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Netflix Dark Season 3 Episode 6 Recap: Light and Shadow

In two parallel worlds, men stand in front of a nuclear power plant
The Unknown on the way to wreck havoc. 

"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 3.6 Light and Shadow

This episode opens with a replay of the apocalypse. In a bird's eye view of Winden, the black blob appears and covers the entire power plant. We cut to the Kahnwald house. Jonas promises to OG Martha that he will make things right. Snot and tears run down his face.

But this time, no alt-Martha shows up to drag Jonas to world 2 – Eva's world. This time, Jonas runs into a stairwell and escapes into the basement right before the apocalypse hits. Stranger Jonas wakes up in 1888. He pulls out the envelope he found from Martha, addressed to Jonas. He opens the letter and reads it: "Dear Jonas, you promised to make everything right again. I want you to know you will do that. You must never lose hope that there is a way out of this maze. A way to save me and you. But we both have to make sacrifices, do unimaginable things, to untie the knot at the end. Each fate in this knot is tied to the next. A thread, red like blood, that connects all our deeds. In light, and in shadow. But the apocalypse must take place. You must let me die so I can live. We have to let some things go before they find their way back to us. We are a perfect match. Never believe anything else."

We see Martha 2 sitting by Jonas' dead body. Then, the Martha who shot Jonas looks up. She's standing next to Stranger Martha and Eva. All three of them look at the god particle, which shifts from stable to unstable. 

In world 1, alt-Martha walks in front of The Girl from the Future, who holds her at gun point. The girl from the future forces her into a cage. Alt-Martha wonders aloud why Adam is doing this. Elsewhere Adam stands in his creepy trench coat, looking at the unstable god particle. Adam looks down at his hands, holding the letter. We then cut to Stranger Jonas reading the same letter. After he finishes reading, he burns the letter – an echo of the time he tried to destroy his father's letter in a similar way.

Stranger Jonas has just been abandoned by alt-Martha, and it's left to the viewer to decide if he's trying to honor Martha's wishes to "let her go so she can live" or if he wants to forget Martha. When he burns his father's letter, he chooses to let go of Mikkel in favor of the hope of being with Martha. Even if we don't understand his actions, it's still a cool parallel. We see multiple Marthas and are still trying to piece together the difference between some of them.

One conundrum remains. We saw two versions of what happens when Martha dies. In one version, alt-Martha appears and "saves Jonas". He then dies. In the other version, Jonas hunkers down during the apocalypse and reappears as Stranger Jonas. That Jonas is alive and kicking in 1888. So which version is true?

Cue title credits

Martha 2 comes out of the Erit Lux lair, her hands covered in blood. Words on screen tell us "the day of the apocalypse." In world 2, Martha goes to her house (the Kahnwald house). She vigorously washes her hands, desperately trying to get the blood off. But her efforts prove futile. Her breaths come in desperate gasps. She's having a panic attack and finds blood in her hair, on her clothes. She takes off the yellow raincoat and sweater, leaving only gray behind.

When she hears the front door open, she throws her soiled clothes in the trash. Magnus finds her in the kitchen and starts to give her a lecture. Katharina has been looking for her, and everyone was worried. His words falter once he notices her disheveled appearance. He can tell she's been crying and goes to hug her. He demands to know what's wrong.

Martha replies that Bartosz was right. That it's the end of the world. Something will happen today at the nuclear power plant. Bartosz' father will try to hide something in the barrels. Magnus goes from protective and listening to dismissive. He thinks Martha is full of psycho crap. He says that Mom doesn't deserve to be made to worry before walking out the door.

Martha pulls the St. Christopher's pendant out of her pocket.

Two women stand in front of a painting on ground covered in sand
Alt-Martha and Stranger Martha in front of the Adam and Eve painting
It's 2053 in world 2. The Martha who shot Jonas also holds the pendant. Stranger Martha talks to her. She tells her that Jonas had to die. The two of them are wrong in his world and in hers. As we pull back, we see the Erit Lux lair covered in sand, as if the house has been abandoned. Stranger Martha assures her the feelings will pass. Everything will run its course, just as fate determined for both worlds.

