Netflix Dark Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: The Survivors

A group dressed in 19th century clothing
Bartosz, Stranger Jonas, Magnus, and Franziska meet alt-Martha

"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 meet world 2, where Martha is the main character. Alt-Martha claims to want to help Jonas untangle the knot and find the true origin. Even though Mikkel doesn't get lost in world 2, the world is still a mess, according to older Martha – or Eva. Also young alt-Martha pays Stranger Jonas a visit in 1888, also claiming to be there to help. So young Jonas and older Martha team up in world 2, while younger alt-Martha and older Jonas linger in world 1. Two worlds collide.

Episode 3.2 The Survivors.

The episode opens with the familiar image of Martha and Jonas in the throes of sex. She's enjoying the moment but then sees flashes of images like bloody hands holding the St. Christopher's pendant, herself in the yellow raincoat with blood splatters everywhere, washing the blood off her hands, and holding the hands of someone who is dead. Alt-Martha awakes with a start. She's in world 1, 1888, with the cut under her left eye.

Stranger Jonas sits in a chair nearby. He's been waiting for her to awake, just like Adam and Noah did to young Jonas. I have to admit this image is confusing to me. The bed is pushed up against the right side of the wall. But maybe this is in another bedroom. Because in 1921, the bed is pushed up against the left side of the wall. But I'm hoping this is just a different bedroom, on the other side of the house.

Stranger Jonas looks at the letter that teen Noah gave him before the apocalypse, supposedly from Martha. He puts it back in his pocket and tells her to get dressed. Nearby, a chair holds a set of era-appropriate clothes.

Martha comes downstairs and enters the laboratory. Inside, Stranger Jonas stands with Bartosz, Magnus, and Franziska. As promised, he saved them, and all four safely arrived. They stare in wonder. How long have they been there now? (Since in other parts of the episode it's September 22, more than likely it is here, too, and it's been a little over three months.) Magnus comes forward to hug her. They all look genuinely happy to see her. Stranger Jonas informs them coldly that this isn't the Martha they know. She confirms this truth. But she's there to make things right. So that "you don't die in my world, and I don't die in yours." It's all very confusing for everyone to understand. But I feel a little better for alt-Martha than I did for Jonas. At least here they know who she is. In world 2, Jonas doesn't exist so everyone treats him like a pariah. Jonas received no such welcome.

Cue the title credits.

In world 1, September 22, 1987, Katharina wakes up at the Kahnwald house. She's in Mikkel's bed – or Jonas' bed. We see the Goonies poster and the tennis player Boris Becker on the wall. The alarm goes off and plays "You Spin Me Round". We see a photo of Ines and Mikkel together. It's reassuring to know that Katharina made it through. She walks downstairs, and an answering machine goes off. The postmaster leaves a message that he's been trying to reach them for three months. The phone will be cut off if they don't pay the bill next month. Is that what begins Ines' slippery slope of not paying the bills on time? Katharina has made missing child posters with a picture of Mikkel's face. She exits the house, and we can see broken glass in the window – this must be how Katherina entered the home.

Nearby, at the church, we see the grave of Mads Nielsen. Some flowers and his toys are laid out as markers. Someone remarks that they made the right decision to make a grave, even if the coffin is empty. So this is before the tomb we eventually see in 2020. We see Jana at the Nielsen house. She's looking numb. The person talking is Hermann Albers, Katharina's dad. He says, "at least they have each other," referring to Tronte. Jana finds this amusing. She looks over to see Tronte talking to a few friends.

A teen boy with red hair in a chair
Jonas listens to EVA tell him about World 2
She raises a glass to Tronte, mocking him and herself. "Now we can stand hand in hand by an empty coffin and finally get closure." Tronte comes over to keep Jana from making a further scene. She's drunk, demanding he admit where he was the night that Mads disappeared. She reveals he was with Claudia Tiedemann that night. She then accuses him of spending more energy looking for his mistress than his son. Tronte tries to play dumb, but Jana dumps his bag onto the floor, which is stuffed full of clues about Claudia's disappearance. The news headlines read that she's been missing since June 26, the day her father was found dead.

