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Dark Matter - Welcome To Your New Home - Review: “Crew Of The Raza” + POLL



Dark Matter has finally exploded back into our lives after a far too long hiatus and it wasted no time thrusting viewers back into the complicated corporation controlled universe the crew inhabits. Picking up soon after last season ended the crew found themselves waking up in the custody of the Galactic Authority. With the crew separated each had to learn how to adapt to their new surroundings while trying to figure out a way back to freedom. Even though freedom is the ultimate goal, they still worry for one another as the groups that start the episode together rapidly get split apart. This left each character to face their treacherous new home on their own. Anyone that knows anything about the crew of the Raza knows that they are a mighty fighting force, so it was a smart choice on the part of the Galactic Authority to divide them. However, what they didn’t calculate for is that while they are stronger together every one of them can hold their own individually. They each have to learn whom they can and can’t trust leaving each crewmember to try and piece together bits of information that can ultimately help the whole team reunite and seek freedom. Some accomplish this goal better than others, but every character learns something that furthers them closer to their ultimate goal of escape.

The decision to split up the crew was a very smart call on the part of the show. The characters started off in small groups which allowed for a rapid reintroduction to each character then they got to go off on their own journeys. This aided in the introductions of Nyx (Melanie Liburd) and Devon (Shaun Sipos) as they encounter the crew. The introduction to Devon came through Three (Anthony Lemke), thanks to his penchant for getting himself into trouble. Due to the amount of ground this episode had to cover we got to spend very little time with Devon. It’s a testament to Sipos that even in that short span of time we started to get a feel for who the character is. He seems out of place in the prison, very similar to how One felt out of place at the start of last season. We know he’s a prisoner, but as to what he did to land himself in prison is still an unknown factor. I got the vibe that he’s kind of docile and not really inclined to seek out confrontation, but as many of the crew proved last season, what you seem like on the outside may not be who you are on the inside. Now, this is Dark Matter, so don’t expect any early interpretations of the new characters to hold up long term. No character is ever all they seem, and unlike our favorite amnesiacs, these new characters have the advantage of knowing their own pasts. I look forward to watching to see how Devon evolves and I’m very curious to see how he will interact with the rest of the crew. At least they finally have access to a doctor, because let’s face it this crew gets hurt a lot and a medical professional is something the Raza crew desperately needs.

This leads me to Nyx, who had me intrigued from the moment the addition of her as a series regular was announced. I had a feeling, long before I saw this episode that Nyx was going to be a really cool character. It turns out that even I underestimated how multi-layered and intriguing she is and Liburd deserves some serious respect for how she inhabited this larger than life character. Some actors have trouble falling into a new character especially when they are introduced on an established show, but it’s a testament to Liburd that Nyx felt like she’s always been a part of the show. Nyx’s interactions with Two (Melissa O’Neil) were the most intriguing because this meeting seemed like it was far from a coincidence. Nyx even admitted to intentionally seeking out Three to test him, and surely she knew that would lead her to some sort of interaction with Two because everyone knows how protective Portia Lin is of her crew. We’ve seen Two in a lot of fights and never once has anyone come even close to matching her in a fair hand-to-hand fight. Most people have to knock her unconscious through unconventional means to even have a fighting chance against her and even then the odds aren’t in their favor. Then comes along Nyx, who goes blow for blow with Two, and can flat-out match the biosynthetic super warrior. She seemed genuinely impressed by Two, and truthfully that’s a very honest reaction to the badass Raza leader, but she also didn’t seem surprised by Two’s fighting prowess. Sure the crew has a legendary reputation, but something about the way Nyx interacted with Two would seem to indicate that there is more to this story than has been revealed. Does Nyx know Portia Lin? Have they worked together before? Have they fought each other before? Is Nyx biosynthetic like Two? At least one of those questions has to be able to be answered with a definite yes. As they were going at it, Nyx was able to predict Two’s next moves, and her instincts in that fight were almost too accurate for this to have been their first encounter. My theory is she sought out Three not to test him, but to test Two and perhaps see how damaged her memory really is. This was a brilliant way to introduce the audience to Nyx because it established a whole wide array of intrigue surrounding her.

