Review: Dark Matter, “Welcome to the Revolution” + PvE Survival Sandboxes

One of the things I love about Dark Matter is that it’s incredibly consistent. Maybe not every episode will blow your mind, but it’s always solid. In its entire run, there’s been just one bad episode: that fembot mess from season one.

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeThat is, only one bad episode, until now. I fear it’s time to add another to the list.

“Welcome to the Revolution” has a lot of cool ideas, and some scenes are very good, but it’s trying to do way too much, and the end result is confusing, half-baked, and downright damaging to the series going forward.

While attempting to meet up with Tabor, their handler, the crew of the Raza once again finds themselves embroiled in corporate intrigue, as the local miners foment rebellion against their corporate overlords.

It’s a story that’s eerily — and I believe intentionally — similar to the series premiere, but this time it’s far less black and white. The corporate soldiers aren’t all brutal tyrants, and the rebels aren’t entirely guiltless, either. At times they seem more villainous than their oppressors, in fact.

And that part I liked. They managed to cram a lot of moral complexity into just one episode, and it once again shows that the Raza crew’s efforts to reinvent themselves as heroes will never be easy or simple. Again, being better is so much harder.

Things get even more interesting when a late twist ties the conflict into bigger plot arcs from Dark Matter’s past, but unfortunately, that’s also when things start to go off the rails.

Five (Jodelle Ferland) and Six (Roger Cross) in Dark Matter“Welcome to the Machine” is a complicated story, and there’s not nearly enough time to do it all justice. This needed to be a two-parter at least. But it isn’t, and so it feels rushed and unfinished, and the resolution honestly just doesn’t make sense given past context (this is a very hard episode to review without violating my spoiler policy).

Ultimately, the goal of “Welcome to the Machine” seems to have been to provide another cast shake-up, and that’s the worst thing about it. The show has now lost one of its best characters, who has always been essential to its core themes, not to mention arguably its most talented actor.

In exchange, the cast seems to have picked up two new characters. One has already proven himself finger-nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating, and the other could potentially be interesting but has yet to do much or display any real personality.

This is not a good trade.

In general I am now growing frustrated with the extent to which Dark Matter hemorrhages cast members. I was never the biggest One fan, so I didn’t mind his death (though it’s disappointing that mystery was never solved), and the senselessness of Devon’s end was sort of the whole point of it, but Nyx and the latest loss are just examples of wasting potential. The show is worse for their loss.

These losses are beginning to undermine the core themes of Dark Matter. It’s about the crew, about the unique family they’ve created with each other. The more those bonds are broken, the more the show loses its heart and soul.

Left to right: Alex Mallari Jr. (Four), Roger Cross (Six), Anthony Lemke (Three), and Melissa O'Neill (Two)This has to stop.

Overall rating: 5.2/10

New articles:

In other news, I’ve had some more articles published on MMO Bro.

First, I imagine the possibility of a purely PvE survival sandbox, and how it could perhaps be superior to the PvP focused games currently dominating the genre.

Interestingly I wrote this article before the Fortnite reveals at E3, but Fortnite seems pretty close to the PvE survival sandbox I was imagining (though smaller in scale than my hypotheticals). There’s still a lot of unanswered questions about Fortnite, but I gotta say the trailer made it look really fun, and it’s now on my radar.

My main concern is that it seems like a game that’s really meant to be played with friends, but I don’t have a lot of gamer friends. It doesn’t seem like a good game for PUGing, and it’s not clear to me if playing solo is even an option, let alone an enjoyable playstyle.

But I’m definitely going to keep an eye on it.

Also at MMO Bro, I list off six ways World of Warcraft still has the rest of the MMO world beat. WoW is really showing its age these days, but there are a few specific areas it’s still trouncing the competition.

Superior Realities Sixth Anniversary: Reflections

Six years have now past since the first post appeared on Superior Realities. Time flies when you’re yelling at Blizzard, I suppose.

The Greatest City in the WorldIn some ways it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but in others it feels like a lifetime. I was still writing Dispatches from the Romulan War when this blog started, for crying out loud.

When the blog started, I lived in Toronto, then I moved to the country for a few years, then I moved back to the city. Seems like rather a lot of effort just to move from the west end to the east end.

I still miss Parkdale. My new neighbourhood is nice, too, but that’s the problem. It’s too nice. I’ve been here for going on two years now, and I’m still waiting to get the bum’s rush. I don’t fit in here.

I try to visit Parkdale as often as possible. I feel like I belong there. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I’m not the weirdest person around.

