Dark Matter – Season 2 Episode 7
“Episode 20 – She’s One of Them Now”
Five’s key card gets its explanation in Dark Matter’s ‘She’s One of Them Now’, bringing the Raza crew into direct confrontation with potential season villain Alicia Reynaud. So far this corporate-elite problem solver has been sold as a force to be reckoned with but I think I’d share her current employer Ferrous Corp’s concern about her abilities, as this episode she completely fails to put up any real resistance to the Raza crew taking her stuff.
Disappointing as Ms. Reynaud may have been as a challenge her plot does draw back in the ever-entertaining David Hewlett as the crew’s handler Tabor Calchek. This time he’s pulled on board the Raza itself, allowing us to see a combination of his wacky humour and the dry jokes of The Android, which was delightful. And their side plot and that of the pairing of Nyx and Devon were definitely the strength of Episode 20, both raising the episode’s game from what I might have otherwise labelled as ‘solid enough’.
This week was a good, old-fashioned heist: plan your way into a high-security compound; improvise your way round a few unexpected difficulties; emerge victorious but with bonus trouble at the end to set up next week’s plot. The last of these three things was covered well enough but I struggled slightly with the first two.
If Alicia Reynaud is truly as deadly a corporate opponent as advertised then her main base must be where she’s making cost-saving efficiencies, as her security system was truly awful. And this is the system that was in place to protect the galaxy-changing prototype tech that is the new ‘blink drive’. Tech by the way that’s so well developed that you don’t need to build a new ship’s engine to take advantage of in order to start using revolutionary, instantaneous, wormhole travel. It’s that good you can just plug it in as an adaptor to any existing engine. A few guards with stun guns and a voice-print ID system that you can just run away from then, don’t really seem to cut it as appropriate security?
Fine there are arguments for why Alicia’s security is so bad. She might simply just be all talk, trading on a reputation rather than any real competence. I’d believe you could get quite far on that – it’s the old Dread Pirate Roberts trick. Equally, maybe she trusted completely on her hiding place, thinking that stealth was sufficient defence. We’re told that she only travels and deals by clone tech, so there’s no reason for anyone to be aware of where her real location. In this way there could be a good business case for spending nothing on physical security for a base no-one can find.
I’m going to run with the latter as my current working hypothesis for now, as we’ve constantly seen how good Five is at hacking, so perhaps she is the only person with the skills to trace Alicia’s hiding place. Despite this though, I’d still say that ‘She’s One of Them Now’ shows a distinct lack of technological awareness, and I’d really come to hope for more given the development of the show’s background, in technology as well as politics: in its androids and cloning, if nothing else.
Perhaps we’re back at the season one argument I was having with myself about Dark Matter’s background and style. Dark Matter is not hard sci-fi, so sometimes the answer to why / how something works is always going to be just ‘because’. Nonetheless, surely even action sci-fi shows need to consider their tech levels for the purposes of internal consistency and suspension of our disbelief?
Is it really possible that Five can sit down at a keyboard and hack into a security system from any terminal in the building? Doesn’t hacking require you to use your own previously-written programs downloaded from some device? Surely Reynaud doesn’t give all her staff access to all parts of her base’s systems with no password protection at the very minimum?
What about the room that did at least have password protection but not actually to stop people getting in or out? It didn’t even stop people picking up the room’s valuable contents, only verbally challenging the thieves when they tried to take an item away. Plus, when the thieves failed to give the password all the system did was call the guards, not even shutting any doors. Even today we’re capable of better security than this…?
Androids seem reasonably common too; couldn’t the great Alicia Reynaud afford one? A single android would have provided better security than whatever she spent on her current system.
I appreciate the Raza crew are very competent of course. This is established. They were always going to be able to outdo even a good defence. Thing is, even this competence is sacrificed in ‘She’s One of Them Now’ when Three and Four get captured by just three security guards – for the purposes of the plot. Do not like.
