The Lingering Questions We Still Have After the Series Finale of 'Dark'
Now that Netflix's hit German time-traveling show is done for good, we'll be thinking about these questions for a long, long time.
Having created a story that spans centuries and realities, co-creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese could have easily fumbled Dark's ending, but the duo managed to pull off a fantastic and unpredictably satisfying conclusion. The show's time and world-hopping shenanigans in the third season alone makes Avengers: Endgame seem like child's play, and the master work on the series finale is almost powerful enough to make you forget the disappointment from the farewell episode of Game of Thrones. While it's still difficult to truly accept, the interconnected insanity of Netflix's German sci-fi epic Dark is finally over, and with its third and final season now out, it has proved to be one of the streaming platform’s most impressive originals.
With that said, Dark's ultimate season isn't without its faults, and a major chink in its armor is the show's disinterest in concluding with a clear, picture-perfect explanation for everything -- and not just the phenomenon that caused everything -- that's happened throughout its three-season run, and especially Season 3. Leaving just enough room for viewers to speculate and theorize was admittedly a great decision, but there are answers to some burning questions that could have been justifiably portrayed in the show’s final episodes without potentially creating plot holes. Alas, we are -- or were… or will be -- here now, and Dark's ending is what it is. However, that can’t stop us from seeking to understand the incomprehensible, so here are four pressing questions that remain after the series finale of Netflix’s German masterpiece.
How did Eva's world first come in contact with Jonas's world?
Season 3 formally introduced the (at the time) big whammy that was Eva's world, a mirror dimension infinitely entangled with the version of Winden that viewers had come to know. It was an incredible twist that we probably should've seen coming but still didn't, and it was definitely a major plot point that deserved more time to develop because it low-key creates one of Dark's only plot holes. Martha 2 first appeared in the finale of Season 2, and although her world is carefully built as viewers learn that she is from an alternate reality where Jonas does not exist, it is never explained how the two worlds first came into contact.
The first crossover can't be when Martha 2 saves Jonas from his world because she's sent there by Eva, a.k.a. older Martha 2, so the question becomes: How does an older Martha 2 know that she must save Jonas from his world if her world never had a Jonas to begin with? Even middle-aged Jonas and Claudia are perplexed when first meeting travelers from the alternate universe, so Eva's thorough understanding of the phenomenon is both outstanding and questionable. Much like the hyper-advanced time and space-traveling device that the travelers in Winden 2 use, the root of the convergence between their worlds is never expounded upon, but the whole loop -- the ending is the beginning -- premise in Dark allows Season 3 to skirt past that plot point and convince viewers to simply accept that there are multiple realities now.
How did Claudia finally come up with the solution?
Shout out to Claudia for saving the world and all, but what type of drug was she on to accurately hypothesize both the existence of a third world and the birth of her and Eva's worlds as a result of a catastrophic origin event in the third one? For a character who was blown away when discovering that a second world existed, it feels like a stretch that she would land on those ideas. However, Claudia was one of the smartest characters on Dark, and as a person who ran a nuclear power plant and foiled the plans of both Adam and Eva, it’s not really impossible to believe that she could figure a way out of Winden's mess. Similar to the vagueness surrounding the initial interactions between Adam and Eva's worlds, this development is plausible, but not seeing how Claudia reached this conclusion almost makes it feel like a cop-out from the writers.
What does Martha 2 remembering to see Jonas through her closet as a child mean?
One of the more puzzling moments from the series finale came in the moments leading to the resolution of Dark's troublesome triquetra. After preventing the car accident of Tannhaus' family that inspires him to create time travel, Jonas and Martha 2 share some last words. The scene is a splendid farewell to Winden's most infinitely toxic couple, but before they say their final goodbyes, Martha 2 has a revelation that her seeing Jonas through her closet as a child wasn’t a dream after all. Nevertheless, the two cease to exist as time travel is erased from Winden's history.
The only problem -- the young Martha 2 seeing Jonas while he's in-between universes implies that this has happened already, and a loop would mean that this specific coup either causes everything or is ultimately unsuccessful. However, that is simply not the case, so her realization begs the question of whether alternate Jonas and Martha 2 team-ups have previously attempted this mission as well. Processing the true answer to this question is likely too overbearing, so it's probably better that Odar and Friese kept that one close to their chests.
Is the origin world truly spared from destruction?
Call it what you want, but the closing scene of Dark was eerie as fuck. In the origin world, the group of characters who existed outside of the infinite incestuous bloodlines in both Adam and Eva's worlds convene for dinner. A familiar occurrence hilariously interrupts the long-awaited reveal of what happened to Wöller's eye when the lights in the house flicker until the power fails. Then, a pregnant Hannah -- who is surviving and thriving in the origin world -- stares ominously at a yellow raincoat reminiscent of Jonas's and reveals that she feels like she experienced the current moment before, but last time it ended with the destruction of Winden. As the lights come back on, everyone shrugs it off, and Hannah reveals that she's thinking of naming her unborn child Jonas.
While the moment can be interpreted as a bittersweet ending for the viewer and a hopeful beginning for the origin world, it can also be seen as a seriously grave omen. For one, the Claudia from Adam's world was very vocal about the fact that both Jonas and Martha should never have existed, so that's a major red flag. Also coupled with the fact that Tannhaus could very well have experience another traumatic life event that resulted in him creating time travel and the multiverse -- because instead of killing the clock-maker, Jonas and Martha 2 prevented his calamitous discovery by saving his family -- another loop could still possibly exist in the origin world. Whether that brings you excitement, dread, or sheer confusion, there's no ending more fitting to a show as captivating and intellectually challenging as Dark.
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Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist who -- even after finishing Dark -- feels like what he understands is a drop, and what he does not is an ocean.