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Dark Matter - One Last Card To Play - Review: “Double Trouble - Take Two” + POLL

The big mystery of who came back from the alternate universe last season was finally answered. To the surprise of all, it wasn’t just a single person that made the trip back. Almost the entire crew from the alternate universe hitched a ride. Their appearance in this reality made it even more evident why the best thing that ever happened to the Raza crew was the fact that they lost their memories. Alternate Portia and Boone are sinister to the core with no capability to experience remorse. Portia makes it very clear why Two has the reputation she has, because once upon a time that’s who Two was. Thankfully, the Portia of this reality had just enough humanity in her to allow her a foundation to become Two and break this cycle. That foundation almost certainly is thanks to the fact that she had Das whereas the alternate universe Portia was lacking that.

Without that humanizing element in her life, it’s possible that Two would have walked the same dark path she had before the memory wipe and taken her crew down with her. Das is the factor that sets the two versions apart. While Portia was initially uncertain about her it’s clear that in some yet unseen part of the pre-memory wipe time on the Raza that these characters bonded and Das started to bring out some of the innocence that Two once possessed as Rebecca. Granted, it wasn’t quite enough to have bought Griffin a reprieve when he was discovered to be a spy, but it was enough to allow her to make better decisions as Two. She was able to tap into some primal humanity that allowed her to make Two into the noble leader she has become. Sure, she makes mistakes, but she’s more inclined to be humane than her alternate universe counterpart. That Portia murdered an entire ship full of innocent lives and did it with a smile on her face. She’s about as vile and sinister as they come. In fact, when it comes down to it, if they can’t track down the alternates, Portia could very well become an even more dangerous foe than Ryo.

There isn’t a single bone of compassion in her which she showed over and over again. She certainly doesn’t instill the same level of loyalty that Two does with her crew. It’s quite obvious that Portia will use and abandon her crew without a single thought as long as the potential outcome benefits her. Wexler discovered that the hard way. The lack of unity definitely trickles down through the crew. As a prime example, Tash ended up betrayed by the Android, proving that Portia doesn’t even have the respect of her own android. In fact, the alternate Android might be the only respectable member of the crew. That’s curious because it has been implied that in this reality Portia and Das worked together to make the Android what she is. So who made the alternate Android into the self-aware morally respectable being that she is? Might this all go back to the mysterious creator that was hinted at during the flash-forward? So many questions, but at least we have a hint that some answers are coming.

Another big thing that was revealed in that flash-forward is that the House of Ishida will fall. With each passing episode, it’s becoming more and more apparent that time is rapidly running out for Ryo’s rule. Whether Ryo realizes it or not he’s a very impulsive leader. His response to the assassination attempt on his life led directly to the setup for Portia and Boone to steal one of his ships. He became hyper-focused on one moment instead of the overall bigger picture. Teku’s advice may seem soft and not relevant to a hard impact win, but his advice may allow the underdog to prevail. Instead, Ryo is determined to follow Misaki’s advice to rule with fear and use muscle to win. It’s becoming clearly evident that Misaki’s approach is costing Ryo far more than Teku’s plan would have. Perhaps he was doomed no matter what. Maybe the fall of the House of Ishida is inevitable, but perhaps with the unwavering loyalty of his people, they would have had a better chance. His people aren’t loyal to him, they fear him and act out of that fear, but they clearly do not respect him. That is the lesson that Teku has desperately been trying to teach him and one that is falling on deaf ears.

This is a fascinating juxtaposition to the same thing going on with Portia and Two. There is the leader trying to rule by fear, but falling short of her counterpart. Then there is the leader commanding with a firm hand, but a compassionate heart that is able to prevail over long odds. To see a good example all Ryo has to do is look to his former captain and see what he should be doing. Two is a worthy leader who isn’t afraid to make the tough choices but does so with the well-being of her crew at the forefront of every decision. Portia seems to just keep around a crew for the extra manpower but doesn’t really care what happens to them. Ryo only cares about maintaining the image of the Empire at all cost with disregard to the consequences of his actions. Three different approaches and for the moment only one is working. There is an argument to be made that the flash-forward indicates that at some point Two’s approach will fail her, but it seems pretty evident that Two and her legacy will survive longer than Portia or Ryo’s.

