Never before have I had to consult reference material while watching a show.
Oh sure, I’ve used Wikipedia and blogs and whatnot to enhance my viewing experience, but I haven’t needed these resources to understand what’s going on.
Part of this is a byproduct of the long gap between watching seasons two and three of “Dark.” Part of it might be age (my feeble old brain just can’t keep up anymore). But a lot of it stems from “Dark” being a dense and sometimes inaccessible show.
To be clear, I understand what happens in “Dark.”
[SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, HERE COME THE SPOILERS]
I get that there are three worlds: the origin world, the Adam/Jonas world, and the Eve/Martha world.
I get that the Adam and Eve worlds were never meant to be, created when H.G. Tannhaus’ exceptional grief compelled him to build a time machine, and that machine then splintered the origin world into two adjacent universes.
I get that because the adjacent universes were never meant to exist, the inhabitants in those universes were forced to replay the same lives over and over again.
I get that the bond/love between Jonas and Martha compelled each to play the same roles forever.
I get that to “untie the knot” created by Tannhaus’ machine, Jonas and Martha needed to stop the event that caused Tannhaus’ grief.
And I get that if Jonas and Martha are successful, Tannhaus never builds the machine, the secondary universes are never created, and everyone carries on none the wiser. (Except all the people whose existences are tied exclusively to the secondary universes, such as Jonas and Martha–so bummer for them.)
I get a lot of it.
But what I don’t understand is how all this stuff happens. In season three there is so much whiplashing between time periods, and all of the settings mostly look the same. The producers try to make it easier to follow with whooshing sounds and titles cards showing the year. But I still don’t get what was happening at the tannery circa 1890. I don’t understand where Adam and Eve physically were during most of the season. I only barely understand what Claudia was up to. And all the other characters are a muddled ball of angst.
What’s problematic is that I don’t really care about not getting it. That’s rare for me. I usually want to know all the details. But “Dark” got so thick and so intricate and so absorbed with its twisty world building, I simply gave up trying to understand what was happening, who was doing what to whom, and why any of it mattered.
The good news is that I did enjoy the core idea of the three universes, with two of them being mistakes. That’s interesting and, oddly enough, easy to follow. But all the character details got buried under mounds and mounds of density.
The secondary universes were largely bleak and hopeless places, but they were stocked with an excellent selection of outerwear. All of the characters, circa 2019-2020, wear practical and fashionable jackets.
Can someone check in on Hannah, please? Even in the origin universe, where her life is brighter and easier, she’s a deeply haunted person.
The “fading from existence” effect was clever. It was a starry and mystical variation on Thanos’ ashy snap.