Her introduction was made even more interesting by the way she softened to Two on their next encounter in the sim-yard. They went from fighting each other to relying on one another in solitary. I’m sure Nyx has some ulterior motives, everyone in this universe does, but I got a real sense of camaraderie between them. They are kindred spirits and I can see them being a powerful duo as the season progresses. Another intriguing part of their interactions is how resigned Two is to her place in the prison. As last season came to its conclusion, Two was put through a lot and exposed to an overwhelming amount of information about her own complicated past. In fact, when the season finale came around she was still recovering from her kidnapping experience at Dwarf Star Technologies. It was that experience that landed her at the wrong end of Five’s (Jodelle Ferland) gun being accused of being the mole. Given how close she had become to Five, that surely must have left some sort of impact on her when someone she has spent so much time with stopped trusting her. Two may be a special kind of being but she still has real emotions and is just as prone to exhaustion as her human counterparts. I think everything was weighing on her and her time in solitary gave her plenty of time to get in her own head and overthink things. I really like that it was Nyx who snapped her out of this negative headspace and got Two back in the fight. Nyx is smart, so there is no doubt she sees Two and her crew as her best chance out of Hyperion-8, but she also seemed to have a genuine fondness for her possible new partner in crime. We’ve now seen these two go at each other and form a precarious partnership so I can’t wait to see them in their first side-by-side fight.

While Two was off making nice with Nyx, Three was busy trying to find better food. Because, why not? We all know how Three likes his food, and when you take into account the mush they were given to eat, no one can really blame him for trying. Lemke plays snarky moments like no one else can and I hope the show never stops throwing the snarky lines his way because his delivery is always perfectly timed. It was interesting the way the episode floated viewers some more information about Three's past. Looks like he pissed off even more people than he imagined and it makes me excited for the prospect of the show delving more into his past. I would really like to find out what led Three to this life of crime because he seems to have a good heart under all the bravado.

Unlike Three, Four (Alex Mallari Jr.) was busy actually trying to do recon on the prison though it didn’t earn him any friends. In fact, it earned him a fair amount of unwanted attention from one of the prison gang’s leaders, Arax (Mike Dopud), who doesn’t take kindly to any trouble happening on his watch. I suspect Arax will play a big part in coming episodes because Dopud is a powerhouse Canadian actor and I can’t imagine they cast him only for a tiny one-off part. While I don’t trust him I do think he has the resources that could benefit the team in their escape efforts. It’ll be interesting to see if he turns out to be a true foe or if he ends up working with them. I think, much like Nyx, he’s smart enough to see the potential with the Raza crew and at some point he’ll try and exploit that for a shot at freedom. After his crew saw Four in a fight surely they must at least see the promise his skills can offer. Mallari is a master swordsman but his hand-to-hand fighting is just as impressive. I’m always in awe when I watch him in fight sequences and I’m glad they threw him a big one to start off the season.

Between fighting and making new allies there was a lot going on for the crew in the general population area of the prison, but their more fortunate crewmates weren’t actually all that better off. One (Marc Bendavid) and Five had their own set of issues to deal with in the staff area of the prison. They were concerned for their friends, but couldn't do anything to help them. It was a tough position for them to be in especially after how they left things at the end of last season holding guns on them. Still, at least Six ensured One and Five were safe, but I highly doubt that'll help him much when he comes face to face with the rest of the crew. For One, he would have been better off staying at Hyperion-8, since his biggest challenges started once he was free of the prison. At least when he was with to the Raza crew he knew where he stood, but out in the corporate world, he is a bit like a fish out of water. After we got to know Three last season it was starting to seem less likely that Marcus Boone could have been involved in Catherine’s murder. Three is a lot of things, but cold blooded murderer isn’t really his thing. As he demonstrated with Sarah, Marcus Boone has a good heart, and whether Three likes to admit it or not, he possesses that same heart. The fact that the only witness to Catherine’s murder turned up dead just after One started asking questions was definitely a reason for concern. That’s why I’m left to question that jaw-dropping cliffhanger that ended the episode, more on that in a minute because first, I want to talk about that Six (Roger Cross) and One meeting at the hotel.

