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 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 1.11 Review [UPDATE 2.0]

Two in Dark Matter

[UPDATE 2.0] Thanks to the sharp eye of @RobertMWalker2 the names/numbers have now been sorted and put in the right place/order. Apologies for any confusion that this inadvertent mixing of Three and Five may have caused.

Episode 11 of Dark Matter continues to peel back those layers. Two survived her spacewalk without a suit and Five showed that when the chips are down she can pull a mean trigger…repeatedly. Three really does have a gooey center and One wants to belong to the Raza crew even more than Five. Six, it turns out, is the grown up of the group.

Last week saw Two shot out into space by Wexler (A man who makes the average villain look like Mary Poppins.) and the rest of the crew put into the sealed vault. This week belonged to One as he gets targeted by Wexler. He also motivates the rest of the male mercenaries. Afterward Six congratulates One on his speech although he does say it was mostly the hypoxia talking.

The biggest reveal of the show was that Two, aka Portia Lin, is a “manufactured” human. The Android suspected something was up. “I had my suspicions,” says Android. “Wy didn’t you say anything?” Two asks. “You didn’t ask,” replied the robot. A splendid comic moment against the backdrop of Portia discovering that she is not a real little girl at all. She then asks the Android, “You mean I’m like you?”

“Not at all,” Android responds.

Turns out that Two has all the necessary parts to classify her as being human, “heart, lungs, kidneys, fluids” but, as Android points out, Portia was engineered. All her organs were “made to measure.” Her body is also patrolled by nanites that repair her body and this is what allowed her to survive sans suit outside the Raza and the same thing that healed the “Pandorum” type bite in the earlier episode.

It has to be said that all this feels very Mass Effect 2 (Think Miranda Lawson here.) although it needs to be pointed out that Miranda was genetically engineered to be perfect and did not have nanites performing reparation duties on her injured body.

*Sidenote* It is precisely these touches that makes “Dark Matter” so “in the groove” with nods and winks to other works in the genre.

Shockingly, Five shoots and kills Cain, one of Wexler’s evil minions. This marks what could be seen as her loss of innocence. Although, as has been previously pointed out via these recaps/reviews, we still have much to learn about the youngest crew member of the Raza. That she was a space age Artful Dodger was revealed in the memory episode but apart from that we have no real idea what makes this girl run.

Five has already proven that her expertise lies in electronics, computers and puzzles. She is also, as One points out, one brave kid. She saves Two’s life by killing Cain just as he is about to shoot her. Although, whether he could have killed her is debatable. Regardless of the Android’s theory of how Two survived her sojourn in space the fact is she should have died from lack of oxygen if nothing else.

Harking back to the littlest crew member we also know that she is desperate to be friends with all the Raza mercenaries, even, to a degree, Three who initially wanted to pop her into the airlock and out into space. She has a special closeness to Six and while she was very uneasy around Two/Portia Lin, for quite some time, Five has a tight bond with the engineered commander of the ship.

Despite knowing that Two is engineered and not a real girl at all, we need to learn who her “Gepetto” was. Who flouted the laws and braved having his/her creation destroyed (if found out) to “make” a woman. One who can not only repair any personal damage and kick major butt, but is also one fine looking specimen as well.

Show creator Joseph Mallozzi has promised that each episode would reveal a bit more about each character and he has delivered. Pacing is such that we have almost reached the end of the first season (and please network Deities bring this one back) and each show has had some splendid reveals.

Thus far we have learned everyone’s real names, except for the pistol shooting, knife packing, Five. There are now two episodes left. The penultimate, which is historically used to set up the season finale and the end show, aka the finale. Plenty of time to learn more about the now deadly Five and to find out more about the brilliantly quirky, and lovable, Android.

While this is more a review than a recap, the clue is in the title, perhaps a quick recap is in order:

Two, after disabling the FTL drive, kills Vons who goes out to fix the thing. She then gets back in the Raza and kills Vons’ incestuous sister Tash. She then dispatches the buyers who boarded the Raza. She later kills Wexler after telling him that she no longer knows what she is. The only evil mercenary that Two does not kill is Cain, who Three took out with extreme prejudice.

While this was going on, One is taken out of the vault and questioned, and beaten. Wexler does not know that he is not the real Jace Corso and a chap named Danny Bones told Wexler that Corso has millions buried on a deserted moon. When One cannot tell the mercenary leader where the money is, he takes Three out of the vault next. Initially he threatens to cut off her fingers and then something worse if Jace does not divulge the location of his buried booty.

Apart from Five and Two, One is the busiest Raza crew member in this episode. He motivates the other male members of the crew to jump Wexler’s team and he bonds even more with the rest of the team. It appears that despite his real reason for becoming Corso, to kill Three, he and Three are becoming good buddies.

Three, still does not know who the fake Jace really is or why he is there. As the two talk, while suffering from hypoxia, Three tells One that he has never felt enough hate to kill someone. One responds that Three should not be so sure. This is one storyline that has yet to be resolved. Along with why Two was engineered, who Three really is, and what does the Android really have to do with all this.

Standout Moment: The destruction of the planet where the scientist is testing whether the stolen device works or not. Very impressive.

Kudos again go to Jodelle Ferland as Five, Anthony Lemke as Three (never disappoints this chap) and Marc Bendavid as One just rocked it in this episode. As did Melissa O’Neil as Two.

Mad props to the stunt coordinators John Stead and Steve Wilsher for making O’Neil’s fights look so impressive and real. These two gentleman, and their stunt performers, have gone all out to make the fights in the show look solid, believable and damned entertaining.

*Sidenote Two* It will be interesting to see if Two mentions her newfound status as an engineered being. She may have taken off that bandage but this commander’s love of her own secrets, while asking everyone else to tell the truth, probably means that no one apart from the Android will know of this most recent development.

*Sidenote three* Hands up all who believe that the crew of the Raza will get the blame for this destroyed planet and that their bounty just went up.

Dark Matter is the best science fiction thriller/mystery on television. Those who love the show will now have to agonize over SyFy not letting its viewing audience know if the show is coming back for a second season. Until we learn the fate of the series, Dark Matter can be found, for two more episodes at least, on SyFy Fridays.