Dark Matter: Joseph Mallozzi Talks Season Finale and Season Two [UPDATE]

Dark Matter Season 1

[UPDATE] For those fans of Dark Matter who watched the season finale and read this interview afterward, the actor seen walking the “long slow walk” off the ship with Six (Roger Cross) is none other than Canadian actorJeff Teravainen who plays Galactic Authority Officer Lt. Anders in episode 8 and the final episode of the season. To all those who ventured guesses via social media thanks for playing.

On August 26, after watching the season one finale of Dark Matter, MikesFilmTalk (MFT) got to interview show runner, creator, and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi.

Dark Matter is the latest offering from the man whose name is synonymous with science fiction. The award winning writer/producer has been involved with all three Stargate shows, SG1, Atlantis and Universe.

Joseph and I have been direct messaging on Twitter since I began writing reviews and recaps of Dark Matter and the first thing I discovered when talking to him on the phone is that Mr. Mallozzi is one heck of a nice chap.

During our call, Joseph spoke of many things; not, however, ships and sails and sealing wax,  but the topics were varied.

Dark Matter Cast: Anthony Lemke is not like his character but in some  ways, he can be. When someone new shows up on set, it is Anthony who automatically  meets and greets the visitor.

Jodelle Ferland is the most experienced in terms of acting. Jodelle has been working since the ripe old age of 2 and now at 20, she has a total of 18 years in front of the camera.

Jodelle and Roger both lived near Joseph, as did many of the cast and crew,  and it made for a real feeling of family.

Roger Cross and Jodelle  Ferland used to watch The Walking Dead at Joseph’s place, along with his girlfriend, and he would make  milkshakes for the occasion.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Jodelle Ferland (Five) and Roger Cross (Six). “The Walking Dead Fans.”

Alex Mallari Jr came across as such as nice and open person in conversations after auditions that Joseph actually began to secretly root for him to play Four. Once he had been cast,  Alex also had to come in very early each day to have his tattoos  covered up before filming. He got up even earlier to work out every day.

Julie Benz (Star of Defiance, another SyFy Friday show) used to walk her dogs in the same park that Joseph walks his and they talked quite often. She is, Joseph says, “A very nice lady.”

None of the Dark Matter cast knew the ending until right before shooting on episode 1.13 began. Joseph took the entire group of actors aside and revealed “the reveal.”

Dark Matter Season Finale:

MFT:  Thank you so much for having a chat with me tonight. I’ve got to tell you I just finished watching the season finale and have one thing to say, “Wow!”

Joseph: Well, when I first envisioned this show, or conceived the show and had the initial concept,  I had two big moments in my mind that I wanted to hit.  Everything else sort of fell into place. Those two big moments were; the big reveal in the pilot where they find out  that they are murderers and mercenaries and the last sequence of the finale where the Galactic Authority sweeps in and you see all our familiar surroundings…The feeling of the ship was like a home away from home in many ways.  Not just for the characters but for the viewers as well and to see all these strangers come and take it (the ship) and to see everyone carted off and the last shot is the empty corridor and   Andy Mikita, the director of the episode, did a wonderful  job there.

MFT: Plus you get that moment of unreality where you see that Six is walking out. And you’re like “Oh no!”

Joseph: Right. Exactly.

MFT: The first thing I thought was, “Six?? He’s the grown up of the group. It can’t be him.”

Joseph: Well, I’ll just say, there’s more to the story there. It’s not as simple as…on the surface it looks like he’s just turned against them but there’s more there…A few hints that are in the episode and then if we get a season two…Well, we’ve already got a game plan and everything will be explained in the second season. And there will be a lot more questions.  If you thought season one’s finale was big, ooh you wait till you see the end of season two.

MFT: Jumping now to Five and the conversation that she had with Six – it seemed to me that everyone kept putting a gun in her hand over the last two episodes.

Joseph: Yes, yes…

MFT: And she tells Six now I’m more like you and he says that ironically they’ve all be trying to be more like her and failing. To me, Five is the most mysterious member out of the entire crew, we know least about her out of everyone else on the ship. She is my favorite character, I refer to her as the “Artful Dodger,” she was the street kid who picked pockets to survive and I thought it was interesting that when she heard the recording her level of trust went right out the window. It shows just how fragile their relationships all are.

Joseph: I’m curious, Michael, as you watched the finale and you drew toward the end…Did you have any suspicions, a suspect?

MFT: I decided it was Five, especially after the tape (recording) and the reveal that she could do so much more than we ever suspected, like programming and so on, and that the dream, at the beginning of the episode, revealed that her experience with this bunch on the ship was pretty abysmal and  this caused her to wipe everyone’s memories so they could all start fresh. Am I miles away here?