We warp to world 1. Alt Martha frantically tries to break free from her cage. There's not even room for her to sit fully upright inside. She bangs on the bars when she sees Adam. She demands to know why she's locked up. This is not what they agreed. Adam promised her she could help change things so the apocalypse didn't happen, but he lied to her just like her older self.

Adam pulls out the golden ball and holds it gently. Old Tannhaus believed he was creating paradise, a world beyond this one. But he now realizes what paradise really is – eternal darkness and annihilation. The apocalypse must happen in both worlds for that type of paradise to happen. He walks out. Martha uses all her strength and muster to call out his real name. Jonas! It's a shock to hear Adam called by his proper name. Only Martha – the woman he loves – is brave enough to do so.

We warp to world 2. Six hours until the apocalypse. It's not the leisurely warping transition we usually see. It's abrupt and sudden. At the Tiedemann house. Aleksander talks on the phone to Jurgen Obendorf. He demands to know where the barrels are. He reminds Jurgen who is in control. Bartosz 2 enters the kitchen, asking Aleksander if he's okay. Aleksander needs to go to the office. But first he wants to tell Bartosz something.

A young boy talks to his father
Aleksander tells Bartosz about his past
He shares that he's being blackmailed by someone about something he did a long time ago. He shows Bartosz the newspaper story about an unsolved murder in Marburg. (Side note: the other headline in the paper says "Fire in Warehouse: Over 100 emergency services on site."

Here's what I could roughly translate from the article:

"Many residents of the south still remember with horror the events of the fall of 1986. A fatal shot was fired during an attack on the locksmith's workshop in Haspelstrabe near the old Jaeger barracks. After the workshop was closed, two masked men decided to clear out the company's safe after a large cash payment was made that same day. However, their night activity was observed by a resident of Liebigstrabe, who immediately alerted the locksmith's clerk by telephone."

The article flashes on screen for only a few seconds. We aren't truly meant to read it for any answers, but I found it interesting that Aleksander's crime may have involved a locksmith's workshop. Also, there were two masked men. Who might the other one be? Clausen's brother? Is this a Don Draper situation, where the man we know as Aleksander, actually Boris Niewald, stole his partner's identity? The world will never know.

Back to our scene. Aleksander tells Bartosz that some decisions can never be undone. His name isn't Aleksander. It's Boris Niewald. The murder was an accident. Bartosz wonders if Regina knew. Aleksander shakes his head no. He says, "Your mother is the best thing that ever happened to me. She saved me from all that. And I never even told her the truth. He tries to apologize to Bartosz, but Bartosz steps away, repulsed by this revelation. He isn't sure what to think.

A brunette woman
Hannah tells Charlotte to stay away from Ulrich 
Charlotte rings the doorbell at the Nielsen house. Hannah answers the door. Charlotte asks to speak to Ulrich, but Hannah says that he's in the shower. Charlotte decides to wait. Her news is important. Hannah makes nice and asks how Charlotte's doing, but her posture and demeanor change in a heartbeat: "You listen to me. Ulrich belongs to me. And that's not going to change."

Just then Ulrich comes in, looking flustered to see Charlotte. Hannah flips back to being sweet and suggests that Charlotte drop by again with Peter so they can all go out together. She gives Charlotte a hug and Ulrich a kiss – a true snake in the grass.

As soon as Hannah exits, Ulrich turns hard and tells Charlotte never to come here again. Charlotte just coolly reports that his phone was off and goes into her reveal. The examination of the two pennies is complete. She pulls out a file folder and shows him an up-close photo of the pennies. An identical groove sits at the top of the E in each. The two pennies are one and the same, but Charlotte knows that Helge has had his penny since she's known him. She concludes the penny traveled through time. Ulrich grabs the pennies and rushes off on some mission.

