Dark Matter: 2.02 Kill Them All
Dark Matter certainly seems to have stepped things up a gear with its second season. Not content to kill off One / Derrick Moss One (Marc Bendavid) at the hands of doppelganger Jace Corso in the shocking climax to last week's season opener, this week's episode introduced new allies, villains, an expanding roster to the Raza's crew and seemingly said goodbye to another member of the original six.
It was always inevitable that Two / Portia (Melissa O'Neil), Three / Marcus (Anthony Lemke) and Four / Ryo (Alex Mallari Jr) were going to escape the Hyperion-8 Maximum Security Galactic Detention Facility; it was how they escaped that was going to be interesting. Kill The All built up the escape attempt in style, the tension building and building until all Hell broke loose. Showrunner and writer Joseph Mallozzi crafted a tense web of power plays around the main characters. Franka Potente's Chief Inspector Shaddick put the 'innocent' Six / Griffin (Roger Cross) and Five / Das (Jodelle Ferland) under intense scrutiny while trying to divide Portia, Marcus and Ryo by attempting to turn them against each other in return for a deal. It was standard fare but Potente delivered an understated, dangerous performance; when she told Das that she could easily turn nasty, it was wholly believable.
Added to this we had the return of Torri Higginson as corporate Commander Truffault, seeking to use destruction of the planet with the stolen device from season one to her advantage even as Shaddick used it as a threat against the crew of the Raza. There was a great, cool smugness about her character and her mysterious motivations, giving Marcus the plans to escape the prison, made you wonder just what kind of game she is playing. I am intrigued to see her next move. Carlo Rota's warden was a largely comic relief character, particularly when his prison eventually fell apart around him, but his attempt to kill Portia, Marcus and Ryo by incineration to stop Shaddick getting to them added another level to double-crossing and manipulations at play.
And that is where Mike Dopud's Arax came in. He initially presented himself as a villain last week, threatening Ryo and asserting his dominance over the other inmates but here he saved the trio in exchange for getting in on their planned escape. With the addition of Melanie Liburd's Nix, these two enemies have turned allies and should be interesting additions to the expanding Raza crew in season two. I also enjoyed Arax's budding partnership with Marcus; their unease after knocking Ryo unconscious to get him into the hospital wing was amusing. Making up the new crewmembers was Devon (Shaun Sipos), the inmate with the medical skills caught up in the escape. There's much to him yet but he could prove to be the sympathetic crewmember now that Derrick is gone.
Finally we have the arrival of Ellen Wong as Misaki Han-Shireikan, the new commander of the Imperial forces after Ryo dispatched his former mentor last season. There is obviously some unresolved sexual tension between the two characters and the fact that she survived her duel with Ryo means we're certainly going to see a lot more of her.
The actual prison break was dramatic, well-choreographed and a great payoff to the tense build up. Portia's abilities meant she was immune to the signal used to suppress the other inmates and turning it against the prison guards was a great twist. The fight in the main break room was skillfully delivered, allowing all the characters - old and new - to get in on the action. Ryo's swordfight with Misaki and her two henchmen was an exciting extra touch in the chaos and her take down at the hands of Das and her bad ass gun was perfect. Seeing the small girl take on an army of guards was a delight from beginning to end, building on her amazing scene with the Android.
After refusing to break, Zoie Palmer's Android finally got to let loose when Das turned against Shaddick and ordered her to kill them all. It was a ruthless turn from Das who has seemed so innocent up until now and the Android taking on the room of guards and dispatching them, Shaddick included, in full Terminator mode was the highlight of the episode.
The episode ended with a double whammy of twists, determined to beat the shocking murder of one character last week by critically injuring Griffin as they crew made their escape to the shuttle. It was a bittersweet moment for the man who had betrayed the crew and then realised his officers were the true enemy. Just as Portia - and a grudging Marcus - agreed to let Griffin go with them, his fellow officer Anders tried to take him down, leading to a double shoot out that saw Roger Cross the second main character to be written out in two weeks as he was put into cryogenic freeze to stop him from dying. Like Marc Bendavid, I am sure we will see Cross on Dark Matter again, but as the second 'good character' to meet their demise and a whole host of criminals joining the Raza, I wonder just how dark season two will go.
Fair dark it seems with that certain revelation about Das. Inga Cadranel's character started the episode as a mysterious new power player and the final revelation that Das was her asset has added to the unravelling mystery established in the second season. Admittedly, it is in danger of bordering too close to the revelation about Portia's manmade abilities from last season, but there is enough intrigue here to keep me hooked.
If the season opener Welcome to Your New Home was strikingly simple in reintroducing the key characters of Dark Matter, then Kill Them All was Joseph Mallozzi letting loose and showing that the second season could deliver even when the mystery of who these characters was (seemingly) resolved. The show has lost two key characters and added three more and it is looking stronger than ever. A well paced episode with a dramatic pay off, this is one episode that is sure to remain a favourite of mine for some time to come.