A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 2×12 (Thank you!)

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SUMMARY

With his old memories integrated, Four and the Raza crew capture a Zairon vessel led by Drago, a trusted ally to Four. With his loyalty re-established, Four uses him to reunite with his step-brother, Hiro as the two come to understanding over what really happened to their father, Ishida Tetsuda. Hiro agrees to relinquish the throne back on Zairon, but his mother, with the aid of Hansmeed capture Hiro and set a trap for Four, who travels to Zairon alone. Once under the thrall of the empress, Four is publicly tried for the murder of his father and sentenced to death. Meanwhile, the crew set on a rescue mission and are seemingly captured, all but Five who finds and releases Hiro while the android uses the Raza to lay waste to the city. Hiro arrives in the court and declares his mother the murderer of Tetsuda. As Four is proclaimed the new ruler, he enacts swift justice and orders the deaths of his step-mother, Hansmeed and his men, as well as Hiro. With the Raza crew stunned, Four assumes his original name and declares himself emperor.

 

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Dark Matter’s penultimate episode delivers an opus of blood and retribution as the resident warrior of the Raza reclaims the throne of Zairon. If it’s a bittersweet victory, I for one embellish the carnage that came with it as it was greatly needed to fuel the finale’s dark descent into uncertainty. While this wasn’t the first time Four made dangerous decisions by killing those who swore allegiance, Five’s doubts about Four prove correct and now the second “betrayer” is all but standing in a throne of blood. I’m excited for what’s to come and felt this episode tops the season with a wicked arc and a cliffhanger more extreme than any this season has met with.

 

THE GOOD

Four’s plight to regain control of his homeworld was rightly saved for the near-end of the season, an epic struggle that nearly exceeds even Two and her personal war with Rook and Dwarf Star. Each crew-member has something necessary to fulfill and tonight, Four cut right to the heart of Zairon and squeezed it dry. Even with the help of the crew, Four remained ruthless and steadfast and now, looks to accomplish all he set out for with the exception of the war itself. Everything Four went through was solid and intriguing right down the massacre he ordered at the end, a fabled tragedy marked by a promise to rule. Most all elements exceeded expectations and the crew rightfully acted in a shocking display of confusion as to what will happen next.

 

I actually really liked that Hansmeed was paired up with the empress as this show doesn’t combine its villains nearly enough and there’s so many. With Drago not a traitor it was somewhat difficult to ascertain if the loose end would be dealt with and it was, which also puts to rest Nyx’s knowledge with what happened to her brother, Milo. Everything came to a head quickly but in a manageable way that shifted a few emotional states back and forth, including the silent Misaki who confessed an old love for Four but a stronger duty to the throne. Very well placed points of interest and reveals all leading to the bloody finale of the episode.

 

THE BAD

It’s more preference rather than nitpicking, but I always wanted to see more development of Zairon and utilization of sweeping dolly shots and larger atmosphere’s showcasing this grand-scale planet. Some of the exterior shots were very beautiful, but it was too easy to tell where the shots had to remain tight and closed in and since the show uses slow-motion so sparingly, there’s wasn’t a lot to accentuate, but again, it’s a just preference because Zairon is more fleshed out than most any other planet and that includes Earth. The culture is rich and I just felt we never got enough of it to understand everything with why Zairon is in the war its in and what they really represent in the galaxy.

 

FAVORITE MOMENT

The last scene. I’d almost argue that Four’s scene with the android was both warm-hearted and fascinating to watch and should have stood out as the best scene, but that last moment of death was the clincher to seal this episode into a dramatic shocker. I wasn’t expecting Hiro to be executed as well, but again, Four will kill anyone who essentially was against him to destroy any and all chances of an uprising and quite frankly, it’s wicked ruthless but appropriate for his stature as the returned Ryo, a maelstrom of death.

 

CHARACTER MVP

It’s all Four from beginning to end. He painted a picture of multiple tones each based on the person he was with, notably with Nyx and the android, but also Six, Two, and Misaki. He got to interact with almost everyone to a degree that had his character died, this would have been the episode to have that send-off. But it was all toward a singular goal, one he exploited by using the crew and those who found new trust in him. Does that trust stand? I’d say the crew will probably let this one go and move on to the bigger war at hand, but if Ryo wants that blink drive, who knows what he’ll do to get it. Awesome performance from Four, he stole the show tonight.

