In this three-part guide (I’m sorry this can’t be shorter), we’ve looked at the origins of the Tannhaus, Doppler, Tiedemann and Nielsen families (Part 1) to see how they all fit into the grand scheme of things, then we looked into what happened in Martha’s World (Part 2).
Heavy spoilers ahead!
Let’s jump in to see the War of the Worlds between Adam and Eva and how Claudia has finally fixed everything in Part 3.
Why There Are Two Worlds
Jonas/Adam’s sole goal of destroying the knot that binds the two worlds together involves him making sure everyone who is born is born, everyone who is meant to die, dies, and also in making sure that the apocalypse happens, in both worlds. He thinks that by killing the Origin, this will all go away.
Eva does all the above too but in an effort to save her son, the Origin. The two try to sabotage each other’s efforts which ironically produces the outcomes of what had happened.
Just like how Jonas cannot die before his time, Eva and the Origin too cannot die before their time. Nevertheless, Jonas/Adam is convinced that by using the power from the two apocalypses, he will be able to stop the beginning from happening, killing Martha and her son before he comes to be.
He succeeds, she dies, but everything still stayed the same, mainly because he didn’t know about the third world, and he didn’t know about the switch point.
In the third world, which Claudia calls the origin world, H. G. Tannhaus loses his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in a car accident. Devastated, Tannhaus creates time travel in order to bring back his loved ones. However, the process not only destroys his world but creates two other worlds, Jonas’s world and Martha’s world, both mirror worlds.
The knot that binds the two worlds together is not created by Martha, Jonas, Adam or Eva. It’s created by a grieving father who had lost his loved ones and he would do anything to get them back, including creating a way to travel through time.
Claudia’s plan to undo everything is to prevent the invention of time travel in the origin world. Prevent the cause and you will prevent the effect.
Figuring out the Origin World
But first, how does she figure out that there is an Origin world in the first place? Well Claudia was smart enough to kill her counterpart in Martha’s world so she could function as herself in Jonas’s World AND her alternate self in Martha’s world.
While Adam spent 66 years to get to where he is in his world, and Eva spent 66 years to get to where she is in her world, Claudia spends 33 years in each, looking through both worlds for a way to save Regina.
Regina is the only person who is not tied to the knot mainly because her father was not Tronte Nielsen like everyone believes. Her true parentage is hidden by her mother’s insistence to use her family name, Tiedemann instead of the actual father’s, Bernd Doppler. So it is Claudia’s belief that Regina is from a third world, the origin world. With the removal of these two worlds, she can live in a world where she does not die.
To save Regina, she has to prevent the two worlds from splitting up, and keeping the origin world intact, the world in which Regina does not die.
Now, in the two worlds, both Jonas’s and Eva’s, everyone’s fate is all tangled up in what they keep calling a knot. There is almost no room for freewill, no leeway for changes. If you die in one world, you die in the other. But why then are things different from Jonas, Martha and the Origin? Why does Jonas exist in his world and Martha and their son exist in the other? Their worlds should be mirror worlds.
Because there is a loophole, a switchpoint.
There is a fraction of a moment during the apocalypse when time stands still. There is no cause-and-effect, you can change your destiny during that brief moment. Eva who knew of the switchpoint, uses it to produce the two paths (the two outcomes). She uses the switchpoint to have her son, to kill Jonas, and to maintain the cycle.
Claudia used the switch point to come to Adam and explain all this because she may understand how to fix the problem but it isn’t her problem to fix. Adam, who previously had not known about the switchpoint, hasn’t used his.
She asks Adam to use the switchpoint to send Jonas and Martha to the origin world and prevent the accident in the origin world. Jonas and Martha will take the tunnel and cross the bridge when it materialises as a result of Tannhaus using his machine. They then will travel to the past using Martha’s pokeball (don’t hate me) time machine and prevent Marek from crossing the bridge where the car accident happens.
We know that this will work the moment Adam’s gun is unusable against Eva. She says that she always dies in Adam’s hands. But as this time is different, this is her Outcome #2. Jonas and Martha had done it.
Another hint that Jonas and Martha succeeds is that while in the tunnels, they see each other in visions from when they were children. If it had happened in the past, that means it will happen in the future. It just took a while to get there.
Saying Goodbye to DARK
The final 25 minutes is just a great sendoff to all the wonderful characters of this magnificent show. And after reading this guide, if you rewatch the episodes, many scenes carry significance that we have previously missed, like when Jonas asks alternate-Martha in the tunnel what the Jonas in her world is like. #noweverybodyiscrying
We learn to appreciate many scenes, dialogue, the significance of relationships between each of the characters, even glances, all anew.
In this scene, Charlotte finally realises that Elisabeth is not only her daughter, but also her mother. Adam sent them both to do this so she can understand this relationship.
But more importantly, this scene in the Origin world becomes less of an afterthought.
In the Origin world, Regina holds a dinner party attended by Benni and Torben, Hannah, Katharina and Peter.
Regina doesn’t die from cancer. Benni and Torben don’t die in the apocalypse. Peter doesn’t die a horrible death trying to protect Elisabeth in the apocalypse which took away Charlotte, Franziska and Helge. Katharina doesn’t die being pulverised to death by a mother who never wanted her. And Hannah finally has a life that is fair to her, a husband who loves her, a child she doesn’t lose (or who kills her when he is all grown up).
This attendance also probably means that Bernd, Claudia, Egon, Doris, Greta, Helge and Peter’s mom exists in this timeline. Regina is a Doppler and related to Peter via Bernd. Katharina who is an Albers and Hannah who is a Kruger are not part of the knot. They are friends here instead of sworn enemies because there is no Ulrich. There are no Nielsens or Kahnwalds. No time travel and complicated relationships. No apocalypses, murders, sabotage, and kidnapped boys.
All because one car accident was prevented.
Hat’s off to the wonderful people behind DARK. It is a masterpiece and one of the most compelling story about time travel there ever was, and probably will be.
If you are sad to see it go, just rewatch the show from the start. And if you ever feel lost, here are the guides again.
It’s finally here! DARK Season 3 was spectacular. If you’re just starting out on Netflix’s DARK, and have already lost your way, don’t worry. It happens to all of us. If you are struggling with Netflix’s DARK Season 1 and Season 2, follow the links below to my guides which can help clear things up for you.
If you are here, I take it that you have already watched the entirety of the show and that you won’t lash out at me if you come across spoilers in these guides.
In other words, if you keep reading this post before you have finished the show, you lose the right to be mad at me for sharing spoilers.
And if that isn’t clear enough, heavy spoilers ahead.
DARK Season 3 is here!
I never thought I’d see the day when we’d see the whole family together. Well, sort of. Turns out everyone has got an evil twin in an alternate world. If it wasn’t for the training from the mindblowing plots in Season 1 and 2, I’d just about give up on DARK Season 3 (gasp, blasphemy!). #ikid
So, it turns out that the Martha that comes to save Jonas at the end of the Season 2 finale is from, not a parallel world, but a mirror world. The fates and destiny of everyone in both worlds are fixed and eventual. They may not happen at the same time, but there is no escaping what is predestined for them.
So how do we untie this knot? Well first we need to understand why the knot exists in the first place. And to do that, we need to do a recap of the families. Trust me, it’s important. And because there is a lot of work to be done, we best be getting started now.
The Tannhaus Family
We begin with the least complicated subfamily. The Tannhaus family consists of Heinrich, father of Gustav, who is father of Ijopold, who is father to device-maker H.G. Tannhaus.
The Tannhaus family is obsessed with bringing back the dead. They want to bring back a wife, or a child, or their grandchild. All of that contributed to this obsession with time travel which we see present in good ol’ H.G. Tannhaus.
We know of Charlotte’s storyline. She was adopted by H.G. Tannhaus but it was only in Season 3 that we find out that her adoption wasn’t the paperwork kind of adoption.
When H.G. loses his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in a car accident, he becomes the adopted father to a baby brought to him by two women who tells him that they know that he will lose everything that night. The two women are post-apocalyptic, adult Charlotte and post-apocalyptic, adult Elisabeth, sent back by Adam in 2053.
This event is important because this ensures Elisabeth’s birth. Without Charlotte, there is no Elisabeth and without Elisabeth, there is no Charlotte. We will see this self-preservation-through-time-travel happen a lot within the loops.
Charlotte would grow up and meet Peter Doppler. They would have two beautiful daughters, Franziska and Elisabeth. Of the two sisters, one of them is deaf in either worlds.
When the apocalypse hits, Franziska would travel to 1888 with Magnus and Bartosz, while Elisabeth would survive the apocalypse with Peter, then end up with Noah, delivering a baby that would be taken away from her.
The abduction is important to ensure that Noah will stop at nothing to find his daughter again, including kidnapping and experimenting with time travel on boys, resulting in their deaths, working together with, Helge, Claudia and Jonas, and killing Claudia. Once he has completed everything that has to be completed, and has uncovered Jonas/Adam’s betrayal, he is killed by Agnes, his own sister.
H.G. would also receive visits from Claudia, Jonas and Ulrich, which would help him build Jonas’s device. It isn’t mentioned if Tannhaus built Martha’s pokeball time machine but if you think about it, who else could have done it? #amirite
The device H.G. builds provides the vehicle for Claudia and Jonas to travel through time and ensure everything will happen as it has happened.
The Doppler Family
The Doppler family owns the site at the power plant which is ground zero for the Apocalypse. Bernd Doppler buils the power plant and manages it all the way until Claudia Tiedemann takes over. She could do so because Bernd had nobody else to leave the power plant to.
Bernd had but one son Helge and that son was brutally attacked by Ulrich at some point in his life (as a child and as an adult in the mirror world) rendering him incapable of running anything, let alone a power plant.
Ulrich’s obsession with Helge being the abductor of his brother, Mads and son, Mikkel is what took Ulrich back into the past to stop Helge. In the process, he accidentally delivers his smartphone to H.G. so H.G. could make his device work.
Helge is also essential for Elisabeth and Charlotte to exist, via Peter. Elisabeth may be Charlotte’s mother and daughter but Charlotte’s father is Noah and Elisabeth’s father is Peter. Peter is crucial to the family tree. He is brought to Winden when his mother died and his father was involved with an accident (either the car accident or Ulrich’s beating). Peter prevents Charlotte from leaving Winden when they met at the bus stop the day he arrives.
Together with Tronte, Helge is also Noah’s helper. His relationship with Noah is forced upon him by his overbearing mother, Greta, who had him with another man, and had been seeking salvation via Father Noah.
The Tiedemann Family
Until Season 3, the Tiedemanns have a relatively low profile, apart from Claudia Tiedemann. By Season 3, the family seems to be the movers and shakers behind the DARK realm.
While we see mostly Claudia doing all the work up until her death, it is her father, Egon and grandson, Bartosz that really pushed things over the edge.
With Doris, Egon has Claudia, who then has Regina. Regina would meet Aleksander and together they have a son, Bartosz. So far, so good, until you find out that Egon is also in a relationship with Hannah. And that opens up a whole new can of worms.
Silja and Bartosz
Hannah, who travelled back in time in search of Ulrich has settled down as a mistress for Egon Tiedemann. She got pregnant, which was bad news for Egon, a married chief of police. She tried to abort the child but… aborted the plan after speaking with Helene Albers, Katharina’s mother.
Doris, missing Agnes and heartbroken after learning about Egon’s affair from the Origin, leaves Egon. Hannah also leaves Egon and raises her daughter alone at an unspecified period and location.
In the late 1800’s, Bartosz had grown impatient with Jonas after two years of waiting. He meets a woman, Silja and has a son, Hanno Tauber, a daughter, Agnes. Silja dies during childbirth.
Years later, Claudia tracks Hannah down and sends her to see Jonas, who at the time had slowly turned into Adam, mentally and physically. Hannah turns up with her daughter in tow. She calls the little girl, Silja.
