- If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. (Fredrich Nietzsche)
On June 21, 1921, two men are inside the Winden Caves behind the door. The older one, who has a tattoo of the Emerald Tablet, is chiseling away at the stone. He remarks that it is strange that something could be a beginning as well as an ending, and the other intones Sic Mundus Creatus Est: and thus the world was created. The first man redoubles his efforts.
Afterwards, they exit the cave. The younger man asks if the older man still believes in "the prophecy"; he is noncommittal. The younger man reminds him "Adam" has told them they must repeat the time loop, and that in 6 days, the world will end; he perceives, however, that the older man has lost his faith.
The older man asks if this was why Adam sent him; he has been expecting it, but finds it interesting that he was the one Adam sent. He tells him to ask why Adam took him in and called him Noah.
The younger man, revealed to be "young Noah," takes a pickaxe and stabs the older man from behind, apparently murdering him.
The older Noah, looking through his log book, finds an entry for June 27, 2020: Beginning of the Last Cycle.
The 2019 Jonas and Martha Nielsen are making love; he tells her that they are perfect for each other. But then Jonas awakens with a start: it was a dream.
Jonas rises; he is in his bedroom, but the house is abandoned and dilapidated. He slept fully clothed, and his hair is long and disheveled. He pulls his father's suicide note out of his pocket and looks at it, then proceeds downstairs to the kitchen. The days of the calendar are cross out through June 20, 2020 and the date of June 27 is circled. He removes a family photo from the wall and exits the house, walking through the wasteland that is post-apocalyptic Winden.
He retrieves some materials from the school, then proceeds to the bunker, where he plays a cassette tape recorded by Claudia. On it, she says she has survived the catastrophe of June 27, 2020, and hopes that if the God Particle can be stabilized, they might be able to prevent the disaster. He clutches a medal of St. Christopher and looks at a picture of Martha.
On June 21, Hannah Kahnwald is listening to news on the radio, which announces that with seven boys and men now missing, the federal police will be joining the investigation. She crosses June 21 off on the calendar.
At the Tiedemann household, Regina is seen pale and with hair loss as a result of her cancer treatment, with a silent Bartosz and Aleksandr looking on. Her doctor suggests she be admitted to the hospital, but she insists on staying at home. The doctor agrees to wait until additional test results come in, but warns that she may need to resume chemotherapy. Bartosz receives a text message from Martha, who wants to see him.
The head of the new federal investigation, Clausen, addresses locals at a town hall in the school auditorium. He tells them they will be starting from scratch, interviewing everyone again, to murmurs from the crowd. Jürgen Obendorf demands to know who else is on the task force; Clausen admits it is simply himself and Charlotte Doppler. He says it is better to have one person look at ten angles of a problem, rather than have ten people each look at one angle, likening it to describing an elephant. Jürgen's outrage is not tempered, and he storms out of the room.
At the lake, Magnus asks Franziska if her mother ever talks about the case; she does not. She excuses herself after receiving a text message, however, as she must take care of Elisabeth, who has been staying with a friend.
Katharina, meanwhile, is at the mouth of the cave, armed with a map and a pack, which appears to be full of clippings and notes that Ulrich had collected before his disappearance. She heads into the cave.
Jonas arrives at a tall barrier wall marked with warning signs about radiation danger. He continues walking and enters a makeshift graveyard, near the church, where the graves of many townsfolk are seen, including Martha's. He leaves the family photo at the grave of his father.
Martha and Bartosz meet up; Bartosz, sensing she is going to break up with him, tells her not to bother trying to explain. They have grown apart, which he blames in part on Martha thinking about the missing Jonas for the last seven months, angering her. (NOTE: This is mistranslated on the subtitles as her hardly "seeing him" anymore but likely means she hardly thinks of him (Jonas).) He also tells her his mother is dying, and he has other secrets he cannot tell her. She angrily reminds him that half her family have disappeared as well as Jonas, and her mother, crazed over it, barely acknowledges her and her brother's existence. She takes her leave. Bartosz receives a text message from Noah to meet "this evening."