A figure with rain gear, a backpack, and boots walks towards a building. The entrance has been either concealed or boarded up. It's September 22, 2020, and the building turns out to be the police station. A voice narrates: "The world's scientists are still seeking an explanation for the events of June 27, 2020. The epicenter of the global catastrophe is still thought to be the small town of Winden. A French research team believes it is possible that our world stood still for a fraction of a nanosecond on June 27. Tidal forces may have diverged as a result. This would explain the global spring tides, weather phenomena and disturbances of electrical systems, which in turn could explain the great number of airplane crashes and the simultaneous loss of power supply to nuclear power plants worldwide. There is no sign of the situation stabilizing . . ."

The figure ends up being middle-aged Claudia, who survived in the bunker.

Okay a few things here. This random bit of narration offers insight that the apocalypse sparked a global catastrophe, and scientists all over the world are studying this event. It's fun to think that the little town of Winden has shaken up the world. Also, the voice specifically mentions the French. Consider that back in 1987, French delegates kept trying to make an appointment with Claudia. She canceled on them twice. Is it possible the French have been studying Winden all along?

Claudia then pulls a box of Tamoxifen 40 mg out of her backpack. A quick check reveals that Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy drug to treat breast cancer. So Claudia is trying to help Regina with this medication. Regina lies on a cot nearby. Claudia holds her hand for a minute and puts the box of medication nearby. She tells Regina she will return shortly. Regina is upset that she's leaving already. She promises to be back before the sun sets.

Across town, Peter and Elisabeth have been staying in Bernadette's trailer. Both of them come outside in the pouring rain. Peter has a Geiger counter. A shadowy figure is watching them.

A man and girl in rain gear ask to enter a contamination zone
Peter and Elisabeth go to find their loved ones
Peter and Elisabeth arrive at a barricade that's been erected in front of the Winden power plant. You can see the smokestacks have been completely blown off. The top of the plant is gone. Armed guards stand nearby, making sure no one passes the barricade. Peter shows one of the guards his identification. The guard tells him that in five days, all of this will be closed off. The area will be sealed. He chides Peter for putting his daughter through this. Peter just grabs his daughter's hand, and the man lets him through. He will not be kept from his task. Nearby, the shadowy figure steps out from behind a truck, where he's watching them.

In 1888, alt-Martha has been trying to explain her appearance and identity to the teen team. That she's from a parallel world where Mikkel still exists and Franziska is mute. Jonas doesn't exist, and they are all dead because her world ends just like theirs. This is one point we can't fact check yet. We have seen that these first three items are true. But we haven't seen evidence of an apocalypse on world 2 yet.

Stranger Jonas has been listening to all of this silently. He wants to know how she found them. She claims that Jonas told her. Again, not something we saw him do. Franziska fact-checks her that she said Jonas didn't exist in world 2. Martha then claims that Jonas traveled to her world. We did see that. Jonas calls bullshit because he's never been to Martha's world. He asks if she wrote the letter. Alt-Martha says nothing, and Jonas grabs her roughly. Both Magnus and Bartosz instinctively rise to defend her. Jonas demands to know if Adam sent her, and what did she use to travel?

Just then, another figure enters the hall. He accuses them of being late today. This must be their employer. They all know who this man is except for alt-Martha. He steps forward to meet her, and we see that he's blind. Stranger Jonas walks out without saying a word. The man touches Martha so he can "see" her. He senses that she is the reason that the Stranger's mood is foul. He tells her not to be scared and claims he can see things that the sighted cannot.

A woman with long blonde hair looks up at a person in a jacket
Katharina meets teen Ulrich at Winden High
We cut to 1987. Katharina passes out flyers in the school hallway. This was before security existed at schools apparently. Up walks teen Ulrich, and Katharina is momentarily shook by his appearance. His nose is broken; do we know why? He looks at her curiously and wonders if he knows her. Katharina's appearance is a little scary here – sort of Claudia-like. She tries to hand him a flier. He's wearing the No Future jacket. He says that maybe the madman got him after all. She grabs him to ask what he means, but he shakes her off and calls her Typhoid Mary. Hannah and Katharina both walk up. Katharina gives him a big smooch. Hannah tries to interrupt the moment. Older Katharina says she remembers this moment as young Katharina. Young Katharina tries not to let this shake her, but it does.

Hannah tries to be helpful and shares that the madman tried to kidnap Mikkel, but he's now at the psychiatric hospital. Katharina takes the opportunity to tell Hannah to keep her mitts off both Ulrich and MIkkel. We know she won't.