Bartosz recognises Hannah’s daughter as his wife. Adam hardened by his fate, disposes of Hannah then sends Silja to the future to follow and help Elisabeth search for Paradise. Eventually, Adam would send her back in time to be wife to Bartosz. This serves two purposes, one, to keep Bartosz happy and off his back, and two, to have Noah and Agnes, Adam’s most loyal pawns.
To recap, Silja is Egon’s daughter and Claudia’s stepsister. Via Hannah, Silja is also Jonas/Adam’s stepsister, and Elisabeth is her daughter-in-law. More importantly, Silja is Bartosz’s step grandaunt since Egon is Bartosz’s great grandfather. That’s one tightly bound knot.
Noah aka Hanno Tauber
As a young man, Noah would follow the guidance of his older self, who in turn listens to Adam. Noah would end up to be protector and husband to Elisabeth, and father to Charlotte.
Adam tells him that he and Jonas will be friends. Noah saved young Jonas when he tried to kill himself, explaining to Jonas that he cannot kill himself as Adam already exists; any attempt to off himself will fail.
Young Noah would stay by young Jonas’s side until they enter their 40s.
Adam had also told Noah that Jonas will betray him. In truth, it was Adam who betrayed him (so technically Adam did not lie to Noah, Adam IS Jonas), first when he ordered the abduction of Charlotte, and a second time, during Noah’s final moments. Noah would work on the time machine and with Helge’s help abduct the boys to experiment on in an effort to time travel to try to find his daughter.
In Season 1, he makes contact with a young Bartosz (his father). He passes the book and Jonas’ time travel device to Bartosz, knowing that he, Franziska, Magnus and Jonas can travel back to 1888 to escape the Apocalypse. This and Silja’s arrival ensures that Noah and Agnes would be born. Hannah would use Jonas’s device to travel.
Meanwhile, Agnes will have Tronte together with the Origin (son of Jonas and Martha). As a kid, Tronte was in a home briefly, where he got all those cigarette burns. Agnes would take Tronte to Winden and spend time with the Tiedemanns.
Agnes being the daughter of Silja, makes her the granddaughter of Hannah. Hannah had used Ulrich’s family name, Nielsen in order to get to see Ulrich in jail, telling Egon that she is his wife. Agnes thus has to use the same name so it can be passed down to Ulrich via Tronte. Agnes’s grandmother was mentioned briefly when Egon asked her who her grandmother was.
Agnes sets up Tronte with the Tiedemanns, romances Doris (who is Agnes’s great-great grandmother), and under Claudia’s order, gives Noah the information on where to kill Claudia. Noah successfully kills Claudia and finds the notes on where Charlotte really is, realising that Adam had ordered for Charlotte to be taken from him.
Agnes would eventually kill Noah when he confronts Adam in order to secure her position in Sic Mundus after the death of Claudia. When she disappeared together with Noah, Doris tries to track them down, unaware that her husband is in an affair with Hannah until pointed out to her by the Origin. She leaves Egon, which triggers Egon’s drinking.
Tronte, who had always suspected that Regina is his daughter, has always been at Claudia’s beck and call despite being married to Jana. Tronte, with the help of Peter Doppler, helped Claudia collect the bodies of dead boys sent through time by Helge in the past.
In the future, Tronte suffocates Regina under older Claudia’s command. Regina’s death was necessary to release younger Claudia to help Jonas built the time machine. Whether Tronte is Regina’s father or not has little to no consequences to his own timeline and bloodline but it does free Regina from his bloodline. And that is very, very important.
After Tronte marries Jana, he has three kids, one of which turns into a Kahnwald and has Jonas. And as we all know, Jonas is to blame for everything. Or is he?
As a fan of police procedural shows and Line of Duty, I was not surprised that this came recommended to me based on my watchlist. Story-wise, plots are not what Criminal is about. Criminal is more about how interesting the interrogation suspects are, and when you have bigwigs like David Tennant playing the possible suspects, you’re in for a treat.
There are 12 episodes, 3 episodes to each location: UK, Germany, France and Spain. The layout of the interrogation quarters is the same but the officers, team dynamics, personalities, language and therefore techniques used are different. Also in the spotlight are the motives behind each crime, rather than just the crime itself. What the episodes are here to unearth is why people do the bad things they do.
The team dynamics is strong here. They talk about structure and by-the-textbook procedures. Kinda makes them look boring but wait til you see how it’s done in Criminal: Spain.
David Tennant, always a delight to watch, plays the role of stepfather, Dr Fallon, who is accused of raping and killing his stepdaughter. Apparently in this world, you can only hold the suspect for 24 hours and Tennant’s character has stayed absolutely silent for 23 hours. In the final hour, he sings like a canary.
Hayley Atwell, Mrs Captain America, stuns as Stacey in not one, but two confessions. She is believed to be involved in her sister’s husband’s murder, which she confesses to at about the halfway mark of the show. That seemed a little too easy, don’t it? Absolutely. She’s done when she says she’s done, pink hair and acrylic blue nails and all. Wonderful episode.
Youssef Kerkour, if you haven’t seen him on Home, you should, because he is so under-utilised as Jay, a truck driver, in this episode. He’s brought in to be the gentle but not as dumb as he looks giant, who abandons a truck (possibly) full of illegal immigrants now at the risk of freezing to death overnight. Time is of the essence. Then midway through, the plot-line doesn’t twist, it entirely pivots.
In the background, Eva Meckbach plays a heavily pregnant officer joining the cases while simultaneously reviewing Sylvester Groth’s (Dark) interrogation methods. Germany’s cases are a lot more bizarre than the UK’s. Also, Groth is incredibly hostile for a police officer and seemed ready to fly off the rails at any moment. #bringthepopcorn
Peter Kurth is Jochen, a successful businessman who was the last person to see a handyman he had hired to work on one of his apartments decades ago. This episode was carried by an interesting plot, for a change. Best to go in blind on this one. If I had to complain about anything it’s that Schulz’s dubbed voice is so not suitable for him.
In the second episode, we see Deniz Arora’s Yilmaz being questioned on why he pushed his wife down the stairs, landing her in hospital. It is a case of domestic abuse. The weird thing is a lawyer has been hired to defend the suspect, by the victim’s father.
Nina Hoss, exuding the Aileen Wuornos vibe in Claudia, is a sight to behold. Her role is that of Claudia, a serial killer’s accomplice. She helped her boyfriend, now dead from slitting his wrists in prison, to abduct, rape and murder six girls before the duo were caught. She has been behind bars for some time when Groth’s character pulled her out of there to find out where she had buried the first victim. Said victim’s mother needs to bury her daughter before cancer buries her. By the end of this tense episode, you’re not really sure that Hoss is the only monster in the room. Easily the best episode for Germany.
France’s cases are more shall we say, contemporary. They are based on more recent events and social taboos. The lawyers take a back seat for all of the cases, although in one you can see the eyes in the lawyer changed the moment they realised their client is guilty.
The first episode involves the November 2015 Bataclan terrorist attack, an incident in which more than a hundred people died and hundreds more were injured. Sara Giraudeau plays a victim, Emilie, who had lost her boyfriend who was gunned down at the theatre, was compensated monetarily by the government, and had build an online following from blogging about the incident. So why is she in the interrogation room?
A high-powered female executive is being investigated over a death at the construction site. One of her workers had died from a fall. Already stressed out from running very late on a deadline, Nathalie Baye plays the capable, powerful and highly strung executive, Caroline, who is now being investigated on how involved she is with the worker’s murder.
Jeremie Renier plays a top salesman, Jerome, at the brink of being charged for a homophobia-fueled attack on a man beaten with extreme brutality. He was arrested trying to flee from the police but claims that he has nothing to do with the incident. Can the team catch him on his lie and unearth a secret that he is clearly trying desperately to hide?
Things are very different in Spain. The lawyers are treated with impunity, officers can bend the rules as they please so long as they get the results everyone wanted, and at times you can’t really be sure who is on the right side of justice. You know what is also criminal? The translation. It’s a travesty.
Carmen Machi plays a dog owner, Isabel, who has some blood in the basement of her home and a brother who is now missing. They are looking for him with connection to a missing person’s case. How the investigators finally got her to tell them what they need to know is cruel and unusual punishment.
Imma Cuesta plays Carmen, tired young woman who let her autistic little sister drown while her parents are not home. She is treated like a slave (their words) in the household and suffers abuse when the chores are not done properly. During the interrogation, she alternates between periods of lucidity and uncontrollable rage which gives us an inside look into why she did it. Sidenote: the episode could be 10 minutes shorter.
How low can you go when dealing with a weasel like Carmelo, played by Eduard Fernandez? Apparently, extremely, especially when he caused the death of a relative to one of the lead interrogators. It’s amazing how Carmelo’s lawyer just went with the flow when clearly what the interrogators are doing are just downright… criminal.
To Watch or Not To Watch?
Criminal is no Line of Duty. There isn’t enough time for us to be invested in the interrogation team despite all that drama happening on the other side of the mirror. You don’t have time to feel outraged by how the victims suffered or the crimes committed. That’s why it’s the perfect touch and go show for those who just want to burn off a few hours during the weekend.
If you have only 3 hours to burn, I recommend the following episodes: Claudia (Germany), Jochen (Germany), Jerome (France), Stacey (UK).
So in Part 1 of this guide we talked about what Team Claudia and Team Adam brought to the show. If you haven’t read that guide yet, no worries, here’s the link to Netflix’s DARK Explained (Part 1).
For Part 2 we’re going to talk about how the Sic Mundus team and how Adam likes to keep it in the family. Plus, we explore the missing branches of the Nielsen family tree and why there are two Tannhaus time machines out there (short answer: there isn’t).
Who is in Sic Mundus?
Of course Noah and young Noah is in there. Young Noah has been digging the tunnels and murdering co-workers since his teenage years. He is loyal to a fault towards Adam. In his adult years, he murders children and old white devils too.
Bearing in mind that young Noah is willing to kill for Adam, for whatever reason it is that he is in the bunker with Claudia, Regina, Peter and Elisabeth, it would be under Adam’s instructions.
What about the rest of the group?
Here’s a picture of Sic Mundus Elisabeth found in Charlotte’s belongings. You can’t really see their faces clearly but you can count 13 people (6 women, 7 men) including Adam sitting in the middle.
To the left of Adam, we have identified Noah, whilst to the right of Adam is Magnus and probably Bartosz. Agnes stands next to Noah, while the lady behind Adam is probably Franziska.
It would be much easier to identify who the rest are, particularly the women if the photo was not in one colour. Otherwise you could figure out who the women are (no matter what their age is) by the colour of their hair: the redhead is Franziska, Elisabeth is the blonde, Martha has black hair and Claudia has brown hair.
In any case, if that guy is Magnus, this lady is probably Franziska.
Since they’re standing up front with Adam in the picture, they are probably the early founders of Sic Mundus: Bartosz, Franziska and Magnus, which coincidentally are in the group of people Adult Jonas saves during the apocalypse. #therearenocoincidences
Later on in Season 3, Adult Jonas would also save Noah and Agnes, as per young Noah’s instructions based on Martha’s letter.
Alright, that’s 6 down, what about the other 7 people? Whoever they are, they are probably family too.
Sic Mundus is a Family Business
In Season 1 we were running on four families, but if you really think about it, it’s pretty much just about two families: the Nielsens and the Tiedemanns.
When Jonas got sent back to 1921, he bunked at the house of Erna Nielsen, the same house where Agnes and Noah Nielsen grew up.
On Agnes’s side, she has Tronte, who then has Ulrich, who then has Magnus, Martha and Mikkel, who is the father of Jonas Kahnwald. The Kahnwald’s name is a smokescreen.
