This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.
Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 10
For longtime viewers of Dark Matter, the story that unfolds in “Built, Not Born” is one that had been anticipated for quite awhile, and the payoff is quite satisfying. Tying the Dwarf Star transhumanist efforts with Two (whom they know as “Rebecca”) together with the origins of the Android seems obvious in retrospect, but it was a great resolution to one of the most enduring mysteries of the series so far. Although the season-long arcs were again put on hold just like last week, the interlude was a welcome one, and if previous experience holds true, it may all just relate in the end anyway.
To start off, Three’s reluctance to help Android’s “robot friends” must be applauded for several reasons. First, it reflected what would otherwise have been an awkward pivot from seemingly more important matters, like following up on Six’s idea of taking sides in the corporate war. Second, it allowed Three to have an ironic and painful discussion with Sarah about machines not being alive. And third, his later apology to Android for his prejudicial attitude and tendency to speak without thinking gave her the smile-inducing line, “It’s one of the things I like about you.”
Of course, Android borrowed that line from Six who reminds her, and simultaneously the audience, that despite what we learn of her origins in this episode, she’s far from an imperfect imitation but rather her own being with unique variations. When Six says, “You’re more than just a series of programmed responses. You’re an original. And that’s what we love about you,” he might as well be speaking on behalf of the viewer.
That’s especially true once we find out that her creator — and the creator of Victor and the others — looks just like the Android we know and love for a reason. Dr. Irena Shaw was not only a disgruntled Dwarf Star employee who felt the super-soldier program that designed Rebecca was inhumane; she also grew to love the woman she helped create (fans of Zoie Palmer in Lost Girl were likely all a-flutter). That love likely allowed her to see the potential in giving emotional, self-aware androids the one last ingredient they needed to make them people: free will. The mystery of Android’s origin could not have been more poignant, a story filled with romance and tragedy.
The latest episode of our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast:
The part that Victor plays is also wonderfully nuanced, both in his helpfulness in unlocking some of Android’s memories and in his secretive motivation for calling for help in the first place. The first red flag that Victor wasn’t telling the whole truth should have been when Ruac, who had been shot in the head, was revived and shouted, “It was wrong!” Clearly he had objections to Victor killing Anya’s former owner. Did he remove Ruac’s emotion chip to force the “required” self-termination? It even throws into doubt whether Anya’s suicide was preventable! Does Victor have justification for his actions, or is he going down a dark path?
This is especially troubling given that he now has a Sarah android at his side. It wasn’t his idea to use Dr. Shaw’s technology this way, but he obviously sees it as an opportunity. And the Galactic Authority wouldn’t pop away from the corporate war or the conflict between Zairon and Pyr for no reason. So what is it about Sarah having a human mind combined with a stronger “superior physical construct” that will further Victor’s cause, whatever it might be? A truly compelling new mystery!
It was also a nice touch to have Dr. Shaw’s caretaker, Chase, look exactly like Arrian, the diplomatic android who had a bit of a crush on the blonde Five in Dark Matter’s season 2 finale. Chase’s suggestion that Android could be tweaked elicits an enjoyable defensiveness in Five, who rightly says that she likes this version better. So do we, Five; so do we.
But what do we make of the memories Victor unlocked for Android? Seeing Portia excited about Emily’s nano-virus that initially woke up Android’s hidden subroutines is an interesting transition point from the emotional Rebecca to the malevolent outlaw she became in Portia Lin. And Android telling Ryo-of-yore, “You and the rest of the crew are self-seeking, ethically deficient, and morally barren, yet you’re incongruously kind to me,” gives us insightful character moments, but will it mean something more down the road? Time will tell.
In the meantime, this episode of Dark Matter was another welcome distraction from the corporate war and Ryo’s villainy. With three episodes left, those elements are sure to return with a vengeance, but it will be interesting to see how the time travel story and the android history lesson will inform the impending finale. If they were simply character building and tying up of loose ends from earlier seasons, great; if they end up tying in to what happens next, even better. Either way, Dark Matter fans can’t help but be pleased… although they’d be even happier with a season 4 renewal.