Across town, Tronte Nielsen waits to be seen at the Winden power plant. Claudia's secretary meets him in the foyer, wearing a red dress. She tells him that she's already told the police all she knows. Tronte wants to know if the secretary remembers anything strange right before she disappeared. The secretary mentions that Claudia's appearance was less put together that week. And that an old woman showed up about the dog, claiming it belonged to her.

A woman talks into a tape recorder microphone
Claudia 1987 records her thoughts into the tape recorder in the bunker
In 2020, Claudia begins to create the eventual string board. She has pictures of Tronte, Claudia, and other players on the board. We then cut to Peter, who looks at a photo board of the deceased – all the people whose corpses have been identified after the apocalypse. So this is what he was looking for? He wants to know if the people he loved are dead. Yes, that includes Charlotte and Franziska, but perhaps also Bernadette. We see three photos: an unidentified woman, Benjamin Woller, and Jurgen Obendorf. It's sad that Benni/Bernadette gets called her deadname.

We also see Aleksander Tiedemann, who died alone in a cell. And then a man that might be Clausen. Lastly Woller, easily identifiable with his damaged eye. If he feels grief about Bernadette, Peter does a good job keeping this hidden from Elisabeth. He steps forward to ask some employees if they've seen Charlotte or Franziska. They haven't. Elisabeth seems shaken, but Peter tries to comfort her. It's good they haven't been found because that means there is a chance they are alive. Maybe they traveled. He allows her to come to that conclusion on her own, but does Elisabeth believe that or is she just saying it to make her father feel better. So he can believe he's done his job.

Cut to the police station in 1987. There's a poster asking if anyone has information about the death of Egon Tiedemann. And another poster about the missing Claudia Tiedemann. Katharina storms in, ready to take names. She's upset that he didn't mention the madman to her before. The policeman, named Martin Dohring, dismisses her concerns at once. She has no evidence she's Michael Kahnwald's mother. Apparently, Katharina keeps going to the police station trying to get information but is keeping her identity secret. Just like Ulrich, she's not being smart about how to go about accomplishing her goals. Katharina is worried about the man from the psychiatric ward. Martin tells her that they sent Ines and Michael away on purpose to keep him safe. Why he would tell a strange woman this news is a mystery. He drops that the madman has been locked up for 34 years. This sets off alarm bells in Katharina's brain. She realizes it might be Ulrich.

A girl holds a dog
Regina (and Gretchen) get a lift from Tronte
Tronte drives in his car and sees Regina waiting at the bus stop. She's holding Gretchen and looking sad. She's now lost her mother and grandfather in just a few days. He stops to offer her a ride and notices she's holding a dog that looked like Gretchen from his youth. She asks if he thinks the disappearance of Mads and her mother are connected. He's not sure. He asks her if Claudia ever mentioned anything about an old woman or about him. Regina seemed willing to talk before, but here she shuts down. She's not prepared to talk about this topic with Tronte. Before he drops her off, he tells her she can count on him if she ever needs help.

Back in 2020, we see Claudia in Helge's bunker. We see the gas cans, a gas mask, and a few dead rabbits. This is the place that Jonas eventually visits in 2053. She holds the empty vial of cesium. She begins to talk into a tape recorder: "My name is Claudia Tiedemann. I am one of the few survivors of the apocalypse of June 27, 2020. Almost three months have passed since the catastrophe. It's still unclear what exactly led to the events in Winden. But the God particle – if we can stabilize it, maybe it is a way back. Back to the past. Maybe we can save them. All of them."

Peter and Elisabeth walk in the rain, towards the Kahnwald house. The Geiger counter begins to go off. This is where Jonas stayed before the apocalypse. It's now dark and empty, and Martha's body has been removed. Peter goes to search upstairs. She finds all the pictures. In walks teen Noah. She must recognize him from the bunker. We have to remember that Claudia, Regina, Noah, Peter, and Elisabeth all survived in the bunker but they haven't stuck together. Claudia and Regina went to the police station. Peter and Elisabeth the trailer. Noah has been on his own. He tells her that he's looking for food. She mentions they are looking for their family members.