Jonas is a Nielsen. Agnes is his great-great-grandmother, which makes Noah his great-great-granduncle.
On Noah’s side, he has Charlotte with Elisabeth. Charlotte then has FranziskaandElisabeth with Peter Doppler. Doppler, another smokescreen, is her husband’s family name, but she and her daughters are part of the Nielsen blood line.
Charlotte, Elisabeth and Franziska are also Nielsens.
Take a gander at what the relationship is in this picture.
To recap, here are the Nielsens (by Season 2) with Erna being the first generation and those related by marriage in [ ]:
1st generation: Erna
2nd generation: Agnes, Noah, Elisabeth
3rd generation: Tronte [& Jana], Charlotte [& Peter Doppler]
4th generation: Ulrich [& Katharina], Franziska, Elisabeth
5th generation: Magnus, Martha, Mikkel [& Hannah]
6th generation: Jonas
And here are where the Tiedemanns and Dopplers stand in the equations using marriages as points of reference.
1st generation: Erna – Bernd D [& Greta]
2nd generation: Agnes, Noah, Elisabeth – Egon T [& Doris] – Helge D
3rd generation: Tronte [& Jana], Charlotte [& Peter Doppler] – Claudia T
4th generation: Ulrich [& Katharina], Franziska, Elisabeth – Regina T
5th generation: Magnus, Martha, Mikkel [& Hannah] – Bartosz T
6th generation: Jonas
Alright, I’ll address the elephant in the room. Bartosz is in Sic Mundus, but he is a Tiedemann and we still don’t know how the Tiedemann ties in to the Nielsens by way of blood but there may be a loophole to that by way of the missing partners.
In Season 1, the big shocker was that Mikkel and Michael were the same person. This held major repercussions to Martha and Jonas’s relationship, turning them from just friends to aunt and nephew.
Jonas was not “supposed” to be born but as we learned in Season 2, a world without him is a terrible one. He can’t bring Mikkel back to the original timeline because his future “already exists.” Things are, because they are meant to be.
In Season 2, we have a few major shockers. We learned that Agnes is more involved than expected and that she is Noah’s sister, which means Noah is a Nielsen. That also means that Charlotte, who is Noah’s daughter is also a Nielsen. The Doppler family name was a smokescreen to keep us in the dark. #seewhatIdidthere
So, what if there are more secrets hidden behind unmentioned partners? For example:
Who was Helge’s wife and Father?
Helge’s wife was never mentioned. Peter had arrived in Winden after Helge’s accident in 1986. Why has Bernd never acknowledged Peter? Or was the age gap too big for him to do so? Or is it because he eventually found out what Greta confessed to Noah back in 1953, that Helge was not Bernd’s son. If not, then who is Helge’s father and is he connected to any of this?
Who did Claudia have Regina with?
I understand why Claudia is a Tiedemann but why does Regina carry the Tiedemann name instead of her father’s name? Why has her father never been in the picture? There’s literally no pictures or any mention of the guy in the house, ever. No deaths mourned, no wrath over a one night stand or a runaway dad. Absolutely nothing. Tronte and Claudia go way back though and they have been known to have had an affair.
Who was Agnes’s husband?
Does he have anything to do with Tronte’s cigar burns? Tronte also carries his mother’s family name, Nielsen. Is this like a thing with Winden wives? Also, she mentions that her grandmother is from Winden but so far we have only seen Erna, her mother. We don’t know who her grandmother is yet since Agnes got cut off before she could answer Egon. It’s possible that her husband and her grandmother is someone we already know.
So What’s Bartosz Real Parentage?
What if by the end of Season 3, we find out that the Tiedemanns also have Nielsen blood in them? What do you mean what if? Bartosz is in Sic Mundus, he probably is a Nielsen too. Noah actively recruited Bartosz since Season 1, giving him the book he holds, which means Bartosz has seen its contents. Noah also gave him the HGT machine in Season 2.
How does the Nielsen blood get into Bartosz then? Aleksander Tiedemann / Aleksander Kohler / Boris Niewald’s origin perhaps? Claudia having an affair with Tronte resulting in Regina perhaps? A time-travelling Hannah (aka Katharina Nielsen, here to see my husband) messing up the past as it was intended, perhaps? #lotsandlotsofperhaps
There is Only One Time Machine
Although there’s two HGT machine on the move by the end of Season 2, both time machines are probably the same machine. We’re just seeing it at different points in its use.
Let’s try to track its movements.
Tannhaus built it
So we saw Tannhaus build the time machine after receiving blueprints from Claudia back in 1953. He spends 33 years trying to make it work. Adult Jonas visits him in 1986 with a busted time machine, asking Tannhaus to help him fix it. In the process Jonas teaches Tannhaus how to use the device and asks him about how time works. Some time later, Tannhaus would teach Claudia how to use the time machine in 1987.
Tannhaus also uses the busted time machine to finally complete his unfinished time machine. He also uses Ulrich’s smartphone, a technology that is not available in his time, to make the machine work.
Jonas Tries To Close the Tunnels
Jonas takes the brand new machine and tries up to close the tunnels. He lugs it around but uses the tunnels to travel through time, showing his younger self how to travel through the tunnels and who Mikkel really is.
After all the chaos, Adult Jonas realises he didn’t change a darn thing and goes home to Hannah, unknowingly stopping her suicide just in time. He helps her and Charlotte figure a lot of things out. He eventually loses his time machine in 2020 to Hannah.
Hannah Travels to 1954
Hannah takes the time machine to go to 1954 to see Ulrich. She asks him to choose between her and Katharina. His answers were not convincing. She leaves him in jail to rot. He will stay in the asylum until 1987. Meanwhile Hannah chooses to get a fresh start but we have to wait until Season 3 to find out where and when she intends to do this. The Time Machine stays with her.
Things happen in Season 3.
Claudia Travels to 2019
While Hannah is soul searching, Senior Claudia buried her time machine in 1954 for her future self to dig up in 1987. Senior Claudia knows that she will die in 1954. There is no longer any need for her to travel.
Claudia digs it up in 1987 and uses it to travel to 2019, see Regina dying from cancer, read news articles about herself and Egon, and then go back to her original timeline to try to figure out the dark matter and to prevent Egon from dying.
Jonas ReOpens the Tunnels
When she fails to stop her father’s death, young Jonas turns up after a 12-month stint. I checked the timeline, it seems to match. This 12 months with Claudia began from his father’s suicide on June 21, 1986, right up to the day of the apocalypse, June 27, 1987. It’s possible that this is the Jonas that led Mikkel back to the caves and into 1986.
Anyways, he takes the heartbroken Claudia to the future, June 27, 2019, the day of the apocalypse with her time machine. Inside the tunnel he activates the machine to open the time passage his older self had closed in 1986. I’m not sure if this is a new feature (you don’t need a smartphone to work it anymore?) or if it only happens when you use it to open a time passageway.
Time manifests itself inside the bunker, freaking Martha out. She leaves the bunker when Peter and Elisabeth open the locked bunker door to enter.
Claudia Goes into the Bunker
Claudia leaves the cave with Jonas then splits up. She takes the time machine and goes to the bunker with Regina. They meet Peter and Elisabeth and later on, Young Noah there. The apocalypse happens. I’m thinking they use the time machine to get out of there rather than actually wait out the apocalypse inside the bunker. Because… there’s no food.
Things happen in Season 3.
Noah Gives Bartosz the Time Machine
Bartosz receives the time machine by Noah and brings it to pre-apocalypse 2020 where Magnus, Franziska, Martha and Elisabeth get a taste of how it works.
Katharina takes it off the hands of Magnus and tries to get it to work so she can go retrieve Mikkel. She leaves it with Jonas after he tells her it doesn’t “work that way” and she can’t bring Mikkel back.
Young Noah goes to see Jonas and gives him a letter by Martha.
He tells Jonas to save Bartosz, Magnus, Franziska, and then later on Agnes and himself. He says this loop must close for the next cycle to begin. Jonas uses the time machine Katharina left behind to transport Bartosz, Magnus and Franziska out of the apocalypse.
Things happen in Season 3.
Small Questions for DARK: Season 3
As it’s customary, everyone does a list of major questions for Season 3, but I’m going to flip the switch and do a “small question” list instead. I prefer to write on things we know or on clear hints but asking questions is also part of human nature so, here it goes:
What happens to Katharina in the tunnel while the rest of the world goes apocalyptic?
What happens to Elisabeth and Charlotte once they touched hands at the portal?
Who sent Clausen that letter to alert him about Kohler?
What’s up with Woller’s eye?
Who is Woller and Bernadette’s mother?
How did Ulrich survive his time in the asylum all those years? How can Egon have forgotten about him until the 1980s?
How has Noah never met Tannhaus if he was such a crucial person in developing the HGT machine?
Is Peter also a Nielsen? Who was his mother?
Does Ines and Greta work for Noah?
What’s this and why is it on Claudia’s body?
Who wrote the book that both Claudia (it has the schedule the missing children arrive at the bunker) and Noah (it has notes on Charlotte) had at different points in the story? Noah gives it to Bartosz at the end of season 1.
Who is this guy? Is he someone we have already met but don’t recognise yet? He seems to know a lot about Noah and why Adam took him in and named him Noah. His tattoo is on the front of his body. Noah would eventually get the same tattoo on the back of his body.
I’m going to wrap this up before my head hurts some more. Here’s looking forward to season 3.
My guide on understanding Netflix’s DARK (Season 1) was published three weeks ago. That’s how long I spent watching DARK (Season 2). If you thought DARK Season 1 was confusing and well beyond comprehension, Season 2 is going to make your head explode. And I don’t want that, so where do we start with Season 2? With a spoiler alert, of course.
Heavy spoilers ahead! I’m pulling no punches. It would help a lot if you know what’s happening before you attempt this guide. I promise it is fun.
Season 1 was about Jonas but the circle has since expanded in Season 2. More of the family is involved. We see Claudia, a Tiedemann, take centre stage, while Helge, Ulrich, Mikkel, Tannhaus get less screen time. We don’t even see much of Tronte and Jana anymore, except at the party.
Noah has been downgraded as a mysterious villain rather than the main antagonist but his story is no less powerful. Charlotte suddenly has a more pivotal role in the storytelling. But it’s still mostly about Jonas, and a new character, Adam.
A lot of the questions from Season 1 has been answered but there are a lot of new questions from Season 2 as well. Let’s see what we can glean from Season 2 of one of the most insanely awesome shows on Netflix right now.
Right. Let’s keep things as simple as possible. There are two groups fighting to wrest control of time. There’s Adam’s group and there’s Claudia’s group. At times they seem to help each other out because they both understand that they cannot change the past without it affecting who they are in the present.
However the only constant here is change. And everyone changes their motivations and their allegiance based on one crucial factor: information they get.
Before we get to that, let’s recap what both teams have been doing.
Claudia’s group is okay with sacrificing the people the love in order to save everybody else: she sacrifices Egon, Jonas sacrifices Martha, Michael sacrifices himself, you get the idea.
It’s quite noble of them and all but what they do are in the realms of cruelty. Also, Claudia refers to her fight with Adam as a “game” particularly when she was mocking Noah. I don’t think sacrifice and game are two words you use together in a sentence.
Claudia’s time travel adventures started off when she was visited by her future self, Senior Claudia. Senior Claudia uses Gretchen to convince Claudia that they are both the same person, just from different timelines. Senior Claudia went to 1987 to talk to her younger self and show her how the time machine works.
She then gave her younger self a map to show where to dig up the time machine she buries at the site of her future home, back when it was just a construction site in the 1950s.
