Netflix’s ‘Dark’ Season 3 Review: A Convoluted Mess or a Perfect Ending?
Dark is Netflix’s first German production and is a time-bending sci-fi series. If you’ve never heard of Dark, stop reading this, go watch the show and come back when you’re finished and confused like the rest of us. The series has been lauded for creating complex storylines and this season is more intricate than we could have ever imagined.
Warning major spoilers ahead!
Storyline Connections from the First Season to the Last
The creators have certainly planned the entire story before starting the first season because there are minute details that seemed irrelevant in the first few episodes that connected to the last ones. We think small items may be immaterial but prove to be important. For example, the St. Christopher pendant that Jonas has throughout the story. We later find out that he and Martha found it on a lakeshore. You discover that Egon gave that necklace to Hannah Kahnwald, who then gave it to Helene Albers, who then dropped it on the lakeshore many years before Jonas and Martha found it. Not to mention Helene is busy killing her daughter (Katharina), who she thinks is her aborted child coming back to kill her (if you still haven’t watched the final season of this show, this will make no sense).
This may sound convoluted, and it is, but the beauty of being able to see minuscule details coming full circle makes watching the show enthralling. Of course, this was a very specific example but the entire show consists of hundreds of these long threads.
The Overwhelming Final Season
This show’s signature is its Byzantine storylines and the creators never spoon-feed their audience the plot. Besides the occasional memories to help fill in the dots for us, the rest is up to us. The creators don’t explain anything they just show it to us. For instance, Charlotte’s mother is also her daughter and this is never voiced by the characters but shown to us. This intricate storytelling attracts a “smarter” audience that is willing to logically pick apart their story. The “smarter” audience allows the writers to continue to create involved storylines in the final season.
By the end of the final season, there were so many threads overlapping because of the multiple realities and worlds, that I couldn’t understand who was from which reality. It felt overwhelming. It seems that you may need to watch certain scenes, or even episodes, multiple times before fully unwinding the creators’ elaborate plot.
The Origin Child
We discover the cycle is never-ending as a result of Martha/Eva wanting to save her child and therefore not letting the “knot untie” and Jonas/Adam wanting to destroy the entire world. Their never-ending struggle leads to their own and their family tree’s never-ending suffering. While this all made sense and I really enjoyed this explanation, I didn’t love the origin child himself. We know this child as “the Unknown” and besides being a killer for his mother, we know nothing else about him. He is the son of our main two characters but he serves no purpose but to be a killing machine. We learn nothing about the child beside the fact that he does his mother’s bidding (including killing anyone that gets in their way). We also know he is Tronte’s father but we are not given any more details about this. Moreover, he wrote the mysterious leather novel seen throughout the series, but why does he write it? Did Martha/Eva tell him to? I wish the creators would have developed this character more and his multitude of connections to the rest of the family tree.
Clausen and Aleksander Tiedemann
I always found Aleksander’s origin intriguing. The entire second season we knew that Clausen suspected Aleksander of some crime. Eventually, we uncover the origins of Alexander’s pseudonym to be Clausen’s brother. In the following season, we learn that Aleksander murdered someone. The viewers are likely expected to make their own connections, however, in Aleksander’s case, I feel like there is an insufficient amount of information. We don’t know the specifics of the murder he committed and whether he is connected to the Jonas/Martha family in any way.
I understand that in some ways he caused the apocalypse in both worlds: a suspicious (of Aleksander and his power plant) Clausen opened the yellow barrels of nuclear waste in Jonas’s world and a guilty Aleksander opened the barrels in the second world. Both apocalypses resulted from Aleksander but he didn’t cause the waste to be created in the first place. Thus, I don’t understand his role in the grand scheme of the story. There are many unanswered questions regarding him, like who sent Clausen the letter telling him to come to Winden? If Aleksander isn’t connected to the Jonas/Martha family tree then why isn’t he married to Regina in the end (more on that later)? This seems to be a loose end that the creators may have overlooked or they believed the storyline wasn’t important enough to complete.
The Lack of Duality
Throughout the series, we are presented with many sets of threes: past, present, future or the loss of naivety, the loss of innocence and the loss of life itself, and so on. The show itself is a set of three seasons. The creators make it clear that nothing in their world, and, perhaps, our own, is a simple dichotomy. There is no good and bad, or future and past, the world is a lot more complex. In most shows, there’s always a clear distinction between those who are bad and those who are good. However, this show dives into the space in between. The viewers questioned the motives of Claudia, Noah and many others throughout the series, but the show wasn’t trying to mislead us. The watchers were the ones who made the erroneous assumption that the characters could only be all good or all bad. The creators of the show subverted this traditional idea of duality and created complex characters that were not good or bad.
By the time I got to the ending, I was overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions. I was stunned by every moment. When we got to the final dinner scene, I had to pause to see who was at the table. I understood that the people there were those who were separate from the Jonas/Martha family tree. However, I wondered why Regina was there alone. Wasn’t Aleksander supposed to be there with her? Although, I was glad to see her alive and seemingly healthy, which means that all of Claudia’s hopes did come true.
I was also surprised that they gave Hannah the final monologue. She may have been the mother of Jonas, but she was barely there for him for the entirety of the series. The last we saw of her was when she was being strangled by Jonas/Adam. I didn’t feel this connection to her as I did the rest of the cast but somehow the creators made her final monologue beautiful. She spoke about Deja Vu and we find out that she’s pregnant. When asked what she would call her unborn son, she says “Jonas.” We all know that this wouldn’t be our stories’ Jonas but, perhaps, there’s some hope that in the origin world, a different version of Jonas and Martha would find each other again.
This isn’t the typical fairytale ending that so many of us are used to but it’s beautiful for exactly that reason. Jonas and Martha made the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of humanity. It may be hard for us to watch them disappear but we can’t help but be proud of the people they have become.
Despite having a loose end or two and a couple of overwhelming final episodes, the creators gave us the best thing we could’ve wished for: the closest thing to a perfect ending.
[SPOILER WARNING] Aleksander wasn’t married with Regina because of two main reasons:
1) Aleksander and Regina met for the first time when Ulrich and Katharina were threatening Regina near the forest because they thought she was responsible for accusing Ulrich of raping Katharina and therefore for his arrest. Aleksander saved he by pointing a gun to Ulrich and Katharina. This is were their connection began. Aleksander did not even got his job at the power plant. Bonus: Without Ulrich Nielsen to bully Regina and tie her to a tree for hours near a cave full of radioative material, she also does not develop cancer.
2) Regina got interested in a long term relationship with Aleksander because of her own solitude due to the bullying and she felt even more alone after her mother Claudia disappeared (became a time traveller)
Without Claudia disappearement and Ulrich Nielsen bullying her, she would be happier. However, to the installment of the first cycle after the first time travel (which would be much clarifying but the show never shown) and the creation of the Nielsen family there must be a Bartozs. There is a few possibilities: Aleksander and Regina will have a future relationship anyway and there will be a Bartozs in the normal timeline. Aleksander and Regina had a previous relationship that already ended. Their relationship happens in the first cycle of time travel due to different factors (even without Ulrich and Claudia’s disappear).