At the power plant, Aleksander gives a speech for the decommissioning of the reactor, thanking the employees for their service. Torben shows him a chamber where the secret nuclear waste from the covered-up 1986 incident will be buried, its radiation masked by the lingering radiation from the retired reactor.
At home alone, Hannah pulls out the box with Aleksander's gun and passport, which she has been using to blackmail him. She puts the gun to her head, but is interrupted by the elder Jonas. He tells her he entered using his own key, then points out a scar from a childhood bicycle accident, and tells other stories to establish his identity. He tells her he is a time traveler, and they embrace tearfully.
Franziska arrives at the railroad tracks—not to pick up Elisabeth, but to retrieve an envelope, exchanging it for another. Magnus spies on her.
As Katharina explores the cave, Noah provides a voiceover, that there are no coincidences: every path in life is predetermined.
His younger self is told that he has taken his first step, and Adam will be proud. They are at the church, which is still under construction; the young Noah is distraught, and wants to know how to tell good from evil. The older Noah tells him to listen only to himself.
Walking through the forest, Jonas hears gunfire and shouting in French. He runs over to see that a group of travelers has been caught trying to enter the dead zone. Silja, the young woman who knocked him out in Alpha and Omega, translates for the deaf leader of the group that they are to be executed.
After the others depart, they ask Jonas where has been. The leader, through Silja, warns him that there is nothing in the dead zone; their only hope is in the prophecy. But Jonas desperately wants to return to 2020 to head off the apocalypse and save all everyone he loved. The leader is revealed to be none other than Elisabeth.
Elisabeth and Peter are at the clockmaker's shop. H.G. Tannhaus is said to have died years ago, but Charlotte kept everything because he was the only connection she had to her family. Elisabeth finds a photo of Tannhaus with a teenage Charlotte.
Clausen begins his investigation in earnest—starting with Charlotte. He peppers her with questions about her past, and about Ulrich. He knows Ulrich left her a message the night he disappeared, but she says it was nothing significant. Torben enters with a box of case files, and Charlotte suggests Clausen take them to an office they have set up for him down the hall; he says he will remain where he is. He does not believe in coincidences, and believes things happen because they are meant to happen.
At the Nielsen household, Martha is looking for Katharina, and enters Mikkel's room—normally locked. She sees the files about the case that Ulrich and Katharina have left behind on the floor, and begins to review them. Katharina, meanwhile, is still in the caves.
As Noah contemplates "The Fall of the Damned," a painting of sinners in hell, Adam speaks about the futility of existence, and the necessity of the apocalypse. He asks if Noah told Bartosz, to which Noah nods. He then directs Noah to find the "missing pages."
Magnus, still hiding at the spot where Franziska had swapped envelopes, sees Benni arrive and swap envelopes again. He follows Benni to her trailer. Upon entering, Benni solicits him, and realizing she is a prostitute, he rushes out again. In the parking lot nearby, the blue truck carrying barrels of nuclear waste is seen.
The older Jonas tries to explain his existence to Hannah; he changes as time passes relative to him, but he moves from place to place along the timeline. She asks where "her" Jonas is, and he explains that the younger Jonas is stuck in the future, because he had attempted to destroy the time portal, but only succeeded in closing it. He tells her, however, that he wants to put an end to it all.
Elisabeth and Peter are still at Tannhaus' shop looking through the boxes. Elisabeth finds an old photograph in the book the Kybalion. She recognizes a man in the picture as the man who gave her the watch—Noah. Peter texts Charlotte about this development.
At the police station, Charlotte is patiently listening as Clausen tells her how they will conduct the questioning. She receives Peter's text message and excuses herself. Clausen tells her that he will need a ride from her the next day.
Noah looks at Adam's wall of portraits of the various families in Winden, then departs with his apparatus.