In 1987, Claudia digs up the time machine from her backyard then goes to learn how to use it from Tannhaus. She speaks to Helge and Helge tells her not to trust Noah. She uses the time machine to go to the future where she sees her daughter, Regina dying from cancer, and her power plant taken over by Aleksander. She finds news clipping of her disappearance and of her father’s death. She returns to the 1980s to prevent all this but inadvertently caused her father’s death. #plottwist
She disappeared from the 1980s just like the newspaper clippings reported when Jonas took her to 2019, the day of the apocalypse so she could retrieve Regina and end up in the bunker together with Peter and Elisabeth. They meet with young Noah there. Jonas says that those who were in the bunker would survive the apocalypse. You would think they would pack some food in with them, you know?
Noah & Elisabeth
In Season 3, we would probably see young Noah end up with young Elisabeth. They marry and have Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte is both Elisabeth’s mother and daughter. Yes, they went there.
Claudia then takes Elisabeth and Charlotte away (Noah was fuming when he reminded her of this right before he shot her). Her motive is not clear but it is possible that she was trying to save Charlotte’s life.
Remember, Noah said that Charlotte was born premature. If they were living in a period without the proper technological facilities (but with polaroid technology) – be it in the 20s, 50s or the post-apocalyptic world – Claudia must take Charlotte to a time that have the facilities which could save her life. Otherwise, there won’t be an Elisabeth. Or is that too humane for the White Devil who likes to talk about sacrifice, like, a whole lot?
At least Charlotte was left under the care of Tannhaus, who became Charlotte’s adopted grandfather. She had to be kept in Winden because WE NEED ELISABETH to complete the mother-daughter loop.
Tannhaus seems like a good choice because he is not from the 4 families or maybe because he is building the time machine for Claudia anyways. Two birds with one stone. Who knows? Maybe Adam told Claudia to do all this because they need Noah to really, really want to perfect The Chair so he can find his daughter again?
Last we saw her, Elisabeth is in the post-apocalyptic world. She is a rebel leader propagating Adam’s lies of a promised land. She recognises Jonas which is why she knows to spare his life. When the portal opens during the apocalypse, she sees her mother/daughter, Charlotte, but calls her mama.
It’s possible she doesn’t know Charlotte is her daughter like how it’s possible Charlotte doesn’t know Elisabeth is her mother. The only people who knew would be Claudia, Adam and Noah, and two of those people are already dead.
Speak of the devil.
Senior Claudia had buried the time machine in the 1950s for her future self because she knows when and where she will die. Before that, she meets with her father to apologise, stopping short of tell him she caused his death in the 1980s. She calls him a good man because he wanted to call the authorities to check the caves since Ulrich keeps going back there.
She knows that her mother, Doris loves Agnes Nielsen very much. She also gave Agnes the news clipping of her death, allowing Noah to find her and kill her, and for Agnes to ask to rejoin Adam’s group.
On her body was this item, which has not been explained or explored yet. It could be nothing though. We shall see in Season 3.
At unspecified points in the timeline, Senior Claudia also did a number of things:
She elicited the help of Tannhaus to build the time machine (in the 1950s) as well as to take care of young Charlotte. She also gave her his book, A Journey Through Time before he wrote it.
She also got the help of Peter and Tronte to bring Mads’ body to where it would be found by the police in 2019 (Season 1).
She got to Michael in 1986, and was there when Jonas breaks down after realising the reason his father killed himself was because he was sacrificing himself to ensure Jonas exists.
She then guided Jonas for a period of 12 months, before he returned to help her 1980s self, who was in a mess, right after directly causing her father’s death.
She went to 2020 to see her grandson Bartosz and to give him a photo of Regina and herself from the 80s. This was so Regina would reconcile with her younger self when she went to retrieve her on the day of the apocalypse.
Claudia works alone but she had collaborated with Tannhaus, Jonas, Agnes, Noah and her younger self at different points in her crusade. Adam on the other hand has a whole team behind him.
Adam’s group is determined to wipe out everyone and start a new world, hence his choice of a biblical name to replace his original name, Jonas. #what? #ikr His plan is not as noble, but judging by the way Time works, his plan may be the only way to beat Time in her game.
He leads a group who call themselves Sic Mundus, aka The Travellers. When young Jonas was speaking to Adam, he asked him if Sic Mundus would lead them to the new world which was a prophecy that Adult Elisabeth has been hanging on to, and enforcing, in the post-apocalyptic world.
Instead of a religion, which was how Jonas and the rest of the world interpreted this prophecy as, it’s actually a declaration of war against time. Adam intends to create a new world where time does not exist simply by destroying time entirely mainly because time is not merciful. He calls time a physical law which we cannot negotiate with, much like our fate. In other words, if we can never have free will in choosing our next path because our future already exists, then why not get off this bus entirely? Unlike Claudia who still wants to save this world, Adam want to flip off time and start the world anew.
Jonas asks Adam why they are not on the same page. Adam merely pointed out that Jonas has not yet suffered the pain that he suffered. They merely have different motivations at different stages of their lives. Adult Jonas still tries to defy this right up to when he points a gun at young Noah.
Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, Adam is referring to when he shoots Martha in front of Jonas thereby “closing a loop” (you keep saying that Adam, what do you mean?) and Martha 2.0 comes to save Jonas. Maybe all this work that Adam has been doing is entirely to make sure that the world Martha 2.0 comes from will exist. The only flaw in this theory is that Adult Jonas would have gone through Martha’s death and therefore should have turned to Adam from the pain but as you can see above, his bearded, older self still defies this. So the trigger-point still lies ahead. Or is Martha 2.0 proof that Adam has already succeeded in his goal of creating a new world? Naaaah, things are never that straightforward in the DARK universe.
Anyway, in the process of creating his new world, Adam has been learning from and trying to build an ever improving time machine: The Chair Noah perfected, Tannhaus’s time machine, the Black Orb that sends them anywhere in time outside the 33 year cycle. This is information Sic Mundus now has. They put them up on a wall in Adam’s chambers.
Granted there’s more information on the wall, but as always they are just never clear enough to make out at this time.
Of all the travellers, Jonas probably travelled the most and through various means of time transportation: the HGT machine, the Black Orb, Martha’s mini ball. Is it too far fetched to think that he also travelled with Noah’s deadly Chair?
The Effect of Time Travel on Jonas
Adam says that his appearance is due to travelling through time a lot. But Claudia seems comparatively okay even on the coroner’s table. At least she doesn’t look like this.
It’s possible that Jonas has been through more shit, by and large way more shit than anyone else has in the whole Dark saga, and have done this for much longer than Claudia has.
But I’d like to propose the idea that Jonas had used The Chair that Noah had spent so much time, sweat and blood (not necessarily his own) to perfect…
… in a bid to somehow retrieve or create that dark matter in the Sic Mundus stronghold because no way that thing just came to be on its own accord.
In the process, like the missing kids, Adam got burned or suffered from the effects of radioactivity like what was detected on Claudia’s body by the coroner back in 1954.
Now building all these contraptions would need a lot of resources, time and money. In other words, Adam could not have done all this on his own. So he has to have a team he can trust, mostly made up of Nielsens. This would include Magnus, Bartosz and Franziska.
If these names sound familiar, it’s because they are the people Jonas saved from the apocalypse in the finale of Season 2.
And now that this post has run too long, you’re going to have to go to Part 2 to find out how everybody in Sic Mundus so far is a Nielsen.
DARK is a sci-fi family drama with plenty of plot twists and revelations. It is a show that requires your full attention so if you are the kind to check your phone a lot while watching a show, skip this. It will leave you scratching your heads often and force you to go back to an earlier part of the episode or even an earlier episode to check and recheck your suspicions.
It’s also the kind of show that will make you want to draft your own guide – which I did. I have about 6, 7, 8 9 other drafts in open tabs that I had been working on for weeks. My own guide has helped me enjoy the subtleties of this show in unexpected ways.
The hours I’ve put into the OA and Black Spot is nothing compared to how I’ve pored over Netflix’s DARK. So no, I’m not going to hold back on the spoilers. That’s on you. If you haven’t watched Season 1, you shouldn’t continue reading beyond this full stop.
While Season 1 is supposedly about the dynamics of the four families: Kahnwald, Nielsen, Tiedemann and Doppler; in truth, it is about how Jonas Kahnwald created the black hole through which time travel was made possible in the Winden cave tunnels.
For this to happen, the Winden cave tunnels must become the time travel pathways they are. And to do that, we need (1) Jonas Kahnwald and (2) the device he lugs around.
(1) Jonas Kahnwald
Jonas’s life is a closed loop, and as explained in the show by H.G. Tannhaus, in a closed loop, everything is mutually dependent, the future is dependent on the past and the past is dependent on the future.
Jonas himself is a product of time travel. His father is Mikkel Nielsen from 2019, a boy he actually knew growing up because he goes to school with Magnus, Mikkel’s older brother. And they do hang out together. Or is it did hung out together. (Getting the tenses right is very difficult for this post.)
Although his grandmother, Ines Kahnwald could clearly recognise Mikkel as the young Michael (I mean, it’s a small town, she was bound to have bumped into him since all the kids in Winden go to the same few schools), she did nothing to stop him from disappearing. If she had acted, things would have been very different. But no, she’s in the “things happen for a reason category”.
For this closed loop to happen, his mother Hannah, must end up being with Mikkel/Michael instead of being with Ulrich, the man she has been obsessed with since she was a kid. Otherwise, Jonas wouldn’t come to be.
On top of that, Ulrich must end up with Katharina in order to have Mikkel Nielsen who eventually has Jonas Kahnwald with Hannah. Yup, Ulrich is Jonas’s grandfather and is sleeping with Jonas’s mom, whilst his daughter Martha Nielsen is Jonas’s crush cum aunt. #yikes #ImOverIt
You don’t want to be Jonas.
Even Jonas doesn’t want to be Jonas which was why he went back in time to 1986 to retrieve Mikkel, essentially sacrificing his life to bring his father (or non-father) home.
But Noah can’t have that. He needs the black hole created by the device. So he kidnaps Jonas and puts him in the bunker where he and Helge witness a portal open.
Helge gets thrown into 1986 while Jonas gets thrown into the future, around 33 years after 2019, which makes it 2052. It’s probably there where Jonas turns into the tired-and-sad-looking Adult Jonas (i.e. Season 2) before returning as Adult Jonas to repeat the cycle with young Jonas.
To complete the cycle, Adult Jonas’s plan was to have young Jonas go through what he had gone through so that he would be committed enough to go all the way and attempt to destroy the Winden cave tunnels and break the time loop.
To do that he had to go back to Winden, wait for young Jonas to lose Mikkel, put the right markings on Michael Kahnwald’s map of the Winden Caves, give young Jonas the Geiger counter and light source via Regina, follow him to 1986 and try to convince him to not bring Mikkel back, which would erase both their existence (or is it his existence?), find young Jonas in the bunker and explain to young Jonas who he really is (ie I’m you just older and not particularly wiser). Still with me? Ok, good.
Jonas Kahnwald’s life is a closed loop.
(2) The device
The device which I originally thought was a time machine isn’t really a time machine but one that triggers the formation of a wormhole through which people could time travel. So it’s essentially a wormhole maker.
It was built by H.G. Tannhaus with help from a few characters. Claudia brought him the blueprints back in 1953.
We see that Tannhaus builds it but isn’t really sure what it does. By the end of Season 1 it is also not clear yet who drew this blueprint.
Ulrich’s phone which he found in 1953, helped him figure out the electromagnetic parts of the device. It took technology from 2019 to help him figure out the device, by the time Jonas arrives in 1986 to visit.
Jonas has his own version of this device. It’s broken, so he takes it to H.G. Tannhaus to fix. At the time that this happens, Tannhaus has not even finished building his own version of the device, you know, the one built based on the blueprints given to him by Claudia Tiedemann in 1953.
But Jonas is sure that Tannhaus was the one who built it because the device has his initials on the side.
