By the 6th or 7th episode of a first season, it’s always good to investigate the core focus of the show’s premise after spending some ample time getting to know everyone that matters. There’s usually some vast arc development and events are pushed forward in all sorts of complicated directions. Tonight’s episode of Dark Matter reveals both character insight and embellishes in both revenge and justice-centric desires. Elements of joint-dreaming allow for the technological background of the show to explore while we discover the tragic past of three key characters. To move forward, they have to look back and understand where they came from. Only then, will they understand what must be done to settle old debts.
Fantastic episode, world’s different than last week. Perhaps I was a bit spoiled in what was introduced and how I like to witness Japanese culture dipped in science-fiction, but I also enjoyed the concept of joint-dreaming. In this case it was memory sharing, but the template is the same. Four, Five, and Six took us on a great trio of past journeys that helped ascertain what led them to join the Raza, and it very much felt like a reward after spending the last several weeks scratching our heads on who these characters were. No top complaints thus far, though maybe one or two nitpicks which I’ll dive into later.
Five convinces the crew to let the android hook her up to a device that will potentially allow her to witness her compounded memories of the crew. In doing so, she discovers that Four was a prince in the Ishida family and was framed for the murder of his father. She also finds out that the young boy who was found dead in the cargo hold was in fact a friend of hers who was shot over the supposed “key card” she stole that a group is after. In her deep sleep, Five has negative emotional responses and can’t be woken up. Six volunteers to reach her through a joint state of memory sharing and learns that his past includes a planned insurrection that cost the lives of thousands to topple the Galactic Authority who presumably control or nurture the multi-corporations. Six murders the team that caused the deaths of those people and singularly blames a character called “The General,” who was responsible. Eventually, he finds Five in a calming memory either belonging to One or Three and convinces her to return to reality. Five then tells Four of his true history and Six is later seen investigating The General for his own agenda.
To begin, it was classic to have Five assume the role of Four in his past. She carried some weight with acting as Four but still retained her main personality while doing so. They’re giving her chance to explore her range and that’s a good thing to try out on likely the most endearing character of the show. As for Four’s past, it’s simple but has enough driving force that gives Four the justification for whatever he plans to do. What’s interesting in this tale is that though he and his father were at odds, there’s an underlining form of honor and loyalty that can’t be ignored, so he’ll pursue who he has to to ensure the Ishida line doesn’t become corrupt. The scenes don’t explicitly state if his half-brother was involved directly, but for now it’s not important.
Six’s past was delivered well enough, though I question if it was slightly rushed in the effort. Six’s past self had so little time to process the sheer horror of discovering his team killed so many people for a “cause” that he summarily executed those near him and attempted to kill himself over the guilt. It’s unfortunate that he really did pull the trigger because it means he really did give into the massive tragedy that was his choice to trust the men he worked with rather than change his perception and go straight to the source. Now, he does this in the present, which is fine and gives him a real chance at personal redemption, but at the time I thought the deaths and attempted suicide went too fast. We were given so much room to breathe with Four’s history that I honestly wasn’t expecting Six to be thrown in so quickly. The points are known and I’m onboard with his vendetta, I just would have liked a little more time to process the weight of what happened, but time constraints will happen.
What’s mildly amusing about the farm scene in Five’s perception is that I really want to believe that it in fact is Three’s memory and not One’s, just because of the irony of it and that Five finds it hard to believe it could be Three’s past. So far though, the show hasn’t tried to pull too many over on us, so I’m willing to stick with Five’s assumption and not really question it for the time being. What this more or less tells us is that the characters do in fact retain their core personality traits that Four mentioned in a past episode. Or at the very least their skills and basic traits. If you’re essentially a moral but snarky character in the past, that will continue to resonate even if the memory is wiped. The foundation is fine to go with as long as the consistency remains.
