Ah Dark Matter…How do I love thee? Let me count the ways, while there may not be nine, as in episode nine, events in this week’s installment, there are a few that stand out and make this show worthy of the deepest devotion. These moments are what make this series special, network deities take note, and combined with the plot, they scream out for a second season.
Before picking out specific moments, kudos to the writers this week and to show creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie for managing to get so many comic, and endearing moments in what could have been a very sobering show. Minutes into the episode and Jodelle Ferland’s character came out with the “Also, I got these welding goggles that are both practical and cool.” Three’s “remembering” the whiskey that Two forgot is an excellent follow up. The crew then discover that Four is missing and the action heads to the planet where he has gone to meet his brother Ryo.
Cue a bit of very satisfactory sword play, of the ninja variety after Four discovers that his step-brother has not shown up, but Akita his tutor has.
Back to those “ways.” On the bridge, Two and One are discussing Four. One’s take on his fellow crew member? “Most of the time he blends into the background. You don’t notice him till he speaks up or takes the last of the carrots.”
Six and Three enter the bridge. Discussion about Four continues and Five points out that he may just want some time on his own. Six states, after they find Four’s comm on the ship, that it is apparent that he wants them to leave without him. Five points out that Four seemed to be happy here.
Which brings us to another “ways” moment. Three, Anthony Lemke’s character, says “He seemed nothing. That guy was harder to read than that book he gave me.” “That book is a classic,” One retorts. Three then proceeds to pronounce judgement on Charlotte’s Web, much to the disgust of One “Whatever. The pig’s a wimp and the spider’s a know-it-all.”
What makes this all the more amusing will come later at the end of the episode where the “tough guy” who pronounced the pig was a wimp, is shedding a tear, or two, while reading the book. These are the moments that bring this show from just entertaining to brilliant. Touches of humor amidst the mysterious plot line that unravels a little more each episode.
As the show progresses each crew member has something exposed about their makeup. Three, we have learned, is the “heel with a heart” and also more than ready to jump into the fray, even if it means that he will not be the victor. Six is an idealist who hates the man who made him a mass murderer. (He is also, perhaps, one of the wisest of the crew members, he reveals to One that his quest for revenge was unsatisfactory and that he merely redirected his anger…to himself.)
One is a rich man who wants to catch and bring to justice his wife’s killer. He reveals this fact to Two and she asks the pertinent question, “Do you even remember her?” While this is a good question it is not the most important thing at work here.
The show’s creators are asking a bigger question. Can a group of career criminals “go straight” if their memories are wiped? On top of the theory that people are really good until forced to go bad, another query is apparent. One, who is not a criminal, starts to take aim at Three during the firefight later in the show. As he appears to contemplate killing his wife’s suspected killer, a man from the opposing side shows up and takes aim at Three. One un-hesitantly kills the enemy.
On the bridge, the crew talk about Four’s defection and Three states that the man should be left behind. Two tells the group that there is something they need to know about the missing man. Back on the planet, Four is defeated by Akita and placed under arrest. Two reveals that Four is royalty and in line to the throne of Ishida. Three rants about all the secrets and asks that if there is anything anyone wants to reveal. Two does reveal something, as much as she wants all the crew to trust one another and not keep secrets, she instinctively touches the bandage on her neck that covers a wound that healed itself ages ago.
Amusingly, Three wants to go back for Four. The rest of the crew agree that being Four’s friend could be a good thing. Six and One have that talk about revenge and agenda’s. On the desolate, and lawless, planet where Four went to meet his brother, Akita and Four spend time discussing their mutual past and move to meet the ship that will take Four back to trial. They also encounter that lawless element mentioned by Android earlier in the episode.
Another “let me count the ways” moment. Three and the Android talk. Android is watching the diagnostics on-screen display while she runs the program on the ship’s systems. Three asks her why, when she is attached directly to the ship, she is reading the display. This prompts a discussion of her “flaw,” that Five pointed out earlier. Android tells Three that she will reboot herself if the flaw bothers him. After asking what that would entail; a complete memory wipe and a personality matrix change she tells him, Three says emphatically that he does not want her to change.
“So you are satisfied,” she asks, despite the “abhorrent” behavior? Three grumpily responds, “Hell no. But I’m damned if I’m going to start over with a whole new robot.” He leaves the room and Android resumes looking at the on-screen display. “That’s kind of him to say,” she says quietly.
This episode followed One’s struggle with his newfound knowledge as well as Four’s attempt to tell his brother Ryo the truth. It also deals with two’s almost desperate attempt to get the crew to bond and trust each other. There is also clarification on the backstory of Four and his relationship with Akita. Two and Three talk betrayal and realize that only they, and One, can be considered as suspects in that area.
By the end of the show: We learn that Four’s step mother is still murderous b*tch whose son is full of denial. One will not kill Three just yet and Six and Five clear the air…twice. One decides that Three is “rotten to the core” but…could someone that bad cry at Charlotte’s Web?
Later Four and Two clear the air and the former tells her that he appreciates his “true family.” Things go back to “normal” and the ship is stopped by three Ferrous Corp destroyers who take out the FTL drive. The ship cannot move and the crew look to be in big trouble.
This whole series is about appearances and how deceiving they are. It is also about characters that have depth and backstories that shows what they really are. Four, for example, is not just a cold assassin he is man whose sentimentality towards family left him open to be framed for his own father’s murder. He is not above killing Akita to pass a message on to his brother, he says, but we know he means his step-mother.
This is a brilliantly presented show. Each character is like an onion, with different things underneath each layer, as each episode peels off that little bit more. We are learning more about each crew member each week, but Two and Five still must be taken at face value.
On the surface, Five may be a sort of technologically skilled Artful Dodger, but her need to be a part of this adoptive family still needs to be explored. Two is the one we know the least about full stop. Certainly we know she is deadly and fast. She, like Five, is desperate for this group to be family while she hides her own secrets.
Secrets that we have yet to learn.
Dark Matter is part of SyFy Friday and is compulsive viewing. This group of disparate characters, who become more complex and real with each episode, are fascinating and entertaining as well as three dimensional. Simply great television but not a simple storyline. Watch this to see how it should be done.