The third and final season of the sci-fi series Dark was released on June 27, 2020. This thriller was voted best series on the entire Netflix platform by the prestigious Rotten Tomatoes portal . Dark was created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese in 2017.
This recognition is hardly surprising, because this series brings together very good ingredients. It makes us fantasize about time in a scientific and metaphysical way like no other film production has done before, with the exception of Interstellar .
The plot presents a conception of cyclical time. This conception is based on the idea of the eternal return gathered by Friedrich Nietzsche in his works Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Le Gai Savoir .
But unlike pure philosophy, Dark raises the real possibility of time functioning as an eternal loop, thereby eliminating classic conceptions that include past, present, and future. This is why characters can move through time and influence events.
The central theme of the series, which dominates the plot, is to explain how time travel affected the fictional German town of Widen. The first season begins with the disappearance of a child in 2019, Mikkel, who went missing in a cave in a forest similar to the German Black Forest.
This forest is filled with underground caves and a nuclear power plant that hides some mysteries. Among them, a scientific discovery that could change the course of humanity.
One of the teenagers involved in the incident, Jonas, decides to investigate what happened. His first finds lead him to discover that everything is linked. First with the suicide of his father Michael a few months before and then because of the cave’s capacity to modify its temporal capacity.
But besides this temporal hole in the cave, there are other methods of time travel. Some are linked to the cave and the nuclear power plant. Others don’t, and they will only be revealed little by little in the exciting storyline.
Four families, a mystery
The story revolves around four families from the village : Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler and Tiedemann. They appear in three different timelines: 1953, 1986 and 2019. The year 2019 is the starting point for the narrative action and the main arc, that is, the present of the series.
33 years separate the timelines and the characters interact with each other as they move between each of these three timelines. They do this by means of a wormhole that may have been caused by a substance leak from the Widen nuclear power plant.
The conception of time in the history of mankind
Dark is a series that deals with the cyclic theory of time, but there are many related theories. In order to situate them, we will review some currents of thought which have dealt with the conception of time. Here are a few :
- The theory of eternal return or eternal recurrence is an idea shared by several ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs, Indians, Greeks or Egyptians. Events of objective reality repeat themselves cyclically. This is the idea that is most reflected in the argument explained in Dark .
- The second idea on the conception of time appears with the Hebrew and Christian religion which proposes a linear conception of time. It is the one that everyone generally assumes to be correct.
- Thinkers such as Louis Auguste Blanqui or Friedrich Nietzsche also support the idea of the eternal return. Circumstances and facts repeat themselves cyclically.
- Aristotle denied the existence of the past and the future due to the inability to verify where previous events are located and to know which ones will come.
- In modern times, there are two schools of thought regarding the concept of time. On the one hand, there is the objectivist theory that stems from the physics studies of Isaac Newton. It was the most accepted until the publication of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
- The subjectivist theory proposed by Immanuel Kant establishes that time is explained from individual experiences. It is therefore a personal construction. This idea transposes the notion of time in the field of psychology.
- In contrast, the contributions of Einstein’s theory of relativity, string theory, and Stephen Hawking’s research on black holes that occur in darkness have yet to be demonstrated in practice.
What happens over time in Dark?
In Dark , the figure of the vortex is used to explain the movements between the three time dimensions. The release of energy from the nuclear power plant may have given activity to this hole in the maze of caves that crosses the city.
Dark raises the idea of time not as a linear dimension, but as an infinite loop based on Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal return. It is also the conception of certain civilizations such as the Mayas, the Indians, the Chinese or the ancient Egyptians.
Although the plot of the series does not specify that one can travel beyond the times represented, there are two characters (Jonas Kahnwald and Claudia Tiedemann) who return in the past. Their goal is to change the facts and destroy the mechanism that allows the different characters in the series to move from one era to another.
This justifies one of the most important themes championed by the series: the past influences the future and the future influences the past. Everything is connected. There is no beginning or end, time is like a circle where all the facts coexist and all the temporal realities are linked together.