“Dark Matter” Season 2 – Better Characters and Great Character Development But Ending Has Problems

dark-matter-season-2

    The fact that “Dark Matter” is based off a comic book really showed this season. From a few plots that didn’t end up going anywhere to the cliffhanger ending, and how each character gets an episode where they are explored. Essentially it captured the pros and cons of any comic that is an ongoing series. This series is still great, but before I get into spoiler thoughts on this season this was something that stood out to me.

   This season kicks off with Two, Three and Four trapped in a prison after Six’s betrayal. While One and Five are on the outside. They soon realize they aren’t safe as the Multi-Corps target them, forcing Six to make a choice as the crew find allies to help escape the Prison.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is once again amazing and we get introduced to more factions and other factions get more depth and exploration.

The Action – The action is better than last season, with the Prison Break being one of the best scenes from the show thus far as it had so many elements and characters in play and pulled it all off.

The Factions – The factions are wonderful in this and I can’t wait to see where they go next season. We have more enemies and frenemies primarily and no allies for the crew.

The Seers – The Seers are a group of cultists who use people to see and predict the future and events. They are sick and twisted and who Nyx escaped from. In the end her brother kills himself rather than by used by them and Zairon turns on them (after they had an alliance) when Ryo takes control.

The Multi-Corps – The Multi-Corps are more allies in this as they have worked with the crew before and want to keep the status quo going and aren’t driven by a fanatic like the Galactic Authority. The Mikkei Combine helps rescue them from prison though and is the closest thing the crew has to an ally.

The Galactic Authority – The Authority is given a face in an agent named Kyle Kierken. He nearly captures them all on quite a few occasions and his obsession leads to his possible death at the end with the Zairon takeover.

Zairon – Zairon goes from being a Nation in a civil war being played by factions, to one allied with the Seers to a nation that wipes out the Multi-Corps. Ryo is more dangerous than any who have come before and his Empire is going to be the main threat this season.

The Crew – The crew is the strongest as always, though two new additions are completely wasted.

The Android – The Android has the chance to better become human when a group of rebel androids give her an emotion chip. It is really cool seeing her undercover and in action and we see her love for the crew drives all her actions.

Two – Two is one of the best characters in the show and is the core. She is the captain and she seeks out revenge for the death of One and is the final say on whether one of the new characters becomes a member of the crew fully. She’s my favorite character on the show at this point.

Three – Marcus grows a lot this season as we learn his tragic backstory and see him rise to the challenge, from protecting Five and becoming a source of stablity for the crew. It takes a lot for him to accept Five back into the crew, but he does come around and to him the crew aren’t a means to an, unlike Four and some others.

Four / Ryo Tetsuda – Ryo becomes the main threat and in a way ceases to be Four. This happens when he integrates his memories from before he was Four and this makes him the sociopathic warlord. He is willing to kill his old shipmates for the glory of the Zairon, this after he killed his brother who wanted him to be rule and the loss of all his forces. He truly is a great threat.

Five – Five has more backstory revealed in this and is the moral of the crew. She keeps the crew empathetic with one another and is the reason Six rejoins the crew and sees their rebellion as just. She’s super perspective too and helps an Android really not all humans are bad and saves the Station from a bomb, though Zairon’s plan ruins that saving.

Six – Six’s arc is realizing that the Galactic Authority is bad and upholds a corrupt system and rejoining the crew. He is seeking redemption and nearly dies multiple times because of it. He grew from his past (though he never integrates the old memories) so he still has Six dominating, unlike Four who becomes Ryo.

Nyx – Nyx is the strongest new addition to the crew. She is a strong fighter, survivor and is able to heal from it and to help others heal as well. She’s drawn to survivors like her too and Ryo and her are in a relationship at one point until his betrayal, which is where she chooses the crew. She is a true member of the crew, I can’t wait to see more of her character.

Dimension Hopping – The crew get a Drive that make it possible to jump anywhere nearly instantly. This starts out with them jumping through dimensions and times. It is really cool seeing their hardened selves and the original crew of “The Raza.” Each new area has changed characters we know and it lead to some great character moments when they met their past selves or seeing them interact with characters who they are close with in their own reality.

Okay: The Ending – The ending is another cliffhanger as Zairon destroys the Station the crew and the Multi-corps are gone or nearly gone. I hope we don’t lose a lot of the main characters…I really hope the writers know what they are doing. This is ending was okay but the writers can’t keep doing this. A show needs a concrete end, a complete season is a story…if it become all about the cliffhanger, it just becomes repetitive.

The Cons: One’s Death – One could have been explored so much more, instead he is never allowed to grow or resist, he just dies. It was a wasted opportunity.

Devon – Druggie doctor full of regret. This character annoyed me a lot more than Arax, and the best thing that happened to him was him being killed by the Seers. His character served no purpose.

Arax – Arax is serving one of the Multi-Corps and never stops being a villain towards the crew. He had so much potential to be more but is nothing more than someone only out for himself.

    This season was great for developing characters but also introduced a lot of dead weight. Arax and Devon were wasted cliche characters but thakfully they don’t hang around too long. It is the death of One that is really wasted, though I like that it motivated the crew for revenge and helped them come together. The core cast still carries the show though and making Ryo / Four into the main villain was smart too as even as a villain he never stops being someone you can respect, which makes him all the more frightening as an antagonist. Hated the cliffhanger but can’t wait to see where they take the story from here!