Joseph: Not really, you are fairly close.  All the pieces are there to figure out. I said to the crew, the cast, just before we started filming on episode 13…We actually had 12 out of 13 episodes scripted before we went to film except for the last one. Even then. we kept  the reveal a secret except for the last day and I gathered the cast on the bridge like an Agatha Christie moment, “I’ve gathered you all here…” Which, incidentally, we ended up filming and that we’ll release as a  special feature.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Five, the memory wiper…

Joseph: I told the cast that the person who wiped their (character’s) memories may not be the one to worry about. She (Five) finds the recording,  she overhears Two and Four threatening someone and she confides in him and Six, who at this point becomes savvy about certain things has pieced it together and realizes that she is the one who wiped everyone’s  memories. Like the Android points out in Episode 3, the code was rushed because they had to get to the stasis pod, maybe that was not the original intent…And again this is something we’ll explore further down the road…But in all probability she was going to target certain memories and as a result of the accident,  or the rushed code,  wipes everyone’s, including her own. She asks Six, “Well why would I do this” and he says to protect someone. It’s clear now why she did it and who needed protecting.

MFT: Well, I’ve got to say that I love everything that you guys have done and for me everything clicks into place. Sorry, this is turning more into a fan-boy gush than a  Q&A.

Joseph: That’s all right I love it, I love feedback.

MFT: I mentioned, in my notes for the finale preview, that we finally meet Two’s Geppetto and he turns out to be an evil bugger strapped in a bed. It is not even Will Wheaton’s character as he is the tool, or instrument, of the bed-ridden man.

Joseph: This is another one of those moments where more questions arise. You know the man ask Alex, “How old is this body?” Alex replies “24,” so you see what happens. Indeed, what does happen? Why does  this individual need a body and his regular forms deteriorate so his team are working on developing a superior form which is why they created her (Rebecca/Two/Portia Lynn) and why they are working on another prototype. And the work is so secret that they cannot allow  her or the crew of the Raza to survive. If we do get a second season there will be more to come on that front.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Rebecca/Two the first prototype…

MFT: I love that whole part of that storyline. I mentioned  in my review that the first thing I thought of was the video game Mass Effect 2 with Miranda Lawson, the genetically enhanced “perfect” human character. I love the way the show gives nods and winks to other works in the genre.

Joseph: My influences for the show were varied. I mean I grew up being into comic books and anime, science fiction and television, film. We like to drop the occasional tributes throughout, and we used to do the same in “Stargate.”

MFT: I just love it. Going back to show and the actors, a lot of whom (my apologies to the cast here) I’d never heard of before the show, Zoie Palmer’s Android goes through the ultimate of almost sacrificing herself for Two, will she get a chance to do that again, but this time for more than just Two?

Joseph: Well, you know, Paul (Mullie) and I have convened an early writer’s room, we haven’t heard whether there will be a season two but we are fairly confident…We have the 13 episode game plan, we have the beginning, middle and the end. We have the major moments that we want to hit and we have 7 out of the 13 episodes outlined and we have some great stuff planned for all our crew, including the Android.

MFT: Speaking of other cast members, my first question for Alex Mallari Jr as Four, is did you channel your inner Caine. [Joseph laughs] You know, “Accused of a crime he did not commit, Caine is forced to flee his country…”

Joseph: It’s funny you know. That when we held auditions, I had to call several actors back, around 50 or so, and Alex was so honest and open that I ended up secretly rooting for him to get the part of Four.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Nice chap…Alex Mallari Jr, aka Four.

Joseph: He does a great job as do the entire cast.

MFT: Alex does come across as incredibly sincere on screen. I’ve sort of (rightly or wrongly) classed him as a sort of Jean-Claude Van Damme, a very fit chap, martial artist who wanted to act and is very good at it.

Joseph: He makes it look easy but Alex is the one, I mention it on the blog, who gets up at three in the morning to get his tattoos covered each day and then on top of that has to work out. It is amazing how many weapons he mastered for the first season.

MFT: I’ve got to ask, re: Two…Are there any other personalities in there, First there was Two, then Portia and now Rebecca…

Joseph: No. Those were just names, not personalities. Alex called her Rebecca and when she left she became Portia. It is interesting to note that the name she took for herself, she abandoned Rebecca for Portia and essentially she also abandons  Portia  to become Two.

