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Dark Matter - Episodes 8 and 9 - Review: “Nature Versus Nurture” *Best Scene Polls*

Dark Matter has taken us on a dynamic and intriguing adventure as the characters strive to learn who they were in a quest to become better than they once were. The actors continually deliver stunning performances fueled by amazing writing and stunning visuals. This is the type of show that engages the viewer and inspires us to think about the interlocking mystery flowing throughout the undercurrent of the series. Dark Matter is more than just a space opera or a sci-fi show; it is a character study in who people are versus who they want to be. This show gives no easy answers, but that makes the information we do get all that more sweet as every tidbit is earned and not just handed to us. Who knows what comes next for the characters, but I for one look forward to every surprise still ahead of us.

Since this needed to be a double episode review I decided to take a different approach to this review, otherwise it would be novel size and even I wouldn’t want to read it. I’m going to treat this week’s review a bit like my previews and look at the journey each individual character experienced throughout these two episodes.

One’s big secret was revealed when he and Four went on a mission to support Six in his quest to track down The General. After everything, One still allowed Three to get into his head and make him think the worst would happen if his secret came out, but in reality the crew did not react the way Three had convinced him they would. Sure, they were angry with him, but they didn’t kick him off the ship or toss him in the airlock. His dishonesty did stick us all with having to listen to Two be hypocritical and preach honesty, but that’s a topic I’ll deal with when I address her journey in these episodes. The biggest reveal for One came at the end of Episode 8, when we finally learned who One was before he joined the Raza and why he put in so much work to infiltrate the crew. His real name is Derrick Moss and he was the CEO of Corlactic Industries and heir to the Moss family fortune. His wife, Catherine, was murdered and the prime suspect was Marcus Boone aka Three.

The revelations in Episode 8 led to some tense moments between One and Three throughout Episode 9. While One believes he infiltrated the crew to kill Three, it does not seem to be in his nature to be able to kill. He addresses as much when Two confronts him about his odd behavior and he confesses what he found out about his wife and Marcus. One believes that not all of them can fight their nature and no amount of nurturing will be able to overcome it. So people like Three, who he believes is an evil murderer by nature, will be unable to overcome his past to forge a better life for himself, therefore he will become a coldblooded murderer once again as One believes he was before the memory wipe. Yet, when in the heat of battle he has his chance to kill Three he can’t do it. More than that, he actually saves Three. I feel that Derrick had many opportunities to kill Marcus before the memory wipe, so why didn’t he? Perhaps, before One turns himself into a murderer he should try to vet the information he discovered.

Two has experienced a rash of runaway crew lately with Six then Four taking off on their own revenge filled missions. It is getting to a point where I’m starting to think she should just have the entire crew tagged with irremovable tracking devices. It would save her some time trying to locate and rescue her rogue crew. The one theme that runs through it all is she always comes after her crew. Even if she has to leave them behind she will move the stars to get them back. She is the kind of commander people trust their lives too because she’s earned that trust.

Trust can be a fragile entity and does require a certain amount of honesty and that is something the crew of the Raza is in serious lack of right now. Every member of her crew, including Two, is withholding information and keeping secrets. This leads to a point where Two’s hypocrisy must be addressed. After One’s secret is revealed she gives a speech to the crew to try and encourage everyone to come clean with their secrets. Yet, she is in possession of quite a large secret of her own. I was thinking about this after the last episode, and how she came so close to coming clean with One and Three in two separate incidents. She is desperate to find a way to rid herself of this burdening secret, but can't find the words to do so. After I went back and thought about it I realized that her reason for keeping her secret isn’t that much different from One…she’s afraid. She knows little to nothing about her condition and for a leader the unknown can be seen as a weakness. My running theory is that the virus from Episode 5 triggered something in her and made the immortality drug at the core of the virus work. If that is the case that makes her the most important being in existence and puts everyone around her in even more peril. That alone is reason enough for her to keep this secret so closely guarded, but if that is the case her crew deserves to know the truth so they can not only help protect her, but protect themselves as well. Despite being a fearless leader she hesitated when she had her opportunity to be honest with her crew. In that moment’s hesitation she condemned herself to having to carry the burden of this heavy secret. It also means that when her secret comes out the impact on the crew will be far greater than that of One’s secret. Every time she preaches honesty amongst the crew she makes things worse for herself.

