In 1953, the disfigured bodies of two boys are exhumed at a construction site, the future location of Winden's nuclear power plant.
- Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.—William Shakespeare
A young boy rides his bicycle down the path along the edge of the forest. A policeman speeds past him in his police car, sirens ringing. Egon Tiedemann drives to a construction site, where the bodies of two children—dressed oddly, as if in costumes- have been found. Above the site stands a billboard: "An important investment: Nuclear power for every household!". Egon and his superior, Daniel Kahnwald, turn around to notice the boy atop the hill surveying the scene, until cycling away.
The boy eventually returns home. His mother (Greta Doppler), calls out to him: "Helge." She comes down the stairs and scolds him for his dirty clothes, telling him to take them off. He hesitates. She seizes him by the ear. She insists he removes all his clothes in front of her, even his trousers. The boy's father (Bernd Doppler) walks in, with the aid of a stick and strokes Helge affectionately. Helge tells his father he was at the construction site and two dead bodies were found, who looked like kids. Hearing this, Bernd abruptly leaves. Greta hands Helge a clean pair of shorts, and tells him he is late for Claudia.
In the police coroner room, Pathologist Udo Meier informs Egon and Daniel that the boys' eyes are burned as if from a phosphorous grenade and their ears are completely destroyed. Adding to the mystery, both boys had a pfennig coin strung around their neck, dated 1986 and their clothes are labelled "Made in China." Egon then wonders whether the boys are from China. Udo says they are definitely not from here. One boy looks Mediterranean or Arabian, and the redhead has a strange tattoo.
Egon wonders how someone becomes a murderer–whether one is born that way or becomes that way. His fellow police officer says that their jobs would be far easier if they knew that ahead of time, so they could lock them up when young- before they get on the wrong track.
At the construction site, Bernd Doppler gives a press conference, below a banner reading "The Energy of the Future:" Uranium fission, he says, heralds an era of reason, objectivity and the dominance of man over nature. This is where we will enter the future and build Germany's first nuclear power plant, ensuring the local community's long-term stability and prosperity." The crowd are distracted, however, by police erecting signs: "Crime Scene."
Egon asks him afterwards for a list of workers who have been on the site. Bernd wants to know who has a problem with the power plant being built and how two dead bodies could suddenly appear on the site, just as he had spoken with the town council regarding the building permit. He suspects that his rivals, the coal plant operators, planted the bodies there to sabotage the project. He offers to instead provide a list of the coal plant operators, saying the whole thing is a conspiracy.
Ulrich Nielsen continues to follow the elderly Helge through the Winden Caves, muttering "tick tock" to himself. He finds the red cord (previously used by Jonas in episode 6) until he finds the door, reading "Sic Mundus Creatus Est." He opens the door and enters. He reaches a fork and passes to the left. He eventually emerges from the cave.
The boy Helge rides to the cabin. Playing by himself, he takes sticks, pretending they are rifles and pine cones as grenades. He opens the bunker and goes down into it. Later, as he is leaving he is set upon by two bullies. They steal the money in his pockets—saying his father has money coming out of his ears—and one unzips his pants and urinates on him. They hear someone approaching and run off; it is Ulrich, who sees the young boy on the ground. He asks him whether he has seen an old man in pyjamas, then advises Helge that he needs to learn how to defend himself. Helge says they are stronger than him. Ulrich suggests he bite them the next time.
Ulrich keeps running. He reaches the road and is surprised to find it unpaved and no traffic light at the intersection. An old car stops. A woman gets out of the car wearing a red dress and white gloves. She asks for directions to Killinger Strasse 61. Ulrich tells her that he lives there and gives directions. She asks if that means he is Egon Tiedemann. She apologises and introduces herself as Agnes Nielsen, and her son Tronte, a teenager. Ulrich looks at him in disbelief. He asks what year it is. "1953," she replies. Realising that he just met his father and grandmother, he runs away and leaves them puzzled.
He goes to (a young) H.G. Tannhaus' shop. He shows him his book and his picture on the back cover but he is much older. He tells him that cannot be him. Ulrich asks him the year. "1953."
