"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.
Young Helge Doppler, battered and bloodied, awakens on the floor of the bunker, done up like a nursery—he has arrived in 1986. He runs his hands over the chair which has brought him there. At this, the elderly Helge awakens in bed at the nursing home—it has been a flashback. He mutters "I remember. I remember everything."
Egon Tiedemann checks in on the teen Ulrich Nielsen, being held on the charge of raping Katharina. Ulrich is silent. The adult Ulrich, 33 years later is at the graveyard at the marker for his brother Mads, adorned with a green hooded action figure.
Jonas Kahnwald awakens in an elevated hunter's blind, where he has spent his first night in 1986, and beats a hasty exit. He arrives at the high school to find everyone in 1980s clothing, and flyers posted about the missing Mads Nielsen. In the hallway, he encounters the teenage Regina Tiedemann, sitting by herself with headphones on. He asks for the the date, and she tells him it is November 9, 1986. When Jonas says he is looking for Michael Kahnwald; she says Ines the nurse has no children, but can probably be found at the hospital.
The adult Ulrich visits the pathology lab with a few questions for Edda Heimann, the medical examiner. He asks her what will happen with the body of the boy they have found; she says if they cannot identify him, they will have it cremated and buried in an anonymous grave. He asks if there was any possible way that he had been dead for longer than the ten hours or so stated in her report, but says she would know if he had been frozen—frozen steak isn't like fresh steak, after all. As for Thirty-three years, that would certainly be impossible.
At the Winden Police station, Egon draws a question mark on Ulrich in the photo with him and Mads. Martin Döhring enters and drops the worker schedule from the night of Mads' disappearance on his desk; he wants Egon to interview the power plant workers to determine their routes and times. Egon believes Ulrich may have something to do with the disappearance, which irritates Martin, reminding him that this isn't the 1950s—investigations are to be based on evidence, not gut feelings. He says Egon can pursue his hunches in three months, after his retirement.
The adult Ulrich has the same photo in his own hands now, 33 years later, and adds a sticky note marked "33 years"? He places it among the other evidence he has arrayed in a circle on the floor in Mikkel's room at the Nielsen family home.
At the police station, Charlotte Doppler is reporting the earthquake when Torben Wöller enters saying they have secured a search warrant for the nuclear plant. She takes it and walks out of the room, ignoring his query as to whether they should notify Ulrich.
Egon drives up to the power plant gate and is greeted by Helge Doppler, just the man he came to see. He explains that Martin wants to document the routes and times of everyone working at the plant the night of Mads Nielsen's disapperance. Helge, visibly uncomfortable, says he needs to make his rounds, and Egon offers to arrange a time to meet with him later at the station. He puts him in his calendar for the day after tomorrow, Tuesday, at 10:30
Helge nervously agrees, but says everything was normal. He had finished his shift at six, then driven home in his own car using the state highway. Egon asks why he would not have taken the forest road, which would have been shorter. Helge answers that he needed to pick something up for his father.
Ulrich leafs through Egon's calendar, and finds the meeting with Helge scheduled for November 11 at 10:30 with the remark "Why not forest road?" When he goes through the notebooks of employee statements, however, the page for Helge Doppler is blank.
As rain falls at the power plant, Aleksander Tiedemann greets the police officers at the gate. Charlotte presents the search warrant, and Aleksander motions for the gate to be opened. Four police vehicles enter.
In a similar downpour, Jonas walks down the forest road when Egon drive up in his police car. Egon asks why he is not in school, and Jonas replies that he is injured, at which Egon insists he get in the car so he can drive him to the hospital.
As the police comb the grounds of the power plant, Charlotte receives a call from Ulrich, informing her of his findings about her father-in-law. She asks if he thinks Helge abducted Mads in 1986, and now the other boys in 2019, considering he is in a nursing home, at 75 years old with dementia. She had been with him the night when Mikkel disappeared, and the night before Yasin disappeared, Torben had found him in the forest—and escorted him back to the nursing home.
She thinks Ulrich is barking up the wrong tree, and hangs up, but 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.
Egon questions Jonas as they drive to the hospital. He gives his name, and says he did not ask his parents for a ride because his mother is at work at the power plant, and his father is dead. Egon says off-handedly that the power plant has changed Winden. He notices Jonas's earbuds, but does not believe they are headphones. When Jonas demonstrates them, he says now he has seen everything.
They turn off the main road to head into the forest, which Egon explains is a shortcut. Arriving finally at the hospital, Egon has one final question: among teenagers, is Satanism a thing? Jonas laughs at this, but seeing Egon's stern expression, answers more seriously that he doesn't think it is. He gets out of the car and thanks Egon for the ride.
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—paint that has, unbeknownst to her, been scraped off the yellow barrels.
Jonas asks Donata Kraus where he can find Ines; she replies that she is with the boy. Suspicious, she asks who Jonas is, and he tells her he is visiting and locked himself out. Donata says Ines had not mentioned a visitor; Jonas simply says he is a relative of sorts. He says he does not want to be trouble, and leaves.
Charlotte presses deep into the cave and spies a steel door with a black substance running along the jamb.
