“Dark Matter” Season 3 – Another Good Sci. Fi. Show Canceled Before Its Time

   “Dark Matter” Season 3 is the last season of “Dark Matter.” Syfy did not renew the show and now this show joins the other good sci. fi. shows who died early like “Caprica,” “Firefly,” “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” This show deserved to have its story completed on screen, the quality was that good and this season improved upon all other seasons before it. It is a shame it was canceled as this show’s flaws were built into the structure of adapting an ongoing comic to screen. This series did so much to develop characters, present unique ways to tell stories and provided some of the best action in any sci. fi. show.     

      The story picks up with where the cliffhanger of last season left off, with the crew of the Raza escaping from the EOS-7 space station that Ryo’s forces are blowing up. From here the crew must find each other and confront this betrayal and the loss of a crewman. 

There will be SPOILERS ahead.

This was the most action heavy of the seasons and it did a beautiful job potraying it. From Ryo fighting his Captain when she attempted to overthrow him, to all the space battles between the Corporations before the Black Ships finally arrive from beyond in the finale. For a limited budget the show really went all out, I wouldn’t be surprised if they knew Syfy was canceling them so wanted to make the most of it.

The series continues on from before and develops all the characters further. The Android sees the future and from it gains perspective as well as meeting her creator and from it finds a uniqueness in identity as separate from the Androids who want to rebel and wipe out humanity and the other side of serving humanity, Kal / Six gets to be the martyr and revolutionary, Two forgives Ryo and finds purpose beyond revenge and comes into her role as the leader the crew needs after the loss of Nix, Three / Titch comes to care about others and finds meaning beyond himself  with Five / Das staying the most unchanged beyond learning more about her past and finally finding a reason why she might leave the Raza and Ryo comes into his own as a leader as he atones for his mistakes after losing everything after all he gains this season falls from him. We even get to see the alternate  universe Raza crew who never got their mind wipe receive development as they are shown to be more than just mercenaries out for themselves.

This season had the greatest variety of storytelling too, not only did each main character get an episode exploring them as people (Six and his staying with some colonists who’d freed themselves from the Corporations and from that we get our revolutionary episode, we get a time travel episode where they crew has to pretend to be in modern day to get a jump drive to return to the present as theirs malfunctioning brought them to Earth’s past (our modern day), we get an awesome battle episode in the finale, a comedic time loop episode akin to “Groundhog’s Day” and a Lovecraftian horror where we learn more about the aliens that possessed him last season from Three. The unique storytelling this season is really what helped make it so amazing.

Once more the only flaw was that they could not end it. The format demanded more seasons and rather than trying to wrap everything up (and they wrapped up a lot of story threads) they ended it on the big universe changing battles, with the Lovecraftian horrors arriving in their ships after Six’s sacrifice was for naught and Two is found to have been possessed before Ryo stops her. I enjoyed the finale immensely but found myself let down after, much like how the “Sarah Connor Chronicles” ended, a story that ends with a cliffhanger, when it is a great show like this is sadder than “Firefly,” which at least got an ending in “Serenity,” even though it didn’t really need it, given the episodic day in the life nature of the show. This show was driven by arcs and the Cliffhanger hurt the story by opening up more questions like, “How will the remaining crew survive the Black Ships? Where is Portia (alternate Portia) taking Three? and what happened to Two? What was the promise she made Ryo make? These are all questions that will never be answered now unless Netflix saves the show, but all word so far is that this is the end of the series on television.

The themes of revolution and calling out corruption in class and power is still there, with the corporations being the primary antagonist until the aliens from beyond are shown to have been manipulating the most powerful ones the entire time. In this way this theme isn’t as well written as last season but it does more than just calling out corrupt government and business and also calls out the revolutionaries who turn and kill their own. The Raza is about seeking a clear morality and from that the crew takes on the corrupt wherever they are, including their own past and alternate selves.

If you haven’t watched “Dark Matter” yet, and are a fan of sci. fi., check this show out. This is a show with some of the best character development, universe exploration and unique storytelling I’ve seen in any show. This season really showed just how great it could be and in turn made it one of my favorite science fiction shows. Another show canceled before its time that deserved a finished story, and so much better than only 3 seasons and a cliffhanger leaving so many stories open. This is an amazing television show and if there is a way to save it, I hope someone does.

Final Score: 9.2 / 10

 

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

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    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

“Dark Matter” Season 1 – Amazing World and Premise, Just Needs More Fleshing Out

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   “Dark Matter” is an amazing show…easily the best science fiction show since “Continuum” (which this show has a lot of similar themes to). The fact that the creators of the comic book that the show comes from wrote for “Stargate” is probably one reason it is so good. At the end of the day it is a character driven show with the mystery at the core driving the plot. Before I get into spoilers I seriously recommend this show. If you like science fiction, you’ll enjoy Season 1.

