A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×13 (Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 6 was faking it!)

Dark Matter 1x13

Answers may have been given, but reasons are far from visible in the tumultuous season finale of Dark Matter. Rather than go epic, explosive, and death defying, we return to the root that started the show off with its categorical mistrust that settles on one question: Who is the real betrayer among the crew? That answer is seemingly given but again, we know so little about why and what that we’ll be left speculating for the coming months. The good news, season 2 has been green lit, so there will be a reckoning with our resident Raza team.

Elements worked very well in this finale while a few stuck out like sore thumbs. The guessing game can be both uplifting and frustrating at the same time because suspicion breeds all kinds of crazy scenarios with misdirection and red herrings. I can’t say I’m satisfied with the ending because I don’t understand the root of the problem as it was introduced many episodes prior. Do things make sense? Certainly not, but we’ll dive and see what we can see.

After the crew discover the android has been incapacitated, the crew search the ship for who they think is a corporate unit that never left. Their sweep yields nothing and they conclude the party responsible is one of them. Distrust is sown between all members as one by one, members begin to fall to an agent passed on by both injection and water. Four is the first to fall, followed by Six. Three and One constantly accuse the other and Five is left worrying that it’s truly Two who turned on them. While being locked away in the bridge, Five encounters the hologram who reveals her function and that the android is in fact defective. Five has the hologram delete itself and then escapes the bridge. The remaining are caught in the hallway with Three and Two training their guns on One. Five arrives and accuses Two of being the traitor until a pair of gas canisters knock them all out. An authority ship arrives and commandeers the ship, taking each of the crew away with Six revealed as the culprit who set them up. He’s seen the last leaving with the authority team.

Well, there we have it. In Five’s recording, Four and Two were referencing Six being the one who had to die and Five is essentially responsible for mind-wiping the crew but not necessarily with that intention in mind in order to stop them from murdering someone. It…sounds cut and dry, but that does leave plenty to speculate. For example, was Six working with the authority the entire time as a spy and infiltrated the General’s group? Was his revenge really genuine against him? Probably so. Does he still care about the crew? Or is he playing for a third party that has yet to be named?

My first and only real issue with this episode was the first 15 minutes. We all knew, and I do mean we ALL knew that there wasn’t a stowaway on board and I don’t think we needed 15 minutes for the crew to realize that. It just took too long to do those sweeps and even longer for the vent scenes that felt very “Alien” in retrospect. Aside from that I was pleasantly fine with how events unfolded. The right amount of distrust came about, characters playing for and against others. Natural tendencies came out and obvious retaliation came at the expense of tying up loose ends from previous threads. The plot held pretty tight until that the end and though it can be argued that Six should or shouldn’t have been able to wake up from his own injection, it’s a minor point. Why never gets answered and that’s fine too because this show is all about cliffhangers and that’s easily the biggest one to date. Will Six ever be trusted again? Surely he owes Five if nothing else and who knows, maybe this opens the door for the crew to unofficially work for the authority. Just because they wear dark Jason masks doesn’t mean they’re the bad guys, right?

One possible continuity flaw is how Five is so easily convinced that Two is the culprit. True there’s undeniable evidence that she conspired with Four to kill “someone” on the ship, but it was never proven that anyone might have retained their memories from the mind-wipe. She jumped at that conclusion first then tried to piece everything else together and it’s unfortunate that all of Two’s trust and friendship really didn’t count for anything after the fact. Maybe it’s a flaw of the human spirit and not so much the logistics of the technology involved. People can turn at the drop of a hat and Five is no different considering the circumstances.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The ending. Cluster moments laced in W.T.F when dealing with “who dunnit?” plots are always mind-numbingly awesome because one can spend so much time rewinding facts and scenes in your head making you second guess yourself until the truth is revealed. It’s psychologically exhausting but can have really sweet results if written right. Dark Matter sold most of the delivery on this and Six did stand out as a character who ideally shouldn’t be a traitor. What kind of a traitor has yet to be seen. I’m not writing him off as a villain yet because we just don’t know enough about why. After all, he was on a ship full of cutthroats before the mind-wipe occurred. Who were the actual villains in this case?

CHARACTER MVP

Well let’s just go with Six because he did dupe the crew and probably a great many of the watchers. As soon as the gas cans hit, my brain activated and cornered on Six, I’m just annoyed I didn’t guess it earlier. I like to be fooled so I usually turn my brain off during episodes or movies like these but those intrusive guesses still make their way. In any case, kudos for Six on fooling the lot.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Like a few, there was that moment when the hologram showed up that we could have easily believed the whole thing was orchestrated by her. She did say she was running on default parameters which suggested some old programming could be making her manipulate events. But it wasn’t the case. She really was just something the android conjured and now only Five knows the truth about her “defective” nature. I don’t think she fulfilled anything since Five made her delete herself, but who knows, maybe there’s something more the android will need to find out that will make her reinitialize the program later.

If Six was truly responsible why pretend to hold his gun like he’s looking for someone once he was outside of Five’s field of vision? Maybe he just took advantage of the situation before injecting himself which is fine. Minor nitpick here.

I would have liked to have seen Four and Six duke it out. Have a moment where they both wake up and then realize they both know and then they tear the place up before Six gets the upper hand. Aw well.

I loved that ending theme when the crew were being dragged out and Six struts outward past the camera. Good reveal and well placed music. I applaud.

Did Six really need a shock-stick to take out Two? On second thought, yeah probably.

If you’re going to stealthily look for someone who might have stowed away on your ship, it might be best to not bring up earlier plot points to your paired teammate if you’re going to get the drop on that stowaway.

Looking back, remembering Six’s conversation with Five makes a little more since considering he basically tried to convince her to leave the ship because she really wasn’t a part of the crew. In a way if he was duping them all from that point, what he was doing was trying to save her the hassle of being caught by the galactic authority. Or maybe I’m reading too far into it.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Again, very impressed with the plot and twists, but the first quarter of the episode had my eyes rolling because it was more about the characters taking their time deducing the situation when we knew from the start what was essentially happening. I’m very glad the show is greenlit for a second season, otherwise I’d be scratching my head forever trying to understand Six’s role in all this. As a whole, this first season is keeping me inserted and I look forward to the next season when it airs. The cast is doing good work and I’m sure they have their work cut out for them in future installments. Whether Six remains a part of that structure remains to be seen. Great season and thanks for reading. Until next time.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×12 (The great great great great great grandson of Dr. Isaac Parrish lives on)

Dark Matter 1x12

With the planet’s destruction a seemingly negligible concern, all plots push forward to reveal Two’s sordid past within the company known as Dwarf Star, led by Science-Fiction alumni, Wil Wheaton. The crew perform a daring rescue operation with Two’s life in the balance. Five discovers a shocking secret regarding the crew before they were mind-wiped and someone on the shop finally makes their move in secret.

Two’s questions to her status as truly human or not is the main theme of this episode and it came during the penultimate episode. It fits in at the opportune time and deals with an interesting concept about the human condition and what having a flawed brain really means. This is somewhat paired with the android’s quest to rationalize her own behavior as a machine with friends. Both duality compliment the rescue plot and this stands as one of the better balanced episodes of the season. Wil’s performance as the cocky but subtle Alex Rook helped inject some sci-fi star power into this brand as well.

