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.)

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“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.

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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: Take the Shot – Butterfly (Review)

Dark Matter - Season 2

Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie answer the question about  whether Androids dream in “Take the Shot.” Dark Matter this week had a splendid bit of misdirection that kept everyone guessing right till the end.

There was a brilliant nod to “Solaris” and perhaps a wink to Event Horizon as well.  Both films deal with people who were not really there and each had characters who could physically interact with these “visions.”

The storyline takes up where last week’s episode left off. The Android is in a nightgown and in a bedroom surrounded by a snowy forest.  This time the dream includes the other Android who offered  her the upgrade in episode four, Victor.

All of the dream takes place while The Android is on the charge pad.  When she wakes up, The Android tells Two about the dream.  She then tells the crew  of the Android “simulation” and about  her mistake.

Both the simulation and The Android act like Tweedledum and Tweedledee during the briefing. The quibbling between the two annoys Three and the rest of the crew are not keen on this behavior either.  Two talks about rebooting The Android and Three argues that would be tantamount to killing the robot.

The crew decide to put The Android back on the charge pad and she retreats into her world of dreams as her friends decide on what to do with her. The simulation does a system diagnostic.  Here is where the misdirection begins.

Once  The Android steps into the charger bay and closes her eyes, Four experiences flashing lights and sees someone walk past his door. It is Misaki Han-Shireikan and as the lights continue to flash in the Raza, Four follows the woman and they fight.

Misaki chastises Ryo for not helping his people. She also calls him a coward. Ryo protests that without his memory, he does not know who to trust.  Throughout the fight, Misaki is kicking Ryo’s arse and she ultimately wins the fight.  Ryo is left slumped on the floor having been run through with Misaki’s samurai sword.

We are as stunned as he is.

Two also has a “dream.” Rook’s technicians have caught up with  her on the Raza. They capture her and are about to torture her.  Five calls Six and asks him to check on their leader as she cannot contact her on the comms link.

Six takes Nyx and they find Two standing in a corridor. She is frozen in one spot and not responding.  When Six touches Two she attacks  and begins choking the life out of  him. In her mind, he is one of Rook’s men. Nyx knocks Two out.

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Portia Lin stands transfixed by her vision

Three finds that Sarah (Natalie Brown) has returned from the dead.  The love of his life urges him to kill himself so they can be together.  Five asks Six to check on Three saving his life. 

(Three’s dream was interesting, and emotional, as he tries to take control. He realizes this cannot be real but his love is so deep for Sarah he almost kills himself.)

All these dreams take place while The Android is in her own dream.  The robot, however,  knows she is “dreaming”  and Victor attempts to convince her into staying in his world. He mentions Zhuangzi and his butterfly dream.  Is The Android dreaming of the Raza or is she really dreaming of Victor and his world.

Back on the ship the simulation android reveals that the ship is infected with a system virus. The hacked computer is taking over all functions. It is, says the simulation, The Android trying to take control of the Raza. The  program urges the crew to “kill” her “real” counterpart.

It also reveals that the dreams, or visions, were caused by the neural uplinks with the ship’s system. Two orders Four to erase the uplinks to prevent further issues.  The simulation android begins to pressure the crew to destroy The Android.

Five argues that The Android has not infected the ship nor would she try to harm them.  The robot has a loyalty not only to the crew but, as they learned in the parallel world, to Portia Lin for making her more human.

The simulation becomes strident in her commands to kill The Android.  Three, even after being told to “take the shot” cannot bring himself to pull the trigger.

Inside The Android’s dream she sees a news broadcast. A news anchor reads that the crew of the Raza are under attack and that the ship is helpless.  The robot makes the decision to leave her dream and save her friends.

The virus floods the Raza with a poisonous gas and all the crew, sans Two, head to the Marauder.  Two and The Android take on the simulation and the program tries to kill Two.  Five is the first person Two sees when she regains consciousness and the youngest Raza crew member has once again helped to save the Raza.

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We learn that the parallel universe’s Truffaut infected the ship when the Raza crew stole their version of the blink drive.  It is interesting to note, that while Two and The Android defeated the virus and saved the ship and crew, it was Five, one again, who was the voice of reason.

