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DARK MATTER “Built, Not Born” Review

By on August 5, 2017

DARK MATTER -- "Built, Not Born" Episode 310 -- Pictured: Zoie Palmer as The Android -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

By Rachel Thomas

We begin as Android breaks the news to her crew that she has friends—totally independent of them—to the crew. (‘Your…robot friends,’ as Three says, somewhat dumbfounded.) Victor shows the crew to their problem: a rather nasty former owner found one of the androids, culminating in a showdown that left him dead and another android temporarily disabled. Android asks to bring them on board, and the crew agrees.

Aware that the android Anya was likely tracked—and is, therefore, likely still being tracked—Two asks Android to locate and disable the tracker. Instead Android discovers an extraordinarily complex cipher specifically designed for androids with the upgrade. In it, there’s a set of coordinates and a single word: sanctuary. Their creator is in reach.

Three expresses his distrust of the androids to Sarah, and a slip of the tongue re: Sarah’s not-quite-living-ness creates a long moment of awkward tension. She’s the bigger person, though, and encourages Three to remember how not long ago, he had trouble accepting her as well. He chalks it up to intuition.

Meanwhile Android locates the transmitter, and discovers that not even shutting Anya down completely would stop it from transmitting. Victor suggests that instead of seeking out their maker in the Antares sector, they can look for other androids like them. This prompts Android to reminisce on the memories she doesn’t have, and Victor offers to ‘try something’—and we flash to Android’s perspective at some point far in the past as pre-Two asserts her authority and takes over the ship as Three looks on.

As Android and Victor are pulled out of the robotic mind-meld by a GA appearance, the crew realizes the GA are tracking them, likely using Anya. Five calls for their help from C-level as Anya is on the brink of android suicide—and then goes through with it. (No, nice android lady.)

The crew resumes their original course as Victor and Android pay a visit to Ruac, whose neural matrix (he claims) is beyond repair. He, too, self-terminates—a sad moment that turns manipulative when Victor tries to use it to convince Android to come with him. He suggests the crew deliberately scrambled her memories—and for unknown purposes. Android asks him to unlock another, and we see Five and Two trying to ‘fix’ her. Two asks to close the dormant Android’s eyes, saying it makes her look unreal. Five responds that she’s a machine. Two replies firmly, ‘No. She’s not.’

On the surface, the boarding party is greeted by Chase, the Caretaker, who greets Two and Android as Rebecca and Suki. Two explains that they have no memory of him, and Victor asks to see the creator. They’re led to an inner chamber, where they see a woman in cryogenic storage—and she looks exactly like Android.

She’s Dr Irena Shaw, a pioneering Dwarf Star researcher and one of Two’s creators—the only one, it seems, capable of seeing Two’s humanity.

Shaw created the androids as a response to the ‘grave injustice’ of Two’s creation, ultimately building a family of androids with Two by her side. Two ultimately placed her in stasis when Shaw collapsed because of an inoperable brain tumor—over time, as the androids left to seek their own lives, Two grieved. Ultimately, Chase created Android as a piece of Shaw for Two to keep.

DARK MATTER -- "Built, Not Born" Episode 310 -- Pictured: Melissa O'Neil as Two -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Built, Not Born” Episode 310 — Pictured: Melissa O’Neil as Two — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

Two suggests they inject Shaw with nanites that might be able to handle the tumor, and Android, patently displeased with this revelation of her origins, decides to return to the ship. Six accompanies her, and she expresses how she feels diminished—like a vague shadow of someone else. Six comforts her, pointing out that her imperfections are what make her unique.

Chase gives Victor and Two a tour of the facility, only to stop abruptly and announce that they have to go back. Behind them, the door opens—and Dr Shaw steps through.

Shaw and Two—Rebecca—reunite as Android practices smiling. Shaw and Two discuss that Android was really meant to contain human consciousness as Android herself struggles to grasp that she wasn’t meant to be. Five attempts to console Android, and Two realizes that Shaw may hold the key to letting Sarah have her freedom once and for all.

Three shares the opportunity with Sarah, who can’t fail to see the irony. He encourages her to take the opportunity, assuring her that no matter what, she’ll always be the woman he loves.

Five meets Chase virtually, who’s called to offer Suki the chance to adjust her programming. Five reacts with all the indignation we’d hope, informing him that they love Android just the way she is. Awww.

As Three and porta-a-Sarah follow Chase into the lab, Android asks Victor for one more glance into her memories. We see her trying a chocolate pudding as Ryo asks her what she thinks. She asks why they are so kind to her when they’re so morally bankrupt, and Ryo responds that she’s one of them. Two reenters, injecting a touch of further moral deficiency into the picture, and Android pulls out of the memory. She thanks him.

DARK MATTER -- "Built, Not Born" Episode 310 -- Pictured: Natalie Brown as Sarah -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Built, Not Born” Episode 310 — Pictured: Natalie Brown as Sarah — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

As Two and Six get comfy in the Marauder, Five contacts them. Surprise, surprise! It’s the GA.

The GA orders them to drop their shields and stand down as the crew realizes Victor’s broadcasting. Dr. Shaw manages to shut it down as the GA begins their bombardment, and they prepare to evacuate—Victor, Chase, Shaw, and Sarah on their ship, and the Raza crew on their own. Shaw and Two say their goodbyes as Three pensively stares at the pod containing Sarah’s to-be-built android form and consciousness. They make their escape—barely.

Safely away, Three comes upon Android sipping hot chocolate in the mess. He pours them both whiskey instead, and mumbles through an apology—for how he treated Android at first, and how he avoided Victor. She assures him that Victor was avoiding him as well, and that Three’s tendency to speak his mind without thought of the consequences is one of the things she likes about him. She offers a mechanical smile, asking if she’s not doing it correctly. Three tells her that she’s doing it great.

On Shaw’s ship, Sarah awakes in her android body. They give her the rundown on her new living situation, and all seems well—but for a flashback revealing that Anya’s old owner had his neck snapped by Victor while trying to help her. (…come on, man. Way to confirm Three’s prejudices.)

Holy twists, Batman. This episode had a little bit of everything—insight into Android’s creation was a given, but the glimpses into the crew’s past interactions really sealed this episode emotionally. (Not going to lie, I felt my heart do a little twitch in her flashback with Four and the pudding.) Two’s past relationship with Shaw seemed a touch abrupt in context, but it underscored well how adrift Android was left—and the inherent awkwardness of walking around wearing (what Android now knows is) someone else’s face. As an Serious Android Fan, I wish we’d seen a bit more of Android’s identity crisis, but since we also had Sarah and Two to coach through the valley of self-discovery (or rediscovery, as it were), the balance was nicely struck.

Going forward…

Victor, Victor, Victor. Android is better than you, and you should feel bad. What’s he up to, and will android Sarah be okay around him? What is android Sarah going to do? She’s playing increasingly important roles in the show, and now with Victor trying to recruit her…let’s hope that Six’s wish that she and Three get a happy ending comes true.    

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