Dark Matter: 2.13 But First, We Save the Galaxy
The build up to the galactic war between the corporations has been the key theme of Dark Matter season two and in the finale the crew of the Raza desperately tried to avert it. The gathering of every corporation at one space station was sure to have tensions rising to boiling point and given that it was the destruction of that station in the alternate reality that started the war, it was up to Portia / Two and Marcus / Three to convince Commander Truffault that its destruction had to be stopped at any cost.
It wasn't just Torri Higginson's commander of the Mikkei Combine that made a return appearance in the finale; we had everyone from Kris Holden-Ried's Galactic Authority Inspector Kierken to a surprise return of Griffin / Six's old buddy Lieutenant Anders (Jeff Teravainen) who supposedly died back during the prison breakout at the start of the season. The aggressive Commander Nieman (David Richmond-Peck) also returned as the man in charge of rival corporation Ferrous Corp; the crew of the Raza betrayed him way back in the pilot episode - forging a quasi-alliance with Truffault instead - and in the finale we saw just how far he would go to start a war and outmove his enemies.
As I've noted in previous reviews, showrunner Joseph Mallozzi has being laying the breadcrumbs for the finale all season. The destruction of the space station in the alternate reality was the focal point for the Raza's mission. The Android's discovery of other synthetics with the ability to mimic humans led to Das / Five realising that the sweet, quiet assistant to Nieman was in fact an android with a bomb, ready to explode. Kierken has been established as a noble officer but one out to take down the Raza once and for all and the newfound slip drive has forged Ryo's dangerous power play after his shocking ascension last week.
While perhaps not as clever in its twists and turns as perhaps it hoped to be (I felt on a number of occasions I was clued into the revelations before they happened), there was a great sense of unease and political intrigue running through the episode. Das has really stepped up to become an essential member of the crew this season and it was great to see her dressed up as a corporate assistant to Truffault as she snuck aboard the space station to try and locate the bomb. The arrival of Ryo with Misaki Han-Shireikan was a surprise twist, one I didn't see coming after how the previous episode ended. As a representative for another rival corporation, he has stepped up quickly from mercenary and criminal to emperor and power player. It's an intriguing change and one that seems to be moving him closer to villain than ally.
I felt there could have been more to the senate hearings and power play between the rivals. Torri Higginson is always great on screen but she seemed rather quiet as as the proceedings took place. Biding her time or knowing something we don't? I certainly get that she isn't quite the good woman she pretends to be. Nieman might have been the main villain, but Ryo and Truffault are so grey, it's hard to know where they will ultimately stand. I am fascinated to see where they go as we head into the third season next year.
Marcus, Griffin and Portia sneaking into the station was fun, particularly Marcus's glittery shirt. I adored the moment he ripped it off to reveal a plan what open collar shirt underneath as things started to get hairy. He had some great quippy one liners this episode. While he fell foul of Nieman and his thugs, Griffin found himself caught by Kierken and imprisoned. It was a little frustrating to see Kierken refuse to heed his words about the impending attack and he later died in the explosions without ever fulfilling his potential. Perhaps with the cloning technology out there, this version might have been a synthetic; it would be good to see him emerge from the destruction finally on the Raza's side. I did see the twist that the android was the bomb and for a moment his sacrifice - spacing himself - suggested that the war could have been averted.
But then came Ryo. First he incapacitated the Android on the Raza with secret codes and stole the slip drive in order to equip his armada and win his war. And then he had his men overload the station and cause a series of devastating attacks, all to start a galactic conflict that would better Zairon's chances of remaining victorious. I've always loved Alex Mallari Jr's stoic, sword-wielding member of the Raza crew but I have to admit that that guy is long dead.
Talking of dead, I fear for Nyx, who has emerged as a great addition to the show. She shrugged off Ryo's offer to become empress at the start of the episode and then faced Misaki Han-Shireikan on the bridge of the Raza alone. She certainly demonstrated her impressive fighting skills in a thrilling sequence before she was struck with a poisoned dagger. We last saw the reactivated Android discover the dead or unconscious Nyx on the bridge while the explosions tore through the station and Ryo made his daring escape.
Kierkan was killed, Portia was blown into space. Das may have escaped with Truffault and a bloody, beaten Marcus was found by a blink and you'll miss it appearance by Lieutenant Anders. I'm not sure Anders has made enough of the mark on the show yet but I'm guessing his return means something and suggests he'll make it off the station with Marcus in tow. One character I'm more concerned for is Griffin. He managed to escape custody but we have no idea if he made it out alive.
I'm so glad Dark Matter was renewed for season three because that would have been a shocking, tragic way for the series to end. But as a season cliff-hanger it absolutely works, with possibly every crew-member bar the Android dead, Ryo a fully-fledged villain and a galactic war breaking out. The show has certainly stepped up its game this season and it will be a long wait until its return...