Dark on Netflix ends with the protagonist’s mother experiencing a deja vu when thunder & lightening strikes Winden, the fictional german town which is the setting for the mind bending time travel drama that just ended after three riveting seasons. The woman, pregnant, says she had a similar nightmare where the thunder brings an apocalypse and everything ends. The nothingness that is left after the destruction, she explains it as something that gives her a sense of freedom, a happiness that comes from a state of being desire-less.
This summarises the philosophy that Dark dabbles in, seemingly under the garb of a science fiction, but then, as it progresses, it turns into a drama that refuses to limit itself to a particular genre. Slowly but resolutely, the storytelling blurs the line between physics and metaphysics, and plummets towards a climax that is as stunning as satisfying.The writers of the show play this game beautifully, where they use the known laws of the universe to traverse the unknown, and take us to a state of “what-if”, compelling us to remain in that suspended state of disbelief, thinking about the unanswered questions in an unending loop of wonder.
The story revolves around the inhabitants of Winden, who are caught up in an unpleasant loop of life, because of time travel, through which the people from the future visit the past in order to change the present, but instead end up being the cause of the events that lead to the present. And just when you are convinced that things cannot get more twisted, after a score of episodes that reveal messed up family trees that defy all levels of normalcy, another surprise is thrown your way : It’s not just the time that’s knotted up, the space is also split into parallel universes. As Martha ( from the other world) puts it in the Season Finale of the second season: The question isn’t what time, but what world.
What ensues is a chaotic battle through space and time, lead by the future selves of the protagonists, Jonas and Martha, who are irrevocably in love, yet are doomed to fight against each other because they can’t let go of their “deepest” desires. Their desire is their bondage, resulting in the a loop of karmic damnation for them and the Winden population.
It is revealed eventually that the world of Winden was split into two parallel universes, post a time travel experiment that went wrong. And this is how the unforgiving loop of existence ensues, where Adam from one world & Eva from the other world, in a bid to end their suffering, keep creating karma and bearing the brunt of it. This karma is born out of their desires- For Adam, it is to save Martha from dying, and for Eva, it is to save her unborn child. And in their painful loop with no beginning and end, the population of Winden lives on like the humanoids of Westworld, unaware that their lives are pre-determined with zero free will.
That is until Claudia, a woman who travels to both worlds and through multiple timelines, discovers the root cause of this involuntary dance of creation- The Original Desire born out of a personal suffering. Like an enlightened Guru who has learnt the mystery of the universe and strives to make humans free of their bondage, Claudia reveals the “Knowledge” to Adam: Root out the desire at the origin- H.G Tannhaus, the man who created time travel wanted to bring back his son and his family from death. If his son’s accident is prevented, the experiment never takes place and Winden doesn’t split.
The result of uprooting this desire at the origin is instant freedom. As Adam explains it to his younger self, Paradise is Nothing. And nothing , they become, once Tannhaus’ son and family is saved by Jonas & Martha, who travel to the original world to avert the accident. The protagonists, along with all their versions and the people of Winden, break into particles of space and time and dissolve into nothingness, a physical depiction of what is termed as Moksha or salvation- dissolving into the Universe.
It is almost impossible not to draw a parallel between the core of the script and the eastern philosophy of spiritualism.In the Hindu mythology, it is widely held that in the beginning, Shiva , which literally means “Nothing” is all there is. He is the Ardhnareshwar, carrying both feminine and masculine energies as one entity. Then he splits into matter ( Shiva) and Shakti (Energy) and starts the dance of creation, that is the world.Humans take birth after birth in this space of illusion (Maya) because they are bound by their desires. And that is how they create unending karma, in an attempt to fulfil their desires, which are endless, creating the loop of reincarnation.
Dark stops short of delving into reincarnation, but works through the same principal of bondage of life arising from desires. In a scene, where Jonas and Martha are caught in the fabric of time and space, as dream fragments that appeared to their childhood versions,Martha wonders if that is all they have ever been, a dream. That’s exactly what Spiritualism propagates. We are all part of a big cosmic dream that has sprung forth out of God’s consciousness and the moment we have that self realisation, we merge back into our origin, which is Him.
Watch Dark if you are a science or a time travel buff, Watch Dark if you are an aspiring seeker. For it is as much a fast paced pot -boiler, as an enlightening treatise on spiritualism.