A teen girls stands in front of a mirror
Martha 2 gives herself a haircut and becomes Alt-Martha
At the Kahnwald house, Martha 2 sits on her bed, fresh from the shower. We can see the St. Christopher pendant around her neck. She's panting hard and grabs a pair of shears. She chops off her hair with little care for the results.

In her room, Katharina 2 wakes from a snooze to find Martha now looking a lot like alt Martha. She's got the choppy bob haircut and is wearing all black clothes and a messenger bag around her shoulder. Katharina notices her hair and her daughter's wet eyes.

Martha asks if she believes in fate. After a few moments, Katharina decides no. She believes they make their own fate. Everyone must choose. She tells her daughter that Martha can talk to her if she wants. And it now dawns on me that Katharina seems to be napping in Mikkel's room. The room is adorned with a soccer ball, robots, rocket ships, and things a science loving kid would enjoy. Katharina seems very attached to her kids and maybe this is her way of staying close to them when they are away from her.

She takes Martha's hand and says, "Your father and I. A lot of things may be different now, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad."

This is a touching scene between mother and daughter. In world 1, Katharina and Martha fought towards the end. It's nice to see them coming together in this world. She tells Katharina she needs to take care of something.

We warp back to world 1. There's a photo of Jonas on the wall. Claudia holds the plans to the Winden Nuclear Power Plant, and a note to follow the signal. We see the smokestacks of the power plant gone. Inside the reactor room, Claudia in a hazmat suit walks towards a small glowing ball. Claudia reaches out her hands, as if to touch it. A voice commands her to stop. It's young Jonas, looking gray and unwell. This is the Jonas we saw at the beginning of this episode who did not go to Martha's world. He survived somehow and has been living in this ruin.

We warp back to world 2. Martha is writing the letter to Jonas. The letter that young Noah will one day take to the Stranger. Standing on either side of her are Stranger Martha and Eva. This Alt-Martha – the one that has the huge gash in her left cheek – says, "I killed him. Why is he still alive in his world?"

Eva draws an infinity symbol in the dust and mentions the switch point at the junction in the loop of time. "The moment that allows things to go in one direction or the other. You bring him to our world or you don't. A line that meets itself again in a loop. Two possible paths, along the outer edge of the line, or along the inner edge of the line. And yet it is the same line. Two overlapping realities. On one of these paths, he dies. On the other, he doesn't. Both possibilities recur in the loop again and again. One triggers the other. Quantum entanglement."

As she speaks, we see a split screen, Martha is dead. Jonas hovers over her. In one version, alt-Martha shows up and rescues Jonas. In the other, she doesn't. Adam has been trying to sever this entanglement for 33 years so that what is growing inside of her will never come to be. But this will never be because Jonas is controlled by them. Stranger Martha snugly folds the letter into the envelope. So, the cat is out of the bag. Martha is pregnant with Jonas' child. Adam wants to erase the child.

A woman in a yellow hazmat suit
Claudia encounters Jonas, whom she thought was dead
We warp back to world 1. Claudia asks about the origin of this floating orb. Jonas explains it's a remnant from the apocalyptic explosion. The machinery holding it together is a shadow of what it will become. The Sic Mundus passage no longer exists. But this orb offers a chance that Jonas can save Martha and Mikkel. This Jonas still believes change is possible. He demands to know how she found him. And this is when we remember that Claudia found Jonas because her alternative self told her she needs to keep Jonas busy until alt-Claudia can figure out how to untie the knot.

Claudia quickly forms a lie. She starts to say something about the device, but when Jonas asks to see it, she stops talking. She shows him the device and reports it's no longer working. She tries to brightside him. We changed the variables last time so maybe this time it will work better. Jonas protests that he doesn't have time to wait 33 years. He also has no desire to lie to his younger self as his older self did to him.