A dead rabbit and a gas mask hang on the wall
Objects hanging from the wall of Helge's bunker in 2020
He's very patient with her and allows her to write things on a notepad. She wants to know where he sleeps. He tells her that he sleeps in a cave. This makes her smile. They share a little moment here. Peter comes downstairs, freaking out. He reminds Noah that they want nothing to do with him. It's not clear why Peter is so untrusting of Noah. Is he going by that name? He tells Peter that they both want to protect her and that he will when Peter is dead. Noah's calm assurance must be very unnerving here. He then nods goodbye to Elisabeth and leaves.

In 1888, we cut to the Tannhaus factory. Alt-Martha sits on the bed. In walks Bartosz. He apologizes for Stranger Jonas' behavior. Bartosz is still putty in Martha's hands. She asks how they got here. And Bartosz mentions they traveled right as things blew up. Does Bartosz wonder at all why Martha is asking these questions? The machine is now empty of the fuel it needs to power it. Martha then asks about the factory and the man who runs it. Does he know where they are from? In response, Bartosz stands up and tells Martha he wants to show her something. She seems hesitant.

A blind man in a suit and top hat
Gustav Tannhaus meets alt-Martha
Elsewhere, Stranger Jonas holds the letter from Martha. He's sitting in the room with the old blind man, named Gustav Tannhaus. Gustav asks if alt-Martha is also a traveler. He tells Stranger Jonas that when they arrived it was a sign to him. That whatever alt-Martha means to him, he should not lose sight of their mission – to create Paradise. That every pain and calamity can be erased. The handle of Gustav's cane says Sic Mundus Creatus Est. It's interesting to see the man and philosophy who will influence Adam.

In 1987, Katharina enters the psychiatric hospital. She looks flustered and has wetness in her eyes as she approaches the attendant at the front desk. We don't normally see Katharina looking flustered. The woman's name tag reads Helene Albers, Katharina's mother. And she's wearing the St. Christopher pendant. The woman looks impatient but comes forward. Katharina asks to see the man who has been there for 34 years. Helene know this must be the inspector. She also wonders if she's met Katharina before. She looks familiar. They both look at each other like ghosts. I wonder if Helene she sees the ghost of her teenage daughter in this older woman.

Helene also asks if Katharina is a relative. Katharina says that he's her husband. Helene thinks Katharina is one of those women who latches onto to an inmate because she can't get anyone better. This isn't exactly something you should say out loud, even if you believe it. Not much of a healthcare professional, is she? She begins to walk away, telling Katharina she needs to come back tomorrow. But Katharina knows what to say, "That's St. Christopher. The patron saint of travelers. He renounced the devil and carried the creator of the world. My mom had one just like that. I've traveled a long way. Let me see him."

You have to hand it to Katharina. She knows how to push her mother's buttons. This pendant must mean a great deal to Helene. Also it now makes sense why Martha knew so much about the coin the day that she and Jonas found it that day on the beach. This is a powerful bit of acting by both women.

A woman sits across the table from a man with his head on the table
Katharina finds Ulrich at the psychiatric facility
Katharina gets to see old Ulrich. She's led into a recreation room where all of the patients sit. Ulrich is by himself, looking at a chessboard. Katharina sits down across from him and speaks his name. He slowly raises his eyes to her and then can't hold her gaze. The both of them swell with emotions. His hands shake, and she covers them with hers. He's ashamed, and she promises to get him out. While it's not exactly a reconciliation, the two of them extend grace to one another.

At the Winden power plant, Claudia's secretary is ready to sign off for the day. She notices activity in Claudia's old office. Inside she finds the middle-aged Unknown rifling through papers in Claudia's desk. She comes forward to stop him. The other two versions surround her. She threatens to call the cops. He then says, "Hell is empty, and all the devils are here." He strangles her with a wire, just like he did to Bernd.

Across town, Jana plays with an ouroboros bracelet on her wrist. Tronte comes home and sits down with her on the couch. Jana says he must choose for them or against them. He mentions that he saw Regina today. Neither of them know who Regina's father is. He agrees that he does need to decide and holds her hand. This is the Nielsen house, formerly the Tiedemann house, a home of broken marriages.

Back in 2020, Regina lies in her cot at the police station. It's thunder storming fiercely. In walks Tronte. Regina thinks it's Claudia at first. She calls him by name. He covers his hand with hers and tells her he's sorry. But it has to happen. He begins to tear up. "She said this was the only way to save you." He covers her face with a pillow and smothers her. This episode powerfully juxtaposes Tronte's suspicion that he's related to Regina with his choice to murder her.

