Review: Dark Matter, “Built, not Born”

In its early days, Dark Matter was focused on slowly revealing the dark histories of the Raza crew before their memory wipe, but by now we’ve learned the backstories for the whole crew, except one.

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeUntil now.

The android I’ve been calling Sally in lieu of another name receives a call for help from Victor, the rebel android she connected with back in season two. At her direction, the Raza crew rescues him and his companions, and he points the way to a mysterious sanctuary for free-willed androids.

Once they arrive, it’s time for a massive info-dump. This is the long awaited origin story for Sally the android, but there’s far more to it than that. We also get some truly startling revelations about Two’s past that show a completely different side of the woman she was before she was Two, and those past events also have some powerful implications for Three in the present.

“Built, not Born” is a fascinating and powerful episode. I’ve said many times that the greatest strength of Dark Matter is its characters, and this episode capitalizes on that resource brilliantly.

I loved seeing the android grapple with the truth of her identity, and how she truly has become an equal and valued member of the crew. It’s genuinely touching.

I’m also glad to see that there was more to the woman Two used to be than violence and self-interest, and I think it throws her whole character into a new light. The person she is now seems like a more natural evolution in this context. She makes sense.

Sally no longer?I think it’s very interesting that the androids’ backstory is now tied into what I am increasingly suspecting will be the true meta plot of Dark Matter as a series. That could go interesting places in the future.

I even liked Three’s story! It was great. I’ve never enjoyed a Three plot anywhere near this much.

There isn’t much action this time around, but there’s still plenty of humour even with so much heavy stuff going on, and honestly it’s all so good I don’t even miss the fisticuffs and gunplay.

Season three has so far been what I will generously call inconsistent, but it pleases me to say that Dark Matter’s worst ever episode has been followed by one of its best ever episodes.

You have to look pretty hard to find anything to criticize here, but I will say I find it a bit strange that Two’s blood is suddenly a panacea. Why did no one think of that before now?

Also, this is probably the first time I’ve ever had anything bad to say about Five — and it will probably be the last time, too — but I don’t like how she blew up on Chase. I understand and even admire her feelings, but he was only trying to help, and really, it’s not right for Five to be making decisions for her friend. As he said, it would’ve been up to her. In trying to defend her rights as an autonomous person, Five ended up undermining those very same rights.

Two and Victor in the Dark Matter episode "Built, not Born"But those are some pretty tiny nits to pick in otherwise excellent episode.

Overall rating: 8.9/10

I’m not sure how to feel about us finally having a real name for the android. I wonder if the the crew will actually use it, or stick to calling her the android just as they’ve kept their numerical monikers. And if they don’t use her name, should I keep calling her Sally? I don’t mind the new name, but she does really look like a Sally…

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Review: Dark Matter, “Isn’t that a Paradox?” + MMO Link Dump

Immediately after watching “Isn’t that a Paradox?”, I turned on the radio. Milky Chance was on, and the first line I heard was, “We don’t talk about it.”

That seems an apt reaction to this episode.

A promotional image for Dark Matter season threeMost sci-fi shows will eventually accumulate at least one or two episodes the fans would sooner pretend never happened. I believe we have come to that point in Dark Matter’s history.

Okay, so, time travel. I’m not in love with the idea of time travel in Dark Matter to begin with. Its strength is its characters, not in its sci-fi elements, and it just doesn’t really seem to fit in with the grittier tone of the universe.

Still, it might be forgivable if it was used to tell an interesting story, but it isn’t. It’s just an excuse for an endless string of fish out of water gags. To be fair, some are pretty funny, but it’s not enough to carry an episode.

We also need to acknowledge the fact that, by all appearances, a blink drive can be used to travel through time as easily as space. This means that from now on either the series is going to solve every problem with the deus ex machina of traveling back in time to fix every mistake, or be constantly raising the question of why the crew isn’t going back in time to fix their mistakes. The latter is preferable, but neither is desirable.

And do not even get me started on the utterly cringey sub-plot about the tweenage boy falling for Five. That was physically painful. I mean, I always say I love seeing Five get screen time, but not like this.

Not like this.

Two and Three in Dark Matter season threeThe requisite end of episode teaser for the next episode looks interesting, at least. We’re overdue for a good Sally episode.

Overall rating: 5/10 I was going to give it a four, but I’m adding an extra point because it references Dungeon Siege III, one of the most criminally underrated video games of recent memory.

I want to believe Five is an Anjali main. Two would play Katarina, of course.

New articles:

I’ve been getting lax about linking my recent articles for MMO Bro, so it’s time for a good old-fashioned link dump.

First, I do a two part series looking at what Western MMOs can learn from their Eastern counterparts, and vice versa.

Next, I run down a list of the best level-scaling systems in the MMO genre. I really do love level-scaling, and the more I play games with it, the more I wish it was universal. It opens so many doors.

Finally, I get a bit more serious and talk about the issue of player toxicity in MMOs. Specifically, some practical solutions for how I think communities could be improved.