A ship drifts, directionless, in space. Inside, alarms sound, lights flash, showers of sparks rain from panels into an empty corridor. The onboard computer announces that life support is at 15 percent, and still we haven’t seen a soul. Until a door opens on One (Mark Bendavid), who steps out of a stasis pod looking confused and runs to the ship’s bridge. He’s soon joined by Two (Melissa O’Neil), who attacks him, takes over the console and restores life support systems. “What was that for?” One asks. “You were in the way,” says Two in the series premiere of Dark Matter (Syfy), which is based on the graphic novel series written by Joseph and Mallozzi and Paul Mullie of Stargate fame.
Three (Anthony Lemke) blows in, flashlit guns a-blazin’. “Who are you?” he roars. One and Two admit they don’t know. Three shrugs; he has no idea either. Which they explain to Four (Alex Mallari, Jr.), Five (Jodelle Ferland) and Six (Roger Cross) when they wake from stasis.
Two doesn’t know how she fixed the ship: she says she just stood at the controls and it came to her, which seems ominously convenient. As does Two’s theory that they were awakened by a security protocol when the ship began to lose atmosphere. After a short explore – and an inexplicable wardrobe change for the ladies only – they determine the ship must be a transporter, and they are the crew, possibly put in stasis for a long haul. Which could explain everything – except the memory loss.
While the conversation goes on, Three breaks open a cargo container containing guns and grabs the biggest weapon. The group splits into pairs to explore the ship.
Digression: Whazzup with the bizarro wardrobe swaps for the female characters? Two emerges from stasis in spaghetti straps, establishes herself as the natural leader of the group, and promptly dons … a belly shirt. And Five, a prototypical Manic Pixie Dream Girl, teal-streaked hair, ennui and all, scrounges in cargo hold lockers and finds – wait for it – a vintage jacket with funky florals. Because … actually, I have no idea. Does anyone?
Mkay. Back to the action.
Three and Six find a transporter vehicle, and Six immediately makes for the cockpit. Three wants Six to back him as the group leader, hinting that there’s a second-in-command position in it for him. Six declines. Three finds a horizontal stasis pod. When he touches it, lights come on, and when he knocks on the glass, the Android’s (Zoie Palmer) eyes open.
As this happens, Pixie asks Captain why a red light is suddenly flashing on the console. The ship has initiated a security protocol – in the form of the Android is tossing Three and Six around the cargo hold. Six calls for help and Captain dispatches One and Four to the fight, which the Android is about to win, even with one of her hands chopped off. Fortunately, Two manages to override the security protocol and the Android powers down.
Despite the beatdown, everyone is okay. Three doesn’t want the “robot” powered up again. But Captain says she’s an Android, and has a neural link with the ship’s computer. Three wants to dump Android off the ship like so much space trash, but Captain points out that she can fix the ship – and might know what happened to them, “if anybody’s curious.”
Android doesn’t remember attacking Three and Six; Captain says her memory must have been wiped during the reboot.( How that squares with having answers about their past, I don’t know.) And the Android can’t access any ship’s data on passengers or crew – it has apparently been intentionally deleted.
Which raises a question: do all six of them really have memory loss, or is someone lying? One is convinced no one is lying, as he saw “that moment” in everyone’s eyes. (In fact, he didn’t see Three wake up. He was on the bridge getting schooled by Captain.) Three isn’t convinced.
The Android’s neural link allows her to control anything about the ship wherever she is. But Two wants a full diagnostic and restoration of all systems – and wants to see how it’s done. Android sits at the controls and finds that the ship is broadcasting a distress signal, and it’s taken meteorite damage, which she repairs.
Alarms sound and Android says a vessel has launched missiles at them. While Captain and Android call the ball on evasion and a possible jump to FTL (faster than light), Pixie plays with electronics, switching out drives or circuits until an unexplained device lights up; Four ninjas into the locker room, finds a hidden panel and extracts a puzzle box as if he knew all along where to find it. Evasive maneuvers mess with anti-gravity long enough to slam everyone against floors and fixtures. Pixie hits her head and is out cold, but Six watches over her.
The maneuvers allow Android to complete nav calculations and bump the ship into FTL. They escape, but don’t know who attacked or why. However, the Android has also conveniently retrieved some overwritten data and found the ship’s original destination. They’ll be there in 12 hours.
Captain sends everyone else to bed. Marital Arts examines his puzzle box. In the family suite, Tiny finds MREs and talks with Pixie, who doesn’t remember hitting her head, just falling and blackness and a door in a dark place. A big metal door, always locked.
Three is in another part of the ship, standing before huge locked metal doors. He can’t muscle through, so he stands back, levels the big gun and fires. The blowback sends him flying, but the doors remain shut, Three slumped against the far wall.
What’s inside, Six asks Pixie. “Secrets,” she says, eyes as big as Manga girl.
When they enter orbit, the guys and the Android take the transporter ship to the surface while Captain and Pixie stay aboard.
The planet is home to a small but scrappy mining settlement bent on defending its claim against Multi-corps that wish to evict them (or worse) to make way for miners to work the mother lode strike in a nearby asteroid belt.
The settlers are waiting for a shipment of weapons so they can defend themselves from the dreaded Raza, rumored to be half-lizard, seven-foot-tall aliens (By the power of Margaret Atwood, please let them be the lizard men of Xenor!). But really, no one knows anything about the Raza, because no one has ever survived an encounter with them.
A shipment of arms? The penny drops for One, who appears on the verge of spilling about what’s in their cargo hold when Three spins a whopper – or is it? – that raiders came at their ship out of nowhere, disabled their engines, looted the ship and left them for dead.
The youngest settler invites them to resupply and then leave before the Raza come. Because “the Multi-corps don’t ‘share’ planetary resources.”
The pretty young settler wears a pendant identical to the one One found in his quarters. She tells him it’s from the man who’s sending them the weapons. His people will have this “mark,” so the settlers will know they’re the good guys.
Pixie fixes a console the Android said was fried. She doesn’t know why she knows what to do, she just does. Oh, and she has gruesome dreams – other people’s dreams, she says. She tells Captain about a dream that starts with a walk on a beach and ends when she “carved out their eyes and left them for my stepmother to find, the bitch.” Also, she hopes the guys come back with some real food, as she’s hungry.
The recon team leaves the settlement with supplies and returns to the ship, where the crew argues about whether they should deliver their weapons cargo to the settlers. One is convinced that this was their original mission and they should complete it. Three says finders keepers. Captain splits the difference. They’ll give half of the weapons to the settlers and sell the rest.
One is angry that Three won’t help load weapons onto the transport ship. Three unrepentantly watches as the others struggle. An urgent call to the bridge breaks up the argument.
Android has restored some files, and the news is disturbing. Five of them are on the Galactic Authority’s Most Wanted list. Their crimes include murder, arson, theft, piracy and lots more murder. Their names: Jace Corso (One), Portia Lin (Two), Marcus Boone (Three), Ryo Tetsu (Four), and Griffin Jones (Six). Pixie remains a mystery.
But the Raza? It’s not a species of evil alien enforcers. It’s the name of their ship.
Twisty plot, interesting premise, lots of tension, great cast – Dark Matter definitely has my attention. I’m looking forward to watching this story unfold.