Dark Matter: 3.10 Built, Not Born
Zoie Palmer is the star of Dark Matter as far as I'm concerned . Her ability to express everything with a simple facial expression is a marvel to watch and I have loved every moment of her development during the last two and a half seasons. So this episode was quite the treat, not my favourite of the season but a chance to explore the origins of her character, see a different side to Palmer, while also furthering Two / Portia's story too.
Though admittedly, the first act of the episode, which saw sentient android (and possible Android love interest) Victor return with two other androids was less interesting, more a stepping stone to the secret base and the surprise reveal of Doctor Shaw. I'm not sure why, but Victor made less of an impact here than his season two debut We Were Family, and the other androids were a bit forgettable. But their purpose here was to develop the character of the Android and that was certainly achieved as she confided in the crew about where she got her chip and led them to the haven for other self aware androids seeking to escape their human masters. The added threat of the GA ships hunting them down certainly added to the drama though.
Still I was not expecting the course the episode took once they arrived at the base, Kyle Mac's Chase, originally seen as another android model in season two finale But First, We Save The Galaxy, revealing the cryogenically frozen Doctor Shaw - played by Zoie Palmer. It put a whole new spin of where the Android came from; suddenly she wasn't just an off the shelf model learning from her experiences, but one modelled on the scientist responsible for making the other androids self aware in the first place.
Even bigger still, she was one of the scientists responsible for designing Portia - or Rebecca as Doctor Shaw called her - and her lover too. Tying the Android and Two's origins together was an interesting development. With the good Doctor dying, the Android was created to upload her consciousness to - until Shaw realised she was already a living entity in her own right. There was certainly a moral quandary in the Android suddenly under threat from being replaced and I'm glad the show didn't go down this route. Instead, Two's advanced nanites gave Shaw a chance of reprieve, allowing her to survive beyond the episode's end.
I also have to talk about that flashback, seen through the Android's eyes. Portia brutally taking down two members of the crew of the Raza and taking control while Marcus / Three calmly kept eating throughout the whole fight was bloody hilarious!
The episode also stepped up Sarah's story as Shaw created a body to upload her consciousness into. I kind of assumed this was where her path was always going, but it came with a price, the sudden assault on the base by GA ships forcing Shaw, Victor and Chase to escape while Sarah's body was still being built, separating Marcus and Sarah once again.
Built, Not Born was another strong episode that added a surprise backstory to Android and Portia and advanced the self-aware android storyline too. While it wasn't quite as fun as recent episodes, it's emotional heart made up for it and I'm intrigued to see what the ramifications of this story are as it heads into its final three episodes of the season.
Let's just hope it gets picked up for a fourth because there is still so much potential for more...