Dark Matter: 3.01 Being Better Is So Much Harder
Well Dark Matter season three certainly opened with a bang and the didn't let up for a rather thrilling 42 minutes of television which demonstrated how the show had really started to live up to its promise by season two's end. The destruction of the EOS 7 space station kick started the long-teased galactic war between the corporations and saw the crew of the Raza scattered in the chaos.
So while Das / Five managed to get off the station on an escape pod with the morally dubious Commander Truffault (the always delightful Torri Higginson), Portia / Two and Kal aka Griffin/ Six found themselves floating the debris on the damaged marauder. Poor Marcus / Three found himself prisoner the (surprise!) alive Lieutenant Anders on a barren planet and all around them the war began to rage.
Being Better Is So Much Harder has managed to raise the stakes of the series, keeping the audience on edge as Das and Truffault managed to get passage to the Raza, only to find the commander's allies destroyed and the ship under attack from a Ferrous Corp cruiser. Truffault's attempts to keep the Mikkei Combine neutral in the conflict seemed to quickly fade too. I've loved her plotting and scheming from day one and I'm intrigued to see how she manages her way out of all out war. Of course the genius of all this is that it isn't any one corporation behind the explosion, but Alex Mallari Jr's Ryo Tetsuda who has changed from noble ally to full on villain, setting the corporations against each other to give Zairon an advantage in its own war. Along with stealing the blink drive and the murder of Nyx at the hands of his trusted warrior Misaki Han-Shireikan, there seems to be no redemption for this character.
But it is with the rest of the crew that redemption lies; the chance to become the heroes that can save the galaxy from bloodshed. As Marcus noted to Anders during his capture, they might be bad guys but there are far worse bad guys out there. What we saw in this episode was that struggle to rise above the conflict and do good. Portia, wracked with grief over Nyx's death (allowing for a lovely final scene with Melanie Liburd as Portia hallucinated her friend and said goodbye) and disbelief at Ryo's actions, was prepared to sacrifice herself to save Griffin after the life support on the marauder faded. Anders meanwhile saw the truth in Marcus's words, leaving him behind when the rest of his GA allies arrived and then sending a message to the Raza to pick him up. This moral ambiguity in the midst of greater darkness is what is has been at the heart of Dark Matter since day one and is going to be even more apparent as the war unfolds.
But it wasn't all moral drama though; the episode allowed plenty of thrilling action, from the fire fight with Ferrous Corp cruiser to the raiding party that saw Truffaut, Das and the Android take on the invaders in a dramatic shoot out. Surely the best moment of the episode had to be the Android bursting out of the box and taking down the enemy as they attempted to flank the good guys. Zoie Palmer's Android continues to be the secret weapon of the show; one minute she is kicking ass, the next she is serving up a casserole in a pink apron. I adored her delivery of the line "The secret ingredient is basil. And love. But mostly basil."
The season opener ended with the crew reunited, ready to do what was needed to save the wider galaxy but determined to have their revenge on Ryo. Steal the blink drive and kill their former ally; that was a dramatic mission statement to end the episode on and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Our review of episode two, shown straight after the season three opener, will follow shortly...