Despite all their trials and tribulations Two has managed to form this ragtag crew into a family. Like any family they have their disputes and fights, but at the end of the day no one else had better mess with any member of the crew without facing the wrath of the others. As was evident when Two led One and Three on a mission to rescue Four. I believe this is where Two’s fear rests, she’s the core of this family, if she loses their trust can this family survive? Can she survive without this family she’s forged? They need each other and to lose their fragile bond could destroy them.

Even her relationships are suffering as a result of this secret. She hooked up with One in Episode 7, but still is not happy with him sneaking up on her for a little private affection in medical. She may have told him she was ready for a complicated relationship, but her actions say otherwise. I think she's afraid of letting him, or anyone, get to close for fear of her secret being accidentally discovered. Two is a complicated character and while she is seeking sexual gratification she seems incapable of forming a long lasting romantic relationship. The only relationship she seems to keep seeking to hold onto is that of the one she shares with Five. Even that has been on fragile ground of late. I think this speaks to something hiding in her mysterious past. Was she a mother? Was she a big sister? Did she yearn to have children, but was unable to? Was her heart broken by a guy therefore making it hard for her to trust love again? Some subconscious thing is getting in Two’s way and I’m quite curious to know what it is.

Three was redeemed by Sarah just in time to have his morality challenged again with the reveal of his possible part in the death of Catherine Moss. If Four’s story has taught us anything it should be that not everything is as it seems. For Three to act the way he did with Sarah he must have had some kindness in his past. I predict that in time Marcus Boone will be exonerated and the truth will have a much larger part to play in both his story and the story of One.

He can be a jerk, no one will argue that, but he seems to be a jerk with a good heart. I feel as if the jerk persona he portrays is a defense mechanism for the good guy within. I’m beginning to wonder if the boy we met in Five’s dream adventure was actually Marcus and not Derrick like we originally thought. I can’t imagine a wealthy heir growing up on a farm, but in Sarah’s story Marcus seemed quite adept to farm life. Was the show having Five mention she thought it was One to throw us off from the truth? Or was the boy simply someone we have yet to meet? After all the crew doesn’t seem to have explored every inch of the ship yet, so there could be more stasis pods they don’t know about.

Adding to the good guy in disguise argument is how Charlotte’s Web elicited an emotional response from him indicating that this is not a guy that is all bad. Dark Matter is delivering the important message that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the best masterpieces are hidden behind the most inconspicuous covers. I started off not really liking Three, but the more I’ve gotten to know him the more I believe he is a misunderstood good guy. I’m still trying to figure out where Marcus throwing Das into the airlock falls into the timeline, but I have a feeling the outcome of that sequence isn’t going to be what we expect. So, for those still hating on Three, I implore you to give his story more time because I believe that when we find out his whole history we will find out that Marcus is not the man Three, or most fans, believe he was.

Four is arguably the character we know the most about. We started learning about him in the premiere and the show has continually expanded on his story. We’ve met his family and seen him at various stages in his life. He is royalty and if the crew can get him back in power he has the potential to provide them with invaluable resources. Of course, him being back in power would mean his exit from the ship, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon, mainly because I don’t want Alex to ever not be a constant presence on this show. Given the bond he has with his brother I can see him ridding his brother of his vial mother and the Raza can then benefit from his uncontrolled rule while Four continues on his journey with this crew.

We learned in Episodes 5 and 9 that Four had a harsh upbringing, but it was because he was always trying to protect others. Under his highly trained exterior is a man with an extreme sense of honor. He will protect those who show themselves to be honorable and he will, without mercy, slay those who prove to be dishonorable. He swore his loyalty to Two as he declared the Raza crew his “true family” and with that came his unspoken vow to protect his new family at all cost.

While Episode 9 gave us some great insight into Four’s past it was his time with Akita that was most telling of how he was raised. His flashbacks built even more on the story of his complicate upbringing. Akita was like a father to him, he certainly liked him more than his real father anyway, but even Akita has turned on him. When it came time to choose between the Raza crew and his past he killed Akita without a second thought. He picked the honorable loyalty of the family he’s come to know versus the deceptive dishonor of the family that was once his.

