This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.
Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 8
Full credit must go to Dark Matter for leading viewers to believe that Android had been taken over by Sarah at the end of last week’s episode after showing her worried expression about Three’s past, but an episode with a hacked Android of any sort is bound to keep everyone on the edge of their seats! With the added surprise of Ryo springing back into action after having shifted the show’s focus to the corporate war, “Hot Chocolate” gave us plenty of unexpectedness to enjoy. Although it had a few flaws, the episode provided tense entertainment and new questions to ponder.
By now, the arguing of beleaguered colony leaders should be familiar, as should Six and others attempting to use logic to placate those with a long history of mistrust with the corporations. That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear Two remind Six, “You’re not a cop anymore. It’s out of your hands.” Even after the drama that unfolds elsewhere on the ship, Six washes his hands of responsibility for the colonists and acknowledges that he can do more good on the Raza. Yes, thank God!
Of course, we still don’t technically know who killed the leader of the former Ferrous colony. It’s unclear if we were meant to jump to the same conclusion that Five did: that possessed-Android killed him; obviously that would make no sense unless he implausibly compromised her false identity. Emperor Ishida likewise had no reason to eliminate those he was attempting to win to his cause, and they hadn’t arrived in the transfer transit pods yet anyway when the delegate was killed. It’s a small but intriguing mystery that will be interesting to see play out as it surely will.
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But the honest truth is, no one could have ever expected that Android would be hacked by an outside source linked to Ryo. It’s even possible that most viewers thought the hacker in the tubed-up chair, whose involvement was foreshadowed weeks ago, was actually a woman and someone in distress, perhaps a prisoner rather than a paid participant. Like a drone pilot operating his instrument of destruction remotely, it was a fitting punishment for one who invaded a brain to be trapped in his own in the end.
The hacker couldn’t have known, as perhaps the viewers did, that Five and Android would have put protections in place after the disabling codes Portia Lin had used in the past. The “hot chocolate” emergency phrase felt just right as Five used the minimal shutdown time to take back control of small parts of the ship. As fantastical as the hacking and counter-hacking was in this episode, it was subtly played with understated realism throughout. Even Sarah’s virtual neural interface in her alcove seemed like something she would have access to, given the connection her very existence has to the ship’s databases, which the Android is, in turn, connected to as well. A very enjoyable and plausible caper!
It was just so pleasantly unexpected that Ryo would have such a grand plan to take back the blink drive! And it’s amazing that he would have the time or the wherewithal to persuade Two that he didn’t kill Nyx or that he doesn’t want revenge. Of course, he might be “full of — ship is registering strange power fluctuations” but clearly Two was affected by the confrontation, leaving it up in the air whether the coming conflict will involve Ryo as an adversary or a powerful enemy-of-my-enemy. The mere possibility is exciting!
The quintessential Dark Matter twist ending has become an expected ingredient in some ways, and it certainly was a wonderful cherry atop the episode as usual. But in other ways it was spoiled by one puzzling fact: the blink drive was broken, and Two almost seemed to wish it would stay that way. So why were Five and Android even working on it at all much less starting trial runs? Ending an episode in which Five and Android were so prepared for sabotage with a moment in which Five and Android were caught unaware by a seemingly obvious threat is mind-boggling.
The episode itself was still wonderful, of course, despite the fact that everyone on the Raza ends up out cold. Wondering what’s going to happen next with no clue with which to even make a prediction has always been a big part of the fun of Dark Matter. The main hope is that the two wars, Ryo’s and Ferrous’, actually end up meaning something other than just providing a backdrop of conflict. Where is this all headed in the final five episodes? Despite any week-to-week misgivings, the anticipation is as ramped up as it can get.
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