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Dark Matter - Season 1 Retrospect And Season 2 Look Ahead - Review

For years, we were locked out of space and much like humankind’s race for space dominance came to a slow grinding crawl, so did our abundance of television shows based in space. For generations, our screens have been filled with shows like Star Trek, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate: Universe, Andromeda, Farscape and everything in between. In 2011, Stargate: Universe was the lone space opera with fans desperately clinging onto it for fear of losing the great era of space operas forever. When the show was unceremoniously cancelled, space opera fans’ greatest fears were realized as there was nothing there to fill the void. Without much fanfare or reason, space operas went extinct, taking with them fascinating alien beings and an entire universe of possibility. For sci-fi fans, and space fans in particular, it was a painful blow and we had to find other aspects of the sci-fi genre to occupy our time while we anxiously waited for some show to come and rescue space operas from extinction. The 100 arrived on the scene in March of 2014 but only a very small part of that show was space based. While it was nice to see the void of space again, it didn’t fill that space opera sized void in the hearts of true space-loving sci-fi fans. So, the wait continued with no hope in sight until whispers of a new Syfy show based in space began circulating in late 2014. Then, miraculously, the series was ordered and in January 2015 filming began as excited fans anxiously awaited a return launch to space.

On June 12, 2015 the long space opera drought blissfully came to an end. It is on this day that Dark Matter launched on Syfy and once again took us into the beautiful and unpredictable abyss of space. From the first shot of the Raza, it was obvious this show aimed to make up for lost time. Even if you knew nothing about the show before it premiered, one look at the cast list of Canadian sci-fi veterans would have set you at ease. With a cast consisting of seasoned professionals, this show was destined to be great even before the first frame was shot. If, for whatever odd reason, that didn’t reassure you then one look at the names of the creators should have. I couldn’t help but smile and go “this is going to be a hit” when I saw the names Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie listed as the creators. It only seemed fitting that a return to space came on the shoulders of the men who so valiantly fought for Stargate: Universe. They were both critical parts of the Stargate world and helped make that franchise a long enduring creation that I predict will continue to intrigue and amaze audiences for generations to come. Much like I believe Dark Matter will endure because, like its goliath predecessors, this show is years beyond its time and that will allow it to be relevant for generations to come. After four long years of space operas being absent from our lives, 2015 also gave us the likes of Killjoys and The Expanse to breathe life back into space operas, but Dark Matter will forever maintain the distinction of being the first. Dark Matter will forever be remembered as the show that saved a genre from extinction and took sci-fi fans back to space!

While the show was born from two brilliant minds and housed a cast of extraordinary actors, there was still room for failure. My one greatest fear prior to this show starting was that for whatever awful reason it would fail and drag the genre back into the abyss with it. Thankfully, the show came together just as I hoped it would and wasted no time delving into the action. We were immediately launched into the lives of the amnesiac Raza crew and got to learn about each of them as they themselves figured it all out. From those first seconds, this show rested firmly on the shoulders of its cast and they did not disappoint as they gave vivid life to beautifully crafted episodes. Those first few minutes also gave us another extraordinary revelation, and gave fans yet another reason to believe in this show, as it was revealed that the crew was led by a female captain. Far too often in sci-fi, especially in the space opera aspects of it, ships are captained by men with female captains belonging to a very small club. Even more impressive is that the series trusted this critical role to the one newcomer on the cast, Melissa O’Neil (Two), who was herself launching into the wild world of television for the first time. This was the make or break decision of the series. Could she do it? Could she command this cast of veteran actors? Was she ready for this part? The answer to all of those questions was a resounding yes. In fact, when first watching her perform I had to double check her IMDB page to make sure this was indeed her first television role because she easily matched the skill of her more experienced costars. She was flawless as fearless leader Two and never once faltered throughout the season despite some very tough storylines and situations being thrown at her. This show not only sent us catapulting back to space but also introduced us to a brilliant new talent who is destined to take the genre and the industry by storm.