In bringing his worn-out version of the device to Tannhaus, Jonas helped Tannhaus figure out parts that were missing from the blueprint. This allowed Tannhaus to complete the construction of his brand new machine, which he then gives to Jonas. To destroy.
Despite knowing that Jonas intends to destroy the machine, Tannhaus helps him. Had he decided not to help Jonas, none of this would have happened. Like Ines, Tannhaus could have shut this whole thing down in a heartbeat. But he doesn’t.
To power the device, Jonas retrieves Caesium radioactive isotopes from 1986. He gets this from the barrels of radioactive wastes that were kept by Tiedemann in a truck at the side of the road in an attempt to evade detection.
The waste barrels were placed there because Ulrich suspects that his son is somewhere in Alexander Tiedemann’s power plant. Charlotte makes a search warrant happen.
The search warrant compels Aleksander, chairman at the power plant to remove the barrels from its usual hiding place, and to store them in an unassuming truck in an open parking lot, providing easy access of the radioactive samples inside to Jonas.
Adult Jonas puts the device altogether then activates it right in the middle of the tunnels there, thereby destroying the wormhole.
Except… he doesn’t.
What Jonas Actually Did
For the entire first season, we watch Adult Jonas and Noah do everything to lead Jonas to this point in time. For Jonas, he believes that by destroying the device H.G. Tannhaus built all the time travel that has been the bane of his existence will end.
However, as Noah has explained to Bartosz, Adult Jonas was lied to by Claudia Tiedemann. His actions would not destroy the cave tunnels but instead turn the tunnels into the time travelling pathways that they are.
Instead of ending it, he triggered its beginning.
Young Jonas and Helge were in the bunker (which was right above where Adult Jonas detonates the device inside the cave) albeit in different time periods, 1953 and 1986. A portal opens and and the two see each other across the divide. They touch hands and were sent to different timelines.
Where or when exactly is answered in Season 2.
Time Travel Via The Winden Cave Tunnels
We need to talk about the Winden Cave Tunnels, home to the most rudimentary and painfully slow way to travel through time. You basically open a steel door and crawl through to the other end.
And if that’s not bad enough, its list of destinations is scant – you can only travel between 3 timelines, 2019, 1986 and 1953, and all the timelines are moving along linearly. If you enter on November 11 in 1986 and end up in 2019, the date will still be November 11.
Like Adult Jonas puts it, this isn’t like the DeLorean where you can input a specific time you want to get to. If you get there early, you’re just going to have to wait, like what Adult Jonas and Helge did.
Jonas tries to navigate through the caves using a map he finds in his father’s shed but it wasn’t until Adult Jonas added markings on the map and gave him a light source plus a Geiger Counter that Jonas finally successfully makes his way through to 1986.
In the cave, he comes across an ouroboros handle with a red string tied to it. Its significance is still not clear yet.
A number of characters have gone through the tunnels to get between 1953, 1986 and 2019: Helge, Ulrich and Jonas. While Jonas had help from his older self, Ulrich basically just followed Helge Senior and figured things out on his own. He too stumbled upon the ouroboros ring handle.
To enter the tunnel, they must open a heavy metal door which has a trinity knot sculpted on it.
The tunnel itself is extremely windy despite being underground which is why every time a tunnel door is opened, the cave “roars”. When the door closes behind the person crawling through, there is a loud metal clang that rings through the caves.
The tunnels meet in the centre at a fork where you can go left or right, each leading to one of the three periods. Regardless of which tunnel you take, you leave via the mouth of the Winden Cave.
I’m not sure how Claudia’s dog, Gretchen, Mikkel, Claudia and Noah travelled seeing as how Gretchen can’t open the doors to the tunnel, Mikkel was unconscious and it would be difficult to drag his limp body through the tunnels, whereas Claudia and Noah don’t seem like the crawling type. Ergo it is possible that there is an alternative way to travel.
The chair is what Adult Jonas calls an early prototype to time travel. It’s housed in a locked room with a teal cartoon-filled wallpaper.
Charlotte would find a remnant of this wallpaper in Helge’s underground bunker, a clue left for us, the audience, to put 2 and 2 together: the two location is one and the same, just from different time periods.
The Chair was built and perfected by Noah, with help from a reluctant Helge who was tasked to abduct the boys to experiment on. It isn’t clear why they chose those boys.
Although we never see Yasin and Mads in the room, we do see Erik being strapped in the chair. As they all ended up with scorched eyes, like Erik did, it’s safe to assume that they all went the same way.
Helge is also seen in the locked room but by the end of Season 1 he had only arrived there via the portal. We don’t know how many lives The Chair has taken (I count 3 so far), but Helge’s isn’t one of them. In watching what happened to him, I’m not sure if Noah and adult Helge are the most evil characters in the show.
All the boys have a red string with a pfennig coin around their necks. Its significance is unclear.
In 2019, Ulrich would find Helge’s pfennig coin snuggled in his copy of A Journey Through Time. How he got it, and why he is still alive is something for Season 2 (or 3?) to unveil.
The boys’ bodies will travel through a time portal, and end up in the bunker, where someone on the other end will retrieve them. All the bodies would have scorched eyes and burst ear drums.
Helge, Tronte and Peter have retrieved bodies from the bunker. They do this based on a schedule provided for them. Helge is told by Noah who to abduct, and which body to move from when to when, whereas Tronte and Peter were given their schedule of when the bodies will appear by Claudia Tiedemann. Little else is known of the origin of the schedule at this point.
If you haven’t read my review on the OA, this post is not for you. If you have read it, and watched the show and are trying to understand what the heck is going on, let’s jump right in. There won’t be OA theories or Easter eggs or guessing of any sort. This guide will contain only what you can see from the show and some questions that we need to KIV for future seasons.
At the time of this writing, the OA has only reached Season 2. Season 3 has not been confirmed. There is word that the writers have plans for the storyline to play out in five seasons. Let’s hope the love for it won’t fizzle out before they get all five seasons.
How to Watch the OA
Watching the show can be frustrating, particularly if you weren’t paying attention. I had a hard time following what is happening where and how until I rewatched several of the episodes multiple times, looking for different things every single time. You’d be surprised with what you find.
To watch the OA is to watch magic happen. To be precise, it is to watch sleight of hand happen, like that moonwalking bear awareness test. While your primary concern is for one thing, something else of significance is being revealed to you at the same time.
You’d have to rewatch a scene multiple times to realise its importance. And because that is time-consuming, I did it for you in this guide to the OA Universe and how it works.
Part 1 (Season 1) recounts OA’s 7 years in captivity where she meets Homer, Scott, Renata and Rachel, five other beings who have survived Near-Death Experiences or NDEs enough times to not be human. Apparently they are angels on Earth, and OA is the original, hence Original Angel, OA. One of the things they learn from their NDEs are the movements.
There are five movements, each would come from an NDE. OA obtained the first movement from consuming a bird in her NDE with Khatun. Khatun says that OA will never escape her captivity without that bird. In return, she takes OA’s father and any chance of reconciliation.
Homer would get the second movement after swallowing a sea anemone from his NDE. Together with OA’s movement, the movements could heal and bring dead people back to life.
Scott gives them the third when he actually dies accidentally but was brought back to life by OA and Homer. He doesn’t mention consuming anything alive in his NDE. Instead, he was taught his movements by an “older, heavyset” woman in his NDE.
Renata gives them the fourth movement (Part 1, Ep 6, 3 minutes in) and her guardian tells her that one of the side effects of inter-dimensional travel is amnesia. OA and Homer carve the movements onto their backs to prevent themselves forgetting the movements.
This is one example of where the sleight of hand I mentioned above occurs. Using scars to remember the movements in order to counter amnesia would serve pointless because only their consciousness travels, not their bodies. This note on amnesia however explains why Homer could not remember OA for most of Part 2. OA will probably suffer from this again in Part 3 (in Dimension #3).
Evelyn, the Sheriff’s wife with ALS gives them the fifth movement, ironically given to her when she suffered an NDE as a young girl.
This means she has held on to the last movement the longest. The first four movements were only made known to the group in the seven years they were in captivity. In her NDE, Evelyn swallowed a moth and was told by her guardian to help two captive angels. OA and Homer would cure her ALS long enough for them to give her the fifth movement. She mentions that travelling is a matter of will.
How Inter-Dimensional Travel Works
In Part 2, we get a look at how inter-dimensional travel actually works.
OA tells BBA and the group that the alternate worlds or dimensions are right on top of each other, created from the different decisions you make hence the term “forking paths” (Part 1, Ep 6).
NDEs are how you travel between the dimensions, temporarily. The movements are what allow you to travel there permanently. You get to choose the type of life you want to live, basically a life where you made all the “right” choices (but what if the people who travel want to travel to different dimensions like how Hap wants to travel to a dimension where OA loves him back? There lies the issue.)
Homer actually showed us how this could occur in Part 1, Ep4 (55 minutes in). In his NDE, he was on all fours, moving through a crawlspace in the ceiling. An arm reached for him but couldn’t get a hold of him. He falls through the ceiling into a place where two urinals are out of order. He grabs a coat and runs down a white corridor.
He arrives at the place where there is a fish tank and takes out a sea anemone which he promptly swallowed. OA tells him to eat anything alive in his NDE. He then comes out of his NDE.
Right before his induced NDE, he was almost caught listening into one of Hap’s audio recording of one of his earlier NDEs (51 minutes in). Homer listens into a ruckus where someone asks him what his name is, then later tells him, “your name is not Homer”, then asks him whether he knows Dr Roberts.
This would line up with Part 2, Episode 2 (31 minutes in) when OA’s session with Dr Roberts is interrupted by the receptionist saying a “pretty fast” patient is running around in his underwear and a “pink coat”. They’re also experiencing a “plumbing issue”. Earlier, OA convinced Dr Robert to check through a hole in the ceiling to see if anyone’s crawling through, hence the arm Homer had to avoid back in Part 1 during his NDE.
Based on this, it’s safe to say that Old Night’s rendering of OA’s NDE in the plane is so coming true in Dimension 3. In Part 2, Ep 4 Old Night says that in the “future”, OA would forget who she is as she will forget her true nature. He will send her there (by killing her for 37 seconds) so she can reawaken her future self to her mission (Oh, so she is on a mission of some kind).
She asks Old Night if she would survive, and it says it is up to her brother. Apparently, in every dimension, her brother is sent by someone (a she) to protect OA. In Dimension 1, Elias the FBI psychiatrist says that he has been sent to help her. In Dimension 2, Karim saves her by cutting Old Night’s tentacle off her neck. Those are your options for OA’s brother. (Question: if OA is the original, does that make her brother also an OA?)
In OA’s octopus-induced NDE, she is in a turbulent flight. She climbs out from a space under the toilet. The pilot has a British accent announcing their venturing into turbulence. She approaches someone with short blonde hair, in a jacket with white floral patterns on a dark green jacket.
Before the lady turns around to see OA, OA is revived by Karim. Old Night is implied to be no more with a chopped off tentacle on the floor (the tree Internet would somewhat confirm this loss).
For Part 3 and beyond, we would probably be visiting Scott’s NDE. In Part 2, Ep 7 he describes his NDE as a place with blinding lights, in a warehouse, there are cameras, and Hap and OA are being all chummy-like, and that Hap spoke with a British accent. Scott says that he is given the third movement by an older, heavyset woman while he was there. Because this is his NDE, this version of Scott is probably there temporarily.
In the Season 2 finale, we see OA suffer a fall and Hap takes her wig off to reveal a pixie cut. Could floral jacket lady be herself? Pfffft, absolutely.
But hold up, if OA’s NDE is the one scnee on the plane, what happened to the ones Hap induced in her under lab conditions. You know, the Rings of Saturns? Remember that? Could an angel have more than one NDE?
Who Can Travel This Way?