Elisabeth accompanies Peter on his errands through post-apocalypse Winden
Elsewhere, Peter looks for some canned dinner for him and Elisabeth. She stares at the notepad with Noah's messages. She wants to know what the two of them talked about. Elisabeth feels upset that Peter isn't telling her what's going on. He's the only person she has right now, and he's treating her like a child. Of course, to him, she is a child. But we have to remember that Elisabeth has no one else. And her status as a deaf person makes her a social outcast to most people. She shows him the Sic Mundus journal. She's not stupid. Where are Mom and Franziska?

She pushes him hard. She's now crying. He tries a gentler approach. So far he's just been ignoring the questions he didn't want to answer. He tells her they will find them. One thing that's very sweet is that Elisabeth is wearing Franziska's sweater. It's the one she wore in episode 1.

We cut to September 22, 2053. Inside the Winden Caves, Charlotte touches the photos of her as a baby with Elisabeth and Noah as her parents. So now we know that touching fingers with Elisabeth brought her to the future. Elisabeth comes in the caves, too. There are other people there. She sits down next to her mother-daughter. Charlotte gets up. Their relationship seems strained. Elisabeth tells her it will be okay. They touch foreheads.

A teen girl at a kitchen table
Katharina 1987 glances at her mother after she's smacked her on the head
We then cut back to 1987. Teen Katharina sits at the kitchen table doing her homework. She listens to "Is this Love" by Survivor. Her mom comes behind her and smacks her upside the head hard. What was her crime exactly? She then tells her to clear the table. Her voice is shaking with rage. She's flustered by the events at work, maybe? She steals one more worried glance at her mother as she cleans up her homework.

Our montage begins. The track is "Broken Sleep" by Agnes Obel.

Katharina looks at Ulrich one last time. Middle-aged Claudia comes back "home" to find Regina dead. Elsewhere teen Regina looks at the photo of herself with Claudia. Aleksander sits next to her to comfort her. Tronte looks at his wife and she lays in his lap. Elisabeth touches the paper that Noah held, a wisp of connection with another human. Noah lifts rocks in the cave. Is this still work on the Sic Mundus tunnel? Stranger Jonas comes into Martha's bedroom to find her gone. Bartosz leads her to what will be the elevator shaft.

They walk downstairs and he takes her to the Sic Mundus lair. Before they acquired the Fall of the Damned painting, there was just a Triquetra symbol. The room looks more like a church, with rows of chairs. Martha looks around curiously. She glances at a spot on the floor. She asks Bartosz about the room.

He tells her it's a secret lodge. That old Tannhaus' father was convinced that he could override the rules of space and time. The group tried to build a time machine, and Gustav is the only member left. Jonas is trying to rebuild things the way he remembers them. He came here in a different time (1921). Bartosz then asks about the name of Adam. Who is Adam? Bartosz knows that Adam killed Martha. So he's told them (Bartosz, Magnus, Franziska) part of the truth but not all. Martha spills the beans that Jonas is Adam.

A grand hall room
Teen Jonas and Eva in Erit Lux
We then warp to world 2. Old Eva sits in her version of the Sic Mundus lair. She says, "We don't know our end. But our end knows us." She's talking to teen Jonas, "We can indulge in the illusion of free will, but we cannot escape our ultimate destiny." She's got her own grand painting, called Adam and Eve by Albrech Durer. Laid on the floor is an elaborate family tree, with an infinity knot in the center.

She tells him that their two worlds are different, but they converge at the same moment. Jonas believed a world without him would be better, but they all still die. The apocalypse happens in her world, too – in three days, in fact. Jonas looks up in horror.

This episode was much more enjoyable to me this time around. I think on my first watch, I was confused by the different worlds, I got lost in the shuffle. I really dig all the stuff with Katharina, as she tries to connect with Ulrich and confront her past via her mother. This episode also explores the emptiness left by Claudia for both Tronte and Regina.

Lingering questions:
  • Tronte said that "she" told him he needed to kill Regina. Who is she?
  • Who broke Ulrich's nose?
  • Martha looks at a special spot on the floor, just like Jonas did. What happens on that spot?
  • What makes Helene Albers so mean?
  • Who actually knows what they are doing?
  • Did Jonas actually tell Martha how to find them? 

Sic Mundus Creatus Est