This explanation rings true as all the affected were hit with their weaknesses.  Ryo for his guilt at leaving Zairon in turmoil, Portia’s fear of Rook and losing her power and Marcus’ love for Sarah.

Five is, despite being the youngest member of the crew, the “adult” in this scenario.  She often is the one crew member who stands up for what is right.

Initially the dreams or visions seem to be some sort of blowback from the other universe. Then the connection is made to The Android’s dreams. In the end,however,  it was the all powerful Commander Truffault from the alternate universe  who caused the dreams with her virus.  This was a brilliant look at bending reality and the effects it would have on this world’s crew.

Although, at the end of the episode, it is revealed that some blowback has indeed taken place. Ryo/Four, after seeing his other self ruling the Principality of Zairon, has not erased his brain implant. His vision and his guilt may prompt him to return and reclaim his throne.

It appears that this Raza crew may lose Ryo as well. Will he talk his shipmates into helping him regain his throne? More importantly, will he be able to after getting back his old memory.

Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy and Space.  Tune in and see what happens to the crew of the Raza next.

CAST:

Guest Starring Brendan Murray as Victor and Ellen Wong  as Misaki Han-Shireikan  

Dark Matter: Going Out Fighting – Do Androids Dream? (Review)

 Dark Matter - Season 2

What a rollercoaster ride “Going Out Fighting” was. Four and Nyx having sex, Three knowing about it,   Rook returning, Two dying,  Six saving Three’s life again and that scary-arsed thing inside of Three. Dark Matter managed to provide enough adrenaline fueled terror inside that stasis pod to last the whole season. But what about The Android? Was that a dream there at the end?

After last week’s collapse of Two, it was a foregone conclusion that Rook was going to make another appearance. (Of course it was signposted back in episode 204 “We Were Family” when the Dwarf Star Technologies station was sketched.) The smarmy villain that we love to loathe proved to be just as horrible as the first time he appeared.

The main story line was of Portia’s attempt to replace the nanites in her system.  There is an underlying thread of Ryo/Four becoming fixated with returning to his home The Principality of Zairon.  After learning of his parallel self ruling Zairon, Four has been watching reports of what transpires there.

He knows that without his previous memories he cannot return to rule. This may cause further problems for the skilled fighter.

Portia has a “tune up” performed by The Android so she can ascend the elevator to Dwarf Star Labs.  It is temporary and if she does not get “fixed” properly she will die.  Six and Three team up to help infiltrate the lab. Using retinal scan tech, the two men accompany lab technician Eric Waver (Jonas Chernick) to retrieve new nanites. 

Sadly, Eric is dispatched  after Rook catches the three men stealing the nanites. Three and Six are taken prisoner and Three has some tentacled thing put into him…

Two meets “Portia 2.0” who is, interestingly enough a male this time around, stronger better and more silent than she is.  He matter-of-factly kicks Two’s butt and when Nyx joins the fray, defeats her quickly as well. He is about to kill her when Four intercedes with some well placed bullets and a thorough skewering with his samurai sword.

Portia dies.

Three is acting strangely since being introduced the the boxed thing while Rook was questioning him and does not react to Two’s death. Six takes blood from Portia 2.0 and injects into the dead woman. It brings her back to life. The new and improved nanites start work immediately repairing and replacing the old ones.

Dark Matter - Season 2
Three, aka Marcus Boone

Back on the Raza,  Three is tampering with the ship when Six confronts him.  Three goes for his gun but is shot by Two.  They  put him in a holding cell and when Three wakes up, he begins  an alien sounding roar until he is shot by Two, again.

The crew put him in a stasis pod and the thing inside Three starts pouring out of him and gathering on the transparent lid of the device.  They move the pod near an air lock and after pulling Three free, space the creature left inside the pod.

Three is “cured” but The Android has an odd look on her face. She tells the crew she will be  charging. Shortly after, The Android is shown waking up on a bed, wearing a nightgown, and there is a snowy wooded vista behind her. Is she dreaming?

