Season 2, Episode 3: “Ghosts”
Directed by Baran bo Odar
Written by Jantje Friese & Marc O. Seng
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dark Matter” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Travellers” – click here
In the 1950s, Noah (Mark Waschke) is in the bunker room with a boy— a young Helge Doppler. He tells the child: “Time chose you. God chose you.” The kid’s strapped into the chair, prepared for another experiment.
On June 23, 1954— 6 days left until the Apocalypse— Claudia (Gwendolyn Göbel) catches her mother Doris (Luise Heyer) with Agnes Nielsen (Antje Traue) going down on her. She’s probably not even sure what she’s seeing. Elsewhere, young Helge returns home after being missing. His mother Greta (Cordelia Wege) thanks God.
At the police station, Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci) remains a mystery. He’s been there 7 months. They have no clue about his identity. Egon (Sebastian Hülk) doesn’t know his wife is having a lesbian affair, oblivious to why they haven’t been having sex. He’s as stumped by Ulrich as he is his own family.
Then the police hear Helge has come home.
In ’87, Claudia (Julika Jenkins) tries to get her daughter Regina (Lydia Makrides) to hang out with her for the day, attempting to heed her older self’s warning about how much time they have left together. It’s a moment the daughter wants, too. Neither are quite sure how to deal with the intimacy. Something makes Claudia think of a book on her shelf. She pulls out A Journey Through Time by H.G. Tannhaus, given to her by Helge. Egon (Christian Pätzold) is also piecing things together from his conversation with the aged Ulrich, listening to a Kreator album. He’s left with determining how Ulrich knew those lyrics 33 years ago.
“Every family has its secrets”
In the ’50s, Egon speaks with Helge about his disappearance. Paralleled with this is Claudia in the ’80s visiting Helge (Peter Schneider). He repeats what Noah said to him in the bunker: “Time is always with you wherever you go.” He talks about a battle “between good and evil” and that “travellers” can undo the prophecy. He goes into a near catatonic state repeating “tick, tock.”
In the ’80s, Tannhaus (Christian Steyer) gets a visit from Claudia. He’s already met her, even if she doesn’t remember. He talks about the bootstrap paradox that creates a cyclical time loop where no origin point exists anymore. He says the world is made up of paradoxes— we merely choose to ignore them, most of the time. Until we can’t.
In ’54, Agnes goes to the bunker. She meets the oldest Claudia, who tells her about Helge and that the “next cycle” is being prepared. We’re given more info— she shares “the same blood” as Noah. But she isn’t like him. She’s on the side of good. The older Claudia gives Agnes a piece of paper to give to her younger self.
In the ’80s, Egon goes to see Ulrich at the psychiatric ward. He asks about the Kreator album and why he murdered those children. Ulrich continues to deny he killed them. The former cop asks about “the White Devil.” He does finally get Ulrich’s name. The patient says he comes “from the future.” Back home, Egon finds the file on Mikkel a.k.a Michael Kahnwald. He goes to see Ines (Anne Ratte-Polle) and asks if Mikkel ever mentioned Ulrich / the White Devil. She pretends not to know a thing.
“Where is the beginning?
When is the beginning?
Is there a beginning at all?”
Greta has Noah at the house. She’s disturbed by Helge after his return. The boy comes down and hugs Noah. The time travelling priest repeats more of what he said in the bunker. He has the child read from the Bible, and Helge obeys, speaking for the first time since coming home.
In the ’50s, Noah finds Agnes at the church. He tells her she can’t find salvation. She tells him she knows where the “final pages” are located. She says Claudia’s carrying them. She wants back into the Sic Mundus Creatus Est cult. Agnes and Noah are brother and sister. There’s a deep rift between them. And he’s got a serious problem with Claudia.
At the station, Egon is visited by the older Claudia, unaware he’s looking at his own daughter while noticing her heterochromia. She admires her father as a good man. She apologises to him for everything he must go through.
Maybe one day he’ll understand it all, once the rest of the pieces fall in place.
In the ’80s, Claudia arrives at the plant, time machine in tow. Egon is there to tell her he’s riddled with cancer. Before he goes he gets a hug from his daughter, in spite of all that’s kept them at a distance. In parallel, we see Egon in the ’50s come home, hugging his daughter. There’s an uncanny feeling about her now, after he saw “a witch” today. Young Claudia repeats some of the same things her older self told him earlier.
All the timelines are interconnected, affecting one another in a variety of ways.
Egon goes back to see Ulrich at the psychiatric ward. He brings a picture of Mikkel with him. Ulrich now knows his son is there, driving him over the edge. He nearly strangles the former cop before people drag him away. It must be an absolute horror for him, even worse than before.
We see a meeting between Tannhaus and Claudia in the ’50s. She brings him a copy of his own book. He’s not sure what’s going on, unaware at the moment of what’s to come. She says they’ll meet again, after she dies. She tells him eventually everything will come to an end. With that, she’s off, leaving him SHOOK.
Soundtrack note: “Melody X” by Bonaparte plays here
Older Claudia is confronted by Noah. She’s prepared to die, knowing it’s only “part of a game.” She tries to explain there’s no paradise at the end of the journey. He feels she’s used him as a pawn, whereas he’s been a pawn for Adam this whole time anyway. He blows her away with a shotgun. That piece of paper Agnes got from Claudia? An article about an unidentified woman found dead in the forest.
And what does Noah find on the old woman? What does it have to do with Charlotte?
THEORY: Adam is Helge of the future, having been put through the machine so many times he’s scarred to bits. The papers on Claudia, related to Charlotte, are why Noah isn’t saying anything just yet about what he found. The final shot of the episode lingers on a young Claudia, for whom we know Helge has always had deep feelings. Just a theory.
In ’87, Claudia uses the time machine to go to 2020.
She sees her daughter Regina (Deborah Kaufmann) suffering from cancer, just like her own father in her timeline. One long line of tragedy connected together.
Another show that somehow KEEPS GETTING BETTER all the time.
Fantastic storytelling and even better performances from all involved.
“The Travellers” is next time.