The crew of the Raza doesn’t remember who they are, and in Episode 4 of Dark Matter, they have a chance to learn more – and blow it. The writers have a lot to answer for here, because there are elements of a terrific story rattling around in Dark Matter. It’s too bad that they’re almost entirely overshadowed by stereotypes, soap tropes and lazy plotting.
The Raza is about to dock at the space station and this highly dangerous crew is talking about … the toys and meals and hookers they’re going to buy with the proceeds from the sale of the weapons cache. It’s like they all had a lobotomy before breakfast.
The crew balks when Two runs the numbers and discovers that after repairs, refueling and docking fees, there won’t be any cash left for dinner or prostitutes. Not even goggles. And no, she won’t fill the gas tank halfway or take the ship to Maaco for repairs.
As they dock, One asks if going onto the space station is a good idea since they’re wanted criminals. Android has filed their flight plan under false papers, so Two says they’ll be fine as long as they keep a low profile. One’s not sure that’s in their skill set.
Two sends One and Three off to find a buyer for their weapons while the rest of the crew comb the ship for tschokes to pawn. Lone-wolf Four hangs back on the ship to brood over the ring from the puzzle box.
Two, Five and Six eventually make it to an interstellar market/casino/food court/midway. Two sends Six to the doctor to see about his arm injury, where there’s a nurse in the waiting room who wears a peakaboo top and circa 1950s nurse’s cap, because … they both came in the Naughty Nurse package from the Halloween shop? And, since this isn’t enough stereotyping for one extra, she does nothing but stare at her screen and type. (Can I get a Homer Simpson “doh!” please? Thank you.)
Android has advised that weapons aren’t allowed on the space station. But One and Three immediately approach a bartender and botch the ask about a weapons buyer. They hang with the bottle of whiskey and some ladies while the bartender makes some calls – for a finder’s fee, of course. Three gets drunk and piss off the ladies before the bartender comes through.
So much for keeping a low profile.
While Two pawns the Raza’s garage sale booty, Pixie gets pulled into a game of chance, helping a stranger defeat the illusion. How did she do it? She doesn’t know. Still, Two decides to take her into the casino and gamble the dinner money.
Four finally slouches off the ship, telling the Android he has research to do. It’s personal. Android offers psychiatric services, which he declines. (Can androids be sad?)
One and Three are too busy bickering on their way to meet the weapons buyers to deploy any of the mercenary survival skills you’d expect them to possess. They walk into the meeting location without checking anything and are promptly gassed into unconsciousness by a red can that shoots sparks and smoke, probably a leftover prop from the Batman TV series.
A guy in a Darth Vader-style gas mask enters, and One and Three wake up tied to chairs, back to back, only to resume bickering. Shift or tilt? Discuss among yourselves, boys. For the rest of the episode. Pretty please.
Two asks Pixie to pick a blackjack table. “Are you sure?” she asks. Pixie isn’t sure, but she has a feeling. Pixies are intuitive. This is known.
Two trusts Pixie’s intuition, and they lose most of the dinner money before Two takes over. Somehow, it works better this way, and Two accumulates a pile of winnings before casino henchmen descend. They drag Two and Pixie to a basement room and tell them their winnings are forfeited, and to get lost. Two demands the money, Pixie protests and the thug spokesman slaps her. Two disarms and kills five men while Pixie watches, aghast.
Four finds a pawn booth and asks the owner to tell him about the ring he found. The pawnbroker initially scoffs that it’s a fake, then realizes it’s a ring of the Ashida line. “This isn’t something you find, this is something you kill to acquire,” he stammers as he abruptly closes up shop and scuttles away.
One and Three have tipped over their chairs (see “shift or tilt”) when Gas Mask Guy returns. He’s the Jace Corso we saw at the end of Episode 3, the one looking for the Raza. “Who are you? What the hell are you doing with my face?” he asks One as he removes the mask. Then Gas Mask Jace gives a classic villain speech so as to do some ‘splaining. Could be a clone, but they require a scan he would have noticed, and only last a few days anyway; a long-lost twin; or someone has had major plastic surgery to look like Gas Mask Jace (who isn’t as pretty as One).
Oooh, and he’s been trying to chase the Raza crew down for months. (Yes, another Clue, Colonel Mustard.)
One and Three plead ignorance – and tell GMJ how they just woke up with no memories. GMJ doesn’t believe them, and speechifies a bunch of backstory: He was approached about joining a merc crew to get rid of troublemaking miners, but he’s more of a solo artist. Still, the money was too good to pass up, and he would be working with the legendary Raza crew, honing his supervillain skillz. Instead, the Galactic authorities got a tip and raided his safe house. He meant to apologize to the Raza crew, only to learn he’d been seen boarding the ship before it left.
When this doesn’t jog One’s memory, GMJ fires up the electric shock stick. Since they’re tied together with the same wire, Three gets shocked too. He offers up the weapons in exchange for his own freedom, but GMJ boards the Raza and takes the weapons. Bizarrely, Android doesn’t detect the difference between One and his evil twin, though she compliments him on the new hairstyle.
One and Three finally cooperate enough to acquire the electric stick, which they use to soften the wires that bind them. They escape and return to the ship.
Four returns to the ship and logs into the computer, which is now interfaced with the space station’s. He searches for Ashida.
Six sits in the doctor’s waiting room for the entire episode. He watches the clock. He cringes away from nearby coughers. He watches an infomercial for Transfer Transit, the spa experience of interstellar travel – no more stasis, no more uncomfortable berths. Tempclones, copy of your consciousness, your surrogate, blah blah. The sales pitch goes on and on, so yeah, a Clue, with a capital C.
When he finally sees the doctor, a DNA sample is taken to grow a skin graft to heal his arm wound. The computer alerts the doctor that Six is wanted. Doc summons the authorities with a bank-style silent panic button and heals Six’s wound in such a conspicuously nervous fashion that Six realizes something’s up. When the doctor attempts to give him an injection for pain, Six grabs the needle, injects the doctor and escapes back to the ship.
GMJ sells the weapons, but keeps one for himself, as he has “something to take care of.” The space station’s alarms are sounding as GMJ enters the room to find his captives gone. One and Three make it to the Raza just as it departs from the space station.
On the bridge, the crew takes stock. Weapons? Pawned items? Gone, with nothing to show for them. Six questions them, and Three jumps in with a lie, which One confirms. Six isn’t buying it, but is more concerned about getting away from the station. Android makes the jump to FTL.
One finds Three and asks why Three didn’t divulge the evil twin. “From here on in, we agree to agree,” Three gloats, demanding that One back him in all group decisions.
In the mess hall, Six and Two take stock: they refueled, but did no repairs and didn’t resupply, and they lost the opportunity to research via the station’s information hub. “Maybe next time,” Six says.
Four, who accessed the information hub, ponders his alleged crimes: He’s the son of the late Emperor Ashida, a crown prince and accused of his father’s murder, which has led to armed conflict with another territory and a humanitarian crisis as refugees flee.
Also, he’s implicated in the death and disfigurement of more than 100 people. (Could these be the deaths in Pixie’s beach dream?) Armed and unstable, indeed.
Which prompts a question for the writers: why waste your time with the lame soap tropes and stereotypes when you could go someplace far more interesting – like Pixie’s scary dreams? Seriously, you can do better than this. I hope.