This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.
Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 9
Time travel can either be a real crowd pleaser or a confusing dud, but Dark Matter created a wonderful diversion in this week’s episode, “Isn’t That a Paradox?” Seeing our 21st century society through the Raza crew’s eyes was entertaining as well as informative, providing both insightful character moments and humorous ones. As the blink drive continues to add to the drama — first parallel universes, now time travel — the fallout from this episode may be subtle for the time being, but the potential for payoff is huge.
Take for example the moment between Three and Sarah when the two of them are uncertain whether the Raza crew will ever be able to return to their own time, perhaps living out their lives on Earth. The realization that Sarah’s virtual existence, while a marvel, is limited in the extreme would surely have become obvious eventually, but this new circumstance pushes it to the forefront since Sarah must stay on the ship. Predicting the ultimate conclusion to this storyline is difficult, as it has been along the way (notably in these reviews), but it’s certainly fun to watch unfold.
The other small interaction that had surprising impact was the exchange between Two and Three as they investigated the location of the blink drive. Two’s hard edge combined with a moralistic leadership style means she doesn’t smile much, and when Portia grins, it’s seductive, sadistic, or both. But when Two smiles at the cute dog or at the chocolate shop, we notice along with Three how radiant and happy she is when her guard is down. What this means for the story remains to be seen, but seeing her soften both then and when playing video games with Five later was heartwarming.
But the MVP of entertainment in this episode has got to go to the Android. Upon discovering that they’ve traveled 600 years into the past, she doesn’t just accept the grim facts with robotic indifference; she embraces the past with her invented “soccer mom” and “goth chick” profiles and her helpful hacking of Earth’s primitive networks. When she deadpans comments about getting double reward points, finding toilet paper on special, or getting an Uber, viewers likely wonder how Zoie Palmer’s castmates could keep a straight face in those scenes.
The latest episode of our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast:
The writers created a very believable atmosphere in the fictional Fort Falls, Wisconsin, as well. The curiosity of small-town kids on bikes has been re-introduced into our modern age by the likes of Netflix’s Stranger Things, but it’s telling that Jake and the others are actually happy that supposed aliens have visited their town. Jake bonding with Five over video games and then declaring his love plays out like every geek’s teenage daydream. Not to mention having his great-granddaughter invent the FTL drive, which puts a nice cap on the causality plot as well.
Professor Brophy’s explanation for what brought the Raza to our time was a clever twist as well, especially given that a glitchy blink drive was already used to travel to a parallel universe, and the repeated plot device was in danger of being over-played. Luckily, the idea of a recall command hidden in the program felt like a sensible move by a cautious, conscientious corporate scientist. And his lab allowed for Five’s wonderfully understated trip to the near past to disable the officers surrounding the Marauder — a great time travel trick!
Tacked on at the end of the episode but still a good reminder of what’s still to come are the introduction of Portia and Marcus to Ryo (doesn’t bode well) and the surprising call from Victor requesting help from Android (much more intriguing). The galactic war has retreated to the background, which is perhaps for the best, but it leaves several big question marks hanging over the otherwise great season. With Dark Matter’s reputation for last minute hijinx, however, it’s likely that the next few episodes will leave such misgivings behind in the dust.