Jonas gathers supplies from the bunker. He takes the St. Christopher medal as well. When he leaves, he covers up the entrance with tree branches to hide it.
Magnus finds Martha looking through the materials in Mikkel's room; she show him photos and tells him she thinks Katharina is in the caves.
At the caves, Bartosz enters to meet up with Noah. Noah asks him if he is ready, and Bartosz nods.
Torben is at Benni's trailer. He thanks her for coffee and gives her an envelope, and she hands him keys to the nuclear waste truck. He tells her to call their mother; it seems Torben and Benni are siblings.
Charlotte and Peter meet at the bunker. The photograph with Agnes and Noah has January 8, 1921 and "Sic Mundus Creatus Est" written on the back. At their home, Franziska and Elisabeth wait for them, and Franziska ignores Magnus's calls.
At the Kahnwald household, the older Jonas sleeps in his old room. Hannah, sitting on bed next to him, notices the scars on his back.
As Regina sleeps in her home care bed at the Tiedemann house, Aleksander is at the plant as concrete is poured over the barrels of nuclear waste in the old reactor chamber.
Clausen, meanwhile, studies his evidence board, looking at a letter.
At nighttime, Jonas heads to the barrier wall and clambers through a hole under it. Using a Geiger counter, he navigates through the derelict power plant. He dons a yellow protective suit and enters what appears to be the same room as the one where Aleksander buried the waste in 2020. The room is full of equipment and open books and binders, but an inescapable presence floats above a platform in the corner, an enormous blue and black orb, glowing and throbbing—Claudia's God Particle.
- The older man in the opening scene is credited only as "Man in Cave."
- He tells the other to ask why Adam called him Noah. In the Biblical Book of Genesis, Adam was the first creation of God, whereas Noah was the man chosen to survive the deluge when the rest of humanity was destroyed, hinting at a role for Noah to play after the apocalypse.
- The book in which Elisabeth finds the photo of Noah with Agnes Nielsen is The Kybalion, a book claiming to provide the complete teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, published in 1908. Like the Emerald Tablet, it is a core text of Hermeticism.
- Max Schimmelpfennig as young Noah
- Roman Knizka as "Man in Cave" (1921)
- Mark Waschke as the older Noah
- Lisa Vicari as Martha Nielsen
- Louis Hofmann as the teenage Jonas Kahnwald
- Maja Schöne as Hannah Kahnwald
- Paul Lux as Bartosz Tiedemann
- Peter Benedict as Aleksander Tiedemann
- Deborah Kaufmann as Regina Tiedemann
- Karoline Eichorn as Charlotte Doppler
- Sylvester Groth as Inspector Clausen
- Gina Alice Stiebitz as Franziska Doppler
- Moritz Jahn as Magnus Nielsen
- Nele Trebs as teenage Katharina Nielsen
- Andreas Pietschmann as the adult Jonas Kahnwald (The Stranger)
- Lisa Kreuzer as Claudia Tiedemann
- Lea van Acken as "Girl from the Future"
- Sandra Borgmann as the adult Elisabeth Doppler (2053)
- Carlotta von Falkenhayn as the childhood Elisabeth Doppler (2020)
- Stephan Kampwirth as Peter Doppler
- Dietrich Hollinderbäumer as Adam
- Carina Wiese as "Unknown Woman 1921"
- Leopold Hornung as Torben Wöller
- Nieke Schymura as Justyna Jankowski
- Tom Jahn as Jürgen Obendorf
- Anton Rubtsov as Benni
- Andreas Schröders as "Power Plant Worker #1"
- Frédéric Vonhof as "future scientist"
- Jördis Triebel as adult Katharina Nielsen
- Will Beinbrink as the voice of the Stranger
- Christian Kuchenbuch as Regina's doctor
- Tamar Pelzig as the voice of Franziska and Doris
- Frederik Klaus as "Police Officer" (uncredited)
- → See 39 images from Beginnings and Endings at Images from Beginnings and Endings.