 

ENDING THOUGHTS

Regarding what Four knows about Three. I want to suspect it has something to do with previous plot threads that still haven’t been solved such as “Who killed One’s wife,” and other such things that possibly involved Three, but there’s also a stronger possibility that to push the series into further strangeness, Four probably knows something we haven’t been introduced to yet. I don’t expect it to be earth shattering, but it should be enticing enough to warrant a flashback of some kind.

 

We’ve gone this far and we still don’t know who hitched a ride from the other dimension. If I were a crazy betting man, I’d say it’s a long shot that the Four in this episode is really the Four from the other dimension, disguised and hell-bent on ruling Zairon from any dimension. Maybe the real four is out of action somewhere, who knows. I know, it’s a real long shot, but it would make for an interesting twist. Otherwise, I wouldn’t hold off on that reveal into season 3, let’s find out in this next episode.

 

Nyx finding out Four’s involvement in Milo’s death should put an end to any further relationship those two might have had moving forward. I don’t mind that, their scenes just didn’t hold enough gravity for me to invest in, but I will say, Four did a better job of telling her that he didn’t care than Three did telling Five and being called out on it. This won’t be something Nyx forgives easily if at all and I don’t blame her.

 

With as much time as we spent on Zairon and with Misaki in the mix I’m actually disappointed we didn’t see more sword fighting. The infiltration of the Raza crew was handled well enough, but I would have been perfectly fine for another Misaki and Four combat scene at least to truly declare who was the better fighter.

 

The promo for the finale doesn’t address Four or the plot of this episode suggesting that the crew and Four are going to part ways assuming Four doesn’t steal the blink drive for himself. Whether he’s a villain of his own making remains to be seen, but I can’t imagine he’ll put the crew through any suffering as they did help him get back the throne. It’s okay that he’s shedding his Four persona because he has the memories to be who he needs to be and now he can focus on the part of the war that effects him the most. He’s a silent believer in consequentialism where the ends justify the means and moving forward, he’ll probably continue with that mindset regardless of who opposes him.

 

OVERALL SCORE

9 out of 10. Strong opening and strong finish. Dark Matter shows the sci-fi world how gritty it can get with its pulse-pounding and frenzied violence softened only by the compassion the crew has for one another. Four dominates the penultimate episode by securing his place on Zairon and disposing of all his enemies in classic fashion. This flawless act promises a critical finale that should hopefully keep pace with the plot and give us a startling end to an incredible season. And as always, the Raza gets more and more detail in it’s CGI glory with plenty of flyby shots to entice. Looking forward to one more run with the crew as we near close out another spectacle in space. Bring on the rest next week and thanks for reading.

 

 

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Pacific Rim – Raleigh was meant to pilot Gypsy Danger on his own

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After watching Pacific Rim for the 50th-ish time, I decided to nitpick every line Stacker Pentecost said during the film and I found that the character was often more peculiar about his motives than we were led to believe. What began to stand out the more I listened to Stacker was a theory that he originally intended to have Raleigh pilot Gypsy alone, as a backup if Striker failed to deliver its payload.

I’ll start with a few basics to set the tone on this theory. Let’s begin with the fight against Knifehead. It was important to showcase the first major hit to the Jaeger program during this fight by killing Raleigh’s brother, Yancy, and brutalizing Gypsy Danger, a mark 3 jaeger stationed on the Alaskan coastline. Raleigh manages to reroute Gypsy’s controls and charge a point-blank blast from its plasma cannon. The prologue scene concludes with Gypsy staggering to a snowy beach where it collapses with Raleigh exiting in a similar state, exhausted and breathlessly calling for his brother shortly before passing out.

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“Hurricane kicked my ass”

As awesome as it was to witness the difficult task, it wasn’t necessary to play out the scenario with Raleigh piloting the Jaeger on his own. The story, as a whole, was always meant to showcase how people working together can accomplish impossible feats. Getting Raleigh into a position where he had to leave and come back to the fight was understandable, but losing his brother could have happened in a number of different ways. In the prologue the most significant detail was realizing that either it was possible for any pilot to drive a jaeger solo, or that Raleigh specifically had an innate ability (a.k.a getting really angry) to get the job done.