It's so painful to see this young Jonas clinging desperately to the shreds of hope and integrity has left, especially knowing that Jonas will become Adam. Jonas fights against that fatalistic view. He then gets even more suspicious. All the time he worked with older Claudia, she never told him about what would happen to Martha. Why should he trust her now?

Claudia says, "The matter in the nuclear power plant. I know what it is. I can help you save Martha." So once again, Jonas falls in line, drawn by the siren song of Martha's name being used in vain.

A man appears in front of his teen self
Bartosz 2 rescues his younger self
Back in world 2, it's three hours until the apocalypse. Martha 2, now dressed as alt-Martha, ends up as the house of Bartosz. She calls his name, a hint of desperation in her voice. He's surprised to see her, but allows her in. She tells him that 33 years ago, there was an accident at the power plant. A substance formed, and his father helped to keep this secret hidden. The substance in the cave triggers the apocalypse. She wants Bartosz to help her talk to Aleksander. Unlike Magnus, Bartosz doesn't call her crazy. He's just found out his dad has been keeping secrets.

At the Winden police station, Ulrich visits the morgue where they are keeping the body of the boy found in the bunker. The time of death was just before the body was found. The forensic specialist pulls back the cloth, showing Ulrich the body with the eyes burned. Ulrich asks if it's possible the body was dead awhile and has been preserved. Ulrich leans forward, noticing the scar on Mads' chin.

Ulrich comes to Helge in his prison cell and pulls him up. He grabs Helge firmly. Helge claimed to have killed the boy in the bunker, but he doesn't mean him. He means Mads. The body looks just like Mads. How can that be? Helge stammers that, "She said I had to do it." Ulrich demands to know who. Helge continues, "To send him to the future and fill the gaps." Ulrich then pulls out the pennies. What do they mean? Helge says he needs to stop him. Ulrich says who, and Helge says, "You." Hmmmm. In this world, Ulrich tries to talk to Helge. Less rough housing, more talking.

Ulrich releases Helge without another word. He lets Helge out of prison. 

Back to Martha and Bartsoz. Bartosz muses out loud that this Jonas guy is dead, and Martha killed him. Not her, but another Martha. Martha tries to turn the conversation away from Jonas and back to the more important matter. It all has to do with Aleksander, and they need to stop him from opening the barrels. Bartosz tries to call Aleksander, but his father lets the call go to voicemail. He has more important matters to take care of right now. He calls Charlotte and ask her to come to the power plant.

A man with a cleft lip bathed in red light
The Unknown triggers the apocalypse in 1986
The Unknown watches the pulsing unstable god particle. The Unknown pulls a lever, causing the particle to stabilize and come to a complete and perfect sphere. The younger and older Unknown walk towards the sphere and disappear. The middle-aged Unknown pulls out his own golden sphere, just like the one alt-Martha has.

Speaking of alt-Martha, we warp back to world 1. The Girl from the Future opens alt-Martha's cage. Adam wants to see alt-Martha now. The Girl from the Future escorts Martha towards her next destination, but first alt-Martha is ordered to strip out of her 1888 clothing. Alt-Martha obeys, but asks the Girl why she does as Adam commands. The Girl says, "We the chosen few must fill the gaps." This is the same wording Helge uses earlier. That he must fill the gaps.

The yellow hazmat suits on the wall help identify that we are outside the nuclear core reactor room. Adam waits for alt-Martha's arrival. He tells older Magnus and Franziska that they know what to do. Just like the Unknown, Adam pulls a lever. Franziska grabs Magnus' hand tightly.

A red haired girl and a brunette boy sit by a lake
Franziska 2 and Magnus 2 see the apocalypse hit
We warp to world 2, where Franziska 2 and Magnus 2 also hold hands. It's one hour until the apocalypse. They sit next to the lake, where Tronte and Jana once held hands, where Jonas and Martha once kissed, where Helene bashed Martha on the head with a rock, leaving the St. Christopher medallion buried in the sand.

