Dark Matter: 3.11 The Dwarf Star Conspiracy
Dark Matter has been a futuristic sci-fi show that has been largely contented to fill its universe with humans and artificial lifeforms. So it was quite a surprise when this week's episode ventured in alien territory - literally Aliens - as the crew of the Raza found a base, Nova 17, under siege from an alien lifeforms from another universe. It was another strong episode in a show that is confident to play with sci-fi conventions. We've had time travel and pocket universes; why not invading aliens from another dimension?
The Dwarf Star Conspiracy didn't throw this narrative curveball at the audience straight away. Instead it took the audience, via the Android's newfound memories, in search of a Dwarf Star Technology base and Wil Weaton's Alexander Rook, one of the nefarious scientists behind Portia / Two's creation. He was last seen back in season two's Going Out Fighting, where Portia gained the advanced nanobots to save here. Sadly absent this time, the crew instead found hundreds of pods he had created, filled more artificially created people.
At first it looked like an attempt to create an army, but the discovery of humans of all ages, children included, suggested something far more sinister. With the hook set, the arrival of the Mikkei cruiser brought a group of marines to the planet - because if you're going to attempt Aliens, you need marines right? With Marcus / Three seemingly affected by some strange presence and a group of quasi-allies ready to open fire at the first sign of something happening, it was a hotbed for action when Portia discovered the portal.
I like how the episode didn't go for the obvious humanoid alien route or riff Geiger's infamous xenomorphs. Instead the presence of something of the glowing red gateway to another dimension and omnipotent aliens that could possess someone made this more of a Event Horizon-take on humanity's first encounter with alien life. Substitute aliens with Hell itself and it would have worked just as well. Marcus's obviously previous encounter with them too gave him a fascinating descent into madness as this later encounter sent him crazy. It certainly upped the feel of the crew being in the presence of something evil.
The actual release of the aliens wasn't as effective as perhaps it could have been but there was something terrifying about an alien host that could take over your body. It also allowed for a bloody good bloodbath (even if it was mostly heard off screen) as the Mikkei marines were taken out one by one and Portia was left stranded with one doctor who would rather blown his brains out then be taken. With Marcus and Griffing / Six escaping, the episode teased Portia's death as the Mikkei ship nuked the base from orbit to stop the alien invasion, though I wasn't convinced she was gone for a second. The hands reaching out to grab her and the remnants of a ship escaping led to the surprise twist of the alternate universe Marcus taken her captor, which is sure to lead to some fun moments in the final two episodes ahead.
The Dwarf Star Conspiracy was a solid episode of Dark Matter with a chilling premise in aliens possessing an army of artificial human bodies in order to infiltrate the universe. I would have liked to have seen this escalate more but this does not seem the direction showrunner Joseph Mallozzi intends for now. Perhaps if the show gets a fourth season, we could see this alien possession / invasion expanded further?