After the planet was destroyed The crew discover the device was used as a means to further white hole technology which acts in opposite of natural black holes. Calchek then communicates them about a job to rescue a scientist who is working for Ferris Corp. They take the job but it’s a trap set by Alex Rook who leads the company, Dwarf Star on the planet they landed on. Two is apprehended and shut down due to a dampening field that affects her nanites. Alex explains to the crew what Two (Rebecca) is and promptly sends them on their way. The crew plan a rescue attempt using the android to infiltrate the facility while Alex performs a diagnosis on Two. After Two attempts to escape, Alex concludes she’ll need a new brain to reformat and they proceed with the surgery. Meanwhile, Five discovers a listening device she planted under the dining table before she was mind-wiped and collects it. At the facility, the android successfully shuts the field down and Two kills the surgical team before blowing the facility up. Alex, however escapes and is later seen visiting an old man in a solitary room connected to a machine. He declares Two and her crew will need to be dealt with because they know what she is. Alex also refers to a prototype that will replace Two. Back on the ship, the crew settle in as Five discovers on the tape she found that Two and Four agreed to kill one of the male members on the ship before they went into stasis. Later, someone is seen taking the shock stick and using it on the android, shutting her down.

The human condition as it relates to superior forms of life including androids is a staple of science-fiction storytelling. It deconstructs and analyzes thoughts and emotions that conflict with logical beings as well as beings that are inherently flawed when they’re supposed to be in effect, perfect. Two asks a barrel of these questions before finding out where she came from, and further still, long after she escapes. What I think the scientists on Dwarf Star fail to realize is that a flawed brain is exactly what a human brain is. When you create a human mortal, there is no such thing as a flawless brain. They were looking for issues like psychopathic problems of a sort and weren’t finding anything because the human brain is meant to be unstable in unique ways. What I think they were truly looking for was what it took to create a subservient soul that physically had no flaws and had the mind perform specific functions like a robot. Emotions flair this up all the time and it goes to show that just because Two murdered a lot of people doesn’t mean she preferred it or would always fall to it. Alex warned the crew that eventually Rebecca would turn on them, but I think it’s easy to disagree with that assessment because the power of friendship tends to overcome all, usually. In any case, it was a good start to a new path that Two is now facing. Let’s hope she can own her own actions and not feel compelled to lose herself to the rampage that she’s accused of being drawn toward.

The android’s holographic devil’s advocate returns and offers more candid thoughts on her position and status as the ship’s relevant synthetic life-form. In her passive way, she’s attempting to prove to a stronger more logical program that friendship is necessary, yet the hologram makes a point. The android looks human and humans are drawn to other human-like things. This isn’t always the case, because a voice in the machine works just as well in other storylines to build connections, but it can be argued a voice is just a human as any physical construct that appears the same. What’s significant is her drive to want to be accepted. It’s not that she doesn’t understand it, it’s that she’s persevering in spite of opposing information. Her act with shutting down the dampening field is a good analogy in that her struggles to shut down what keeps Two docile is the same as what’s keeping the android from breaking her own shackles on becoming more human-like. It’s good development, although I still question the use of a hologram duplicate. The same could be accomplished for any one of the crew members. Even Three could be ideal, mainly because he doesn’t care.

Five’s discovery sheds a little light on the crew’s prior personalities, and it goes to show that everyone aside from Six was basically in jerk-face mode before going into stasis. Four seemed to be somewhat in charge and was the deciding factor on Five staying on the ship. Afterward, he converses with Two about one of the male members needing to be killed. So the question remains, are they referring to One, Three, or Six? As far as theories go, they all have equal reasons though One stands as the likely suspect because he’s not the real Jace Corso and finding that out could easily earn him a trip through the space doors. More importantly, someone took out the android and though one might easily suggest it was five, the height of where the shock stick struck the android suggests it was someone else. But was it the same person that Two and Four conspired to kill? Or does one even have to do with the other? Maybe it was the hologram! No one ever suspects the hologram.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The android’s entire infiltration from start to finish. I like it. They found a perfect use for her and she played an integral part in Two’s escape. She’s proving to be more than just an asset and is trying to grow on her own. Plus she can still kick a lot of ass and that’s always a plus.

CHARACTER MVP

This was Two’s centric episode and it stands that she should get the MVP this time. She couldn’t fight against her own programming and killed the scientists when the dampening field was released so in a way she was proving to Alex everything he suspected. But in that I think from an acting point of view she showed a lot of vulnerability and tried to defy her captors in spite of her nature to hit first and ask questions later. True she resumed being stone-cold later, but at the time it was interesting to see how she reacted when her mechanism to combat her problems was taken away.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Evil scientist mocks the victim by slowly carving into her head. It’s classic but a little futile. I don’t think we needed a moment try and feel sorry for that particular guy because he lost a bunch of friends who Two killed. He’s a scientist on the villain team, he’s evil, nothing more needs to be described.

The white hole concept was pretty fascinating and I was hoping that’d play a bigger role in this episode, but hopefully it’ll come back in future ones.

If I were Alex, I would have killed the crew and not invite them for dinner and explain everything that Two is. I get the pleasantries and finding out what the crew knew, but he’s the kind of character that would have made that call instead of waiting for an old man to tell him what he basically already knew.

And speaking of the old man, is the prototype meant for him? What is the connection between Rebecca and him and what’s the endgame here?

Is one of the crew actually playing possum and remembers everything before the stasis? Seems arbitrary, but whatever the case may be, it’ll be interesting to see if someone actually genuinely betrays the crew or if this is all just a simple misunderstanding.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Pretty solid episode all around. Questioning one’s own human condition is necessary sometimes and with Two and the android they share something in common that I think supports the overall plot. Wil did fine for his bit part, hopefully he can make more appearances and be an enjoyable villain. No real nitpicks this time around. Not a perfect episode but it did leave us hanging as usual, which can be frustrating when you want things to wrap up smoothly. In any case, only one more episode left. We’ll see what secrets are unveiled and where the crew goes from here. Thanks for reading.

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×11 (Never create something technological with the word “hole” in it!)

Dark Matter 1x11

Continuing straight from the last episode, the crew of the Raza deal with their loss of Two as Wexler and his team attempt to rendezvous with another corporation to sell off the device. An unexpected problem with the ship’s FTL causes problems that result Five stepping up her game and the return of Two, who finally begins to understand what she is.

This was a vast improvement over the last episode in several ways, most notably the actions of an almost Terminator-like quality of Two, and Five getting her hands dirty but saving Two in the process. Shots felt tighter and flowed better from scene to scene along with some innocuous speech giving moment by One in an effort to rile of the men of the Raza. The action was pretty solid all around as well, making this a very well-rounded episode leading into a cliffhanger segment that’s sure to put the crew in dire straits from here on out.

