Dark Matter – Season 2 Episode 13
“Episode 26 – But First, We Save the Galaxy”
Dark Matter season 2 ends as it began with the Raza crew in some pretty serious trouble. We also see many little hail backs to previous episodes and even to season 1, with Ferrous Corp the clear enemy and the crew having to rely on a tenuous alliance with The Mikkei Combine – ‘plus ça change’, as they say. And given that one of the themes of season 2 was to really add the ‘dark’ into Dark Matter let’s talk start this whole thing off with the body count.
Kierkan? Surely he’s gone, unless he somehow turns out to be another Dwarf Star construct that Rook has had undercover for some reason. I’m going no though. Kierkan’s death seems a big shame, as he was really starting get defined and had introduced the Galactic Authority’s take on the coming corporate war. He was established as very intelligent too and I thought he was going to be a great enemy for the Raza crew.
For a brief moment I’d feared he was going to let me down by being the stupid cop that doesn’t investigate the clear and present danger. He had no reason to suspect the Android knew he was listening in and so why would she be bluffing? Fortunately he did investigate Two’s claims and allayed my concern. Unfortunately he’ll no longer be able to be the GA’s agent in bending the corporations to its will.
However, will the welcome return of a very – very – angry Anders provide this instead? He must have been sneaking around that station and so was presumably up to something dodgy on behalf of the GA? I think he was in uniform but maybe you could convince me otherwise if you were confident. Either way, I’m really hoping Anders meets up with Six again in season 3 so they can have a discussion about why Six chose criminals over Anders and the GA. I could believe Anders is now full-on ‘I am the law’ given Six’s choice.
Who else? Nyx? I’m thinking she’s dead too. Surely the Android would have been rushing Nyx to the infirmary if there was a chance to save her? Or at least trying to use some internal power to shock-start Nyx’s heart? Dark Matter could go all Rocketman on us and have the Android having made the infirmary run after her emotions had calmed down but is this too much of a stretch?
I feel a bit sorry for Nyx. Ryo seemed to sum up her situation when he said she had no future on the Raza. Plus, I’d started to feel lately that she’d just become an extension of Ryo rather than a character in her own right. Even here she’s someone Ryo wants by his side and an object of Misaki’s hatred.
Also, why was Nyx left behind on the Raza when the Android could easily cover the bridge, as she has many times before? Why isn’t Nyx on the bridge when the Android has left it for some reason? Why does Misaki carry a pre-poisoned blade onto the Raza? Does diplomatic immunity allow you to bring poison into a conference? And Misaki never applies the poison, so she carries a poisoned blade with her at all times? I’ll admit that she might just have hoped to run into Nyx but the Zairon delegation wouldn’t know that the Raza was coming? And isn’t Misaki too honourable to use poison? She appeared to hate Ryo because of his dishonour?
Don’t get me wrong here; I love Misaki as a character. In fact I think she’s better defined, and in a shorter time, than Nyx has been. Also, I’m happy that jealousy ruins you inside and makes you do things you otherwise wouldn’t, so most things I can chalk up to that. For a non-Seer her timing is pretty good though?
Enough of that though – more body count. Actually… that might be it. Three must have been dragged off by Anders, who’d want to keep Three alive to use against Six somehow. Six we have no information about at all but surely the Anders’ plot needs Six alive? The Android must have blinked to safety and presumably Truffault got Five out. That just leaves Two but, well: nanites. Arguably being blow out into space would even be better for Two, as it must be easier to repair damage caused by a lack of atmosphere than to perform a total rebuild after an explosion?
It’s looks pretty rough however you spell it out though. Still, the opener for season 3 could be all the more amazing for this setup. I have no idea how this party gets back together again and it’s not going to be pretty for a while. It sounds pretty grim to me as I think to write this but it’s actually rather exciting to think of season 3 dealing with all that. Let’s not dwell. I’m exciting for the next season is good enough.
The other theme advertised for season 2 was the development of the background and we have seen a lot of this. We’ve seen much more advanced technology being used, sentient androids and a fair amount of galactic politics. Dark Matter is a sci-fi show, so the first two are always going to be important but my personal interest is drawn much more toward the latter.
Help me out here: name those corporations at the conference tables. I’ve got a few gaps that I couldn’t get from the name plates (in order from the left here):
- Novina – new to us?
- Emperor Ryo sitting for ‘LAW’ (League of Autonomous Worlds) – interesting that they get a vote on the council
- Volkov Rusi
- ??nxin – I couldn’t get those first letters; are these guys new too?
- Pendragon – I think these guys were in season 1 somewhere, maybe a name on a space station?
- Inkosi – new to us?
- Vanguard – new to us?
- Mikkei Combine
…And there were 13 votes, so I think that’s 12 corporations and 1 representative from the LAW?
There was quite a lot of information about the council coming pretty fast here but that’s good; I like to avoid exposition where the characters wouldn’t need it. Still though, as suggested from my list above, I also do like to know everything that’s going on, so, again, help me out here.
Traugott wanted to introduce three new representatives to the Council of Corporations that presumably would have been their allies. Zairon being the representative for the LAW as a “last minute change” might imply that they’ve been added by Ferrous or Traugott in an attempt to swing the vote but which way? Maybe Zairon just muscled in on some poor other planet though and didn’t care which way the vote went, given the bombing plan.