It came as no surprise that Six managed to get One and Five better accommodations than the others because he had developed deeper bonds with them. What was interesting was that he didn’t even bother trying to go and see the others. No matter what he felt was his responsibility to his Galactic Authority oath he also had an obligation to the crew of the Raza. More than once they went out of their way to help him and yet he still betrayed them regardless of knowing these people have genuinely been trying to do right by a universe determined to kill them. I think that was a big point in Five being so mad at Six, it’s because she could see how hard they were all trying to beat the sins of their pasts and he condemned them for lives they can’t even remember. It was poignant when Six made his way back to the Raza and had to confront what he had done. When he was walking those halls you could see some shred of remorse and regret beginning to surface in his eyes. Cross did some incredible acting throughout this episode, but this scene was particularly powerful because it relied on physical acting rather than verbal. Everything he conveyed in this moment came from the way he carried himself and the longing looks he gave as he walked through the Raza. Viewers could see what was going through his head without him having to utter a single word and that is not an easy task for any actor yet Cross delivered the scene perfectly. Six genuinely thinks he did the right thing, but the way Cross plays him throughout this episode allows the audience to see that perhaps he is starting to doubt the decisions that led them all to Hyperion-8. On an interesting note, did anyone else notice that Kal Varrick’s personnel file indicates Earth and New New York training facilities? Something tells me we’ll be seeing a very familiar planet sometime this season.

Ultimately it was Five that helped him start to see the truth behind everything. While Kal was indeed undercover at the time he was very much an active participant, thanks to lies for the Galactic Authority, in the bombing of the station and that caused Kal significant distress. From the moment Six was revealed as the mole I kept trying to figure out the timeline of how things played out. I thought that the bombing is what made him join up with the Galactic Authority but it turns out he was a career officer all along. In fact, it would seem like he was quite an honorable agent working for a very corrupt organization. That makes his interaction with Lieutenant Anders (Jeff Teravainen) from last season make so much more sense. I’m torn on whether Anders was a really good friend to Kal for being honest with him about the bombing conspiracy or a really bad one for not doing anything about it. Throughout all their scenes together, Cross and Teravainen brilliantly portrayed the uncertain dynamic between their characters. I loved the depth Teravainen brought to Anders because he's not the easiest character to like but when Teravainen delivered Anders speech about having already told Six about the bombing conspiracy you could hear the frustration in his voice. Anders is a career officer and while he doesn't seem to agree with the Galactic Authority's means he takes it as his duty to support them in whatever they do, which has left him in a very awkward position that Teravainen perfectly captures through his performance. Unfortunately, Anders doesn't have the benefit of knowing life away from the Galactic Authority like Six has come to. Six knows that there is good in the universe and he knows that the corporations are corrupt to the core because he's been on the receiving end of that corruption across all of his many aliases. Now, if Six can only see the error in his ways and bring his friend over to the side of the Raza things may just work out for the crew. Teravainen is yet another well established Canadian actor that this show was lucky enough to score and hopefully, this won’t be the last time we see him this season. I think Anders could be a great insider for the team and would give the show a reason to bring Teravainen back from time to time. Now, wouldn't that be ironic, for Six to enlist Anders as a mole like Anders had done to him. That would be kind of poetic in nature.

I think this is the point where Six really started to accept that he may have done the wrong thing. It’s a situation of the devil you know versus the one you don’t. Six knows the Raza crew and knows they are dangerous, but at least they are considerate of civilian casualties, while the Galactic Authority uses civilian casualty as a means to an end. Whatever comes next for Six, and whatever his journey for the season holds, I think this is the turning point where he starts to find his way back to the team he really belongs with. Whether they’ll welcome him back is a whole other question, but I think he’s starting to at least see the error he made.