After Two is jettisoned in space, Wexler apprehends One and attempts to gain information on loot that Jace Corso revealed to have stashed somewhere far away. One doesn’t know and Five is brought in with the threat that she’ll be tortured or worse if he doesn’t tell them. Wexler’s crew, however discover that the FTL drive is non-operational and Vons leaves in a space suit at Five’s suggestion to find and fix the problem. Vons is then somehow subdued and killed as Two makes her way back in the ship, unharmed. Meanwhile, One tries to convince Three, Four, and Six that they need to continue fighting if they are to survive. Another corporation arrives and boards the ship as Two and Tash engage in a brutal fight with Two killing her. She then begins systematically taking out the corporation team and is eventually caught by Cain, but Five kills him with a gun she had hidden away. After the corporate ship departs, Two forces Wexler to give her the code to open the vault and then spaces him not knowing what she really is. Later, the android informs her that she is some kind of bio engineered construct and will likely be hunted down if her true nature is discovered. All but One are shocked at her secret but later the device is handed over to the planet that needed it and after activating the device, it pulsates but something goes terribly wrong resulting in the planet’s entire destruction. The Raza crew barely escape but now are forced to content with this new development.

Two’s surgical strike was for me the highlight of this episode. Knowing she’d return because “main character” didn’t really detract from what she did after she was spaced. Knowing now that she’s an engineered being of course still raises questions but at least she doesn’t have to wear that bandage anymore. I do believe she’s at the crux of her character’s growth in that now she can question everything about her existence and will have to make some kind of call on how she’ll act form here on out. I think her connections with most of the characters will probably wane except with Five who she’s always looked after like an older sister. She can always choose to ignore her abilities and try to remain as human as possible, but that’s the point is we won’t know until she does it. It’s good that we finally got some information on her after all this time.

The men weren’t really given a lot to do in this episode but deal with being locked away. Although One did convince them to work together even in the face of futility, it was unfortunate that they didn’t fashion their own means of escaping or even finding more secrets in the vault. As much as I appreciate One’s attempt at sounding like a leader, I can never get past him always sounding like he’s whining. It’s hard to know if this is just a character flaw or if the actor just doesn’t have the range to change his style. Even the real Corso seemed like a silly attempt to show the actor’s ability to be gruff and serious. In any case, it was Three’s obvious denial that he cared that much for Two that helped put things in perspective. Wise moves that will hopefully continue to pay off in the future.

I’d like to think that this will be the last time anyone tells Five to hide in the vents. She’s holding her own and even under certain threats, she still manages to utilize what she knows or has access to to help her fellow crew members. Now that’s she actually killed someone I doubt she’ll suffer too much for it, but it’ll be interesting to see if maybe that changes her demeanor slightly. Her quest to belong is finally realized, but whether there’s a downside to it remains to be seen.

The ending scene suggests there’s some drastic repercussions to be had. Was that planet fully populated and what was the device designed to do? Was there instability within the planet and the device corrected it or was it designed to augment existing properties on the planet and then malfunctioned? Either way it appears the Raza will likely take the blame for this tragic event because you don’t just walk away from a planet exploding and not look like the culprits who caused it. It’s possible this ties into the last two episodes of the season, but then again, they could very well just move the Raza crew right along like nothing happened.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The fight between Two and Tash. It was just really well done. They didn’t pull any punches and it looked like both characters knew what they were doing. This kind of choreography should be a standard for all future one-on-one fights, plus I like how Two just threw Tash to the side after breaking her neck.

CHARACTER MVP

Between Two and Five I think Two gets the edge. Five did a lot of good things, but development wise, Two is undergoing an overhaul and is finally coming to terms with what she is. By choosing to space Wexler, she’s ignoring some of her more human aspects because right now it’s pointless to feel guilt or compassion toward villainous characters when she herself doesn’t understand what she truly is. Moving forward, I’d expect she’ll become more distant for the sake of not connecting emotionally, but it’s entirely possible the opposite could occur.

ENDING THOUGHTS

That android hologram wasn’t re-addressed in this episode so I imagine they’ll do something with it before the finale. It seemed like a great idea, but if it’s just tossed to the side as a meaningless plot point, I’d be surprised.

Whenever you need to accentuate a villain’s irritating personality, just stick a toothpick in his mouth, works every time.

Watching Four meditate within the vault while the carbon-dioxide built up reminded me of a Gundam Wing episode where Wufei did the same thing in a similar situation. Both popped up when the door opened too.

I’m actually really glad the corporate team’s armor actually absorbed/deflected Two’s bullets. It’s so rare to see an enemy’s armor do that these days, you know, function like it’s supposed to.

In bringing up Three’s feelings for Two, does this mean we’ll be seeing that love triangle they’ve been off-and-on teasing since this show began? Two may not be interested in either though at this point.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Everyone was on point in this episode and it was shot with precision and care. I didn’t feel there were any significant moments that didn’t fit or should have been dialed down. Two and Five continue to impress themselves and each other while the guys attempt to build on their camaraderie. The ending was literally explosive but I don’t know enough about this universe to understand if planets exploding is a thing or if it’s pretty unheard of. One way or another we’ll find out. Thanks for reading.

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A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×10 (Why can’t we all be frenemies?)

Dark Matter 1x10

Just when you thought the Raza would be boarded and its crew interrogated and tortured, they swerve and give us a thieving plot. The tenth episode of Dark Matter pairs our notable crew with another team, charged with stealing an unknown but important device from a station. After both teams encounter an unhealthy amount of drama, the plan is set in motion while the android begins a new assessment on her program by creating a holographic version of herself designed to track her every movement and decision. It’s a smash and grab with plenty of both to seal within this mostly standalone episode.

For the past few episodes we’ve been given ample backstory and intriguing plot to push our knowledge of the crew into expanding territory. Every now and again we’re given an episode that’s outside of that scope but keeps intact enough character development to move personalities along and maybe keep some things lighthearted along the way. Two’s attitude remains the same when confronted by overzealous masculine types while Five is given a chance to assert her worth on the crew. Technically the episode can be skipped based purely on over-arcing plot development, but with all episodes ending it snafu cliffhangers, it’s best to enjoy the episode for what it is: hijinks and mayhem.

The Raza avoid a nuclear strike against a pursuing vessel and are aided by the corporation that backed their play during the mining colony plot. They are given an assignment to remain sponsored and are told to steal a device with the help of another team. Both crews travel in the Raza and their leader mistakenly tries to pursue Two and ends up physically injured. This allows Five to take his place with her knowledge of electronic engineering. Once inside the station, both crews perform as intended and after a few hiccups along the way leave with the device in hand. Later on the ship, the other crew double-cross the Raza team and steal the ship and the device for themselves. In the final scene, Two is jettisoned into space.

The first few things to stand out are the resourcefulness of Two and Five with how Two handled the nuke missile and with how Five adapted through the issue with powering the door. Collectively they are showing their capabilities and proving why they are where they need to be on the crew. Most everyone else really didn’t come through with any particular “save the day” moments, but for the sake of hilarity, Four was best being put outside the group overtaking the door. He would have decimated the android easily had he been there, but no one knew. I thought Wexler might have touched on something about Two’s method for choosing mates, but ever since she started fraternizing with One, her attitude has been more monogamous as of late. Either way, his attitude earned him a beaten body proving even in space, some men are complete douche-bags.

There’s also a bit of relationship woes dividing One and Two up ever since he confronted her about speaking to the crew before her about the job. He gets some not-so soundly advice with how to treat their captain and she reacts by dismissing any future acts together for the time being. There are always some irrational behaviors in the drama that are relationships and as such One is realizing he can’t just cop an attitude with Two and not expect there to be some kind of retaliation. Every male that attempts to assert their dominance over her tends to be quickly squashed in one form or another.

