Review: Dark Matter, “Nowhere to Go” (Series Finale)

A very inconsistent season of Dark Matter ends with a season finale that is also somewhat inconsistent. (And I finally get to see it; thanks for taking your sweet time, Microsoft.)

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeRyo receives a stay of execution as Teku arrives at the helm of a fleet of Zairon warships, extending an olive branch. Through little more than dumb luck, Teku has stumbled across a crucial piece of intelligence: the location of Ferrous Corps’ secret war fleet.

The time is now right to deal a decisive blow to Ferrous and end the corporate war for good. But as is so often the case on Dark Matter, not all is quite as it seems.

In many ways “Nowhere to Go” is Dark Matter at its best. It’s got all kinds of twists, reversals, and betrayals. It’s got action and excitement. It’s got yet another performance from Jodelle Ferland that makes me want to reach through the screen and hug her. And it builds to a heart-stoppingly intense climax and the most dramatic cliff-hanger yet.

Still, there are some things that don’t sit right with me.

I think their reason for not killing Ryo immediately is a good one, but I’m not ready to forgive him, and I’m not sure I want to see him back as a member of the crew. I’m torn because Alex Mallari Jr. is a great actor and I’ve been a fan of his character from the beginning, but after all that’s happened, it just doesn’t feel right for Ryo to be accepted back into the fold. And frankly he just worked better as a villain.

It also seems like we may have lost a cast member again, and I’m not sure what upsets me more: the possibility this could be another fakeout, or that it could be another real death. We’ve had too many of both, and it’s getting tiresome.

The cast of Dark MatterThere’s also the lingering legacy of the missteps that have dogged season three. This should have been the season of the corporate war, but it’s ended up as something of an afterthought, and even now at what is supposedly its climax, it’s not really the focus. We didn’t even get to see Nieman.

This is as much a complaint about the season as a whole as the finale, but I am also disappointed by how the blink drive was introduced as this amazingly powerful thing, and then it’s ended up being used for pretty much nothing. Feels like the writers didn’t know what to do with it and just wanted to put that arc behind them.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

EDIT: Shortly after posting this, it has come to my attention that Dark Matter has now been cancelled, which makes this the series finale rather than the season finale.

Well shit.

Obviously I’m upset at this news. I may not have been entirely thrilled with the quality of this season, but it’s still a show with a lot going for it, and certainly the first two seasons were all but flawless. Dark Matter really deserved a chance to redeem itself.

I have recently learned that the show’s creator, Joseph Mallozzi, had the series’ entire plot arc mapped out from day one, with the plan for it to play out over five seasons. I very much admire that kind of forethought, and it made me eager to see how the rest of the arc was going to play out. I suppose now we’ll never get the chance to see it. That seems like a terrible waste.

I just hope the new Star Trek show is good, because otherwise we’re entering into another very bleak period for sci-fi TV.

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