As one might expect, the ending of Netflix's Dark season 2 was anything but smooth and easy to follow. The German-language sci-fi drama, which heavily relies upon time travel as its central narrative conceit, managed to outdo itself in the final episode of its sophomore season - raising more questions than it managed to answer.
Dark season 2 premiered on Netflix on June 21 and expanded the intertwined stories of four families living in the rural town of Winden, Germany - the Nielsens, the Kahnwalds, the Tiedemanns, and the Dopplers - by showing even more time-traveling between 33-year periods, and characters finding out the truth about time travel. The show's protagonist, Jonas, went against the shadowy time-traveling group Sic Mundus to try and stop their plan to bring about another apocalyptic time loop, which they hope to create in their ongoing war against time.
In the final act of season 2, many key plotlines were set up for the forthcoming third and final season. Adam, the leader of Sic Mundus, managed to bring about the creation of the third and final time loop by ensuring Jonas was in the right place at the right time. Adam also tasked two of his followers with making sure all of the wormholes across the time periods were open, helping to agitate the ethereal substance that allows for wormholes and time travel to exist and which was in abundant quantities in the reactors of the Winden nuclear power plant. The opening of those wormholes led to the inevitable meltdown of the Winden nuclear power plant, causing a catastrophe, changing lives forever, and creating the final time loop for Sic Mundus' benefit.
Now that all of the characters are, to varying degrees, aware of time travel and what forces are at work to ensure certain events happen and certain events don't - what's next? In order to know what lies in Dark's future, it's necessary to look into the past. Well, the "past" meaning the season 2 finale of Dark, and the key events that shaped its final moments.
Who Survived The Meltdown In Winden?
In the final act, we see the young Elisabeth Doppler and her father, Peter, waiting out the coming catastrophe from the Winden nuclear plant meltdown in the underground bunker at the Doppler family cottage. Now aware of what is about to happen and desperate to save her daughter Regina, Claudia from 1987 brings Regina to the bunker. All four sit and seem prepared to wait things out. In the final moments, a young Noah appears in the bunker to sit out the incoming catastrophe.
1987 Claudia being in the bunker in 2020 explains how she manages to only be in her 70s or 80s by the year 2052 (100 years after viewers see her as a little girl of no more than 10 in season 1), when she inevitably begins traveling back through time in order to complete her mission. Regina could possibly survive being in the bunker, but she also has terminal cancer. In a world where the necessary medications have likely been eradicated along with the means to treat Regina, it's unlikely she will live much longer. It's been confirmed Elisabeth survives into adulthood and eventually become the leader of the Winden survivors by 2053, so she will survive in the bunker, too. There's been no word on what Peter's fate is as his future self, if it exists, has yet to be revealed.
As for the characters outside of the bunker, it's implied they all died during the meltdown. The one exception is Charlotte Doppler, who was inside the power plant reactor when a time window opened up after the wormholes were stabilized and she saw Elisabeth from 2053. Charlotte and Elisabeth seemed to touch hands through the portal and Charlotte may have been pulled through just in time to avoid the meltdown.
Where Does Older Jonas Take Bartosz, Magnus, and Franziska?
By the end of Dark season 2, the older Jonas is now fragile and shaken up by how the course of events is unfolding since it seems like he will be unable to stop the third time loop from happening. He is confronted by a younger Noah, who gives him a letter from Martha. It's not yet known what Martha wrote to Jonas ,but whatever she has written seems to shock him; he felt he was not able to save her now that she knew the truth about time travel, the fact that he is from the future, and the crucial detail that they are actually aunt and nephew (Dark also sets them up as love interests, which is problematic, to say the least). Whatever Martha has written to older Jonas is enough to help younger Noah convince Jonas he needs to save Bartosz, Franziska, and Magnus by taking them to another time period. Jonas successfully does this, finding all three of them at the Nielsen family home and activating the time machine to take them away.
Bartosz, Franziska, and Magnus became aware of time travel earlier in season 2, thanks to Bartosz showing them the time-traveling tunnels under Winden and successfully bringing them back to 1986, so it's not as if the trio as shocked by what older Jonas is doing. But Dark kept their true purposes hidden for most of season 2, eventually implying through the magic of editing that the older Jonas has taken them back to 1921 because viewers see what appears to be an older Magnus and Franziska activating the wormhole from the Sic Mundus headquarters in 1921 on Adam's behalf. It's still unclear where Bartosz is in all of this but his whereabouts and role in the Sic Mundus plan will likely all be made known in season 3.
Where Does The Second Martha Take Young Jonas?
One of the biggest twists in the Dark season 2 finale was the entrance of alternate dimension Martha. The Martha whom viewers have seen over the course of two seasons was shot and killed by Adam. As Jonas mourned the loss of the woman he loved - who, thanks to the twisted nature of their timelines, also happens to be his aunt - a second Martha entered to take him away from the apocalyptic situation happening in Winden. She has shorter, darker hair, and was dressed in darker clothes. "I'm not who you think I am," she tells Jonas, and when he tries to explain to her what is going on, she tells him there is no time, pulling out a golden orb from her bag. She sets it for an unknown destination and puts it on the ground. There is certain machinery on the orb that looks similar to machinery on the Tannhaus time machines seen throughout the series, implying this orb may be even more advanced than those previous machines. The real kicker is Martha's response when Jonas asks what time she is from: "The question isn't from what time, but from what world."
Has this second Martha appeared before? Is this simply another inevitability of the time loops, or is alternate dimension Martha a new interruption who could be of some true help to Jonas this time around? Most pressing of all, what is alternate dimension Martha hoping to achieve by taking Jonas to her world?
Does Katharina Get Back To 1986?
One person who could potentially significantly change things during the third Winden time loop is Katharina Nielsen, mother of Mikkel Nielsen (later revealed to be Michael Kahnwald). Katharina spent the majority of season 2 looking for answers about Mikkel's sudden disappearance. She was able to use her husband Ulrich's maps and findings from season 1 (right before he traveled back to 1953) to figure out how to navigate the Winden caves and find those locations which have been used to time-travel from with the help of a Tannhaus time machine, or crawling through the tunnels in the caves. Katharina is seen deep in the caves, reading a message on her map: "Follow the signal." This leads her to the tunnels, with the final image showing her getting to one of the Sic Mundus doors.
Katharina has been one of the biggest wildcards thus far in Dark. A mother who is grieving the disappearance of her young son and her husband, both of which happened in a matter of days, is a woman hellbent on finding answers. She has been hesitant to accept that time travel is possible but has shown she is willing to do whatever it takes to get Mikkel back. If she does make it back to 1986, there is a chance she could reunite with Mikkel and potentially mess with the progression of the third time loop by taking Mikkel out of the time he is supposed to be in.
How Many Alternate Dimensions Are There In Dark?
Martha's response about "what world" she is taking Jonas to is the final line of season 2, leaving viewers to wonder just how many alternate dimensions there are. The existence of alternate dimensions implies the Winden nuclear power plant does not have to melt down and may not even exist, which would mess with Sic Mundus' plans. Then again, does Sic Mundus even exist in these alternate dimensions? Is the current group aware of other dimensions? The arrival of alternate dimension Martha could be a significant home-field advantage for those, primarily Jonas, looking to stop Sic Mundus.
More importantly, why has the alternate dimension Martha only appeared at the eleventh hour to save Jonas? Her appearance implies there's an ability to track events across dimensions with the right technology, raising the possibility that dimensions police one another to make sure all events go according to plan or that there is no imbalance. What does it mean for alternate dimension Martha to appear now, when the implication that she could have returned earlier to prevent truly dire events from happening is also in place?
As some final food for thought: the existence of alternate dimensions means there could be a way to save every character who has died over the course of the loops and get everyone in Winden to safety. Is this an actual possibility Dark will consider in season 3?
What Happens To Adam & The Sic Mundus Group?
Season 2 ends with Adam (who is actually the eldest version of Jonas) seemingly successfully initiating the third time loop after he shoots and kills Martha. Adam intends to give the younger Jonas the emotional impetus needed to continue on the path of eventually becoming Adam, believing Martha death will fuel him to wage the same war against time that Adam has been waging in this current loop.
But what happens now with Adam and the rest of Sic Mundus? Their eventual goal is to completely break the constraints of linear time, as they have been by moving kidnapped children from one time period to another and messing with time travel for their own purposes, but what happens if they manage to successfully complete the third loop? What does it look like now that the final stage of their plan has begun? It could potentially be even more disastrous than the nuclear plant meltdown which eventually sets off a catastrophic apocalyptic event - and involve going to even greater lengths requiring even more sacrifice than they ever thought.