The act of the job itself had its moments, mainly with the android problem which I thought was handled a bit poorly between everyone, but that was the point. When it was stated there’d be no weapons on the job, I thought something like this would occur, but the crew can’t always rely on weapons, good lesson to learn. Not knowing what the device really is is disappointing mainly because it doesn’t wrap up all the plot points in the same episode. It’s a typical formula to maintain watching episode to episode, but I would have liked to know something more than that a corporation desired to have it.

The android’s unique idea to create a holographic version of herself to assess her functions was a cool approach. One the good side, she’s learning to diagnose herself and is also proving to be resourceful just on her own, but the bad side is that it keeps her isolated and away from any plot that takes the crew outside of the ship. This gives her something to do and to stay relevant, but I’d like her to be more useful when its possible. The hologram’s quick vanishing act when Five came in does raise a question or two.

FAVORITE MOMENT

The android attack. This is the second time (that I remember) when they’ve used a fight sequence to trade banter between characters. It deflates the seriousness of the situation, but allows the crew to deal with the problem without being too eccentric or serious about it. I like that dynamic because it’s not often the jokes seem very spot on except in these kinds of skirmishes.

CHARACTER MVP

I think Two gets it for this episode. In dealing with the nuke attack, the new crew and of course the overlapping relationships between her friends, she’s been playing a constant balancing act while keeping her secret still at bay. It can’t always be easy for her, and the strain will eventually cause her to slip up on that secret, unless she comes clean before that happens. Still, she’s fighting the good fight, playing it safe when she needs to and conforming to the crew’s vote as well. Her renaissance nature showed in this episode.

ENDING THOUGHTS

It’s a shot in the dark, but did the android imagine her holographic twin? If so, could that be a side effect of her programming, or is the hologram just not supposed to be seen by anyone? Could be simple, but I still wonder.

That hipster Lannister pair were an odd bunch. Just when you thought they started to show some character, they didn’t. Shame.

I honestly don’t mind seeing Two spaced. I know something creative will happen that will allow her to survive, probably involving her genetic make-up, but if this show does have any moxy, they might afford to put away a cast member by season’s end. It doesn’t have to be Two, but it could show there’s no safety net on the show.

I don’t know why but I liked that Three was the one who gave up the code. I would have expected either One or Six to have done it, but that’s how you give jerk-like characters more substance by having them do unexpected things, usually compassionate in nature.

Five gets pass on her goggles this time, because she actually used them in a way that made sense.

OVERALL SCORE

This felt very average to me. The backstories and main plot were essentially put on hold to make way for a standard crew vs. crew tale which saw the double-cross a mile away. When shows can’t afford to put aside main arc plots, it’s compelling television, but when writers have to throw in these kinds of stories, I’m not as intrigued. Still, it allowed for some light-hearted moments and helped give Five something to do. The end showed promise for the next episode, but that’s what cliffhangers are designed to do. I know we won’t be spending an entire episode trying to search for a spaced Two, but it should move forward her ability which is something I’ve been clamoring for the last few episodes. 6 out of 10. Again, I’m not knocking the episode for doing what it did, it was just overtly dull to me. Thanks for reading.

No more words

Dark Matter and Hannibal reviews delayed

Hello all,

Apologies in advance, but I’ll be out of town for a while and won’t be able to get to my reviews for the remaining episodes of Hannibal and Dark Matter until I get back in early September.

When I get back, I’ll retroactively pick up where I left off and knock them out as normal. Again, sorry for the quick update for those that have come by each week and for any newcomers who have just discovered me.

See you soon.

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×09 (If Three was reading GOT, he’d still be waiting for book six, and crying)

Dark Matter 1x09

In the wake of learning our lesson that trust and honesty must be maintained by the group, Four acts just as Six did previously and leaves the crew to handle his father’s assassination personally. Upon being ceremoniously captured, Four and his former master must traverse a violent forest while recalling their once proud mentorship. The crew search for Four whilst dealing with the next stage of their trust issues including One’s secret grudge against Three and Six’s self-loathing over his own past which negatively impacts Five and her continued attempts to bond with the crew.

While not as generally impactful as last week’s episode, the stakes were nearly as high but on a more personal level. Feelings were more intimate and hurt while the build up toward Two’s inevitable secret will cause the most blowback when fate calls on it. Some elements were done very well and as always, they candidly wiggle in a moment or two of ironic humor. There are a few aesthetic concerns, but they only really tied to the episode at hand and not as a global problem of the show. All in all, a satisfying episode with a mild but decent shoot out and probably an unnecessary death scene, but I’ll get analytical on that later in the review.

After a supply run, Four leaves the crew to meet presumably with his brother on a remote planet but finds his old mentor and his soldiers there waiting for him. Four dispatches the soldiers but is taken captive by Akita. Meanwhile, One reveals to Two that he believes Three murdered his original personality’s wife and is harboring a grudge about it. Six feels miserable and self-loathing over both The General’s escape and his role with him and takes his frustrations out on Five, who laments she’s just as much a friend to the crew and everyone else is. Three and the android share a brief moment regarding her self-diagnostic and thoughts toward rebooting her system if she can’t find or fix the flaw in herself. Back on the planet, Four and Akita encounter local bandits but dispatch them. Once Akita’s other forces arrive to take in Four, the crew show up and a shoot out occurs with only Akita’s men suffering casualties. Akita decidedly lets Four walk his own path but promises to take him in should they meet again. Four then kills his mentor and returns to the ship. In the final scene, the Raza is subdued out of FTL and surrounded by three larger ships.

I’ll start with the moment that caught me off guard which was Four killing Akita at the end. This act can be viewed a couple of different ways and as such try to dig as deep as I can having just recently viewed it. My first rationalization was that Four can’t afford to have Akita return home and tip his hand about Four’s suspicion that his step-mother killed his father. This could inexplicably put his step-brother in harm’s way as I don’t think Four truly believes his brother had a part in his father’s death. That seems like the easy explanation, but I know there has to be more than that because I certainly don’t think Four needed to kill his mentor. Honor can be thrown about with what it means to surpass one’s own teacher, giving an honorable death in combat, and of course having owned his life since it was revealed Four saved Akita from execution all those years ago over a bad call during a battle we never got to see. Four certainly didn’t hate Akita and the two did share a form of father/son relationship based on Four’s inability to understand his own father and his harsh teachings. So what was the real motivation behind the kill? Was it to save face with the crew, or did Four think the crew would have killed Akita anyway? I think if that was the case, Four and Two would have had that talk during their last scene in her quarters. In my honest feedback, I’d say Four was wiping away all of his past connections to deal with moving forward on reclaiming his throne. Akita was, at best a neutral figure in this struggle and Four needs people he can fully trust. By telling Four he would bring him to the emperor if they met again, he was in fact sealing his own fate.

