This Dark Matter review contains spoilers.
Dark Matter Season 2, Episode 8
Dark Matter is back in its groove as the payoffs from earlier episodes come about in a satisfying, logical, and well-paced manner. Introducing a parallel universe can be a dangerous prospect, either by being overly cheesy with the doppelgängers or by over-simplifying the differences between the two worlds. In this case, the return of former colleagues, Wexler and Tash, as well as the skillful manipulation of the twin advantage (both with Four posing as emperor and Two and Three passing as the other Portia and Marcus) kept this story believable and entertaining.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any confusion with the new set of circumstances. For example, if in this version of events Five never sneaked on the Raza, saved Six, or wiped the Raza crew’s memories, then how did they get the blink drive key that she stole? There was also an interesting moment of dissonance when the second Raza possibly made viewers think the faulty blink drive had sent them forward in time: a nice bit of misdirection. Quite a coincidence, though, that both Razas were at the same station at that exact moment in time!
Nitpicks aside, Melissa O’Neil as Two continues to impress with her ability to portray strong leadership skills in a crisis. Even as she decisively prevents Truffault and her Mikkei army from destroying her ship, she hatches a masterful plan for replacing bizarro-Portia-and-Marcus with herself and Three. As escape plans go, that’s pretty bold! However, what made it work was that no one would actually believe such a scenario was possible — except for the audience!
The fact that the alternate Portia Lin figured it out is a further testament to that character’s strength, but that didn’t make the “evil” Raza crew any less interesting in their ignorance. The presence of Wexler and Tash from last season’s Episode Ten was a welcome callback. Tash was especially fun as she dominated and surprised Three with her aggressive affection, and her fight with Two was a nice reprise of the battle that ended her life last season.
Two’s increasing physical deterioration may have, of course, been a factor. Hopefully, the writers will not draw out the reasons behind her infirmity too long as might have been the case last season with her unexplained accelerated healing. Thus far, the pacing of the story revealing her tremors has been just right, doling out harder-to-ignore hints each week. Is she overdue for some nano-treatment of some sort maybe?
Two’s coup de grace, though, was the use of the Android to foil Truffault’s blackmail plans. Not only was there a great moment of seeing the Android shut down to protect Five, there was the ever-so-subtle mention from the alternate Android that she owes her special emotional programming in some way to Portia Lin. Dark Matter is good at dropping in these moments that stand on their own without unnecessary emphasis; viewers just have to file it away for later.
And speaking of Truffault, Torri Higginson is doing an excellent job with this quasi-villainous character. Her sci-fi cred has long been established by her days on Tekwar, but she really has upped her game here on Dark Matter. Her character and others in the episode made the excellent point about the Raza crew being stuck in this alternate universe: what is there for them to return to in the original one?
Someone obviously felt there was something to be gained in the original world where everyone wasn’t at war, otherwise he or she wouldn’t have stowed away on the FTL-capable Marauder. Who out there thinks the infiltrator might be the alternate Jace Corso, essentially back from the dead? It certainly would be an interesting way to keep Marc Bendavid as part of the cast despite having died — twice!
Hopefully, Dark Matter can keep up this momentum through the final five episodes of the season. After a couple of humdrum episodes, these last two weeks reminded viewers of how great this show can be. Although Roger Cross desperately needs more screen time as Six, the cast as a whole has been nailing it in season 2, and viewers keep coming back for more week after week.