Review: Dark Matter, “My Final Gift to You”

Man, this has been a crazy season. For a while there I really thought Dark Matter was losing its mojo. There were a lot of mediocre episodes, and at least one straight up terrible one, in the middle of the season, and there have been a lot of missed opportunities. I was starting to get pretty discouraged.

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeBut now I’m starting to think they took all the awesome out of the middle of the season so they could cram it into the end. The last three episodes have been incredible, and this is the best one yet — not just of the season, but maybe the whole series.

“My Final Gift to You” brings the ultimate confrontation with Emperor Ryo Ishida, the man who was once Four. I’ve spent the season being disappointed this plot hasn’t got more attention, and this very well could have been too little too late, but they managed to stuff a full season’s worth of emotion and intensity into one episode.

Ryo has abducted Two. To get her back, he demands the Raza crew hand over the blink drive. But Two’s life isn’t his only tool of manipulation. His reclaimed memories also grant him access to the darkest secrets of every member of the crew, and he uses these to masterfully manipulate them.

But the Raza crew aren’t Ryo’s only problem. As the war worsens for Zairon, unrest grows, and intrigue within the court threatens to throw all into chaos.

Oh, yeah, and Suki just happens to have a galaxy-shaking revelation, too.

Man, where to even begin? Everything about this episode was awesome.

I think my favourite part was Ryo’s one-on-one meetings with all of the crew members and how he was pretty much able to play all of them like a fiddle. There’s fantastic performances from every member of the cast here, and some really intriguing revelations that have no doubt sewn plot seeds for many episodes to come.

Alex Mallari Jr. as Ishida Ryo/Four in Dark MatterMy one and only complaint is that I don’t like being strung along with Five’s secret. Just tell us who it is already.

I think I enjoy Ryo/Four more as a villain than I did as a protagonist, honestly. This episode really shows just how ruthlessly cunning he is, and his personal connection to the crew adds such a raw emotional intensity to the conflict. “Former friend turned bitter enemy” is hardly a new angle for a story, but rarely is it executed so well.

And we get some awesome sword fights, and we’re treated to another awesome “love to hate her” performance from Ellen Wong as Misaki, and we get to see clearer than ever how much Suki has become an equal member of the crew…

Really, “My Final Gift to You” is just excellent in every way. I hope the season finale can somehow keep up this momentum.

Overall rating: 9.3/10

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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.