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DARK MATTER Review: “One Last Card to Play”

By on July 10, 2017

Pictured: Melissa O'Neil as Two -- (Photo by: Stephen Scott/Dark Matter Series 3/Syfy)

By Rachel Thomas

We open on an imposing scene: a dozen prisoners—friends and family of Ryo’s would-be assassin—rounded up into a cargo hold on the way to Inari-7. Fortunately, Two and Three are there as well. (Does Two’s voice sound a little higher than usual?) The prisoners attempt to vouch for their reliability, but soon learn that the Emperor’s henchmen are in no mood to put up with revolutionary ideas like ‘freedom’. 

The leader of this scrappy gang is a guy sporting a (misleading) Scruffy Beard of Survival, Gideon. Two (…or is it?) and Three (…OR IS IT?) offer Gideon and his people a place on an independent colony—a shot at a new life—assuming they’ll help take over the ship.

Back on Zairon, Ryo is finally getting some good news—their blockade has held! And if reinforcing that blockade costs a few planets their billions of lives, eh. Teku approaches Ryo with a report on the co-conspirators: there weren’t any. Ryo doesn’t take well to this information. Eager to reinforce his own position, he orders trials for the ‘co-conspirators’ anyway in order to reassure the people. 

Back on the Ishida ship, Two, Three, and one of Gideon’s companions stage a disturbance in order to rush the guards. In typical Raza fashion, they beat their way through and head off to take on the bridge. Hard part over, Three says—and Two promptly opens the airlocks to the cargo holds. 

 Truffault receives a message, ostensibly from the crew of the Raza. Not!Two (=Portia) and Truffault make quick small talk about Portia’s peculiar new acquisition—a ship that, officially, move freely through contested areas and transport ‘delicate’ cargo.  

As soon as the call ends, Portia and Marcus are joined by Tash, Wexler, and Not-Our-Android-But-Still-A-Pretty-Cool-Android.  They’re very comfortable with their situation, it seems; Ryo, who hails the ship to be met with Portia’s smiling face, is not. He demands his ship back, but Portia hangs up on him even as he confesses to bearing the guilt of Nyx’s death. So much for a heartfelt reconciliation. 

On Zairon, Teku cautions Ryo—something he must get tired of doing, surely. Ryo explodes in response, exposing a delicate sliver of  true vulnerability in the process—if his old friends can get at him psychologically with such ease, maybe there’s hope yet for Four. 

(Right? Probably?…probably not.) 

The fake Raza crew picks up their goods—destined, curiously, for Traugott territory. Ah, a smuggler’s life for me…. #I’veGotABadFeelingAboutThis

Then—HUZZAH! We see Five and Android on the real Raza. Their heartfelt discussion about why Six hasn’t called recently is abruptly cut off by Truffault, who’s finally caught on that something’s wrong.  Apparently the alternate universe crew ran amuck with the missiles, surprising no one. 

Two quickly finds footage of ‘them’ across the galaxy, because she’s competent like that, and the pieces fall together for our crew. They set out to find—and deal with—their doppelgangers. 

Adrian and Solara lounge. Adrian’s started to feel a touch existential, and Solara doesn’t have much patience for it—after all, he’s the one who isn’t actually contributing anything. Adrian resolves to tell them that they’re leaving—cue Five, who says they need his help. Adrian does a mental U-turn. 

The Raza alternates collectively fondle the missiles when they get a transmission from Adrian. (Conning the con artists. Beautiful.)  Adrian delivers a pretty good performance, offering up a perfect buyer for those smuggled missiles. This wrinkles Portia’s nose, but she accepts the offer on one condition: Adrian has to be there for the drop. He agrees. (He has to agree. )

Two, Three, and Solara babysit Adrian on his way to his second-ever drop. He’s met by Wexler, but unfortunately Adrian’s lying abilities aren’t quite as convincing in person, and it turns into a stand-off in a matter of seconds. Solara breaks the stand-off by punching Wexler’s lights out—but not as out as he’d like, probably. 

On the Marauder, Three notices bizarre fluctuations in the power—and Portia bursts in, hitting him with a stun blast. In Portia-land, it’s time for phase two. 
(‘Phase Two’—a phrase that has literally never been used positively. You never say ‘time for phase two’ through gritted teeth as you slide a pan of cake batter into the oven.) 

Adrian, Two, and Solara escort an imprisoned Wexler back to the Marauder. Wexler tries to turn the occasion into a job interview, which doesn’t go brilliantly. They realize Portia’s double-crossed Wexler as well as the Marauder docks on the Raza. Android intercepts Portia immediately.

Unfortunately the victory is short-lived, as Tash and Five quickly come to a ship-to-ship standoff of their own. Tash threatens to blow the Raza to bits, even with the rest of her crew on it. As Tash begins to enter the command, the other Android shoots her in the back and agrees to negotiate with Five. 

On the planet, Other Android and Android meet up to deposit one another’s crewmembers and items. Because both Androids are Better Than People, everything goes smoothly. 

Two notifies Truffault that they’ve returned everything—minus a small service fee. Adrian runs in at the last minute to ask for a small favor—a transfer to his cousin’s planet.  They bid them farewell, Five in particular (weirdly flirty) detail. She suggests to Adrian he might have something steely underneath his shaky convictions after all. He’s moved, but maybe not moved enough. 

Portia strikes up a conversation with our favorite shady military, offering a deal. Do I smell a confusing alliance?

Three awakens in the computerscape. He calls out for Sarah, finally able to reconnect with his loved one in a way that isn’t too squicky if you don’t think about it that much. Aww. Is that a hopeful note?


After the slight narrative tilt-shift of last week, this episode got right back on form with an almost blisteringly clean plot that tracked beautifully throughout the hour. The bait-and-switch of the crews—with the first half-hour dominated by the alternate crew and the second by the real deal—worked seamlessly, each half of the story basically paralleling the other. The third-act scene with both Androids exemplifies this cohesion.

Ryo’s presence wasn’t huge here, but what the episode lacked in Ryo Quantity it had in Quality Ryo. His scene with Teku probably demonstrated better than any scene yet the conflicts at the heart of his character. It’s in that complexity viewers might find heartbreak or salvation, depending on the writers’ whims—at this point, Ryo could go either way, and either way could satisfy. Still, there’s something to be said for hoping our character will find redemption, even after all that. 

Likewise, it’s difficult to fully embrace Sarah’s live-in holodeck; perhaps it’s the ghost of Doctor Who’s River Song and the Library, or just a vestige of 2001, but it seems unlikely that a sentient program whose powers within her digital landscape grow with each episode is destined for a happy ending. 

Going forward…

It’s probably too much to hope for a good cop-bad cop episode featuring the two Androids, isn’t it? Adrian and Solara’s departure seemed abrupt, but not wholly unexpected—what role will they continue to play from Adrian’s new hideout? We’re due for an update on Six, and it’s a little concerning that we haven’t seen any meddling from Misaki lately. Speaking of disappearing people, we still haven’t revisited Five’s mysterious sister…

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