Ulrich comes to the nursing home and enters Helge's room, asking him why he did not give a statement to the police in the disappearance of Mads Nielsen, and what "why not forest roads?" means. Helge is terrified, and babbles "It was him!" and "I can change the past! And the future!" Ulrich, angered, begins shouting, demanding to know where Mikkel is, as the nursing home staff wrestle him away from the bed. Helge whispers "Tick-tock, tick-tock."
As Jonas exits the hospital, he sees Mikkel seated on the benches outside, soon joined by Ines. The Stranger emerges out of nowhere behind him, remarking how little they understand of the universe. Jonas asks him whether what he is seeing is real, or whether he is crazy like his father. The Stranger answers that neither Jonas nor his father were crazy, but sometimes it is hard to grasp things which go against what we are conditioned to believe. He tells him bluntly that regardless of whether he wants to believe it, Mikkel is his father.
Jonas realizes that this makes Ulrich his grandfather—and Martha his aunt—and decides he will take Mikkel back and put things right. This alarms the Stranger, who points out that doing so would be meddling in time, and as Mikkel would never grow up to meet and marry Hannah, he was erasing his own existence, and he had a larger role to play. Every decision for something is a decision against something else; saving one life would take another. At this, the Stranger departs as suddenly as he arrived.
Having both returned to the police station, Charlotte warns Ulrich that she must suspend him on account of his assault at the nursing home, and his other recent outbursts. Ulrich tells her he is certain Helge has something to do with the boy found in the forest, but he has lost all credibility with Charlotte, who says she should have taken him off the case on day one. Ulrich wonders if Helge might have had an accomplice, and Charlotte sends him home. As he departs, he tells Charlotte that Egon Tiedemann had wanted to ask Helge "why not forest road?"
Katharina is trying to convince Egon that Ulrich did not force himself on her; they had both wanted it. Considering she has a black eye and other injuries, however, Egon is skeptical, thinking she is lying to try to protect him. He tells her that the incident was reported by another witness, and assures her that Ulrich will be punished.
Ulrich arrives at the Nielsen family home to find Katharina sitting by herlsef at the foot of the stairs. He tells her he has been suspended; she tells him she has no idea where the other kids are. He apologizes, and says he is home now, but she says sharply that he hasn't been home for a long time. She knows about his affair with Hannah, and is not interested in whatever explanation he wants to give. She mentions bitterly that Jana called earlier, but only wanted to talk about Mads, with no sympathy for Mikkel's disappearance; her family is not the only one full of assholes.
Jonas, still at the hospital, watches as Mikkel and Hannah talk in the hallway. Remembering the words of the Stranger, he puts away his father's suicide note, and departs.
Ulrich visits Jana at her and Tronte's apartment to talk about Mads. She says the gravestone had been Tronte's idea, hoping it would bring closure. She, on the other hand, had been hoping for 33 years that he was still alive, and tells him he must similarly keep the faith, for there is as much light in the world as darkness.
She had been trying to reach him, however, because of an incident she had just remembered from about a week before Mads' disappearance. In front of the house, a priest was arguing with a man, unusual behavior for a priest. Just that morning, she saw the same man (not the priest), recognizing him from scars or disfigurement on his ear. And yet, he did not look a day older than he did 33 years ago.
As she speaks, the hooded figure walks through the forest to the entrance to the bunker. He uncovers it, then removes his hood, revealing the man to be none other than the adult Helge Doppler.
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 shack. Late that night, she drives out to the shack, and calls Peter to ask about it. She wonders why Helge kept it, for example, and whether he was living in the shack 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.
Ulrich, himself driving home late, picks up the game piece 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 stops the car and backs up to turns down to the forest road.
Jonas reaches the portal inside the cave, and once again passes through the doors. The lights flicker all across town in 1986 and 2019, as Charlotte walks around the bunker, Egon drinks at his desk, teenage Ulrich lies in his cell, Mikkel studies the print of the Emerald Tablet in his hospital bed, and the elderly Helge disconnects his tubes and monitors.
Charlotte searches around the bunker and pulls out a scrap of wallpaper of cartoon foxes, hedgehogs, and rabbits.
Jonas, reaching the other side of the passage, turns off the orb light. He is next seen by Hannah's side as she sleeps. Awaking with a start, she asks where he has been, and he asks her whether she believes in fate. He says she does not know, except perhaps her fate is to have men leave her. He tells her his father loved her very much, and they tearfully embrace.
Returning to the garret studio, Jonas burns Michael's suicide note in a pail.
Ulrich, sneaking into the nursing home late at night, finds a wooden stick figure, and a copy of A Journey Through Time with a pfennig coin on a red lanyard inside—but not Helge, who as escaped through the window. He sees Helge running into the forest and gives chase, while calling Charlotte to say that he was right. The question was not how, but when. Helge had abducted children, but in 1986, not 2019. He follows Helge into the depths of the caves.
The middle-aged Helge, wearing a sad expression, pulls the lifeless and mutilated corpse of Mads Nielsen out of the bunker and drags it into the forest.
A shirtless man in the 2019 bunker scrubs away at the floor. As he stretches, we see it is Noah, who has a massive tattoo of the Emerald Tablet across his entire back. He chalks a date on the wall, November 9, 1953, below another date, November 5, 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.
- 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.