Dark Matter: Season Three Catch Up – All the Time in the World (Review)

DARK MATTER -- "All the Time In the World" Episode 304 -- Pictured: Zoie Palmer as The Android -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

Despite missing the boat a bit (or in this case “the Raza”) we have done a bit of binging to catch up on all that has transpired in season three of Dark Matter. A lot has happened since the explosive finale of season two with everything reaching dizzying heights of excitement and more than a touch of mystery in “All the Time in the World.”

Season three has rung in some amazing, as well as disturbing, changes in this world we have all grown to love. There have been losses. Nyx is dead and Six, aka Kal Varrik, has left the Raza to stay and guide a revolution. Two new crew members are on board – and Shockley’s interaction with Marcus (Three) provided one of the funniest moments in episode 4 “Deal! Ahhhhh!” while Ryo has shown that underneath all that cold exterior there beats the heart of a lover.

Episode four takes a now familiar plot line (a temporal time loop – aka “Groundhog Day”) and stands it on its head. Three, Marcus Boone, is reliving the same day over and over. More importantly, he has been doing it for some time.

We are allowed to see only a small portion of this repeat cycle – to hilarious effect – and this adds to the riff on this plot device. Initially this loop affects only Boone, who is rebooted when he sleeps or when Shockley knocks him out. Later it also affects Adrian and even later The Android.

It is The Android who manages to steal the show full stop with her mind numbing, and, in places, damned terrifying, five second trip into the past. The journey takes the robot to some dark and disturbing scenarios one of which entails The Android being told solemnly that the scientist who has dissected her is not a monster – while she looks at the various body parts removed and placed by her side.

Lemke, who shines in this episode more than most, does what he does best; he acts his little cotton socks off…effortlessly. Straight-faced and completely serious he faces his own personal Groundhog Day with an aplomb that speaks volumes about this man’s talents.

Stand Out Moment:

Marcus trying to remember the name of the particle accelerator and getting the name wrong repeatedly after each reboot. “Reboot…Sh*t!”

Other Matters:

Palmer manages to keep up with Lemke throughout. She does, however, speed past her costar with ease in that short and upsetting montage with her very short trip down memory lane.

(Kudos to Ferland in those last moments of that five second trip. Her aged and creepy Five, complete with milky eyes that dart suspiciously as she tells The Android to destroy the device, is top notch and a throwback to those old days when creepy kids were her forte.)

Mallozzi and Mullie have managed to ring in the changes with scary ease. They have taken an almost stock plot in this latest episode and managed to make it new. I found myself second guessing (incorrectly) throughout  and was completely surprised at the end to find that what caused the loop fell outside of my list of choices completely.

Final Thoughts:

There are indications this season that the blink drive from season two may be the spanner in the works that upsets everything. It has clearly  introduced parallel worlds, or at least parallel lives and times. The “jumps” made by The Android provokes a number of questions about the verse and its temporal stability in general.

The biggest question, of course,  being whether or not the original crew of the Raza are not still working together in another dimension. A verse where One is not dead at all and Ryo (Four) has not gone against his comrades.

Dark Matter is still addictive television and, along with Killjoys, one of the best things about SyFy on Fridays. Despite this shows move into a dark and more disturbing direction this season, Dark Matter still has the ability to make me laugh and cry; often at the same time.

 

CAST:

Guest Starring:   Ellen Wong  as Misaki Han-Shireikan,  Torri Higginson as Commander Truffault, Natalie Brown as Sarah

Aftermath: Whispers of Immortality – String Theory (Review)

 Aftermath - Season 1

While the final episode of Aftermath ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, the storyline follows a logical conclusion. It is hidden amongst the weird and wonderful characters that the players meet up with, but it is a solid line of reasoning nonetheless.

It is all about string theory.

The season has been full of mythical creatures from other cultures along with scientific anomalies, like wormholes and time differences, that have also affected events and people in this verse.

Initially it seemed that the series was all about the “End of Days” aka the apocalypse.  However, with the skin changers, flying demons and man eating plants the world was not just ending but changing to include “boogeymen” from every ethnicity on earth.

