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.

Dark Matter - Season 2

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.)

Dark Matter - Season 2

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: Season Finale (review)

Dark Matter - Season 1

Last week’s episode of Dark Matter saw an entire planet blown to pieces by the tech stolen by Wexler and the crew from the Raza. The episode also had Two coming back on board after being blown out of the air lock the previous week. Things in the verse are getting even more interesting and this week, Five dreams about what things were like when she was caught on board the Raza as a stowaway.

Five remembers what the crew were like “pre-memory” wipe and (with the exception of Six and One) no one was  overly keen about  keeping her on the ship. Two states clearly she does not want a “child” on the ship and leaves the deciding vote up to Four (Rio she calls him) and he votes to allow Five to stay. “Welcome aboard little warrior,” he says, “Just don’t give me any cause to regret my decision.”

After her rather unenthusiastic welcome, Five puts a recording device under a table in the dining hall/room. It has remained there, uncollected and forgotten, until her dream and Five goes to collect it. On the recording, Two  and Four are talking about killing someone, “him” before they head to the mining colony and after they get out of stasis.

Meanwhile Calchek contacts the group and tells them Ferrous Corp has hired them for a job. A simple “snatch and grab” he says. A scientist has been kidnapped and is being held on a small “backwater planet.” In and out, he says.

It is a trap.

Two is the objective here. Alex (Will Wheaton) wants the engineered human back, he calls her Rebecca,  and the “scientist” forces the remaining Raza crew members to leave (after hosting a dinner for all those who arrived with Two and providing an explanation). The crew of the Raza now have to figure out how to get “Rebecca” back. The Android comes up with a plan and Five (who gets a gun shoved in her hand) stays on the ship.

Rebecca has been “disarmed” all her nanites shut down via dampeners which weakens her considerably. She is restrained and due to be studied. One scientist is particularly nasty as he had friends at the facility where she escaped. (Two killed  43 technicians and scientists while leaving and  some of the victims were friends of this snarky chap.) Later he tells Rebecca that  he is going to  “test your pain receptors,” as he starts up the electrical bone saw.

This first half of the season finale has The Android going above and beyond for her fellow Raza crew member much to the consternation of her computerized self. “Rebecca” tries to escape and Alex orders her destroyed. Android does a “Captain America” and walks off the back of the shuttle.

Android infiltrates the facility to turn off the dampeners. After a comic entrance, Six has just told the rest of the crew in the shuttle Android will silently enter the place and on screen the robot noisily dispatches the security guards she encounters. After the men have been neutralized, she moves to find the dampener. The controls are working on Android as well and she has to struggle to finish her task.

The robot actually goes to sacrifice herself for Two.  Androids willingness to “die”, is oddly human and, even with her flawed system, it is impressive and touching. When the program she created lectures her on leaving the ship, Android explains that  she is saving her friends. The program reminds Android that it is a machine. “A machine with friends,” Android replies.

After almost dying, or more accurately, ceasing to function, Android meets up with Rebecca in the dining hall of the facility where Two has reads  message left by Alex “Maybe next time.” The villain with the beard beat a hasty retreat when Two escaped before they could remove her brain.  Chillingly, but in a very satisfying way, Rebecca told the scientists in the room that she would kill them all and she does.

On the shuttle, the men are getting impatient. Three gets the line of the first half of the finale when he questions why Android has not blown anything up, “It’s not rocket science,” he says. Android shuts down the dampener and Rebecca gets out. The two then blow up the facility.

It has to be pointed out that the music in the first half of the season finale is more than perfect. A driving, mechanical beat of techno music that feels…right. After Two is back onboard the Raza we learn about who Rebecca was made for. A weak and apparently old man is on a hospital gurney and on life support. He asks Alex how old the body is that he occupies. “24,” replies Alex.

After ascertaining that the whole crew know what Rebecca is, the “old man” orders the entire crew to be killed. Before this order is given, back on the ship, there is a celebration and afterward Five listens to the recording again. At the very end of the first half, someone collects the crowd control taser and zaps the Android putting her out of commission

There are a number of things revealed here, one being that Will Wheaton’s character is more lackey than big bad and Five can program.  Of course the biggest reveal is that Two and Four were ready to kill a member of the Raza crew way back in episode one.

