Dark Matter – Season 2 Episode 5
“Episode 18 – We Voted Not to Space You”
Are you one of those people hoping for a crossover between Dark Matter and Killjoys? If you are then I’ll bet that you loved this week’s opening scene, with the Android having to bring in a target who of course resists, leading to a serious backside-kicking of a bar fight.
I’d thought that this was going to be part of a further investigation into Five’s interdimensional-space key, which came up again last episode, but in fact the Raza crew takes the opportunity to chase down One’s killer. This does seem a reasonable time to do it, as the Galactic Authority and corporations haven’t been too hot on the crew’s tail – or so I’d thought. Five tells us otherwise though, saying that the Raza is being hounded by pursuers no less. This is something I’d like to come back to but for now, given that One’s murder has upset the crew, clearly they would want retribution. And it’s great that the chance comes from another little throwback to season 1, as they pursue Jace Corso through a lead they remember being mentioned by Wexler’s crew (Episode Ten).
Now, even though the Android is clearly the primary character of ‘We Voted Not to Space You’ it was Jace Corso’s plot that had the greatest effect on me. He really didn’t get the treatment I was expecting – and I think I’m going to say that I thought he deserved.
When he appears at the end of Episode 14 it’s a clear and unstoppable threat. That character really has some power. All the way through Episode 18 though, he’s on the back foot and never really seems capable, which I found to be a great shame. I was hoping for this big showdown. I wanted Jace to be a main villain upon which it would really take the Raza crew some effort to get their revenge.
We don’t always get what we want of course but to some degree I think this was – not promised perhaps – but at least suggested by the character we’ve already seen. He had no trouble capturing One and Three in Episode Four and very little trouble getting to One to kill him. More than that, Corso is clearly recognised as a threat by the people that have heard of him, who, in this latest episode at least, want to make sure they stay clear of his attention.
What we’re presented with in this final confrontation with Jace though, doesn’t seem to live up to all that. The Raza crew get passed his base’s traps off camera they’re so little threat. Then in the first gun fight he doesn’t even really come close to hitting them and yet does take a wound himself. And then finally he’s defeated by having bought a poor-quality panic room that’s easily broken into. He’s relegated to the level of minor villain with seemingly little threat value at all.
Clearly there’s always a difficulty with a gun fight between major characters. Much like in ‘I’ve Seen the Other Side of You’ I never felt that the heroes were in any danger in the shootout. It’s almost like you get that feeling that the heroes can’t really get hurt because somehow you know it’s not the right time for it in the plot. Don’t get me wrong, Dark Matter can deliver that threat: I think we saw it clearly and well in the escape from the prison moon in ‘Kill Them All’. I just don’t think that on-screen danger has been so palpable since is all.
The problem then, is if Jace can’t really offer any physical threat then he has to offer a character threat through his intelligence and cunning. Unfortunately I don’t think we see this either. He throws a few insults at Two but never to a great level of intimidation or manipulation. Even his bargain doesn’t succeed when he thinks to use his knowledge of CoreLactic – we assume, I think? – having hired him to kill One as blackmail.
Without any threat then, did you feel any real catharsis when we got revenge for One’s death? Even Two has an odd look on her face. She seems to be considering the decision she’s made about missing out on a piece of information rather than suffering any greater emotional response from the killing of her lover’s murderer.
Now, admittedly there’s a connection between her actions and the thought raised by Six: Murder is a different thing to killing someone in a fight in self-defence – cold blood vs. a heat of the moment forcing of your hand. But I don’t feel that Two would ever have any trouble with murder given her past and the reawakening of her savage side that came as early as the casino in Episode Four. Perhaps the look on her face was more a recognition that nothing has improved, that One is still dead? Either way, it all ended a little flat for me. I wanted something with greater meaning given Jace’s history with the crew and especially given how important One was.
Perhaps there’s just not enough time available though this week? Listening around, I notice that even the people who really liked this episode have said “there’s a lot going on this time”. For me, I think there may have been too much and that all the plots were diluted because of it.
Jace was lined up and defeated, only able to put up a couple of technical blocks in the heroes’ way.
Six is slightly challenged on whether he can still be trusted but he overcomes this with a long walk in the snow. Certainly this is difficult for him in his current state but it’s not connected to any of the main events in the plot and so feels lessened because of it. There was a little talk of him perhaps being responsible for the chasing GA ship but the talk flashes passed to resolution so quickly and doesn’t hang over the crew any real way – not having anything like the threat that ‘there’s a traitor among us’ did in season 1. Much like Jace’s plot I think I was expecting the forgiving of Six to have more power to it when it came.
I wonder then if Jace would have been better served if the GA plotline – them pursuing the crew so doggedly, as Five suggests they have been – had been separated out from Jace’s. Six’s redemption plot could have been part of the GA threat still and both ideas stronger for the separation?
I’d also say that this separation would have reduced the need for exposition throughout both plots. There’s quite a lot of it this week and if there was more time available then fewer things would have to have been told to us; more could have been shown.
Five says the corporations and GA are hot on the Raza’s tail. Maybe they have been between episodes but the previous two episodes have shown the crew having plenty of time to make full repairs, do a full shop for supplies and deal with a fully-internal ship malfunction, all without any interference from corporation or GA. I have no reason to think Five is lying but I’d rather have seen it.
Jace describes Two as being weak and vulnerable in the face of her response to One’s murder. But this felt like it was just raised because the plot needs it to be in the audience’s mind, there not being time to let us realise something. It especially feels like exposition because it doesn’t seem natural for Jace to express himself in such a straight, almost scientific manner. I might have expected him to explain away why it’s OK for people to take advantage of the weak if he did have some form of conscience. Or if he didn’t I’d expect him to be confused, as if taking advantage of the weak was a given and that any other course of action simply did not occur to him.