In “Whispers of Immortality” Moondog  gives us a bit of backstory. Like the prophets of old, the man headed out into the desert.(On a sidenote: Kudos to Ferreira for being a hip physicist version of Wolfman Jack. The man rocks it with that voice and his character’s attitude.)

After 12 years in the Mojave, Bob’s wife declares him dead and the DJ/prophet knows a lot about string theories and how they are affecting the world.

In essence, the final answer is that gravity waves are forcing all the dimensions into one path. “The one is many and many are the one” is not just a mantra by a few people  it is the key to what is happening to Earth.

These waves have forced all 11 dimensions to occupy the same timeline. Ergo, it seems, that dimensions are not just variations on one time, one culture, but many. (See what we did there?)

We also learn that the bullet given to Karen by the dead woman in her vision, that later turned into a rock, is a key to the Delphi. (Nice touch with the “Delphi Cafe” being the oracle’s hangout. The crowning glory was the pinball machine being the actual “fortune teller” and not the waitress.)

The keypunch computer cards are finally put to use. When the cards are finally put through the reader, a machine that they imply was last used in 1979 but the keypunch system was still being used in the very early ’80’s, they get their answer.

For those who are not overly religious or not at all, the fragmented message is one of hope. “The End of the World Is Not the End of the World.” It takes the trio a little time to work out this new bit of evidence.

Joshua, the Adept, is the one who makes the connection. He tells Dana and Moondog that in each culture there is a tale of the world ending but, in essence, it does so for a new beginning. In other words, each culture has their version of a “Noah” scenario.

The finale of Aftermath kept up the pressure. Matt is copied by a shape shifter, they are getting smarter it seems, and Dana steps right out of her comfort zone to save her dad and the card reading machine.

When Junkman gets the drop on Moondog and Josh, while a group of bystanders turn the scene into a cacophony amid all this madness, Dana approaches Junkman from behind and shoots him in the arse.

Moondog asks why she shot the man in the nether region and she responds that it is not lethal but is still debilitating. Dana is right, her lack of a deadly response takes the homicidal Junkman out of commission.

Karen learns from the oracle that “she is the price for what she wants.” In essence, the mother must sacrifice herself to save her family and kids.

(One bone of contention here: This feels all too much like the “death is your gift” plot device from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five. The meaning is exactly the same, in the Joss Whedon season finale that year, Buffy Summers must die to save the world and Dawn. In this episode, Karen must sacrifice herself to save the family and the world.)

On top of  string theory being the answer to all the phenomena that has been hammering the planet and the people on it, those wormholes are also part of the solution.  Using the tesla tower to attract the holes above the station allows those giant moon rocks to be sucked out of the air before destroying the world in that area.

Of course the downside is that Karen, after repairing the tower’s power supply, is also sucked up into the giant wormhole above her. Brianna swears that they will find their mum but…

Sure, the canary lady’s husband was sucked up in Portland and returned to her here, but if this proves to be what Brianna is thinking there is one small, or very large problem.

If Karen is spat out someplace else  those huge earth destroying moon rocks will also be ejected.  Mrs. Copeland’s chances of landing safely and alive are, pretty much, non-existent.

Uh oh.

Still, as finale’s go, Aftermath gave the viewers one that pretty much tied up all the plot threads. It also allowed each player to reach some sort of definitive arc.

Performance wise Anne Heche killed it. Mad props to Ferreira, Stone, Hickson, Meaden and Tupper are also in order.  Each actor gave a performance that was truthful and on point.

Whether or not Aftermath comes back for another season is still up in the air. Their viewing figures are not bad for SyFy and could well allow the network to greenlight a second season where finding Karen could be the main plot point.

Aftermath  started out with a slow measured method to its madness. This did not detract from the show’s all encompassing tale of a family striving to survive the apocalypse.

It gave viewers a strong matriarchal character, in Karen, and allowed the other female members of the family to evolve into strong characters as well.  The men, both Levi and Josh, represented male figures who were not afraid to acknowledge that women should be seen as powerful equals in this new  world.

Aftermath “Whispers of Immortality” was an excellent end to this fascinating look at the end of the world.

Cast:

Guest starring Kaaren de Zilva as the waitress and C. Ernst Harth as Junkman.

