Dark Matter: Joseph Mallozzi Talks Season Finale and Season Two [UPDATE]

Dark Matter Season 1

[UPDATE] For those fans of Dark Matter who watched the season finale and read this interview afterward, the actor seen walking the “long slow walk” off the ship with Six (Roger Cross) is none other than Canadian actorJeff Teravainen who plays Galactic Authority Officer Lt. Anders in episode 8 and the final episode of the season. To all those who ventured guesses via social media thanks for playing.

On August 26, after watching the season one finale of Dark Matter, MikesFilmTalk (MFT) got to interview show runner, creator, and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi.

Dark Matter is the latest offering from the man whose name is synonymous with science fiction. The award winning writer/producer has been involved with all three Stargate shows, SG1, Atlantis and Universe.

Joseph and I have been direct messaging on Twitter since I began writing reviews and recaps of Dark Matter and the first thing I discovered when talking to him on the phone is that Mr. Mallozzi is one heck of a nice chap.

During our call, Joseph spoke of many things; not, however, ships and sails and sealing wax,  but the topics were varied.

Dark Matter Cast: Anthony Lemke is not like his character but in some  ways, he can be. When someone new shows up on set, it is Anthony who automatically  meets and greets the visitor.

Jodelle Ferland is the most experienced in terms of acting. Jodelle has been working since the ripe old age of 2 and now at 20, she has a total of 18 years in front of the camera.

Jodelle and Roger both lived near Joseph, as did many of the cast and crew,  and it made for a real feeling of family.

Roger Cross and Jodelle  Ferland used to watch The Walking Dead at Joseph’s place, along with his girlfriend, and he would make  milkshakes for the occasion.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Jodelle Ferland (Five) and Roger Cross (Six). “The Walking Dead Fans.”

Alex Mallari Jr came across as such as nice and open person in conversations after auditions that Joseph actually began to secretly root for him to play Four. Once he had been cast,  Alex also had to come in very early each day to have his tattoos  covered up before filming. He got up even earlier to work out every day.

Julie Benz (Star of Defiance, another SyFy Friday show) used to walk her dogs in the same park that Joseph walks his and they talked quite often. She is, Joseph says, “A very nice lady.”

None of the Dark Matter cast knew the ending until right before shooting on episode 1.13 began. Joseph took the entire group of actors aside and revealed “the reveal.”

Dark Matter Season Finale:

MFT:  Thank you so much for having a chat with me tonight. I’ve got to tell you I just finished watching the season finale and have one thing to say, “Wow!”

Joseph: Well, when I first envisioned this show, or conceived the show and had the initial concept,  I had two big moments in my mind that I wanted to hit.  Everything else sort of fell into place. Those two big moments were; the big reveal in the pilot where they find out  that they are murderers and mercenaries and the last sequence of the finale where the Galactic Authority sweeps in and you see all our familiar surroundings…The feeling of the ship was like a home away from home in many ways.  Not just for the characters but for the viewers as well and to see all these strangers come and take it (the ship) and to see everyone carted off and the last shot is the empty corridor and   Andy Mikita, the director of the episode, did a wonderful  job there.

MFT: Plus you get that moment of unreality where you see that Six is walking out. And you’re like “Oh no!”

Joseph: Right. Exactly.

MFT: The first thing I thought was, “Six?? He’s the grown up of the group. It can’t be him.”

Joseph: Well, I’ll just say, there’s more to the story there. It’s not as simple as…on the surface it looks like he’s just turned against them but there’s more there…A few hints that are in the episode and then if we get a season two…Well, we’ve already got a game plan and everything will be explained in the second season. And there will be a lot more questions.  If you thought season one’s finale was big, ooh you wait till you see the end of season two.

MFT: Jumping now to Five and the conversation that she had with Six – it seemed to me that everyone kept putting a gun in her hand over the last two episodes.

Joseph: Yes, yes…

MFT: And she tells Six now I’m more like you and he says that ironically they’ve all be trying to be more like her and failing. To me, Five is the most mysterious member out of the entire crew, we know least about her out of everyone else on the ship. She is my favorite character, I refer to her as the “Artful Dodger,” she was the street kid who picked pockets to survive and I thought it was interesting that when she heard the recording her level of trust went right out the window. It shows just how fragile their relationships all are.

