egon just laughs and doesn't believe him. As they pull up to the hospital Egon has one more question: "Is Satanism a thing for teens?" Man, Egon just doesn't let up. He has already made up his mind that the guilty party is a Satanist ... specifically Ulrich.

Back in 2019, Charlotte has obviously taken Ulrich's call to heart but doesn't want to tell him. She takes a small road in the forest (must be forest road) and finds the gate on the side of the power plant where Claudia visited so long ago. Using repelling equipment that she just happened to have on her, she descends into the caves and finds the spot where the wall of yellow barrels used to be. In looking around, she finds pieces of brightly-colored yellow shrapnel scattered on the ground. She also finds a metal door, like the one Ulrich found. But we know it's a different door, since this is a different entrance than Ulrich used.

Jonas has arrived at the hospital and asks to speak to Ines Kahnwald. Her co-worker says she is outside with "the little boy." What little boy, he asks? The other nurse immediately feels suspicious since they still aren't sure who hurt the boy. But he tells her that Ines is family, so she tells him where to find her, and he rushes off.

Ulrich takes it upon himself to go question Helge in his room at the nursing home. Helge is hooked up to a heart-monitor machine, and when Ulrich wakes him up, he reacts violently, fear in his eyes. Ulrich asks a series of rapid-fire questions like why didn't you go to your appointment and why didn't you take forest road. Helge says, "It's him. It was him. I know you." This sets off Ulrich even more and he grabs Helge. A nurse comes in to separate them, and Helge ends with, "I can change it. I can change the past and the future." Now, Ulrich loses it and has to be dragged out of the room.

At the hospital in 1986, Jonas walks outside and finally sees Mikkel, sitting with Ines on the bench. He seems taken aback for a moment before being interrupted by the Stranger. Okay, we've always suspected the Stranger knew more than he was letting on and here's proof. Jonas reacts to the Stranger's presence with surprising calmness. He thinks this might be proof that he's crazy, just like his father. The Stranger says that however hard it is to accept, THAT is his father. And then Jonas gets down to the heart of it. That makes Ulrich my grandfather and Martha my aunt. He starts forward to talk to Mikkel, and the Stranger stop him. If you intervene, he won't meet your mother and your existence will be erased. Every decision for is a decision against. What will you choose?

Back in 2019, Charlotte and Ulrich talk at the station. She is suspending him for now. He just keeps repeating that Helge is responsible. He tells her everything Helge said, and she reminds him again that Helge is afflicted with dementia. Charlotte sends him home, and he gives her one more tidbit: "Why not forest road?" That's what Egon wanted to ask Helge. Charlotte looks over at the drawing of Noah on the evidence board.

In 1986, Helge gets into his car. He opens the glove compartment to find a Raider candy bar and takes a bite.

We cut to teenage Katherine at the station. She is telling Egon that Ulrich didn't force her to have sex. In fact, she pressured him and made him get condoms. Egon doesn't believe and asks why she has a black eye. "I fell," Katharina say. Perhaps Katharina is being abused by someone at home? Egon tells her someone witnessed it and that Ulrich can't hurt her now. The camera cuts to teenage Ulrich sitting in his cell.

In 2019, Ulrich arrives home to find Katharina sitting alone downstairs. The kids are all out, and Katharina finally tells him she knows about the affair with Hannah. He starts to explain, and she counters with "please don't." Before leaving the house, she tells him that Jana called to talk about Mads. Katharina feels upset that Mikkel is missing, and Jana only thinks of Mads.

Back in 1986, Jonas comes back into the hospital and sees Mikkel at the vending machine. He seems ready to approach him again but stops when Hannah comes down the hall. Mikkel and Hannah talk as Jonas watches, and Mikkel even shares his candy bar with her. Jonas remembers the stranger's words and leaves without talking to them.

Back in 2019, Ulrich has gone to his mother's house. He asks Jana if she would want to know what happened to Mads. She says no; she likes imagining him still alive and free somewhere. She lays her cheek against Ulrich's hands resting on the table. He finally asks what she wanted to tell him. She seems to come to herself and tells him that a week before Mads disappeared, she saw a priest arguing with a man. She thought it was a strange way to see a priest behaving. That was back in 1986. Now in 2019, she saw the same man. But how is that possible when he didn't look any older? He had a weird mark on his ear. The screen cuts to middle-aged Helge, going into the hatch with his raincoat.

Woller comes into Charlotte's office with a map. He was trying to find out if the cave system extended to forest road, and it does. In fact, that's where Helge's cabin is. She tells him to leave, and she looks at her family photo, where all of the Doppler family are sitting in front of the cabin.
Charlotte calls Peter and asks him why Helge kept the cabin, despite "all that happened?" When did Peter go there for the first time? Did Helge live there in 1986? When was Helge's accident? Peter tells her he didn't move to Winden until 1987 and that the accident was November 12, 1986. Peter tries to ask what's going on but Charlotte just hangs up.