Van Helsing: It Begins – Tactical Error (Review)

 Van Helsing - Season 1

To the most casual observer, the season finale of Van Helsing was slow and perhaps a tad too expository. However… Neil LaBute added enough peripheral details to keep the start of the episode from dragging. Things came together nicely as many questions were answered by the show’s creator.

Personal favorite Amanda Tapping kept the pace steady as the sesaon finale’s director and while the episode  was, in many ways, word heavy, the fall and rise of Vanessa was satisfactorily told.  

On a sidenote: For those who do not wish to read to the end of this review; Axel does return…

Dimitri proves yet again that he is not the cleverest vampire in the pack (Question: What does one call a group of vampires? A bevy? Could they be called, like crows, a murder? Answers on a postcard please…) when he makes the tactical error of giving blood to Van Helsing for a snack.  Almost predictably, she becomes uber strong and almost rips the heart out of the vampire leader’s chest.

Somewhat disappointingly Vanessa does not rip Rebecca’s head from her shoulders. Still, that would have circumvented the nasty twist in the tale of Van Helsing’s confrontation with Dimitri’s treacherous sister and Dylan.

Although the shock of seeing her daughter with bloodstained lips may not necessarily overly upset Van Helsing. She can, after all, turn the kid back with one well placed bite. Rebecca playing the Dylan card seems to suggest that, like her brother Dimitri, she too is capable of committing the odd  tactical error.

“It Begins” brings the story of Mohamad and Sheema to a close. The guy was trying to free his sister from the clutches of Dimitri’s sister.  Sadly, she liked living like a bird in a gilded cage and when Mohamad tries to take her away, she bashes him in the head with a candleholder.

Twice.

Sheema then grabs the backpack loaded up by her unconcious (Dead?) brother and runs right into the breaching blast by Taka’s fighters. Apart from a bitter dose of irony, the last movements of Mohamad’s sister are confusing. It does look as though both have paid for their treachery dearly.

In this episode it appears that the only characters who are without sin may well be Vanessa, Dylan and Axel. Taka, the sanctimonious leader of the resistance group turns out to be in cahoots with Rebecca. He then betrays her betrayal (She arranged for Taka and his people to inhabit Fox Island, a place that was supposed to provide a safe haven for the bent resistance leader. Dimitri reveals that the Island is a lie.)

The episode ends with Van Helsing confronting Rebecca, who then shows off vampire Dylan.  Flesh, who was the only member of Taka’s group to go after  Vanessa to save her, is nowhere to be seen.

After the episode’s final reveal, the camera speeds toward the bunker where Axel was locked by Doc earlier. Sure enough, the Marine climbs up the air duct to escape his prison. Axel sounds odd though, and from that brief glimplse of his eyes, he has been turned.

With guttural breathing and a sort of grim determination, the Marine heads toward town.

Van Helsing’s last episode of the season tells us who the woman is and that there is something in her lineage that “mum” was not too keen on. Hence the hiding her daughter in plain sight move.  The ingestion of blood by the savior of humanity was a game changer and the only frustrating thing about “It Begins” was Rebecca coming through with her poisonous head still on her shoulders.

We also learn that vampires do age, albeit very slowly, and that they do die. The creatures also, just like many of their human counterparts, fear death.  “It terrifies them,” says Dr. Sholomenko just before he sets Vanessa up for a futile escape.

Dimitri also shows us his achilles heel; it is an overwhelmng sense of hubris. This is what motivates him to use his own sperm to impregnate Vanessa. “This was not the plan,” cries an angry Rebecca.  It does not matter though as the rejuvinated Van Helsing takes this moment to really reach out and touch the vampire leader.

LaBute has given fans of the show a decent cliffhanger ending. Axel looks to be heading off to find Vanessa (Even in his vampiric state, the Marine would go after the woman he’s so close to. Although, he may be looking for Doc first for a little “pay-back.”) Van Helsing has found Dylan and the two-timing brother and sister may be dead.

Sam is nowhere to be seen but since his focus was on Mohamad, he may not return for a second season. SyFy have already ordered another 13 epiosdes of this dark and unsettling retelling and revamping (See what we did there?) of the Van Helsing mythos.