Five got a bit of a break from the trauma of past weeks. She had plenty to do, but at least her life wasn’t in danger and she wasn’t witnessing someone she respects kill anyone. I won’t go as far as to say she got to be a kid, but she did get to do slightly more normal things. She came close to some danger when she volunteered to risk her life by going into the Transfer Transit to help Six, but was ordered to stay on the ship because of The Android being out of commission. That was a good call on the part of Two, otherwise Five would have seen Six do things she wouldn't be able to soon forget.

Episode 9 provided her with her most normal episode yet. She got to be an excited teenager playing with new gadgets, got into an argument with a parental figure (Six), and ended the episode playing a card game. Okay, so technically she ended the episode with the threat of being obliterated, but at least prior to that she was having a pretty normal teenager experience.

Her two biggest connections are with Two and Six, but she’s on rocky ground with the former and dealing with the latter distancing himself from her. The talk Six gave Five was very paternal in nature and showed how much he cares about Five, because he wants her to have a better life than any of them are on track to have. Five had a typical teenage reaction and fought back against him by telling him that he is the one who should leave if he doesn’t think her a part of the crew. The bottom line is that Five is a part of this crew and that isn’t going to change. The best the crew can do for her is help mold her into a better person than they were. It is every parents hope that their children will be better than they were themselves. Every parent wants their child to excel and live a prosperous life. Like it or not, the elder members of the Raza crew, especially Two and Six, are the closest Five is likely to get to parents and she is their responsibility. All they can do is love her and engage her in productive activities and hope she can have a better life than the universe allotted to them. The scene Five and Six shared at the vent was poignant and powerful in the message of acceptance it delivered. Six really doesn't want Five to leave, but he also can't handle the thought of anything happening to her. Five will never truly be safe with them, but she is better with them then would be alone somewhere in the universe. At least these people care for her and worry about her.

Next week she, and the rest of the crew, will have to come face to face with the very real possibility of losing Two, again. Will that finally be the thing to earn Two a place back in Five’s good graces? Will that event be what unites the crew? Only time will tell.

Six, while the most understanding of the group, has his own demons to face, and one of those demons goes by the name of The General. It may not have been the smartest idea to partake on his mission of revenge alone, but this man was his demon to slay and I can understand why he needed to undertake this journey alone. I do hope he realized that the Raza crew always protects their own and had he asked they would have backed him up. Granted it would have taken some convincing, but I think the outcome would have been better had he enlisted some help from his friends. He did get to lay eyes on The General and got to, at the very least, slay his clone, so maybe one day he’ll get to avenge all those innocent souls that were murdered in the explosion. Maybe on that day Six will be able to forgive himself for the part he played in that horrific event.

Episode 9 was hard for Six as he was still trying to deal with the events of the previous episode. He understood why Four left the ship and to a degree I think he wished he’d been able to make a clean break like Four did. At the end of the day the Raza is where all these characters belong and these people are his family. That includes Five whom Six thinks would be better off without them. What we as the viewers know is that this thought is far from accurate. Five may have had friends in her old life, but they are all gone now and to drop her off on some space station would only condemn her to a life trying to survive alone. As long as she is with the Raza and her crew she has a family and Six can watch over her. Six tends to try and father Five and while his paternal instinct was to set her free from the sins of her family I also believe that if the time ever came to let her go he wouldn’t be able to.

The Android experienced an interesting journey in these past few episodes. It’s been obvious from the very beginning that she was different from other androids, but her behavior in Episode 7 was quite telling. It was jarring to her when in Episode 8 Five pointed out that she was capable of jealousy. To The Android this is a flaw in her programming and makes her defective. When Two was running the diagnostic at the end of the episode she desperately wanted something to show up as wrong to justify her behavior. When she was forced to confront that she is just different it threw her through a loop that she couldn't process. Thankfully she was still able to analyze Two and provide her some important advice about being honest with the others if she wants them to be honest with her. She gave her commander a much needed dose of honest truth. While Two thought no one else knew about her secret, she should have known better then to think she could hide her condition from The Android. Two may not have taken the advice, but by The Android providing that advice it showed that she feels as if she has a place within the crew. I think she had hoped that Two would, at the very least, confided in her and when she did not I think The Android experienced a bit of frustration with her commander. That is a very human like reaction and yet another example of how she is different from other androids.