One and Three’s macho showmanship reached a pivotal moment, one that Two now has context into which is good because, when it comes to everyone else’s problems she can rationalize quite well. When it comes to her own, she just can’t deal with anyone’s input or judgment, at least not yet. When two characters genuinely dislike each other but keep saving each other’s lives, on purpose or not, it creates the ultimate buddy cop effect. These two share that dynamic and that’s good because without it, Three is just a solitary smart-ass and One is just a whiney kid with a high-school crush. Keep them on one another like this episode did and they’ll eventually become great allies. It displayed the subtext of friendship and camaraderie, something that both Two and Five mentioned to Six and Four. Their alliance is necessary for survival, but more than that, it’s imperative they start to become a family that looks out for one another, at least until Two’s secret blows everything out the airlock.

A few minor nitpicks as usual, but they’re again aesthetic and don’t distract from the overall tale. Four’s subplot has been given a lot of screen time and thus far has the most impact considering if it is resolved then Three’s judgment was right, they’ll have a powerful and influential ally with the resources to probably fix all their problems. Which is why I can’t imagine everything going as planned, or at the best, being postponed due to more critical concerns like being boarded by three large ships that have been searching for them.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I didn’t like it, but it I understood why it was done and that was Akita’s death. He was a fascinating character that had just as many layers as four did and Four killing him just seemed so villainous and the exact moment it happened. After reflecting, it made the scene more genuine because of all the subtext and flashbacks built in to get us to care about a character who wanted to do right but was locked in a position he couldn’t really get out of. If they can keep writing characters with this kind of complexity it will serve the show much more.

CHARACTER MVP

I think Akita should get it. He’s a minor character but one created on the foundation of maneuvering Four into those moments of character growth. He was a necessary catalyst and treated Four with dignity and respect while still proving to be a more capable opponent, which is always good to help measure a main character’s ability and prowess. Good acting and all around a tough character with honorable roots.

ENDING THOUGHTS

The weight lifting cracked me up and not in a good way. Watching One handle that puny 15-20 pound dumbbell in frustration was comical. Did he just steal that from the weight room or does he have a stack of those by his bed? Do you even lift, bro? And as for Six, you call those hammer curls? Your form was all wrong and Five has to be completely off her senses if she thinks surprising Six while he was benching what looked like 255 was a good idea. Safety first people.

As much as I appreciate the cuteness and the look of Five adding steampunk-flavored goggles to her already rebelliously flamboyant clothing style, I’m going to have to have to shake my head on that cliché and hope they don’t become a part of her outfit. I know, I know, I’m harsh, but they don’t need to sell her personality with any more flair, it’s fine the way it is.

By now I have to imagine that someone else on the crew will catch or find Two without her bandage on which will spark the debate on her attitude toward being honest with everyone. Five can keep a secret and Four likely won’t care, but it’s better if Six or Three finds out about it first. One just seems obvious, but since they’re kind of sort of being bed mates, you’d think he’d find out first just because.

I liked the brief take on Two and Three’s deduction with who realistically could have been the “bad guy” and wiped their memories, but the more they pinpoint it absolutely having to be one of the crew members I find it’s painfully obvious it was either the android (since she was purposefully not mentioned) or someone we haven’t met yet that’s either still on the ship or got off to avoid suspicion.

I keep seeing Wil Wheaton on the guest star list for this show but he still hasn’t shown up yet. Is he perhaps on one of the three ships that just overtook the Raza in space? He’ll fit right in. He start out in space after all.

Okay, here was my biggest nitpick of the episode. Twice, Four is surrounded by people who just casually walk into a circle from outside the woods. This is not smart choreography. Both Four and Akita are trained soldiers. They should spot enemies surrounding him from a mile away especially if they walk up and super casual like. Even the locals barely made the effort to appear as a threat. I just think if these guys dropped from the trees or I don’t know, used the land in some way to mask their arrival that could have made them a stronger threat. When Akita, a trained badass gives warning that the forest is full of problems worse than wild animals I was expecting something more than tiresome looking forest-folk who are just looking for some boots and money. Granted he said “after dark” but still. K, rant over.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Four’s storyline is one of my favorites because I like when they blend past and future cultures together. It’s not perfect by any means, but I like where it’s going, I just wish the step-brother was smart enough to understand that his mother blatantly spelled out for him that she killed the emperor. It’s okay, I’ll let that slide. Tonight’s episode had some decent sword fights and everyone on the ship is starting to get the picture that they are turning into a real focused group that depend on each other. Keep up this pace and they’ll be a really likeable crew in no time. I’d like to see if Six develops a drinking problem or falls off the deep end with his attitude, but since he’s already made amends with Five I doubt we’ll see him slip in any bad territory again until his enemy resurfaces. Overall, I like the episode, not quite as catchy and lavish as last week, but still a positive piece of the complete pie. Thanks for reading.

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×08 (It’s official. Four is a reincarnated ninja turtle)

Dark Matter 1x08

All space-hell breaks loose when the crew discover Six’s agenda with The General, which inadvertently reveals a secret One has been keeping. Mealworms are the cheaper food product and it turns out the android may have untapped feelings giving her a leg up on Data. The clone transit system plays a large role in tonight’s episode and by the episode’s end, we’re given a short glimpse into new problems which will undoubtedly test the crew’s vigilance in trust and companionship.

Hands down the best episode thus far. The very breadth of Science-Fiction really saturates this episode and it’s mystery sub-genre attacks and reveals new elements to our amnesiacs that really sell the need to keep watching and find out the truth. Some of the comedic elements were rather hit or miss, but the core of the plot and the substantial tail-end cliffhanger bumpers were handled with care and intrigue. Other nitpicks will be looked into later, but all in all, I had a lot of fun watching this episode. Let’s dive in.

Six is taken to a criminal group who have ties to The General, who he’s seeking. The group attack Six and are forced to kill him, though his body dissolves revealing he’s a clone. Flashback a few hours and the crew arrive at another space station for repairs and supplies. Six goes to a clone transit facility alone and travels to another station to find The General. After he is killed, Six goes back in for another search and this time infiltrates The General’s base. The crew send One and Four through the clone transit process to find Six. Four then discovers that One’s true face is different and that at some point in the past, One was surgically altered to look like Jace Corso, a memory or piece of knowledge he somehow retained. Six finds The General and kills his men then strangles The General to death revealing his nemesis is also a clone which dissolves. Back at the Raza, Two lectures the need to trust each other and not keep secrets but later is called out by the android, who after healing suggests that One tell the crew about her healing. Later, Four confronts his step-brother through a call and One researches his DNA match and discovers his original name along with a tragic history involving the murder of his wife and the suspect being Three.

As a Six-centric episode, I wasn’t as sold at first with his particular story, mainly because it’s the most cut and dry out of everyone on the ship. However the means by which he comes to and from are what really makes this episode fascinating. We finally get a look at how the clone-transit system works and a lot of questions get answered. For any who might have thought One was a clone that somehow beat the clock on longevity, that theory has now been squashed, which is fine, because sometimes guessing correctly too early can make mysteries a bit disappointing. Although, I did think there’d be side-effects if a clone went in to clone itself again and that’s why he looked different on the other side. Still, good job on the reveal.

Rolling back to Six’s plot, I think they missed a great opportunity to have a nasty fight between Six and The general. Instead, Six loses the hand cannon and strangles his enemy without a lot of fight. They could have capitalized on this scenario, but I understand the need to keep things simple. If The General had been a real person I would have found that ending very anti-climactic, but as it stands, good job on putting him one step ahead of Six. And it was a good point that Six not feel apologetic to the crew about what he did. It was personal and he didn’t want anyone involved. Even Two should have respected that kind of decision, which leads me into my next touchy subject.

