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Netflix Dark Season 1 Episode 8 Recap: So You Sow, So You Shall Reap

Two boys' bodies are found in Winden, 1953. 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.

The episode starts with a quote from Shakespeare: "Hell is empty, and all the devils are here."

Young Helge rides his bike through the woods. Interestingly enough, I believe this is the same path Charlotte took to walk to the cabin. A police car drives on the road ahead of him. The police car is driven by a young version of Egon Tiedemann. Egon arrives at a construction site, where two dead bodies have been found. The lead detective, Daniel Kahnwald (father of Ines) brings Egon up to speed on what has been found. The boys are dressed in "funny costumes," according to Daniel. You can also see the boys' eyes are burned, like the body of Mads Nielsen found before. The billboard marking the site reads "An important investment: Nuclear energy for every household." The men stop talking when they notice that young Helge is spying on them and has seen the corpses. This is an unwelcome presence at a crime scene.  

We have entered a new time period for Dark -- 1953 -- 33 years before 1986. While the events of this episode are playing out, the audience is witness to a conversation happening between the Stranger and H.G. Tannhaus. We see the room adorned by clocks before the Stranger walks in, looking haggard, carrying his suitcase. He begins asking Tannhaus questions, as if wanting to learn from him. First he asks about the Einstein-Rosen bridge. We learn it's a passage between a black hole (entry) and a white hole (exit). It allows for a wormhole and allows travel between time and space. 

Old Helge walks through the caves, holding the lantern. Ulrich follows safely from a distance. At some point, he finds the red cord and tracks its course, following the same exact path we saw Jonas take. The thing that looks like a door knocker on the floor is a snake eating its own tail -- an ouroboros. He comes to the Sic Mundus door and opens it, escaping into the wind tunnel before closing the door behind him and achieving air lock. 

As we follow Ulrich, we hear the Stranger and Tannhaus talk about duality. Humans think of dualism: black and white, up and down. But he says a truer model is the triquetra or Trinity knot. There's a 3rd dimension. Not just up and down but a center. A wormhole connects three dimensions: future, present, and past. The triquetra is a variation on the infinity symbol with an extra loop thrown in. 

Ulrich reaches the fork where the tunnel divides (3 corners coming together). He chooses a path. 

In 1953, Helge arrives at his very fine home (which incidentally will one day become the Winden Hotel). He is greeted by his very strict-looking mother, named Greta Doppler. He comes home supposedly dirty, but honestly I didn't notice anything unkempt about his appearance. She makes him strip down to his underwear so that she can wash his dirty clothes and pulls him hard by the ear. He tells her he was at the construction site. His father, Bernd Doppler, arrives home, and Helge tells him about the dead bodies. Bernd rushes off immediately, probably afraid that it will keep the power plant from being built to schedule. Greta reminds Helge that the coins for Claudia are on the table. 

Ulrich meets Agnes and Tronte Nielsen in Winden, 1953. Photo: Netflix.

At the police station, the men are giving an autopsy report to Egon and Daniel about the dead bodies. Each of them had a one-pfennig coin on a red cord around the neck. The eyes were burned, and their eardrums were shattered. One is dark-skinned, possibly Mediterranean, and the other has red hair. (It seems likely the two boys are Yasin and Erik Obendorf. (If that's the case, then when middle-aged Helge dragged the body last episode, it was 1953, and Noah wrote the dates on the wall then.) But the oddest thing the police notice is that everything the boys are wearing has a label on it reading Made in China. And one of the boys is marked with a tattoo -- is a unicorn with a rainbow -- which for 1953 seemed rather odd, as the only people with tattoos at that time were soldiers and sailors.  

Ulrich comes out of the cave and looks around, surprised. And no wonder; it looks completely different once again. The land is barren, and there's a gate in covering part of the cave where Mikkel disappeared. 

Young Helge walks to the cabin and goes down the hatch. It's clear the boy thinks of this room as his playroom. He uses a stick as a play rifle and uses pinecones he has collected as pretend grenades. 

We cut back to the Stranger and Tannhaus; They discuss Nietzsche's cycle of eternal recurrence. The universe repeats itself endlessly. The lunar-solar cycle repeats every 33 years. There are other uses where this numbers comes up. Jesus did 33 miracles. There are 33 cantos in Dante's Purgatory. It's the age that the Antichrist begins his rule. 