Vanessa Seward dies in this season finale and Vanessa Van Helsing has risen from the ashes of our heroine’s previous identity to take on the vampires.  This was a splendid series that disregarded genre tropes and created a new sort of blood sucking menace.

Well done.

Cast:

Aftermath: Where the Dead Men Lost Their Bones – Josh (Review)

 Aftermath - Season 1

After Josh learning that he is an “Adept” “Where the Dead Men Lost Their Bones” shows that whatever else he might be, Joshua knows something important.  Aftermath manages to up the stakes quite a lot in this episode. The disquieting nature of Josh’s ailment, fighting off the effects of the fever, and that huge vortex in the sky manage to increase the goosebump quotient quite a lot.

Initially, it seems that Josh’s visions are specific to his experiences and the recent events that have affected his family. The re-appearance of Audrene, the TV reporter last seen in Seattle, adds another interesting aspect of the end of days.

The woman who traveled to the town the Copeland’s are now in is captured and inspected by the local “Doc.” He decides she is not a threat, no signs of the plague, and Audrene is released.  The reporter knows something. “Many are the one, ” she says.

Josh has been murmuring “The one is many,” something that was written on the wall of the hospital in episode 10.  This mantra is half of the equation and later when the two meet up, Audrene is convinced that Joshua knows “what all this means.”

This episode of Aftermath is unsettling. The family splitting up, twice (the second time when Brianna leaves Dana alone with their father, as well as the very nature of the town keeps the viewer on edge throughout.  The two men who snatch up newcomers for the town’s veterinarian to inspect for fever are disquieting as is the news that “fever heads” are executed.

Brianna runs into trouble when she breaks off on her own. A group of teens jump her, take her gun and make her their prisoner. She tricks the trio into taking her back to the house where Josh is meant to be. Brianna tells the leader; Maize, that there are drugs back at the house.

Levi, finds a teen hanging by her neck, the girl tried to commit suicide after having to shoot a friend. Sarah is connected to the small group who have taken Brianna prisoner.   The two converge at the house when Levi returns with Sarah who has Tetra.

There is a brief standoff that ends when Karen returns.  There is almost a repeat of the wholesale slaughter of the camp but Dana stops her mother from killing the trio of street kids.

Josh is rescued from execution by Audrene. She recognizes the mantra that Copeland is repeated over and over. Later she will be sucked back into the vortex as Karen holds her husband down.

The small amount of Tetra starts Josh on the road to recovery. The family listen to Bob “Moondog” Black and he mentions “the one is many” and Josh realizes that the D.J. seems to know something.

Meanwhile, the debris from the moon is drifting to the earth and will soon be caught up in the planet’s gravity. Moondog transmits that the after effects of the explosion will reach the earth in two days time.

So far this series has managed to keep things interesting. The inclusion of mythological creatures and deities from other cultures has broadened the scope of “the end of days.”

The focus of each episode has been more “within” than “without” and this episode of Aftermath has zeroed in on some of the more peripheral events. The “destruction” of Seattle, or rather, the de-population of the city’s inhabitants, now has more significance than just the news segment where Audrene freaks out before the signal is lost.

It will be very interesting to learn just what Moondog knows.  There are two episodes left of the series with next week’s episode being the penultimate one of the season.

The vortex, which seems to be consuming and regurgitating people somewhat randomly, is impressively scary.  Clearly this is not part of the “rapture” as one character believed in this episode, if it were, no one would be returned.

Aftermath airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in and see what befalls the Copeland family next.

Cast:

Guest starring Crystal Balint as Audrene, Sarah Dugdale as Sarah, Murry Peeters as Maize, Milo Shandel as Doc and the voice of Louis Ferreira as Bob “Moondog” Black.

Van Helsing: Last Time – Sam (Recap/Review) [Update]

Van Helsing - Season 1

[Update] Susan, Vanessa’s friend and neighbor was erroneously identified as “Karen.” This has now been corrected, Mike’s Film Talk apologizes for any confusion.

Just when it seems like Van Helsing cannot get any darker, “Last Time” goes jet black with an ending sequence that raises goosebumps and may give the more faint-hearted nightmares. Sam is indeed the murderer whose actions tore apart the two groups in the hospital.

