Dark Matter: Episode 1.4 (recap/review)

Publicity shot for Dark Matter
At the beginning of Dark Matter, episode 1.4 One is contemplating a past relationship with Two. In his flashback after she suggests they get to know one another better, she then changes her mind. The crew are all in the break room talking and Five relays her wish list, which starts with goggles, and the rest of the crew all say what they want to buy at the space station.

Two comes in and burst’s everyone’s bubble stating that after repairs, refueling and docking fees, there is nothing left. “Not even enough for goggles?” Five is disappointed as are the rest of the crew. After One, Three and Four suggest cutting back on fuel or repairs, Two tells them that nothing will be done half measure and that they need to find some buyers for the rest of the gun shipment.

Before heading into the station both One and Three complain to Two her putting them together. Two tells each crew member the same thing separately, “I don’t trust him, can you keep an eye on him for me?” Both men answer in the affirmative. The two head to a bar where they ask about selling the weapons. The bartender says he will put out some feelers for a finders fee.

Six goes to the doctor’s office to wait for treatment and Two and Five sell the bits they scrounged from the ship. The two females watch a “shell game” and it turns out that Five may have a “gift” for winning. Two heads toward the casino with Five in tow.

One and Three discuss just why they do not trust each other and the bartender interrupts to tell them he has found a buyer. Four, who stayed behind on the ship, leaves to ask about the ring. He shows it to a dealer who assumes the jewelry is fake until finding a hallmark. It is an “Ishida” ring and the man says he wants nothing to do with it. “This,” he says, “is not something you find, it’s something you kill for.”

Six, sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, sees a commercial for Transfer Transit, a cool variation on the Philip K. Dick “Rekal” device in We Can Remember It For You Wholesale or Total Recall. Instead of implanting memories, a “traveler’s” personality, mind and so on are transferred to a manufactured clone of the individual who takes the trip and at the end of the vacation all the memories and experiences are transferred back to the “traveler” who never left his planet. Six is suitably impressed, although no one else in the waiting room is.

One and Three have been captured and tied up instead of meeting a potential buyer and the two try to cooperate so they can escape. Two and Five learn that the younger girls ability to win at the pea and shell game does not transfer over to cards at the casino. It does appear, however, that Two may have what it takes to win.

After amassing a huge amount of chips, casino security grab the two girls and take them away from the blackjack table. Accusing them of cheating, when things get heated, the casino manager hits Five and Two attacks the group of men, killing them all. Three is in shock and the two leave without their winnings.

Six finally sees the doctor and when a DNA analysis is taken for a skin graft treatment, the news that he is a wanted criminal comes up and the medic attempts to apprehend the crew member. In the meantime, One and Three learn that “One” is an imposter apparently and that the real Jace Corso; who ambushed the two and never got on the ship, has been looking for One for over a month. He takes the remaining guns and manages to fool The Android on the ship.

The doctor sets off an alarm causing all who remain at the station to flee back to the ship. As One and Three come on board, Two asks about the guns. One lies about the weapons and Three backs him up. Later Three tells One that he expects him to back everything that Three says or supports in future. Four learns that apparently he is the Emperor Ishida’s son, and murderer, and that the whole galaxy seems to be searching for him.

Five is uneasy around Two since the multiple murders in the casino and is not too overly comfortable around Six. He asks what is wrong and Two replies, “nothing, she’s normal; which is a problem on this ship.” Kudos to Jodelle Ferland for pulling off “normal” for a change, this young lady has been playing creepy kids for most of her career.

Dark Matter continues to move smoothly forward working as a mystery/thriller/science fiction series with an infinite path of possibilities. All the actors are hitting their stride and Zoie Palmer is a joy to watch as The Android. Her almost childlike approach to the crew and their issues is a delight. “You’ve done something to your hair…It suits you,” she calls out to the “other” One as he steals the remaining weapons.

The comedy element during the bonding, and bondage, of Three and One was excellent. The two men were a capable comic duo throughout their ambush and after. “I told you to shift and you tilted,” snaps One. Later in the room where the two are captive, One and Three have to then tilt, “on the count of three.” A lovely touch and quite funny.

The writing continues to be above par and the show still promises to be a brilliant new addiction on SyFy. The brilliant plot device, the variation on Rekal, seems to prove that “Jace Corso” is indeed a clone, but is also is a great nod and wink to Philip K. Dick or even the Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Sixth Day. Like Killjoys Dark Matter is another Canadian export, with a bigger budget, and one begins to wonder why we here south of the border cannot match this splendidly high level of entertainment. Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy.

SyFy’s Dark Matter Promising Space Opera [Update]

Anthony Lemke as Three

It has been pointed out that in the last part of this article two characters had been “mixed up” and that has been corrected. Number One is now referenced correctly in the plot breakdown. Apologies to the creators and the actors concerned.

SyFy’s newest offering, three episodes in, is a promising sort of space opera called Dark Matter that features the splendid Jodelle Ferland (and if you don’t know who she is, check out Case 39; it explains everything and if still in doubt check out her brilliant cameo on The Cabin in Woods) along with Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl, Patch Town) and is the from the creative minds of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie both alumni of the Stargate verse.

Thus far the series feels like a mash up of several different shows and genres. A hint of Firefly, a touch of Alien Resurrection, a taste of The Magnificent Seven and a tiny bit of Identity…maybe and a large dollop of Farscape…definitely. In the first episode a disparate group of people wake up from stasis when the space ship they are on malfunctions. None of them know who they are or why they are there. Until their memories return, they refer to themselves as numbers, based on when they woke up.

In a short time all the players, one through six, seven including the android, reveal that their minds have been swept clean but not their personalities and soon the group begin to meld as a team, with the exception of two members. They all learn that before waking up with a “clean slate” each number in the group was a murderer, pirate and severe lawbreaker. The only exceptions are the android (Palmer) and Five (Ferland); who cannot be found in the fractured ship’s data base.

By the second episode, the show moves from mystery to action when the group decide to help a group of miners who they were originally meant to kill. Apparently the members were part of a mercenary team hired to take care of the planets independent miners and the memory wipe enables the killers to swap sides and fight for good. With the exception of Three (Anthony Lemke) all of the former criminals seem to be pretty decent.

As the group engage in a prolonged shootout with the big corporate baddies who want to kill off all the miners and take over their company, One, brings in another company to compete for against the evil corporation and the battle is over.

Jodelle Ferland as Five
Five in the ducts…

Episode three begins with a young teen boy’s body being found in the storage area by Five, who is visibly shaken by the incident and the group learning that the girl apparently has all their memories in her head. She accesses them via her dreams and one of her recollections includes a reference to the ship being sabotaged. While the group are taking in this information, the ship drops out of FTL and is placed in a high gamma radiation area which endangers them all.

The android risks her “life” to save the ship and crew and One and Six risk their lives to rescue the “robot” from outside the hull. By the end of the show, another element of surprise has been introduced, One, is apparently being chased by his former self. The question now seems to be whether or not all the numbers have a “doppelgänger” and if so, why?

Each of the characters have distinct personalities and while some are a bit of a stereotype, they are portrayed with enough depth to make them all interesting. Ferland, as Five, is the wild card, and Android is the Joker in this abbreviated deck. Five solves puzzles, compulsively and obsessively. The robot provides humor (in a Joss Whedon sort of way; think Cordelia or Anya or even Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as well as fitting the gravity boots of Winona Ryder’s Annabelle Call.

This is a promising new show and one that already keeps the interest level high and has the viewer trying to guess where the series will go from this excellent beginning. Dark Matter airs Fridays on SyFy.