DARK – SEASON 2 (2019)

Louis Hofmann in a still from Dark- Season 2
  • Release Date: 21/06/2019
  • Cast: Louis Hofmann, Karoline Eichhorn, Jördis Triebel, Maja Schöne, Stephan Kampwirth, Lisa Vicari, Andreas Pietschmann, Oliver Masucci, Winfried Glatzeder, Tom Philipp, Peter Schneider, Hermann Beyer
  • Creators: Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese

Dark Season 2 grows two folds on its plot, mysteries and time-space paradox

The first season of Dark had set up the concept of time travel, the black hole in the Winden cave, how it is accessed by the various characters and also introduced us to the four primary families of the town whose past, present and future affects the existence of all the beings of the town and will eventually lead to a catastrophic event triggered by the meltdown at the Nuclear Plant at Winden. In the last scene of the season we had seen Jonas (Louis Hofmann), the protagonist of the series, land up in a timeline that was apparently the future. Nothing more was revealed about this timeline.

The second season starts from the year 1921 where we see the genesis of the Winden cave even though it is still not the gateway that it becomes in the future. We also find Jonas in 2053 and he is made aware that a cataclysmic event occurred in 2020 that wiped out most of Winden and its population. This event was triggered by a meltdown at the nuclear plant. The rest of the series is a discovery of a couple of different story arcs like how will Jonas avoid the doomsday? What will Katharina and Hannah do after their loved ones are sucked into different timelines? What happens to the characters of Mikkel, Claudia, and Helge Doppler who are integral to the story arch? What is the impact of the apocalypse and how is it linked to the black hole in the Winden cave?

As was expected, the second season of Dark gets a lot bigger in terms of characters, arcs, and how different characters from the four families affect each other’s past, present, and future. There is also an abundance of time machines in different time periods and a lot many characters travel through to the future and past creating a lot of confusion and mess which I am sure will be cleared and tied off in the final season. As far as this particular season is concerned, I felt that the focus of the creators shifted from character development and interpersonal drama arising out of the revelations made about the different characters to creating a bigger and denser spectacle that worked for many and didn’t for a few.

Christian Pätzold in a still from Dark- Season 2

I loved the first season for the amount of time that it spends on developing each and every character and their motivations for their part in the story. I wouldn’t be wrong if I said that the first season of Dark probably had more character development than what I had seen in any sci-fi series recently. In this season, the makers expect us to be already on the same page with the characters and their motivations. Hence, the creators just go berserk with the timelines and what event leads to what to such an extent that many might just give up watching this series at this juncture for its complexities.

What works in favor of this season is its pacing. The makers know that if it was any faster, the viewers would just give up. Hence the speed is kept to a level that allows the viewer to understand what is happening and if he/she is confused, they can just trackback to an earlier episode or two to clear their confusion. As was the case with the previous season, this season demands unheard of attention and concentration from the viewers to be able to be on the same page with the characters. The timelines are also a lot more laid out this time and that allows the makers to play a lot more with the visuals and the aesthetics of the different time periods. It was amazing to experience 1921 and 2053 in the same episode of a series and both the timeframes made perfect sense in terms of the visual layout and artistic aesthetics. The makers did the smart thing by keeping the story pinned to the town of Winden which gave them only a handful of sets to recreate from time to time. Even at that, it must have been a herculean task to paint this picture with a digital brush.

The writing and editing of the series is something that I have huge respect for. For the creators to take up such a gargantuan undertaking must have taken a lot of courage and that courage definitely paid off. The editing of the series is flawless and the story flows through so many different timelines in a manner that gives a feeling as if everything was linear and simple. The tale is presented in such a way that we are able to keep track of all the timelines. We are also aware of what each of the characters is doing in their respective timelines. The problem is that there are so many characters and so many timelines that it becomes difficult to recollect them all at a given juncture.

Karoline Eichhorn in a still from Dark – Season 2

The performances of the series are uniformly brilliant. There isn’t a single performance here that can be questioned. The one that affected me the most was the character of Katharina played by Jördis Triebel. She is a distraught mother who has lost her son and husband. Before losing her husband, she learned that he was cheating on her with Hannah. Later, she learns that her missing son has traveled back in time to 1987 and will grow up to marry the same woman who her husband was having an affair with before disappearing. The expression on her face when she tells Hannah, “I can’t believe that you fucked both my husband and my son. You are a parasite”, is priceless. It just goes on to show how Jördis Triebel immersed herself in the character and got under its skin expressing her hatred with such conviction.

Winfried Glatzeder as the older version of Ulrich has a few heart-wrenching scenes that rise above the reach of the series. I just loved the scene where he meets his son Mikkel in 1987 after years of efforts to find him. His character had unknowingly accessed the Winden caves, arrived in 1953, was wrongly arrested for the murders of two kids and spent the next 34 years in a psychiatric hospital. All he wanted was to bring back his son to 2019. The reunion of the father and the son is really touching. After the brief reunion, when he is arrested and is being taken back to the hospital, Ulrich watches his children Magnus and Martha in 1987 and he simply loses his mind. The thought that he will now have to spend the rest of his life without knowing what happened to his other children made me sad to the bone.

Louis Hofmann and Andreas Pietschmann playing different versions of Jonas are wonderful. It must be noted that they are in many ways the protagonist of the series and the way they essayed their characters resonated through different timelines and story arcs and hence their performance was essential to the success of many of the portions. Louis Hofmann and Andreas Pietschmann do complete justice to their respective parts and engulf us in the larger than life story of Jonas. Karoline Eichhorn as Charlotte Doppler was potent. Her’s is an extremely low-key character that the creators use to unearth a lot of stuff. She is quite but at the same time has an extremely sharp mind. She mostly keeps to herself but knows a lot more than what she reveals. In this season we learn a few key things about her past including the identity of her parents which will leave many viewers bewilder. Tom Philipp, Peter Schneider, and Hermann Beyer as the three versions of Helge Doppler are in perfect sync with the feel of the character. They are haunting in their tragedy and the part that they have been forced to play in the scheme of things and it is aptly documented through the performances of the three actors.

the wormhole created after the apocalypse in 2053

As mentioned before, the second season of Dark takes everything that we learned in the first season and adds a lot of meat to it. The plot gets denser, the number of characters and the timelines get broader and lot more entangled and we also learn new things about the concept of time travel and how the gateway in the Winden cave was created in the first place. The emphasis this time is more on the plot and the proceedings than on the characters and their respective tragedies and dark sides. There are many who enjoyed this season more than the first but I had a better time with the first season. It will be interesting to see how all the loose ends are tied off in the final season and how this space-time paradox comes to a befitting end.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars) 

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