In this episode, Vanessa takes her tiny group to Susan’s house in the country.  When they arrive the house is deserted; the occupants dead or missing. As they search the house for a safe place to sleep, Mohamad finds a ham radio.

There is a moment of hope.  The man on the other end of the radio relays to the group that Denver is supposed to be a safe haven. Salt Lake City, the man says, has been destroyed.  Mohamad answers to the caller with clicks of the microphone as it is broken.

Later, Susan’s abusive father attacks a horse she learned to ride on, the man has been turned into a feral vampire.  The group capture the creature and there is no mercy shown by Susan who tells of what her father did to her as a human.  The feral is killed.

Sam shaves his beard with a straight razor he found in the house.  It drops years off his face but when he smiles there is nothing youthful at all in his countenance. It is the same cheerful grin Sam had while killing the man who locked him up in last week’s episode.

Susan is nowhere to be found and Vanessa stops Sam and Mohamad from burying her father in case she wants to say something. The three separate to find the missing woman.  Sam is told to search the woods for Susan.

Rebecca and Dimitri skulk and argue after learning that they will no longer get newborn babies from the cult. Dimitri is especially angry. His sister asks for permission to clean out the rest of the human resistance. Dimitri wants her to prove that Vanessa Van Helsing’s blood will allow them to walk in the daylight.

This is rather important as the ash filled skies are slowly clearing. When the ash settles the vampires will be forced back into the shadows.  The sun is already breaking through, each time the two walk near a window their skin burns.

Van Helsing - Season 1
Rebecca and Dimitri

Sam kills Susan.  She dies after hugging him. He wraps his hands around her throat and strangles her. After the act he cuts off an index finger. He then meets up with Mohamad and Vanessa. Sam tell them Susan was not in the woods.

Mohamad looks at his friend and goes back into the house, saying he will check for Susan one more time. He goes upstairs to Sam’s backpack and finds the fingers.  He realizes that John was not the killer; it was Sam all along.

Vanessa learns that Sam has the fingers and Mohamad tells her that they killed the wrong man earlier.  Sam admits he killed Susan. Van Helsing is outraged. “Why,” she shouts.

“It’s who I am, says Sam, It’s who I’ve always been. Since I was a little boy.”

Vanessa has the shotgun and plans to shoot Sam with it. Mohamad insists upon going along. As they reach their destination, Sam furiously signals to his friend. Van Helsing demands to know what the killer is saying but Mohamad is too upset to translate.

He tells Sam to shut up and his friend tells Mohamad to tell Vanessa the truth or he will.  Mohamad jumps Sam and beats him. Van Helsing pulls him off and says they will leave the wounded man for the feral’s to kill.

She takes the machete that Mohamad brought to the woods and cripples Sam. They leave him to die.

As the two discuss where they should go next, Sam is attacked by a feral. He manages to stab the creature in the head with a piece of wood. As he tries to grab the feral by the throat it bites his hand. Sam’s scream of pain can be heard at the farmhouse.

Van Helsing - Season 1
Vanessa and Mohamad

Vanessa and Mohamad bury Susan next to her mother and father. Out in the darkening woods, Sam can be heard, He is breathily shouting “Mohamad, I can hear you.”  The final shot is of the freshly turned Sam running through the woods toward Mohamad and Vanessa.

Cue goosebumps.

This episode was brilliantly dark and unsettling.  Last week’s episode made it fairly clear that the finger taking murderer was Sam. This episode cemented it.  The tall deaf man was, as Vanessa tells Mohamad,   a psychopath and she is right.

There are a few things still outstanding however.  What “truth” was Sam speaking of. What secrets are being carried around by Mohamad. It may all lead back to the sister he is searching so hard for; Sheema.

He may have been doing something similar to Sheema before turning up at the hospital. However, the lack of information and the lack of interest by Vanessa is worrying.

Axel is still missing and while it may be wishful thinking, it would be nice if the Marine turned back up. It seems pretty certain that we have not seen the last of Doc or Axel, although she may not have anything to fear from the military man, Van Helsing will certainly kill the medico if she returns.

Van Helsing airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune is and see if Mohamad’s secret is revealed.

Cast:

Guest starring Tom Cavanagh as Micah, Christopher Russell as Theo and Gwynyth Walsh as Magdelene.