Joseph: I’m curious, Michael, as you watched the finale and you drew toward the end…Did you have any suspicions, a suspect?

MFT: I decided it was Five, especially after the tape (recording) and the reveal that she could do so much more than we ever suspected, like programming and so on, and that the dream, at the beginning of the episode, revealed that her experience with this bunch on the ship was pretty abysmal and  this caused her to wipe everyone’s memories so they could all start fresh. Am I miles away here?

Joseph: Not really, you are fairly close.  All the pieces are there to figure out. I said to the crew, the cast, just before we started filming on episode 13…We actually had 12 out of 13 episodes scripted before we went to film except for the last one. Even then. we kept  the reveal a secret except for the last day and I gathered the cast on the bridge like an Agatha Christie moment, “I’ve gathered you all here…” Which, incidentally, we ended up filming and that we’ll release as a  special feature.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Five, the memory wiper…

Joseph: I told the cast that the person who wiped their (character’s) memories may not be the one to worry about. She (Five) finds the recording,  she overhears Two and Four threatening someone and she confides in him and Six, who at this point becomes savvy about certain things has pieced it together and realizes that she is the one who wiped everyone’s  memories. Like the Android points out in Episode 3, the code was rushed because they had to get to the stasis pod, maybe that was not the original intent…And again this is something we’ll explore further down the road…But in all probability she was going to target certain memories and as a result of the accident,  or the rushed code,  wipes everyone’s, including her own. She asks Six, “Well why would I do this” and he says to protect someone. It’s clear now why she did it and who needed protecting.

MFT: Well, I’ve got to say that I love everything that you guys have done and for me everything clicks into place. Sorry, this is turning more into a fan-boy gush than a  Q&A.

Joseph: That’s all right I love it, I love feedback.

MFT: I mentioned, in my notes for the finale preview, that we finally meet Two’s Geppetto and he turns out to be an evil bugger strapped in a bed. It is not even Will Wheaton’s character as he is the tool, or instrument, of the bed-ridden man.

Joseph: This is another one of those moments where more questions arise. You know the man ask Alex, “How old is this body?” Alex replies “24,” so you see what happens. Indeed, what does happen? Why does  this individual need a body and his regular forms deteriorate so his team are working on developing a superior form which is why they created her (Rebecca/Two/Portia Lynn) and why they are working on another prototype. And the work is so secret that they cannot allow  her or the crew of the Raza to survive. If we do get a second season there will be more to come on that front.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Rebecca/Two the first prototype…

MFT: I love that whole part of that storyline. I mentioned  in my review that the first thing I thought of was the video game Mass Effect 2 with Miranda Lawson, the genetically enhanced “perfect” human character. I love the way the show gives nods and winks to other works in the genre.

Joseph: My influences for the show were varied. I mean I grew up being into comic books and anime, science fiction and television, film. We like to drop the occasional tributes throughout, and we used to do the same in “Stargate.”

MFT: I just love it. Going back to show and the actors, a lot of whom (my apologies to the cast here) I’d never heard of before the show, Zoie Palmer’s Android goes through the ultimate of almost sacrificing herself for Two, will she get a chance to do that again, but this time for more than just Two?

Joseph: Well, you know, Paul (Mullie) and I have convened an early writer’s room, we haven’t heard whether there will be a season two but we are fairly confident…We have the 13 episode game plan, we have the beginning, middle and the end. We have the major moments that we want to hit and we have 7 out of the 13 episodes outlined and we have some great stuff planned for all our crew, including the Android.

MFT: Speaking of other cast members, my first question for Alex Mallari Jr as Four, is did you channel your inner Caine. [Joseph laughs] You know, “Accused of a crime he did not commit, Caine is forced to flee his country…”

Joseph: It’s funny you know. That when we held auditions, I had to call several actors back, around 50 or so, and Alex was so honest and open that I ended up secretly rooting for him to get the part of Four.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Nice chap…Alex Mallari Jr, aka Four.

Joseph: He does a great job as do the entire cast.

