Dark Season 3, Episode 8 recap: How does the series end?

Louis Hoffman as Jonas Kahnwald in Dark Season 3
Louis Hoffman as Jonas Kahnwald in Dark Season 3 /

Dark Season 3 turns back the clock one last time.

It’s time to say goodbye to Dark. This arresting show comes to an end with a slow-paced and emotional finale. Though Dark Season 3 has introduced several new concepts and has seemingly thrown its own rule book out the window from time to time, the finale reduces the plot to one central theme – family.

We saw old Claudia appear before Adam, which left us wondering how she was still alive. This Claudia is an alternate reality version, much like the two Jonases who existed in the timeline before Jonas was killed by Earth-2 Martha.

Dark Season 3 finale: The Original World

Jonas/ Adam has the least experience with time travel despite working with it for over six decades. As Claudia explains, Adam didn’t know how to exploit time travel to create divergent versions of himself. Eva did – she created a Martha that was killed by Adam and has been creating Marthas that live. That’s how Claudia is alive, as well.

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The trouble is, Adam and Eva have been doing the same thing over and over for eternity and coming to the same result. Claudia has seen the incidents take place, even helped some of them along. But she’s realized that neither of their plans will allow Regina to live. So, it’s time to find the original world.

All this while on Dark Season 3, the battle has been between Adam’s world and Eva’s world. Claudia introduces a new idea in the finale – an original world that split in two to create these two worlds. Stop the split, end the cycle.

So, when did the split take place? Way back in 1986. In Dark Season 3, Episode 5, we learnt that the old clockmaker, HG Tannhaus (Christian Steyer), had faced a devastating loss the night he adopted baby Charlotte as his granddaughter. His son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were all killed in an accident. He never got over that loss.

The Tannhaus family was always obsessed with time travel and bringing the dead back; HG was no different. Over the course of a decade, HG created a machine in his bunker, only for the experiment to fail. He didn’t realize that his machine created the two worlds of Adam and Eva’s.

Claudia’s hypothesis is that in that original world, Regina gets to live. And now, for the first time in eternity, Claudia is talking to Adam about this plan. This scene has never played out before, which suggests that events are already being changed. But, there’s still plenty to do for Claudia’s new plan to succeed.

Dark Season 3 finale: The Perfect Match

Jonas Kahnwald and Martha Nielsen in Dark Season 3.
Jonas Kahnwald and Martha Nielsen in Dark Season 3. /

To get the ball rolling, Adam returns to 2020, just prior to the apocalypse. This is the world where Earth-2 Martha didn’t rescue Jonas. Adam convinces his younger self that there’s a new plan that will make everything right; to do this Jonas must trust Adam. Tough ask. Adam explains that Jonas can break the loop by making one big change in the past. But he needs Martha to succeed.

Adam takes Jonas to Earth-2 prior to the apocalypse and tells him to stop the other Martha from joining old Magnus and Franziska. This Martha is already in love with OG-Jonas, which will make her susceptible to listen to this Jonas.

Jonas is able to transport himself and Martha in the nick of time and they arrive in 1986. This is the year the time travel passage opens in the caves. Adam had explained that time stops momentarily when the machine is operated, and that’s when Jonas and Martha can travel in between the 33-year cycle.

Once the passage opens, Jonas and Martha jump in, but they’re temporarily suspended in space and time. It’s actually very unnerving, especially since the two of them are separated. They see into each other’s past – little Martha had seen Jonas in the ‘Light’ through a closet door, while little Jonas and spotted Martha in the ‘Light’ down in the basement. The scene is sweet but unnecessary – we know these two characters are intrinsically connected.

Jonas and Martha finally find each other and arrive in 1974. This is the night that HG’s family died. His pain stems from more than their loss; it comes from the fact that his son Marek (Merlin Rose) essentially rejected his father (played by Arnd Klawitter in the 70s timeline). Their last interaction was a horrible fight that ended with Marek, his wife Sonja (Svenja Jung) and baby Charlotte leaving prematurely in the rain and dying.

Jonas and Martha stop the potential accident by landing in the middle of the road, making Marek swerve out of the way. Then Jonas lies about the bridge being closed and Martha insists that Marek’s father loves him. Confused and probably a bit creeped out considering Jonas and Martha look very eerie standing stock still at an intersection, Marek turns back and returns to his father. They hug it out and the family is saved.

Throughout Dark Season 3, Jonas and Martha have been told that they are wrong – wrong together and just wrong for this world. They are ‘the glitch in the matrix’. Now, together in 1974 and in the future as Adam and Eva, they reconcile the truth that they are a perfect match. With that, Jonas and Martha, our protagonists for three seasons, and Adam and Eva, our two villains, disappear.

The show ends in 2020 in the original world. Regina is alive and happy in her old family home (the Kahnwald house in Adam’s world). She’s thrown a dinner for her friends, Katharina, Hannah, Hannah’s husband Torben Wöller (Leopold Hornung), Peter Doppler and his partner, Bernadette (Anton Rubtsov). Torben was a police officer who worked with Charlotte in the other worlds, and Bernadette has briefly appeared as Peter’s secret lover in both worlds. It’s good to see Peter and Bernadette living the life they were denied in the other worlds.

When the lights suddenly flicker, Hannah talks about how she had a dream about the world ending and how that darkness was peaceful like paradise. Hannah sounds exactly like Adam. But the world doesn’t end and Winden lives to fight another day. Hannah is expecting and, as she looks on at a yellow jacket, she wonders out loud about what a beautiful name Jonas would be for her son.

Dark Season 3 finale: Final Thoughts

This show has been an incredibly diverting experience. The world-building and lore has been immersive, and the characters swept us into the story with their earnestness and flaws. I would argue that Dark Season 3 introduced far too many new elements that weren’t foreshadowed before.

Even in the finale, the concept of an ‘original world’ seemed more like a deus ex machina than a culmination of all that came before. I will credit the writers for including clues to the importance of many background characters, though. We knew that Claudia was desperate for Regina to live a fulfilling life and that Tannhaus’ loss would play a role in the story. Yet, these characters weren’t at the forefront, whereas characters like Ulrich, Charlotte and Hannah were. In the finale, however, these characters hardly played any role at all.

Ulrich’s scene felt like an afterthought. We see the parallel of Earth-2 Ulrich going through the caves and revisiting Earth-Prime Ulrich going back in time. Both characters chance upon Helge in different decades and both versions of Ulrich try and kill Helge believing this will save Mads’ life.

As we know, in one world Ulrich is stranded in the 1950s, while on Earth-2, old Helge follows him through the caves and kills him. But what significance does this have to the finale? The scene simply ties up a loose end. It should have been addressed in an earlier episode.

And, throughout the season, the trio of unknowns was a big mysterious anomaly who supposedly foiled Adam’s plot again and again. That storyline was completely squandered in the finale. The trio appears in a single scene and doesn’t do anything after that.

The showrunners leave the door open for our imaginations and potential spin-offs if they wanted to. I’d be happy if this was truly the final chapter for these characters. It’s been quite a ride following their battle with space and time. And now we’ve bid them farewell and the survivors live in a world where time travel doesn’t mess with people’s lives and genealogy.

It was a bold choice for the showrunners to turn its young leads into the season villains, and then have them sacrifice their existence to save the world. I had a feeling that a world without Jonas would be the answer, but kudos to the creators for following through with it. Jonas and Martha’s final scene was still filled with a sense of hope. The ending is bittersweet because the characters found paradise, but paradise didn’t include them in it.

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Did you enjoy the series finale of Dark? Were all your questions answered in Dark Season 3, Episode 8? Let us know in the comments.