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DARK MATTER “Give it Up, Princess” Review

By on July 1, 2017

DARK MATTER: Pictured Alex Mallari Jr. as Four -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

By Rachel Thomas

A new day on the Raza, a new chance for Adrian to ask for something—in this case, a trip to Tabor’s safehouse to pick up…a few things. Two and Three receive this request skeptically, but decide to indulge their new crewmember. Meanwhile, Five trains with Solara and gets a window into the latter’s Tragic Past (TM). After all, the crew who trades tragic backstories together stays together. 

Adrian calls Tabor’s safehouse, and—quelle surprise—there’s a girl on the other end. The girl is Ambrosia, Tabor’s girlfriend, and she’s not having a good day at all—she’s been taken hostage by a sleazebag called Goren. And as fits a sleazebag’s MO, he has an ultimatum: give over a particular data file Tabor acquired some time before he disappeared, or Ambrosia gets to french a gun. 

Goren, it turns out, is an old business rival of Tabor’s.  Adrian says the data file was useless—just requisition forms and coordinates for Project Phoenix. That codename means nothing to Adrian and everything to Two. Rumor has it that Ferrous is building a huge fleet in secret—codenamed Phoenix. Two sees an opportunity to turn the tide of the war altogether, and they strike a deal: they’ll play Big Damn Heroes and save Ambrosia, and in return Adrian will give them the file. Adrian agrees. 

Just one little problem. 

…he doesn’t have it. It’s back on Regulus 12. 

Across the stars, Four is also not having an amazing day. Miners are preparing to strike, one of his top generals is dead, dissatisfaction runs rampant…welcome to karma, Four. 

The crew of the Raza returns to Regulus 12 to reclaim Adrian’s file, but they’re quickly met with—nothing. The entire station’s been scuttled. Adrian, panicking a bit and badly hiding his crush on Ambrosia, suggests they try a storage facility on Taliphus 8, where Tabor liked to store his backups. 

Unfortunately Taliphus 8 is deep in Ferrous territory. Two and Three raise their eyebrows, but Adrian convinces them it’ll be fine—he can use his ID and enter legally in order to get Five close to the files.  They set off for Taliphus 8, but Adrian’s moment of victory doesn’t come—they’re arrested as soon as they arrive on the station. Apparently Tabor’s fallen behind on his payments, what with having disappeared from the face of the earth and all; the security officer suggests there might be a way to settle the score. 

Intel on the Raza crew? Intel on the Raza crew. 

Meanwhile, Teku encourages Four to send more soldiers to the Temiken system, the spiritual and cultural heart of their empire. Four can’t bring himself to do it, though, as it would weaken his position elsewhere. Teku advises him that he has to win over the people and give them something to believe in—something Temiken could represent. 

Back on the Marauder Two detects that it’s taken too long, and before long the Android confirms that Adrian’s been arrested. Two suggests they head in, but Android has a better idea. Just let her change into her heels…

As southern belle Anne Devereaux, Android effortlessly flirts her way through the Taliphus 8 base, culminating in a beautifully-placed punch and one liner (‘I don’t date guys whose asses I’ve kicked.’). Meanwhile, Adrian struggles to cope with the limitations of being imprisoned (suggesting at one point Five, sans tools, ‘hacks’ the door). He finds a semblance of a spine, though, and can’t bring himself to turn on the Raza crew—which may or may not have something to do with the reports of ‘a disturbance’ coming through on the security officer’s radio.

And it’s getting closer. 

Android breaks Five and Adrian out of their cell, having left a healthy trail of bodies in her wake.  They attempt to track down Tabor’s backup, only to find it’s not there. 

After this latest dead end, Three declares the chase over. Adrian points out they’re still going to kill Ambrosia, and in a burst of inspiration or desperation, throws out Bellerophon 6—an independent colony where Tabor, or Tabor’s secrets, may well be hiding.  

Fortunately for Adrian, the crew of the Raza is feeling very generous. 

On Xairon, Misaki chases down Four. Her words are few but cutting, and her strictly anti-Teku position is strikingly clear. She appeals to Four’s instinctual approach, encouraging him to let Temiken fall. 

