DARK – SEASON 3 (2020)

Louis Hofmann and Lisa Vicari in a still from Dark- Season 3
  • Release Date: 27/06/2020
  • Cast: Louis Hofmann, Karoline Eichhorn, Lisa Vicari, Maja Schöne, Stephan Kampwirth, Jördis Triebel, Andreas Pietschmann, Paul Lux, Moritz Jahn, Christian Hutcherson, Oliver Masucci
  • Creators: Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese

What we know is a drop…what we don’t know is an ocean

The second season of Dark had left us on a cliff hanger with the notion that there may be an existence of co-existing but different worlds in the same timelines. I had my plate already full of the existing time and space complexities and now the creators decided to add another layer of ambiguity to the tale. After Martha is killed by Adam, a different version of Martha arrives and saves Jonas from the apocalypse using a time device that looks far more advanced and very different from what we had seen thus far in the series. Season three of Dark indeed presents us with a different world (will refer to it as Eva’s world) wherein the characters from all the families that we have known so far exist but they are not strictly speaking the same as they were in the first world (will refer to it as Adam’s World). For example, Ulrich is married to Hannah after divorcing Katharina and is now cheating on Hannah with Charlotte. Hannah is pregnant but Jonas doesn’t exist in this world. Martha is the center of this world and is shown doing things that Jonas did in Adam’s world. However, the arrival of Jonas from Adam’s world, which has already endured the apocalypse starts throwing Eva’s world off-balance.

Once Jonas and Martha realize the existence of two different worlds, they both begin to look for avenues to save their own respective worlds and avert the apocalypse. If that was not complicated enough, there is the existence of Claudia who believes that both Adam and Eva’s world is an anomaly and it is in fact her world that is the origin world and is the perfect version of the existence. For her, there are not two but three worlds. She believes that Jonas and Martha must unite to undo a catastrophic event that led to the building of the time machine in the first place. This would not only result in the two worlds of Martha and Jonas not existing but would also nullify all the different characters that existed because of them thereby permanently freeing them from the cycle of pain.

There are innumerable encounters between the same characters from different times and different worlds with different motivations and leanings and after a while, it becomes too much to fathom and keep a track off. For me, it became impossible to fully enjoy the series that asked me to concentrate so much and keep track of so many characters and story arcs. If that was not enough, the idea at the basis of it all ended up being so simple that I was forced to question the existence of the first two seasons in the first place. A simple answer to that question would be that the two seasons existed to show us how the two worlds, created out of an anomaly, existed in disharmony. Every character born out of the anomaly was suffering immensely.  They were weighed in by the weight of their own expectations and love for a certain character that motivated all their actions and their final downfall.

Jakob Diehl as a version of the Origin in Dark – Season 3

Ulrich was suffering because he had lost his brother and son in a similar fashion and was unable to find the culprit. Hannah was suffering because she couldn’t get Ulrich to love her, her husband committed suicide and then her son disappeared. Katharina was suffering because she learned that her husband was cheating on her and then he disappeared along with their son. Regina had cancer and she was doomed no matter what. Alexander had a deep dark secret that he was hiding and lived with it for his whole life. Charlotte never knew who her parents were and when she finally figured out the truth, it was more of a shock than a relief. Similarly, Mikkel traveled to the past, fathered Jonas, and then committed suicide so that his younger version would again end up in the past. Every character living in Adam’s world was a victim of the anomaly and was anything but happy. A similar fate presented itself for all the characters of Eva’s world albeit in different ways.

The three seasons of Dark work in a manner similar to the process of zooming out. The first season shows us Adam’s world through three specific timelines and a fixed way to navigate it. The second season zooms out on the world and gives us more timelines and also varied ways of navigating through the timelines. The third season zooms out further and gives us a bird-sight view of all the existing worlds, timelines, and methods of navigating them and how they are connected with each other. Martha and Jonas were hopelessly trying to set everything right but in doing so were only facilitating the inevitable. The first two seasons also showed us how through time and space complexity two warring factions of Adam and Eva are created by the disgruntled versions of Martha and Jonas. In the third season, we finally get to know how the two worlds of Adam and Eva were created and why it is these two worlds that are needed to be destroyed for there to be harmony.

The series ends with such a simple explanation of all that happened in the three seasons that it left me devastated. It made me ask the question, why go to such lengths to show two dysfunctional worlds when you plan to put it all out in a matter of episodes? I also hated the creators for making me pay so much attention to all the characters, timelines, connections, and details with a hope that it would be critical to understanding how it all adds up in the larger scheme of things when they never mattered in the first place. They could all be abolished with just one little change in the origin world.

Lisa Kreuzer as Claudia in a still from Dark – Season 3

Having said that, the way in which Martha and Jonas come across this revelation is beautifully worked out and presented. As we see them dissipate from the different timelines of their respective worlds, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for the characters. The background score aided in making me feel in a certain way and it adds to the overall feeling of morose for the characters that would not be anymore. The use of the perfect tracks to elevate certain emotions has been one of the strengths of Dark over the three seasons. All these characters that you had connected with for so long are all gone in a fraction of a second and you are told that their existence was an anomaly. Even at that, one has to give due credit to the creators for creating the right atmosphere in which the big revelations dawn on us.

The performance by the ensemble cast is wonderful. Every actor does a phenomenal job with their characters. I must mention the casting department that has done an equally fantastic job of finding people who resemble their respective younger versions so effectively. The editing was a lot more complicated in this season as there were so many timelines and different worlds but it remains consistently fluid and intelligible. the creators made it a point to answer and justify even the tiniest of the details.  I just loved the art design of the series and how flawlessly it integrated with the different time frames. The attention to detail in terms of the art design and costumes was remarkable.

Many are sighting the culmination of Dark to be perfect and earth-shattering. I am of the opinion that the third season does a major disservice to the first two seasons for the reasons discussed above. Undoing two seasons worth of character development and story arcs felt too much to accept with open arms. Having said that, I have to admit that the creators did come up with an ingenious idea for the culmination of the series and they hinted at it throughout the first two seasons. Dark will rate among the most engaging Sci-Fi series ever made and it will easily make my list of films and series that was hardest for me to review. It will be discussed and debated for years to come and in that lies its greatest strength and victory. before you watch the third season, remember to under the “quantum entanglement” and “Schrödinger’s cat”.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

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