When I lived in Toronto the first time, I lived with my father and a couple cats. Now that I’ve returned, I live alone with many books but no cats.

When the blog began, freelance writing was still some new and exciting adventure I was embarking upon. Now it’s just old hat.

Looks pretty in the picture, but it's really a miserable placeI’ve written… three novels since this blog started. I think. Three or four. Of course only one of them (Human Again) has seen the light of day so far. I’ve also written who knows how many short stories in that time.

Six years ago, I had hair. I should really update that profile picture at some point. Male pattern baldness can suck it, by the way.

When the site launched, I was a huge Metric fan, and now I’m a huge Metric fan who’s shaken Emily’s hand (best day ever). I’m also now a huge Chvrches fan, but I haven’t shaken Lauren’s hand.

When Superior Realities began, I was still in the process of re-entering the gaming world. Of course I’d been playing WoW for a while by then and had also played StarCraft II and maybe one or two other things, but I was still a bit out of the loop on the industry as a whole.

Since then I’ve broadened my horizons considerably. I eventually got around to most if not all of the games I missed out on during my teen years and embraced many modern classics, as well as a few more obscure titles. I hated Bioware for a while, then I kind of liked them, then I loved them, then I think I hated them again for a bit, and now I’m just generally confused.

They had real winters up there. That's somethingI’ve blogged through four WoW expansions, the rise and fall of my passion for Guild Wars 2, and my totally unexpected dive into Star Wars: The Old Republic. I fell in love with The Secret World, and now I’ve had to cope with its inglorious collapse. In general I’ve created enough MMO characters to form an entire battalion, and like half of them are named Maigraith.

I’ve mourned the cancellations of Defiance and Sanctuary, and I’ve fallen in love with Continuum, Dark Matter, and iZombie. I’ve reviewed some very good movies, and also Immortals.

It has been suggested I should take this opportunity to examine whether I’ve achieved my goals for the blog, to which I can only say… maybe? I guess?

Honestly I’m kind of losing sight of what the point was originally supposed to be. Nowadays blogging is just part of my routine; it’s not something I think a lot about. Just an excuse to run my mouth (figuratively speaking) without anyone trying to change the subject on me like they usually do.

I’m mostly happy with the traffic I get, though of course it’d always be nice to get more, and I do get a decent amount of attention within the greater community, so that’s nice.

Best day ever

Shake your head, it’s empty…

I will confess that I wish I got more comments, though. Figure pretty much every blogger wishes they got more comments, and compared to the handful of blogs I follow, I seem to get less comments than most. Not sure why this is, but I imagine it’s some combination of my terrible opinions, my long-winded endurance test of a writing style, and my cantankerous personality.

Of course, reflecting on the past also invariably leads one to pondering the future. For the most part, I suppose it will continue to be steady as she goes for Superior Realities for the immediate future.

I’m always mulling ideas for new types of content, but I dismiss almost all of them.

There’s often the temptation to expand beyond my relatively narrow sci-fi/fantasy/video game focus (the lack of Simpsons content on this blog saddens me sometimes), but at the same time I think there’s something to be said for keeping a clear vision for the site. I like the idea that my readers know what they’re getting: angry nerd rants and Elves.

I’ve thought about doing a series on various songs that I use for inspiration when writing fiction, but most people’s ears start bleeding when confronted with my musical taste.

I could also probably get a lot more posts out of the head canon and backstories for my video game characters, but my previous posts on that subject have the dubious distinction of being the least popular posts I’ve ever done by every available metric, so I probably won’t bother with that.

To winter I belongI tried my hand at video content recently, and there’s some temptation to do more of that, but it’s another thing that didn’t get much reaction. Plus I’m not sure I can bring anything to the table that the legions of YouTubers out there aren’t already covering, and I definitely have a voice for text (which is like a face for the radio, kind of).

I’m also often tempted to post more of my fiction and thoughts related to it on the blog, but again, such posts never seem to generate much interest, so I’m kind of gravitating away from that at this point.

Seriously, if you ever feel like doing me a favour, go read some of my stories and leave feedback. I don’t mind criticism as long as it’s constructive. I’m particularly interested in opinions on The Wounding and Lady of the Dawn, as that setting is very important to me, but In Her Sister’s Pose is probably the best thing I’ve written as far as short fiction goes.

Anyway, if any of these ideas sound like they’d interest you, or if you there’s something else you’d like to me to do with the blog, let me know, but otherwise it’s probably going to be status quo for the time being. There is many a Warcraft rant yet to be written.

In closing, I would like to thank my readers for sticking with me all this time. Be seeing you, sweetlings.

In the half-light.