I have to confess I’ve been hoping for another iteration of Stargate on television ever since we were left hanging with Stargate: Universe’s unresolved ending. Even though it had a very different feel from the previous two incarnations, they all had more in common than just machines that make wormholes.
First and foremost were the characters, who were all lovable in their own way. Then, you have a great vehicle (no pun intended … or is it?) in the Stargate itself, which opens up the galaxy for our characters. Mix the two with new adventures each week involving great villains, alien worlds, and a huge helping of humor and you’ve got a winner. That formula created a successful multi-year, multi-series franchise that’s still beloved today.
Dark Matter has all of these ingredients mixed perfectly. Then it goes one step further and tosses in lots of mysteries – some big, some small. These little “what the heck?” moments spark our curiosity and have social media abuzz with theories. Thanks to sharp writing, most of us are left guessing until the actual reveal.
And the reveals are just another strength of the series. Unlike some shows, Dark Matter actually gives you answers so you’re not left wondering … possibly forever. Some answers come faster than others, but there’s a plan to it all that leaves us feeling pretty damned satisfied.
If you’re not convinced, think about the season one finale. It could be argued that it both was and wasn’t a cliffhanger. We could’ve been in the dark about who the mole was, hanging from that cliff for all those months. Instead, we were offered the satisfaction of at least knowing the “who”, just not the “why”. And in learning the “who”, the “why” became an even more insane question. One that has yet to be answered.
As I said before, the foundation of a good TV show rests firmly on the characters. If you’ve got a show full of bland characters, all the plot twists in the world aren’t going to draw you in. If you don’t care about the people in a show, you’re not going to care what happens to them. The entire cast of regulars on Dark Matter comprises a group of truly memorable characters, acted to perfection.
ONE (Jace Corso), while seeming a bit unassuming at first, turned out to be an imposter who was trying to avenge the murder of his wife. Marc Bendavid also gets to occasionally break a little Orphan Black and play both ONE and Jace Corso, the man whose face he stole.
TWO (Melissa O’Neil) has a commanding personality and almost immediately became the de-facto commander. She takes no crap, but does take the time to listen to her fellow crewmates. She’s also very protective of her crew and uniquely qualified. Since she’s a custom bioengineered human with helper nanites running through her body, TWO is more than capable of kicking all the ass.
THREE (Anthony Lemke) is the snarky one who always seems to be eating and looking out for #1, but he’s really a softy inside. He’s got some of the best comeback lines in the show and is never at a loss for words … or guns. It’s funny how much he was hated by fans when the show premiered yet is now one of the most beloved of the group.
FOUR (Alex Mallari, Jr.) can be summed up in one word: Intense! And yes, it needs the exclamation mark. Dude woke up that way, and over the course of season one, we learned why he’s so focused. Being heir to the throne of an empire, then being cheated out of it by being framed for murder, of his own father, no less, would give anyone a reason to be intense. Oh, and having your memory wiped would piss anyone off.
FIVE (Jodelle Ferland) is the odd man, or girl in this case, out. She’s the Little Stowaway That Could. This girl can seemingly fix anything and she’s always tinkering with gadgets even if she doesn’t know what they are. She’s brilliant, yet innocent, and her innocence stands in contrast to the rest of the crew.
SIX (Roger Cross) is the moral compass of the Raza. Level-headed, slow to anger, and thoughtful, he was naturally drawn to a protective role of FIVE. If TWO is the “Mom” of the Raza, then SIX is the “Dad”. That is, if you like your dads with a big streak of Backstabber Syndrome. It’ll be interesting to see how his actions in the season one finale play out during season two.
ANDROID (Zoie Palmer) serves a role much like Teal’c in Stargate, or Mr. Spock on Star Trek, or that of several other very popular characters in scifi shows – She’s the outsider who’s trying to make logical sense of human emotion. The irony, though, is that she’s also becoming more human-like as she interacts with her fleshy companions.
Devon (Shaun Sipos) and Nyx (Melanie Liburd) are new regulars for season two. Devon’s got a shady medical background, but a doctor is much-needed with this bunch. Well, except for TWO and ANDROID I suppose. Nyx to me is kind of an unknown. I have a feeling she’s going to butt heads with TWO and THREE for very different reasons.
Then there are the recurring characters like the sleazy Tabor Calchek (David Hewlett), the seemingly honest, decent Galactic Authority Commander Lt. Anders (Jeff Teravainen), and the cold, calculating Mikkei Combine Commander Truffault (Torri Higginson). Let’s not forget the evil Alexander Rook (Wil Wheaton) or season two’s Arax Nero (Mike Dopud). All these characters are not only memorable, but played by fan favorites, often from our beloved Stargate franchise.
Dark Matter is possibly the most fan-accessible show ever made. I honestly can’t think of another show where fans can get almost daily updates from the person in charge. Joe Mallozzi blogs daily, and he’s very generous with information about the show that may tantalize and tease, but never spoil. Honestly, I think he kind of likes torturing us with tidbits of info, but we love it. Were I to find myself in his shoes, I’d do the same.
But the information flow isn’t just one-way. We, the fans, have gotten to vote on all of season two’s episode titles. We’ve also been asked to weigh in on matters like starship designs. And I ask you – what other show has ever offered so much fan input? And, more importantly, used the fans’ selections in the show? You can be actively involved in the creation of Dark Matter simply by checking Joe’s blog every day!
It has a quality that we love in our scifi – it’s come to be known as “Bingeworthiness”. At least that’s what I’m calling it. All serialized storytelling seems to feel just that much more satisfying when you can binge-watch, and Dark Matter is eminently qualified. So get your butt over to Netflix, or better yet, buy season one on Blu-ray or DVD from Funimation.
I’ve just run through my 3rd rewatch/binge of season one and not only does it continue to entertain, but I’m still catching little things I somehow missed before. Sometimes it’s as simple as a facial expression, but the more intimately acquainted you become with the story, the more the little things that seemed previously unimportant become telltale signs of things to come. You get a lot of “Aha!” moments that are really fun to catch.
This is only a partial list of questions brought up in season one. These are just the ones that really stick out in my mine. If you have others I’ve missed, please leave them in the comments so we can all wonder together!
- What’s up with the “pockets of extra-dimensional space” and did the tech that blew up a planet have anything to do with it?
- We know TWO was engineered by Alexander Rook’s Dwarf Star Technologies and named “Rebecca”, but to what end?
- Was Creepy Darth Vader’s Grandpa who told Rook the crew must all die the reason for the research on bioengineered people? Is he looking to get a fresh, new ride to replace his ventilator-ridden body? Basically, who is this guy?
- When TWO was held in his lab, did Rook possibly do anything to her? Might he somehow use her against her will?
- The Ishida Empire mess is still just that – a mess. And FOUR is looking to make things messier. What are the juicy details behind stepmom’s betrayal and will Ryo retake the throne? Will his brother, who obviously cares for him, ever be anything more than a clueless pawn?
- Who really killed Derrick Moss’ wife and why?
If you hadn’t before, now you’ve got plenty of reason to check out Dark Matter. If you’re already a fan, I know you’re dying to get back in space and see where the Raza takes us next!
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Dark Matter will return July 1, 2016 on Syfy and Space