Ulrich leaves his mother's house and drives near the forest. He finds a yellow token on the floor and remembers what Mikkel said on the day he went missing: "The question isn't how but when."

A montage of images comes on the screen: Charlotte walks down to the bunker. Jonas goes back to the Sic Mundus door in the cave. Mikkel holds the Emerald Tablet art in his room (I guess he took it off the wall in the hospital?), Egon sits in the station. Teenage Ulrich sits in his cell, and old Helge gets up from his bed. Charlotte finds a piece of the blue wallpaper in the bunker under the bed. Lastly Jonas walks out of the cave back in 2019.

Jonas sits next to Hannah's bed. It's morning, and she wants to know where he's been. Jonas asks a question of his own: "Do you believe in fate?" Hannah says maybe it's her fate to be left by men. Jonas says, "I think Papa loved you very much." This makes Hannah cry, and he pulls her into an embrace. She resists at first but allows herself to be hugged.

Hannah and Mikkel meet as children at the hospital. Photo: Netflix. 

Back in his father's studio, Jonas burns the suicide letter. Perhaps he has decided to let it go?

Ulrich arrives back in Helge's room. It's night. I have no idea how he snuck in without being detected. Helge is gone. On Helge's nightstand, he finds a figurine made of nuts, a copy of A Journey Through Time by H.G. Tannhaus, and a one-pfennig coin on a red cord, like the one found on the dead body. Ulrich notices the window is open and sees Helge escaping into the night. Ulrich follows from a distance and realizes Helge is going to the caves. He calls Charlotte and gets her voicemail. He leaves a frantic message that he was right but Helge did the crime in 1986.

Inside the cave, Helge walk to a box and finds a lantern. The screen cuts to middle-aged Helge coming out of the hatch. He looks down sadly to see the body of Yasin (we know because of his clothes). Yasin's eyes are burned, and around his neck is a one-pfennig coin on a red cord. Helge looks very torn up, but he drags the body away from the hatch. We then hear and see the man with the Emerald Tablet back tattoo using scrub brush to mop the floor down in the bunker.

He looks at the wall, which reads 5.11.1953. Underneath, he writes 9.11.1953. This is a German year abbreviation, so the two dates are November 5, 1953, and November 9, 1953.

Burning questions:
  • This looks pretty bad. It seems pretty clear that Helge is involved in the disappearing boys. Although the priest/Noah seems like the true puppetmaster.
  • Is there any way of getting Mikkel back without disrupting the universe?
  • Is there really no hope for Jonas and Martha. We like them together.
  • Where is old Helge going and what will Ulrich find?
  • Since Jana said she saw Helge in both 1986 and 2019, what year is Helge dragging Yasin's body? I am assuming 1986 since in 2019, Charlotte was in the bunker.
  • What is the significance of the two dates written on the wall?
  • What kind of accident did Helge have on Novembet 12, 1986?
  • How long will Egon keep Ulrich in prison?

This was another stellar episode. There was great hope that Jonas could grab Mikkel, take him back into the cave, and make everything right. However, the revelation that Mikkel is Michael Kahnwald really does mess things up. At the same time, I feel very sad for Mikkel stuck in 1986, who must surely want to go home and be with the mother and father he knows and loves. If Jonas chooses to leave him there, how will that impact Mikkel? It's clear that the unhappiness of his life must have been great. The contrasting images of Helge as criminal and savior is interesting. On the one hand, old Helge really wants to right the wrongs of the past. But all Ulrich sees is the man he believes is responsible for Mikkel's disappearance and assumes the worst. Just like Egon was stuck on Ulrich being the criminal and looking in the wrong place, Ulrich is repeating the sins of his enemy and fixating on Helge, who might actually be able to help. There is a big theme in "Dark" of people repeating the mistakes of the past, even if you have intentions of being better and doing the right thing. The people of Winden are stuck. 

Adult Hannah managed to provoke sympathy even though we know here dark, devious side. She truly does have abandonment issues. Now, Jonas is often gone, contributing to the despair she feels.

Charlotte, like many characters, isn't fully honest with anyone. Photo: Netflix.

Charlotte is another very complex character. She has a sense of duty. However, her sense of duty towards her family seems stronger than her duty to her job. She tries to thwart Ulrich's suspicions but even she must be wondering if he was guilty. If not, why is she not sharing her suspicions with anyone. She doesn't tell Ulrich about the search warrant or the room in the cave she found. She is exploring the cabin on her own. She is also not sharing any news with Woller. The only conclusion is that she wants to know herself before admitting anything.

Throughout the show, but especially in this episode, everyone is concealing important information. There is a lack of trust. The people of Winden are trapped in their own isolation, and it's no wonder there's a rift.

Sic Mundus Creatus Est

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