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

“Stranger Things” Season 1 – A Powerful Sci. Fi. Coming of Age Story Reminiscent of the Best of the 80’s Sci. Fi. Films

Stranger Things Poster

   “Stranger Things” is a show born out of love and appreciation for so many great films during the 80’s. You can see elements of Stephen King, “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “E.T.” “Goonies” and countless others that were clearly inspiration for a show that in the end isn’t any of them and clearly stands on it’s own as a drama and show. Non-spoiler thoughts, if you like any of the things I listed above you should watch this show. Netflix has once again created gold and if you are looking for a timeless and classic story, this is the show for you.

Their will be some SPOILERS coming up.

     The series was created by the Duffer Brothers for Netflix and produced by Shawn Levy.

     The story involves the mysterious disappearance of Will Byers in a small town in Indiana and what his family (his mother and brother) and friends do to find him as a mysterious entity is on the lose and government agents hunt a young girl with superpowers named Eleven, who joins Will’s friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin to find and rescue Will.

The Pros: The World – The world has the small town feel with the greater mystery as we have a small town where everyone knows everyone yet the threat from both El, the State and the alien entity making the small town threatening beyond the bullies who already inhabit the town.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and captures both the fun of Dungeons and Dragons when the boys are playing it, to the alien nature of the Upside Down where the alien entity comes from and is breaking through into our world.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is awesome and has wonderful 80’s songs littered through the entire show with a haunting 80’s synth for the opening. It is a film level soundtrack. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein did a great job on it.

The Writing – The writing feels real…the characters don’t speak contrived dialogue and the kids sounds like kids, teens like teens and adults sound like adults. It is surprising how rare this is in shows and films but this series doesn’t have that problem.

The Alien – The alien looks like a misshapen grey human from the back with long arms and am mouth like a Venus fly trip. It is terrifying in that you hardly ever see it fully. It is also deadly too as it kills Nancy’s friend Barb and has pumped Will full of it’s possible young even after he is rescued and it is defeated.

The Characters – The characters drive the story and each of them are more compelling than their stereotype or trope they represent in 80’s film.

Nancy Wheeler – Nancy is the nerd who joins the popular kids but after sees they are bullies leaves them. This is her trope that she goes beyond by building a relationship with Jonathan after both of them lose people to the alien and they take the fight to it. She becomes a leader and shows that she is awesome with a gun.

Jonathan Byers – Jonathan is the awkward creeper outsider who we learn is actually sensitive and respectful. That is his trope and how he goes beyond it is building a relationship with his mom when he learns she was telling the truth of talking to Will through the lights and seeing the alien. He’s also a cool older brother to Will and introduces him to great rock.

Chief Jim Hopper – Jim Hopper is the alcoholic divorced Police Chief who lost his daughter and never recovered from it. He changes in that he is the first to back Joyce when he discovers the State base and the area where the alien has made it’s home and the government wipes his memory. He is a dealmaker who doesn’t want to lose people and makes a deal for the State to get El back if he can save Will since he doesn’t want Joyce to lose a child too. For the bitter Police Chief he has a lot of compassion and empathy, and is quite good at his job.

Joyce Byers – Joyce is the main character besides Will’s friends. She is the one who is seen as crazy and in many ways did crack after Will went missing. She is also the one who sees the unknown and takes the risks and discovers the alien entity first. She is great in that she is someone who is doing the best she can with so much working against her. When she helps rescue Will we also see her begin to heal from her past abusive relationship and now having good relationships with her sons. Winona Ryder is wonderful in this role.

Dustin – Dustin is the guy who perceives a lot. He guessed the lunch lady was hiding the chocolate pudding, he knew when the State was coming and to get away and in the end it hints that he knows greater threats are on the horizon too. He is also the one who helps Lucas and Mike resolve their issues and brings the group back together. He is a pretty awesome kid with a lisp.

Lucas – Lucas is the member of Will’s friends who is the most driven and connected to those in the group. He distrusts El when they meet her partially out of fear of losing Mike but also because he wants to protect his friends. In the end he comes around though and even after he and Mike fight he warns and protects them and Eleven from the State as he sees who the real threat is.

Eleven – El is a character with superpowers who was taken from her mother in a government experiment and was being used to spy on the Russians during the Cold War before she escapes after she ends up opening the portal to the world the alien comes from. She is an amazing character who is learning how to control her powers and discovers what having friends is actually like and what it means. In the end she uses her power to hold away the entity and to keep it from our world after she and Mike basically admit love for one another. It is powerful and sad and we get the idea she is still out there fighting the entity.

Mike Wheeler – Mike is the main character and his arc is healing his relationship with his friends, his love for El and saving Will. He is a cool character and we see him willing to risk his life to protect those he cares about. He is also the DM for the boys’ Dungeons and Dragons game.

Coming of Age and Loss – This is the town’s coming of age and Nancy has sex for the first time and discovers her sexuality, Will discovers attraction, El discovers her own beauty and wants for the first time and Joyce and Jim confront their grief and loss and in it come together to heal as they try to save Will. It is powerful and these themes are always their below the surface in the many events and confrontations that take place through the show.

The Cons: The State and Their Motivations and Execution – I get they are fighting the Russians during the Cold War but beyond a faceless entity there was no depth to them at all. Even El’s “Papa” was just a monster who had no depth. This was a major con as every good show needs a good villain.

Leaving the Ending Open – The series could have ended and even though I want to see more I’m putting it as a con since they could have easily wrapped everything up and had the perfect show.

  This was a series that could have ended amazing with just 1 season and not setting up future seasons. I like that there will be more of this show, but like any story that keeps going, especially with television…I fear how it could bring around the overall quality of the show if it isn’t handled well. After defeating the alien things could have ended and it would have been perfect. Leaving it open brought it down a little for me. This is a world well worth your time though and the acting and writing is absolutely amazing. I have yet to have a bad experience with Netflix shows and this one is easily one of their best.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10