Five, on the other hand, already knows what a big mistake Six made. Should Six try and find a place back with the crew, Five is going to be the one he will have to work the hardest to get forgiveness from. Two and Six were the people she was the closest to and not only did he yank Two away from her but he stabbed her in the back in the process. So now she’s all alone, again, and without the people she’d come to think of as her family. At least her interactions with Six did allow us to learn that her real name is Emily Kolburn and she has quite an impressive criminal record for her mere sixteen years of life. For someone so young she’s lived a very hard life and doesn’t seem to have ever had a real home until she landed on the Raza. Telling her about her troubled past probably didn’t help Six’s case much in trying to get her forgiveness. She lost everything once as a child and he stripped her of everything yet again through his betrayal. Ferland's portrayal of Five is so spot-on that it made my heart break for Five and all she's lost. Five may not remember her life as Emily Kolburn but the deep-rooted feelings of abandonment and loss played out with powerful emotion in Ferland's eyes, especially in the moment when Five slaps Six. Now, thanks to the fallout from his erroneous choices, Five is in as precarious a position as everyone else now that Chief Inspector Shaddick (Franka Potente) has Five in her custody. Things are not quite playing out the way I suspect Six had hoped they would.

Things may not be going well for the rest of the crew, but the Android (Zoie Palmer) really got stuck in the worst position of all of them, which is rather impressive given how bad the accommodations are for the rest of them. Inside her head is all the information that the Galactic Authority needs to convict the entire crew of the Raza, pending the warden doesn’t off them first, and it should be her duty to hand over that information. What they underestimated was how her interactions with Two, Five, and the rest of the crew changed her. They gave her the freedom to think and to be a real member of the crew. She has saved them on more than one occasion and they have in turn saved her. She may be an android but she is The Android and she is a vital part of the crew of the Raza. Her duty is to them and them alone because they have earned that from her. While the rest of the crew is willing to risk everything to get to freedom she is willing to give up everything to protect them. As we saw at the end of last season, she has become independent of her programming and the way Palmer has played that awakening has been nothing short of spectacular. The Android is easily the character that has changed the most since the pilot and a lot of that is thanks to the hard work Palmer has put in to show the Android’s evolution. The writers played the long game with the Android’s evolution and it all paid off in spades in this episode. She stood up against her “superiors” and that was so true to the being she has evolved into. She is willing to give up everything to protect the ones she cares about which is a very humanlike quality, the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the lives of those you care about is the ultimate human action.

Well, I think I’ve stalled long enough, so I guess I have to address that ending. Wow, is the only reaction I had as I watched the screen in shock. They’ve put the characters in some perilous situations but I’m fairly certain there is no way One could have survived being shot that many times. Though given the bait and switches this show likes to pull, I’m not convinced One is really dead and gone forever. At the end of Six’s conversation with One he reminded him that “you knew the right thing to do because you are who you are” and I’m hoping that pertained to this situation as well. I’m hoping One knew to follow his instincts and hopefully arranged this horrific scene to fake his own death to get out from under the thumb of his father’s corporation. I’m not ready to mourn One yet, so I’m going to choose to live in denial until I’m told otherwise. On the bright side, if the show did the unthinkable and actually killed One at least Bendavid still has a place on the show through Jace Corso. Bendavid has done a great job of distinguishing the two characters and I’d love for the show to spend more time on Jace but not at the expense of losing One forever.

This episode had to cover a lot of ground to gear up the season but did so in epic fashion. The world of Dark Matter is now more inhabited than ever and a whole array of new characters has been made available for the show to work with. Still, at its core, the crew of the Raza is the heart of the show and that was never more evident than in this episode. There is no doubt in my mind that the Raza and her crew will rise from the ashes of this mess bigger and more powerful than before. Paul Mullie delivered a phenomenal script, beautifully directed by Amanda Tapping, and expertly acted by both the series regulars and the guest stars. Whatever comes next one thing is evident; this season is ramping up to be even better than its freshman outing.

Be sure to tune into Syfy in the US and Space in Canada next Friday, July 8th at 10/9c to see if the crew can accomplish the impossible task of escaping the inescapable prison.

Hit the comments with your thought about this episode and your hopes for the rest of the season. Most importantly, let me know what you think will become of One. Do you think he set this up himself and is in fact still alive or was this episode his swansong?



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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