At the time, I wondered if this scenario would come up again. What I think was supposed to happen was left in the details of Stacker’s dialogue throughout the film, along with some mysterious moments that were never quite explained. Here are a list of scenes I’d like to detail and go over.

1. Stacker approaches Raleigh in Alaska and requests he join the fight against the kaiju again and the following dialogue occurs.

STACKER

“I spent the last 6 months activating everything

I can get my hands on. There’s an old jaeger, mark 3,

you may know it. It needs a pilot.”

RALEIGH

“I’m guessing I wasn’t your first choice.”

STACKER

“You are my first choice. All the other mark 3 pilots are dead.”

Two things of note here. Stacker points out the jaeger needs a pilot, singular. That can easily be overlooked because Stacker is talking to one person with a mission to convince that one person to rejoin the ranks. He could have easily just as said “It needs a pair of pilots,” since the prologue clearly stated the rule of two during Raleigh’s narration.

The second note is the line, “All the other mark 3 pilots are dead.” Images of The 5th element cloud my brain as the same joke was told through a superior officer. The delivered line was meant to force the issue that times are tough and Raleigh is all that there is left to pilot a mark 3 jaeger. At first I thought Stacker was just trying to oversell his point, but again, I think he had more desperate motives in mind. More on that later.

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“I said jaeger! Not jager!”

2. Outside the Shatterdome, we’re introduced to Mako Mori, a character who Stacker says is “One of our brightest.” A simple but confident gesture as a father-figure would say to a deserving pupil/daughter. Nothing really to dissect here, just a simple statement before being told she’s also in charge of the mark 3 restoration program. In reality it’s the “Gypsy Danger Restoration Program” because, there are no other mark 3 jaegers still in service. Nitpick of a nitpick; apologies.

3. Later on, Raleigh and Mako briefly discuss her yearnings for wanting to be a jaeger pilot. Raleigh asks “What’s your simulator score?”

Mako answers “51 drops, 51 kills.” which impresses Raleigh.

What isn’t noted here is whether Mako was running those simulators with a second pilot or not. Later on, we clearly are led to understand that Mako has never experienced a real drift since Raleigh has to explain the fundamentals to her, seconds before the drift occurs in their first test mode, and later when he apologizes over what a first drift can do to a person. I’m not an expert in drift technology, but I think one can determine that one does not simply simulate a drift. So if she killed 51 simulated kaiju, how did she do it?

4. During the test, Raleigh slips into a memory which also causes Mako to do the same. During her memory, she encounters a kaiju and attempts to flee, while in the jaeger, she initiates the plasma cannon on the right arm.

Choi screams “Go to fail-safe!”

A nearby character answers “Fail-safe’s not responding. There’s a problem with the neuro-blocker. Her connection’s way too strong.”

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“Who let her watch the final ep of EVA?!?”

To sell the impact of falling into a drift, Mako cannot discern reality from memory, however I have to believe that this sort of scenario happened all the time on previous pilots attempting their initial drifts. That’s why the fail-safe is there. The idea that her connection is too strong suggests one of two possibilities in my view:

a) Stacker has been training her (unbeknownst to her) to handle piloting a jaeger on her own, which is why we don’t hear about her simulator score involving a drift or a second pilot.

b) She’s exhibiting a mental state that puts her in a higher echelon over any pilot    or human Stacker has ever seen before (except himself) and that’s the real reason why he doesn’t want her co-piloting a jaeger, because she’s a danger and has yet      to control her ability.

5. After Raleigh and Mako are commended for defending Hong Kong from Otachi and Leatherback, they witness blood fall from Stacker’s nose as he walks away while commanding the clock to be reset.

Raleigh later finds him and asks about his condition. Stacker says the following.

STACKER

“You know them mark 1’s, we scraped them bad boys

together in 14 months. Last thing we were thinking about

was radiation shielding. I ran nearly a dozen missions. I

Stayed under the medical radar for a while, but last time

I jockeyed was Tokyo. I finished the fight solo, but for

3 hours, I burned. They warned me if I ever stepped foot

in a jaeger again, the toll would be too much. You and I

are the only two that ever ran solo combat. That’s why I

brought you here.