Noah stands in front of a church with a book stamped with the Sic Mundus symbol. Across town, Egon and Daniel talk as they examine the photos of the dead boys. "Why do people kill?" Egon asks. "Are killers born that way or made that way?" Daniel says he prefers to catch boys when they young and lock them up to prevent bad things in the future. This must be a lesson young Egon took to heart, as he comes to think Ulrich needs to be behind bars at all times. 

Back at the cabin, Helge is accosted by two older boys, who push him down, pee on him, and take the coins in his pocket he was to give to Claudia. Ulrich comes out of the woods, looking for the old man Helge, not realizing this boy in front of him is younger Helge. Ulrich asks him if he's seen the old man, and Helge says no. Ulrich tells him that he needs to defend himself or those bullies will never stop. He suggests next time Helge just bite them. Helge seems invigorated by this idea. 

Back to the Tannhaus-Stranger dialogue, Tannhaus draws a stick figure on a piece of paper, who is shining a light in one direction inside a large dark room. It's reasonable that the light will always go in one direction. But, if a wormhole exists, it changes the rules and nothing is where it belongs. He folds the piece of paper as he says this, and the source of the light now comes back behind the stick figure. 

Ulrich walks along the street. A car pulls up and is exited by an extremely beautiful woman with dark hair and a lipstick red dress. She asks if he can tell her how to find an address. Ulrich tells her that's the address of his home. "Oh," she wonders, "Are you Egon Tiedemann?" Ulrich doesn't know what to make of this question, so he just points the way. She thanks him and tells him that she is Agnes Nielsen, and the teenage boy with her is Tronte Nielsen. Ulrich is quite astonished to think that his father and grandmother are in front of him. It's also interesting to note that Ulrich's house used to be the Tiedemann home. Just like the Doppler home becomes Winden Hotel, a building used by the Tiedemann clan, the Nielsen home used to be a Tiedemann place. How did that switch happen? 

Back to the Stranger-Tannhaus dialogue, Tannhaus says that it's human nature to believe you can change the course of events, but that is just pride. All this time, viewers have no clear sign about what time period this conversation is happening. But here a time jump happens. The camera switches to a younger version of Tannhaus in 1953. We know this because at this moment, Ulrich comes into the store. Young Tannhaus looks to be in his 20s here. He asks Ulrich if he's looking for a watch. Ulrich shows him a copy of the book A Journey Through Time and asks if he's the author. Tannhaus looks at the picture, chuckles, and says no he's not. (He hasn't written it yet) Ulrich then asks, "What year is this?" It's 1953. Ulrich says this is impossible. Tannhaus says, "Stalin is dead. England has a Queen. And Nanga Parbat has been conquered."

Now we jump to the home of Claudia Tiedemann (the young version). She sits in her house with her poodle, Gretchen. Helge comes to the door and looks very sad, telling her that he doesn't have any coins (he doesn't mention the bullies). It turns out Claudia is tutoring Helge in math skills. 

Agnes and Tronte Nielsen arrive at the door to see the room the Tiedemann family is renting, and we meet Doris Tiedemann, Claudia's mother. Doris mentions her husband is a policeman and is gone from the house most of the time, and Agnes tells Doris her husband is dead. 

Now we see young teen versions of Jana and Ines enter the shop of H.G Tannhaus. It seems the girls are friends, and Ines is picking up her father's watch. Ulrich startles to hear his mother's name. Then gets an even bigger shock, when Ines mentions that two dead boys were found at the construction site. Ulrich runs off, perhaps thinking Mikkel's body has been found. In his rush, Ulrich leaves his jacket on a chair in the shop.

We now see the site of the power plant, where Bernd Doppler is giving a motivational speech about the future and how great a role the power plant will play in bringing the future to Winden. The audience members look bored and doubtful about the propaganda in this speech. Police interrupt the proceedings by marking off the crime scene with a sign and tape. Egon talks to Bernd and asks for a list of workers on the premises the night before the bodies were found. Bernd ignores Egon's request and tells him he should look at the coal plant employees, who are probably trying to sabotage the power plant opening. 

Agnes Nielsen rents a room from Doris Tiedemann. Photo: Netflix.

Cut back to the children. Claudia is showing Tronte the property outside their home, with Helge trailing along behind. The kids aren't being mean to Helge necessarily, but they are definitely not trying to include them in their conversation. They pass by the cave where Ulrich came out, and Claudia mentions that sometimes they go into the caves on a dare. Claudia tells Helge he should just go home and walks off with Tronte. Helge, feeling bitter, gets Gretchen to run into the cave by throwing a stick inside, knowing Gretchen will fetch. We can hear Gretchen barking, but she doesn't come out. Claudia begins calling for her dog, and Helge runs off guiltily.

We cut to the police station, where Ulrich is arguing with a couple men in the hall. He wants to see the dead bodies, so that he can tell if one of them is his son. Egon comes in and takes over the questioning. He asks Ulrich to describe what his son looks like, and then tells him that the description doesn't match either boy found. Ulrich then wants to know if they know Helge Doppler, and Egon looks confused, "The son of Bernd Doppler?" Ulrich leaves the station, on a new mission again. 

Egon now arrives home and is greeted by Doris, who asks him about his day before telling him that guests are visiting about the room. She seems to want to reach out to him, but he brushes her off and just says he's tired. I have a feeling Doris spends many long nights waiting for her husband to come home. Egon seems temporarily stunned by Agnes and her beauty, but he quickly recovers and begins asking her questions about herself, but in a way that sounds like an interrogation. Agnes mentions that her grandmother was from Winden. Egon asks the name of her grandmother, but before Agnes can answer, Claudia bursts into the house, yelling about how Gretchen has disappeared. Egon tells her to calm down and tell him what happened. He plans to go to the Doppler house to see if Helge knows anything. 

We now see Helge sitting outside the Doppler mansion with a wooden box. Inside the box is a collection of dead birds. He looks at them and then closes the box as Ulrich comes up behind him. Ulrich asks if he is Helge Doppler, and Helge nods yes. Helge says, "Did you find the man you were looking for?" Ulrich says yes. Helge remarks that Ulrich looks sad. He shows Helge the one-pfennig coin and asks if he's seen it before. Helge shakes his head no. Ulrich then asks what's in the box. Helge shows him the birds. "Did you kill them?" Helge says no and then says that the birds fall from the sky, and he just collects them. He also shares how beautiful they look dead. Aside: I can see now how beat up Helge looks. He has bruises almost everywhere. It's unlikely they are all from the bullies that morning. 

Ulrich does sound sad, but he remarks that one day Helge will kill many times. Helge begins to get freaked out, as he should, by this talk. Then Ulrich says, "But I can change it ... the future ... and the past." Helge begins to run, realizing that Ulrich means him harm. Ulrich grabs him, but Helge uses the trick Ulrich suggested and bites him. A chase of some length transpires, and we think Helge is going to make it, but Ulrich catches him and bashes his head in with a rock. Ulrich hopes this will change the future and keep Mikkel from being killed. 

The most chilling image in Dark so far. Adult Ulrich attempts to kill young Helge. Photo: Netflix

At the Doppler house, Egon arrives and is greeted by Greta. Okay, Greta does not like Egon. But it seems like Greta doesn't really like anyone. He asks if perhaps Helge has Gretchen. Greta replies that Helge knows that no pets can come into the house. She's the very image of condescending, crossing her arms over her chest as she stares at him with barely concealed loathing. Greta goes looking for Helge and finds his box of birds.

Ulrich drags Helge's body into the bunker. We now have our montage laid with music. A lot of images play across the screen. Agnes and Doris Tiedemann make up the bed and Agnes puts her hand on top of Doris' while they are laying down the linens. Doris jumps back surprised and Agnes acts like it's a mistake. We see Claudia with an empty leash. Tronte in his new room. He rolls up his sleeve, and his arms are covered in cigarette/cigar burns. All of the photos of Egon, Tronte, Claudia, Jana, Ines, Helge, Katharina, Ulrich, and Hannah -- at different ages -- are shown. 

We pull back and see Claudia is the one standing in front of the photo board we saw earlier. But it's an old version of Claudia we haven't seen yet. The stick rifle is replaced with real artillery. The pinecones are now grenades. 

