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DARK MATTER “Hot Chocolate” Review

By on July 22, 2017

DARK MATTER -- "Hot Chocolate" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Zoie Palmer as The Android -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

By Rachel Thomas

We open on a round-table squabble, mediated by our own Six. At this point he’s probably used to being the most sensible person in the room, so it’s not a huge change. When the colony comes under attack (#FerrousCorp), they retreat to the Raza under heavy fire. Just in time, they jump to FTL.

Having the delegates from the independent colonies on the Raza isn’t an easy situation, but Six makes the best of it. (The best isn’t much, to be fair.) He’s increasingly frustrated; despite the possible rewards, the delegates don’t seem willing to work together.

Meanwhile, Android isn’t quite herself—allegedly because she’s ‘recategorizing’ her memories. (Sure.) But when she forgets her hair appointment with Five…

The delegates and Three get together, but Wren—a former Ferrous Corp resident who was especially suspected in previous discussions—isn’t there. Six finds him in his quarters, a knife in his back. With no finger prints and nothing on the security footage, Six doesn’t have a lot to go on and struggles to decide what to do with the colonies. Five, having gotten stood up by Android, is baffled by our favorite cybernetic lady’s change in personality (come on, androids don’t forget things). As Six prepares to remove the delegates from the ship, the airlock seals—power fluctuates—and the ship goes into lockdown.

Five struggles with her computer, only to abruptly get a message from Sarah—who gives the cryptic but dramatically promising message HE’S COMING.

And we cut to ‘Android’ in cahoots with a bunch of men in black—and our favorite traitor of them all, Ryo.

(Me, throughout all of Ryo’s scenes: WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?)

 Four’s gang floods the ship as the crew prepares for a battle with the unknown. Ryo questions Not Android about why the ship isn’t totally in lockdown, and she replies that the real Android initiated a series of firewalls when she detected the initial intrusion. (But where is the real Android? STAY SAFE, BABY.)

Ryo and Not Android go to get the Blink Drive, only to find it’s missing. Not Android immediately suspects Five, who—sure enough—has worked some air duct magic and escaped—for now.

Two and Three are separated by a Convenient Closing Blast Door of Drama, and both come under heavy fire despite Ryo’s orders that they not be killed. Two stumbles upon the transit pods. No sooner does she realize what’s happened than she’s confronted by Ryo, and a truly glorious fight ensues.

(Me, to Ryo and Two: STOP IT RIGHT NOW AND BE FRIENDS AGAIN.)

Elsewhere, Not Android’s running the show. She intercepts Six and the delegates, making quick work of them. Five pays a visit to Sarah, who astutely observes that Ryo’s taken the ship and the old Android isn’t the one at work anymore.

Four and Two fall into a (beautifully choreographed) deadlock, and Four only gains the upper hand when Three’s brought in as hostage.

Sarah tells Five that Android successfully locked down essential ship functions before being totally shut out. They attempt to contact Android through the personal holodeck.

After alerting his commanders and calling for reinforcement, Ryo adjusts his focus to the one glaring absence from their hostage roster: Five. As Two and Three have a little Ryo-centric heart to heart in their cell, the man himself sends out a PA aimed at Five. The deal: give up the Blink Drive, and he’ll leave the entire ship as it is. Not Android smirks masterfully in the background.

Ryo pays Six and the delegates a visit, appealing to their desperation with a description of the Blink Drive as a magic cure-all for their people’s suffering. He offers them admittance to the League—tacitly in exchange for their cooperation.

As Five and Sarah attempt to access the Android, Ryo pays a visit to the training room. Not Android—actually the scraggly-haired man hooked up to a billion machines—informs Ryo that she thwarted an attempt to hack the Android. Perhaps despite himself, Ryo seems slightly proud of Five’s cleverness. Five updates Six and the delegates—caught in a dilemma of their own—before being captured by Not Android. Ryo warns Not Android not to hurt Five, but that doesn’t stop Not Android from leaning into some high-level creeping.

And then…hot chocolate.

Five’s code phrase forces Android into a hard reboot, and she wakes up as herself—but barely. Five orders Android to transmit a set of commands to Sarah and then wipe that entire conversation from her memory. She does so, and when she wakes up as Not Android, our scraggly-haired nemesis has a handful of minutes in control before he’s trapped by the codes.

Two, Three, and Six confront Ryo by the transit pods. It’s more sad than furious, and even Two’s final warning that if he comes after them again, she’ll end it for good is more tinged in bitterness and regret than genuine anger. Ryo transfers back to Zairon, memories intact.

We cut to Five’s quarters, where she’s finally fixing Android’s hair. (Awwww.) Scraggly-haired creep is, Five days, essentially trapped in his own head—consciousness cut off from his body. Not at all unlike Android’s predicament—while he was possessing her, Android says, she was conscious of everything that was happening, but unable to stop it. Still, she sees it as an ‘almost cruel’ fate. Five notes that the colonies will likely understand that Android wasn’t really responsible for the murder of their guy, anyway, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Except, Android insists, she really didn’t kill him.

Back in the mess hall, the gang tries some of Android’s new, exotic recipes (it is, apparently, Not Amazing). Many of the colonies jumped on Ryo’s offer, ending all hopes of a ceasefire, but there’s still a sense of contentment in the very temporary peace.

Five and Android finish up their repairs to the Blink Drive—perhaps reversing the damage caused by the Ishida scientists. Android expresses that she has a good feeling about their test.

…the Blink Drive then emits a pulse of energy that deactivates Android and knocks the crew unconscious.

Ooooh.

A lot of exciting things happened on the Raza this week, and not just because the Raza was basically the only place they were. After seven episodes of spatial and narrative separation, the unhappy reunion of Ryo and the rest of the crew was deeply satisfying, especially in its understated but critical emotionality. Two and Ryo’s fight was beautifully choreographed and strangely sentimental at the same time; I wish they would fight more often. (You know what I mean.)

As great as it was to see more of Ryo, though, Android was the show-stealer tonight. Equal parts unsettling, creepy, and downright superb at sinister smirking, Zoie Palmer’s Not Android managed to be just the level of uncanny needed up until the reveal and appropriately villainous afterwards. Special mention needs to go to the hot chocolate scene, where her transition from Android to Not Android was (in this humble reviewer’s opinion) utterly flawless.

And, of course, a special shout-out to Ryo’s Han Solo’d assassin, who finally clawed his way back for a gag.

 

Going forward…

Ryo needs better friends. Android needs to be protected.

More seriously—it’s hard not to take that this won’t end until one of us is dead line as a glaring sign of what’s to come. The shift from vengeful enemies to bitter former friends was also particularly noticeable, and as it stands it feels a bit like we’re headed for a tragic last-minute act of heroism, or something equally damaging to the viewer’s feelings. That’s all right with me, to be honest—let the writers do their worst. I’m willing to sit through an emotionally excruciating episode if it gives us all the best out of our beloved crew.

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