MFT: I’ve just got to mention Will Wheaton’s character. I adore Wheaton anyway, since his days as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and everything else he’s done. His Alex was so snotty as a villain and yet the second things get rough, he’s gone.  Alex points out that Rebecca has nothing wrong with her. There is no flaw, so essentially she is just naturally aggressive.

Joseph: Yes. [laughing]

MFT: Just out of curiosity, did you have an “alternate” ending set up? I know that you said this was your ending from day one, but did you have a “plan b” if things went a different direction? Or was it always going to be that situation where everyone was all out and “down for the count” at the end?

Joseph: Yes! I always approach each installment of each season like a book with a  definite beginning, middle and end. So basically as a result of what happens in the finale, season two heads off into a wild and very different direction. But it was always that way…I knew who the mole was going to be and one of the great things about the show was we had time to really develop the stories. Basically it allowed us to seed in little clues and hints along the way.  

Dark Matter - Season 1
Zoie Palmer as The Android

Joseph: You know it’s funny, I just saw, on the internet, where someone posted a photo from episode 3 where the Android is about to go out on her EVA and she turns to Two and Two says, “We can’t do this without you.” And Android says, Well, you can” and then turns around and leaves. I remember people going on line and saying what a weird inflection for her to say “you can.” And other people going “no, no, no, that was just the way the actress’s delivered the line.”  The entire first season was peppered with little clues and hints. One, I’ll leave with you, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the individual who flanks Six in the “slow walk” out at the end, you’ve seen before.

MFT: I thought he looked familiar! But to be honest, I was still too flummoxed at Six walking out while everyone else was carted out…I did think,  “Blimey he looks familiar” and the more I think about it, I seem to remember seeing him at the mining community, if I’m not mistaken.

Joseph: You are mistaken!

MFT: Darn! I’ll have to look this one up now [I’ve still not figured out where this chap was before, although I think it was at the General’s camp where Six went for revenge.] I’ve got to ask, was it One that Two and Four wanted to “off?”

Joseph: Well, all that will be revealed in season 2, it could have been One or it could have been Six…That will all be explored more in the next season. It is safe, though, to assume it is one of those two.

MFT: What was the biggest difference between working on Dark Matter and Stargate?

Joseph: Miles different. For a start I was playing in someone else’s sandbox essentially. In Dark Matter we got to tell our own stories, although we did to an extent in Stargate as well. There were differences in budget obviously and things were set up differently. Of course we were working on 13 episodes for Dark Matter versus 22 or 20 and in Stargate we had all the stories in advance and that was such a luxury.  In terms of our own show, everything was planned accordingly, Paul and I planned for each episode and we knew we weren’t going to run out of money at the end of the year.

The interview finished shortly after and Joseph revealed two things. One, he is a huge Stephen Chow fan (Shaolin Soccer) and he is pretty confident that Dark Matter will get the pick up for season two.

Sadly, it looks like the Time Zone God, or perhaps the Jet Lag Deity has sabotaged the Alex Mallari Jr. interview for now.  MikesFilmTalk will be covering Dark Matter, season two, if it is picked up and I have already put in requests to speak with Joelle Ferland and Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer and Alex and…

MikesFilmTalk would like to thank Joseph Mallozzi for taking time out of his busy evening for chatting about: Dark Matter, why Canadian TV has so many great shows out at the moment and a slew of other subjects that did not make into this interview.

Dark Matter - Season 1
Melissa O’Neil and Anthony Lemke, Two and Three…
Dark Matter - Season 1
Mark BenDavid aka One – opting not to kill Three…

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 Two Hour Season Finale (Preview)

Will Wheaton, Alex Mallari Jr and Mark Bendavid
Fans of Dark Matter who have been tuning in each week, and/or binge watching via Hulu, will be stunned by events that take place over the course of the season finale. Two hours of this exciting verse in one sitting that will leave the viewer gasping as the end credits roll and asking a collective question or several. MikesFilmTalk has seen the finale and part of the price of admission, for those who have been allowed to “pre-view” the season finale footage, is to avoid  spoilers so not much can be revealed…yet.

While this does make it difficult to go too in depth on events, some things are admissible. For instance, the presence of Will Wheaton as guest “villain” has been mentioned by at least one other website, TIBS (ThreeIfBySpace.NET) who do a riff on the beard that Wheaton’s character sports in the first half of the two hour finale. So it is acceptable to mention that “that kid from Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the guest big bad.

Preview recap: Two learns more than she wants about her beginnings, One and Three still do not trust one another, Five learns something that upsets her deeply, Four proves he trusts no one and Six plays protector when Five reveals how afraid she is. The Android shows just how much her program is flawed and Calchek may or may not have set up the crew of the Raza yet again.