    The show was created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.

  The premise involves the crew of the the “Raza” waking up with no memory of who they are. Each of them takes a number identity as their pasts unfold over the course of the show and deal with the threats of the Galactic Authority, criminals and competing Multi-Corps.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The universe is fantastic! We have the Galactic Authority, governments and nations and Multi-Corps all in a dance for power and influence with our crew of the “Raza” caught in the middle of it all.

The Premise – The premise takes a deep high concept premise of starting over with no memory and gives us the crew of “Farscape,” or “Firefly,” a group of outcasts who clash but have good hearts at the end of the day.

The Characters – The main characters are the strongest part of this show and it is great seeing Roger Cross again, as he was fantastic in “Continuum.”

The Android – Zoie Palmer is a wonderful Android! She’s easily the best version of this type of characters since Brent Spiner’s Data and it is great seeing her choose to become more human over time. She is the one most looking out for the crew through Season 1.

One – One learns he is Derrick Moss who took the face of a criminal named Jace Corso in order to find the person who killed his family. His drive to find his past is a major part of his identity as he nearly kills Three when he suspects Three of being the one responsible. He is the idealist of the bunch too, where Three is the cynic and he at one point has a relationship with Two as the reveal of her secrets don’t change how he sees her.

Two – Two is the captain of the “Raza” and is a designed organism. She has super strength and can survive almost anything. The organization that created her made her a slave and when the crew rescues her near the end of the season it is great seeing her and the crew get revenge. Melissa O’Neil is fantastic. Her other names are Portia Lin when she became the Mercenary captain and Rebecca when she was first created.

Three – Three is the cynic who was one of the biggest criminals and murders, who also had a past too as he meets his lover early on and loses her. He has a good heart at the end of the day though and even saves One a few times, even though he hates him. Anthony Lemke has great charisma in this role.

Four – Four learns he is a fallen prince who was framed by his Step-Mother. His real name is Ryo Tetsuda and he is the most hardened of all of them besides Two. He even kills his mentor after after his mentor attempts to bring him in but lets him go after all his men have been killed by the crew of the “Raza.” His story still has a long way to go but I like the pieces in play. Alex Mallari jr. did a wonderful job of speaking with his eyes as he is the least outspoken of the crew.

Five – Five is the hacker and the glue of the crew as it her core desire for them to be family that really makes it so they all work. She is the least trusted and the youngest but is a survivor as much as any of them…She is also the one who helps them find the good in themselves and holds one of the plot “Mcguffins” that drives the narrative. Jodelle Ferland does a good job in the role.

Six – Roger Cross is an actor I want to see more of, he was one of the best parts of “Continuum” and here he is the betrayer and also one of the core members of the crew as he is the steady presence the way Five’s kindness is. His reveal is learning that he is an agent of the Galactic Authority that changes everything leads to the end of the season (this reveal is hidden until the end).

Fighting Corruption and Finding Redemption – One of the major themes of the series is the fighting of corruption and seeking of redemption. When our characters learn about who they are they usually go against it as they were pawns of the Multi-Corps who cared nothing for life. This leads to them being idealistic thieves who do their small part against it all.

The Nature of Self and Identity – The nature of self and identity is a major theme. From the Android exploring what it means to feel and have emotions, to our characters who are seeking out their past so they choose what to do in the present. In all of that choices are made and even though our characters aren’t who they were before, they are still themselves.

What if You Had  Second Chance? – Our characters start out with no knowledge of who they were and as they learn who they once were they are given the choice to become someone different. Their self without what hardened them into criminals are the idealistic ones who are fighting the good fight and it is when one chooses their past life that they lose everything.

Okay: The Minor Characters – A lot of the minor characters are pretty forgettable. They aren’t bad but none of them made the list of pros for a reason.

 The Ending and Reveal – The ending involves the crew turning on one another as it is revealed one of them is knocking out members of the crew. In the end it is revealed Six was an agent for the Galactic Authority and is taking them away to prison at the end of the episode.

Okay/Con: Early Season Dialogue – Early season dialogue is choppy and a bit to tell rather than show. It gets better about halfway but it is something to keep in mind. This was a major thing that kept the show from being great.

 Lack of Clear Antagonist – There are a lot of antagonists in this show when what really could have helped focus the early moments where it lagged could have been countered with a strong villain. This show has “Farscape” tendencies and really needed a Scorpius. Maybe they’ll be one further down the line but everyone being an antagonist in some way can only sustain a show for so long.

    This was a show that clearly has so much more potential and I’m glad that it has a Season 3 coming. The characters change and each episode we learn more about the world and mystery of it all. It isn’t as great as the graphic novel series “Saga” but it is cut from the same cloth and could even surpass “Continuum” in regards to this type of show, it really all depends on how the writers choose to handle the characters and world they’ve been given. I hope the show doesn’t go on forever, but it deserves a great end.