By the end of Season 2, you can travel this way no matter if you are an angel (Homer, OA, Scott, Renata, Rachel) or not one (Hap, Steve). Unless of course, Hap and Steve are angels too, or they could be a whole other category that has yet to be revealed.
It is possible that Elias, the FBI psychiatrist who had been helping OA in Season 1 is a fellow traveller. He tells BBA and crew that he had been “sent” to help “her”. We can only assume the her here refers to OA at this point. But clearly, he isn’t from this dimension if he had to be “sent over”.
He tells the group that all the dimensions share the same space, which is why BBA can sense the presence of people through space. Apparently making different choices may change who you are, but it won’t change where buildings are or will be built across dimensions. #shrug
Let’s not forget Elodie, even though I’m sure Elodie is in another class altogether, one who knows what is happening but for some reason would not intervene nor tell OA and Hap what is happening. She’s so interesting, she deserves her own section.
Elodie the Traveler
Elodie strives to be “fair” to both Hap and OA as she explains how inter-dimensional travel works to them, like a messenger or a impartial referee or mentor would. Elodie tells Hap travellers like them will suffer from tinnitus. She knows many things like who Dr Percy really is (she senses fellow travellers), and that he loves OA.
She doesn’t know where he came from, she asked him this much when they first meet in the sauna in Part 2: Ep 4 (14 minutes in). She tells him that there are many ways to travel, and while the method is not important, the “fuel” is. For some reason, the fuel is related to them having sex.
One important idea that she gave him though was the dancing robots. (It totally makes sense! This way you can travel whenever, wherever you are. How does she get an endless supply of this though, now that’s a good question I’d like answered.)
She planned her checkout so well that she had called emergency services about a woman who is in a coma. They arrive right when she travels out of her current body. Note the tinnitus right before she collapses.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a problem that has been nibbling at me. Elodie checks out of her body in Part 2, Ep 5 right, but she reappears to speak to OA in Part 2, Ep 7 … in the same body.
How does this work? Isn’t she supposed to be in a coma two episodes before, around the time Karim and OA attempts the house for the first time? If you were in a coma, you probably won’t be released from the hospital fast enough.
Or are we seeing Elodie the way OA and Hap is seeing her? She said that she found herself in a young actress’s body once. Does this mean that she might enter a body who is not hers when she travels across dimension? And if that is the case, are we seeing Elodie the way she looks now because she appeared to Hap and OA in this form, whilst everybody else sees her in the form of the shell, the body she currently inhabits in whichever dimension she is in? Hopefully Season 3 and beyond will have answers to this.
Back to Elodie’s meeting with OA, she tells OA to basically integrate herself with Nina. And she explains that OA cannot escape Hap because the bonds between some people are too powerful. OA, Hap and Homer are all “travelling together”. When OA protests by saying she doesn’t want to have anything to do with Hap, Elodie says some part of OA wants to travel with Hap. Why this is so is probably fodder for future episodes.
She adds that what happens in one dimension affects and influences the other dimensions, like echoes. To leave an echo, is therefore very dangerous. OA may lose sight of herself, or of Homer, and therefore she needs Hap who Elodie describes as a shadow. “Who has no shadow, has no will to live.” So far this isn’t helping, so I’m just gonna let it go.
But I’d like to note that Hap, due to his obsession with NDEs, was the one who made this whole thing happen. Sure, he killed a colleague, Audrey, the sheriff and his wife, and the angels multiple times in a controlled setting (creepy AF), but he did bring the five of them together in this dimension and probably in all other alternative dimensions as well due to their strong bonds.
Perhaps that’s what Elodie meant when she says Hap is connected to OA and she could not (should not?) escape him. Once that bond between OA and Hap has been broken, the whole inter-dimensional travel thingie would probably cease. Either that or as Elodie puts it, events conspired to bring them all together. We’ll have to wait and see.
The House Is a Portal
If you can’t travel like OA, Homer, Hap or Elodie however, you’re just gonna have to be content with using the house as a portal. That’s how Michelle went “invisible” in the first place, she stepped out of the window. When the “Buck” version of her in Dimension #3 returns through the window, Michelle awakens in Dimension #2. She experienced travel through the house.
As explained by Karim in Part 2, Ep 4, the House on Nob Hill was built by a rich engineer in 1910 for his wife who is a medium. Pierre Ruskin and Nina Azarova would buy it two years before the events of Part 2.
In Part 2, Ep 5 (17 minutes in), we learn more about the house through a recording by Pierre Ruskin. The current house had been built in 1910 after an earthquake and fire tore down the mansion that was there. When trying to lay the foundation, the engineer and his wife discovered a spring.
The spring was a holy site to the Ohlone tribe; the water gave the shamans a “God’s eye view”. The engineer decided to protect the spring by building a house that serves as a puzzle (because why do something the easy way when you could do it the hard way?). The puzzles inside the house is said to be based on the wife’s dreams. Once the puzzles were completed, the husband wanted to attempt the puzzles himself but the wife protested. He did it anyway, as husbands are wont to do, and the wife found him collapsed near the rose glass window in the attic. He fell into a coma then died in his sleep.
In Ruskin’s recording he mentioned that that reason the house was a puzzle was to weed out the unworthy who would be trapped and destroyed or something like that. Solve the puzzle and you receive some sort of revelation behind the rose glass window. When the mention of the “revelation behind the glass window” became an option, I’m not really clear since the first person to have come across this revelation was the engineer himself and he couldn’t tell anyone since he collapsed and remained in a coma until his death. #whatgives?
Anyways, Karim makes his way through the fake bed room and came across a miniature version of the house, which is the exact replica of the real-life version of the house they are inside of. Outside the miniature house is a large, er… miniature tree. Could the tree be a puzzle as well?
At this point in time, OA actually reaches the large tree portion of the house, climbs out of the house through an open window, down the branches of said tree outside the window and falls through the ground. She is caught by the roots of the tree, and a conversation of the arboreal kind commences.
Turns out Nina Azarova is a medium who can speak to giant octopuses and trees (yay, coincidences) – just go with it. The tree, like Old Night the Octopus tells OA that she is running out of time and needs to form a tribe to survive what is coming.
In the meantime, Karim observes the miniature house and opens the rose glass window. Water pours out. What could this mean? (The attic is somewhere where there is water) Eventually, Karim gets to the attic in his second attempt, after being spurred on by writings at the back of a door, by going through the locked gate submerged in water, at the bottom of the well.
He escapes with Fola, and returns with the FBI in tow, but not only does he not find the miniature house, he also couldn’t locate the hall of mirrors where he found Fola. We also see OA sprawled under a not very large tree and like Karim, she awakens out of her trance when she splashes her face with water.
What have they awakened from? Apparently, the hospital discovered that Fola and Karim were poisoned with mercury sulphide which would explained the hallucinations Karim saw in the house: the miniature house which disappeared, the ridiculously large spaces they thought they were in, the people hiding in underground holes, the hall of mirrors where he found Fola, old and withered, etc.
The mercury sulphide had come from the spring, and it triggered trances in native Americans who were exposed to the gases, which was why no one would build there, except the engineer and his medium wife. It’s possible that the engineer lapsed into a coma because of the excessive mercury sulphide levels he had been exposed to as he underwent the puzzles in the house. His wife was spared the vapours because she found him in the attic without going through the puzzle areas of the house.
This might explain why when Karim found Liam, Liam jumped off the second floor of the house onto the concrete below.
He must have pretty high dosages of mercury sulphide poisoning in his system that caused him to go cuckoo. You know what else he has? A seed inside his brain accessible through his ear. I’m not sure why Michelle, Karim and Fola doesn’t. Or maybe they do.
The Map of the Multiverse
We learn how the movements work – two times to heal a body, five times to travel, a minimum of 5 participants is required – in Part 1. In Part 2, Ep 8 (17 minutes in) Hap tells us that, “every human mind contains the multiverse, an actual garden of forking paths within us all, just waiting to be fertilised”. He adds that he didn’t do all this and that the house did. So… the house put seedlings inside people? How does it choose who gets a seedling and who gets to walk away?
Essentially, the map of the multiverse is formed by the seedlings inside Liam, Scott, French, Jesse and Steve. The seed grows vast and far-reaching, like a tree map would, filled with its own forking branches, growing flowers at the tip of each branch.
By consuming the petals from these flowers, Hap says that they never need to jump into the darkness again. He can clearly see where he is going next. But can he choose where to go? Or are the choices just togo or don’t go?
Hap then lures OA out into the garden where he has his own versions of mega dancing robots (this sounds like an anime now) do the movements to send them to the third dimension. How Hap, who is not an engineer, can build robots like this so quickly and perfectly is not addressed.
In BBA’s dimension, she, Angie, French, Buck and Steve do the same movements manually.
OA is raised high up into the air, right when Karim arrives at the rose stained glass window to see her float in the air. Her body mimics her safety harness breaking, she falls down to the ground, and completes her transition to the third dimension.
Or… has OA already transitioned before Karim saw her float in mid-air? I mean she could be “floating” not because she is an angel but because she is being pulled up with a harness on a movie set. This would explain her body flipping over when that dove dove right into her, as well as her fall and ensuing head injury in the movie set she was in.
Karim is only there as a spectator and to bring home the realisation that he and everybody else in his world are but characters inside a film, living life as dictated by writers and a film crew. I’m not sure why that revelation would make people go insane though. Real life isn’t really that much better.
Steve collapses in his dimension. Hap crosses safely, his ears ringing because of his travelling. They all meet back at the ambulance. Karim sees Buck in Buck attire, calls out to her as Michelle. She responds and crawls back into the round window and returns to her comatose body. Wait, does this mean that we won’t see Buck or Michelle in Dimension 3?
What to Expect in Season 3
Let’s see: British Hap as OA’s husband, Scott’s NDE where he receives the third movement, OA doesn’t believe that she is OA, remembers her mission when OA as Nina Azarova visits her in an NDE on a flight, Homer’s turn to try to find her and convince of what’s happening, Steve as a wild card, another brother to protect her in Dimension 3, a reveal of Renata’s (or someone’s) NDE as fodder for Season 4 because we don’t have the luxury of hiding tree-map-ridden bodies in pools, Elodie may return with more cryptic clues, Elias might resurface with his creepy look one more time, and preferably some answers to the following questions:
1) If NDEs are an insight into where they can travel to, how do they decide which of the five people’s NDE will they all arrive at? How does OA arrive at the same place as the rest of the group when she leaves much later than they do?
2) How do they arrive at Scott’s NDE when Scott isn’t part of the group who is doing the movement? Are the destinations pre-planned? By whom?
3) Where do I get one of those dancing robots?
4) Will OA’s lab-induced NDE in Part 1 at the “rings of Saturn” be addressed?
5) Do all of the bodies die when they make the jump or do they get stuck in a coma like what Elodie suggests? Who is Elodie really?
6) Why are Homer and Prairie’s movements obtained from the animals they eat but Scott’s was taught to him by someone?
7) What’s up with old-timey Homer selling sticks and the old lady who sells fresh skin (they look too fresh to be from corpses)? The actress portraying the old lady is also the sheriff’s wife. Does her dual role have significance? Or are they just rehashing a darn good actress?
8) Why did Scott collapse inside the house? Why does he have a seedling out his ear like the others in the multiverse garden? How does the house select who gets a seedling?
9) Old Night and the trees speak of something of urgency and that time is not on OA’s side. What is this thing they speak of? Khatun tells OA something similar back in Part 1, Ep 4, that all “five of them” must work together as one to avert a great evil.
The OA is one of the most polarising shows out there. This means you either love it or hate it, there’s no in-between. For me, I both love and hate it. Can you blame me? It’s a show that’s easy to hate. Most of the time you do not understand what is happening until much, much later. It’s both annoying, and rewarding if you stick it out to the end, of course. The issue now is can it survive long enough to complete the rest of the run.