On Bellerophon 6, Two, Solara, and Adrian poke around Tabor’s hoard. They have just enough time to find some fun trinkets and a bit of cold, hard cash before force fields go up and a very polite security android apprehends them.  He’s not going to harm them, of course—just detain them until Tabor returns. 

Tabor was last there over 3 months ago. Settle in, kids.

On the Raza, Android stops Three from going in guns blazing after the others, and instead takes his place. She approaches the nameless security android with something he’s probably never encountered before—empathy. She offers him an upgrade in exchange for the others, but while he ponders Three knocks him out. (Sorry, my robotic dude. You were cool.) Reunited, the team delves into the base in search of the file. 

They locate the file, but their victory is short-lived. It has Ferrous military-grade encryptions—a challenge even for kid genius Five.  Tabor had a decryption program, it turns out, but it’s hidden somewhere else—somewhere very safe.

On Xairon, Misaki presents the graduating class of the military academy to Four. He sizes them up, congratulating them one by one. Misaki looks on with skepticism, until she finally notices one graduate is especially nervous as he awaits the emperor’s handshake. She tackles him, exposing a needle hidden between his fingers. 

Teku confirms the needle was poisoned, and points out that ruling with fear will only produce more discontent. Teku admonishes him that the people want to love their emperor, and ruling by pure force is not the path to take, but Misaki has little patience for Four’s teacher.

Meanwhile, Adrian arranges the drop with Goren. He hands over the file, but Ambrosia doesn’t come to him—instead, she shoots Goren herself and takes the file. Revealing she went freelance after Tabor’s disappearance, she apparently played the long con this whole time. She plays a quick game of cat-and-mouse with the crew of the Raza, trying to con Adrian one last time once she’s cornered. Fortunately, Solara’s there to give him a punch in the shoulder. Adrian correctly surmises that the decryption code is actually hidden in Ambrosia’s locket—an odd gift, he’d thought, from someone as unsentimental as Tabor—and takes it from her. 

The crew decrypts the file and heads to the coordinates of Project Phoenix. Sure enough they find berths for the assembly of interstellar ships—but no actual ships. Despite intel suggesting they wouldn’t be ready for another month, the ships are totally gone. 

Back on Xairon, Four, Misaki, and Teku await a General’s report. He enters looking vaguely stunned—the Temiken system was a trap, wiping out huge segments of their forces. Enraged, Four orders that the family and closest friends of his would-be assassin are rounded up as ‘an example’. Misaki’s visibly pleased with this order; Teku, sensing Ryo has gone too far for his counsel, less so. 

Five and Six have a video chat. Six has apparently adapted to the world of bureaucracy, finally—as he says—getting to feel needed. Six offers for them to come visit after the next summit, to which Five agrees. 

Elsewhere, a Commander Nieman records that the war is going according to plan—except for one unforeseen development: the independent colonies. He muses that they have to take out all colonies not under their umbrella—that they have no choice but to use Agent Zero. 

He gazes at a video of Six. 

A healthy dose of action and lots of opportunities to see our crew develop as a unit this week. Android is a delight whatever she does, and—brief though it was—her interaction with the unnamed security android was oddly touching. Structurally, however, this episode felt oddly disjointed in places—certain elements (such as Solara’s backstory) are touched on and then ignored for the rest of the episode. Likewise, at times it’s hard to remember why the crew keeps going along with Adrian’s quest. These issues might be easier to overlook if Goren, as designated villain, had more of an impact, or if we got to know Ambrosia herself in more depth. These aren’t fatal flaws by any means, but it does make for slightly rockier viewing than last episode. 

We also got to see a bit more of Four’s spiral from the inside—a bit more active engagement with the world of Ryo’s empire is never a bad thing for the viewers. (For his citizens, on the other hand…) There wasn’t quite enough to fully flesh out the dynamics within Ryo’s court, but it looks like upcoming episodes are sure to pick up on that and chase down every possibly avenue for breaking our hearts.  

Going forward…

Ryo‘s dance with villainy is painful, but makes for superb drama—I can’t wait to see how the complexities of his relationships with Teku, Misaki, and his people more generally play out. Solara gave us a shred of her backstory at the outset—with any luck, we’ll revisit some of that narrative goldmine in the future. 

And a shout out to the unnamed security android, who was so charmingly porcelain in his mannerisms that I now want him to reappear and have a bromance (if you will) with Android.

 

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