First of all, “Dark Matter”  reached new heights of fear in this episode. The black liquid escaping from Three, while making that unearthly scream, was damn near terrifying. (For some reason, it brought to mind The Thing, and that made it even scarier.)

In retrospect, it is unclear what was more frightening:  The idea of the tentacle, the possession of Three by the intelligent, and screaming, thing that came streaming out of Boone in the pod or the fact that it turned the man into a ren sleep puppet.

Secondly, the odd behavior of The Android brings up a lot of questions.  Is the scene at the end prompted by her new “upgrade?”  Was it related to whatever the possessed Three was doing?  Or was it triggered by using the blink drive after tinkering with it again.

The last theory seems a good fit.  Could  there be an Android in another parallel universe that is a nightgown wearing gal who has a dynamite bedroom? Or is this a world where The Android is a “real girl?” (Sorry could not resist the Pinocchio reference.)

While the blink theory is a favorite it does seem more probable that the upgrade is the real culprit here. The Android has been slightly “off” since the software was installed.  Her stealing Five’s hot chocolate, while funny, was another sign that things are not quite right here.

Lastly: Do androids dream? If they do in this verse, it is not of electric sheep but king sized beds in a lavish bedroom…

Dark Matter continues to flow smoothly into new territory, with the odd jolt of characters dying or changing dramatically. While Six seems more like his “old self,”  The Android is entering a new phase. This evolution of the quirky character should be more than a little interesting.

Dark Matter - Season 2
The Android. Evolution, metamorphosis, or something else?

The series airs Fridays on SyFy and Space.  Do not miss this brilliant show as it offers more in one episode than other shows provide in an entire season.

CAST:

Guest Starring Wil Wheaton as Rook

Dark Matter: She’s One of Them Now – Cloning Around (Review)

 Dark Matter - Season 2

Dark Matter “She’s One of Them Now” starts off a bit lighter than last week’s “downer” episode. The Raza crew kidnap Talbor Calchek so he can help them to grab some transit pods. These will be used to send clones around to grab the prototype “drive” that works with the “key” that Alicia Reynaud wants so desperately.

This episode actually shows what that “key” is really for. Which means that One is not going to be saved as it is not actually a “time travel” device.   We also learn more about the resident drug addict Devon.  Before the end of the episode, Nyx and Devon bond a little and Five  shows just how good she is at hacking.

The transit travel pods are a personal favorite and these clone devices are used by Three, Four and Five to do a recon of Reynaud’s facility. Two sets up the rules for the fact finding mission and The Android is fixated on how snug Three’s traveling outfit is.

In terms of comedy Hewlett’s Calchek and Palmer’s android are pretty even in this episode. The two work brilliantly together as a double act. Calchek’s yells for attention behind his locked door is a great example.

The Android answers his desperate pleas. Calchek mentions he has been yelling for a half hour and he is upset that no one heard him. The Android replies that she heard him sometime ago and she “just assumed you’d give up eventually.”

Later, as The Android monitors the mission, Calchek brings up her illegal upgrade.  Their interchange is brilliant and funny. He makes a remark that could be deemed insulting. “No offense,” Calchek says. “None taken,” The Android replies after giving Calchek a long stare.

She then manages to completely intimidate the man by giving three different possible explanations for her upgrade. Between each statement, she takes several steps coming closer to Calchek. As she gets nearer, his discomfort grows does  her menacing air.

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The mission at Reynaud’s facility is also rather funny.  The clones of Three, Four and Five jump two scientists and their bodyguard.  They then swap clothes and Five wears a scientist smock several sizes too big. She complains and Three says “Ah you look like a ‘widdle’ scientist.”

Earlier Five learns what the card does; it powers a “blink” drive.  The trio go to retrieve the device. They go into a room where the drive is set on top of a lighted stand. Five grabs the machine and as they go to leave an automated voice asks for a password.

“Password?” Three says and the voice instantly says “incorrect password.” The trio hurriedly  head back to the pods. They are jumped by security and Three  tells Five to head back to the ship with the device. He rambles on as he convinces her to leave and Four interjects: “You know she’s gone already, right?”