A young girl plays with her white poodle, named Gretchen, when the doorbell rings. It is Helge who is late again. He tells her- Claudia- that he forgot to bring the money and will bring it later. He does math problems, and she then looks at his answers. There are quite a few wrong answers. Claudia goes to her mother, Doris Tiedemann, who introduces Agnes Neilsen and Tronte. She says her husband is not around much, being very devoted to his job with the Winden Police. She asks about Agnes' husband, and Agnes replies that he is dead. An apologetic Doris offers to show her the rooms upstairs she and Tronte will be renting. She suggests Claudia show Tronte around the neighbourhood later.
She takes Tronte through the forest with Gretchen, with Helge following a distance behind. They pause near the entrance of the Winden Caves; Claudia says they're not allowed to enter but sometimes do anyway, as a dare, and Tronte seems up for it. She tells Helge to head home, glad to be rid of him. Helge throws a stick into the cave, and Gretchen chases after it, barking. Claudia calls for her, as Helge runs off.
Tannhaus offers to call Ulrich a doctor. They are interrupted by two girls, Jana and Ines, who have come in to pick up Ines Kahnwald's father's watch. Ulrich realises that Jana is his mother. They ask him whether he has heard about the two bodies found at Bernd Doppler's construction site; Ines says they were abducted by aliens. Ulrich is quite alarmed, hearing about the dead bodies and hurries out of the shop, leaving behind his jacket.
He goes to the police station and asks whether one of the bodies that have been found could be his missing son, Mikkel, who has brown hair and blue eyes and is 11 years old. He wants to show Egon a picture but realises he left his jacket. One policeman thinks he is drunk, but Egon tells Ulrich one is dark and looks foreign, and the other is a redhead. Ulrich asks whether he knows Helge Doppler, a 70-year-old man but Egon tells him that Helge is Bernd Doppler's young son. At this, Ulrich dashes out again.
He goes to the Doppler mansion and finds Helge outside, playing with a box of dead birds he has collected. Ulrich asks the boy if he is Helge Doppler. "Yes, why?" he responds. He shows Helge the pfennig coin, asking him whether he has seen it before. "No," he responds. Helge asks him if he found the man he was looking for. "Yes" says Ulrich (Helge Doppler the boy rather than old man). He asks him about the dead birds and if he killed them. Helge replies that they fall from the sky, and he simply collects them; they are beautiful when dead. Ulrich tells Helge that eventually, he will kill, not now but in the future, he will play a part but he can change that. By changing the past he can change what's to come. If he doesn't exist then none of that will happen. He seizes Helge, but Helge bites him and kicks him and runs into the forest. Ulrich chases after him. Helge reaches the cabin but Ulrich grabs him. Helge finds a rock and tries to hit Ulrich with it but Ulrich takes it from him and savagely beats Helge multiple times in the head. He then drags his bloodied, lifeless body into the bunker.
Later, Egon returns home and Doris introduces him to Agnes. Egon asks why she would move to Winden, of all places. Agnes replies that her grandmother was from Winden and always spoke highly of it. Claudia then comes in with Tronte and calls out that Gretchen has gone missing. Doris asks where Helge is. Claudia wonders whether Gretchen is with him. Doris asks Egon to pay the Dopplers a visit.
Egon goes to the Doppler home. A maid shows him in. He asks Greta if Helge might have taken Gretchen their dog home but Greta assures him that Helge knows animals are not allowed in the house. She firmly tells him it could not be there. Greta then wonders where Helge is, finding his box of dead birds but no sign of him.
Meanwhile, The Stranger arrives at the clockmaker's shop to see H.G. Tannhaus—right on time, like clockwork, the old man observes. They continue a conversation about the Einstein-Rosen bridge, a passage linking a black hole, the entrance, and a white hole, the exit, which connects time and space. To pass through it is to travel through time. Tannhaus continues that our way of thinking is shaped by dualism—entrance and exit, good and evil—but that is wrong, He holds up a drawing of the triquetra, which the Stranger recognizes as a trinity knot, to illustrate that there is a third dimension, not just up and down but also a center. Einstein and Rosen overlooked that a wormhole connects three dimensions: past, present and future.
