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Saying goodbye to Winden in a bittersweet final chapter of 'Dark' Season 3

Reyzando Nawara
Reyzando Nawara

A film and TV series geek

Jakarta  /  Sat, June 20, 2020  /  04:52 pm

Dark, a German Netflix original series co-created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, may begin as a show about the disappearance of a young boy in a fictional small town called Winden and all the strange occurrences that happen after that (sounds exactly like Stranger Things, right?). But as it unfolds, the show offers a much bigger and more complicated story: a family drama and contemporary Greek tragedy with a lot of Biblical and mythological references wrapped in an enigmatic time-travel saga.

There are a lot of moving pieces throughout each season, and the storylines take place within so many different timeframes that untangling them would require days or even weeks. But that complexity is what makes Dark so addictive. It pulls you inside to solve a labyrinth of drama and time-hopping mystery that Odar and Friese have laid out since the beginning of the story. That the show also manages to be full of emotions is honestly a testament to how brilliant the writers and actors are – especially Louis Hoffman whose captivating performance as the protagonist Jonas Kahnwald will without a doubt break your heart to pieces.

The third and final season, which will be released on Netflix next weekend, still focuses on the same head-scratching storyline as the first two iterations, but it also offers the audience a perfect and bittersweet closure at the end of its journey. Picking up right after the events of the season two finale, when Jonas gets a visit from Martha (Lisa Vicari), season three, once again, sees Jonas trying to stop the apocalypse and save the people of Winden from extinction. But this time, it’s not just one version of Winden that Jonas needs to save.

The first two episodes of season three follow Jonas in this world as he’s trying to figure out how to get back to his own world. It’s at this moment that the show introduces us to another version of its characters, some of whom were thrown into another timeline at the end of last season. There’s a female version of him called Eva (Barbara Nüsse) who controls most of the chess pieces in this new universe.

The story behind Eva contributes to season three’s overarching mystery. To put it simply without spoiling it, there’s an important conflict involving Adam, Eva, Jonas, Martha, and Claudia (Julika Jenkins/Lisa Kreuzer) that will define how the show ends its story.

New mysteries arrive and relationships between the characters get shifted as more twists present themselves, subverting our expectations throughout the season in the craziest ways possible.New mysteries arrive and relationships between the characters get shifted as more twists present themselves, subverting our expectations throughout the season in the craziest ways possible. (Courtesy of Netflix/File)

New mysteries arrive and relationships between the characters get shifted as more twists present themselves, subverting our expectations throughout the season in the craziest ways possible. But all of that isn’t just for shock value, as is often the case with other sci-fi shows (I’m looking at you Westworld). In Dark’s case, the twists are always grounded in the characters. That’s why even when things get mighty complicated, the show always manages to remain emotionally resonant in the end. It’s, after all, a story about human nature as much as it is about time travel. But still, it’s the web of intrigue inside the story, as well as its impacts on the characters, where Dark excels the most.

If you think that the five timelines in season two are already confusing enough, you won’t be ready for what’s to come this season. Not only do we have to deal with two universes, but the show also spans three centuries, with multiple realities inside each of the universes themselves. Yes, this sounds like a lot, and the story will get pretty confusing in the first half of the season, especially with so many scientific theories like quantum entanglement and time travel paradoxes slipping in and out of the characters’ mouths. But Odar and Friese have always been deliberate in their approach since the beginning of the show. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see them stick the landing in the end by answering all of the questions in a really elaborate and logical way.

In fact, it is by widening the timeframes and complicating the mysteries that season three gets to explain in detail what actually is happening in Winden and how it all began in the first place. You’ll know this once you reach the insane and brilliant penultimate episode “Between the Time,” where everything starts to make sense, and the puzzle pieces begin to take shape.

At the very core of Dark, however, is a story about love and family. And that’s how this final season ends: It concludes as a bittersweet love story. Not just between the obvious Jonas and Martha, but among all of the characters in the show.

From Ulrich (Oliver Masucci) and Charlotte (Karoline Eichhorn) to Katharina (Jördis Triebel) and Hannah (Maja Schöne), everyone in Dark is basically acting out of love. Whether it leads them to do the good and heroic things or something more morally questionable, in the end, they are doing what they’re doing in the name of love. And that’s what makes the ending all the more beautiful. It shows us the extreme lengths in which people are willing to go in order to save their loved ones. Odar and Friese could not have ended the show on a better note.

Season three also remains top-notch on a technical level. The grey tone and somber music in the background work brilliantly to strengthen the dark atmosphere of the show. The visuals, ranging from plenty of tracking shots to eccentric angles, split-screens and even different aspect ratios, are brilliantly executed too, with the performances from the ensemble, especially Hoffman, Vicari, Eichhorn and Jenkins, hammering home the show’s emotional impulse from start to finish. It’s nearly impossible to not get mesmerized by how perfectly crafted Dark is from every aspect.

Until the very end, Dark is not an easy watch. The mystery will hurt your brain, and trying to guess what will happen is honestly just an exercise in futility. But that’s part of the fun of watching the show. It not only understands the complicated nature of its story, but also makes good of it, creating an intriguing maze of time travel using real quantum theory while beautifully showing us what it means to have loved and lost someone.

With an even more beautiful ending that ties all the knots the show’s been presenting since the get-go, Dark has proven itself as the greatest Netflix original show to date. It’s truly that exceptional. (kes)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.