We cut back to the clock shop where the Stranger and Tannhaus are still talking. Tannhaus finishes up by admitting that the book is filled with theories, not necessarily facts. The Stranger asks what he would think if it were true? The Stranger finally stops the theoretical talk and says, "I come from the future." He has traveled to 1986 using this time machine. He then lays out the machine we have seen in Stranger's possession all along. But now it's broken, and he wants Tannhaus to help him fix it. The machine doesn't work by itself. A wormhole was created by an incident that released a "blast of energy." He wants Tannhaus to fix the machine so that he can destroy the wormhole that exists. Tannhaus gets upset and tells the Stranger to leave. The Stranger calls Winden a "festering wound" and claims he can fix it, but Tannhaus is not interested in discussing this further. The Stranger says he will be back. 

After the Stranger leaves, Tannhaus climbs up a ladder and pulls out an exact replica of the Stranger's time machine, confirming that Tannhaus does believe it's more than just theories. For some reason, he didn't want to share that he had a duplicate machine.  

Disturbing reveal: Tronte Nielsen rolls up his shirt sleeve to reveal multiple burns. Photo: Netflix

As the episode closes, we move back to the Tannhaus in 1953, who walks over to Ulrich's jacket and goes through his pockets. He finds Ulrich's cellphone and gets a shock when it lights up. We then see Ulrich sitting in front of the hatch, guarding the body he just killed. 

Montage Song: "Wishing Well" by Stomper and Daniel Eppel

Burning Questions:
  • What happened to Gretchen the poodle?
  • Will Ulrich's actions change anything?
  • How did Tannhaus get the machine in his shop? 
  • We know Helge lives on? How did he survive this brain bashing from Ulrich?
  • How does Ulrich and his family end up living at the Tiedemann house?
  • Why is Agnes coming onto Doris?
  • Who is burning young Tronte's arms?
The implication left at the end of this episode is that Ulrich being in his shop, showing him the book, and leaving the jacket and cellphone somehow inspired Tannhaus to believe in the concept of time travel. It is perhaps this visit of Ulrich's that lead to his own son's death. It's a lot to wrap your head around. While the conversation with the Stranger and Tannhaus was somewhat tedious, it creates a mood and atmosphere that forces viewers to not just think about the actions taking place but also the theories that make up the science of Dark. 

The creepiest part about the Ulrich/Helge interaction is that in an earlier episode, Helge told Ulrich. "I know you. You're him. I can change the future and the past," which is exactly what Ulrich says to Helge when he's young. Up until this point, my belief is that Helge was saying he could change the past and future, but it's possible he was just repeating the words Ulrich said to him as a child. And that the parroting is just part of his madness.

Finally, in this episode, we visit a new time period and see the third version of many characters, yet again, showing how intertwined these families are in the past and present. The Stranger has made his goal plain. He wants to close the wormhole, but to what end? 
Sic Mundus Creatus Est


Joe T. said…
I know I'm first watching this series long after the debut, but a couple of clarifications. It's not that Tannhaus has a duplicate of the machine that Stranger brought in. It's the exact same machine, it's current state and it's "future" state. Which answers the burning question at the end of "how he got the machine in his shop". That's where he built it.

Also, a "nuclear explosion" is misleading - there was some power incident at the plant but to say it was a nuclear explosion is incorrect. That would mean destruction, radiation, evacuation...

maxolga said…
hey Lindsey!

Max and Olga here.
A new poem today, but we are in a scientific mood, inspired by another amazing episode:

Max took a spaceship journey to the stars,
To travel fast and go so far.

But time is not a constant thing,
Kaching aringaligading
Motion slows the passage of time down,
For those who travel with speed renown.

As Max flew through the galaxy,
His clock slowed down, to Olga's glee,
For she remained upon the Earth,
And aged more with a growing girth.

So when Max returned from his space trip,
He found that time had taken a dip
And Olga was now older than he, and Max had more drip
Despite their ages being the same, initially.

So time dilation, strange as it may seem,
Can change our world, our hopes and dreams,
And Einstein's theory, a thing of might,
Shows how time can alter with speed's bright light.

greetings and see you next episode
Max and Olga