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"Past and Present" is the third episode of Season 1 of Dark. It premiered on December 1, 2017.


It's 1986, and Ulrich's brother, Mads, has been missing for a month. Confusion reigns as past and present intertwine.


1x03 0002 JanaCouch

On November 5, 1986, the confused Mikkel Nielsen enters the Nielsen family home, further noticing the difference in the ambiance. He encounters a younger grieving Jana Nielsen, his grandmother, who initially thinks he is Mads before kneeling in front of him, asking if he knows where Mads is. Mikkel sprints out, leaving Jana to cry on the floor. Meanwhile, the teenage Charlotte finds a dead bird in the forest and starts sketching it.

DARK 1x03 0011–Claudia discreditsRegina

It's a month after Mads Nielsen's disappearance, and his missing poster is plastered all over Winden. The Winden Police is criticized for lacking proper evidence from their searches. The elderly chief investigator Egon Tiedemann receives a call from the farmer Hermann Albers, reporting that thirty-three of his sheep mysteriously dropped dead. Meanwhile, Claudia Tiedemann, Egon's daughter, is preparing for her first day as the new and first female director of the Winden Nuclear Power Plant. As she drives her depressed daughter, Regina, to Winden Comprehensive School, Claudia brags about her new position and chastises Regina for not seemingly caring about her appearance.

DARK 1x03 0021–Mikkel approaches Girls

Mikkel arrives at the high school where he meets the younger Hannah Krüger, conversing with Katharina Albers and another girl about music. He asks for help to look for his mother (who happens to be Katharina), but Katharina, being a jock, chides Mikkel and shoves him aside. Meanwhile, Claudia shows up at the nuclear power plant, where Helge Doppler, her old friend and a security guard, hands her the book A Journey Through Time by H.G. Tannhaus as a present. She is then introduced to her secretary Jasmin Trewen, who gives her the plant's figures and informs her that the journalist Tronte Nielsen intends to interview her. However, he is secretly there to beg her to continue their affair, but she refuses.

1x03 0016 MikkelEgon

After inspecting the field of dead sheep, Egon makes a file for that case until Mikkel arrives in his office and asks to look for his father, Ulrich Nielsen, whom Egon despises for his rebellious nature. Noticing his scratches, Egon speculates that Ulrich battered the boy. Mikkel finally understands that he traveled back in time when he asks for the date. Egon heads out to threaten Ulrich after calling the hospital. Later, Nurse Ines Kahnwald picks him up, and at the hospital, Mikkel refuses to give his identity since he is upset about the situation.

DARK 1x03 0056–Ulrich&Egon confrontation

Egon arrives at the Nielsen family home, where loud metal music can be heard even from the outside. He confronts Ulrich in his bedroom and judges a specific lyric from the song he listens to: "My only aim is to take many lives. The more, the better I feel." Egon gives him a warning which mostly confuses him, and then suspects him of murdering the pasture upon finding a hoof. Ulrich responds by rebuking him for his alcoholism and saying that Mads would've already been found if it wasn't for it. When he returns to the Winden Police Station to observe the autopsy of a dead sheep, the veterinarian, Dr. Schaller, confirms that they all seemingly died of cardiac arrest, which intrigues Egon.

1x03 0043 YellowDrums

At the power plant, Claudia defies the retiring director Bernd Doppler (Helge's father) for keeping secrets, as she has discovered a mysterious record of an incident that occurred three months ago and was covered up. Bernd explains that ever since the Chernobyl disaster, he wanted to maintain the Winden Nuclear Power Plant's positive reputation since everyone's lives depend on it. If they were to be backlashed because of the incident, the town would lose their most reliable source for their daily lives. Claudia is determined to see the plant's secret. Bernd directs her to their section of the Winden Caves. She starts venturing and is shocked to find dozens of large yellow barrels containing toxic waste deep inside.

DARK 1x03 0093–Ulrich1986 & Hannah1986

Mikkel stays at the hospital until nighttime, with Ines comforting him as he cries throughout the day. He refuses to speak or even reveal his situation since it is far-fetched. He admits that he comes from the future, much to Ines' disbelief. Suddenly, there is a roar from the caves, flickering lights all over town, and a storm of dead birds. While the nurses are distracted, Mikkel escapes his ward through a window and dashes to the caves since it could be his only chance to return to his present.

Meanwhile, Hannah and Ulrich converse with each other, remarking the scenario as the Apocalypse, which Ulrich views as disappointing. Hannah asks him what he would wish for if the world would end soon, and he answers, "A world without Winden," much to her delight. Eventually, the strange episode of anomalies stops.

DARK 1x03 0112–SplitScreen Frustrated

Back on the night of November 5, 2019, Ulrich sets out to the steel door in the caves and tries to force it open with a crowbar. In 1986, Mikkel slips down a slope and breaks his leg. Through the unseen passage, he overhears Ulrich from thirty-three years into the future, banging the door with his crowbar, so he shouts for help. Ulrich can hear Mikkel's faint voice, but their attempts to reach the other are futile. Though separated in time, 1986 and 2019 are connected. They stumble out of the caves in their respective years. Meanwhile, in H.G. Tannhaus' Clock Shop, the elderly H.G. Tannhaus is finishing a complex brass device, the same one the Stranger has in 2019.