This episode was a very interesting character study and having the alternates in play really helps to showcase how far these characters have come. While the Android has an alternate only Two and Three have evil alternates running around but it’s still enough to show off the differences. This double action is also a huge strain on Melissa O’Neil, Anthony Lemke, and Zoie Palmer who are called upon to double the work during these episodes. Lemke gets a slightly easier position in this because Boone and Three aren’t all that different. The big difference is that Boone is more ruthless, but in terms of personality, they are a lot alike. They are both sarcastic and big flirts. Though, Three has become a bit tamer on that front since Sarah has come back into the picture.

The bulk of the dual work fell to O’Neil who has skillfully nailed down the differences between the characters. She moves a little different when she’s portraying alternate Portia and there is a little smirk that she has assigned just to that character. It’s even different from the way she’s portrayed this universe’s Portia in flashbacks. In fact, the moment alternate Portia appeared on screen it was evident that the woman on the screen was not the Two the audience knows. There was this sinister glint in her eyes and a cocky way to her movements that screamed of danger. A lot of clone and alternate characters have appeared on television and it’s not a task all performers are equipped to be able to handle. Melissa O’Neil is one of the elite ones that do it in such a way that the characters feel completely different. She’s backed up by some really strong writing, but the writing does no good if a performer can’t rise to the challenge. She rose to the challenge and earned herself a place in the elite club that makes this dual action actually look easy.

At least she didn’t have to act opposite herself this time like she did during the first alternate universe episode. That cloning honor was bestowed upon Zoie Palmer who also made this whole setup look way easier than it actually is. Much like Lemke, her character and the alternate aren’t drastically different. There were subtle differences, but not enough for her to be able to infuse any major movements or attributes to differentiate the characters. That had to be done through dialogue and color coding the characters. Still, when it came time for the two to meet that brought on a whole new set of acting challenges. In these scenarios, a performer is usually acting opposite a tennis ball that marks an eyeline or if they're lucky a stand-in double. Dialogue exchanges in these scenes are as choreographed as a dance and to be off even a tad could throw the entire balance. Palmer nailed it and the scene flowed seamlessly as the two Androids made the amicable exchange and went back to their lives with their crew’s in tow.

Interestingly, that exchange was facilitated and negotiated by the ever clever Five. She has learned how to be a good fighter during her time onboard, but she’s also starting to show her potential as a leader. No matter how things play out in the future, Five is the Raza’s greatest legacy. She is seemingly the last member of the crew standing in the end. Through her, the legacy that Two and the crew have forged will live on. It’s these moments where it’s easy to see how she may become that defiant woman from the future standing guard of her ship and waiting for an old friend to return. She’s still got a long ways to go because when Tash was threatening the missile attack she did show her concern instead of being able to pull off Two’s famous poker face. Still, for a teenager, that was a quite impressive show of command. Her ship was about to be overtaken and she took charge and put down the invader like a total badass. Two would have definitely been proud of what she did.

The only problem with Five’s arrangement is that the alternates are still roaming around free. Portia is out there forging dangerous alliances and likely plotting to make another attempt on the Raza. Worse is that it seems like they are also still in possession of the Ishida ship. Five negotiated the return of Three and the missiles, but they still lost out. It’s a safe bet that Two will try to keep her promise to Truffault and bring the imposters into custody. This means at least one more future confrontation between the alternates and the crew.

