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DARK MATTER Season 3 Premiere Review: An Intense But Perfect Return

By on June 10, 2017

DARK MATTER -- "It Doesn't Have To Be Like This" Episode 302 -- Pictured: (l-r) Melissa O'Neil as Two, Anthony Lemke as Three -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

By Rachel Thomas

Being Better Is So Much Harder/It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This

What do you get when you combine daring space vigilantes, corporate intrigue, shocking revelations, and so many rocks and hard places you could open a quarry? A Dark Matter season premiere, of course!

We last bid farewell to the crew of the Raza in one of their favorite places: a cliffhanger. (Which, coincidentally, describes my position on my seat when the second season ended.) After narrowly avoiding an EOS-7-sized disaster when the nobly sacrificial android Arien spaced himself, the crew was left scattered across the station on the brink of collapse anyway when Four arranges for the station to be blown sky-high. (Well, space-high. You know what I mean.)

The premiere of season 3 opens right where the end of season 2 left off: the station’s on fire, with everyone except Ryo and the Android still inside it. Five’s fortunately found an…ally?…in Commander Truffaut, with whom she escapes. (Yay? Stay tuned.) Two and Six meet up and escape to the Marauder, only to immediately lose comms, nav, and power in the blast. Three’s still MIA—but, since he’s a lead character, he has a pretty good chance of making it out alive. (Say it with me: plot point.)

DARK MATTER -- "It Doesn't Have To Be Like This" Episode 302 -- Pictured: Anthony Lemke as Three -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “It Doesn’t Have To Be Like This” Episode 302 — Pictured: Anthony Lemke as Three — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

 Five’s homecoming to the Raza (with the most disappointing date of all time, Truffaut) turns explosive when Ferrous Corp dives straight into a skirmish. Our resident baddies board, only to run straight into a trap that runs on guns and girl power. Or, in Android’s case, literal power.

Meanwhile, it turns out Three and Anders have been pursuing a side-quest in an old mining facility, their lives entirely complicated by a rather annoyed security drone. Oops. It’s not all bad, though: through the power of deep conversations, Anders becomes convinced not to turn Three over, instead alerting the Raza of Three’s new hideout.

Two and Six contact the Raza, learning from Android of Ryo’s betrayal. Now losing oxygen, Two does her best to pull a Heroic Sacrifice (TM) by locking Six in the back with most of the air. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t stick; an interim scene later they’re back on the Raza, alive and well. Truffaut attempts to play therapist to the guilt-ridden Two, which is totally understandable and not at all suspicious in any way.

Where’s Ryo throughout all of this, aside from being an intense disappointment to everyone watching? Navigating court intrigue, and taking to it pretty well. Back home he’s freed his old teacher, Teku, and, in doing so, slightly created a rift between himself and Misaki. Surely that won’t come back to haunt him…

DARK MATTER -- "Being Better Is So Much Harder" Episode 301 -- Pictured: Jodelle Ferland as Five -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Being Better Is So Much Harder” Episode 301 — Pictured: Jodelle Ferland as Five — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

Back on the Raza, the remaining loyal members of the crew have a think over an Android-prepared casserole. (Yes, it’s adorable.) Things seem mostly back to normal, with each of the crew falling back into the roles we know and love from them—Three as the bruiser, Six as the warrior, Five as the inexplicable whiz kid with a mysterious project that’s almost certainly going to come back to haunt them (particularly Three), and Two as the focused, determined leader with the know-how to actually propel the story forward.

By stealing the Blink Drive (back) (again) and killing Ryo, their once-friend and ally.

It’s an intense first episode, but perfect for catapulting you right back into the story as it left off. If it had aired on its own it might have been a touch overwhelming, but as the first half of a double-header, it’s absolutely perfect.

(And not nearly as torturously hanging-on-cliff-y as it might’ve been on its own.)

Episode 2 opens in Ryo’s memories—experienced by Five, who’s taken up incepting in her spare time. There she finds the details of a top-secret secure research facility—where, she reasons, the Blink Drive is probably hanging out. The only problem? It’s in an intensely hidden, radiation-heavy nebula. There’s a touch of mild dissent among the crew—Six favors letting Ryo be, while Three and Two agree that revenge is the dish of the hour.

Meanwhile, Misaki treats Teku to an entirely nonthreatening story of childhood bullying, revenge, and eventual murder. Nothing to see here, just two folks having a conversation…

As the Raza makes its (violent) approach on Ryo’s top-secret research facility, the man himself is alerted, promptly zipping over by transit clone. No sooner have Two, Three, and Six successfully boarded the facility than Transfer-Ryo orders the facility to use the very much not-ready Blink Drive. It goes predictably wrong, stranding the station—and its occupants—in a pocket of void space.

On the Raza, Android monitors the collapsing bubble while Five lapses into memories revealing a kindly older mentor willing to pay for her college (something many a millennial will find deeply resonating). It’s a touching memory, but bittersweet for both Five and the audience—after all, we know what comes next.

DARK MATTER -- "Being Better Is So Much Harder" Episode 301 -- Pictured: Alex Mallari Jr. as Four -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Being Better Is So Much Harder” Episode 301 — Pictured: Alex Mallari Jr. as Four — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

Ryo attempts to buy his people time by confronting Two and Three head-on, revealing that—for a group of anti-heroes—they’re not really good at maintaining a poker face. Two and Three try to convince Ryo to let them help evacuation and maybe save the facility’s locked-down faculty, but Ryo refuses—maybe he’s not cut out to be Emperor after all. Three shoots the clone, and they negotiate directly with the scientists instead.

Back on Zairon, Ryo makes a call to Android and finds out a bit of a game-changer: Nyx is dead, and everyone thinks he did it. Confrontation scene in 3, 2, 1…

Joined by Six, Two and Three get into the main chamber only to find the friendlier scientist dead and the Blink Drive missing. They chase the murderer-scientist to the edge of the void and shoot her before she can dive in (and take the Drive) with her. Armed with the Drive, they return to normal space.

On the Raza, Android saves Five’s life by walling off her memories for a second time—although not before Five learns she had an older sister, somewhere. Two assures Five that all isn’t lost, and she’ll find her sister someday. In the meanwhile, they can’t risk using the Blink Drive until they know what exactly Ryo’s researchers did to it.

Ryo confronts Misaki at the edge of a knife. Despite the fact that she disobeyed his direct orders (for, she claimed, his own good), he doesn’t kill her—in fact, she gets to deliver a short monologue about doing what’s best for the Empire…and that he’ll have to deal with his old friends the same way she dealt with Nyx for him soon.

DARK MATTER -- "Being Better Is So Much Harder" Episode 301 -- Pictured: Zoie Palmer as The Android -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Being Better Is So Much Harder” Episode 301 — Pictured: Zoie Palmer as The Android — (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

Overall this double-header’s a really strong opening for Dark Matter‘s third season, filled with solid portrayals of the characters we know and love but with lots of room to expand and grow. There are some decent parallels between Android’s flawed upgrade and Five’s accidental memory meltdowns, which likely could’ve been exploited more (because I like my TV to rip my heart out through my ribcage). Two, Three, and Six are all in fine form, seemingly back to their old selves after the trauma of the first episode.

Perhaps the clearest discord comes from Ryo: after becoming Emperor and going to such lengths to take the Blink Drive, it’s hard to believe he would treat negotiations with Two and Three in such a cavalier fashion. Misaki may play a role there; it’s hard to overlook the way her penultimate speech to Ryo followed the classic abuser formula of you made me do it and I did it for you. Cross your fingers that future episodes will touch on this dynamic more—and also get some explanations for Five’s Cinderella story! (Who is this sister? How will Five find her? Have we actually already met the sister? Inquiring minds want to know, writers!)

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