The Stranger asks Tannhaus about writings concerning Nietzsche's eternal recurrence, a universe that endlessly repeats itself. Tannhaus is surprised to see a copy of A Journey Through Time, as only 500 were ever printed. The Stranger presses on, asking about the lunar-solar cycle, in which everything repeats itself every 33 years. Tannhaus explains that every 33 years, the cycles of the sun and moon are synchronized again, but 33 has greater significance. Jesus performed 33 miracles, there are 33 litanies of angels, and Dante wrote 33 cantos each in the Purgatorio and Paradiso cycles of The Divine Comedy. 33 was also the age at which the Antichrist began his reign. The Stranger continues that in the book, Tannhaus wrote that the number 33 might represent the difference between the planes of a three-dimensional wormhole. Tannhaus thinks that might be the crux of the matter.
The Stranger asks H.G. Tannhaus if it is possible to change the course of events, but Tannhaus says any scientist would say no, because causal determinism forbids it. Human nature, of course, requires that we believe our actions can change things. He says he used to dream about travelling to the past or the future but now realizes his place is in the here and now.
The Stranger tells Tannhaus that he is interested in time because he wants to know if things can be changed, if everything has a purpose, and if so, who decides? Does the universe depend on God, coincidence, or do we decide? Is it simply an eternally recurring cycle? Are human beings slaves to time and space?
Tannhaus tells the Stranger that as long as a wormhole exists, there will be closed time loops. Everything inside is mutually dependent. The past doesn't just influence the future, the future influences the past. It becomes a chicken-and-egg question, where no one can say which came first, because everything is connected.
As a despondent Claudia ponders the missing Gretchen, and Doris and Agnes exchange looks while making the beds, Tronte feels a number of scars from cigarette burns on his left forearm.
We now are shown photographs confirming who the people from different time periods are- Egon Tiedemann the policeman, from 1953 and 1986, Tronte, Jana and Ulrich Neisen, Claudia Tiedemann, Ines Kahnwald, H.G. Tannhaus, Helge Doppler and others from 1986 and 2019, as well as Mikkel and Michael Kahnwald. All are connected. A very old woman looks at the photograps connected by a string in the bunker.
The Stranger tells H.G. Tannhaus that everything in his book is correct, that time travel is possible and his theory on the formation of wormholes from gravitational impulses is not just a theory but actually exists in Winden. He tells him he comes from the future, travelling through the wormhole to 1986. He shows him a broken time machine which he wants him to fix. He says he can't do that. He shows him his initials, showing that he built it. It opens a portal through which one can travel 33 years into the past or the future. He says that a few months ago, an incident at the nuclear power plant released a blast of energy and enabled him to travel to 1986. But this device is able to repeat that process. Tannhaus asks if the Stranger wishes to use it to create another wormhole, but the Stranger replies that he wants to destroy it. At this, Tannhaus orders him to leave. The Stranger tells him that Winden is a festering wound, having seen the future, he must set things right and Tannhaus must help him. The Stranger then leaves. Tannhaus climbs up and retrieves a box from the shelf—which contains a similar machine.
The younger Tannhaus in 1953 notices the jacket Ulrich left behind and in a pocket, a smartphone. He looks at it, accidentally switches it on and is shocked to see a picture of Ulrich's family.
Ulrich, meanwhile, sits in the dark staring at the bunker, contemplating on his decision.
- Tannhaus: Our thinking is shaped by dualism: entrance, exit; black, white; good, evil. Everything appears as opposite pairs. But that's wrong. Have you ever heard of the triquetra—the trinity knot? Nothing is complete without a third dimension. There isn't only up and down. There's a center, too. I think Einstein and Rosen overlooked something.…A wormhole connects not just two,
but three different dimensions: future, present… and past.
- Tannhaus: Imagine traveling back in time and meeting your father, before he had you. Would you have already changed things with this encounter? And is it even possible to change things? Or is time an eternal beast that can't be defeated?
The Stranger: What do you think? Can we change the course of events?
Tannhaus: Any scientist would tell you no. Causal determinism forbids it. But it is human nature to believe that we play a role in our own lives, That our actions can change things.
