It has been pointed out that in the last part of this article two characters had been “mixed up” and that has been corrected. Number One is now referenced correctly in the plot breakdown. Apologies to the creators and the actors concerned.
SyFy’s newest offering, three episodes in, is a promising sort of space opera called Dark Matter that features the splendid Jodelle Ferland (and if you don’t know who she is, check out Case 39; it explains everything and if still in doubt check out her brilliant cameo on The Cabin in Woods) along with Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl, Patch Town) and is the from the creative minds of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie both alumni of the Stargate verse.
Thus far the series feels like a mash up of several different shows and genres. A hint of Firefly, a touch of Alien Resurrection, a taste of The Magnificent Seven and a tiny bit of Identity…maybe and a large dollop of Farscape…definitely. In the first episode a disparate group of people wake up from stasis when the space ship they are on malfunctions. None of them know who they are or why they are there. Until their memories return, they refer to themselves as numbers, based on when they woke up.
In a short time all the players, one through six, seven including the android, reveal that their minds have been swept clean but not their personalities and soon the group begin to meld as a team, with the exception of two members. They all learn that before waking up with a “clean slate” each number in the group was a murderer, pirate and severe lawbreaker. The only exceptions are the android (Palmer) and Five (Ferland); who cannot be found in the fractured ship’s data base.
By the second episode, the show moves from mystery to action when the group decide to help a group of miners who they were originally meant to kill. Apparently the members were part of a mercenary team hired to take care of the planets independent miners and the memory wipe enables the killers to swap sides and fight for good. With the exception of Three (Anthony Lemke) all of the former criminals seem to be pretty decent.
As the group engage in a prolonged shootout with the big corporate baddies who want to kill off all the miners and take over their company, One, brings in another company to compete for against the evil corporation and the battle is over.
Episode three begins with a young teen boy’s body being found in the storage area by Five, who is visibly shaken by the incident and the group learning that the girl apparently has all their memories in her head. She accesses them via her dreams and one of her recollections includes a reference to the ship being sabotaged. While the group are taking in this information, the ship drops out of FTL and is placed in a high gamma radiation area which endangers them all.
The android risks her “life” to save the ship and crew and One and Six risk their lives to rescue the “robot” from outside the hull. By the end of the show, another element of surprise has been introduced, One, is apparently being chased by his former self. The question now seems to be whether or not all the numbers have a “doppelgänger” and if so, why?
Each of the characters have distinct personalities and while some are a bit of a stereotype, they are portrayed with enough depth to make them all interesting. Ferland, as Five, is the wild card, and Android is the Joker in this abbreviated deck. Five solves puzzles, compulsively and obsessively. The robot provides humor (in a Joss Whedon sort of way; think Cordelia or Anya or even Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as well as fitting the gravity boots of Winona Ryder’s Annabelle Call.
This is a promising new show and one that already keeps the interest level high and has the viewer trying to guess where the series will go from this excellent beginning. Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy.