Dark Matter – Season 2 Episode 12
“Episode 25 – Sometimes In Life You Don’t Get to Choose”
The Raza crew take their first steps in Dark Matter politics by helping Ryo ascend the throne of Zairon. I’ve been waiting for this; I do love some politics to go with my ideological discussions. I’m not sure where the story goes from here though, as Emperor Ryo definitely stands against the rest of the Raza crew now. Six was adamant that they wouldn’t allow Zairon control of the blink drive and I’m happy that Two and Five at least would agree.
The obvious answer of course, is that it leads to the season finale, with the crew having to escape a deal forced on them by Ryo. Though he has spoken previously of his loyalty to his shipmates he’ll have a hard time honouring that now. Likely perhaps he’d assume their loyalty to him would be equally as strong and that they’d naturally help Zairon. It sounded so pleasant all those episodes ago when Two considered how great it would be to have an emperor as a friend. But now perhaps Ryo will have to turn on his former friends and take the blink drive by force? Sometimes you really don’t get to choose then.
Thing is of course, you do always get to choose something. It’s just that your choices have consequences that stop you from controlling every single part of life. And it’s always so delightfully complicated when everyone else around you is making their choices and living out their consequences all at the same time. This is what makes for a good political episode in my mind: a splendid chaos of individual choices in which everyone tries desperately to keep their desires intact; where mostly there’s just too much going on at once for any individual to be in complete control but where just now and again one poor soul seemingly finds the weight of the galaxy resting on just their shoulders.
My favourite moment of this episode might just be when this weight settles on Misaki and she has to choose how the future will play out. Even Four has no say in the matter in that one moment where she has to decide which orders to follow: Hiro’s or his mother’s. But then you realise that everyone has made choices that affect this moment, just that it’s all acting through Misaki. Is she just a character having to choose the right and wrong of the legality of Hiro’s statement that he is emperor, not his mother? Or is it that her choice is swayed by every interaction she’s had up until now: the promise of power from Hiro’s mother; a sense of duty learned in childhood that means she’ll always be guided by the law; a remembered love for Ryo that could just as easily rekindle as it could turn to hate?
This of course, is where the Seers come in. They had to reappear at some point but it was a great choice to bring them back in here, as the perfect people to help sort through that chaos of human choice. And better still, they have in Nyx a good, already-established reason to want to be involved, so it’s not just bringing them in where it would work – elegant.
So the Seers knew that the Raza crew would get involved and help Ryo and could even predict their time of entry into the affair. They also easily solve the problem of General Drago’s loyalty. It pleases me for some reason that he was loyal to Ryo after all but of course couldn’t hide his previous behaviour and likelihood of supporting Ryo from people who use the past to predict the future. The Seers’ assumption that they would find a place in the Zairon court is also based in sound logic, given that at the very least they could have led the Zairon navy to win every coming battle. But without absolutely accurate and complete data they can’t make perfect predictions.
I was thinking that probably they should have had enough data about Five now to have foreseen her involvement. I wondered then if they had succumbed to a personal bias to discount the actions of young-girl Five. I could have believed it. Then though, I realised that when the Seer told Hiro’s mother Five was inconsequential it was because they wanted Five and so Ryo to succeed so they could have their place at Ryo’s side. And this is the interesting politics: lies, deception and playing both sides – great stuff.
So the person they really misjudged was Four. They had known that one of the crew would betray the others. I could still happily argue that Ryo would consider Six’s refusal to hand over the blink drive a betrayal though, so it’s not so simple as Four betraying the crew. He is choosing Zairon over them but does that count as a betrayal, given who he is? Is it all just too complicated to pin down so neatly?
Either way, the Seer perhaps missed the complexity that would come from Four and Ryo’s memories being combined? What they predicted did seem to match Four as we’ve seen him: ruthless to some degree but with that tempered by his time as Four.
I really liked Ryo’s line that he has finally become a man his father would be proud of, showing that this still rules him even now. Certainly he proves it with that final order. Four may have even killed the empress and may well have taken the Seers as advisers but I think he would have spared Hiro. Perhaps I just like to think he would. It was a shock to see Four give the order. But Ryo though, in his father’s image? Securing the throne makes a lot of sense.