Franziska asks Magnus what he thinks the birds and the light mean and the boy in the bunker. Magnus sticks with his narrative that Martha is going crazy and believes that the apocalypse will happen today. Franziska just smiles and says, "If we die today, then together." Magnus agrees, and they kiss.

Meanwhile, Bartosz taxis Martha on his bicycle. They ride like the wind towards the power plant, hoping to talk sense into Aleksander. There's something touching about Bartosz' loyalty to Martha. She is connected to Jonas in a knot, but there's a connection to Bartosz, too, somehow, that is no less tenable in any world.

At the power plant, Aleksander escorts Charlotte towards the nuclear reactor room. The yellow suits and accents are replaced with ones in red.

Helge walks towards the cave, saying Tick Tock. Ulrich follows behind, just like he did in world 1. He calls Charlotte: "Charlotte, it's me. Listen, the stuff with the pennies. I know it sounds crazy, but the same thing happened with the body in the bunker. Have them run a DNA test. I don't know how, but the boy in the bunker is my brother. It's Mads."

A woman and man in wool coats
Older Franziska and Magnus block Martha and Bartsoz from their journey
Bartosz and Martha's bike ride towards the power plant is interrupted when older Magnus and Franziska appear and block their path. Martha 2 asks who they are, and Magnus says she should know. She speaks her brother's name, although this is the Magnus from world 1. They are from the future but from the other world. Magnus says, "They lied to you. Your older selves. They don't want to prevent the apocalypse. They're the ones who are responsible for it happening. But there is a way to change everything. But you have to choose our world and trust him; Jonas."

Martha is surprised to hear that Jonas is alive. Franziska says that Jonas is alive in their world, and he knows where the origin is. But before that, she must save Jonas from the apocalypse in his world and bring him into her world. Magnus offers Martha the chance to prevent the apocalypse by doing what they need her to do.

However, whichever way you slice it, they are inviting her into a future that we have already seen, a future that will end in heartbreak. There is no redemption in this option. Jonas/Adam won't actually try to stop the apocalypse, but he plans to use the apocalypse for his own aim.

Men in parallel worlds mess with nuclear equipment
The Unknown mess with the volume control room in both worlds 
Bartosz tries to get Martha to talk to him, but Martha thinks Bartosz should just come with them. Franziska says, "He doesn't belong with us. He belongs with the others. They will save him." Without giving Martha a further option, they set the golden globe. And so, once again, Bartsoz is left behind. Martha chooses Jonas again. The three figures disappear. Bartosz is left alone.

A voice says, "It's time. Adam has moved each of his pieces into position. It's time that we do the same." We cut to the vision of Martha with a huge gash in her left eye. This is the Martha who shot Jonas. Eva addresses Martha, as well as a whole group of her foot soldier.

She continues, "This knot has given us life, and we are its keepers. In both worlds." She then moves down the line and starts to give each person orders. To Martha she says, "He'll never be able to untie the knot," and places her hand on Martha's belly. "In all these years, he hasn't understood how everything is really connected."

Bartosz must save himself to save lives. The superhero. Claudia must give herself to be their eyes in Adam's world. The spy. Egon, you must create your past to preserve the family tree. The ancestor. Noah, bring love to make everything new. Renewal. "Every darkness is followed by light. With every death comes a life." With that, Eva flips her own switch. It's time for them all to travel.

A man over 60 with facial scars
Adam brings the full brunt of two apocalypses onto Martha
In world 1, Adam stands mutely as Martha begs for understanding and mercy. Adam brought her here and promised she could change things. Now, she sits bound to a pile of debris right under the god particle. She asks where the others are. He tells they are all fulfilling their destinies. Franziska, Magnus, Charlotte, Elisabeth, Silja, and Agnes. They will all perpetuate the cycle, so that the two of them can be right here, right now.

