RogerBW's Blog

Dark Matter season 3 21 April 2019

2016 science fiction, 13 episodes. The motley crew of the Raza continues to try to stay alive, and maybe even do something worthwhile.

As I said last time, "this series continues to be TV SF spackle […] basically this is just another entry in the 'people arguing in a spaceship' genre arguably started by Blake's 7 and certainly popularised by Firefly." And this continues to be true, with only a few minor exceptions, like a sudden and unexpected Groundhog Day episode with a few really good short scenes from the always-excellent Zoie Palmer (who's been the best thing about this show since the beginning, and continues to be throughout this season).

But that in its turn meant I was primed for some kind of trickery three episodes later when, all of a sudden, everyone on the ship is pressing somebody to give them a set of coordinates: of course it's a virtual interrogation of some sort (a trick I've previously used in games). But at least the episode had the guts to reveal that at the end of act 1 rather than trying to maintain the illusion for longer. And, unlike almost every version of "everything is an illusion" in visual media, they did have the courage to broach the idea of waking up into multiple levels of illusion.

The show even manages to set an episode in the present day (because obviously the instant-transport drive, which is working or not as that episode's plot demands, doubles as an accidental time machine), complete with a kids-on-bikes detective gang.

Surprisingly, the actor who comes out best from all this after Palmer is Anthony Lemke, whose character is generally an underwritten combination of genre-savvy cautious ("look, every single time we offer to help people, it goes badly for us, so maybe we shouldn't do that") and self-indulgent; this time out Lemke manages, with some help from the scripts, to make him not only more three-dimensional but actually sympathetic.

The show was cancelled a few weeks after the final episode of this season had been broadcast, so there was no warning for the production crew, and the final episode is just another season-ending cliffhanger. It puts characters in jeopardy, and introduces new dangers, but resolves nothing.

So the show as a whole ends up being just science-fiction filler, precisely because nothing is resolved; if there'd been time to wrap up the corporate power-struggles, or the forthcoming AI rebellion, or the alien invasion, any of those storylines might have ended up going somewhere interesting. (I'm faintly surprised the creators didn't produce a final issue of the comic that started the whole thing off, either to wrap up the dangling plots or to start something new in that format.) Without that resolution, it's really just stuff happening.

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  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 05:09pm on 23 April 2019

    Dark Matter season one was more than decent, but the show runners seemed to have failed to plan on where to go afterwards. Whereas Killjoys, which wasn't as good, has managed to keep things interesting by changing up something each season. Though they are finishing at season four, so perhaps they aren't quite as good as they could've been.

  2. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 05:14pm on 23 April 2019

    Correction to my previous comment. Killjoys has a fifth season; I confabulated as I misinterpreted the cancellation as we've not yet seen season four.

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