If you are new to the OA, you need to understand that this is a show that will test your patience and your faith multiple times. After Season 1 was released in 2016, it took them until 2019 to release Season 2. I just want to put this out here to let you know the sort of waiting time you might have to endure. So far Season 1 and 2 have eight 45-minute long episodes each.
If doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you might want to check outLine of Duty.
Has to be said: Spoilers abound!
Brit Marling stars as OA, which stands for… nope, too early. Let’s start at the beginning. This lady who is stuck in a hospital bed is Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling). She went missing 7 years ago and her parents, Abel and Nancy Johnson, had been looking for her ever since.
When they met her in hospital, she couldn’t recognise them, mostly because when she was growing up with them, she was blind. And now, she could see. The rest of this otherwise mostly uneventful pilot episode would be about her adjusting to life at home again whilst fending off attempts by her parents or the authorities to figure out where she had been all those years.
Things pick up in episode 2 when she started to tell the story about her life before she came to live with Abel and Nancy, her adoptive parents, as well as her kidnapping. She would tell it to a group of five other people who she hopes will help her with an important task later.
This storytelling exercise would take place across several nights, in an abandoned house. The other five participants must leave the front door of their house open. Why this is so, has never been mentioned, much like many of the other loose threads sprinkled all over this show.
As for her backstory: her mother died at childbirth, leaving only her father and her. They came into a lot of money which made life for them in Russia rather dangerous. She almost died in a bus accident which took away her eyesight, a bargain she struck with a Khatun, a representation of Death(?). She returns to her life as a blind girl.
Fearing a reprisal, her father sent her to the US to stay with her aunt, for her safety. Despite promises to join her later, he dies in the background and the money stops coming. Her aunt takes her out of school.
To make money, her aunt runs a baby-selling syndicate, which is where Abel and Nancy comes in. When they meet up for the exchange, instead of the boy they were going to buy, Nancy asked for the little blind girl instead. They made the adoption legal and named the little Russian girl, Prairie.
On certain nights, Prairie would suffer from nose bleeds after having night terrors and cryptic nightmares. She would spew Russian and walk around with a knife in her hand. Her adoptive parents took her to a psychiatrist who advised them to keep her under medication, all the way to her 21st birthday. She resents her parents for this, like any teenager would.
She eventually runs away to meet up with her father, whom she believes have been sending her messages in her dreams as to where and when to meet up.
Instead of meeting her father, she is abducted by a charming professor who has an obsession with near-death experiences (NDE). The rest of the series would recount the horrifying things that happen to her in the 7 or so years she spent in captivity. She was not alone however. She was kept with four other people who had one thing in common with her: they all have had and survived near-death experiences.
Unlike her, they all can see and were tracked down and captured by their captor. Prairie’s abduction was in her captor’s own admission: pure accident. The problem is, in the OA, nothing is accidental – everything happens for a reason, including Prairie’s terrible years in captivity, which was what made Season 1 interesting, but only if you are willing to suspend your disbelief just that much. For instance, have I mentioned that OA regains her eyesight while in captivity? How? She got hit on the head. Yeah. Just gotta go with it.
For Season 1, I went with it, letting it lead me to wherever it wants me to go. Halfway through Season 2 however, I was going ffs, what the heck is going on? more often than I’m comfortable with.
Season 2 opens with OA in a sort of parallel universe setting. She is now in a universe where she was never in that bus accident, never lost her eyesight, never got separated from her father and where she remained a Russian. She was never adopted and thus she is not Prairie, but Nina Azarova, a pure Russian through and through. Prairie Johnson no longer exists.
OA, on the other hand, is here. I think that’s the only reason the OA identity is relevant here. Because Prairie Johnson does not exist in this timeline. But OA does, and she is inhabiting Nina’s body. As a result, she is always confused, and she no longer speaks with a Russian accent. And Barack Obama is no longer president. Because OA wasn’t on that bus that day? I don’t know how this timeline thing works.
ANYWAY, in this universe, her captor still has a hold of her, as he does on her fellow prisoners, this time in a cushy asylum. How convenient.
She breaks out of the institution with the help of a private investigator, Karim Washington, who was asked by a Vietnamese grandmother to help look for her missing granddaughter. Let’s backtrack a bit. This is Karim. He’s a new character in Season 2. Starts out strong, fizzles out in the end. He leads you to a house and a few other weird stuff.
Karim is trying to crack a smartphone game in an effort to find Michelle, the missing Vietnamese grand daughter who got sucked into the game big time. Michelle was playing said smartphone game and went missing. Her grandma, not really big on English, says Michelle is now “invisible”.
His investigation led him to a house of puzzles which “coincidentally” is owned by Nina Azarova, which was what led him to OA. How convenient, again. That I can deal with. It’s the world of OA, coincidences are there for a reason. And I’m a fan (I guess). I’ll play along.
But then they started pulling out wild cards like a giant sentient octopus that can transfer thoughts via its tentacles…
… and trees that can talk to OA via its roots telling her about some tree Internet and that they have been trying to talk to her via the wind…
… and seedlings from inside corpses that can grow into multiverses.
Of course, you don’t understand what that means. I don’t understand what that means either, and I watched the show. I had so many, many questions. I had them listed down in an initial draft of this post, and then I went back and rewatch some of the scenes to phrase my questions properly.
Love is complex and most of the time complicated. But what if you could control it, turn emotions into tangible data, know 100% if someone is your one true love, your soulmate? That’s what Osmosis is running with to lure you in. What you get in return is an intriguing study of what happens when you try to control love.
You can expect some partial nudity and floating sex art #itiswhatitis, some arguments about love and our expectations of it, plot twists that don’t really contribute to the story but are fun nonetheless, a strong start but a weak finish and a lot of really insecure adults who do not have the maturity to handle love much alone to deserve it.
What is Osmosis?
Osmosis is the name of a company run by two siblings, Paul and Esther, the former, the CEO and alpha tester of the technology, the latter, the engineer behind the technology. Their mother is in a coma. Esther is trying to find a way to revive her. In the meantime, it’s Paul and Esther against the world.
However, Osmosis is in the line of matchmaking, more precisely in helping you find your soulmate, your one true love. In a nutshell, you take an implant (essentially a pill you can swallow) which releases nanobots into your brain.
There, the bots retrieve signals from your subconscious, then feed it to the company’s A.I., Martin who will then scour the social networks in the world to find your soulmate for you. Tough luck if your soulmate isn’t tech savvy, I guess. Once you have found your soulmate, the system then guides you towards meeting your soulmate.
In the name of research, they get feedback from inside your body in return: your hormone levels, your heart rate, whether you are stressed or happy or relaxed – sounds intrusive, what could go wrong?
The Beta Testers Find “True Love”
In the first few episodes, we follow the beta testers throughout the process. There are 12 testers, but the storyline follows only the processes of Lucas, Ana and Neils, a last minute beta tester who was added in by Esther. Via the testers, the show makes you question the various aspects of the seeking out of your soulmate.
What if your soulmate is bad for you?
Lucas is in a healthy relationship with a restaurant owner, Antoine, who is a rising star in the culinary world. Lucas has everything going for him but wonders if there is more to life and joined Osmosis to prevent himself from one day waking up in bed and thinking “what if I’m not with my soulmate?”
Osmosis tells him that his soulmate is his ex, a philanderer who not only sleeps around but had left him in a wreck before Antoine helped him pull it together again. And what does Lucas do? He goes with his ex, of course, because we all make stupid mistakes all the time for the benefit of storylines.
What if your soulmate is out of your league?
Ana is a sweet, soft-spoken but insecure young woman who has body issues that she hasn’t actively dealt with. Osmosis to her is her final chance at love. If she can’t find a soulmate, then she won’t embrace love anymore, and that will be it. At least then, she knows to stop looking.
Ana’s soulmate turns out to be a personal trainer. That probably explains why she had a hard time finding him. She signs up for his training program and they meet. Simon is sweet on her, and encouraging instead of disparaging, basically a ray of sunshine in her otherwise uneventful life.
Here’s where the logic breaks down for me. She is pessimistic, he is the opposite. She has no self control or self discipline, he has both. She has little to offer the relationship, he could have any girl he wanted (just being honest). There is little logic to explain how the two of them could be soulmates, so the show doesn’t really try to explain it. Enjoy the irony, guys. Let’s move on.
What if you are not good for your soulmate?
Neils is a teenage, self-declared sex addict who failed to get into the program at first but got in via Esther, with the help of his very supportive mother. He wants to find a soulmate so that he could find someone that can motivate him enough to change. Because if your supportive mother who had not kicked you out of the house upon finding out you have some troubling issues with sex could not motivate you enough to change, a soulmate probably will. #flipstable
Anyhoo, he gets into the program when one of the beta testers chickened out and of course his soulmate, Claire was unexpected. She’s pretty, loves art, is fun to be around and simply adorable.
HOLD YOUR HORSES, buster.
Why would a minor need to find a soulmate? Who lets minors find soulmates? Who lets minors with a sex problem find soulmates? Weird parents, that’s who. Weird parents and irresponsible companies that subscribe to the idea that you are never too young to find a soulmate. What the what?
And what happens? Neils attacks Claire albeit in a fugue state and then his parents activated Parenting Mode and came to talk some sense into Osmosis with a threat to sue.
What if Your Soulmate Wants Out?
For this one, we need to go back to Paul. He also has an implant put inside him by Esther but he isn’t a beta tester. He’s actually the alpha tester to the technology, which awoke him from a comatose state and found him his soulmate, Josephine.
Josephine goes missing in the first episode. Paul tries to find her with his implant, which is connected to her own implant. It fails to tell her where she is. He lodges a police report and is led on a wild goose chase before Josephine returns to his side with a bombshell revelation: she had her implant removed. And she went to great lengths to get it done, almost flatlining in the process.
Understandably, Paul freaks out. For one thing, he had been scared for her life for the past few days. Secondly, this spells disaster for the company. Paul and Josephine were the ultimate couple that would sell the idea of Osmosis: the first pair of soulmates that started it all (it’s their bodies on the title card, for heaven’s sake!).
But then we get an explanation from Josephine as to why she could no longer live with the implant. With it, she had lost control of her own thoughts, privacy and freedom and Paul, who is essentially a narcissistic prick, refuses to entertain the idea of giving them back to her in exchange for her promise of love.
For him, it is not enough that she tells him she loves him; he needs the nanobots inside her body to prove it to him with figures and charts and such. Whilst she did not leave him, for him, removing the implant is the equivalent (insecure much?). The relationship is as good as over without the implants.
I find the idea of using the implant as a metaphor for the trust between a couple profound and clearcut. How do you prove your love for your better half? Facts and figures would probably do the trick. “I love you this much out of 100%” but then you would need some sort of input to compute that final amount.
How receptive are you of the idea that in order for you to prove how much you love someone, you need to open up your deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings to them?
But then, beyond this point, the writers do little to resolve this thing between Josephine and Paul beyond putting a pregnancy into the picture. And that’s that.
Oh, wait! We haven’t talked about Esther.
Finding Love In All The Wrong Places
It is entirely impossible to talk about Esther’s storyline without releasing a lot of major spoilers. If you have plans to watch Osmosis, please stop here.
First off, Esther is not a likeable character. In fact, she is extremely hard to love. The only part that is human about her is that she devotes her entire existence towards recreating her miracle work on her brother; this time, on their mother.
It wasn’t specified how long Louise, the mother, had been comatose. But in all that time, Esther was the only one sitting by her bedside at the hospital. Paul, on the other hand, couldn’t care less for their mother. For all he cares, she could just die and he’d wash his hands clean of her. And yet, when she finally awakens from her coma, she asks for Paul and does not recognise Esther.
In Episode 6, desperate Esther takes Louise to their old home where Martin shows Louise a piece of her own memory.