O’Neil was the newbie and the one X factor that couldn’t be determined until the show launched. The rest of the cast brought with them decades of experience amongst them. They are all very well regarded in the industry and if you’ve ever watched a show filmed in Canada you’ve likely encountered many of these performers before. Four members of the cast seem to appear just about everywhere and they are Anthony Lemke (Three), Jodelle Ferland (Five), Roger Cross (Six), and Zoie Palmer (The Android). If you came into this show not knowing their names it is entirely possible you’ve been living under a rock because these actors are literally everywhere. Marc Bendavid (One) and Alex Mallari Jr. (Four) haven’t quite amassed the behemoth sized resumes of their fellow costars, but they still had plenty of experience and had more than proven themselves as gifted performers before landing on this series. This is a special cast and I can’t imagine anyone else playing their roles. They took the beautifully complicated world Mallozzi and Mullie crafted and helped make that world even richer through their spot on performances.

That was extremely critical given that the audience was learning about the characters right along with the actors. For this show to work, the actors had to find a way to immediately connect with the audience and, given the premise of the show, that was a tall order. They had to sell the amnesia aspect of the show while ensuring the personality of each character stood out because that intrigue was the hook that was going to grab the audience. If even one of the actors had faltered, the show may not have worked. In the end, they all did their jobs magnificently and sold the mystery of the series and immediately hooked their audience. Even though the show gave us a lot of answers in the first episode, not everything was as it seemed. The end of the pilot told us who most of the characters had been before their memories were wiped and still we would come to learn that even this information didn’t mean we had the whole picture. After a full season we’re still no closer to fully knowing who these characters were than we were during that first episode. We think we know certain things about each of them, and have some clues to support many theories, but whether those things hold up over time is yet to be seen. Who they truly are is as big a mystery to them as it is to us and that’s an ingenious way for this story to be told. It allows the audience to be even more immersed in the story as we try to piece together the mysteries right along with the crew. In preparation for the upcoming new season I’m going to spend just a moment reviewing where each character started the first season and where they ended it. Consider this your Raza crew refresher course.

One started off the season as the odd man out. He wasn’t really good at anything and didn’t seem to fit in with the crew he had somehow ended up with. At the end of the series premiere, he learned his name was Jace Corso and he was definitely not a good guy, racking up an impressive list of crimes. The odd thing is that amnesiac One did not at all fit the profile of a man who could be capable of those acts. That was fitting because it would later be revealed that One was actually a man named Derrick Moss who was on a mission to avenge his murdered wife whom he presumed Marcus Boone (Three) had killed. Through some really cool technology, he changed his appearance and took the identity of Jace Corso to obtain a job with the crew of the Raza. Despite knowing Derrick’s mission, One wasted many chances to kill Three, proving that while Derrick thought he could kill Marcus, that is not a task One can commit against Three. They are far from being friends but by the end of the season, they were learning to tolerate each other. It all went to hell in the season finale, but we can thank the mole for that. One had a good friendship with Six and romantic interests in Two. By that I mean he spent most of the season chasing after her, but he did get his chance with her with so-so results. At the end of the season, he was left unconscious and was being dragged away to the unknown by the Galactic Authority.

Two was clearly the leader from the moment she stepped onto the screen, and took One down with ease. While some of the crew did try and commandeer the ship, that small mutiny was quickly put down and Two was able to easily bring the team back together in true leadership fashion. Her real name was revealed to be Portia Lin and she had a long list of crimes against her. Through a series of unfortunate events, Two was captured by Dwarf Star Technologies where she came to learn that her given name was actually Rebecca and she wasn’t entirely human. She is an illegally created bio-synthetic being but shares all the characteristics of a normal human, except for some amazing little nanites that give her extraordinary abilities and thankfully also allow her to heal at an extremely accelerated rate. That little trick came in handy more than once throughout the season. Her closest emotional relationship was with Five as she treated the youngest member of the crew like family. They grew extremely close with Two taking on a big sister-like role in Five’s life. More than once, she proved that she was willing to do just about anything to protect Five, including a violent and primal reaction to murder those who think to harm Five. Romantically, she was definitely attracted to One but sought out Three for various one night trysts. One and Two did try to become more serious, but timing just wasn’t on their side and what will ultimately become of that is still a bit unknown. As the season ended, Two fought hard to hold her crew together in the face of a threat from within. Even her excellent leadership skills couldn’t prevent the mole from succeeding in turning the crew against one another. In the end, she was the one to see the face of the betrayer just before being dragged off with the rest of her crew.