MFT: Alex does come across as incredibly sincere on screen. I’ve sort of (rightly or wrongly) classed him as a sort of Jean-Claude Van Damme, a very fit chap, martial artist who wanted to act and is very good at it.

Joseph: He makes it look easy but Alex is the one, I mention it on the blog, who gets up at three in the morning to get his tattoos covered each day and then on top of that has to work out. It is amazing how many weapons he mastered for the first season.

MFT: I’ve got to ask, re: Two…Are there any other personalities in there, First there was Two, then Portia and now Rebecca…

Joseph: No. Those were just names, not personalities. Alex called her Rebecca and when she left she became Portia. It is interesting to note that the name she took for herself, she abandoned Rebecca for Portia and essentially she also abandons  Portia  to become Two.

MFT: I’ve just got to mention Will Wheaton’s character. I adore Wheaton anyway, since his days as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and everything else he’s done. His Alex was so snotty as a villain and yet the second things get rough, he’s gone.  Alex points out that Rebecca has nothing wrong with her. There is no flaw, so essentially she is just naturally aggressive.

Joseph: Yes. [laughing]

MFT: Just out of curiosity, did you have an “alternate” ending set up? I know that you said this was your ending from day one, but did you have a “plan b” if things went a different direction? Or was it always going to be that situation where everyone was all out and “down for the count” at the end?

Joseph: Yes! I always approach each installment of each season like a book with a  definite beginning, middle and end. So basically as a result of what happens in the finale, season two heads off into a wild and very different direction. But it was always that way…I knew who the mole was going to be and one of the great things about the show was we had time to really develop the stories. Basically it allowed us to seed in little clues and hints along the way.  

Dark Matter - Season 1
Zoie Palmer as The Android

Joseph: You know it’s funny, I just saw, on the internet, where someone posted a photo from episode 3 where the Android is about to go out on her EVA and she turns to Two and Two says, “We can’t do this without you.” And Android says, Well, you can” and then turns around and leaves. I remember people going on line and saying what a weird inflection for her to say “you can.” And other people going “no, no, no, that was just the way the actress’s delivered the line.”  The entire first season was peppered with little clues and hints. One, I’ll leave with you, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the individual who flanks Six in the “slow walk” out at the end, you’ve seen before.

MFT: I thought he looked familiar! But to be honest, I was still too flummoxed at Six walking out while everyone else was carted out…I did think,  “Blimey he looks familiar” and the more I think about it, I seem to remember seeing him at the mining community, if I’m not mistaken.

Joseph: You are mistaken!

MFT: Darn! I’ll have to look this one up now [I’ve still not figured out where this chap was before, although I think it was at the General’s camp where Six went for revenge.] I’ve got to ask, was it One that Two and Four wanted to “off?”

Joseph: Well, all that will be revealed in season 2, it could have been One or it could have been Six…That will all be explored more in the next season. It is safe, though, to assume it is one of those two.

MFT: What was the biggest difference between working on Dark Matter and Stargate?

Joseph: Miles different. For a start I was playing in someone else’s sandbox essentially. In Dark Matter we got to tell our own stories, although we did to an extent in Stargate as well. There were differences in budget obviously and things were set up differently. Of course we were working on 13 episodes for Dark Matter versus 22 or 20 and in Stargate we had all the stories in advance and that was such a luxury.  In terms of our own show, everything was planned accordingly, Paul and I planned for each episode and we knew we weren’t going to run out of money at the end of the year.

The interview finished shortly after and Joseph revealed two things. One, he is a huge Stephen Chow fan (Shaolin Soccer) and he is pretty confident that Dark Matter will get the pick up for season two.