“She’s One of Them Now” applies specifically  to Nyx. She is now, according to Devon, a crew member of the Raza.  The episode shows us a more confident Five, a more accepted Six we see The Android continuing  to “evolve” with her new upgrade.

While the episode was, for the most part, quite amusing it ends on a downer and a cliffhanger.  On the bright side, Devon is allowed a chance at redemption and he takes it. The Seers  want him to divulge the whereabouts of Nyx and he refuses. The medic pays dearly for his loyalty to Nyx and the crew as the Seers stab him cruelly in the stomach.

Devon is left writhing on the floor with blood pouring from his wound. It appears that he will not be inadvertently selling out his temporary crew mates after all.

The Raza try out the “blink” device. As the drive initiates,  an ear piercing  sound is heard and The Android states that the thing is not working correctly. As the crew protect their ears the Raza vanishes.

Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have specialized in warming up the audience only to splash freezing water in their faces.  This was, for the most part, an amusing episode. Devon’s apparent death at the hands of the Seers was a shocking moment. It also put the medic in a different light.

(This sequence also proves  what Nyx said in the prior episode to be true, the collective mind did work better with Milo. Now that he is dead, the Seers predictive powers have waned.)

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The backstory of Devon explained his drug addiction and the chance for redemption  made him more human. Nyx’s support of her new crew mate also added dimension to her character.

A little contemplation:

The Nerd Recites points out that Dark Matter utilizes tropes and narrative  from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  The show does indeed do this to an extent. Which brings up an interesting scenario.

Most science fiction can be easily classified as “westerns in space.” Using the narrative and tropes from Kurosawa’s samurai film (Which was the director’s homage to John Ford westerns.) makes Dark Matter a “double western.”

Apart from the  comic interplay between Calchek and The Android the second highlight of the episode has to be Five’s deadpan killing of Three and Four’s clones. Taking a note from Emily Blunt’s character in Edge of TomorrowFive does not hesitate, “See you back on the ship.” Bang. Bang.

While One may not be saved with this new blink drive, the crew now have access to game changing tech.  The crew stuck in the middle of two waring factions now have a “level playing field” as Six rightly says.

Thinking of the small crew caught between warring factions it brings to mind another Kurosawa classic “Yojimbo.”  Any thoughts on this one?

Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy and Space TV. If you are not watching this show, you should be.

CAST:

Guest Stars:  Melanie Liburd  –  Nyx,  Shaun Sipos  –  Devon,  Mpho Koaho Inga Cadranel – Alicia Reynaud and David Hewlett  – Talbor Calchek.

Dark Matter: We Were Family – With Six You Get Replicants (Review)

Dark Matter - Season 2

Dark Matter “We Were Family” takes a look at what formed Three, aka Marcus Boone and pays homage to the six “replicants” in Blade Runner and “David” in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. It also takes the Raza crew back to where they were before last week’s stressful adventure.

In terms of homages,  or at the very least a huge nod and wink,  Oliver Twist and Fagin are also featured in this episode.  Which, in turn, elicits the  delightful image of  Three as the Artful Dodger growing up,

“We Were Family” also reveals that Five has a crush on Devon the intern. (Who appears to have an addiction problem) It is also learned just what the “asset” really is; not Five at all but the card she stole.

As a reminder to those who may have forgotten, this card affects “pockets of inter-dimensional space-time.” A powerful bit of technology that may become instrumental in saving Derrick Moss, if he is really dead, and bringing him back to the Raza.

(At least that is our theory here at Mike’s Film Talk.  Are we right? Tell us what you think the card will be used for in the comment section below.)

Back to the episode’s storylines:  Titch was Three,and those were his idyllic memories that Five was living in season one.  The Android takes one step closer to becoming a real girl and Nyx proves to be surprising in many ways. Six is patched up by Devon but considering that “hand shake”  it is doubtful it was done thoroughly.

(Sidenote:  The Android has always felt like a cross between Pinocchio and “David” from A.I. in that she longs to be the real thing.  Although the result of her scan by Victor (Brendan Murray) seems to prove that there was a Geppetto who initially programmed this creation. Her self perceived flaw is non existent. She was designed to be the way she is, or considering Five’s expertise, “adjusted.” )

Three borrows money from Five, who hid some of her stash from the GA.  As per usual, he is overly cheerful and friendly right up to learning how much interest he must pay.  Later he meets Arax in a bar and his childhood Fagin turns up.

Two has Five sketch the facility where she was “made.” Nyx accompanies the Raza commander to a travel agency.  There they find out the building belongs to Dwarf Star Technologies and that it is on Terra Prime, aka Earth.

Devon, Five and The Android all go to shop for medical provisions.  There are things needed to revive and surgically repair Six.  Comically, before leaving the Raza, The Android asks to come along to observe normal people. Five asks why she cannot just observe the crew. The robot responds that they are “atypical” and not a good representation of humanity.  Five is taken aback:

“Did you just insult us?”

Dark Matter - Season 2
Ferland as Five, Shaun Sipos as Devon

At the space station store The Android is approached by security and as he questions her “Victor” arrives and asks why his Android is being harassed.  The rent-a-cop leaves and The Android reveals she has stolen a toothbrush for her friend.  Victor takes The Android to meet his friends.

Victor is not a “real boy” either. He and his four friends are Androids as well, but with an upgrade that makes them seem and sound more human.  Initially the small group distrust and denigrate  The Android. Then Victor scans her and reveals that she was programmed to be the way she is.

He later offers her the same upgrade and then takes her shopping, a’la Pretty Woman.  While The Android may not be there yet, Victor is obviously smitten with his new friend.

Three goes on a heist with his “father” Larcan Tanner (Nigel Bennett)  and his crew. He learns that the men have kidnapped a pilot’s son and he is not happy.  Three is even less pleased when the men shoot the father. As they head toward the stolen payroll, Three learns that Larcan lied about the scar on his neck. He also works out that Tanner killed his parents. 

In a brilliantly staged shootout, Three kills Tanner’s crew.  He then finds Larcan and the boy. Sending the youngster out of the room, He braces Tanner with the truth. As the old man professes his love for “Titch” he pulls a gun to shoot his “son.” Three gets there first and leaves the cabin with the boy as Tanner sits choking and blinking slowly at the table.

Arax drops off the “asset” to Miranda (Sara Garcia) who is furious to learn it is not the right card. Nero works out that Five got the stolen card back and Miranda tells him to get the item back.

Back on the Raza, Six recovers from his operation and it appears that it is not just Five who has forgiven  him for turning the crew in.

The Android holds the upgrade in her hand as Miranda reveals that she works for Commander Neiman (David Richmond-Peck) a Ferrous Corp official that Two thwarted in season one. He tells Miranda that they need the card for the upcoming war.

Written by Dark Matter co-creator and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, “We Were Family” continues peeling back layers and exposing the truth of each character.  Three, we learn really does regret his life of crime. So much so  that the kills the man responsible of putting him on that path. It is the kidnapping that motivates Three and this was the best indication of how the former mercenary thinks.

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The Android’s story proves that she is not defective after all and it looks like her yearning to be more human will entice her to use the upgrade. The Android stealing the toothbrush, which she intended to pay for later, was touching and revealing.

She has been influenced by the Raza crew after all. Just as she seems to have learned humanity from Five, she also picked up some other bad habits from the rest of the Raza crew. Like shoplifting for example, or killing prison guards

The “new” Raza crew also have some secrets.  Nero’s is already apparent, he is rat who sells out to the highest bidder. Devon is an addict and Nyx is a fascinating enigma. Does she have Two’s “affliction?” Do nanites course through her body or has she been enhanced some other way?  Only time and more episodes will tell.

Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy and Space. Tune in and follow the adventures of the Raza crew and see if Five’s secret is revealed. Mallozzi and Paul Mullie keep ringing the changes in this space opera and it makes for brilliant television.  Do not miss this one.

CAST:

Guest Stars:  Melanie Liburd  –  Nyx and Mike Dopud  –   Arax Nero and Shaun Sipos  –  Devon