This review contains spoilers for the most recent episode.
I know the members of the Raza crew have presumably been on a path of redemption thus far, but with the enjoyable “heist” aspects of the latest Dark Matter installment, “Episode Ten,” I couldn’t help but wish for more criminal capers like this. Performing under duress this time, it made sense for them to go along with the planned theft, and thankfully, it neither unfolded in predictable ways nor developed into a replay of their earlier similar mission to the ghost ship in Episode Five. With three installments to go, hopefully this new dynamic will lead to a reckoning for these former mercenaries.
The addition of a new team of hardened criminals provided a nice contrast to the “tabula rasa” team of protagonists, almost providing the audience with an idea of what they might have been like before their memories were wiped clean. I’m glad Two recognized the oh-so-convenient circumstance of the Mikkei Combine coming to their rescue in the opening scene. Obviously, their initial decision to assist the mining planet led directly to the debt the crew now owes the corporation that saved them from Ferrous Corp the first time. Combined with the action-packed sequence of running directly into the path of a nuclear warhead, the episode certainly started strong.
The resentment the other mercs must have felt in having to work with the Raza gang was palpable as the two teams began to work together; the only question for the viewers was how it would blow up in their faces. The disabling of the other team’s leader and main safecracker was a brilliant way to include Five in the operation, and this built nicely on previous conversations Six has had with the youngest crew member about staying out of the ne’er-do-well life she stumbled into. Five, however, obviously sees the crew as a family bound by their common memory wipe, and this provided a chance for her to prove her worth.
The heist itself wasn’t overly complicated but provided just enough tension to keep me leaning towards the television throughout. I especially enjoyed the unexpected presence of the security android and how it led to the draining of the power source needed to bypass the final obstacle to the item they were there to steal. Regrettably, I was reminded once more of the more scarecrow-like android of Zoie Palmer by comparison, and I can’t help but wonder how another actor might have come across in the role.
Having said that, the Raza’s android delivered an interesting twist with her scene opposite a virtual “default mode” companion. In an unexpected continuation of the investigation into her own mysterious personality, the addition of another version of the character provides some intriguing possibilities. I must admit, I thought the virtual android would somehow spring to the team’s rescue in the end, but perhaps that prediction is still on the table.
Or perhaps Two’s secret healing powers will aid her with her shocking ejection into space from the airlock. What a way to end an episode! The betrayal of the other mercenaries was not all that surprising, but I’m pleased that the writers didn’t rehash the idea of rejecting the mission once the item they’ve been sent to steal reveals its morally questionable purpose. Instead, the mysterious item is left as an unknown, and the motivation becomes the huge bounty on the heads of the Raza crew.
As a result, this episode almost feels like the first of a two-part sequence, and I like that. The stakes are high, the cliffhangers are satisfying, and the characters have well-established arcs at this point. Occurrences from earlier episodes have had their payoffs, and any loose ends that remain appear to have the promise of being tied up neatly. As the summer season comes to a close for many science fiction offerings, I hope I’m not proven wrong in having high hopes for Dark Matter.