Dark Matter Season 1

The second half of the episode begins with the discovery that the Android has had her neural link removed and that someone else has control of the Raza.  A lot is revealed while the crew start losing members and trust flies out the airlock. Rather interestingly, the last two members who trust each other and team up against One are the two who voted to boot Five off the ship in her dream/memory at the beginning of the finale.

This is where we learn who wiped the crews’ memories (Five) and why (to save the person that Two and Four were going to kill). As pointed out by Android earlier, the code was crude and rushed and as Six points out, wiping everyone’s memory was not the intention, nor was it done to harm anyone. It was, Six says, done to save someone.

Two and Five find that the Android grabbed a patch from her attacker,  it looks as though it is from the soldiers who boarded the ship earlier (episode 11). The crew then search for any left over soldiers and Three gets the “line” of the second half as well. “Nobody messes with my robot.”  Two and three team up and she tries to thanks him for giving up the code when she was in the airlock. He messes up her “thank you.”

One and Four team up to search the ship and Four reveals he plans to go home and claim his throne. Six and Five are the last pairing and she tells Six that she feels part of the team. Six tells her that it is ironic as they have all been trying to be more like her and they failed, that in the end they can only be themselves.  Five responds that is not true that they are now family.

Five searches the vents and finds nothing. It is finally decided that there is no one else on the ship, the person who zapped Android and took her neural chip is one of the crew. Two realizes that the stun device that Wexler used on Android before is missing and only the Raza crew members know the code to the vault where the taser was kept.

Six recommends that they all stick together but Four goes to his room to train. Three gives One a vote of “no confidence” while talking to Two and he tells her that the man cannot be trusted. One goes to see Four and tells him who he really is and why he came on board as Jace Corso. He tells Four that it must be Three who is the culprit.

Five is convinced that it is Two who took out the Android. She believes that something happened to Two on the planet while Alex and his scientists had control of her. The crew meet in the dining hall to talk strategy and after Three and One have a go at one another, Four tells his shipmates that he will be in his room training. After drinking a glass of water, he passes out.

The next to go down is Six who is injected with something that knocks him out. Five is given a gun and locked in the bridge. Two and Three force One into his quarters and lock him in. One calls Five and asks her to get him out. Five meets the program that Android created to observe her and after learning that the computer generated version of the Android will recommend that the robot be put back to her factory settings, Five orders the program to delete itself.

Two and Three learn that Five has gotten out and the remaining crew members meet in a standoff situation. Two and Three have their guns trained on One, who has his gun on Three and Five has her gun trained on Two. The girl attempts to tell everyone that Two is behind all the problems because she came back from the planet different. Five insists that they, the scientists,  did something to Two.

In the meantime another  ship comes out of FTL and it is a Galactic Authority vessel. The cops have arrived. As the four Raza crew members face off,  the doors either end of the hallway close and two canisters are thrown in; emitting smoke. The four armed crew members crumple to the floor and Five tries to open the doors but passes out.

GA troops flood through the ship and before the end credits roll, the entire crew sans one are carried off by the authorities. The one crew member still standing, and walking behind the rest, is Six. Cue shock face.

The second half of the season finale was a proper whodunit.  Fingers were pointing to a number of suspects, between the crew, and for a long while it appeared that Five was behind the whole thing.  Six as the “mole” (or turncoat, or traitor…) was a complete shock, although if one watches the episode again there are clues…

It is interesting to note that after the episode where Five shot Cain, everyone seemed to be shoving a gun into the kid’s hand.  Just as interesting is the effect that recording had on Five and her trust levels. Admittedly, Two was not such a nice individual in the dream/memory and if Four (Rio?) had not voted positively, Five would have been history.

Rather interestingly, the trust that built up over the first season fell apart with the attack on Android and the family lose their cohesion.

This season finale had a brilliant reveal. Six was the traitor and the signs are there, although the money here at MikesFilmTalk was on Five as the one who sabotaged the Android, and a number of other things, but it was obviously Six. Kudos to Roger Cross whose facial expressions and dialogue hinted that he was the one who “gave up the crew” before the reveal.

Kudos to Anthony Lemke, Zoie Palmer, Jodelle Ferland, Mark Bendavid, Alex Mallari Jr., Roger Cross and Melissa O’Neil for bringing their respective characters to living breathing life, or in Palmer’s case mechanical life. Honorable mentions go to Pin star David Hewlett and guest star Ruby Rose as Wendy “dunking the cosmic donut” pleasure robot.

