A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×04 (It’s no trip to Babylon 5, but I suppose it’ll do)

Dark Matter 1x04

The crew of the Raza divert into smaller groups once they arrive at the space station where less hilarity and more shifty reveals are discovered. Among them includes the real Jace Corso who captures One and Three with intentions to find out who One really is. Everyone except the android is placed in vicarious positions with a few more clues to their identities and possible scenarios given by the end of the episode.

One or two moments stood out, but as a general observation, this was not the show’s finest hour. Pairing the crew off seemed like a good idea on paper, but the pairs themselves were not the one’s I would have chosen to further develop their personalities and quirky dialogue. Most of the station’s varied music was standard but slightly catchy and the set pieces were abysmal with cheap ideas on how to make the world futuristic and multi-cultural. What remains consistent and positive is the overall arc involving who they really are, what they’ve done, and how they came to be in the position they’re in. No one is forgetting that this is the driving force of the show and everything else is relatively incidental. With that said, let’s recap.

Arriving at the station, Two pairs One and Three up to find and sell the remaining weapons on board the Raza. They hang out at a “classy” club to venture on a contact but are then captured by the real Jace Corso. Jace questions One’s existence but doesn’t believe his story until Three offers the weapons for his own survival. Jace steals the weapons giving One and Three enough time to escape. Two and Five sell trinkets from the ship and come across a casino where they win a substantial amount playing cards. The owner has Two and Five taken into custody but Two fights them off, killing the entire group and frightening Five. Six visits an infirmary for his burned arm and as he’s treated is discovered to be wanted. The doctor attempts to subdue him but Four easily knocks him out and leaves. Four discovers the ring he possesses belonged to his father, an emperor who he apparently murdered and is widely at large.

One of the more noticeable pieces in this episode was the space station and how thrown together it was. There was a lot of attempts to show how unkempt most common areas were and how stylized the more richer portions tried to be, but it all breathed the same design. Florescent lighting used to be an easy way to showcase shifts in the environment and some tech, but there was too much going on here and not enough digesting of where and what this space station represented. Was the station run by a single group or even one person? And is it easier to maintain by conducting a free market along with questionable casino tactics? I suppose the general rule is that when you’re in an undefined sector that’s not under scrutiny, the rules are essentially thrown out the window for all walks of space life. This place could have used a bit more historical background and possible some tighter design to show the difference between classes and economic stability. But the truth is, this was a one off place and wasn’t meant to be anything more than a stopping point for the crew. Duly noted.

As for the pairings. We’ve already seen twice within two of the four episodes how One and Three react together and how Two and Five are as well. I’m not saying they shouldn’t continue to pursue these specific engagements, but I’m not done seeing how each member deals with everyone else and the last thing we want to get is super repetitive. One and Three already established their distrust and more importantly, how they handle threatening situations. As a pair, there wasn’t much new to uncover except One’s bare bones opinion on why he distrusts Three. They share in the same discontent, but when it was time to work together, they managed it with but a sliver of teamwork. Three will always be a smartass with whomever he’s in contact with so there’s consistency there that’s tried and true, but One still hasn’t hit his mark yet as a standalone hero. Three called it when he mentioned One thinks with his heart, but that’s not necessarily a great trait to start off with since he’s more or less designated as the main character. He’s supposed to have a major flaw and realistically, thinking with his heart is that flaw because it could get him or someone else killed.

The real Jace Corso is a classic case of the actor not really reaching to the depths of changing his personality. This Jace is not a convincingly evil character. I know evil is a rather harsh word, but mildly annoying just doesn’t have the same ring to it. I don’t see why a mercenary/killer would apologize to anyone for not showing up at a job. Reputations aside, he’s trying to save face to his commitments, but it came off as awkward rather than prideful. What tidbit of information he gave was that clones with transferred memories only last a short set of days which he ruled out on One’s existence. It’s too easy to toss that idea aside just because one antagonist didn’t believe in it and it bring me to my next point.