"November 5, 1986. After the mysterious disappearance of an 11-year-old boy in Winden over four weeks ago, criticism of local investigators is growing even louder. The circumstances of the case are puzzling. Despite an extensive search, Winden Police have been unable to find a single piece of useful evidence. The police are therefore continuing to ask for the public's assistance. The chemical plant fire in Switzerland is doing damage to local waterways. Toxic chemicals are entering the Rhine..."
―Radio Spokesman 1986[src]
"In times like these... one must... face one's own fears. Because the future… the future belongs to the bold, not to the doubters, those forever stuck in the past. Would you look at yourself? You can't go to school like this. Sometimes I think you have no idea what it is I do. Food, clothes, fencing classes. Who pays for all that? And you can't even bother combing your hair. Look at yourself. You look like a limp dishrag. Hey, Regina, I'm talking to you. This is a huge deal for me, and I won't let you spoil it. The board's decision to entrust this post to a woman for the first time..."
Claudia Tiedemann 1986 to Regina Tiedemann 1986[src]
"Hey! I miss you."
"I thought we talked about this."
"You can't just leave me hanging like this. Claudia, I need you! I'm going stir crazy at home. Jana loses it more and more and I..."
"I want you to go now."
"Tonight? Please."
Tronte Nielsen 1986 and Claudia Tiedemann 1986[src]
""My only aim is to take many lives. The more, the better I feel." Why do you listen to such stuff?"
Egon Tiedemann 1986 to Ulrich Nielsen 1986.[src]
"Have we been drinking again?"
"Beg your pardon?"
"I asked if you've been drinking again?"
"Who do you think you are? I want us to find your brother as badly as you do."
Ulrich Nielsen 1986 and Egon Tiedemann 1986[src]
"If you'd stop drinking your brain to mush, then Mads might be back by now."
Ulrich Nielsen 1986 to Egon Tiedemann 1986[src]
"There are things that are worth knowing and things worth not knowing, because you can't change them anyway."
Bernd Doppler 1986 to Claudia Tiedemann 1986[src]
"Do you know what has changed since Chernobyl? People have lost faith. In us, in nuclear power. They saw the images. And they can't get them out of their heads. But fear is the worst enemy of progress."
"How many people around here rely on this plant for their livelihood?"
"We have 612 employees, excluding..."
"Everyone! And when you take over this job tomorrow, you'll be taking on responsibility for the nuclear power plant, but you'll also be taking responsibility for the entire town. And now tell me I wasn't wrong about you."
"All the more reason for me to know just what this means."
Bernd Doppler 1986 and Claudia Tiedemann 1986[src]
"What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean."
Bernd Doppler 1986 to Claudia Tiedemann 1986[src]
"Is this the Apocalypse?"
"A bit disappointing."
"I imagined it being louder. More glaring."
Hannah Kahnwald 1986 and Ulrich Nielsen 1986[src]
"If the world ended today, and everything started anew, what would you wish for?"
"Easy. A world without Winden."
"To a world without Winden."
"To a world without Winden."
"I don't think Winden is going to give up that easily."
"Well, maybe next time."
Hannah Kahnwald 1986 and Ulrich Nielsen 1986[src]




  • There is some sort of wormhole in the Winden Caves, which allow a person to travel to different years.

Themes and Motifs[]


  • The dates featured in this episode are:
    • November 5, 1986.
    • November 5, 2019 (night).
  • This episode is themed around the 1980s timeline.
  • Mads Nielsen disappeared four weeks prior to November 5, 1986.
  • Claudia believes that the future belongs to the bold.
  • Ulrich Nielsen in 1986 doesn't believe in a great future.
  • Something happened in the power plant during the summer of 1986.
  • The dead sheep were all right one day earlier.
  • A clock is ticking while Ulrich is going to the caves.
  • Tannhaus owns and works at a clockmaker's shop.
  • November 5, 2019,and November 5, 1986, are happening at the same time, due to the wormhole connecting these two time periods.

Time Travel[]


  • Egon Tiedemann's hatred for Ulrich prompted him to constantly suspect the teen for anything.
  • Claudia's curiosity led her to find the yellow barrels.


  • Jana Nielsen in 1986 wears blue during the day.
  • The walls of the hospital are sky blue.
  • Claudia is wearing red and has blue eye shadow.
  • The high school students wear clothes and have belongings that vary from different flashy colors.
  • Bernd Doppler gives Claudia a yellow key.
  • Claudia finds yellow barrels.

Historic Recurrences[]

  • A member of the Nielsen family is missing in both time periods, and the mothers (Jana 1986 and Katharina Nielsen) are facing complex depression.
  • A Nielsen is having an affair. Tronte with Claudia in 1986, and Ulrich with Hannah Kahnwald in 2019.
  • The inability of the Winden Police to solve Erik Obendorf's disappearance in 2019 is identical to Mads in 1986. Ulrich blames Egon in 1986, similar to Erik's family blaming the police in 2019.
  • The nuclear power plant is keeping a secret.
  • The flickering lights and dead animals occur at around the same time in 1986 and 2019. The two years are connected since time isn't linear.

