This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.
Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 6
The relief is palpable as Dark Matter returns with a great episode that plays on the show’s strengths: its characters. With wonderful performances from Melissa O’Neil in particular and from the Raza crew in general, no one even minded the confusion of being deceived by merc doppelgängers; in fact, being fooled was downright fun! Although the season’s story arc continues to progress very slowly, motivations are now clearly in place for our protagonists as well as Commander Nieman, Emperor Ishida, and others.
The first deception, of course, was getting viewers to believe that Two and Three had infiltrated a Zairon ship carrying clan members of the assassin who attempted to poison the emperor. For what purpose, it didn’t matter; viewers just assumed they were going to liberate those persecuted by their former shipmate. By the time we stopped to think about the hows and the whys of the Raza crew intervening with Ryo’s posturing, it was too late. The shock of Portia Lin spacing the innocent civilians to commander the ship was brilliantly timed as was the reappearance of Wexler and Tash.
The alternate universe mercenaries have been in play since season 2 when we saw a second Marauder hitch a ride to this reality. Speculation at the time was that an alternate Jace Corso had slipped in to replace the deceased version in our universe, but alas, the only surviving “One” stayed behind removing all hope of a Marc Bendavid return to Dark Matter. The cavalier cruelty of Portia, the not-all-that-different flirtatious nature of Boone, and the less moral compunction of the alt-Android were a welcome nod to the previous season and an undeniably entertaining addition to a season that needed an infusion of clever writing like this.
An example of this cleverness lies in the use Truffault and Adrian as foils for the ensuing mayhem Portia and her crew plan on wreaking. It makes perfect sense that the Mikkei executive would want to take advantage of the Zairon ship passing unmolested through the corporate war zone by selling missiles to Traugott, turning a profit while remaining neutral. Her comeuppance feels justified in a way. Adrian’s sudden usefulness was also a breath of fresh air as he lures Portia with the promise of a buyer for her stolen goods once she betrays Truffault.
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It seems shortsighted of the otherwise savvy Portia not to realize that Truffault would alert the real Raza crew once she realized what had happened, especially given how beautifully she manipulates the exchange, taking Three prisoner while leaving Wexler hanging in the wind. Kudos to the writers, by the way, for making us think, despite earlier trickery, that it was Two capturing Boone. And Three’s imprisonment allowed for some hilarious sexual banter with Tash.
The master stroke of the episode, however, was in having the Android take out Portia before she could take the Raza and witness the exact scene from her future vision in “All the Time in the World” two episodes back: Portia pacing in a storeroom and Marcus shooting the Android. When Five arrives on the bridge and announces, “We did see it coming,” it’s a real moment of triumph, making us wonder if other future glimpses will play out in similar fashion.
The remainder of the episode was made up of meaningful moments, each of which had real heft. Adrian’s realization that he didn’t really belong, for example, was almost a relief (although the odd flirtation with Five was a little weird). Solara getting a separate invite to stay was also a nice touch. The two Androids arriving at their own truce with regard to the blink drive was priceless. And, of course, Three’s brief visit with Sarah in more lush environs gave us hope and, strangely, a small amount trepidation.
But the big emotional exclamation points came from three scenes: Portia hanging up on Ryo, now even more furious and ready for revenge; Portia visiting Commander Nieman and inviting him to ally with her against a common enemy; and last but certainly not least, the Raza returning to Cepheus-5 to check in on Six, who hasn’t been responding to Five’s calls. Whatever “Agent Zero” referred to last week, it’s obviously had disastrous effects on the colony, now in ruins. What, what, what has happened to Six? And can we please have him back?
It’s hard to predict where Dark Matter is headed with all this, but this kind of unpredictability creates intrigue rather than befuddlement. Although Ryo’s war and the corporate conflict promised by last season’s finale haven’t really come to satisfying fruition, the real enjoyment of the show comes from watching the Raza crew overcome their enemies through guile and style, and this week’s episode had plenty of both.