Dark Matter: Episode Seven (review)

Sara in Dark Matter
Last week in Dark Matter, episode six had Five taking an extended walk down memory lane and revealing a lot more about her crew mates. Episode seven follows on from that peek at those stored remembrances, which, apart from showing just how Six got to the party, cleared up the matter of that forgotten passcode; Maplethorpe which was a former teacher of Six’s and according to him, in the memory, completely unforgettable.

Once in the vault the crew discover weapons, lots of money, an entertainment android and a woman in stasis. Thus far in Dark Matter, each episode serves to reveal a little bit more about each mercenary. Four, for example, was the son of the Ishida Emperor and was framed for his murder; part of episode six’s reveal. Another layer exposed in that episode was that Five was not in a good place when she stowed away on the ship; she was a pick pocket extraordinaire living rough with a lot of other mini-Fagin’s.

This week it is Three’s turn under the microscope. Like each episode so far, his is the main story but there are other facets of the crew that come to light, One and Two with their apparent history and hesitant steps toward a possible reunion are also looked at. The Android, as usual, plays comic relief and Zoie Palmer should get an Emmy gong for her childlike and very literal robot with a heart.

Android could well be a distant relative to the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz but her role is similar to Five’s. She has a definite purpose. What it may be is not too clear at the moment, but like everyone else’s history on board, it too will be discovered.

Five has the code echoing around in her head and she runs through the ship shouting that she knows the code. One comes into Two’s room to pass on a status report and the woman gets dressed while he awkwardly makes his report. He is most definitely interested in the leader and tells Two that they have a damaged relationship. When she laughingly repeats his allegation, he says he meant relay switch. At the end of their conversation, he gets his signals mixed and decides she is flirting with him.

Six interrupts their “discussion” to say that Five knows the code to “the mystery room.”

After the crew open the door the woman found in stasis is held in observation and Android discovers that the woman is dying of Tataryn disease. The Android explains that there is no cure. Three wants to put her back in stasis and Two says they need to question the woman. One and Six find the entertainment Android and One decides to put her together.

One is quite taken with the new robot and he gets Five to “turn her on…I mean activate her.” The new Android is named Wendy and she talks with an Aussie accent and turns out to know a lot about the culinary arts.

Android wakes the woman and we learn that her name is Sara and when she wakes up, Sara recognizes Three immediately. “Marcus, she says throwing her arms around the surprised mercenary. He and Two explain about the stasis pod problem and the wiped memories.

Sara tells about how she met “Marcus” and that she knows what he is, a criminal and a mercenary, Three apparently was wounded on her planet. Sara treated his wounds and he apparently fell in love with the woman. They learn that she is dying and he took her on board and put her into stasis to save her life.

While this episode went deep under Three’s crusty and obnoxious exterior, the subplot dealt with Wendy, who apart form having a killer body and personality, also had an ulterior motive of revenge programmed by Cyrus King. Her deadly mission was set because the mercenaries killed his men “before memory loss” and he now wants their ship flown into a star.

Dark Matter this week dealt with a few issues, one of which was Android jealousy, at one point Zoie Palmer’s Android affects several different accents, Irish, Australian, English, Scottish and, somewhat hysterically, Jamaican; “Don’t worry about it Mon” she tells One after trying out a few. After a short conversation with Five, who had her hair done by Wendy, Android decides to welcome the new member of the crew, only to be shot for her trouble.

By the end of the episode, Three turns out to have a mushy interior, even if he does not remember it and Two finally hooks up with One. The backstory of Marcus and Sara was touching and cute. The fact that Three had found someone who accepted him for who he was only to have it threatened by a incurable disease explains a lot about where his character is at now. Granted he cannot remember it, but some knowledge must exist somewhere in his mind. After all, it was Three who insisted that Sara be woken up and he also demanded that she be put back in stasis after learning that she was dying.

There were many comical moments in the episode. The hysterically funny “dunking the cosmic donut” reference, which fascinated Six, One and Three, the orgasmic dining scene and Four’s massage from Wendy all hit the right notes. One’s decision to try out the entertainment Android and his mixed signals with the leader of the group as well as The Android’s attempt to get praise for fixing the ship’s cooling systems all made this week’s episode a real chuckle fest.

The power of the writing of this series is not just the comedic moments however. The real magic is the writer’s aptitude at effortlessly mixing amusing events with tear inducing parts of the story. There can not be many who did not at least get a lump in their throat when Sara succumbs to the disease.

Each episode is reveals more about the crew and each character is becoming well rounded and three dimensional as a result. Zoie Palmer is becoming more endearing with each episode as are the rest of the crew. Anthony Lemke rocks it this week with his heel with heart story and the entire cast are hitting their stride performance wise. Kudos to guest star Ruby Rose and to the writers who came up with the fight sequences at the end; both with and without head.

Dark Matter is part of SyFy Fridays and is compelling viewing. Do not miss this show.

Dark Matter: Episode 1.5 (recap and review)

Four, Two and Six in Dark Matter
Last week’s episode of Dark Matter focussed on Four and included a major plot device that owed much to The Sixth Day, Philip K Dick and Total Recall as well as the crew being broke. This week, episode 1.5 of Dark Matter starts with Three complaining about the quality of food again and having no money.

The plot on episode five is a huge nod and wink to Event Horizon and Pandorum, along with more than a passing homage to the cult classic 1993 video game Doom. As the crew discuss ways of making money, Five mentions the vault that she, and Three, found on the ship and they all head down to discover that they need an alpha-numeric code, that no one knows.