Esther finally finds out why Louise could not recognise her. Esther isn’t really her daughter. She’s a replacement girl brought in to replace the real Esther who had died in a swimming pool accident. Louise had not been able to cope with the loss of her daughter that she took a poor girl into her home, brainwashed the girl into believing that she had been Louise’s daughter all her life, and hits Paul when he refuses to play along with this insanity. Esther fuelled by her rage euthanises her mother since Paul refuses to.
And that’s… still not the end of it all.
It’s not true that Esther is hard to love. Although her whole life is falling apart, she has one entity that will do anything for her, Martin. Yup, the A.I. that she created and the key component of Osmosis. And he looks like this.
In an attempt to make Esther take an implant, Martin puts all the beta testers into a coma. Esther enters Osmosis to save them and Martin professes his love to her and asks her to stay. Which she did because otherwise the beta testers may stay in a coma forever, and Osmosis could not launch. #priorities
With Esther, the question they are making you ask is Would it be so bad if your soulmate is not human? That one is up to you guys to think about. Just kidding. Esther escapes Martin in a last minute plot twist. Because even the writers don’t think Esther should be confined in a virtual world for the sake of love. Sounds like love isn’t really the be all, end all thing it is put out to be.
Like I said, it started out strong but finished weak. Still, it was a fun exercise into understanding people’s expectations of love and what they are willing to give up in order to find it.
I chanced upon Line of Duty while looking for my next binge run. All I knew before I started on this series is that it’s British and, at a glance, has a police procedural storyline. What I found was a new appreciation for the genius of Jed Mercurio, who is also the name behind Bodyguard, featuring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes.
There are four seasons completed at the time of this writing – and a fifth one is rolling out its episodes (it’s at S05-E02 now). The great thing about this show is that the stories don’t completely conclude once we reach the end of a season.
Old characters from Season 1 may pop up in Season 2, 3 and 4. Characters that have died can still add to a new storyline. Thus, if you are going to dive into this show, you should start at the beginning.
In season 1, we follow DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) in his misadventure in Counter Terror which resulted in a transfer into Anti-Corruption. The gist of it was that the team he was a part of messed up and word came from above to band together and cover up their mistake. Arnott refuses to comply and as a result became a pariah of sorts.
Pending investigations, he is assigned to AC-12, the anti-corruption branch led by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar). Hastings comes across as a dogged investigator who pushes his team hard to cross t’s, dot i’s, and catch “bent cops”. He has some of the best lines in the whole show be it when introducing himself on the phone (he refers to himself as Hastings – like the battle) or when he is giving an officer who had been caught red-handed a dressing down.
Also part of the team is DCKate Fleming (Vicky McClure). Brave, focused, extremely intelligent, she is usually the one who goes undercover in the department where the subject of their investigation operates in. As we follow her throughout four seasons, we see her rise from Detective Constable to Detective Sergeant.
The way this works is that Arnott pushes from the outside with the intelligence she feeds them, while she pushes from the inside. While she is never in any physical danger (what are they going to do to her? They are police officers) but no one likes a snitch.
Over the course of four seasons, you can clearly see that officers who work Anti-Corruption treat every target of their investigation like they were already guilty. Hence, AC-12 not exactly a likeable bunch. According to Fleming, the worst possible thing to happen to AC-12 is that they are no longer feared. Apparently, she can take being spat on at the back of her hair, but she can’t take not being treated with reverence and dread.
One of my favourite things about Line of Duty is their intense(!), stressful, aneurysm-inducing interrogation scenes – that’s when shit goes down. The scenarios are akin to a showdown in the courtroom, minus the judges, witnesses and jury. It speeds things up a whole lot.
AC-12 just needs to present the fact and try to make the connection based on feedback or answers given by the interview subjects. It almost feels like sanctioned entrapment of the officers being investigated but mind you, AC-12 doesn’t always have the upper hand at the interview table. And that’s because of who sits on the other side of the table.
What good is an investigative team without worthy adversaries to investigate. Line of Duty features some of the most powerful and bold, sharp and cunning, extremely ruthless and formidable antagonists.
You mustn’t forget that the point of AC-12 is to find misconduct amongst police officers and so the antagonists are themselves fellow detectives, some ranked higher than Arnott and Fleming, trained on how to track criminals, cover their tracks forensically, and familiar with interrogation tactics, protocols and procedures.
Season 1: Tony Gates
In Season 1, the team is up against DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James) from the Serious Crime Unit, a prominent and highly ambitious officer with plenty of commendations to his name including Officer of the Year due to “best crime figures” on the force for a few years running.
Despite his popularity amongst fellow officers, Hastings is certain that Gates is guilty of laddering, which is some sort of technical manipulation that allows him to add trumped up charges to seemingly straightforward crimes. This results in higher clearance rates and thus better crime figures for the department and for himself.
Eventually bodies start dropping and we find Gates having to go on the run from the right side and wrong side of the law.
Season 1 being the first season had to devote a lot to introducing the characters in AC-12 and how things work in an anti-corruption investigation. A lot of the push for truth we eventually see in Arnott are merely showing their roots at this season. Then again, perhaps they needed a more formidable rival.
SEASON 2: Lindsay Denton
Season 2 begins with an ambush and an explosion, leaving a police officer and someone in Witness Protection dead. DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) from the Missing Persons Unit was the sole survivor of the ambush, and became the suspect of AC-12’s next line of investigation. Whether she is innocent or guilty will nag you throughout the whole season.
Denton is a force to be reckoned with. She reported the misconduct of officers in her station and is ostracised in general by everyone at the station. Unlike Gates, practically no one stood up for Denton when AC-12 came a-knocking but that doesn’t mean she is one to take it lying down.
Time and time again, we get a peek at her non-existing personal life: no family, apart from a mother in a nursing home, no spouse or children, no drinking buddies or friendly neighbours. But then, she doesn’t have what you’d call a friendly face. The only thing she has going for her is being a police officer and she isn’t going to just sit there and watch her career go down in flames, without putting up a huge fight.
At times it may seem like she is just at the wrong place at the wrong time but when pushed, like a cornered dog, Denton turns around and bites back. She’d turned the tables at AC-12 so many times that you aren’t sure whether she is really unlucky or guilty AF. But one thing is for sure, she doesn’t miss anything, which makes her your strongest foe or your best ally.
Season 2 is far more superior than Season 1 mainly because the stakes became much higher, the background has been set in Season 1 and because of Keeley Hawes.
I did not recognise her until a couple of episodes in and even then it was only because I had to know who is this incredible actress is. I mean, could you blame me for not recognising this as Home Secretary Julia Montague in Bodyguard? Keeley Hawes received a BAFTA nomination for all the horrible things she had to endure in her role as Lindsay Denton.
Season 3: Danny Waldron
In Season 3 we are treated with an unstable but highly effective officer from the Strategic Firearms Command Unit, Sergeant Danny Waldron (Danny Mays). He scares the life out of me.
Unlike the antagonists from the first two seasons, we know that Waldron is bent. We see him shoot a suspect point-blank, then blackmail the rest of his firearms team to help him cover it up. While Waldron is easy to hate, he is difficult to charge since he has an answer for everything due to him being a seasoned field agent.
Running parallel with the Waldron investigation, Season 3 is also involved in investigating the wrong-doings of retired high-ranking officers who may be involved in the cover up of a systematic child-molestation ring from decades back.
Perhaps I’ve begun to tire of keeping up with the conspiracies after bingeing through the two earlier seasons, but this particular season was far too messy for me. What kept me going was Denton returning from Season 2, and a newfound admiration for Hastings’ character.
In his first AC-12 interrogation, a defensive Danny Waldron retaliated to questions by Hastings in a patronising manner, and got a reminder of the important role of AC-12:
[Danny] I cite under Common law, my lawful right to use lethal force for preservation of life or in self-defence where this threat is immediate. [Hastings] Yes, and in response I cite Section 117 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act: the use of reasonable force. And for the tape, the emphasis is mine and not contained in the act. [Danny] That’s an easy argument from behind a desk, sir. [Hastings] BEHIND this desk, Sergeant, we uphold standards! Standards you are expected to meet as a serving police officer.
Hastings would later on struggle with the maintaining of such standards while he deals with threats to his own career for investigating a retired chief superintendent, and dealing with a mole inside his department. The conclusion to Season 3 was the most highly charged finale of all the seasons.
Season 4: Roz Huntley
In Season 4, Thandie Newton joins Line of Duty as DCI Roz Huntley, serving as Senior Investigating Officer in Operation Trapdoor. She was running a large-scale police operation to hunt down a serial killer, dubbed Balaclava Man. The culprit is believed to be behind the kidnapping and murder of one woman and the disappearance of a second. By the time we enter the story, the public is tired of being scared and there was pressure to make an arrest – the sooner the better.
When a third potential victim who had just narrowly escaped Balaclava Man, handed Huntley a possible suspect on a silver platter. Huntley buckled under pressure and was quick to pin a man with learning and mental difficulties as the culprit. Case closed. That is, until Timothy Ifield, her forensic coordinator tried to air his concerns that the arrest may have been premature
Huntley shuts him down not eager to reopen this life-draining case. In a move that is just downright icky, Ifield takes the case to AC-12.
He presents his findings to Arnott and suggests that Huntley may have ulterior motives to pin this crime on the wrong man. Although initially hesitant, AC-12 eventually begins investigations into Huntley. Then Ifield goes dark.
For Season 4, AC-12 have met their match with a highly seasoned investigator in Roz Huntley. Like Denton, Huntley is cunning, careful and isn’t shy about fighting back. Unlike Denton, Huntley has friends in high places and gave AC-12 a good run for their money.
She absolutely decimated Hastings at the interview table, a scene that clocks in at 22 minutes long. Now that was a great showdown. I have never seen Hastings more defeated than when he went up against Huntley.
I have also never come across a character more ruthless than Maeve Roz Huntley which was why I blazed through Season 4 in a single seating. All prior targets from earlier seasons were police officers through and through. Yet they still followed a code of conduct to serve and protect.
But not Roz Huntley. Huntley threw all that out the window, possibly out of spite or ambition, or just to save her own skin, I don’t actually know for sure. But if you had hoped, at any point, that AC-12 would let go of Gates, Denton or Waldron, you wouldn’t spare the same thought for Huntley. No matter what she did to redeem herself. Thandie Newton received a BAFTA nomination for her stunning portrayal of Roz Huntley.
I enjoyed Line of Duty for various reasons. The show grows. It expands and evolves. It becomes more sophisticated the longer you stick with it, particularly when it comes to the subjects of their investigations.
Mistakes become more costly. You do not get a reset button at the beginning of a new season. More often than not, these mistakes are later used in an attempt to discredit AC-12 and the work they do. That’s something the show-runners have to deal with the longer this show goes. On top of that, they also have to deal with the elaborate cover-ups and how one case ties to another case and to a third case etc.
Relationships also get more tested. We see Arnott and Fleming starting out cold, warming up to a strong partnership, compete for a promotion, judge each other, support each other through hard times, pull each other out of mess after mess after mess but never diminishing their relationship below that of treating each other as peers.
You also get to see Hastings groom the two for leadership roles from the beginning, back in Season 1, and then reaping what he sowed by the end of Season 4, showing pride in the work delivered by his two successors.
Season 1 aired back in June 2012 while Season 4 aired in March 2017. Here’s what they looked like after a harrowing event near the end of Season 4.
Feels like they’ve aged 30 years between the three of them, doesn’t it? That’s realism for you. At least Arnott fixed his eyebrows (Look, I have to comment on it, alright? It bugged the heck out of me for the whole of Season 1 and a bit in Season 2).
Note: At the time of this writing, Season 5 has just released their second episode. I can’t wait for the whole season to be made available on Netflix. A sixth season has also been commissioned.