Dark Matter Season 1
“I just remember cooking and cleaning and dunking the cosmic donut.” – Wendy Episode 1.7.

Dark Matter ended on one heck of a cliff hanger and the ultimate reveal of the season and now all that remains is for SyFy to renew the series for another season, and another and another. MikesFilmTalk spoke with show runner/creator Joseph Mallozzi about the season finale and the show in general and that will be up shortly on the site. The Time Zone Deities have yet to work out Alex Mallari Jr.’s schedule but hopefully he will stop by for a chat as well.

Let MikesFilmTalk know what you thought of the season finale in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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.

Pin (1988) Overlooked and Unloved

With no less than eighty-six horror films released in 1988, it is no wonder that Pin got lost in the shuffle. This quiet psychological horror film had to compete with the likes of Phantasm II, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Maniac Cop, and a slew of “Slasher” films, sequels and the re-make of The Blob.
 Sandor Stern directed and wrote the screenplay for Pin. Adapted from a novel byAndrew Neiderman and if you’ve never heard of him, I’ll just point out that he was the ‘ghost-writer’ for V.C. Andrews from 1986.
Pin aka  Pin a Plastic Nightmare – Is about  a family that is just about as dysfunctional as you could want. Pin is an anatomically correct plastic dummy. He is life sized and covered in clear plastic (all the better to see his muscles, bones and organs). He sits in a chair in Doctor Linden’s office, naked save for a towel over his lap. Dr Linden it turns out is a ventriloquist. He provides the voice for Pin, who he uses to ‘break the ice’ with his younger patients. He needs Pin because he is not a very communicative person. He has such a problem that he uses Pin to teach his own children about sex. Doc Linden is played with icy aloofness byTerry O’Quinn, fresh from his top notch perfomance in The Stepfather (1987). O’Quinn would go on to more impressive roles culminating in his pivitol role as John Locke in Lost (2004 – 2010).  In Pin O’Quinn’s portrayal of Linden is spot on. This is a man who expects much from his children, especially his son, and yet does not know how to communicate with them.
Mrs Linden as played by actress  Bronwen Mantel, obviously suffers from OCD so badly that she has plastic covers on all the family’s furniture. She even tells her son Leon that he can no longer play with a friend, because he looks diseased. Leon answers back and gets a slap for his angry retort. Unfortunately we are not able to read a lot into Mrs Linden’s character. She is there to provide a somewhat two dimensional version of a cleaning obsessed woman, who is also a good cook. But like her husband, she cannot communicate with the children either.
David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston play Leon and Ursula Linden with confidence and an impressive ease.  The fact that they had worked together the previous year on the feature The Darkside obviously helped them to bond as the on-screen brother and sister. Hewlett especially impresses as the psychotic Leon who has believed since childhood that plastic man Pin is alive. Ursula has known since their first meeting that Dad was providing the voice for Pin, but she has never tried to convince Leon of it.
Once Doc Linden realises that Leon has developed an unhealthy fixation on Pin, he decides that Pin must go. He loads Pin into the family car with Mrs Linden and then speeds  off to a convention where the good doctor decides that Pin must stay. Unfortunately, the fact that Doc has been a bit “weirded out” by Pin means that besides speeding on wet roads, he spends too much time looking at Pin in the rear view mirror. The combination of speed and inattention causes the car to crash and sic transit Doctor and Mrs Linden.
With the departure of Mom and Dad, Leon descends even further into the belief that Pin is real.  And at this point we the audience start harbouring the belief that Leon might just be right.
This film deals with sexuality and the growing pains of becoming sexually aware. Yet for all the heavy sexual overtones, there is very little sex in the film. We get one glance of sister Ursula’s feet against the backseat window of a car and one flash of topless nudity when Leon  unsuccessfully tries his first bid at sex.
The film has a bit in common with the South Korean film The Tale of Two Sisters. Like Two Sisters there are scenes in Pin that are absolutely, one hundred percent cringe worthy. Yet we as the audience cannot help but watch. The director does not hesitate to ”lose the music” in these excruciating scenes and it helps to sell the film.
The film has been likened to Psycho and I don’t really get the link. The only thing that it has in common is that it does indeed feel like a Hitchcock film. It is brilliantly paced, moody, creepy, and sometimes downright sad. Although I do suppose the end of the film could be linked to Psycho’s ending.
So If you get a chance see this film. You will not regret it. And if it doesn’t become a firm favourite…I’ll eat my plastic covered man.