Dark Matter: Ep 11 & 12 – Two Hour Sucker Punch (Review)

 Dark Matter - Season 2

Kudos to Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie for pulling off a masterful two hour sucker punch.  Rather than opting for a two episode bang up for the finale of season two, Dark Matter did a back-to-back for a penultimate rug pull.  Softening us up for the kill, literally, with a great tale of redemption and further bonding between Five and Three in episode 11.

“Wish I’d Spaced You When I Had the Chance” had the crew enjoying some R&R on a space station. Five is kidnapped by “white slavers” or the space version of traffickers in human flesh. Three goes after the youngest Raza crew member.

This episode proved just how far Marcus Boone has come since the memory loss.  While still canny enough to sneak up on the space station “rednecks” Three manages to get wounded pretty badly.

After saving Five, she then “saves” him. The rest of the crew do their cavalry impression and arrive to keep the GA from taking Boone back.  The crew are also saved from the cloned cops by Five via a well placed missile launcher.

Episode 11 softened things up for the viewer.  Once again, at least one fan was surprised into schmaltzy tears during the exchange of the Three and Five. Although it was obvious that Three was not buying the whole “Wish I’d spaced you when I had the chance,” drill. The fact that Five thought it could work spoke volumes about how he feels about the littlest crew member.

The entire plot line was a set-up.  It took our minds off of last week’s surprise ending where Four asks The Android to give him back his memory.  In fact the last few episodes have lulled the audience into a false sense of security.

Building up the idea of The Android being a friend of all the crew, and showing how tight they have all become was a trap. Even Six has been accepted again.  Then Four’s request to The Android and, like a martial arts expert scarecrow, Ryo Tetsuda has gotten his brain, in the form of those old memories.

After the amusing end to episode 11, “Sometimes in Life You Don’t Get to Choose” takes Dark Matter into an uncomfortable place. (While taking time to show Five smiling shyly as she rescues Hiro, played by Karl Ang.)

Dark Matter - Season 2
“Your highness, I’ve come to rescue you.”

While the previous episode managed to keep us off-balance it is episode 12 that delivers a brilliant jaw dropping  moment.  The sucker punch ending stunned and may have had more than a few fans slamming fist into palm and exclaiming “I knew it!”

After Four has the implant uploaded into his brain, it all seems to be a little too good to be true. He has, as The Android claimed could happen, kept his new memories.  But there are two sides to the new and improved Ryo.

He plans to take back his throne and starts the steps necessary. He forges an important ally and then speaks with his brother. Hiro, then gets his mother to confess she killed the emperor. Ryo and his brother plot to put Four in charge of their people.

It does not go to plan. Every step Ryo makes is overshadowed by someone who seems to know what he is planning. On the Raza, Four is nice to Two, Six and The Android. He smiles and is complimentary to all. Five avoids him, as she remembers all too well what he was like before.

Four, however, does not approach Three. This should have been a warning that something was up with Four.  Boone believes it is something from his past that Ryo knows.

Dark Matter - Season 2
Boone looking for Five.

It is however, more likely that Ryo felt Boone may sense he is not quite and benign as he appears. Four plans to make copies of the blink drive and outfit his country’s ships and win the war. Six vows to  stop him which Four ignores. For now.

Ryo is ambushed in the palace by his stepmother’s supporters. Hiro has been locked away and the evil woman has taken over the throne. The crew come to the rescue while Ryo and Misaki talk about old memories. (She loved him when they were children.)

The childhood infatuation does not, however, stop her from starting to execute Ryo when order to by the Empress. The entire crew of the Raza, sans Five, are captured and Ryo, after being found guilty of his father’s murder, sentenced to death.

The Android shows up in the nick of time to save her friends and Hiro, who shows up with Five, accuses his mother of murder and abdicates his throne. He names his brother Ryo as the real ruler of their people.

He then asks the lead “seer” Hansmeed, played by Daniel Fathers  to tell him what will happen next.  (It was the seers who almost foiled his plot..) Hansmeed predicts that the former empress will be exiled, Hiro will be placed on the cabinet and the seers will work as allies to Ryo.

Ryo tells the man he is wrong. Issuing an order, Misaki and her security force kill the empress, Hiro, and all the seers. Tetsuda puts on the royal ring and declares himself the new emperor.

Sucker.

Punch.

The rest of the Raza crew look on in shock. Cue end credits while the music plays out the episode.  Mad props to all the cast for killing it in these two episodes and as alluded to above, “Mssrs. Mallozzi and Mullie, we are not worthy…”

So far, this second season of Dark Matter has revealed so much more while deftly changing the direction of the show. Last year’s season finale was a shocker but it has paled compared to the events in this second helping of the show.

While the mind races trying to figure out the meaning of the last episode of season two “But First, We Save the Galaxy” the excitement of wondering where season three will lead us is almost too much to consider.

Dark Matter airs its season two finale next week on SyFy and Space. Do not miss this brilliant show’s concluding episode.

CAST:

Guest Starring  Ellen Wong  as Misaki Han-Shireikan  

Dark Matter: SyFy Says Yes to Second Season

Dark Matter Season 1

A  September 1, press release from SyFy has announced that the popular science fiction drama mystery Dark Matter has been given the greenlight for a further 13  episodes in a second season. SyFy will premiere the Prodigy Pictures property in 2016 . Dark Matter follows the six member crew of the Raza who initially wake as strangers in a ship that is about to crash. With no memories of who they are  the group bond and the first season followed their journey as they became a team and then a family.

