'Dark' Season 3 Ending Explained: How were Adam and Eva created and what finally unties the knot?
Going beyond time travel, Season 3 sees dual worlds and realities that it aims at busting the legends, myths, and truths about. Here's what that confusing ending means
Spoilers for 'Dark' Season 3
Ever since the German puzzle 'Dark' hit Netflix some three years ago, there's been ongoing speculation about how Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) turns into his final form, Adam (Dietrich Hollinderbäumer). Most of the theories suggested Jonas's young, handsome face turning into a disfigured, mangled one was a result of all the time traveling he had done in his life -- back and forth between some five different ones -- and as the final and third season reveals, also between different worlds and realities. A twisted enigma at its core, 'Dark' has always been about time loops and paradox as no space-time realty seems to have any cause or effect on the universe where Jonas, the Nielsens, the Dopplers, and the Tiedemanns exist. It was a given so far, but Season 3 finally explains why the rules of a normal world don't apply in the one that Jonas and his viewers are familiar with. Subsequently explaining what leads to the creation of Adam, Season 3 also shows Martha Nielsen (Lisa Vicari) in her equally old and final form as Eva (uncredited) in a different reality.
It also offers us a glimpse into the 'origin-world' from where Adam and Eva's worlds were split into two, all because of the clockmaker HG Tannhaus (Christian Steyer), who was heartbroken enough to try time travel as somewhat of a pioneer on the show. Jonas and the other world's Martha have sex, thus tying the knot between the two worlds that keeps the loop going on. And the final installment works on untying that knot through an eight-episode arc. The final season picks up from the other-world Martha coming to rescue Jonas right after his Martha has been shot by Adam, amid the impending apocalypse. Martha takes Jonas to meet Eva, thus stating two very different and split worlds. In the other Martha's world, that is Eva's world, Jonas was never born because Mikkel Nielsen (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) never traveled back in time. Hanna Kahnwald's (Maja Schöne) affair with Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) transpires into a marriage, thus leaving behind the rest of the Nielsens without a father or husband. Ulrich first cheats on his wife Katharina (Jördis Triebel), and throughout the third season, cheats on a heavily pregnant Hanna, with none other than Charlotte Doppler (Karoline Eichhorn). And speaking of Dopplers, in Eva's world, Franziska (Gina Stiebitz) is the mute sister, while Elisabeth (Carlotta von Falkenhayn) speaks fluently.
These basic differences aside, the rest of it is pretty much the same. Eva trying to piece people and objects exactly where they should be, so that the time loop can continue and nobody has to cease existing. Eva's motives look fairly similar to Adam's in the world of 'Dark' that we have witnessed throughout the past two seasons. But it is in the alarming words of Adam when he says Eva cannot succeed that the possibility of a rivalry appears. It isn't, however, right until the end that the omniscient and resident White Devil -- Claudia Tiedemann (Lisa Kreuzer) -- explains the tiff between the two and how it can be reconciled. After Adam has killed Martha in his world, and Martha kills Jonas in Eva's world, Claudia reveals Tannhaus' attempts at time traveling and how it split the origin world into two. Tannhaus' son and daughter-in-law were killed along with their baby daughter Charlotte in a fatal car crash. To bring them back to life, Tannhaus builds the first-ever time machine, but the plan backfires. Instead of bringing back the dead, the machine splits the origin world into two -- one Adam's, and the other Eva's. Each is trying to keep their own self alive in their respective universe, and each is killed by the other, at some point or age, in their respective universe. It is only Adam's Jonas and Eva's Martha traveling together to stop the Tannhaus family from dying that the knot can be untied.
So, in the final season, as the loop repeats itself, we see Adam, under Claudia's advice, change certain actions. He travels to Eva's world, but unlike every single other time, he doesn't kill Eva, thus turning Martha against Jonas forever. Instead, they reconcile, while Jonas manages to get a hold of Martha and travel back in time, before she can be found by Eva's Magnus (Moritz Jahn) and Fransiska, and brought in to worth as her older self's henchwoman. Jonas and Martha travel to Tannhaus's timeline, and stop his son from reaching the vantage point of the crash. They send him back home, thus changing the course of events. The Tannhaus family never dies, meaning the time machine is never created. They continue to live in the origin world where the prologue shows Hanna and her boyfriend, Katharina, Regina Tiedeman, Peter Doppler (Stephan Kampwirth) and his girlfriend enjoying dinner together.
None of their children are present so we don't exactly know if Jonas and Martha even exist in this world. If time travel never happened, Agnes Nielsen (Antje Traue) wouldn't have arrived at Winden, neither would have her son Tronte, which means Ulrich never existed in the origin world either. That takes the Nielsen kids off the equation, which subsequently takes Jonas out because he is the youngest Nielsen sibling -- Mikkel turned Michael Kahnwald and Hanna's son. Considering Charlotte in Adam's world was a resultant anomaly of the bootstrap paradox, she doesn't exist in the Winden world either, thus taking her two daughters off the family tree as well. In the end, it's just Hanna and her sense of foreboding, but all is well. Apocalypse is not nigh anymore.
'Dark' Season 3 is now available for streaming on Netflix.