- Ines: They found two dead bodies on Doppler's construction site. Two little boys. They were abducted by aliens for experiments!
Ulrich: What did you just say?
Ines: About the aliens?
Ulrich: No, about the boys.
- Helge: Did you find the man you're looking for?
- Tannhaus: And the wormhole you traveled through? Did that device create it?
The Stranger: No. A few months ago, an incident at the nuclear power plant released a blast of energy. But the device is able to repeat that same process.
Tannhaus: And you want to create another wormhole?
The Stranger: No, I want to destroy the one that exists.
Tannhaus: I want you to leave now.
The Stranger: This town is like a festering wound, and we're all a part of it. But I can change it. Your device can change it.
Tannhaus: Leave. Leave now.
The Stranger: I've seen the future. I know what will happen. I have to set things right again. And you have to help me.
- We now move back another 33 years to 1953. This is not revealed until Ulrich asks what year it is. The older generation from 2019 (Helge, Jana, Tronte, Ines) are seen as children. The old Egon from 1986 is seen here as a younger man.
- The boy seen at the start of the episode is the same boy at the start of the preceding episode, before he was beaten and bloodied.
- Just as the previous time travellers did, Ulrich meets his parents and grandparent before he existed
- The elderly, demented Helge still remembers being beaten by Ulrich, which we saw in his nightmare/memory in the preceding episode. He told Ulrich in 2019: "I know you" and recounted his words: "I can change the past! And the future!"
- The discussion between the Stranger and H.G. Tannhaus takes place in 1986, the Stranger telling him he comes from the future and travelled through a wormhole. H.G. Tannhaus meets Ulrich in 1953 (and does not recognize his future self from his book),
- Claudia and Tronte later have an affair in 1986 (episode 3)
- Ulrich took a left at the cave intersection to go back 66 years, whereas Jonas took a right at the intersection to go back 33 years.
- The wormhole is sometimes referred to as an Einstein-Rosen bridge after Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen, who developed its theory.
- The Antichrist, in Christian tradition, is a figure who presents himself as Christ, but is actually working in opposition to Him; he is a central figure in the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of St. John. In most traditions, he is not Satan, but a human whom Satan inhabits. Chapter 33 of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra is entitled Der Antichrist.
- The Nielsens arrive in Winden in what appears to be a Lloyd 300, a car with a wooden frame manufactured between 1950 and 1953 and marketed to the middle class.
- Stalin died March 5, 1953. Elizabeth II ascended the throne upon the death of her father in 1952, but was coronated on June 2, 1953. Nanga Parbat, the ninth tallest mountain in the world, was summited on July 3, 1953 by Austrian climber Hermann Buhl, covered in a famous documentary by German cinematographer Hans Ertl, himself a participant in the expedition.
- Alien abduction as a theme in popular culture was popularized by the American film Invaders from Mars, released April 9, 1953, but that film was not released in West Germany until November 28.
Themes and MotifsEdit
- The Stranger describes the wormhole and the time machine as two separate mechanisms by which time travel is possible.
- The wormhole in the caves appears to allow time travel in 33-year increments.
- The red cord which guided Jonas to the opening in episode 6 is now used by Ulrich to travel to 1953.
- How did Mikkel and Jonas travel back 33 years, while Ulrich travelled 66?
- Egon wonders whether murderers are born that way, or become that way. Do they choose to murder or are they destined to do it? Could a murderer be prevented from murdering?
- The Stranger asks Tannhaus if things can be changed and if everything has a purpose, and who has determined that purpose. Tannhaus tells him that so long as a wormhole exists, everything inside of it is mutually dependent.
- The Stranger asks H.G. Tannhaus if it is possible to change the course of events, but Tannhaus says any scientist would say no. Human nature, of course, requires that we believe our actions can change things. Ulrich believes he can prevent the future by changing the past, that if he kills Helge this will stop the deaths of his brother in 1986 and Mikkel, Erik and Yasin in 2019 from happening. Did Ulrich, in fact, inflict brain damage on Helge, turning him into what he became. Had it not been for this would the deaths never have happened? Was Ulrich's attempt to alter future events just what caused them all along? If past, present, and future actions all influence one another in a closed loop in which nothing can be said to have happened first, second, or third, then Ulrich’s attempt to prevent Helge from growing up and killing only helps ensure that he’ll do exactly that.