Six watched a very important commercial involving how Transfer Transit was selling it’s services as the preferred method for space travel. This was the highlight of information on the arc of the plot and it also hit us in the head like a hammer that this is or may have happened to the crew of the Raza. I liked this happenstance moment that Six completely ignored, because he’s preoccupied with the boredom of waiting to be called, but the idea should be enough to come back to when it’s useful information for him to bring up. It’s not entirely an unheard of concept, but this could help define who is real on the ship and who isn’t. I wouldn’t say every character is a clone, but the 2-3 days a clone can live could just as easily be a smokescreen or even more, a new version that can last indefinitely. We just don’t know yet.

Two and Five went through too many clichéd moments that it’s hard to critique beyond the obvious scenes that came about. The point was to showcase that both Two and Five have more hidden talents they either didn’t realize or didn’t utilize until now. Five’s handling of the cups and ball trick I thought would have carried over successfully into the casino but it didn’t, which means Five isn’t a savant, just very attentive to detail. Two in fact knew how to handle the card table and also how incredibly violent she can get when provoked. Overall, we’ve seen these two have enough scenes together that we understand them as a pair and this didn’t create anything new to figure out. It’s good to pair up the ladies of the show, but they also need to have enough compelling scenes with the other crew mates if they’re going to grow as a group.

Four remains his own solitary figure. Nothing quite embellishing there except now we know one strong possibility that he took out his own powerful father. It may not be just that simple, because it was the news he got the information from and how reliable is the news in any century? One note I thought was interesting was that he’s the one who suggested the money they retain go toward the ship and its defenses when he also mentioned previously to Three that he’d take the ship himself when he thought he needed to. Definitely sly, I’ll give him that.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Two’s annihilation of the casino crew was impressive enough I think stood out the most as an effective tool to prove how capable she is of taking care of herself. She’s the captain for a reason and we’re beginning to see how many layers she has. It’s easy to show through action why some people are to be followed and Two is on that path in doing what she feels is right but also doing what she has to to survive.

CHARACTER MVP

Normally I’d give it to the actor to does dual roles especially when conversing with one’s self, but this wasn’t very good quality conversing. One and Jace are too similar, there just wasn’t enough going on there that made this interesting to me. In any case, I’m giving the edge to Two. She gave the same reason to One and Three in regards to watching the other which was thought was funny but clever. I wouldn’t have expected Three to buy into Two’s reason to watch One, but he’s gullible and she’s a female, so he doesn’t take much convincing.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Mercurial means changeable, volatile, fickle, flighty, and erratic. Yeah, that makes sense.

The shop keeper closing his business after realizing the ring was authentic was dumb. I get that there’s a need to show and induce fear over an object, but that was just overdoing it in my opinion. I would have had the shop keeper actually try and buy it off of Four for substantial amount, something that would have given Four a moment to see what he wanted more at the time, the ring and it’s secret or money to have that the other crew doesn’t.

One of the most unattractive things you can do on a show like this is announce to everyone your plans to find a prostitute or the space equivalent once you dock at a space station. I mean, Five was sitting right there, you’d think Three would have at least some tact.

I don’t think One should be all that bent out of shape over kissing Two that we needed a unsaturated flashback of it. It was awkward and she didn’t reciprocate. Unrequited love is a pain in the ass and he’s about to get all the doses of it.

I thought there’d be a better climax with Jace and One then there was. The former seemed to be on his way to kill One, but their final confrontation didn’t even come close to happening. I guess they’re saving it for a rainy day. Not to mention, by not trusting Two with the real story, One is in fact feeding into Two’s thought that she can’t trust him, even though we’re supposed to be sure she can. This won’t end well for One.

Amanda Tapping directed this episode. I mainly know her from Sanctuary, but I’ve spotted her on Supernatural (Season 9) and a few other sci-fi shows from time to time.

OVERALL SCORE

6 out of 10. Not as well rounded as the last episode. Some clever elements played their parts, but the overall look and feel was too rushed and not very engaging. I feel like there’s struggles on coming up with reasons to keep the crew together. Three really can just leave whenever he wants, but he’s trying to plan ahead, possibly. Next to Three, Six is the one who has the least reason to be on the ship. He has good traits, but as a motivated character, I don’t know quite yet what he’s really looking for beyond the same answers the rest are. The crew are barely able to survive in smaller numbers, but as a group they’re surely not ready to take on a bigger threat. The premiere battle was just an anomaly, now they really do need to start trusting each other in order to make it. Until next week, thanks for reading.

No more words

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