As for One and Two’s small moment of character interaction, we’re given a little insight into Two’s reasoning for sleeping with Three. One’s response is interesting because clearly he has no right to ask such things but can’t help it because, feelings. The nugget of chance comes through when Two candidly says that she didn’t want to be alone but also didn’t want complications. The hopeful expression on One’s face is enough to make me chuckle, because he’s less concerned that she slept with another guy and more giddy over the fact that there is spark between them and feelings trump casual sex, for him at least. For the most part, I’m glad this scene went down because Two doesn’t dilly-dally with avoiding One and that’s not in her character anyway. She’s somewhat receptive to some marginal possibility that the two will align on their feelings in the future, but for now, she’s still standoffish, and One is eagerly prepared to play the waiting game.
The kendo fight scene. I’m a longstanding fan of kendo and anything sword related. There was a something about having Five experience it personally that also made it fun to watch. The plot itself was a-typical as you have the overbearing father who barks of discipline and the son who sees the code of combat a little differently. It establishes his moral core and helps justify his attitude in the present because now he wont make any real betrayal-like decisions if he’s declared loyalty to the group. At this point it shouldn’t be questionable unless his mission to restore the Ishida line comes into conflict with the group.
It’s easily Five. She was the focus and she delivered on a few considerable levels. Her plight is that she’s tied to her emotions so much that she can’t focus and make decisions outside of what bothers her about the show’s situation. I actually would have preferred if Four was the one who went in and helped her because the main flashback was about him and he was the one who initially tried to help her by stating she needs to control her emotions. Six coming in and helping her felt like that Four’s message got kind of drowned out, but it’s the minor nitpick of the whole. She did awesome.
Gotta praise the music. It’s getting better. The score playing during Four’s revelation from hearing Five explain his past and when he bolts on his own was an inspiring piece that I want to hear again in the future. I hope it’s a mainstay theme.
Miss Maplethorpe. It’s a code and Six is never supposed to forget it. Is that related to his memories in that it’s a trigger to get them back or is it something unrelated? We don’t have much more than that except that he was speaking to One and Five didn’t remember to mention it to Six after she woke up. Guess we’ll find out later.
In Five’s flashback, Three discovers her and downright stuffs her in an airlock with the intention of blasting her out into space. We don’t know how Five survives but it’s probably not from Three having a change of heart. This more or less deflates my theory that Three will eventually care for the young lady like a little sister. That’s fine, she’ll likely never trust him and this just adds fuel to that fire. Not to mention that move makes him even more of a jerk-face so there’s not a lot working for him right now in the way of redeemable qualities. Unless he is in fact the farm boy in which case, that’ll be amusing to see play out. He’s no Sawyer that’s for sure.
The handler was a bit over the top and really hammed up his role. Even though Six referred to him as “their only friend” I’m kind of hoping he’s a one-off and we’re not forced to endure many more scenes. The weird urn-like container/statue has me wondering what that’s all about though.
If Four high-tailed it off the planet or wherever it is he’s from, when did he find time to collect all those swords and melee weapons? I imagine he spent anywhere from months to possibly years out in space and acquired them periodically, but considering his background, there shouldn’t be much reason for him to have such a massive collection of weapons. The one sword should about do it and he’s not officially labeled as an “assassin” so unless he just decided to become one because, screw it, why not, then I dunno, the set piece itself just seems overkill.
Two kept her bandage on even though it was healed. She’s sticking with the healing reveal on her own for now.
8 out of 10. Solid storytelling, good reveals, the right character to focus on, and very meaningful flashbacks. I wasn’t very sold on the farm flashback because it was more about Five’s desire to stay in a time period that was non-threatening than it was to know what happened in that character’s past, but I get why they went that route. Six covered that aspect by simply stating bad things will eventually happen to that character so there’s no point in waiting around for it. The show is building on their drives and gives them each a reason to push forward and accomplish a specific goal. Once we figure out One, Two, and Three’s official pasts, we’ll finally be rounded out. Although I’m suspecting that their memory wipes were an agreed plan, I do like that each character isn’t tied to another in any specific way. Good diversity. More episodes like this please. Thanks for reading, all.
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