"Crossroads" is the seventh episode of Season 1 of Dark. It was written by Jantje Friese and Marc O. Seng, and directed by Baran bo Odar. It premiered on December 1, 2017 along with the rest of the season.
In 2019 the elderly Helge Doppler has a nightmare/memory of when he was a child, waking up battered and bloodied on the floor of the room decorated like a nursery, with bright cartoon wallpaper (the same room we saw Erik Obendorf in, episode 1). He wakes up and cries out: "I remember, I remember everything."
In 1986 Egon Tiedemann looks in on the teen Ulrich Nielsen, being held on the charge of raping Katharina. Egon draws a question mark on Ulrich in the photo with him and Mads. Martin Döhring enters and tells Egon to interview the power plant workers to determine their routes and times. Egon tells him he believes Ulrich may have something to do with the disappearance, but Martin reminds him that this isn't the 1950s—investigations are to be based on evidence, not hunches. He says Egon has 3 months left until he retires- then he can do whatever he wants, but for now, he must do what he is told.
Egon, therefore, goes to the power plant and is greeted by Helge Doppler. He explains that Martin wants to document the routes and times of everyone working at the plant the night of Mads Nielsen's disappearance. Helge appears uncomfortable and says he needs to do his rounds. Egon offers to arrange a time to meet with him later at the station. He puts this in his calendar for the day after tomorrow, Tuesday, at 10:30. Helge then adds that everything was normal that night. He had finished his shift at 6, then driven home in his car using the state highway. Egon asks why he would not have taken the forest road, which would have been faster. Helge answers that he needed to pick something up for his father. Egon then has to ask him whether he saw Ulrich? "No" he answers.
Katharina assures Egon that Ulrich did not rape her; they had both wanted it and he would never hurt her. Noticing that she has a black eye, he tells her she does not have to lie for him. She said that was from a fall and had nothing to do with it. He tells her the rape was witnessed by someone, who Egon can't say and assures her that Ulrich will be punished.
Meanwhile, in 2019, the adult Ulrich looks at his brother Mads' graveyard. He goes to see the medical examiner and asks her how long the body found could have been dead for- whether he could have been dead for more than the 10 hours she reported, whether he could have been preserved for 33 years. "That's not possible", she says. Ulrich then leafs through Egon's 1986 calendar, and finds the meeting with Helge scheduled for November 11 at 10:30 with the remark "Why not forest road?" He then goes through employee statements. However, the page for Helge Doppler is blank.
Ulrich decides to question Helge at the nursing home, asking him why he did not give a statement to the police in the disappearance of Mads Nielsen, and what "Why not forest road?" means. Helge is terrified, and babbles "It was him!" "I know you" and "I can change the past! And the future!" A nurse walks in and tells Ulrich to go. Ulrich is taken away and begins shouting at Helge "'Where is Mikkel?" Helge whispers "Tick-tock, tick-tock."
Charlotte tells Ulrich she will have to suspend him, that Helge has dementia and could not be responsible for the disappearance of 3 children. Ulrich wonders if he is not doing it alone.
Ulrich returns home to find Katharina sitting by herself. He tells her he has been suspended. He asks her where the kids are? She tells him she has no idea. He apologizes and says he is here now, but she says sharply that he hasn't been here for a long time. He has always wanted to leave Winden. Has he ever really been happy? She tells him she knows about his affair with Hannah. She probably knew it all along but did not want to see it. She tells him she is not interested in whatever explanation he wants to give. She adds bitterly that his mother Jana called earlier, but only wanted to talk about Mads, despite Mikkel's disappearance- her family is not the only one full of assholes.
Ulrich visits Jana. He asks her whether she would want to know if Mads is dead. She says she doesn't, she has always held on to the idea that he is still alive. His father had wanted closure, the grave had been his idea, but there was never a body in it. She, on the other hand, had been hoping for 33 years that he was still alive, that you can never give up on hope. She had been trying to reach him because that morning she had seen a man with a disfigured ear and this same man had been arguing with a priest about a week before Mads' disappearance. And yet, he did not look a day older than he did 33 years ago.
As she speaks, a hooded figure walks through the forest to the entrance to the bunker. He uncovers it, then removes his hood, revealing that he is the middle-aged (1986) Helge Doppler.
Ulrich is in his car and picks up the pawn that Mikkel had performed the magic trick with the morning before he disappeared, and remembers him saying the question is not how, but when. He then decides to return to Helge's nursing home but he has again escaped. He looks around and notices a wooden stick figure, a book A Journey Through Time with a pfennig coin on a red lanyard inside. He sees Helge walking into the forest and follows him. He calls Charlotte, leaving a message to say that the question was not who abducted the kids but when: Helge had abducted them- but in 1986. He follows Helge as he walks into the caves.