Religion and Mythology[]

  • Ines Kahnwald wore her cross pendant even when she was younger.
  • Farmer Hermann Albers quotes "Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come", which was the Gospel of Mark, 13:33.
  • Egon despises Satanists, assuming they killed the sheep.


  • This episode marks the first appearance of:
    • Jana Nielsen 1986.
    • Ines Kahnwald 1986.
    • Charlotte Doppler 1986.
    • Egon Tiedemann 1986.
    • Claudia Tiedemann 1986.
    • Hannah Kahnwald 1986.
    • Helge Doppler 1986.
    • Tronte Nielsen 1986.
    • Bernd Doppler 1986.
    • Nurse Donata.
    • Girl in School.
    • Farmer Hermann Albers.
    • Secretary Jasmin Trewen
  • This episode marks the only appearance of:
  • Mads's disappearance took a toll on Jana's mental state.
  • This is the first episode to use the split-scenes technique that would be utilizes throughout further episodes.
  • People in 1986 are bewildered by the fact that a woman (Claudia in 1986) is taking charge of the power plant. This aspect correlates to female suppression that occurred during that time.
  • The license plate for Ulrich's car is "WIN DS 477".
  • This episode is happening at the same time as the previous one (November 5), but in 1986.
  • There seems to be tension between Ulrich and Egon in 1986.
  • Egon seems a bit upset about Claudia being the new director.
  • Regina was a suicidal teenager. She is neglected by her mother and is cutting herself.
  • Ulrich has the same "NO FUTURE" message in his room as the graffiti on the power plant parking lot. This suggests that he was the culprit.
  • The dead sheep have fractured eardrums, similar to the dead boy in 2019.
  • The farmer Hermann Albers references the new priest at the local parish, describing him as "a good man". This is foreshadowing the appearance of Noah, whose name is first heard next episode and who first appears in episode 5.

Cultural References[]

  • Raider Chocolate Bar: Jana was idly watching a Raider commercial on TV. Raider was known outside Germany and Austria as Twix, and renamed as such in 1991.
  • November 1, 1986 chemical fire: The radio news mentions a chemical plant fire in Switzerland. This transpired at a storage facility outside Basel owned by Sandoz, a predecessor company of Novartis. Around 1350 metric tons (1488 U.S. tons) of toxic material spilled into the Rhine, killing nearly all plant and animal life downstream for 180 km.
  • Gaetano "Nino" D'Angelo: Hannah prefers his music rather than Falco. Nino D'Angelo is an Italian pop/folk singer.
  • Johann Hölzel, a.k.a. Falco: Hannah prefers Nino D'Angelo over him. Falco was an Austrian singer and songwriter.
  • Isaac Newton: Bernd 1986 references one of Newton's quotes "What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean." Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution.
  • Freddy Krueger: Dr. Schaller says "Freddy Krueger" may have been enough for a single person to cause the 33 sheep to panic enough to just drop dead. Freddy Krueger is the bogeyman of Wes Craven's 1984 slasher film A Nightmare on Elm Street, who has a glove with long knives attached to each finger. He is able to haunt the dreams of children and murder them there, who spend their waking lives in terror of him.
  • Rubik's Cube: Mikkel solves one on Egon's desk. The Rubik's Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle box popularized in the early 1980s.


  • "Goodbye" by Apparat
    The opening song.
  • "Partita: III. Courante" by Roomful of Teeth
    Ines walks through the hospital. Charlotte finds a dead bird.
  • "Shout" by Tears For Fears
    Mikkel walks into the high school of 1986.
  • "Pleasure To Kill" by Kreator
    Loud metal music Ulrich was listening to.
  • "The Look Of Love (Part One)" by ABC
    Music playing near the autopsy room.
  • "Familiar" by Agnes Obel
    Scenes with split-screens reveal certain characters as their 1986 and 2019 selves.


  • The radio spokesman 1986 stated that Mads is an 11-year-old boy who vanished, which contradicts the fact that Mads was said to be 12 in "Lies".
  • Ulrich's 1986 room featured a Battle Blade Skeletor toy (next to an original Skeletor), not released until 1992.


→ See 59 images from Past and Present at Images from Past and Present.


Dark Episodes
Season 1 "Secrets" · "Lies" · "Past and Present" · "Double Lives" · "Truths" · "Sic Mundus Creatus Est" · "Crossroads" · "As You Sow, so You Shall Reap" · "Everything Is Now" · "Alpha and Omega"
Season 2 "Beginnings and Endings" · "Dark Matter" · "Ghosts" · "The Travelers" · "Lost and Found" · "An Endless Cycle" · "The White Devil" · "Endings and Beginnings"
Season 3 "Deja-vu" · "The Survivors" · "Adam and Eva" · "The Origin" · "Life and Death" · "Light and Shadow" · "Between the Time" · "The Paradise"