Thirdly there’s the new Chief Inspector Kierkan. He’s no Shaddick so far. He was presented as a clever and resourceful detective, easily following the crew’s trail to Jace Corso. He’s also smart enough to realise that the corporations have a negative effect on the operation of the GA. But when his personal ‘I am the law’ philosophy is discussed in a few short lines between him and Four Kierkan comes off as naïve. Now it could be that this is a purposeful choice for the character – we’ve all heard a variation on the ‘neurosurgeon who doesn’t know how to write a cheque’ story that shows that people’s intelligence can be focused to particular areas. However, I felt that if Kierkan was a great detective then he probably should have been able to work out how the Raza crew escaped from prison. The people that helped them have also escaped and their faces should be on the news too?
Maybe I misread that last piece of plot. Nonetheless, whereas I believe that Kierkan is going to have a lot to offer as an opponent, I think more of that comes from what I’ve been told more than what I’ve been shown so far. Still, if we can’t get any more Six vs. Anders philosophy maybe we’ll still get the discussion between Six and Kierkan. I could really go for that, so here’s hoping.
Which brings me round to the good again – always better for the soul – and ‘We Voted Not to Space You’ does have many things going for it.
Top of the roster is always going to be the Android, who fully embraces her code upgrade that allows her to pass as human. And does it ever! At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see her use the upgrade. The dry humour that came out of her innocent approach to human society never failed to hit the mark and I didn’t want to lose that from the show. I keep having to remind myself that change is good thing though, which was made much easier to do after having seen the Android toy with the security guard in a delightfully ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable scene. Better still, in the last moment when the Android says “OK” Zoie Palmer delivers it in the same manner as that of the innocent Android, showing that the changed character is still the same person within. I’ll never know if this was a conscious or unconscious decision on Zoie’s part but I value it either way.
This new sassy Android may also provide us with a link to another character, more importantly one of the new ones. When she speaks of her actions under the influence of the upgrade she very much talks as someone addicted and I wonder if this is something that she is going to share with Devon. Now we’ve been shown that he may have killed someone on the operating table thanks to his drug problem perhaps the two of them will be able to share a path to recovery if his failure is compared to the Android’s failure to protect the ship from damage. Hopefully this is an example of one of the little seeds of future plot that Dark Matter has always so successfully planted throughout the episodes so far.
Nyx’s abilities are another example of a recently seeded idea. I’d wondered if she was going to be a bioengineered lifeform like Two. I imagine this is still possible, though her abilities do appear to be different to Two’s and I’m thinking that other people’s proposals that Nyx might have some fledgling psychic ability might be more accurate than my own suggestions. I think I’d still prefer that her powers have some explanation in the advanced or illegal tech of the background over any spiritual or magical one, but there’s plenty of room for that I think.
There does seem to be a lot of advanced science that is banned in the Dark Matter. Although, given the willingness of the corporations to break all rules in their own interest I can see why.
It was certainly interesting to see the universe’s take on advanced androids. The upgrades to make them appear human are illegal, potentially implying that there has been trouble with androids hiding in human society before. Perhaps making computers sentient is illegal too? There’s a certain logic to that if the code always leads to androids making the same emotional mistakes that humans do.
I’ve really enjoyed seeing this background material come out throughout season 2 – long may it continue. I’m confident that it will. We can’t have seen the last of the sentient androids in hiding and the ‘there’s a war coming plot’ is providing us more information about the galaxy’s political situation.
The war in question may well expand out from the existing conflict between Pyr (a theocratic republic?) and Four’s home world of Zairon. We now know that there’s been a coup in Pyr and that Zairon has managed to take control of a border territory. Will the discovery of the people behind the coup and further border tension spill out into other parts of the galaxy? Will the Galactic Authority turn out to be behind the coup and border troubles much in the same way as they’re playing both sides of the Procyon Insurrection? I’m going to call yes for fun now.
I’m hoping too that this plot will tell us a more about the GA and their relationship to the political powers in the galaxy. We’ve now heard mention of a two-dozen strong ‘League of Autonomous Worlds’, something currently remaining neutral in the growing conflict. Who are they and what are they autonomous from? I wonder the same of the independent worlds: are they just independent from each other or some central control that maybe focuses on ‘olde Earth’. Further, is the GA is a police force or something more like the United Nations? All interesting possibilities.
I felt that ‘We Voted Not to Space You’ suffered from some of the same problems as ‘I’ve Seen the Other Side of You’ two weeks ago: too much need for exposition to keep the audience informed and there seeming not to be enough time available in the episode to cover all the plots points in great enough detail for satisfaction. Again, everything presented seemed like a great idea but I do wish we’d been able to see more of each one. And especially of Jace Corso, who I think didn’t get a good enough send off. It just seemed too small for the impact he and One had on the show up until now.
That said, the Android only gets better and better as a character – what’s not to like? Zoie Palmer and the writing developed the character whilst still retaining the things we’ve loved of her from before. We’re also starting to see some real information about the new guys and there’s plenty of seeding for future developments in the universe’s political scene and the potential for another interesting opponent in Kierkan.
So ‘We Voted Not to Space You’ was a bit of a blip for me but potentially it’s just a gear change that leads to something all the better next week?
- the Android trying so hard to get arrested
- the Android’s “OK” reminding us of who she is without the upgrade
- getting more information about Devon’s past and Nyx’s abilities
- getting more information about the galaxy’s political situation
- Jace Corso’s weak send off – I wanted to see something more powerful
- Six’s redemption plot being quite disconnected from the important events of the episode
- so much exposition that may not have been needed if there hadn’t been so much to get through