- Friedrich Nietschze's writings are mentioned; Nietschze theorized "eternal recurrence," the possibility that one's life will repeat itself endlessly. Acceptance of this fate is a characteristic of the Übermensch.
- Ulrich leaves his smartphone behind, which Tannhaus will use to power the time machine.
- Agnes wears a red dress and red lipstick when she arrives in Winden
- Helge wears a blue sweater when he meets Ulrich, and when he accompanies Claudia through the forest
- The road sign pointing the way to Winden is bright yellow.
- Teenage Claudia wears a red blouse when tutoring Helge, and when she meets Tronte
- Ines Kahnwald wears a red coat when she visits the clockmaker's shop
- Helge collects dead birds which fall from the sky, much as his daughter-in-law Charlotte will do 33 years later
- The dead boys' ears are completely destroyed, as with the previous dead bodies, Mads and the birds in 2019 and the sheep in 1986 (Egon was told the same thing in 1986, did he not make the connection?)
- Ulrich lights the way in the cave using his lighter. Similarly, his son Mikkel also used a lighter, taken from Egon's desk, to light the way through the cave.
- Ulrich asks young Helge whether he has seen his older self, not realising it's 1953 and the boy is Helge. As previously, the question is when is Helge, not where
- Ulrich advises the child Helge to bite his attackers; later, Helge bites Ulrich when he attacks him.
- When Ulrich raves at the police station, one of the officers says dismissively that he must be drunk. Ulrich, in turn, had always resented Egon as a drunk who mishandled Mads' case. The 1953 Egon is described as devoted to his job. The 1986 Egon was regarded as a drunk who could not wait to retire.
- Ulrich drags the beaten Helge into the bunker, similar to the older Helge dragging the dead body in the preceding episode.
- Ulrich tries to prevent a murderer by becoming a murderer himself, something he seems to be contemplating at the end of the episode
- The dead bodies appear to be Erik (redhead) and Yasin (Mediterranean) from 2019. How did they get there?
- The Doppler mansion in 1953 became the Waldhotel Winden owned by Regina Teidmann in 2019. How did this happen?
- Why does Bernd, who is relatively young, need a cane to walk?
- Who are the bullies who attack Helge?
- Why is Greta so cold to Helge? Why does Bernd, who is affectionate to him, tolerate this from her?
- Ulrich gives his address as the same one as the Tiedemanns in 1953, which Agnes and Tronte begin renting. How did they acquire this property?
- What happened to Gretchen after she ran into the cave?
- Who is responsible for the burns and scars on Tronte's forearm? Was he abused, or does he self-harm, like the teenage Regina?
- Who is the very old woman looking at the photographs?
- Why does H.G. Tannhaus become so angry with the Stranger?
- Who is Agnes Nilsen's grandmother ?
- Tom Philipp as Helge Doppler 1953
- Sebstian Hülk as Egon Tiedemann 1953
- Christian Steyer as H.G. Tannhaus 1986
- Andreas Pietschmann as The Stranger
- Hermann Beyer as Helge Doppler
- Oliver Masucci as Ulrich Nielsen
- Cordelia Wege as Greta Doppler 1953
- Anatole Taubman as Bernd Doppler 1953
- Antje Traue as Agnes Nielsen
- Joshio Marlon as Tronte Nielsen 1953
- Arnd Klawitter as H.G. Tannhaus 1953
- Gwendolyn Göbel as Claudia Tiedemann 1953
- Luise Heyer as Doris Tiedemann
- Rike Sindler as Jana Nielsen 1953
- Lena Urzendowsky as Ines Kahnwald 1953
- Florian Panzner as Daniel Kahnwald
- Paul Radom as Erik Obendorf
- Vico Mücke as Yasin Friese
- Henning Peker as Pathologist Udo Meier
- Nino Böhlau as Bully #1
- Lenz Lengers as Bully #2
- Roland Wolf as Officer 1953
- → See 67 images from As You Sow, so You Shall Reap at Images from As You Sow, so You Shall Reap.