Three came off as brash and egocentric from the very beginning, which matched up perfectly with the list of crimes attached to his presumed identity of Marcus Boone. His actions also made it easy to believe him capable of the murder of Catherine Moss, Derrick’s wife, especially given that his most prized possessions are his guns that he affectionately named Bubba, Lulu, and Pip. That is until Marcus and the fans met Sarah (Natalie Brown) and we learned that there was so much more to the man behind the bravado. Under everything, he hid away a good heart capable of caring for Sarah as she had once cared for him. He put her first and did everything in his power to give her a chance to overcome the illness slowly killing her. She gave him a reason to be a better man and everything would seem to indicate that he ended up on the Raza to continue trying to find a way to save the woman he loved. As Three, he shared intimate moments with Two but what they had was more along the lines of two lost souls finding common ground to let off some steam. Sure, there may have been some actual feelings, but a large part of his heart will always belong to Sarah, so until he deals with that, it’ll be hard for him to forge a serious relationship with anyone. Given the accusations that he murdered Derrick’s wife, he quite often found himself on opposing sides of every argument when One was involved. Even with all that in mind, he did try to call a truce with One, with mixed results. The truce held for a bit but didn’t survive the events of the season finale. We left the season with the distrust between Three and One coming to a boiling point just prior to them being knocked out by the mole.

Four is a weapons aficionado and maintains a large supply of weapons, with a particular interest in his swords. He is the strong, silent type that you don’t want as an enemy because he can drive his blade through someone before they even know he is upon them. Early on, more often than not, he chose to align with Three over Two but did eventually come to realize that they all had a better chance under Two’s leadership. He has one of the smaller lists of crimes but still didn’t come off as a good guy. Four learned that he was Ryo Tetsudo, better known as Royal Prince Ryo Tetsuda. He was forced into exile by his manipulative step-mother after she framed him for the murder of his royal father, Emperor Ishida Tetsuda (Hiro Kanagawa). From the moment he learned the truth, it became his mission to reclaim his birthright and avenge his father. In one attempt, he even killed his mentor in order to send a message to his manipulated half-brother, Hiro (Karl Ang), and his evil step-mother. On more than one occasion, he proved that he was more than happy to walk away from the crew to try and accomplish his mission. Despite his best attempts to leave, he always found himself back on the Raza, fighting side-by-side with his friends. He is extraordinary with his weapons and a formidable warrior in battle, which made him an obvious target to be taken down early on by the mole in the season finale. When we last saw him, he was unconscious and reunited with his freshly unconscious crewmates being dragged down a corridor of the Raza.

Five is still almost as mysterious now as she was in the series premiere. She was not included on the crew manifest, so for the longest time, she had no identity, until a dangerous trip into her past memories provided her with some clues. Her name is likely Das, but that seems subject to change, and she was a teenage pickpocket and scavenger just trying to survive with her group of friends. In an attempt to aid an injured friend, they snuck onto the Raza where she valiantly tried to save him but was unable to. In the process, she ended up in the custody of the Raza and her crew with very few of them wanting to keep her around. Surprisingly, Portia Lin wanted Das gone which is in stark contrast to Portia’s alter ego in Two, who has formed an extremely close bond with Five. Despite everything she knows about her crewmates, she still believes they are each capable of being better than their past and tries to see the best in each of them. The season finale revealed Das was the one that had planted the technology that caused all of their memories to be wiped but the technology seems to have glitched and may not have been intended to actually wipe their memories. She may have her differences with the crew but when one of them is hurt or in trouble, she’s the first to worry for them. As the season went along, she started to hone her abilities and learned how to protect herself in an effort to better fit into the crew, a hard task when she had Two and Six protectively hovering over her like overbearing siblings arguing over what was best for the youngest member of the crew. Ultimately, she ended up having to become tougher and more assertive which came into play in a big way in the season finale. When we last saw her conscious, she was holding a gun on Two thinking the woman she’d come to love like a sister had been forced to turn on them and was the mole.

Six is easily the most complicated character of the bunch. His identity was revealed to be that of Griffin Jones, who was a supremely damaged and complicated man. He was tricked into murdering thousands of innocent lives while working for a man known only as “The General”. That had a profound effect on him and left him damaged and suicidal. By all accounts, this is the point where Griffin ended up associated with the Galactic Authority. As Six, he was a fiercely protective and loyal man. His closest bond was with Five whom he looked over like a big brother, which led him to more than a few conflicts with Two regarding Five’s wellbeing. His loyalty was mostly with Two, but on occasion, he did side with Three. He formed an uneasy friendship with Three and, in all fairness, they were a powerful duo when they worked together. He is also an incredible pilot and used those skills to help save or rescue members of the team on many occasions. When we left him for the season, it was revealed that he was in fact the mole within the crew. He betrayed them and facilitated their capture after he sabotaged them.