In another one of those nods to the science fiction genre, we have Wheaton as what seems like the kindly puppet master (maker?)  aka kidnapped scientist, who the team are sent to “rescue.” Alas, things are not as they seem and it is soon all hands on deck as the crew of the Raza fight for their very existence.

As promised by show creator/executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, a lot is revealed in the last episode of the season as in every episode building up to the finale. For whatever reason, the last two episodes have been slapped together so a lot more is discovered while simultaneously asking new questions.

As this is a preview and not a review or recap, things can only be looked at in the vaguest sense. (As mentioned above.) So Two learns about her origins, but not too much or, more importantly, why. Alex (Wheaton) may be the welcoming committee but he is no more the man behind the curtain than he is the chap who is really in charge.

In these last two episodes we learn just how brave Five is and a lot more about her abilities. There are some disturbing things brought to light and Android does something very surprising.

Thus endeth the short recap/preview.

This series has been top notch in not only peeling back layers for each mysterious character in the show but also in keeping just enough back to make the viewer  return for more. Each member of the crew has secrets and the season has slowly exposed them. There are, however,  a number of things that still remain hidden. There are also those nods and winks to other works in the genre.

One thing is certain, Five learns something that shakes her faith in another crew member and this unsettling information is weighing on her mind. Although what is apparent from the moment things go awry, the trust factor has been damaged with more of the Raza crew than just the youngest member of the team.

Five’s backstory has not yet been revealed and now, with the surprise ending of Dark Matter, there is now another character whose history may be a little different than originally shown in the show. The series zooms out of thriller territory and lands firmly in mystery as the finale becomes a cross between Ten Little Indians and a very large “closed room” scenario.

There are still enough comic moments to keep things from getting too heavy  (But not too many.) and there is still that Mass Effect 2 thing going on. Fans of the show will enjoy this last look at season one. Some characters, despite the new “suspicions” continue to act in character…except for one that is.

Zoie Palmer fans will love her performance and as the Android, Palmer does more than touch the viewer’s heart, she keeps them on the edge of their seat for an impressive amount of time. Wheaton as villain also stands out. (Only Will can manage to be so “snotty” in his villainy and yet unsurprisingly, turn out to be a little “b*tch” when things get tough.)

*Sidenote* It is nice to see David Hewlett back as “handler” Talbor Calchek. There can never be too much Hewlett.

Dark Matter airs on Friday as part of SyFy Friday and the season finale will air on August 28. Prepare to be amazed at the end of the first season. Readers of MikesFilmTalk can expect an interview with show creator Joseph Mallozzi and, if the time zone Gods play along, another interview with Four, aka Alex Mallari Jr. talk will be of the finale and the verse. Not necessarily in that order…

Dark Matter Episode 11 and Beyond (A Fanboy Discussion)

Dark Matter promo shot
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.

Dark Matter: Episode Nine Review

Akita and Four
Ah Dark Matter…How do I love thee? Let me count the ways, while there may not be nine, as in episode nine, events in this week’s installment, there are a few that stand out and make this show worthy of the deepest devotion. These moments are what make this series special, network deities take note, and combined with the plot, they scream out for a second season.

Before picking out specific moments, kudos to the writers this week and to show creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie for managing to get so many comic, and endearing moments in what could have been a very sobering show. Minutes into the episode and Jodelle Ferland’s character came out with the “Also, I got these welding goggles that are both practical and cool.” Three’s “remembering” the whiskey that Two forgot is an excellent follow up. The crew then discover that Four is missing and the action heads to the planet where he has gone to meet his brother Ryo.

Cue a bit of very satisfactory sword play, of the ninja variety after Four discovers that his step-brother has not shown up, but Akita his tutor has.

Back to those “ways.” On the bridge, Two and One are discussing Four. One’s take on his fellow crew member? “Most of the time he blends into the background. You don’t notice him till he speaks up or takes the last of the carrots.”

Six and Three enter the bridge. Discussion about Four continues and Five points out that he may just want some time on his own. Six states, after they find Four’s comm on the ship, that it is apparent that he wants them to leave without him. Five points out that Four seemed to be happy here.

Which brings us to another “ways” moment. Three, Anthony Lemke’s character, says “He seemed nothing. That guy was harder to read than that book he gave me.” “That book is a classic,” One retorts. Three then proceeds to pronounce judgement on Charlotte’s Web, much to the disgust of One “Whatever. The pig’s a wimp and the spider’s a know-it-all.”

