‘Dark Matter’ (Season 1): Deep Space Developments

Dark Matter (Syfy) Episode 2 (2)

When I first wrote about Dark Matter a few weeks back, I was cautiously optimistic about where the show might be headed. Though the pilot showed an over-reliance on character clichés, the likable cast and end-of-episode reveal gave me hope that the show could turn into a fun hour of television. Well, now that we’re nearing the halfway point of the season, it’s good to be able to see the show living up to the potential of its premise.

First and foremost, the show’s doing a great job of fleshing out its seven main characters in a short period of time. One’s “nice guy” attitude has been complicated by the introduction of his evil twin, as it were. We’ve had the chance to see Six’s softer side while he was enjoying an info-vid at the medical center. And Two’s been struggling in her position as leader, going back and forth between her icy guardedness and doing the right thing. Even characters like Three and Four, who’ve yet to have much growth, have at least been given ties to the show’s larger mysteries about who these characters are.

Another positive mark for the show is that, due to the amnesiac status of the crew, we’re getting to know them through their present actions. I have no problem with a flashback mechanic, but it feels like every other show these days falls back on that old trope. Here, the character’s pasts serve as the main mystery of the entire show, and that has led to some great teases and hints at reveals to come. From Two’s heightened healing and immunities to the question of where the ship’s Android came from, the show has quickly built intriguing secrets around each of its characters.

Now, the truth is that Dark Matter still has some growing to do. Many of its storylines are pretty basic, following the sort of narrative arcs one might expect from a sci-fi show in its first season. Following the two-part premiere, we got an episode all about the team learning to work together, and last week’s episode gave us television’s current favorite trope, the zombie. Even still, the stories have been well-told and exciting, and episode four managed to bring a lot of great diversity with the crew’s adventures at the spaceport. And even the more basic episodes have added plot points to the larger narrative.

And, at the end of the day, it’s hard to deny how much fun it is to have a spacefaring epic on the air again. Gone are the days where Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Stargate dominated the airwaves, and while reruns are nice, it’s better having a new journey for a new generation to partake in. And while it might not be as immediately engaging or layered as Firefly, this show is doing an admirable job of taking up the browncoat spirit. If nothing else, that’s reason enough for viewers to tune in.