A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×02 (You either die a villain, or wipe your memory long enough to become the hero)

Dark Matter 1x02

The sensible crew of the Raza plant their feet in the ground and assist the miners as the evil Ferris Corp attempt to eradicate the population out with lots of bullets. Each crew member takes another step in supplanting their new heroic traits while a fearful but calm-mannered Five reveals she understands how and why their memories were wiped to begin with. There’s danger in space and if there’s a secret mole in the ranks, the jury is still out on who that individual is.

While the plot and action work heavy to create a fast paced second installment, the follow up to the pilot attempts to reach too fast into the hearts of the viewers by giving our protagonists heroic traits that include, self-sacrifice, noble standings, and hurried camaraderie, all within the confines of the start of the series. Such a pace can have a few drawbacks most notably that our heroes are too easy to fit into their new roles and do what’s expected right from the get go. Even I wasn’t convinced Three would so quickly embrace the “I’m the cool bad guy that just goes with it” personality. That aside, the action and beats were easier to digest and the characters felt more comfortable around each other than in the stale pilot. There’s still a long way to go before they become the “family” that all closely knit groups of this type of arc strive to be. Until then, there’s the obligatory morsel of mystery that drops at the end of the episode, a type of breadcrumb in space that will feed us into the reason why they are in the situation they’re in.

Unwilling to accept their old identities, the crew of the Raza stick with their original plan even though One wants to stay and fight with the miners which Two denies as a course of action. While the weapons are being unloaded, Two and the android discover the arrival of a ship belonging to the Ferris Corp, who are responsible for hiring the Raza crew to take out the miners in the first place. An initial attack breaks out on the planet but the miners along with One, Three, Four, and Six kill all but one, who four interrogates for information on their contingency attack plan. Two attempts to negotiate with the captain of the Ferris Corp ship but relents to a deal to leave the area and does so. The miners and the other Raza crew fend off another attack as Two returns with ships belonging to another corporation who help ward off the Ferris Corp. The miners sign a deal with the benevolent group Two brought with her and the Raza team depart to refuel and decide their next direction. Afterward, Two and Five converse with Five revealing that she knows how and why their memories were wiped; because they’re dangerous.

The pacing was a welcome plus to the show. Now that initial introductions were established the show continued with the forward momentum needed to create an entertaining atmosphere complete with two solid action pieces. While some of the more specific elements of each firefight had it’s flaws, it was altogether a decent setting, putting the heroes in positions to show how badass they can be as they were once mercenaries with particular sets of skills.

Having said all that, I have to point out how understandably sloppy it all went down. In Science-Fiction and in many low budget shows, there’s certain elements that can come across as tacky or rushed. I found the idea of generic bad guy armor to be utterly useless against bullets and knives to be laughable and insulting. If armor isn’t designed to withstand the kind of firepower they themselves dish out, then what’s the use of wearing it to begin with? And like many firefights I’ve seen done in the past, this one suffered the same trauma of the “stormtroopers that can’t hit anything” problem. It’s too early to questions where corporations find their enlisted troops, but they don’t seem like military or ex-mercenary types which means they’re training is probably subpar at best.

Character dynamics had their up and downs as well. Three maneuvered himself adequately into a role where he’s fine with his old identity but aligns with the crew anyway because it’s essentially his best option. He’s not butting heads with anyone specific yet and this makes him more malleable for the time being. His only questionable obsession lies with trying to open the large door (by hand which is humorous), something he hadn’t mentioned to the other members yet. Secrets upon secrets await.

One and Six I had the most trouble with this time around mainly because of how hard they beat us in the face with their good-natured attitudes. Six’s willingness to do whatever it took to take down the enemy ship with the Maurader happened too early in the series and should have been saved for that rainy day plot when the real drama hits the fan. One is entirely too noble for his own good. It’s ultimately fine that he chooses to be as far from his evil profile as he can get, but the risk is that he’ll become entirely too predictable and even worse, will become the most bland of the bunch. The next inevitable sexual tension between him and Two was elevated to “That’s cute” status, but there truthfully isn’t a need for it. What I won’t dive into this time but should at least be mentioned is that if One and Two were gender swapped but had their roles remain the same, it would be an entirely different set of logistical problems. Right now, the strong female lead has the power and control over when and if the two will explore any emotions, but for now it’s a harmless crush.