Sadly, it looks like the Time Zone God, or perhaps the Jet Lag Deity has sabotaged the Alex Mallari Jr. interview for now.  MikesFilmTalk will be covering Dark Matter, season two, if it is picked up and I have already put in requests to speak with Joelle Ferland and Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer and Alex and…

MikesFilmTalk would like to thank Joseph Mallozzi for taking time out of his busy evening for chatting about: Dark Matter, why Canadian TV has so many great shows out at the moment and a slew of other subjects that did not make into this interview.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Melissa O’Neil and Anthony Lemke, Two and Three…
Dark Matter - Season 1
Mark BenDavid aka One – opting not to kill Three…

Stitchers: Full Stop Preview & Emma Ishta Talks Season Finale

SALLI RICHARDSON-WHITFIELD, DAMON DAYOUB in Full Stop
Anyone who has been watching Stitchers from episode one will be full fledged fans at this point. The season finale airs on August 4 and is titled Full Stop. Emma Ishta fans can read her exclusive interview for MikesFilmTalk at the bottom of this preview. For those viewers who are not anglophiles or English, “full stop” is Queen’s English for the end of a sentence, aka period. With all the reveals that take place in the series’ season finish the title is not just apt but clever.

The latest episode, Future Tense was, for all intents and purposes, quite light-hearted, a pause for the viewer before the world of Kirsten gets darker and more disturbing. In Full Stop, all roads do indeed lead to Ms. Clark but they do not stop there despite the rather final sounding episode title.

In Full Stop much is revealed about Kirsten and quite a lot is uncovered about her co-worker Dr. Goodkin. Before the final credits roll, an item seen in an earlier stitch shows up before the opening credits and another turns up just before the end credits. Kirsten discovers that she had a “guardian angel,” Camille gets an opportunity to get on a “Fisher” roll (watch the episode, it will make sense) and a chance to practice what Cameron has taught her. The detective goes against Les Turner’s wishes and is later shot. Linus identifies Ed’s key, and he, along with Camille and Kirsten, find out where the key fits.

Detective Fisher, prior to being shot, is told by Turner that discovering who killed Ed Clark is not an option. Reluctantly, Fisher tells the big boss that he will leave the case alone, but Turner is not fooled and he tells Maggie so. Later, Fisher wants to tell Kirsten about Les at a restaurant. Camille and Cameron were invited and Quincy is clearly annoyed.

When Cameron shows up late, and Fisher reacts badly to his presence, Camille drags Kirsten off to the lady’s room. While the two are inside, and Camille continues her Fisher riff, shots are heard and rushing back into the restaurant the girls find three bodies on the floor around their table; Fisher, with blood on his chest, Cameron and a waitress.

The show then has its first stitch, Kirsten in the dead waitress to see who the shooter was, and Cameron, who was injured, decides he needs a backup and he chooses Camille. This goes over like a lead balloon with his best bud Linus and after last week’s Camille storyline (dinner with the parents) their closeness is strained and she is surprised to find Linus reacting so badly.

Camille and Cameron talk about how odd it is that Kirsten does so well at stitching and he reveals that out of all the volunteers who tried only Marta could do it. They then do a stitch simulation, all hands on hands and thumbs touching and Linus comes in. He is not happy although it appears it is less about the “getting physical” aspect and more about Camille not being “qualified.” When Linus questions Cameron about his choice of back-up, Linus is told he lacks “finesse.”

After the waitress stitch, Kirsten and Camille do a composite and Maggie recognizes the features of the shooter, Robert Barbiero (Henry Rollins) who worked with the Stitchers program 20 years previously. The man was close to Clark’s mother and father.

As the episode progresses, Kirsten learns that she was not born with Temporal Dysphasia and she learns a lot more about her father (C. Thomas Howell), mother and Barbiero and some surprising things about her childhood. One unexpected bit of information has to do with a fellow Stitchers team member and an encounter that, apparently, neither of them remember.

Stitchers feels a lot like an ensemble piece, and it is to a degree just that, but everything revolves around Emma Ishta’s Kirsten Clark. As season one has progressed, it began to look as though the young lady was “born to stitch” or made to stitch (the implication being that her destiny had been programmed, for lack of a better word) and all the team were connected to Ms. Clark.

The known connections are: Maggie and Les Turner through Ed Clark, mother, father and the stitchers program and Camille; who as her roommate was hired by Maggie to spy on Kirsten. Thus far, the only immediate team member who does not “have a history” with Kirsten is Linus, as well as new team member Detective Quincy Fisher; he only met Kirsten when Ed Clark died.