Two is a complete control freak. Not that this wasn’t cornered earlier on the show, but it really resonates with a lot of evidence this time around. Even though I was rooting for One to finally have his passionate moment with Two, I find I’m regretting this decision for him in the act now that she wants to keep things “business”-like and even twists his arm to prove how full of anxiety she is. This is an important piece of her puzzle, I think because it shows how contradictory she can be, something One hasn’t really figured out yet. If she boasts about trust and relenting on spilling secrets, then why does she get to be the one who hides her own from the team? And if she’s trying to trust the crew, why is she in attack mode when she has to know that One is essentially the affectionate boyfriend-type? It’s great that she’s very perplexing as a main character, but this time her attitude had more negative qualities that everyone hasn’t quite caught on yet, except the android.

The final scene revealed a short summary of One’s past which I think has substantial value, not quite higher than Four’s past, but definitely up there. In the short moment of reflection he finds he had a wife and that she was murdered. He’s essentially a rich character as well but on the run and Three is the suspect in question. Now, the obvious routine is that Three is a red herring and either One is responsible himself or the evil party has yet to be introduced. One thing is for certain, he’s going to think twice before trying to kiss Two again now that he knows what he knows. Will he follow her advice and tell the crew what he knows, or keep it secret because that’s what people are prone to doing?

One other minor heartfelt moment is when Five explains to the recovering android that she essentially has feelings even though the android certainly doesn’t think so. They share a hug and for once I actually want to care about this synthetic character. I was never a fan of Lauren from Lost Girl, but this is different and she’s slowly adjusting to make sense. Were her feelings something that purposefully got buried or is she just acting on another subroutine to mislead the crew? Five continues to be her conduit to emotional ties and even understanding so it’ll be interesting to see how she evolves in the coming episodes.

FAVORITE MOMENT

When Four discovers One has a different face after they emerge from the Transfer Transit pods. It was a good twist in that for a moment, we didn’t know what to think. Was it surgery? Was it a clone gone wrong? Was it a clone of a clone? And then Four punched him in the face. Great moment all around. I still don’t understand how he can just “know” that he changed his face to look like Corso, but I’ll let it slide unless I missed the exact explanation of it, in that case, cool.

CHARACTER MVP

Slightly tough. The episode was about Six, but I don’t think Six really came through as the top actor. I think this week I’m giving it to Four. He did two uncharacteristic things tonight that generally go against his nature and add a bit more layers to his standoffish attitude.

  1. He’s the one who convinced Three to rejoin the crew for R&R. Since Five had to have her moment later with the android, Four was essentially the only other one who had any solitary time with the guy and he took it upon himself to coax Three into leaving his quarters.
  2. He took the discount by admitting he and One were “a couple.” It was supposed to come off as funny, but there wasn’t that extra moment where they have to awkwardly prove that they were. It fell flat, but the point is Four was trying to save money and that really isn’t something I expected him to care about considering at this point they seem to have plenty of it.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Four has practiced with a sword, sais, and nunchaku. Throw the staff in there and he’s essentially skilled in the weapons of the ninja turtles. Plus his number is “Four”. Just throw in a pizza joke and we’re all good.

Why can’t Wendy be reprogrammed to be a good android like the other one?

If the clones can only exist for a few days, does The General essentially run to and from his transfer-transit facility all the time or was this just a one off because he knew Six was coming after him?

Okay, if I calculate the projected year Star Wars: 36 came out and I allow three years between each movie since SW07 that puts SW36 at about the year 2102. If it’s a “classic” that usually adds about 30 years making the year of Dark Matter present at 2132. Hmmm, no that still doesn’t sound right. I’d probably throw in another hundred years easy, but then again, they still use typical thin screen monitors on their PC’s so 2132 does still seem like an easy bet. Nah, it’s probably at least 2300 or so.

The same news-lady seems to keep reporting all their interesting news stories. Coincidence? Or sinister game afoot?

The monitor screen with Derrick Moss’s info reads as follows:

“CoreLactic Industries President and CEO, Derrick Moss, heir to the Moss fortune, headlined a charity drive for the galaxy’s underprivileged children last night on Alpha Centauri Bb. Along with his wife Catherine, Mr. Moss encouraged attendees to donate generously to the cause. The Mosses themselves have donated a whopping 10 trillion bars, and through their influence, CoreLactic Industries has donated an additional 30 trillion.”

“Mr. Moss said in his speech that, “85% of children in the galaxy live in poverty, entire families subsisting on less than a bar a day. It is the responsibility of those of us in positions of political and financial power to try and eradicate galactic poverty in whatever way we can.”

“Outside the event a crowd of anti-corporate demonstrations gathered to protest the event, holding signs and chanting anti-corporate slogans. One demonstrator, who declined to give her name, explained that, “the multi-corps are to blame for the disparity in the first place. They need part of the galaxy to stay poor. Events like this are all spin.”

OVERALL SCORE

9 out of 10. It’s a high score because I really felt this episode had a lot of substance, and though some of the jokes were a bit miss for me, I respect the need to give these characters lighthearted moments because they’re wound up pretty tight from episode to episode. The transfer transit system is a vital piece of technology and I like the concept of it. It allows for a lot of cat and mouse games that were demonstrated tonight and I’m certain it will be utilized again in the future. I expect one of the characters to suffer from it’s overuse but it’s hard to say which one it will be although Six is a good candidate. You don’t just casually mention the side effects without injecting it into a plot later on, right? All in all, enjoyable storyline though I would have liked a more epic fight between clone general and clone Six. Until next week, thanks for reading.

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×07 (Dubstep made it to space? Figures)

Dark Matter 1x07

The Raza crew finally opened the big scary door. What was inside helped them in a pinch, but also created dilemma which included some much needed backstory for the resident gun-loving anti-hero, Three. Australian model turned artist, Ruby Rose guest stars as the luscious and fiendishly clever entertainment robot, Wendy, who creates this episode’s provocative and enjoyable subterfuge plot.

At first, I was rolling snake-eyes at One’s bumbling and constant awkwardness over his fixated emotions on Two, but as the episode bobbed and weaved through Three’s mercenary with a heart subplot, One and Two finally found common ground which routinely elevated their feelings at the right place, but still the questionable right time. Wendy was a fresh delight as she infiltrated the unsuspecting crew with the exception of Two. Three and Sarah’s relationship was touching for the time allotted and Sarah’s end to the story was exceptionally emotional considering the efforts in attempting to save her. This was another story based squarely inside the ship and helped build more connections with the crew that proves to be the strongest formula the show has exhibited thus far. Nitpicks aside, this was initially a well balanced episode with some genuine funny moments that remind us that this show doesn’t always have to take itself too seriously.