Jonas Kahnwald awakens in an elevated watchtower, where he has spent the night. He heads for the high school. There are flyers of the missing Mads Nielsen. In the hallway, he encounters the teenage Regina Tiedemann, sitting by herself with headphones on. He asks her the date, and she tells him it is November 9. He then says: "I know this sounds crazy but what year is it?" "1986" she answers. She asks him if he is looking for someone: "Michael Kahnwald, Ines Kahnwald's son". She says Ines has no children, but can probably be found at the hospital.
Walking in heavy rain (in his yellow raincoat), Jonas is spotted by Egon in his police car. He asks him why he is not in school? Jonas replies that he injured himself and is on his way to the hospital. Egon insists he gets in his car and he will drive him. Egon asks about Jonas' parents, why they aren't driving him. He says his mother is at work and his father is dead. Egon notices Jonas's earphones but does not believe they are earphones. When Jonas demonstrates them, he says now he has seen everything. On arriving at the hospital, Egon asks Jonas whether, among teenagers, is Satanism a thing? Jonas laughs at this, then says he doesn't think it is. He tells Jonas he should call his mother to pick him up as it isn't safe to walk through the forest alone right now.
Jonas enters the hospital and asks a nurse Donata Kraus where he can find Ines; she replies that she is outside with the boy. "With what boy?" he asks. She asks him what he wants with Ines. He says he is visiting and locked himself out. Donata says Ines had not mentioned a visitor; ''Are you a relative?" she asks. Jonas replies "you could say that". He says he does not want to be any trouble and goes outside, where he sees Mikkel seated on a bench, as Ines comes to him. Just then, The Stranger appears, saying how little we understand of the world. Jonas looks at Mikkel and asks him whether this is real, or whether he is crazy like his father, whether he (The Stranger) exists or is he hallucinating? The Stranger tells him he is not crazy, nor was his father: "it is hard to understand things that go against what we are conditioned to believe." Jonas says it is insane that Mikkel will become his father. The Stranger assures him he will.
Jonas realizes that this means Ulrich is his grandfather—and Martha his aunt. He says that can't be. He is taking Mikkel back and making this right. The Stranger grabs Jonas and tells him that he can't do that as that would be meddling with the course of events, that Mikkel will never grow up to meet and marry his mother and he will not be born. That would erase his own existence. The role he plays in this is bigger than he thinks. Every decision for something is a decision against something else; one life would take another. What will he decide? At this, the Stranger departs as suddenly as he arrived.
Later, Jonas watches Mikkel meet Hannah. Remembering the words of the Stranger, he looks at his father's suicide note as they walk off together, and leaves them to it.
Lights flicker everywhere, as Jonas opens the heavy door marked "Sic mundus" and emerges from the cave (in 2019 again). He returns home and watches his mother as she lies sleeping. She wakes up startled. He asks her if she believes in fate? "Maybe it's my fate that men leave me," she responds. He says he thinks Dad loved her very much and they tearfully embrace.
Later he takes his father's suicide note and in tears, burns it.
In 2019 Torben Wöller gives Charlotte Doppler the search warrant for the nuclear plant they have been after. She then presents it to Aleksander Tiedemann, who motions for the gate to be opened. Four police vehicles enter.
She notices tire marks leading into the forest, and decides to follow them, splitting off from the main police search party. Charlotte follows the tire tracks into the forest, where they meet up with other tracks near a metal gate. Charlotte rappels down into the cavern behind the metal gate, and heads into the Winden Caves. As she surveys the lifeless interior, she spies bits of bright yellow paint. Charlotte presses deep into the cave and spies a steel door with a black substance running along the jamb. At the police station, Torben reports to Charlotte that while the cave system was not fully mapped. part of it extended under the south part of the forest road, near the Doppler cabin. Late that night, she drives out to the cabin and calls Peter to ask about it. She wonders why Helge kept it, for example, and whether he was living there in 1986. Peter says he does not know, pointing out that he arrived in Winden in 1987, after Helge's accident on November 12, 1986. Charlotte searches around the bunker and pulls out a scrap of wallpaper of cartoon foxes, hedgehogs, and rabbits.
The middle-aged Helge emerges from the bunker where a boy with burned eyes and a coin around his neck lies. He tearfully wraps him up and drags him into the forest (not appearing to like having to do this).
A shirtless man in the bunker scrubs away at the floor. He has a tattoo of the Emerald Tablet across his entire back. He turns around- it is Noah. On the wall is written in chalk 5.11.1953. He writes underneath 9.11.1953.
- Egon: I'm working on the case with his brother, a rape charge. I mean, we never did consider whether he may be involved in his brother's disappearance.
Martin: Yes— Egon, this isn't the 1950s. We don't base investigations on hunches, but on evidence. You have three months until retirement. Then you can do whatever you want. Until then, you do what I want.
- Jonas: Is this real? Or am I crazy, just like my father? Do you even exist? Or are you the hallucination of a lunatic?
The Stranger: You're not crazy, neither was your father. Sometimes it's hard for us to grasp things that go against all we are conditioned to believe. How did people feel the first time they were told the Earth was round?
Jonas: Yes, it is. It's totally insane.
The Stranger: And if it's not?