The android is still iffy in my view. Her mannerisms and function are a bit all over the map and it’s a shame we don’t have some baseline of other robot behavior to compare her to. Maybe in future episodes we’ll encounter other android-like characters, but for now she’s interpreting the dialogue of her human peers and reacting in ways that mimic some of that behavior, the kind of model that adapts without showcasing any real emotions. She’s an intuitive android which means there’s a lot they don’t have to outright explain as her core functions, but it help ground her personality more if we understood her limitations and overall strengths.

The multi-corp subplot does a good job of setting up the universe they exist in. We don’t know anything about the year or where Earth fits in the grand scheme, but right now those two things don’t matter. Humans are essentially the dominant species with no telling if aliens will play a role in the future. Corporations battling over rich resources and territories containing those resources makes sense and allows for the crew to switch sides and use them as needed. There’s room for a lot of betrayals and trust issues which may be a reoccurring theme moving forward.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The second firefight had a few impressive shots. They really tried to swing that camera around a few times to give the impression our heroes were battling on all sides. It warped the overall feel of where all the enemies were coming and going because we never got a real sense of scope in the reactor area, but for the most part it was an honest effort in trying to give us a solid gun shooting sequence.

CHARACTER MVP

I’m giving it to Three this week. I was very critical of his anti-hero performance because I had the impression he was going to be the hated rogue of the group. He may still be the most rogue-ish but at least he won’t be hated. He decidedly fought with the crew and even went as far as to introduce us with some overtly clichéd moments involving naming his guns and firing two hand pistols without aiming them. He’s still the most likely candidate to backstab, leave a friend behind, or betray the crew as a whole, but because of that it’s possible he’s just a distraction to the real threat going on.

ENDING THOUGHTS

When Four pulled his sword out to examine it in the Marauder I had to shake my head again. He acted as though he was still impressed he knew what a sword was but then proceeded to threaten Three with it for good measure. And I lost count how many times I’ve seen this but shows need to stop adding the sharpening sound a sword makes when it’s pulled from a scabbard. If the scabbard is made correctly it won’t affect the sword in that way and be less likely to damage it in any capacity. Swords can go in and out without needing that overplayed sound effect.

When Five was shown drawing her cartoon/anime characters I wondered if drawings were the simplest method in showcasing a person’s artistic nature. First it was a knack for piecing together electronics and now she has an entire innate ability to draw. That’s three for three in the quirky but relatable sidekick department. From this point forward, we shouldn’t be shown any more of those examples until we understand where she came from. Her mystery is connected to the overall plot of this show and it’s important she remain a fixed point. She’s not a Kenzi from Lost Girl, or a Claudia from Warehouse 13, in that she doesn’t have a real distinct personality to match the image she’s portraying. She needs more dialogue with the other characters and not just with Two if she’s going to grow.

Minor note but when Two mentioned having a lot of time to get to know each other, she immediately looked at One, who promptly looked away. The subtext is not lightning in a bottle and probably needs to be dialed down a bit considering One made out with the blonde on the planet earlier that day. It’s too early for this kind of drama.

Was it really necessary for Five to crawl through a human-sized vent to stay in hiding from the enemy ships captain and silent henchmen? I’m pretty certain she could have walked to Four’s quarters through the halls and none would have been the wiser.

Two doesn’t want to be known by her mercenary name, but what about the others? Will everyone but Three still hold their numbered designation or is this just the formula and that’s that? Her motivation for staying as Two is well heard but does she speak for the other members of the crew even as their unofficial leader?

OVERALL SCORE

6 out of 10. Marginally better than last week. The plot was elevated into a pair of mostly average firefights with a few perks of cinematography. The quick montage of the crew doing training moments with the miners was silly and unnecessary but didn’t detract much from the object at hand. Some character traits I felt were rushed, but the overall tone and sense of urgency was much easier to take in this time around. The plot didn’t stick with the miners which is good because a crew like this needs to hop around from place to place to cross with multiple differently shaded people that can help and betray all over the place. They’re going to be tested over and over again, but the goals should always be that they’ll band together to defeat or maneuver through whatever comes their way. It’s not perfect by far, but the entertainment factor is there just enough to keep us going. We’ll see where it leads. Thanks for reading.

No more words

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