Dark Matter: Episode Six (recap and review)

Jodelle Ferland as Five in Dark Matter
After last week’s combination Pandorum and Event Horizon homages, this week sees the crew threatening their “only friend” and Five undergoes a journey that feels like another homage or two. At the very least a few nods and winks are given to Inception (or Dreamscape) with perhaps just a touch of the 1970s TV series Kung Fu and more than a little bit of the Jennifer Lopez (2000) film The Cell. Episode six of Dark Matter begins with One asking Two about having sex with Three.

Her response is that Three was picked to avoid complications. One decides to accept this and leaves satisfied. Five approaches Two and says that she may be able to access her mind to search through all the memories to learn the combination to the vault. Two says it sounds too dangerous and Five says that she wants to help Two keep from making the same mistakes it is not just about finding money.

The Android helps Five to adapt some equipment to function as mind probes. The crew monitor her as she goes into the memories of the rest of the team. She begins by relieving Four’s childhood experience with his father. Her blood pressure and brain activity spike and the team pull her out. Afterward she goes to tell Four about the memory. He tells the Five she needs to learn control.

Five goes under again and once again she is in Four’s memory. She relives the murder of his father the Emperor, his half brother’s banishment and learns that the Empress is the one who killed the leader of Ishida. Four was framed and when he tries to leave, he is forced to kill three of his father’s security team.

Her next memory clears up a lot of things. Where the inter-dimentional key came from, who the dead boy was and how Five got on the ship. It is also made very clear why Three does not like, or trust, Five and why she reciprocates the feeling. In her memory, she lifted the key from a mark, she is a pickpocket and after lifting another man’s wallet she returns home to find all her friends dead except for T.J. who has been shot.

The two kids stowaway on the mercenary ship and when she goes to get medicine for T.J. she sees One and Six talking, One asks “Why Ms. Maplethorpe?” Six replies that he will never forget her, she used to hit his knuckles with a ruler; the two men are talking about the code.

During Five’s internal journey, The Android says the girl is in trouble. Her brain is relying upon the memory, or dream, input and if she does not come out she will die or become lost in her mind. Someone has to go in to get her and although One and Two volunteer, it is Six who insists that he will do it.

Back in the memory, Three has put her in the airlock to shoot her into space, just as her friend T.J. predicted. Before going into Five’s mind, Six is briefed by The Android who tells him that he should not get lost like Five…in theory. The robot also explains that he will have to be in control to bring her back.

When Six enters the memory, it turns out to be his own. This shows how he became a member of the mercenary crew. He was betrayed by a revolutionary who used him to kill 10,000 innocent people. He was, apparently, the only member of the team who did not know about a planted bomb. When the leader of the small team tells him to “man up” Six shoots him and kills the other members of the group. He tries to shoot himself and the weapon misfires.

As Six watches the memory, he is shocked and he shakily states that it has to be a mistake. He forces himself to leave, The Android’s theory was correct and he can leave memories at will, and he is in a barn. Five comes in and sees him. The girl goes to a woman and they talk about pie and her father’s birthday.

When the woman leaves, Five talks to Six and tells him he should not be there. He asks whose memory this is, and she replies it must be One’s. The people call the boy “Titch” and she loves his childhood. She skates on the pond every day and Six tells her she’s been on the table two hours and that her body is shutting down.

Five begs to stay. Six tells her this cannot last, he reminds her that something bad is in store for Titch, because he wound up on the ship. He tells her that they all had something horrible happen to put them there. She leaves with Six and afterward she tells Four the truth about his father’s death and explains that he did not kill the Emperor. Five tells him it was the Empress and that now he knows the truth, he can move on…right? Four turns and silently leaves the room.

Later the girl goes to thank Six for coming to get her and he tells her that One and Two volunteered. “Not Three?” she asks. Five tells the Six she trusts him. After she leaves, Six turns on the news and learns about the general who made him a criminal.