As the final episode progresses, Kirsten learns a lot more about her past, most of the information is revealing and disturbing…it is also quite touching. However, for all these lump inducing moments in the episode, the show has turned even darker in the area of the stitchers program. A man killed purposefully, to act as a stitch message machine, and the possibility that Fisher was shot (At Turner’s orders or someone else’s?) to keep him from looking into Ed Clark’s murder both point to an even darker and more disturbing side to the organization.

Just as disturbing is Kirsten’s decision to lie to everyone else on the Stitchers team…except for Cameron.

For all the revelations in the finale, more questions are left unanswered. Whose voice is on that phone? Who was in the car? What was the connection between Barbiero and Kirsten’s mother and father?

This episode has some pretty intense moments as well as some emotional ones (check out the montage of memories toward the end) and the tension is cranked to the limit before those end credits roll.

“Team Stitchers” (the actors, crew, writers and creator Jeff Schechter) have pulled out all stops to give us a finale that crackles with electricity, emotion and suspense. The usual pop culture references are there (and has a RoboCop quote used twice and, oh man, the second time will induce a lump in your throat) and while the comic relief has been pulled back for this episode, it is still in evidence…just.

The Stitchers season finale airs August 4 on ABC Family. Do not miss this event, if you are not a fan yet, start watching now and get caught up. Quality television like this does not happen very often. For those who are fans already, read on to hear Emma Ishta‘s thoughts on the finale.

Emma Ishta as Kirsten Clark in Stitchers
Emma Ishta as Kirsten Clark in Stitchers

WARNING: Some of the questions and answers in the interview come dangerously close to spoiler territory…Just saying.

MikesFilmTalk: Hi Emma, thanks for chatting with MikesFilmTalk about the season finale of Stitchers! First of all, congratulations on getting a second season!

Emma: Thank you, we’re all very excited about the second season and the chance to learn more about Kirsten.

MikesFilmTalk: Well, I just finished watching the episode and…Wow. [Emma laughs] I know you have to be careful about spoilers and things, but right off the bat, I’ve got to ask…How great did it feel for Kirsten to “take charge” in the final stitch of the episode, overriding Maggie…

Emma: I think she felt pretty great about it! There has been a bit of conflict between them from the start. So when she took over it was very satisfying, I think.

MikesFilmTalk: All roads really do lead back to Kirsten…and Cameron…and…seemingly, everyone but Linus. Is he suddenly going to pop up with some sort of connection?

Emma: Wow, that ‘s interesting that you brought that up. I had not realized that there was not a connection between the two…We will, hopefully learn more about everyone else in the second season, Camille and Linus (and their relationship) and all the other team members. We’ll also, hopefully, learn more about Linus. He may still turn out to have a history with Kirsten, you never know.

MikesFilmTalk: Assuming that you are pretty much in the dark about plot arc and reveals…how surprising was it to learn about all those reveals? And what about the Cameron connection?

Emma Ishta: That was surprising. I was sort of aware of all the other “hidden” connections, like the Stitchers program, Maggie and so on, but the Cameron and Kirsten connection was new. In terms of the characters, I don’t believe Kirsten was aware of it and, oddly enough, I don’t think the character of Cameron, was aware of it either. Which puts a different spin on the information and their relationship.

MikesFilmTalk: Now what about Kirsten’s mum…It is obvious, isn’t it, that she is going to be the one talking to Barbiero on the phone and she is in the car…

Emma: That’s an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought of that…

MikesFilmTalk: Well, in a stitch later in the episode, you end up in a memory of a young Barbiero looking at young Kirsten and her mother. The second you touch your mum’s arm in the stitch you wind up right back in the alley with Barbiero…

Emma: Wow…that would be interesting, I really haven’t thought in that direction at all. But you know, in the stitches, Kirsten does really get pulled around a lot and pushed in different directions.

MikesFilmTalk: Agreed. Right, final question. How much fun has it been to play Kirsten?

Emma: I’ve really enjoyed making this journey with her and holding Kirsten’s hand, so to speak, through everything she’s been going through.

MikesFilmTalk: “We’ve enjoyed the journey right along with you! You really brought Kirsten to life. Thanks for the chat!”

Stitchers Full Stop August 4, ABC Family. Be there.