Syfy’s Friday night show Dark Matter reminds us that you can never have enough edgy, disagreeable, violent, and flawed characters packed into a tight space. Here, the tight space in question is the starship Raza, whose corridors seem to alternately feel claustrophobic and labyrinthine.
The show is a little past the halfway point of its second season at the time of me writing this, and no doubt some of what’s mentioned below will have evolved with further episodes. The balance of the show deals with the serial story arch of the amnesiac crew’s situation. I was concerned while watching the first season that the show would be the plot of the week with everything getting reset after the credits rolled. The second season two-episode prison story were easily my personal favorite as several of the characters got quite the shake-up.
The main driving force of conflict originates with each of the crew’s past, as we discover that as bad as they all are, what they were before the memory wipe was much worse and now their various misdeeds and ghosts are coming back to kick their butts. The challenge is that there are six main crew members, an android, and a few strays picked up from the prison that all have skeletons in their closet and ulterior motives, and the show is only an hour long including commercials. The meta plot of an upcoming cooperate space war complicates matters further.
Some of the characters have more compelling stories than others. What’s interesting is this keeps changing as the focus shifts often enough that a couple of the front and center characters get back-burnered from episode to episode, with just enough of a hint that the story writers haven’t forgotten about them completely. This reminds me of reading the X-Men in the 1980’s during the Chris Claremont era where so many interesting plot lines were introduced yet never resolved. Dark Matter is in its infancy, yet so much gets hinted at that will require quite a few shows to answer the myriad questions the viewer is left with.
But it’s also the characters themselves that keep me watching, as I’ll change my mind on my favorite with each episode. For instance, I thought the android would be a rather bland piece of humanoid furniture once we got past her turbulent activation in season one, but I found myself caught up in her recent story, even if it’s well-traveled ground as far as robots finding their human emotions. I was also initially put off by Three, worried that he would be a Jayne light. It turns out I like Jayne light and have enjoyed his past reveal and his meshing with the rest of the crew as well as his facing the fact that he has turned over a new leaf and has no stomach for the man he was before. The rest of the cast, including those that have been taken aboard post-memory wipe event, have their moments as well. So far the drug-addicted medic is the only one who leaves me wondering what’s the point of him? These guys and gals are a bunch ex-thieves and murderers. Who cares if the doc is a junkie?
So far I’m glad we as a family picked the show to watch, and we’ll keep on it, hoping that the story as a whole continues to evolve and that it doesn’t get too bogged down and over-embroidered with sprawling character subplots that never get to be addressed in the allotted run time.