The TV Series Dark and the Concept of Time

14 January, 2021
Viewers have voted Dark the best Netflix series, according to Rotten Tomatoes. We'll tell you what's special about this show here!

The German science fiction series Dark released its third and final season on June 27, 2020. Users of Rotten Tomatoes voted this thriller as the best series of all Netflix. Baran Bo Odar and Jantje Friese created the TV series Dark in 2017.

The overwhelming popularity of the show isn’t surprising, as the show features some new, exciting ideas. For example, it makes the viewer fantasize about the idea of time in a scientific and metaphysical way that was never before seen in any film or TV show, with the exception of Interstellar.

The show presents the concept of time as something cyclical, based on the idea of Friedrich Nietzche’s eternal return in his works The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. However, instead of merely pondering this idea, Dark created a reality where time functions in an eternal loop, eliminating the classic ideas of past, present, and future. For example, characters can move between these times and influence events that happen before or after.

The plot of the TV series Dark

The central argument that drives the plot of this series is explaining how time travel has affected the fictional German town of Winden. The first season starts with the disappearance of a boy named Mikkel in 2019. He disappears into a cave in a forest similar to the German Black Forest.

The forest is full of underground caves and a nuclear power plant that hides certain mysteries, such as a scientific discovery that can change the course of humanity.

Then, one of the teenagers involved in the incident, Jonas, decides to investigate what happened. His first inquiries led him to discover that several events are actually related. For example, it starts with his father’s suicide several months before and is followed by the ability of the cave to alter its temporal capacity.

However, in addition to this time loop in the cave, there are also other methods for time travel. Some are related to the cave and the nuclear power plant, while others aren’t. Many things are revealed little by little in this exciting series!

Four families, one mystery

The story revolves around four village families: the Kahnwalds, Nielsens, Dopplers, and Tiedemanns. These families exist in three different timelines: 1953, 1986, and 2019. The starting point of the narrative is 2019.

The timelines are 33 years apart from each other and the characters interact with each other, as they move between the timelines. In fact, they do this through a wormhole that may have been caused by a substance leak from the Winden nuclear power plant.

The concept of time throughout history

Dark is a series that considers the cyclical theory of time. However, there are many related theories we’re going to take a look at. For example, here are a few:

  • The theory of the eternal return or eternal recurrence is also shared with several ancient civilizations, such as the Aztecs, Indians, Greeks, and Egyptians. The events of objective reality repeat themselves cyclically. This is the idea that Dark mostly uses.
  • The second idea of time appears in the Hebrew and Christian religions, which propose a linear concept of time. This is the one that most people believe to be correct.
  • Thinkers such as Louis Auguste Blanqui or Friedrich Nietzsche also suggest the idea of eternal return: that circumstances and events repeat themselves cyclically.
  • On the other hand, Aristotle denied the existence of the past and future. This was due to the difficulty of verifying previous events and knowing what’s to come.
  • In the modern age, there are two current concepts of time. On the one hand, there’s the objectivist theory. This emerges from the physics studies of Isaac Newton and was most commonly accepted until Einstein’s theory of relativity.
  • The subjectivism theory, which Immanuel Kant proposed, states that time is explained by individual experiences. Therefore, it’s a personal construction. In fact, it places the concept of time within the field of psychology.
  • On the other hand, the concepts in Dark, such as Einstein’s theory of relativity, string theory, and Stephen Hawking’s research on black holes, have yet to be proven.
The TV series Dark focuses on the concept of time.

What happens to time in the TV series Dark

In Dark, the symbol of the wormhole explains travel between the three time dimensions. The release of energy from the nuclear power plant may have created this hole. It’s located in a labyrinth of caves that run through the town.

Dark poses the idea that time isn’t linear. Instead, it’s an infinite loop based on Nietzsche’s concept of eternal return. This is also a concept of time civilizations such as the Mayans, Indians, Chinese, and ancient Egyptians believe.

Although the series doesn’t discuss whether it’s possible to travel to any time, two characters, Jonas Kahnwald and Claudia Tiedemann, return to the past. Their goal is to change history and destroy the mechanism that allows different characters to move between the three time periods.

In fact, this contributes to one of the most important themes of the series: the past influences the future and the future influences the past. Everything is related. There’s no beginning or end and time is a circle where all events coexist and are linked together.