Dark Matter this week was Jodelle Ferland’s show, full stop. Her journey, which allowed her to really show off some impressive chops, was brilliant. The show’s writing continues to be top notch and shows a deep appreciation of the genre with a some excellent references to other productions. There was even a Wizard of Oz quote towards the end.

Each week a little more information is revealed about members of the team. Personalities and traits are emerging. Four is deadly and cold, Six is wise and deep, Three…not a nice chap who is trying hard to be better, Two is scarily efficient and, like Four, deadly, One is confused and Five a victim of her own abilities.

While Dark Matter may be science fiction, it plays more like a mystery creating more puzzle pieces as it fits others in place. Part of the SyFy Friday lineup, this is addictive viewing.

Dreamscape (1984): Inceptions Pappa

Cover of "Dreamscape"
Cover of Dreamscape

Directed by Joseph Ruben (The StepfatherThe ForgottenDreamscape  is about dreaming, going into someone else’s dream and controlling it.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The concept has been used to great effect in two other films. The Cell (2000) and Inception (2010) both utilized the plot device of entering another person’s dreams and either controlling or changing them. All three films are very different from Dreamscape, but it is obviously this film that spawned the latter two.

Starring a young Dennis Quaid (Pandorum, Legion), younger Max von Sydow (Shutter IslandMinority Report), Christopher Plummer (Up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSpaceCamp) and Eddie Albert  (The Longest Yard, Escape to Witch Mountain) the film delivers an entertaining punch.

Dreamscape deals with entering dreams via psychic powers and a little help from machinery that lets the psychic know when the target has started the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that shows they have started dreaming.

The film opens with a woman running from what looks like a nuclear blast. The whole scene is surrealistic and the colours run together in a psychedelic fashion. We are watching the United States President (Eddie Albert) have a nightmare. It turns out that he has nuclear nightmares on a regular basis.

We then see Alex Gardiner (Dennis Quaid) at the race track. Using his precognitive skills, he successfully picks a long shot to win. When he goes to collect his winnings a gang of crooks try to take his money and make him work for them. Alex evades the crooks and goes home.

Once he is there, he gets a phone call from old friend and mentor Doctor Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) who wants him to participate in his new dream experiments. To escape the crooks,who have found out where Alex lives, he decides to take up the offer.

Once there he talks to his mentor and meets his assistant Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw). He decides to give the experimental programme a go after he meets the man who runs it, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer)

It turns out that only two of the psychics in the group are skilled enough to really change someone else’s dreams. Alex and a psychotic psychic named  Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly).

We find out two things about Tommy Ray. We learn that he killed his own father and that he has known Bob Blair a long time.

The film moves at a leisurely pace. This does not distract, however, as the action on the screen is still interesting even if it’s not fast paced. At one point Alex enters a young boys dream to help him defeat a “snake-man” who keeps trying to harm him. Alex enables the boy to face his personal monster in the dream and kill it

The overall FX of the film have not aged well. The monster was from the Ray Harryhausen school of stop motion. It did not convince at any time. It looked so much like  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that I reverted to childhood for a brief moment. But apart from feeling nostalgic, I did not get anything from the snake-man.

The film features a romance between Quaid and Capshaw. The villain, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer, along with his henchman Tommy Ray  makes us want to hiss and boo each time we see him on screen.

The film’s plot was entertaining and interesting enough that the dated FX did not spoil it at all. Unfortunately, as I have seen The Cell and Inception recently, I could not help but compare the three films.

The Cell dealt more with the technological aspect of entering dreams. Anyone could be hooked up to a machine which would enable them to enter another persons dream. Inception required that both people received injections to make them sleep deep enough that they could enter the trance-like state necessary to enter another’s dreams.

I would say that this film is definitely worth watching. If for no other reason than to see what started the whole dream mechanic utilized in the other two films. It’s also got a sterling cast of seasoned actors who deliver solid performances.

Dreamscape won’t give you nightmares, but it will entertain you.