Five remembers the name Maplethorpe as the door code and informs the crew who use it to unlock it. Once inside they discover supplies, munitions, money, and two bodies. One is in stasis and the other is a disassembled entertainment robot named Wendy. Sarah, the woman in stasis is revived but also suffering a terminal illness brought on from the mining done on her planet. She recognizes Three as the man she rescued and nursed back to health. They fell in love and he vowed to find a cure for her illness and brought her aboard the Raza. Three reconnects with her while Wendy attempts to satisfy the crew by cooking and pleasing various members of the crew including One, who attempted to continue pursuit with Two with no positive result. Wendy eventually turns on the crew and reveals she was sent by a man named Cyrus King, who is getting revenge on the crew for what they did to his. Wendy attempts to fly the ship into a nearby star but is eventually thwarted and disassembled. Three attempted to put Sarah back in stasis as her conditioned worsened but damage to the ship caused power shortages resulting in Sarah’s death in the stasis pod. Later, Two finds One in his quarters and the two presumably have sex.

In my honest opinion, the start of the episode had me cringing bad, because of One and Two’s inability to communicate properly with each other. Two clearly isn’t modest and One couldn’t help but continue to sneak peeks and eventually try and make a move the second he found out she and Three were no longer “seeing” each other. It was a disaster for One and frankly it felt like a disaster watching him crash and burn, again. But luckily the plot of the episode picked up and really made up for it.

Wendy’s role was simple but effective. I wonder if the choice to let her use her normal accent was preferred or if she just sounded better with it. In any case, the role of the infiltrating guest star isn’t new, but spins on the tried and true method can produce positive results. In this case, the underlying theme was the android and the crew understanding and appreciating what she does for the ship. Five was the one who only really recognized and spoke to her about it, but it was a meaningful step in treating her as more than just an extension of the ship. Several questions as to how Wendy got on board are raised. Did she belong to any of the crew specifically? How did this Cyrus character manage to sneak it on-board. And of course the most obvious question, why didn’t she just kill each member of the crew when they were alone? It’s not a glaring plot hole persay, but if she had the programming to fight, she could have broken all their necks easily, one at a time. I imagine Cyrus wanted to gloat and make them aware of their demise at his hands which does make sense albeit foolish considering it didn’t work. Still, she was a fun character to have on the show and I wonder if it’s her only appearance.

Three’s backstory was definitely something I suspected. Not necessarily the actual plot but the idea that in the past his personality was more genuine and kind to the right people, thus making his present personality the real jerkface. It helped deconstruct him a bit and ultimately the moment he really made a significant change was when he didn’t blame One after One felt guilty over what happened. Three did some humane things earlier, but they were more heat of the moment scenes and at that point he had enough time to really reflect on her death and react in a way she would have wanted. This only thing this conflicts with is in the previous episode when Three was about to blast Five out of the airlock. I get the attitude but I dunno, it seemed counter-productive a bit after seeing how he truly cared for Sarah. You’d think he wouldn’t go around spacing young girls because they happened to stowaway on a ship. But there’s a lot we still don’t know about what happened in the past.

The android is still a complete mystery to me. I want to analyze her personality more and more, but I find it may just be better to hold off until we know more about her creator and mission outside of what she does for the crew. On the one hand, she has some innate obsession with bonding with the crew and will throw in subtle to obvious hints on the matter. In this case, she attempts to perform similar traits to Wendy like changing her accent and attempting to be sexier by having her suit unzipped a few inches more than normal. Again, Five caught onto this and expressed her gratitude for the android’s help, but that’s just one person, the whole crew will have to eventually catch on and start treating her as a normal person. I’d say she deserves a name, but none of the crew have even graduated officially to that stage yet and just won’t accept their previous identities no matter what.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Probably the fight between Three and Wendy. It wasn’t intense or anything wild like that, but the tongue-in-cheek references to the “donut” comments were actually funny because I can see Three being distracted enough to question the validity of the term while trying to kill his enemy. Good moment, there should be a few more like those peppered throughout the show.

CHARACTER MVP

Three gets the spot this time. Wendy was awesome and dressed to impress, but she was essentially a tool to help move the plot along. Three went through actual development and is now starting to show signs of compassionate qualities. Whether they last or not is the real question, but he may start to show more signs of it as time goes on, which hopefully is the call they make. I’m certain if he sees it as weakness he’ll hide it by getting rambunctious again and hating on One and pretending not to care about anything, which people like Five and Two will probably see through, because intuition.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Unless those were magical thumbs, a standing backrub of that nature should have done absolutely nothing for Four’s shoulder. The was the absolute most basic form of shoulder massage you can possibly do with little to no effort.

I’m glad they’re still showing consistency with Two’s bandage, but unless that thing’s waterproof she probably shouldn’t have been wearing it immediately out of the shower.

Why build in pleasure receptors on a robot? That opens up a lot of questionable ideals and morality concerns considering if they can feel pleasure they have to be able to feel pain and if they can think for themselves then…well it’s Bicentennial Man all over again.

Is Cyrus a genuine villain or is what he did justice for what the Raza crew presumably did to him and his crew? This could get murky, but I lean toward Cyrus being a typical bad guy. It’s good that there isn’t a singular villain on this show and there’s villainy all across the cosmos. It keeps them on their toes.

The reason why that door was locked has yet to be known. Right now it doesn’t seem to make sense that a lot of standard items, even weapons, would require a special holding room that’s coded unless there was something really super-secret someone was trying to hide. This method allows for several episodes where they uncover different things that propel the show forward, but so far it wasn’t what I was expecting. With a show called “Dark Matter” I’d have to consider that what’s locked away is the very thing the show is called. And real dark matter is no joke.

Will One and Two make three? Sorry, had to say it, I can’t be the only one who thought that, right? Oh, I didn’t mean three as in Three, I meant…*sighs* nevermind. Moving on.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out of 10. It had some funny moments and a bit of genuine heartache over the death of Sarah. The episode was self-contained and manage to unlock part of the mystery with what was hidden in the locked room. I appreciated Three’s development and liked he finally showed some heart. I hope it lasts for his sake. An new off-screen bad guy was introduced along with an exotic guest star that helped soften the serious moods of our cast. The only parts where I felt it didn’t deliver were the plot to drive the ship into the sun which was a bit too James Bond-style for me, the android’s contradictory attitude between wanting to be viewed as important but being a robot and not caring one way or the other. And of course the entire first scene which to me was a colossal mess. Not that it wasn’t acted in the best way, but the scene itself drew too many awkward cringe-induced moments that luckily were settled by the episode’s end. And the door closing was a good finishing touch. One and Two are now a couple, but how long will it last and will Two’s past cause issues with this later? Just as importantly, will One’s past do the same thing, after all, he is a clone, correct? Or is that just the red herring? Either way, good episode this week. Thanks for reading.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×06 (So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?)

Dark Matter 1x06

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.

FAVORITE MOMENT

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.

CHARACTER MVP

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.

ENDING THOUGHTS

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.

OVERALL SCORE

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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A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 1×05 (Some space zombies still know karate)

Dark Matter 1x05

Sci-Fi has a tricky gift in that it can usually absorb other genre’s without diluting the core aspect of it’s root tone. You can get great combinations like Blade Runner (a futuristic noir tale) or Event Horizon (horror in space). When a show tries to pull this off, it can be both entertaining and disastrous depending on the approach and plot. Tonight’s episode of Dark Matter opted for a standalone treatment that introduces a rather tired look at the zombie in space concept. The concept and mythology of the show twists more corporate agendas in the background while the cast contend with ravenous crew members aboard a derelict freighter. And for two episodes in a row, Two discovers something new about herself and we discover she’s not as into the nice sensitive guys as one was hoping.

