Sometimes you have to take off your journalistic cap and write as a fanboy. This, is one of those times where third person just does not hack it. Simply put, I adore this series and watch each episode numerous times. Dark Matter, to me, is brilliantly put together and completely addictive. It also has enough nods and winks to other things in the genre, like the Pandorum-like episode, where Two was bitten, and the (in my opinion) nod to the Mass Effect verse last night in episode 11.
I have to say that I practically cheered when O’Neil came back on board as Two, aka Portia Lin, or Lynne. When Two was shot out of the air lock last week, the expression on my face matched that of the crew members on the screen. Open mouth shock-face describes it best. That this take-charge, kick-arse character had just been “killed off,” stunned me and, to be frank, upset me.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, I watch each episode numerous times and on my second, or third, viewing realized that Two was most likely going to survive and said so in my review. Of course she has now popped back up and while I was off the mark as to why, I’m glad I was able to read between the lines.
That Mallozzi and co are able to shock me like that is one reason I keep coming back to this verse and eagerly await the decision to have another season approved. For instance, Episode 11 had two shock points in it (three if you count the exploding planet at the end).
The return of Two, who turns out to be an engineered person, and Five killing Cain.
*Sidenote* I did not see that one coming. Granted, I’ve been concentrating on each episode to see what would be revealed about each character. The “Man” himself, Joseph said that as the season progressed more would be shown about each person on the Raza and he didn’t lie. I also did not foresee Five shooting anyone. Cue more “shock-face.”
While Two being her usual deadly self was pretty cool, the underlying theme of the show; that the crew are bonding brilliantly, was just as noteworthy. One motivating his fellow male members, as they choke to death on carbon monoxide, was entertaining and touching. That this tycoon who is not a mercenary at all could pump up Six, Four and Three into following him shows just how much these folks have grown to care for one another.
The other theme from the episode, which really started from the pilot, was that these memory wiped mercenaries are intrinsically good people. The chance to compare “our” crew to Wexler’s band of merry murderers was brilliantly timed. Since the crew of the Raza came out of stasis, memories gone and ship crashing, they have all strived to “do the right thing.”
Some, think Three here, more reluctantly than others, but they all ultimately do what is right. Two, who really got her wish last night, really wants to change. Perhaps with good reason. While Four appears to be, on the surface, the ultimate fighting machine, Two is the deadliest. Take the casino mass killing in front of Five in an earlier episode. The commander of the Raza did this almost effortlessly and without having to think about it.
This begs the question, was this why Two was engineered? Is she a better weapon? Time will tell.
The killing by Five was just as shocking as Two’s being shot out into space last week. This “loss of innocence” (seeming, loss) is an interesting twist on the image projected of pickpocket and petty thief waif. Sure this waif is a computer wiz who is desperate to be a member of the crew and wants the mercenaries to be her family, but she apparently lived on the streets as small time homeless criminal before turning up on the Raza.
This brings us to the message that runs through the show. “Bad guys,” when given the chance, want to be good. Even Two who, after bitterly telling Wexler that she is nothing like him, coldly pops the mercenary leader out of the airlock once she gets the code to the vault.
I get the feeling that Two has a lot of searching to do.
*Sidenote* I love the exposition speech by Five to the rest of the crew after the vault is opened. You have to admire the ability of the Trevor Finn and Paul Mullie to work in a quick and dirty run down of what happened to Two when she was outside the Raza. Just as clever was the interchange between The Android and Two, more exposition but done smoothly and wittily, “You did not ask.”
Amusingly, the four male members of the team still have doubts about Two, probably even more so since she survived what should have been certain death, and they still have issues with her leadership. With the episode ending on the stolen device “killing” a planet, things have been set up for the mercenaries with a “collective” heart to get in more trouble.
Overall, Dark Matter could be described as an ensemble “buddy picture” type series. Each episode tests the boundaries of the crew and either shores up or tears down relationships between the members. The casting of this show is spot on and given American audiences the chance to see some dynamite Canadian actors go through their paces.
The only two performers I was familiar with out of the show were Jodelle Ferland and Roger Cross.
The 20 year-old Ferland has made a career out of playing the creepy little kid in more productions than Carter has little pills. She has a great attitude to being cast as the scary one, in one “making of” featurette Jodelle laughingly describes going for “comedy” roles only to be cast as the creepy kid.
Cross has been in a slew of films and television shows including The Chronicles of Riddick, X-Men 2 and television series like Arrow and Continuum.
Anthony Lemke has become a firm favorite as have Zoie Palmer, Alex Mallari Jr. and Mark Bendavid.
Now I will admit to a certain snobbishness when it comes to American television. There. I’ve said it. I lived in a country that, even though I loathed the TV license, had award winning television to show for it. The UK have consistently knocked it out of the park in terms of quality shows. Not always, but an awful lot.
After a 32 year absence, I now have the standard “yank” telly to watch and lets face it, most of the shows on offer are abysmal drivel. (Interestingly, most of my favorite shows on telly right now are Canadian, something that immediately makes me think of Holland, The Littlest Hobo and Night Heat.) Which takes us nicely to a wrap up as Dark Matter is, Canadian.
*Sidenote* My second wife and I would consistently burst into gales of laughter each time a Dutch announcer would do a lead in on the Canadian cop show. The chap would always mangle the name,but he did so with an excited pronunciation that indicated he too was a fan of “Det. Giambone.” (which was always pronounced Jam-bone-ee.)
I always write every review, and recap, of either a television show or film from the viewpoint of a fan. Albeit one who has worked in the industry (very little over the years but I’ve met and worked with a load of folks, including Ian McShane, Alexis Denisof and a number of others along the way) and who worked as the Entertainment Editor of an online publication that had over 7 million views and visits each month.
Regardless of how I might be watching any production, big or little screen, I just pass on what excites me and what does not. But not nastily, if I can help it, this is someone’s baby and that, if nothing else, deserves a modicum of respect.
Dark Matter was a lovely discovery. I became an instant fan from the first few frames of the pilot episode. I became even more of a fan when the show creator started tweeting me on Twitter. (Only one other show creator has taken the time to acknowledge what I write. Both these gentlemen are stars in my opinion.) I can only hope that the show is brought back for more seasons.
Episode 11 (Bet you thought I’d forgotten ey?) was a great blend of events, information and satisfying conclusion. Pretty much like every episode of the series thus far. If SyFy do not opt to renew this show and opt instead for the inane and stupidly popular Sharknado franchise, I could go right off the network.
Dark Matter is great TV, I know it is because I end every review with a variation of that statement as fact. Tune in and enjoy the last two episodes, the show airs as part of SyFy Friday.