Dark Season 3 Time Travel Explored -What is the Tunnel of Light?

We attempt to unpick the twisty time travel themes of Netflix's Dark Season 3

Dark Season three
Photo: Netflix

If you’ve seen Dark Season 3, you’ll know that Martha and Jonas managed to end the knot. In order to do this they needed to prevent Tannhaus from experimenting with time-travel in the first place, which meant a trip to the Origin World.

When they got to the Origin World, you may remember a beautiful vortex-like tunnel of light that just travels further and further into the abyss. With no end and no beginning, this tunnel allowed Martha and Jonas to open a window into their ‘past’, where they could see their own younger selves when they called out for each other. After an emotional moment, they go back to the moment they were originally placed inside the tunnel and find each other. 

But this beautiful, cosmic like tunnel is different to the regular form of Dark time-travel. Usually, when travelling through the Winden caves, one would see gusty winds and not a tunnel of light. Of course, this left us wondering why Martha and Jonas were transported through a different form of time-travel.

The tunnel could be explained by the theory that Martha and Jonas were transported to a place that doesn’t exist within the regular frame of time and space, but into another dimension. The apocalypse-style event that happens in the modern day creates another very complicated entanglement that makes time stop in its tracks.

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Because Martha and Jonas were traveling during this time-stopped-moment, they were in a non-existent time that was a creation of the apocalypse, so they were at the centre of this entanglement, and travelled in a unique way.

It’s hard to explain what the tunnel really resembles, because nobody knows. But, if going with the theory that it was a form of travel outside regular time and space, that was a product of an apocalypse-style event, it can be assumed that the tunnel is a whole other dimension. A dimension that is unique and exists outside of any ‘regular’ world. One that is something different to anything any of the characters have previously experienced. When Martha and Jonas open up those windows to their past, they have access to another reality and timeline for a split second.

Alternate Time

When the apocalypse happens, bearing in mind it happens on two separate occasions within two different worlds, all time stands still, just for a split second.

But this split second is quite special. During that moment, the characters are able to create multiple, alternate timelines within that universe. This means something unique for the characters of Dark – for once, they are able to change what seems like ‘destiny’, or what has been ‘doomed’, reoccurring history all along.

Time Travelling

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It’s hard to explain time travelling within Dark when it seems even the show itself isn’t quite sure of what is going on. Time-travel is another sphere.

In some storylines, if you were to go back in time and kill the person who gave birth to you, you would then fail to exist, meaning, in contradiction, that you cannot actually go back to kill your ancestors. This is called the ‘Grandfather Paradox’. Dark leans more towards the ‘Bootstrap Paradox’ – whereby time travel loops create events that seem to have no origin. The caves that allow time-travel work in 33 year leaps, so there is a lot of waiting around, but amongst all this waiting, characters often end up causing the event they were trying to prevent, such as Claudia killing her father.

The main place that allows time-travel is the cave in Winden’s forest. The result of a nuclear disaster meant that tunnels within the cave turned into entrances to other times. The travel restriction of every journey being in multiples of 33 years has an eerily supernatural feel. When the stars align, every 33 years, the cave becomes active for its explorers.

Noah began using torture in his own creepy time machine back in 1986, resulting in many children going missing from Winden. Somehow Noah himself is in every timeline and all without ageing a day. Maybe he perfected the use of the time machine after his experiments on Winden’s children went horribly wrong – burning their eyes out.

Season 3 throws in another element of time-travel altogether. We are dealing with one person but at three different stages of their life: a young child, an adult and an elderly man. At the beginning of the series, we see these three beings burn down Adam’s lair and kill two complete strangers, and all without apparent reason. Because of their cleft lip, fans have called them the Cleft Lip Trio – they are also known as ‘The Unknowns’. It’s revealed that this unnamed man is the son of Adam and Eva.