"Past and Present" is the third 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 other episodes in the first season.


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


A confused Mikkel enters the house he has lived in, looking for his parents. A strange woman is there (presumably Ulrich's mother). She asks him who he is, where is Mads and why has he come there? She becomes hysterical, grabs Mikkel, then collapses to the ground in tears, asking "when is he coming back?" Mikkel runs away and heads to the high school. He again runs into Katharina. He tells her he is looking for his mother, who is the principal there. Katharina assures him the principal is not a woman. He then goes to the police station in an attempt to find his father. He asks Egon Tiedemann, a police officer there. When he says his father is Ulrich Neilsen, he asks if this is a joke as he is quite sure the rebellious young Ulrich, who he has it in for, will never work there. He looks at the wounds on Mikkel's face and asks if Ulrich did that to him? Mikkel asks him the date and Egon confirms that Mikkel has somehow arrived in 1986.

Left alone while Egon goes to see Ulrich, Mikkel solves a Rubik's cube, swipes Egon's lighter, and looks through Egon's files on the desk and finds his uncle Mads' recent missing person's report, as well as a photo of him with the teenage boy he met earlier, who was identified as Ulrich. Shortly afterwards, Ines Kahnwald, a hospital nurse, comes to take him to the town hospital. She asks him his name but he stays silent. Finally he tells her that he "comes from the future". She had given him a book to read titled "Captain Future," so she assumes he has made this up.

More than 4 weeks after the disappearance of Mads, the police have made no progress. Egon is asked to investigate the mysterious sudden death of 33 sheep. He is told that they all died of cardiac arrest, probably due to panic spreading through the herd but strangely, their eardrums are ruptured on both sides.

Claudia Tiedemann, Egon's daughter and Regina's mother, is today commencing as the first female chief of the nuclear power plant. She scolds Regina for not making more of an effort to look good. On arrival she is given a book by Helge Doppler, the son of the retiring chief, Bernd Doppler: "A Journey Through Time" by H.G Tannhaus. She is initially quite proud but is quickly shocked to discover that there are things being covered up. Bernd Doppler informs her that the public had lost faith in nuclear energy since the recent Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine. He later sends her to the cave nearby to learn about one of many secrets of the plant: a vast collection of yellow drums filled with an unknown substance that has been marked as nuclear waste. When Regina returns home, Claudia is not there. She has left a message that she will be home late. There are a number of scars on Regina's wrist.

Birds fall from the sky. The lights in Winden flicker on and off, and a teenage Charlotte witnesses the strange phenomenon of birds falling dead from the sky. Out of curiosity, she takes detailed notes, especially interested in the odd white specks on their feathers.

Seeing these same strange occurrences that occurred when he traveled to 1986, Mikkel escapes from the hospital and runs back to the cave (thinking that this may be how he can find his way back to where he came from). He slips and breaks his leg. In 2019 Ulrich heads to the cave with a crowbar in hand and tries to open the locked door, though he is ultimately unsuccessful. He begins banging on the door in frustration. Mikkel calls out "Help me"" which Ulrich can hear, though they are separated in time. In split screen we see them both return from the cave, Mikkel limping. They both cry in frustration, each looking for the other but unable to reach each other.

The characters from 1986 and 2019 are shown in split screen: Ines Kahnwald the nurse- Michael's mother who opened his suicide note. Tronte and Jana Neilsen- Ulrich's parents. Regina (the hotel owner in 2019), Charlotte (the police chief in 2019). Ulrich, as an adult and teenager.

At the very end of the episode, we see an older man, dressed in a sharp white lab coat and surrounded by clocks tinkering with a machine.


  • Claudia: 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.
  • Ines: I'm Nurse Ines—but you can just call me Ines. I'll take you to the hospital now. We'll take a look at your arm, okay? Then I'll bring you home safe and sound.
  • Bernd: There are things that are worth knowing and things worth not knowing, because you can't change them anyway.
  • Hannah: Is this the Apocalypse?
    Ulrich: A bit disappointing. I imagined it being louder. More glaring.
  • Hannah: If the world ended today, and everything started anew, what would you wish for?
    Ulrich: Easy. A world without Winden.
    Hannah: To a world without Winden.
    Ulrich: To a world without Winden.
    Hannah: I don't think Winden is going to give up that easily.
    Ulrich: Well, maybe next time.


Cultural References Edit

The radio news mentions a chemical plant fire in Switzerland. This is likely referring to the November 1, 1986 chemical fire 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.

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.

Mikkel solves a Rubik's Cube on Egon's desk. The Rubik's Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle box popularized in the early 1980s.

Ulrich plays a heavy metal song with lyrics "my only aim is to make many lives, the more, the better I feel", which Egon notices.

Parallels Edit

  • This episode is set almost entirely in 1986. Most of the characters we meet are the 33 year younger versions of the adult characters we met in the first 2 episodes.
  • The woman Mikkel meets on entering his house is his grandmother, Jana Neilsen, who has recently experienced the disappearance of her son Mads, similar to what Katharina and Ulrich are experiencing with the disappearance of Mikkel.
  • Mikkel goes to the high school and says to Katharina he is looking for his mother. (They have no idea she is/will become his mother).
  • The inability of the police to solve Erik's disappearance in 2019 is identical to Mads in 1986. Ulrich blames Egon, similar to Erik's family blaming the police in 2019.
  • The sheep have ruptured eardrums, just like the body in 2019.
  • Tronte Neilsen is having an affair with Claudia, similar to his son Ulrich with Hannah, although the roles are reversed, with Tronte pursuing Clauda but she tries to rebuff him.
  • Claudia may be successful with her work but she appears to be neglecting her daughter. Regina seems unhappy as a teenager and an adult. Regina in 2019 feels her breast, which appears to have a lump
  • Ulrich and Mikkel can hear each other in the cave 33 years apart, as strange occurrences (lights flickering, birds falling) take place. As previously explained, time is not linear.
  • In the preceding episode 'The Stranger' had a copy of the same book that Helge gave Claudia: "A Journey Through Time" by H.G Tannhaus.



→ See 58 images from Past and Present at Images from Past and Present.
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