I wanted to like this episode because I’m a huge zombie fan, but this wasn’t the best platform to try and experiment in the horror cliché quite so soon. The show is still trying to figure itself out and the only consistency thus far have been the characters, which we’re still deciding if we truly like or not. The setting and tone of the series jumps from one episode to the next with snippets of a bigger story that will be coming into play, yet there still isn’t a solid grasp of scope on this series. At any point, I half expect to find out that Five is really a princess from a land not quite dissimilar to Druidia. Before they start pumping in different types of experimental cross-genre plots, I’d like for them to be more consistent in their story telling and really flesh out these characters. This isn’t a show you can be episodic with like ST TNG, there’s an ever growing plot here and we really haven’t received our baseline yet on what this show is trying to tell us.

The Raza crew receive a message from a disgruntled benefactor who had given them the original job with taking out the miners. They receive a new mission to find and return a freighter no questions asked. After locating the ship, they dock and discover bodies, mangled and torn up. One crew member attacks and bites Two in the neck. She is quarantined back at the Raza as the crew find out the freighter had contact with a planet that was off limits due to a virus that was created through the misuse of the planet’s resources thought to make humans immortal. One and Three are cut off and trapped on the freighter while the android attempts to research a cure for Two. One and Three fight off against several infected crewmen and rejoins with Six piloting the marauder. Later, Two is scanned and found no longer infected for unknown reasons. That night, she observes the wound on her neck has mysteriously healed. Other subplots include One and three arguing over the deal Three forced One to make regarding the real Jace Corse. Five shows the android the card she found near the dead boy which is revealed to be some kind of mechanism to access parts of space. And Two has been sleeping with Three, much to the disappointment of One.

The plot as a whole wasn’t solid or well thought out. Firstly, you can’t just half-ass the zombie idea. Now granted, they weren’t “resurrected” persay, but you can clearly draw parallels with Resident Evil when you add words like “virus” and “corporation” into the mix. The crewman who fought Two confused the situation because if there’s a root need to feed, the crewman wouldn’t fight her like he did. It just doesn’t overwrite that core need to eat and sustain hunger. If the crewman tried to fight off the virus while attacking that would have made more sense, but it had already succumbed to it. The rest of the crew acted as though they were already dead and only being powered by the brain to tear flesh with teeth.

Secondly, I always find it peculiar how some space shows understand the physics of what happens when there’s a hole in a ship and what that would actually do, and those that don’t. One and Three would have been completely sucked out, no questions asked. And the build up of carbon dioxide would have made them weaker. When they passed out, they really shouldn’t have woken back up with enough strength to do what they did before the oxygen came back on. That’s just main character syndrome kicking in and Three hasn’t earned that right quite yet.

I kind of want to dive into Two mentality with sleeping with Three so suddenly, but I think there’s aspects we just don’t understand quite yet. It could be that the friction caused by One put her in a weird spot so her only method to distance herself was to sleep with the most despised character on the show to keep One from pursuing her. Or, she’s trying to gain Three’s trust to such a degree that he’ll be more receptive to whatever agenda she has. Or, her moral compass has been flipped and she’s trying to figure out for herself what she’s capable of, good or bad. That could be an interesting take, but considering she once more went to Three after the virus incident, it’s rather obvious she’s looking for a short series of no-strings-attached, where she can get what she wants and not have to worry about a relationship because that just complicate things. I have to give points to One who not only feels the competition rise, but actually believes he’ll still win out in the end. Though, his pursuit isn’t really justified because she’s not consistently showing him the same moral qualities that he found attractive to begin with. Maybe that’s the whole exercise here.

The subplot with the key card has to just go in the back of my head until something new happens. The breadcrumbs continue but the interest is very limited. And they can only face the vault door so many times and “not” open it before I start to lose interest in what’s within it entirely. I give it three more episodes. If they don’t open by then, I give up on that subplot.

FAVORITE MOMENT

I liked the ending scene with Two discovering she has an unexplainable healing factor. If that didn’t happen I would have really given this episode a low score because they almost completely dismissed the reason why Two was immune to the virus. She’s essentially a female Wolverine, as I’m reminded of the 90’s era cartoon of X-Men when Cable infected Wolverine with the techno-virus. Wolverine’s healing took out the virus and created anti-bodies that rendered the virus useless. But I digress. Two has some kind of accelerated healing or possibly something similar that keeps her from sustaining wounds which opens up all sorts of questions.

CHARACTER MVP

I can’t say anyone really stood out this time around except for One. He saved Three’s life when he didn’t have to, and declared that maybe he isn’t lost in the make-believe competition to win Two’s heart. At least he’s not backing down in his own mind even after finding out Two slept with Three. Sometimes that can affect the pursuer when events like that go down.

ENDING THOUGHTS

I’d like to get a roundabout figure with how many corporations exist in this universe. I believe we’ve been introduced to two in person and one by name giving it three total, unless I missed another one somewhere. I keep thinking there’s four total for some reason, but it’s likely a higher number considering the sheer size of space and that FTL exists. I do wonder who holds the patent for FTL in this storyline and how long its been around.

The android is trying, I get that. She throws in one or two human-like responses that come off as awkward or misinterpreted. It’s endearing and the motif is well recognized, but sooner or later they need to give her a background that helps us understand the character better. Even Data had a thorough past that gave great insight into his nature as an android. Oh, and she needs a new name.

Speaking of names, shouldn’t characters like these pick alternate names at this point? If they want to distance themselves from their murderous, piratey profiles, it’s okay to call yourself Joe or Joan, or even Green-Haired-Short-Nightmare-Lady. Number designations seem a bit trite after a few episodes.

No more breakfast/lunch/dinner gatherings about complaining about the quality of food. That’s tired and reminds me of The Matrix. Move on to other space cliché’s. And why are they so insistent on eating together anyway? Shouldn’t Four and probably Three just eat on their own or not interact as much based on their personalities? They’re not family quite yet.

Not a single character said to shoot the infected crewmen in the head. Interesting observation considering shooting anyone in the head renders them pretty inert instead of just pumping them with lead.

OVERALL SCORE

5 out of 10. It had a beginning, middle, and end, but that’s about as far as I’ll take it. Had the crew of the Raza went to this planet and did a little more digging instead of being told to locate a derelict freighter, that could have been more flavorful and interesting. But I get it, budget and what not. By not adding anything different like lingering human qualities in the infected crewmen that could have added emotional triggers for the crew, or style up the makeup so the infected look more unique, this episode suffered a very standardized tale that never really put me in the zone to care much about the result of this plot. I never believed Two was in any real danger because it’s not time to sacrifice a main character so soon. Even Ned Stark got to the ninth episode before he got whacked. (Spoilers, sorry). Two and One’s rocky relationship just skyrocketed to “sleeping with the annoying guy for any one of a dozen reasons” that will continue to make things strange for half the crew moving forward. It’s just an odd time to start introducing that kind of drama, which I’m all for, as soon as we start caring about these guys and girls and aside from Five and kind of Six, I’m just not quite there yet. I’d like Four a lot more if he wasn’t so self-centered. Baby steps to greatness, but we’ll get there, hopefully. See you next week and thanks for reading.

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