What makes this all the more amusing will come later at the end of the episode where the “tough guy” who pronounced the pig was a wimp, is shedding a tear, or two, while reading the book. These are the moments that bring this show from just entertaining to brilliant. Touches of humor amidst the mysterious plot line that unravels a little more each episode.

As the show progresses each crew member has something exposed about their makeup. Three, we have learned, is the “heel with a heart” and also more than ready to jump into the fray, even if it means that he will not be the victor. Six is an idealist who hates the man who made him a mass murderer. (He is also, perhaps, one of the wisest of the crew members, he reveals to One that his quest for revenge was unsatisfactory and that he merely redirected his anger…to himself.)

One is a rich man who wants to catch and bring to justice his wife’s killer. He reveals this fact to Two and she asks the pertinent question, “Do you even remember her?” While this is a good question it is not the most important thing at work here.

The show’s creators are asking a bigger question. Can a group of career criminals “go straight” if their memories are wiped? On top of the theory that people are really good until forced to go bad, another query is apparent. One, who is not a criminal, starts to take aim at Three during the firefight later in the show. As he appears to contemplate killing his wife’s suspected killer, a man from the opposing side shows up and takes aim at Three. One un-hesitantly kills the enemy.

On the bridge, the crew talk about Four’s defection and Three states that the man should be left behind. Two tells the group that there is something they need to know about the missing man. Back on the planet, Four is defeated by Akita and placed under arrest. Two reveals that Four is royalty and in line to the throne of Ishida. Three rants about all the secrets and asks that if there is anything anyone wants to reveal. Two does reveal something, as much as she wants all the crew to trust one another and not keep secrets, she instinctively touches the bandage on her neck that covers a wound that healed itself ages ago.

Amusingly, Three wants to go back for Four. The rest of the crew agree that being Four’s friend could be a good thing. Six and One have that talk about revenge and agenda’s. On the desolate, and lawless, planet where Four went to meet his brother, Akita and Four spend time discussing their mutual past and move to meet the ship that will take Four back to trial. They also encounter that lawless element mentioned by Android earlier in the episode.

Another “let me count the ways” moment. Three and the Android talk. Android is watching the diagnostics on-screen display while she runs the program on the ship’s systems. Three asks her why, when she is attached directly to the ship, she is reading the display. This prompts a discussion of her “flaw,” that Five pointed out earlier. Android tells Three that she will reboot herself if the flaw bothers him. After asking what that would entail; a complete memory wipe and a personality matrix change she tells him, Three says emphatically that he does not want her to change.

“So you are satisfied,” she asks, despite the “abhorrent” behavior? Three grumpily responds, “Hell no. But I’m damned if I’m going to start over with a whole new robot.” He leaves the room and Android resumes looking at the on-screen display. “That’s kind of him to say,” she says quietly.

This episode followed One’s struggle with his newfound knowledge as well as Four’s attempt to tell his brother Ryo the truth. It also deals with two’s almost desperate attempt to get the crew to bond and trust each other. There is also clarification on the backstory of Four and his relationship with Akita. Two and Three talk betrayal and realize that only they, and One, can be considered as suspects in that area.

By the end of the show: We learn that Four’s step mother is still murderous b*tch whose son is full of denial. One will not kill Three just yet and Six and Five clear the air…twice. One decides that Three is “rotten to the core” but…could someone that bad cry at Charlotte’s Web?

Not likely.

Later Four and Two clear the air and the former tells her that he appreciates his “true family.” Things go back to “normal” and the ship is stopped by three Ferrous Corp destroyers who take out the FTL drive. The ship cannot move and the crew look to be in big trouble.

This whole series is about appearances and how deceiving they are. It is also about characters that have depth and backstories that shows what they really are. Four, for example, is not just a cold assassin he is man whose sentimentality towards family left him open to be framed for his own father’s murder. He is not above killing Akita to pass a message on to his brother, he says, but we know he means his step-mother.

This is a brilliantly presented show. Each character is like an onion, with different things underneath each layer, as each episode peels off that little bit more. We are learning more about each crew member each week, but Two and Five still must be taken at face value.

On the surface, Five may be a sort of technologically skilled Artful Dodger, but her need to be a part of this adoptive family still needs to be explored. Two is the one we know the least about full stop. Certainly we know she is deadly and fast. She, like Five, is desperate for this group to be family while she hides her own secrets.

Secrets that we have yet to learn.

Dark Matter is part of SyFy Friday and is compulsive viewing. This group of disparate characters, who become more complex and real with each episode, are fascinating and entertaining as well as three dimensional. Simply great television but not a simple storyline. Watch this to see how it should be done.