According to SyFy the series got around 1.8 million viewers during its first season on the network.  The Senior Vice President of Program Strategy for SyFy, Chris Regina revealed that the series has a passionate fanbase who are “loyal and engaged with the show’s creators.

Show runner, executive producer and creator  Joseph Mallozzi told MikesFilmTalk that he is “Looking forward to blowing audience minds for one more year!” Joseph gave the site an in-depth interview about Dark Matter and it’s season one finale.

Dark Matter was created and developed from Joseph and Paul Mullie’s graphic novel of the same name and was developed with Prodigy Pictures (who produce Lost Girl). Dark Matter stars Melissa O’Neil, Marc Bendavid, Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Jodelle Ferland, Roger Cross and Zoie Palmer, with a  recurring role by David Hewlett.

Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Vanessa Piazza and Jay Firestone are executive producers for the show.

For anyone who watched the first season this will be exciting news. The season finale was a two-hour surprise ending that left many questions for fans. Now there will be a chance to learn more about this fascinating verse.  The season one finale can be viewed here and the MikesFilmTalk recap and review can be read here.

Congratulations to Joseph, the cast and the crew for getting a second season. Fans will be, as I am, excited that this brilliant show is coming back.

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…

Dark Matter Two Hour Season Finale (Preview)

Will Wheaton, Alex Mallari Jr and Mark Bendavid
Fans of Dark Matter who have been tuning in each week, and/or binge watching via Hulu, will be stunned by events that take place over the course of the season finale. Two hours of this exciting verse in one sitting that will leave the viewer gasping as the end credits roll and asking a collective question or several. MikesFilmTalk has seen the finale and part of the price of admission, for those who have been allowed to “pre-view” the season finale footage, is to avoid  spoilers so not much can be revealed…yet.

While this does make it difficult to go too in depth on events, some things are admissible. For instance, the presence of Will Wheaton as guest “villain” has been mentioned by at least one other website, TIBS (ThreeIfBySpace.NET) who do a riff on the beard that Wheaton’s character sports in the first half of the two hour finale. So it is acceptable to mention that “that kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the guest big bad.

Preview recap: Two learns more than she wants about her beginnings, One and Three still do not trust one another, Five learns something that upsets her deeply, Four proves he trusts no one and Six plays protector when Five reveals how afraid she is. The Android shows just how much her program is flawed and Calchek may or may not have set up the crew of the Raza yet again.

In another one of those nods to the science fiction genre, we have Wheaton as what seems like the kindly puppet master (maker?)  aka kidnapped scientist, who the team are sent to “rescue.” Alas, things are not as they seem and it is soon all hands on deck as the crew of the Raza fight for their very existence.

As promised by show creator/executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, a lot is revealed in the last episode of the season as in every episode building up to the finale. For whatever reason, the last two episodes have been slapped together so a lot more is discovered while simultaneously asking new questions.

As this is a preview and not a review or recap, things can only be looked at in the vaguest sense. (As mentioned above.) So Two learns about her origins, but not too much or, more importantly, why. Alex (Wheaton) may be the welcoming committee but he is no more the man behind the curtain than he is the chap who is really in charge.

In these last two episodes we learn just how brave Five is and a lot more about her abilities. There are some disturbing things brought to light and Android does something very surprising.

Thus endeth the short recap/preview.

This series has been top notch in not only peeling back layers for each mysterious character in the show but also in keeping just enough back to make the viewer  return for more. Each member of the crew has secrets and the season has slowly exposed them. There are, however,  a number of things that still remain hidden. There are also those nods and winks to other works in the genre.

One thing is certain, Five learns something that shakes her faith in another crew member and this unsettling information is weighing on her mind. Although what is apparent from the moment things go awry, the trust factor has been damaged with more of the Raza crew than just the youngest member of the team.

Five’s backstory has not yet been revealed and now, with the surprise ending of Dark Matter, there is now another character whose history may be a little different than originally shown in the show. The series zooms out of thriller territory and lands firmly in mystery as the finale becomes a cross between Ten Little Indians and a very large “closed room” scenario.

There are still enough comic moments to keep things from getting too heavy  (But not too many.) and there is still that Mass Effect 2 thing going on. Fans of the show will enjoy this last look at season one. Some characters, despite the new “suspicions” continue to act in character…except for one that is.

Zoie Palmer fans will love her performance and as the Android, Palmer does more than touch the viewer’s heart, she keeps them on the edge of their seat for an impressive amount of time. Wheaton as villain also stands out. (Only Will can manage to be so “snotty” in his villainy and yet unsurprisingly, turn out to be a little “b*tch” when things get tough.)

*Sidenote* It is nice to see David Hewlett back as “handler” Talbor Calchek. There can never be too much Hewlett.

Dark Matter airs on Friday as part of SyFy Friday and the season finale will air on August 28. Prepare to be amazed at the end of the first season. Readers of MikesFilmTalk can expect an interview with show creator Joseph Mallozzi and, if the time zone Gods play along, another interview with Four, aka Alex Mallari Jr. talk will be of the finale and the verse. Not necessarily in that order…