Final Score: 8 / 10

Battlestar Galactica Mini-Series Pilot – Season 1, Episode 1, 2 – “Night” – War, Politics, Religion and the Survival of the Human Race

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We continue Apocalypse Week with “Battlestar Galactica.” “Battlestar Galactica” is one of those shows that I will always come back to I think. The themes of religion, spirituality, history, politics, war and survival are handled so well that every time I watch the series I discover something new. I am of course referring to Ronald Moore’s re-imagining, I have not seen the “Original Battlestar Galactica,” but do plan on it at some point.

I still remember the first time I watched this episode and how excited I was at all the possibilities it offered in it’s stories and characters and the reality of the relationships and world it was already exploring. Very few Pilots manage to pull this off. I think what helps was a lot of the themes of religion, war, politics and purpose were explored by Moore in “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” but where DS9 was limited by being public television…there weren’t those limitations on “Battlestar Galactica” for better and for worse he could explore those themes fully.

“The story kicks off with history: The Cylons were created by the people of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol as a labor and military force. Approximately 52 years ago, the Cylons turned on their human creators and the Cylon War ensued. After an armistice was declared, the Cylons left the Colonies, ostensibly to seek a homeworld of their own.”

“The Colonials maintain an Armistice Station as a place where Cylon and Colonial representatives can meet in order to maintain diplomatic relations. However, the Cylons have never sent an ambassador. No one has seen a Cylon since the end of the Cylon War, over 40 years ago.”

This is done over the Cylons returning to the station and Six (played by Tricia Helfer) kissing the Colonial Representative before the station is destroyed. We then go to the different characters with Admiral Adama retiring the Battlestar Galactica and introduction to the main crew and characters…the main locations being Battlestar Galactica and those coming to Galactica via way of Caprica…the most important characters being Gaius Baltar who invented the security (and gave over the data to a Cylon Six he was sleeping with and didn’t know she was a Cylon) that the Cylons hijacked to destroy the Colonies and Laura Roslin who is the Secretary of Education who finds herself President (and recently learned he had Cancer) when the Cabinet is destroyed on Caprica. From here the story unfolds.

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Here is the assessment of the Pilot Epidodes:

Pros: The Music – In this instance the music was largely composed by Richard Gibbs and he does a fantastic job and creating tension with the creating of tension in battle and all the different feelings with the end of the world.

The World: Ronald Moore did a great job with his writers creating this world. There are 12 Colonies, 12 Cylons and such a diverse cast of characters from different backgrounds that we barely scratch the surface but are still given so much. We know about the last Cylon War, the silence of the Cylons and that they fear being destroyed again and are reacting as such. We also see the Cylons have an extreme belief in a single God while the Colonists are believe in many Gods. We see the military relationships between the civilians and government via Laura Roslin and the conflict in the military among the military through Lee and his father Admiral Adama and Starbuck and the XO Tigh. We also see the relationships and power dynamics between ships and Cylons a bit too.

The Premise: The premise takes the robots and nuclear destruction of humans but does something interesting with it…the robots are given humanity and reasons for what they do and we see conflict among the human factions…which rarely happens in movies that go this route (see “The Terminator Series”). This unique twist and adding religion to the mix with the Cylons being a believer in God adds more depth to a premise that is usually taken as pretty simple.

The Action: There are quite a few ship battles and a lot of destruction…from the nuking of Caprica and destroying of civilian vessels by the Cylons…to the battles between Vipers (Colonial) and Raiders (Cylons). It really drives it too since there is so much desperation. Each fight is a literal fight for survival, as humanity is far outmatched.

The Colonials – More on what I said above but very brief…the military, civilian and government relationships are really rich in this episode. We see different people and groups reacting to the end of the world and doing what they can to survive or help as many people as they can to survive or to fight. This is the group experiencing the apocalypse and the destruction of their worlds and lives.

The Cylons – There are 12 Human looking copies and over the course of the episode we meet 4. Spoilers being one of the main characters in the Colonial Fleet is in fact a Cylon. The new Centurions and Raiders look really awesome too. They have a sleek and deadly design.

The Characters – The characters and character relationships are the strongest part of this series, besides some of the messages so I’m going to say now that any character who gets exploration…isn’t a dull character. They are really interesting and intriguing and have great dynamics with others.

Admiral Adama – Edward James Olmos is one of the greatest actors for a reason. We see it in this with how he is a man dealing with finally having a normal relationship with his divorced wife, his son who died from him pressuring him to join the force and his other son Lee Adama (Apollo) blames him for all of that. He is the heart of the fleet besides Roslin who pulls the people together and fights to defend the human race when he realizes that they’ve lost the war after President Roslin helps him to see. He is the one who gives the lie of Earth to the Fleet to give them hope and reminds them that their lives are worth fighting for, as well as apologizing to Lee in regards to his son and their relationship. Starbuck the rebel fighter pilot is also like a daughter to him, contrasted with the fact that she hates the XO Tigh who is one of Adama’s closest friends.