Most of the episode was about the alternates and the back and forth confrontations, but the last act had a considerably different more laid back tone. Three checked back in with Sarah who, thanks to Five, has been able to spruce things up. She isn’t shy about letting Three know that she’s lonely and wants him around more. Though, at least for now, she seems to understand his real world obligations and just cherishes the time she has with him. This virtual way of living can’t be a permanent solution for her. At some point, they are going to have to find a way to give her consciousness a body or at least a way for her to interact with the crew in the real world. The writers just have to find a way to do it where they won’t lose Natalie Brown. Having her back with such frequency this season has been awesome. Brown and Lemke have incredible chemistry and all of their scenes together can only be described as beautiful.

The hour ended with a big cliffhanger as Two tried to reunite the crew with Six. He might not be on her ship right now, but he’s still a member of her crew and she cares about him. More importantly, she cares about Five who adores Six. Finding out that Five was worried because she wasn’t able to reach him was all the motivation that Two needed to find a reason to make a detour to check on him. Finding out that the mining facility had been left in ruins with bodies strewn around it proved that Five had been right to be worried. This show has never been shy about the fact that no character is actually safe. Will Six be the next casualty or will they find him alive somewhere? What condition will he be in if he is alive? The show is known for having big cliffhanger then leaving them simmering for undetermined amounts of time. This cliffhanger, however, demands immediate resolution and will hopefully be the focus of the next episode.

If this episode can be faulted for anything it’s that it was the swan song for Adrian and Solara. The fact Mishka Thébaud and Ayisha Issa were just guest stars meant that the characters wouldn’t be sticking around forever, but it was still sad to see them go. Though, thankfully, both characters departed the ship very much alive and with the door seemingly open for both to return at some point. There is so much more story potential with both characters, so perhaps they’ll cross paths with the Raza again at some point. At least it can be said that they both had great runs in this batch of episodes. Adrian really showed off a tender kind side to him that wasn’t immediately evident upon his first introduction. He bonded with Five, and their departing scene was quite nice and a bit tender. He seemed to really want her to come with him but knew that her place was on the Raza. Adrian is seriously lacking in the friends department and in Five he found a kindred spirit. However, whether he realizes it or not, and whether she’ll admit it or not, Solara has become his friend and she was likely to stick with him whether he’d paid her in advance or not. She could have ditched him to stay with the Raza where she could do so much good yet she chose him. Here’s to hoping she can keep him alive long enough to one day return back to the Raza and rejoin the crew.

This was a strong episode with a lot of terrific performances. There was one slightly confusing bit of dialogue. When Wexler was captured he mentioned that his alternate in this universe had only gone missing a month earlier. While these past seasons haven’t spanned that much time, Wexler certainly went missing way more than a month ago. Two spaced him way back in Season One and way more than a month has passed since then. Seems like it might have been a snafu in the dialogue because to say the last two seasons have only spanned a month seems very unrealistic. It could also be that Wexler was only finally reported missing a month ago. If this wasn’t a dialogue snafu then this issue definitely needs a follow-up eventually.

All around this was a very strong episode that was engaging and intriguing. It was great to see a plot point from last season get some resolution, even if in the end it set into place a few more plot points to be picked up in the future. This season certainly seems like a big payoff for some of the bigger plot points that have been left hanging from the prior two seasons. There is no telling what other plot points they’ll address, but if the back half of the season can keep hitting on point like the first half then this will easily go down as the best season of the series to date. It really is hitting all the right points to craft one very strong season.

Don’t miss the next episode to find out what happens to Six, when it airs next Friday, July 14th at 9/8c on SyFy in the US and Space in Canada.

We all want Dark Matter to get a Season Four, so check out this blog post by Executive Producer/Co-Creator Joseph Mallozzi to see how you can help ensure the future of this incredible show.

Hit the comments with your thoughts about this episode. Did you like seeing the alternates back? What deal do you think alternate Portia struck at the end? Will alternate Android be able to keep her crew from being too reckless? Do you want Adrian and Solara to return soon? Do you think Six is still alive?