As many of the season 2 plotlines have done, Ryo’s choice to restore his memories comments back upon the season 1 theme of amnesia and identity. I had wondered if the show was going to use another sci-fi trope with Four’s choice to take back his old memories. It could have treated the two sets of memories as two personalities fighting for control. In fact I was starting to become convinced this was happening when Six refused to hand over the blink drive. I’d thought Four-Ryo’s anger was the first crack in the seams of Four’s personality holding together.
As it is this wasn’t the plot and I’m glad of it. I think it would have worked, mind you. There could be good argument for memories being such an important part of identity that two sets of memories might have trouble reconciling themselves as being part of the same person if they would have led to very different choices being made.
However, Ryo pretty much states that this isn’t the case when he’s going round saying goodbye to everyone. Six imagines Portia Lin and Two are very different people but Four says that they are in some ways but not in others. He acknowledges that he likes and respects Two in a way that he never did Portia. Two and Portia lead and solve problems with a similar mind-set but Two’s motivations make her a better, much more attractive personality.
I think Five and Six’s discussion on the matter well covers this too. (It’s good to see them having such talks again, by the way. I’ve missed that.) Six describes himself as a different person altogether with knowledge of himself before the amnesia, the old memories and the new coming together in a smoother evolution of personality. And so we see Ryo, becoming like his father with old Ryo’s desires tempered by Four’s experiences.
Ryo’s memories also answer a question about the Android’s past whilst revealing another mystery concerning Three’s. It was Two that gave the Android her original emotion upgrade, done with the help of Five, allowing Two and Five to bond. That would make sense: Two only didn’t kill Five because of the vote from the rest of the crew but that’s no reason to tolerate someone forever.
As part of the reveal we were also treated to the line “that’s very poetic, and ultimately unhelpful”, coming in response to Ryo’s mysterious comment about the answers to the Android’s questions lying within her. I appreciate the way this tries to counter a problem of a character not just revealing all the information they may have. Maybe Ryo doesn’t understand cybernetics well enough to tell the Android exactly where to look. Still, you have to wonder why as a computer she can’t find a hidden file in her archives, even if she can’t open it? It’s a tiny thing and doesn’t bother me that much, as perhaps it does have an answer in season 3.
Unfortunately Nyx’s treatment lately does bother me. This is a great episode but it also really shows up that she has just become part of Ryo’s character. Throughout the season I’ve wondered why Nyx and Devon were introduced. Nyx certainly gives us access to the Seers but still, without them she’s just this woman who was in prison and now whose just the current love interest of Ryo…?
It felt like a bit of a surprise that Four and Ryo had developed into a couple, beyond their initial agreement to not get too close. True, humans are more complicated than what they say and we know that Dark Matter has its characters discussing important points off screen – which I stand by that I really like if it shows us they’re real human beings. Still though, did it just need to be that way to make the reveal of Four’s involvement in Milo’s suicide hit harder?
Ultimately though, fine, that’s not my real issue. It’s that I hope Nyx gets some real motivation in season 3. Why will she stay with the crew? What does she want to achieve now she’s free of the Seers?
‘Sometimes In Life You Don’t Get to Choose’ gives us some great politics and keeps it so very personal. Yes the galaxy might be on the verge of war but we’re seeing it through the eyes of the Raza crew and in a way that they were already connected to it, through Ryo’s history. The whole political piece was superb, through being set up as a question of loyalty and us not knowing which side General Drago was really on all the way to the reveal of the Seers and Ryo’s shock action as he takes the throne.
- an excellent political story, full of lies, deception and the playing of both sides
- the reveal of the Seers’ involvement in manipulating Zairon politics
- the weight of the galaxy resting on Misaki’s shoulders as she has to choose who to support and with it the fate of the Raza and Zairon
- Ryo’s little goodbye piece, going around the crew
- Ryo’s memories coming together in a way that made him his father’s son
- Five and Six talking as they used to
- Nyx seeming to have become just a part of Ryo’s character