In Episode 9 she sought to analyze herself in search of the defect that is making her act abnormally. Her solution is to have the crew do a complete reboot on her, but that would wipe her memory clean. Even Three doesn’t want to have to start from scratch with her. While he was just being his usual jerk like self it would seem that even he has become attached to the quirky and loyal android. I hope that with Three’s vindication she’ll stop analyzing herself and start living as a valued member of the crew. None of them want to change her or get rid of her. She is a member of this crew and they will fight for her every bit as hard as they fight for each other and with each other. The banter that flies is the only way some of them know how to show affection, but it's better than nothing.

The topic of nature versus nurture was a big through point of Episode 9 and provides an interesting conversation point when discussing this show. While we only know snippets of the past of each character, and nothing about Two, we do know that they have baggage in their pasts. One may not have been a bad guy, but we do believe he set out to murder Three. Two and her past are still enigmas, but I have a feeling when everything is revealed we’ll find some horrific events that shaped her into the woman we all now know. Three has been portrayed as the bad boy who is incapable of good, but thanks to Sarah we got to witness that there may be more to his story than meets the eye. Four is a prince who has done his fair share of murdering to survive. Five was a thief who seemed to be doing what she did in order to survive. Six committed mass murder, but only because he was tricked and his remorse was real, but so was the murder he committed in the wake of finding out. Bottom line is these men and women did not live innocent pure lives before the memory wipe. They started the series with clean slates, but each has suffered from muscle memory left over from their old lives. Can they overcome this predisposition in order to forge better lives for themselves? Was Five right in Episode 5 and they can’t hope to be better without knowing what drove them to lives of crime in the first place? Will nature override any hope to nurture better lives for themselves? Was One right when he said that some people are just born immoral and incapable of being changed? These are the questions this debate elicits and none of them have easy answers.

It is entirely possible for the characters to try and become better people. Each character will have to determine if they will allow themselves to be dictated by who they were or fight to forge new lives for themselves. Hit the comments and tell me which characters you think will be able to break the cycle and create a better future for themselves. My predictions are Two, Three, and Five will break the cycle while One, Four, and Six will get too caught up in their pasts and fall to nature winning out.

Episode 9 left us with a significant cliffhanger as the crew faced down imminent destruction. We all have to wait until next week to find out, so be sure to tune in Friday at 10/9C on SyFy. I’ll be finishing off reviewing the rest of the season, so after the episode airs look for my review of this episode right here on SpoilerTV. Also, remember that when you’re watching be sure to use #RenewDarkMatter in your tweets. Let everyone know how deserving this show is of a Season 2.

Hit the polls below and vote for your favorite scenes from each episode. You can pick up to 5 in each poll, but if you don't see your favorite scene listed select Other and let me know in the comments what your favorite scene was.

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a local newspaper and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was. She has a long list of shows that she loves to watch and can be found on twitter (@ahicks83) live tweeting about each new episode whenever she can. A list of her favorite shows includes (but is not limited to) the following: 12 Monkeys, Orphan Black, Outlander, Chasing Life, Scorpion, The 100, The Night Shift, Bitten, Black Sails, 2 Broke Girls, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Continuum, Lost Girl, Faking It, Falling Skies, Finding Carter, Once Upon A Time, Orange Is The New Black, Switched At Birth, The Fosters, The Flash, The Originals, Teen Wolf, Under The Dome, & Z Nation. The upcoming shows she is most excited about are: Supergirl, Dark Matter, UnReal, Blindspot, Lucifer, Legends of Tomorrow, Stitchers, Recovery Road, Shadowhunters, Quantico, Code Black, Heartbreaker, and Chicago Med. She has a large and passionate dislike of ""reality"" TV, especially ""reality"" dating shows, but has a weakness for Americas Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance. But those two don't really count as ""reality"" shows, at least that's how she justifies those guilty pleasures. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island ( which is still operating under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
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