As they stand frustrated in front of the vault door, Android tells Two that someone she knows is trying to contact her. It is the team’s handler, Talbor Calchek (played by Stargate alumnus David Hewlett who also starred in the overlooked and underestimated 1988 Canadian horror film Pin) Calchek manages to upset Android and Three dislikes the man on sight.

He does, however, have a job for the group, a ship salvage for the ISS Far Horizon. Two accepts the job and they head for the freighter’s coordinates. Once there, Five stays on board the Raza with Android and everyone else boards the ship. One and Three are teamed up again, Four and Six head towards Engineering and Two goes to the ship’s bridge to hook up the FTL drive.

Five asks Android to help her identify the item she found in storage, where she also found the dead boy in an earlier episode, and it turns out to be an inter-dimensional device that opens up pockets of space in another dimension. Five asks, “Why would somebody want to do that?” Android replies, “I ask myself that all the time…Rarely do I get a satisfactory answer.” Five then asks Android to keep the information secret. She does not, apparently trust all the crew, logic points to the ever annoying Three being the one she trusts least.

One and Three are searching for overlooked contraband and despite One being dismissive of his teammate’s arming up, both men need the weapons when they stumble across a violent creature. Before that, however, the two continue to bicker and, in their own way, bond. Although One is disturbed that Two and Three apparently had sex.

As Two begins hooking up the FTL, Four and Six find a lot of dead bodies. The injuries on the dead were caused by “bare hands and teeth.” Two decides that the rest of the FTL hookup can take place off the ship. She tries to contact One and Three but there is too much comm interference. Two is attacked by a Michael Berryman lookalike that takes a lot of putting down. After a protracted battle, where Two is bitten by this zombie-like creature, Six and Four come in and shoot it. After falling, the thing reaches out for someone’s foot and more rounds are fired into the creature.

Three and One talk about how they feel about one another and Three explains that Two came on to him and that his “nice guy” act won’t “cut it” with women like Two. The dead “zombie” turns out to be a former crew member on the ISS Far Horizon and Two tries to warn One and Three. Android finds disturbing information that reveals the crew of the freighter were affected by a viral contagion that may have been transmitted by saliva and blood.

They take Two back to the ship after Android tells them that their bitten leader can be isolated and scanned. Six asks that Android find out why One and Three cannot be reached on their radios. Four volunteers that the two men could be dead, attacked by other zombies and Six disagrees. Two says that if anything, the two may have killed each other. Four and Six agree.

The two men left on the freighter continue arguing, One swears that they are lost and going down the same corridor over and over when they hear something. At the end of the hallway, they encounter a woman chewing on a human arm. Three fills the munching zombie with rounds while One tries to get him to slow down on putting more holes in the ship’s hull.

After killing the zombie, they come to a door that is locked. One begins to open the door saying, “I’ve seen Five do this. How hard can it be?” More zombies show up and Three shoots them down as they appear. He also puts enough holes in the wall that the hull is breached and the two men are almost sucked out into space. One saves Three’s life by pulling him through the door he just opened.

Six learns that the comms problem is probably due to the men’s location near the blast site and he heads that way to find them. Four calls Android back to the infirmary; it looks like Two may be in trouble. One and Three are trapped in the room they just opened and One refuses to move till they come up with a plan.

As the two men talk, One actually embarrasses Three into thanking him for saving his life and tells him that they are now even, Three gives a breakdown of the rest of the crew that is pretty spot on, with the exception of his irrational dislike of Five.

In the infirmary the scan shows the presence of a virus. Android reveals that the freighter’s last port of call was to an unauthorized location, Taurian Alpha, a research pharmaceutical station that was quarantined. It seems that this is what caused the problem with the crew. The research lab was working on something to make humans immortal. Two learns that she has just a few hours before turning into one of those zombie creatures.

Six finds One and Three and attempts to get them out. Four offers to give Two an honorable death, she declines. Five is horrified by Four’s suggestion. Android contacts Six and tells him that if the two men on the freighter don’t leave soon, the life support system will shut down and kill them. As the oxygen levels drop the two follow a route to Six.

They find a way out, only to discover that the area has around eight zombies who are also suffering from the lack of O2. One convinces Three to just walk past them since the creatures dying. As Three reaches the room, via a ladder, Android turns on the emergency oxygen and the zombies begin to stir. One shouts for Three to get out of the room and he replies it is too late.

With a pistol in each hand Three clears the room of zombies quickly. He calls up to One, “You can come down now.” The two men escape and once back on the Raza they are scanned and there is no sign of the virus. As the time for Two to change gets closer, One convinces the crew to destroy the Far Horizon preventing the virus from reaching civilization. Two does not change and they scan her again; the virus has disappeared.

Later, Two heads to Three’s room for a repeat of their earlier activity and Three nervously declines the invitation. Two goes to her room and removes the bandage, the wound made by the zombie has disappeared.

Dark Matter continues to pile on new mysteries and introduces questions that beg to be answered. Anthony Lemke as Three is becoming a firm favorite as is his character. Three’s idiosyncrasies are truly funny and the fact that he automatically hates anyone who shares his personality traits is priceless and very revealing.

Zoie Palmer as The Android continues to be the comic relief and at the same time appears to know much more than anyone one else about the crew and their current situation. This is a winning combination of actor and script that propels both Palmer’s performance and the series into true brilliance.

Dark Matter is part of SyFy Fridays and is truly entertaining. Those who love good writing, great acting and mystery should not miss this show.