The Android was in ship defense mode when she was first introduced and because of that, she attempted to kill the crew but was stopped and rendered offline. Most of the crew seemed fit to leave her incapacitated but Two fought for her. This is where the bond between captain and ship really formed. The Android was Two’s connection to the ship, but in those early days, Two was The Android’s connection to humanity. They learned from each other, which is poetic given what we learned about Two, and it was this partnership that opened The Android up to Five. Through Five, she learned so much about humanity and compassion and individuality. Throughout the season, she learned - and was slowly starting to take on - characteristics uncommon to her model and on more than one occasion she risked herself to protect the crew. By the end of the season she wasn’t content to just be and was starting to formulate her own thoughts and opinions. Much like Four, she was an immense threat and was the first taken down by the mole in the season finale. As the season closed out, we know she was being dragged away with her crew to an uncertain future.

As we prepare to go into Season 2 a little bit of speculation can’t be avoided. Stop reading right here if you haven’t watched the trailers or kept up with Joseph Mallozzi’s blog because I’m going to do a bit of speculating based on both of those sources and things some may deem spoiler-ish may be said. You have been warned!

We all have questions we are hungry to have answered. Can Six be redeemed and reintegrated to the team? Based off of the promos, he might not be totally without redemption potential. Whatever deal he cut doesn’t seem to be going exactly according to plan. Will he realize the error in his ways and help with what appears to be a jail break for Two, Three, and Four? Even if he helps them escape, it’s going to take far more than that for them to even contemplate trusting him a tiny bit. Or, will he end up a hostage of his former crewmates, forcing them to all be reunited on the Raza? Based on the promos that show certain characters in jail and also back on the Raza, it’s fairly safe to say the jail break goes their way and they escape setting up a season-long chase for their recapture. That jail break seems like something we won’t see until an episode or two into the season. That leads to the next question: Where did The Android, One and Five end up? They aren’t shown in any of the jail clips that I’ve seen, so it’s safe to guess that Six negotiated better accommodations for One and Five, whom he did have closer bonds with and whom he knew not to be criminals. As to where they ultimately end up… that is a big uncertainty. Somehow, Five gets back to the Raza and she seems to spend some time alone and separated from the crew. We also know that we’ll be seeing a drastically different version of The Android, but as to what causes that is a huge mystery. Is this a result of some reprogramming by the Galactic Authority or a direct result of Five’s influence on her to become more independent of her programming? Personally, I’m hoping for that latter and can’t wait to see the new and improved Android.

One thing is for certain: Season 2 of this spectacular show is set to soar to unimaginable heights and take us on a galactic journey like no other. While both the fans and the characters are still grappling to understand the characters, we already know there will be some new introductions to the crew for us to get to know. Shaun Sipos joins the series as a character named Devon who, thankfully, has a medical background that will surely come in handy. Given that it seems like they meet him in prison, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think he’s not all he seems. Also joining the crew this season is the character of Nyx Harper (played by Melanie Liburd), and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t supremely excited to see another strong badass female character join the ranks. I predict Nyx and Two will clash on more than a few occasions, but when it comes to fights they will be a powerhouse and an unstoppable duo. These new additions will add new dynamics to the crew and promise to force changes amongst the crew dynamics we watched grow and evolve over the first season. Every show needs to introduce new blood on occasion, and I think both of these characters and their portrayers are perfect fits for this show and I can’t wait to see them in action.

Now the countdown to Season 2 begins! After Season 2 returns to SyFy in the US and Space in Canada on July 1st at 10/9C be sure to return here to SpoilerTV for my review of the episode. This season, I will be joining you as the full time reviewer for Dark Matter, so buckle in for a season of analysis and speculation-filled reviews.

Last season left us with so many questions and so many things to speculate about. With the season not returning for a couple more weeks, we’ve got plenty of time to reflect on last season and speculate about Season 2. Hit the comments with your thoughts on Season 1 and your predictions for Season 2.

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a newspaper in North Carolina 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. If the show is sci-fi, fantasy, comic book based, drama, or action the odds are good she watches it or has at least watched a few episodes of it. She also has a love for comedies 2 Broke Girls and Mom. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island (lostvideo.net) which is still operating under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
You can email her at aimee@spoilertv.com.
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