Adam tells her that things have come to an end. The origin, the thing growing inside of her, must die. But it can't be killed by normal means. It's born of both worlds, and the energy of both worlds is needed to destroy it. The power of the apocalypse in both worlds will be directed onto this one point to destroy the origin and the whole universe. As Martha sobs, Jonas rips the St. Christopher medallion from around her throat. He says the fateful worlds that we have heard so often.

"Wir sind falsch. Du und ich. In deiner Welt und in meiner."

Martha screams Jonas' name over and over again. Jonas' cold Grinch-like heart seems to falter for a minute, and then he starts up the machinery and pushes the lever forward.

Our interlude music begins. The Pioneers (M83 Remix) by Bloc Party.

A man and a teen girl stand together
Middle-aged Noah brings Elisabeth to the bunker in world 2

In one world, the younger and older Unknown walk faces the bus stop in world 2, and in world 1, the middle-aged Unknown takes the same path. They then walk towards the power plant. In world 2, Elizabeth meets older Noah. He takes her to the bunker to meet younger Noah. Unlike in world 1, Noah wears beige clothes. Elisabeth and young Noah are the only ones in the bunker. The put together Claudia meets unkempt Claudia (we saw this encounter earlier in the season). Older Bartosz 2 rescues his younger self who was just abandoned by Martha. Stranger Martha appears at the Tannhaus factory in 1888 and places the letter on Stranger Jonas' desk. Just like in world 1, Jonas tried to destroy a letter that comes back to haunt him. She also leaves the pocket watch nearby. This image confuses me a little because the factory looks much more up to date. And where are younger Magnus and Franziska?

I have to stop and just say that Bartosz and Martha 2 were on their way to stop the apocalypse from happening. Both Magnus and Franziska (Adam's henchmen) and Bartosz, one of Eva's foot soldiers, distracted them both from accomplishing that goal, which means neither team wants to stop the apocalypse. If we needed any further proof that both groups are lying, we have it.    

Stranger Jonas looks at the leftover residue from the goo ball that alt-Martha left behind. Back on Adam's world, the unstable god particle begins to spin. Martha screams. The Unknown gazes at the power plant keys in his hand. They use the keys to enter the volume control room in 1986. Ulrich 2 follows Helge into the cave and finds the red string and the Erit Lux door. Hannah pulls the gun out of her wooden box and considers shooting herself. Her plans are interrupted when she suffers a miscarriage. The lights flicker. Egon shows up and rescues Hannah somehow. We can only speculate what happens and how it connects to world 1. We also see Katharina with her arms wrapped around Mikkel. They are in what was Michael's art studio in world 1. 

Adam closes his eyes as the gold particle becomes a tornado that swallows Martha. Her destruction is terrible. Her screams, intense and haunting.

A mushroom cloud explodes
The apocalypse explodes, world 2
In 2019 world 2, Aleksander and Charlotte enter the nuclear reactor room. Unlike in world 1, the barrels have not been hidden yet. He is trying to come clean. He opens a yellow barrel. I'm not sure what he was trying to accomplish here. The Unknown turn a wheel and release some valves. The black matter in the barrel rises into tendrils and becomes a huge black balloon. The apocalypse explodes as Magnus and Franziska watch.

Lingering questions:

  • Did Ulrich kill the boys in world 2? It's not Noah that Helge needs to stop. Helge names Ulrich as the villain.
  • Why did Aleksander think it was a good idea to open a barrel? Obviously the Unknown did something to make things worse, but what was his plan? 
  • Helge mentions they need to fill in the gaps and later, Silja said the same thing. Who said those words to Helge. I assumed Claudia, but could it be the Girl from the Future. 
  • What happens to Bartosz 2, Egon 2, and Hannah 2? 

Sic Mundus Creatus Est


Msprenger said…
Thanks for your very detailed explanation of these quite complicated episodes. I do love Dark, but sometimes struggle to remember who is where or when and what they want. This helps a lot!