I rise against all of this, if you will, because it stands out so much, especially as the show has taken the time to improve its plot background. Establishing a solid tech level would support that background, allowing a show to give its audience a foundation to work on and then assumptions to play with. Even if Dark Matter keeps its strength in its foreground and characters this tech-level issue seems too important not to tackle.
Moving on to the better things, I will say that there’s never going to be such a thing as too much ‘Tabor Calchek meets The Android’ for me. How good was that pairing? Both characters have a great humour to them and better still their humour is completely compatible.
Further even to that I really enjoyed the conversation they had about The Android’s upgrade, entertainingly not about her most-recently acquired upgrade but the one she must already have had before even season one. I appreciate that Calchek’s expertise allows him to notice the upgrade at all and I was hoping for a bit more information about where it might have come from or who might have provided it. There’re still a lot of answers to be had here. The Raza crew don’t yet fully appreciate the significance of their android’s capabilities, so perhaps she was already altered by the time they acquired her?
As it is, this is another of the show’s teases, hopefully for later plot, much like Two’s shakes that have been introduced but not yet resolved. I look forward to it.
I’m also hoping that Devon being stabbed is more of a set up for future plot than a resolution. I’ve heard (through TV and film of course) that it takes a long time to die from a wound to the belly, so perhaps there’s time for Nyx to find him? Joseph Mallozzi did promise there would be more character death in season two, so there’s always the possibility that Devon’s number is up. The reason I’m hoping that character death has been covered by One and Shaddick though, is because both those characters were well developed before they died – when both were killed it really meant something. With Devon, I still don’t think we’ve been given a chance to get to know him yet.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly feel sorry for him. His heart-to-heart with Nyx was certainly revealing. And it was interesting to see the previously strong Nyx completely weakened in the face of her brother’s plight. Plus, Devon’s drug use offers plenty of fodder for interaction with The Android’s potential addiction to human emotion. And then, these Nyx and Devon’s conversation proved that there’s still mileage on season one’s amnesia plotline, as both find they can draw parallels between the Raza crew’s situation and their own. The whole package worked rather neatly.
But all this is still promise of more to come. It’s all good foundation for interesting things yet to happen. If Devon dies now I fear my reaction will be ‘oh, that’s a shame to not be able to see that play out’. I won’t feel the loss of a character’s life being cut short; it’ll be more like some plot has been cut short. I wanted to see more of One and Shaddick but I could feel loss or shock at their passing. I believe I can get there with Devon but he needs more screen time first, otherwise getting his backstory ten minutes before he dies will feel a bit like he was just painting his white-picket fence.
Trust has been earned though; I don’t think Devon is dead here. So far Dark Matter has killed off characters with greater power and purpose in the plot. Moreover, whereas I may have trouble with the tech level in general this episode I do see a lot of effort put into considerations that arise from previous tech plot. Time was nicely given to cover Transfer Transit’s seeming limitations around clothing and people needing to stay in the pods. I appreciate this detail and I think such things are what prove the writers care about what they create. This held true with the consistency in the crew’s treatment of Six – them still not quite showing him the forgiveness they demand he earn back. All of this taken together suggests to me that there’s more to see from Devon yet.
I thought the decisions made by the characters in the main plot were all entertaining enough, but only within the confines of the environment they were given. I believe that my absolute enjoyment of the episode was undermined slightly by what felt like a mismatch between the tech level we’re seeing being built and what the plot needed this latest environment to have. This is especially a shame given the clear effort the show is making to be consistent with Six still having to earn his forgiveness and the consequences of Transfer Transit technology.
Ultimately ‘She’s One of Them Now’ is a solid enough episode, carried by the strength of the characters themselves. And the best parts of the episode were definitely in the character pairings in the supporting plot: The Android with Tabor Calchek and Nyx with Devon.
- Tabor Calchek meets The Android
- Devon and Nyx’s addiction and amnesia chat
- Six not yet being forgiven
- Consistent treatment of the Transfer Transit technology
- The tech level of Alicia Reynaud’s base and the Blink Drive adaptor seeming so add odds with each other and the galaxy’s average
- Three and Four’s easy capture for plot purposes