Laura Roslin – Mary McDonnell is wonderful in this role as someone both empathetic and strong. She holds the civilians together and finds survivors to bring to Galactica. She is also the one who reminds Adama that they need government and structure so that the people can be cared for. She was originally the Secretary of Education, and also found out she has cancer at the start of the episode.

Gaius Baltar – James Callis plays an awesome anti-hero. Gaius Baltar is the scientist who unknowingly gave over the security information to the Cylons since he was sleeping with a Cylon Six model. You see his selfishness of the bat in that he cheats on her and is watching interviews of himself and when the bombs fall he is first thinking how not to take responsibility…but than we see him use his information via Head Six (A Six living inside his mind) to reveal who the Cylon Mole is on the ship. He also sticks up for an older lady when he could have taken her ticket given his past actions. His most telling statement is at the end. “I am on no one’s side.” This is his anti-hero character for a lot of the series, which gives him lots of room to grow. His character arc is what makes him one of my favorite characters, and the awkwardness of how Callis plays him.

Lee “Apollo” Adama – Has a thing for Starbuck, blames his dad for his brother’s death and his brother was married to Starbuck. His life is complicated. He is the idealist though and it shines through and also the one whose goal seems to be to get out of his father’s shadow and make his own path. We see this in how he advocates for government and Roslin to be respected and his confronting of his dad. For him the big thing was finding out Starbuck was the one who passed his brother when he should have failed, throwing their complicated friendship into jeopardy, just as he is beginning to heal with his dad. Jamie Bamber does great.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace – She is the arrogant fighter pilot who truly is the best at what she does. She doesn’t put up with crap (largely from the drunk XO Tigh) and is willing to risk her life at the drop of a hat for others. She also has a lot of baggage via helping her lover pass flight school when he was unqualified and the fact that she loved his brother Lee. Her story is fascinating and I can’t wait to write more about it when I review more of the series later. Katie Sackhoff became unforgettable in this role.

Caprica Six / Head Six – They are two different characters but the same actress Tricia Helfer. Caprica Six loves Baltar even though he doesn’t love her and saves him when the apocalypse comes. Head Six could be Angel, Demon or Hallucination is what is implied at this point and has a mental and sexual relationship with Baltar. She guides and manipulates his actions for his and her gain. Both are great characters.

Sharon “Boomer” Valerii – Played by Grace Park, she is the one who is a bit of a rookie and the main savior of a lot of the people as she helps President Roslin when they meet up with her and the fleet later on. She is stubborn and quick to anger and also in love with Chief Tyrol. They have a secret relationship and a great dynamic as they play fight. She is great as the officer who finds her footing. Also, she’s a Cylon who doesn’t know she is. We see another model of her at the end of the episode in the Cylon Meet up.

Chief Tyrol – Major feeler type He is the guy who you see in his face when he loses crewmembers to a Cylon Nuke and the desperation of survival. He is good at his job and very no-nonsense. His relationship to Sharon also feels real.

Karl “Helo” Agathon – Helo is the guy who makes the noble sacrifice on Caprica. He gives up his seat for Baltar so that the human race will have a better chance at survival. He is also the one who helps Sharon find her cool. Tahmoh does great and I can see why fan reaction brought him back when he was supposed to die this episode.

Gaeta, Dee and Billy – These three are very minor characters at this point but good in what they do. They give us glimpses of humanity. Gaeta is the one who idealizes leaders like Baltar and Adama and with it has hope, Dee is the one who has lost but sees hope in relationship via Billy and through Billy we see the loss on his face and him trying to work as his family was destroyed in one of the colonies. Billy is Roslin’s aide and they have some good moments.

Leobon and Doral – Doral is the everyday press mole who poses the dilemma of imprisonment without evidence and Leobon is the fanatic who nearly kills Adama. He is the religious fanatic to the Cylon Cause that we see outside of Six. We see them at the end with a Sharon and Six too in the military base that the Colonials had escaped to temporarily before jumping into deep space.

The Choices – Should one stay to try and save all when the chance of annihilation of all is at hand? Should people be imprisoned without evidence if they are suspect in a war of annihilation? What people should be saved when facing extinction? What is a just war? These are all the questions and choices faced in the episode and part of what makes this such a great series, beyond all the characters.

This is one of the best if not the best pilot of a tv series I have ever seen. I can’t recommend it enough. If you like character dramas, moral dilemmas, politics and war this is definitely your show and this episode is a great introduction. Can’t wait till when I do a look back and review the rest of the series.

“So say we all!”

Final score for this episode is 10 / 10. One of the best sci. fi. and television show pilots I’ve ever seen.

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