It wasn’t until that last line came that Stacker began contradicting himself. If Raleigh’s ability to pilot solo was why Stacker brought him back, then why bother to tell him that he’s the last of the mark 3 pilots still alive? Was he attempting to downplay his overselling of Raleigh’s ability? Or was there something else going on in Stacker’s head at the time?

6. Go back to the initial mission pitting Striker, Crimson, and Cherno against Otachi and Leatherback. Stacker gave explicit instructions to each pair of pilots, but when he got to Raleigh and Mako he simply stated “You two, you stay put.” Okay, Stacker is still grounding them for the mishap during the drift.

Well, wait a second. Go back a few more scenes just after Raleigh and Chuck have their tussle. Stacker brings Raleigh and Mako into his office area and tells them that only Mako is being grounded for what happened. Sure, Raleigh made a big stink about Stacker holding Mako back that could have irritated Stacker enough that he decided to ground Raleigh too. But still, why only ground Mako in that scene? What was the significance of that, aside from Mako losing her chance to pilot a jaeger? Now, let’s recap of bit of what we’ve learned:

*Through fear and anger, Raleigh proved he could control Gypsy on his own.

*Through meditation and control, Stacker proved he could pilot Coyote Tango on his own.

*Through immersion and a fear for survival, Mako proved she could mentally block the fail-safe from disconnecting her to Gypsy.

*Stacker admitted he brought Raleigh back because he’s one of two people to pilot a jaeger on their own.

*Stacker only intended to ground Mako for what happened during the test drift
And let’s not forget one other fact:

*Gypsy danger has a double-core, nuclear reactor, making her one of a kind.

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“She’s not wearing a bustle. How lewd.”

When Striker’s nuclear launcher was dismantled by Slattern, Stacker told Raleigh to take Gypsy into the breach. One could argue it was quick and clever thinking, but I have a different thought on it.

I surmise That Stacker originally intended to use Raleigh alone, as a last-resort in case Striker failed to get its bomb through the breach. The test to see which rookie pilot would be sufficient to join Raleigh was never going to lead to a decision, and ultimately, his pride got in the way when he allowed Mako to prove her ability to be a co-pilot, when she seemed to be capable of so much more.

This was also why Stacker was hesitant on telling Raleigh why he was brought there when they first entered the Shatterdome.

Stacker had every opportunity to send Raleigh alone, or with a rookie pilot when Otachi and Leatherback first appeared on the miracle mile, but didn’t for fear of what losing his second bomb would mean, including Mako, which is why he jumped at the chance to remove her as a pilot when she fell out of alignment.

I think Stacker was willing to do whatever he had to, and his own sacrifice (along with Chuck) was his last resort coming back to him in full.

On a side note, here are a few other lingering questions that deal with Stacker’s character outside this theory.

1. Why would Stacker continually ask how big a kaiju is? He does so on two occasions, once just after telling Raleigh his medical condition and again right before we find out that Slattern is a category 5. Except for the prologue fight, every kaiju was a category 4. I think he was always anticipating the kaiju would be getting bigger, but even if that was the case, why ask that just as Slattern shows up? If he was just a category 4, would he have breathed easier? Just a bit odd.

2. If Stacker had a plan to get the bomb through the breach, but avoided to tell Raleigh in the Shatterdome, why is he getting the plan told to him as if for the first time by Gorman in the very next scene? I suppose it was for Herc’s benefit since he just got there, but then why is everyone hearing for the first time what Newton thought of it?

3. If getting into Striker would be enough to kill Stacker, why didn’t he just pilot it alone, instead of taking Chuck with him? If Stacker somehow didn’t make the trip, Chuck wouldn’t be able to drag Striker back on his own, let alone to the breach.

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“I’m totally okay with dying now. Forget about what I said earlier.”

I’ve enjoyed watching Pacific Rim multiple times and hope the sequel gets a beacon soon to be made. This was one fan’s look at some of the aspects not clearly outlined in the film and I hope you enjoyed the read. If you have any insight or feedback, feel free to comment. Thanks for dropping by!

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