Dark Matter: 3.05 Give It Up, Princess

Dark Matter continued to build on its various plos this week; Ryo's grip on the Imperial throne and the desperate war Zairon was facing, developing new characters Solara Shockley and Adrian Maro, the fight for independence across the colonies and expanding the galactic war between the corporations. Unfortunately, while there was progression on all fronts, the one thing Give It Up, Princess failed to do was deliver an exciting episode of its own.

Sure we had plenty of double crosses, kidnappings and jail heists, but the episode lacked an identity like last week's Groundhog Day shenanigans. It might be to do with the two new crewmembers; Solara (Ayisha Issa) is a decent stoic female warrior, but there's little to make her as interesting as Two / Portia or the sadly deceased Nyx. Adrian might have plenty of quips but Mishka Thébaud's conman doesn't quite have the charm of his boss, Stargate's Talbor Calchek (David Hewlitt ). I wonder if Talbor was supposed to be the new edition to the crew of the Raza in season three; the absence of Hewlitt this season feels suspect.

Still, the episode made attempts to imbue both characters with personality. Solara confided in Five / Das about her training in a monastery where she lived as a child; with the monks who lived their slaughtered, she hunted down and murdered the bandits who killed them, breaking her vow not to commit violence. It gave Solara history and Issa does a good job of giving her character warmth, but she still feels largely disconnected from the crew in a way that Nyx didn't at this point last season. I also still don't understand why she is acting as Adrian's bodyguard.

As for Adrian, he drove the episode with the promise information against the evil Ferrous Corporation that might change the tide of the war. What followed was a series of amusing events, first discovering that Talbor's girlfriend Ambrosia (Anna Hopkins) had been kidnapped by rival Goren (unfortunately some terrible 'thug' acting from Michael Bisping). With Goren wanting a file containing information about a secret Ferrous Corp fleet, the Raza headed off to a space station where it was being held only to find it destroyed, then to another station where Adrian and Das were arrested.

I enjoyed the raised eyebrows as Adrian led the crew into one ridiculous event after another, but I feel more could have been made of this. Last week showed that Dark Matter could do comedy well (though part of that was down to the focus on Anthony Lemke's Marcus / Three). I don't think Thébaud was really up to delivering comic timing on the same level, making Adrian more pathetic than funny. Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit harsh; there's still plenty of room for development this season and Thébaud, like Issa with Solara , is able to bring likeability to the role. I just don't feel he was strong enough to be the central protagonist of the week at this point.

The best moment (as they usually are) featured the Android and this week she activated her chip to play a southern belle heiress, strutting into the prison complex where Adrian and Das were being held and manipulating the guards with her charm before kicking ass. I love how the show is able to flit between the robotic Android and her confident humanistic side and I hope it develops further this season.

I also love a good bit of political intrigue and we had plenty of that as Ryo faced the conflicting advices of Teku and Misaki. It's interesting this his ascent to power has not been a happy one; his fleets are losing the war badly (sadly the budget failed to show us any of these epic space battles) and now he's succumbed to executing protestors on a mining role to keep his iron grip on the empire. It's interesting to see Alex Mallari Jr. play the ruthless villain week after week, though I can't see him keeping the throne long term. Will he be forced to flee his enemies and seek sanctuary with the Raza crew? That would be a fun twist.

I was also surprised to see Six / Griffin show up on screen, even briefly. He might be defending the rights of the mining planet seeking independence, but the cliffhanger with Ferrous Crop head Commander Nieman seeking to wipe out these colonies suggests he's still got a big part to play in the current galactic war.

Give It Up, Princess was a decent episode of Dark Matter, developing a number of key plots and providing some development to new characters Solara and Adrian. While it certainly had fun, it could have been funnier. But even when it's a little disappointing, there a few shows as entertaining as Dark Matter right now...

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