Jonas: How can that be? Is there a breach in time in the cave? So Mikkel hangs out here until he becomes my father?
The Stranger: Even if you don't want to believe it, that is your father. That means...
Jonas: that Ulrich is my grandfather and...
The Stranger: Martha is your aunt.
Jonas: That's bullshit. I'm taking him back and putting this right.
The Stranger: Don't you get it? If you take Mikkel back, you'll be meddling in the course of events. Your father will never meet your mother, they won't fall in love or get married. And you won't be born! If you take him back now, you'll be erasing your own existence. The role you play in all of this is much bigger than you think. But every decision for something is a decision against something else. A life for a life. What will you decide?
- Ulrich: Things are going on that make no sense. Maybe I'm going crazy. The dead boy—the boy we found in the forest. Helge has something to do with it all.
Charlotte: I know you want to find Mikkel at all costs. But the end doesn't justify all means. I should have taken you off this on day one.
Ulrich: Helge said he can change the past and the future. What's that mean? Why did he say that?
Charlotte: Helge has dementia. He can't even tie his own shoes anymore. He's surely not responsible for the disappearance of three children. He doesn't have the strength.
Ulrich: Maybe he's not alone.
- Egon: The only important thing is that you know that Ulrich can't harm you right now, and that he will be punished for what he did to you.
Katharina: Ulrich didn't do anything. If anything, I pressured him into it. I asked him to get condoms. But he'd never hurt me. He would never do that. Never.
- Katharina: Your mother called a while ago. Our son has disappeared and all she talks about is Mads. And I thought my family was the one full of assholes.
- Hannah: You startled me. Where were you? What's wrong?
Jonas: Do you believe in fate?
Hannah: I... I don't know. Maybe it's my fate that men leave me.
- Ulrich: Charlotte, the question isn't who abducted the children, but when. I was right, Helge Doppler. Not now, but in 1986.
- The bloodied boy at the opening is Helge from 1953. He appears frightened of Ulrich and says he knows him (more about this in the next episode). This explains his disfigured ear which Jana noticed- the man she saw in 1986 and now. He eats “Raider” bars in 1986, which were found by Jana in 2019 (episode 1) and Elisabeth in episode 4. He appears to be time travelling.
- Why does Katharina (1986) have a black eye? Does it have something to do with her comment that her family is not the only one full of assholes?
- Jana doesn't seem to have ever gotten over the loss of Mads
- The paint remnants are from the barrels that Aleksander had removed before the police could obtain a warrant
- Charlotte finds wallpaper of cartoons in the bunker, the same wallpaper we saw in the room that Erik and the boy Helge were in.
- A Journey Through Time is the book Helge gave Claudia in episode 3. The Stranger also has a copy.
- Ulrich believed he is a failure (episode 5) but is the only one to solve the case
- Charlotte is too close to Peter to pursue Helge
- Jonas' visit to the school is similar to Mikkel's in episode 3. They both also meet Egon. Is Egon telling him he should return home to be with his mother and not be alone?
- Egon asks Jonas whether, among teenagers, is Satanism a thing, thinking of Ulrich
- How does the Stranger appear in 2019 and 1986 yet appear to be the same age?
- Jonas decides to leave Mikkel in 1986 so he can become his father and marry his mother.
- Helge appears to be (unhappily) moving the bodies but someone else may be killing them.
- What is the significance of the 2 dates from 1953?
- Tom Philipp as Helge Doppler (1953)
- Hermann Beyer as Helge Doppler
- Christian Pätzold as Egon Tiedemann (1986)
- Ludger Bökelmann as Ulrich Nielsen (1986)
- Oliver Masucci as Ulrich Nielsen
- Daan Lennard Liebrenz as Mikkel Nielsen
- Louis Hofmann as Jonas Kahnwald
- Lydia Makrides as Regina Tiedemann (1986) (as Lydia Maria Makrides)
- Karoline Eichhorn as Charlotte Doppler
- Peter Schneider as Helge Doppler (1986)
- Peter Benedict as Aleksander Tiedemann
- Anne Ratte-Polle as Ines Kahnwald (1986)
- Andreas Pietschmann as The Stranger
- Nele Trebs as Katharina Nielsen (1986)
- Jördis Triebel as Katharina Nielsen
- Ella Lee as Hannah Kahnwald (1986)
- Tatja Seibt as Jana Nielsen
- Stephan Kampwirth as Peter Doppler
- Maja Schöne as Hannah Kahnwald
- Mark Waschke as Noah
- Anna König as Pathologist Edda Heimann
- Franz Hartwig as Martin Döhring
- Leopold Hornung as Torben Wöller
- Anna Schönberg as Nurse Donata Kraus
- Lena Dörrie as Nurse Clara Schrage
- Vico Mücke as Yasin Friese
- Shani Atias as Hannah Kahnwald (voice)
- Will Beinbrink as The Stranger (voice)
- Tamar Pelzig as Franziska / Doris (voice)
- → See 54 images from Crossroads at Images from Crossroads.