Ulrich Nielsen (2019)

Police officer, father, formerly a rebel. He is looking for his son, Mikkel, who, just like Ulrich’s younger brother, has disappeared. Exactly 33 years later, on 4 November. 1986 and 2019. Ulrich is married to Katharina, who he fell in love with as a teenager. As well as Mikkel, they have two other children together — Martha and Magnus.

Ulrich is cheating on Katharina, having an affair with Hannah Kahnwald, who has secretly loved him for decades.

Parents

Ulrich seems estranged from his parents, Tronte and Jana. He has no idea about Tronte’s affairs, but he doesn’t trust him. The hurt of the disappearance of Mads, 33 years ago, has never healed.

Police work

Ulrich answers directly to Charlotte Doppler, local police chief in Winden. They have known each other forever. When Mikkel disappears, she believes that Ulrich is unable to be objective.

Together, they try to solve the enigma of the disappearing children. What does the dead boy with burned eyes, found in the forest, have to do with it all? Why is he wearing a five pfennig coin on a red twine necklace? And is there a connection to the Raider wrapper that Ulrich’s mother found in the forest?

Time travel

SPOILER ALERT!

When Ulrich suspects Helge of being responsible for the disappearances of Mikkel and Mads, he follows him. Helge isn’t at the nursing home, but in his room, Ulrich finds two things that reinforce his suspicions: a five pfennig coin on red twine, and the book, “Eine Reise durch die Zeit” (A journey through time).

Ulrich searches for Helge in the cave and follows a red twine rope into the shaft. But he takes a wrong turn. Instead of ending up in 1986, he finds himself in 1953. He meets his grandmother Agnes and his father, Tronte, as a child.

The book leads him to the Clockmaker, who doesn’t recognize it — because he hasn’t written it yet. When Ulrich leaves the workshop, he forgets his smartphone. 33 years later, the Clockmaker will use the electromagnetic field created by the phone to activate the apparatus.

A police officer becomes a criminal.

SPOILER ALERT!

In 1953, Ulrich meets Helge. When he realizes who the little boy in front of him is, he shows him the five pfennig coin. But the little boy doesn’t recognize it. Then Ulrich sees the dead birds that Helge is collecting in a box. Now he is certain that inside this unremarkable child there is already a murderer.

Ulrich believes that by murdering little Helge, he can undo the death of Mads and the disappearance of the other children. He takes a rock and knocks the boy unconscious, then drags him into the bunker behind the shack on the forest track.

Now Ulrich wants to return to the cave and to his own time, but he is apprehended by the police officer, Egon Tiedemann. Tiedemann is searching for Helge Doppler, and he realizes straight away that the blood-covered man must have something to do with the boy’s disappearance. At the entrance to the cave, Egon captures Ulrich. He arrests him and takes him to the police station, where he applies violence to try and drag Helge’s whereabouts out of Ulrich. But Ulrich, convinced he can change the course of time, will not talk.

66 years later, Charlotte Doppler finds a police mug shot of her missing colleague in the archives from 1953.