Did Dark Matter maintain the momentum of the first two episodes of season two?
After the dramatic events of last week’s prison escape and the death / cryogenic freezing of two main characters, Dark Matter was always going to struggle to keep that momentum and the I’ve Seen the Other Side of You was definitely the weakest episode of season two yet. But it also had some great ideas and a fascinating look at what Portia, Marcus and Ryo were like before the memory-wiping events of the pilot episode.
The first third of the episode did feel a little bogged down by the struggle of where the Raza – and the show – should go next. New crewmembers didn’t get a lot to do except skulk around under the distrustful eyes of Portia, Marcus and Ryo who struggled to maintain their dominance on the ship. The reveal that it was Arax who was the ‘asset’ (and not Das as implied at the end of the last episode) took a little wind out of that plot; I was intrigued to see where he would fit into the dynamic of the crew. Now that we know he is working for someone else, there is now a ticking time clock until he is discovered and kicked off the Raza.
We also got the bittersweet scene with Portia and Marcus mourning Derrick. her reveal that Derrick changed his face to look like Jace Corso to track Marcus, the suspect in his wife’s murder, seems to have closed off his time on the show for good. Though as someone pointed out to me, Derrick seemed almost prepared to meet what was coming when he opened the door to his killer at the end of Welcome to Your New Home; perhaps this is all a big double bluff for his eventual return to the show? Griffin however didn’t get as much as a passing mention this week. He might be in cryogenic freeze but he is for all intents and purposes missing from the crew.
Yet despite the new crewmembers Arax, Nix and Devon not getting to develop much this week, Dark Matter is proving that it can survive the loss of Marc Bendavid and Roger Cross on the show, particularly when it has maintained its three best characters in Portia, Ryo and Marcus. We got to see a scary side to them after their original personalities were returned. The idea of their brain waves being stored in the ship’s computer – downloaded as the Android carried out diagnostic repairs was a nifty idea – and the consequences were rather shocking.
It was the cold, ruthless nature in which the three characters acted. Ryo was largely the same – a stoic, skilled fighter – but that sense of what was right seemed missing. Marcus was still a joker of sorts, but he was soon eager to sell Das into slavery for money and kill the others on the ship. But it was Portia who was frightening. Fully aware of her nanite abilities, she quickly took control of the ship and episode took an upwards turn as Das and the crewmates were forced to battle her for control of the Raza.
If last week played homage to Terminator in the Android’s take down of Chief Inspector Shaddick and her troops, then this week Dark Matter embraced The Matrix as Das hacked into the ship, guided by a holographic version of the Android in the ultimate battle of wills against Portia. Dragging Portia into one of her worst memories, being treated as a slave, was enough to sever the connection, making Das a hero and showing just how far she has come as a character. Jodelle Ferland always plays Das as an innocent, shy girl struggling with her new world but like last week’s big gun fight, we are seeing a tougher, more experienced woman who deserves a place on the Raza.
I’ve Seen the Other Side of You took a while to get going and didn’t do enough to develop the new characters. Arax as the asset felt a little flat and obvious too. But once Portia, Ryo and Marcus reverted back to their old, darker personalities, the episode really got going. Melissa O’Neil is particularly delivered an unnerving, almost chilling performance at times. The ending teased the idea that they three could take those old memories back, with the risk that they might become their old, cold and ruthless selves and Das and the audience has seen just how dangerous that might be. We also got the setup of something new as Marcus unknowingly activated a subspace transponder he found in his old belongings. That alone is sure to bring some havoc to the Raza and I’m looking forward to seeing where the show goes next – particularly the new crew members.
I’ll be taking a break next week as I am on holiday, so my Dark Matter reviews will continue with a double bill in a fortnight…
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum