Review: Dark Matter, “The Dwarf Star Conspiracy” + TSW TV Series?

Do you remember back in season two when I was joking how if you squinted you could sort of see the Dark Matter universe as a far-future version of The Secret World?

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeIt’s a bit less of a joke now. I think Dark Matter just walked into empty.

Spurred by one of Suki/Sally/whatever’s recovered memories, Two leads the Raza crew to a secret Dwarf Star facility. Something about the place sets Three on edge immediately, but Two forges ahead, and in the depths of the facility, the terrible truth of Dwarf Star’s plans is at last revealed.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Rook Dwarf Star wgah’nagl fhtagn.

This is by any measure a strong episode. It’s suspenseful, and it’s exciting, and it provides all the fun of a Dwarf Star episode without any Wil Wheaton (sorry, he’s just not good at playing a villain).

That said, this is definitely one of those episodes that’s most interesting not for what it is, but for what it may lead to. I’ve been developing a growing suspicion for a while now that Dwarf Star is the true Big Bad and meta arc of Dark Matter, and this certainly doesn’t dissuade me from that idea. It’s hard to imagine Zairon or the corporations, bad as they are, ever being as scary as this.

I’ve long enjoyed Dark Matter’s character-driven stories, but I’m not one to ever turn down a good fight to save the universe.

Two and Three in Dark Matter season threeThis is also the second episode in a row that has featured Three as an important and even interesting part of the story. Has the cast’s last remaining weak link finally been shored up?

Overall rating: 8.5/10 Dwarf Stars collide with the mind. Please adjust the pressure. I’m not comfortable.

In other news…

It seems Dark Matter might not be our only option for some Filthy TV, though. Massively has just reported on the utterly and completely unexpected news that Johnny Depp wants to make a TV series based on The Secret World.

Yes, really.

Now, I’m not going to get too excited. Lots of ideas get optioned for movies or TV and then never make it out of development hell. I don’t think the odds of this series actually making it to air are very good.

That said, if it does, obviously I’ll watch the hell out of it. It’d be worth watching just to see Jeffrey Combs reprise his role as Hayden Montag. Maybe this could even be a more worthy end to the story than Legends.

The real question is, what actress is crazy enough to do Lilith justice? She’s probably too big a name for them to afford, but I think Charlize Theron could do well.

WoW: Kul Tiras Ahoy?

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when wild rumours, rampant speculation, leaks, and “leaks” about the next World of Warcraft expansion are flying wildly. And boy, we’ve got a doozy to lead things off.

Datamining for 7.3 has revealed a partial armour set labelled “Kul Tiras quest.”

Well then.

The Tides of Darkness rise again?Kul Tiras has always been one of the great oversights of WoW. As a pillar of the Alliance, a naval superpower, one of the last surviving human nations, and the homeland of Jaina Proudmoore, it’s something that very much should be in the game but inexplicably isn’t. Honestly, a very strong argument could be made that it should have been the Alliance capitol instead of Stormwind.

And yet it’s nowhere to be found. It’s barely even mentioned. If Kul Tiras is finally making its way into the game, and that now seems almost certain, it’s long overdue.

I had initially assumed we’d be visiting it for a story scenario or something, but it has been pointed out that this “[place name] quest” file name nomenclature has in the past always been used for leveling gear in a new expansion.

This raises the very real possibility that Kul Tiras will be the setting of the next expansion.

Kul Tiras is very significant politically, but not very big geographically, which could make for a very cramped expansion, but Legion has proven that Blizzard is willing to set expansions in smaller locales. And it’s also possible that the expansion might include other islands, such as Zandalar or Tel Abim.

Of course, Kul Tiras indicates an aquatic expansion, and that raises the possibility of Azshara.

Art of Queen Azshara from the Warcraft trading card gameMan, I’ve wanted an Azshara/Naga/N’Zoth expansion for so long now. I refuse to get my hopes up again. There have been too many false alarms: The Dark Below, Eye of Azshara…

I also have to wonder if, after all this time, Blizzard could deliver on my expectations for such a thing.

Azshara is, I think, the last great Warcraft villain. We can’t bring Gul’dan back from the dead again. The Lich King’s story is finished. Murozond and Deathwing are defeated. The mid-level Legion leadership has been pretty defanged in WoW, and Sargeras is too powerful for players to ever face directly. Sylvanas is too beloved by the fans to be made a direct antagonist.

There are still the Old Gods and Void Lords, but Azshara has a human (for lack of a better term) face that they lack. For all her godlike power and legendary influence on the Warcraft universe, she’s still ultimately just a person. A profoundly twisted, chillingly selfish person, but a person nonetheless.

Azshara is unique among Warcraft villains, and not just because she’s one of the few prominent female villains in the universe. Most Warcraft villains are literal monsters: mutant dragons who bleed liquid hate, undead monstrosities, grotesque demon lords, eldritch beings from a realm of pure entropy.

Queen Azshara at her height of powerEven Gul’dan, arguably her closest analogue, is nakedly monstrous, his appearance hideous and his cruelty clear.

Azshara isn’t like that. Azshara is charming, personable, and charismatic. Her darkness is well hidden. To the untrained eye, she is a beacon of grace and beauty, truly the Light of Lights.

Azshara is a slow poison, a subtle killer. Her people continued to love and worship her even as she burned everything they ever loved. She already shattered the world once, and she’s had ten thousand years to perfect her plan to finish the job.

But can WoW do justice to all that? Historically it’s done a very poor job of making its antagonists into credible threats, with the Lich King and to a much lesser extent Garrosh being the only notable exceptions.

Kul Tiras probably also means more Jaina, and that could also be a problem. Every time I think Blizzard can’t ruin Jaina’s character more, they find a way. I so want to have the old Jaina back, but I think it’s now far too late for that.

So while the news of a Kul Tiras expansion would have once filled me with joy, right now I’m trying to keep my expectations carefully managed. It could be great, but it could also be a terrible disappointment.

I won’t lie, though. If Gamescom/BlizzCon rolls around and they show a trailer for “World of Warcraft: Light of Lights,” I may nerdgasm a bit.