It’s especially interesting to see Ferrous Corp as the original bombers too. I wonder if they think they’re powerful enough to survive a war intact or if they chose war through desperation?
Hmm, tricky, can’t get any more out of that yet but I’m going to enjoy thinking about it.
Season 2 does seem to do what Joseph Mallozzi promised it would then: added a background and one that was pretty dark. Does the season also keep what made season 1 so great though: the deeply-personal focus on the crew of the Raza? I think maybe it does. Sometimes throughout the season I’ve felt that the rising of the stakes towards galactic war has moved the spotlight somehow. Nonetheless, on reflection, I have to say that android sentience was introduced through our Android’s development and we have seen the war through Four’s connection to Zairon.
It’s also impossible to miss the development of the crew as a real family. Six is back to parenting Five this episode, proudly realising that his adopted daughter is quite capable of going on a mission. Three is still the older brother, told by mum that he can choose a new heist if he first agrees to go save the galaxy with the rest of the family. Four is the strange uncle that you have to get on with but always seems to be involved in something dangerous…?
Very pleasingly too, the resolution of the threats faced by the crew is often conducted using character interaction and persuasion rather than the solving of an action-scene puzzle. Yes, I do like to see the action – I’m up for a sword fight as much as the next fan – but I do also find it all the more powerful when the problem is defeated by a character using something of themself.
In the case of ‘But First, We Save the Galaxy’ it’s Five’s all-so-decent treatment of Arrian – without ulterior motive – that saves the day. We don’t know Arrian well, so it’s not tear-jerking when he sacrifices himself but it’s still meaningful and shows just how much Five has become the heart of the team this season.
I did wonder for a while whether Arrian should have resisted showing himself as an android a little harder. Is Five really that charming? He was on a secret mission for his employer and has become illegal by existing with emotions. Still, maybe that’s how it goes when you’re that new to emotions. As our own Android acknowledges, the downsides can be quite overpowering.
In a brief fan-boy moment, I’d like to interrupt this chain of thought with: I told you androids were scary. Arrian takes down two trained Ishida soldiers with one hand covering his face. Brings back memories of the Android vs. Shaddick’s team.
I have a feeling that there’s got to be a lot more to say about androids in the coming plot. I wonder if androids are banned from the military just because they are so dangerous. They were banned from the conference for presumably that reason? There’s got to be more to say about our Android’s hidden code too. It was nice to see that teaser from ‘Stuff to Steal, People to Kill’ come back, where Six speaks of the Android’s shutdown codes. I’m not sure what it means though, that a computer can have routines hidden from itself? Watch that space perhaps.
Also on the subject of androids: is Commander Neiman a secret android too? Is Ferrous Corp led by android or pushing their advantage somehow? Obviously I could be reading far too much into this but when Neiman looks at Arrian, we assume to give the order to blow up the station, no words are said. Was there an electronic communication between them or was it just a meaningful glare? Currently the prospect of aliens as presented is pretty terrifying but what about an android corporate faction? That could be even more scary.
So, season 2 is dark, replete with new background and has kept it personal. Did this give us an amazing ending? I’ll say: mostly.
It does concern me that the crew never try to hide their identities. Sure the outer colonies can’t afford good security but surely the money that’s represented by the Council of Corporations could afford some facial recognition? Saying that, Six was found by the GA and Three by Ferrous, so maybe facial recognition on the security cameras is to be taken as implied? But still, when Two asks security what’s behind the door marked as restricted, surely that guard reports her?
I’m bothered too by Ryo’s choices. Why did he let the blink drive get away when he had the crew at his mercy last episode? I get that he still feels a loyalty to his former shipmates but he really, really needs that blink drive. Sure plan B is to drop the galaxy into total war, which will draw support away from Pyr, but given how ruthless he is, is this not a terrible plan when he could just have given the Raza crew the benefit of his ‘hospitality’ for a while? He does want them to escape his bomb though, and he does order Misaki to use non-lethal force, so perhaps his honour demanded them a getaway in thanks for all their help so far. Maybe I can’t reconcile it but perhaps it’s just a teeny thing really.
I must acknowledge the planning that went into building the season 2 finale. Android emotions come back in a meaningful way, all the more powerfully because it’s Five’s ongoing treatment of the Android and so Arrian that saves the day. Then there was Milo’s statement that in the fluid moments of life and chance an individual can make a massive difference coming alive in pretty much all Five does. It’s even there in the small moments like the introduction of the Android’s shutdown codes.
Such things really do matter. When characters go all Jessica Fletcher on us and use information that we the audience couldn’t possibly have known I think we do feel robbed. It’s not a fair surprise somehow and so it seems like we’re just watching a series of meaningless events. When Dark Matter has set up all the information we need to solve the mystery beforehand we instead feel the coming together of something meaningful – top marks.
Interestingly for me, one of my favourite moments of this episode reminds me of my favourite moment from season 1, both being a conversation between Five and Six. I’m glad that situation is all better again – need some bright moments when all else is dark, yes?
‘But First, We Save the Galaxy’ is not my favourite episode of season 2 but I still very much enjoyed it. It was a great use of what’s come before and sets up for a powerful start to season 3.