With the second episode, Dark Matter does two things: finishes up the story of the miners and asks a lot of questions about who the crew of the Raza are. The second part is much more interesting than the first.

Spoilers...

Episode two picks up pretty much where episode one leaves off, with the revelation that the whole crew — except for Four — are wanted criminals. One, the fluffy idealistic teddy bear that he is, freaks out hardcore about it. Six and Two are upset. Three does not care so much what he did, does, or is. He jokes about how diverse their crimes are, and One scoffs at him. Three: “That’s my defense mechanism. Humor. That, and apparently killing people.”

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Oh, Dark Matter. I know I’m being manipulated. I know that Three is basically Jayne — I know a lot of people name their guns in fiction, but with the whole space cowboy vibe this whole show’s got going on, Three’s “This is Bubba, Lulu, and this one’s Pip. But I don’t name my knives. I’m not a psycho” schtick really, really comes off as a Jayne clone — but I’m still a sucker for a mouthy asshole character.

Three’s also the one who points out that the giant megacorp who hired them is not going to be unhappy that they didn’t finish the job and sold weapons to the miners. Even with the knowledge that they’re mercenaries sent to kill the miners, Two keeps them on track: give half the weapons to the miners, sell the rest. Move on.

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One, Three, Four, and Six go down to the planet. Two, Five, and the Android stay on the Raza. The team on the planet is still pretending to just be some people who happen to have some gun merchandise to give the miners, and One’s still frustrated because there’s no more help coming — since the weapons on the ship seem to hint that the help the miners thought they were getting was taken out by the Raza — and the weapons he’s giving the miners is just false hope of a win.

He also climbs on his high horse when the miners offer them food and drink (and song!) as a thank you. Three says yes, which just feels even more disingenuous to One. Plus. it means that when a Ferrous Corp ship shows up to ask the Raza why the colonists aren’t dead yet and sends its own troops to do the job, One, Three, Four, and Six are still there.

Two tries to stall, but instead ends up having to meet the Ferrous Corp captain anyway, who says they’ve moved on to Plan B. And then One takes off in the Raza, with no warning to the crew on the ground. The first few Ferrous Corp soldiers are easily taken out by the miners and the Raza foursome. Four spends some quality time with a captured Ferrous Corp commando, who tells them they’ll all die for this. And finally, Four gets more to do than just honor, death, swords:

Four: “How are we going to die?”

Soldier: “Choking on your own blood.”

Four: “Be more specific.”

Four points out that they could just destroy the colony easily, but they hired the Raza for deniability. And he wants more information. One cutaway later, he’s telling Two, Three. and Six that Ferrous Corp’s target is the outdated generator the miners use: it goes up, and the death of the mining colony goes down as an accident.

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This is where Three proves that he’s not just a bad guy. He’s just a guy who loves fighting and shooting for the challenge of it all. He wanted to leave the miners out to dry before, but now that he’s stuck there, he’s actually kind of giddy when he tells Six that he kind of likes their chances.

Six, however, has figured out that Ferrous Corp can throw people at them until the job is done. Losing the ship in orbit, though, might be a loss big enough to get them to back off. He proposes that he take the shuttle on what will likely be a suicide mission. Thankfully, he gets captured before he takes off and I don’t have to throw a show at my television. Because if this show had killed the black guy first, I would have been forever done.

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The team on the ground are okay fighters, but it’s Two on the ship that saves the day. And completely and utterly proves why she’s in charge. She left so that she could negotiate a deal with Ferrous Corp’s rival, the Mikkei Combine. Two of their ships, and the Raza, are now standing between the Ferrous ship and the colony. A 99-year lease gives the miners protection and Mikkei doesn’t want anything from them other than to screw Ferrous Corp out of being able to get it. If Mikkei and Ferrous can ever figure out a way to work together, the miners will get a cut of the profits. Congrats to Two, the smartest person in this show.

As for the identity issues which drive Dark Matter above just the mining saga — the beginning of the episode hits these very hard. One says he’s not a murderer, no matter what the files say. Two tells the Android not to call her Portia, she’s Two. She likes Two better. Four doesn’t care who they used to be, since without memories of it, they don’t matter. Six seems less concerned about his past than that he knows he’s a great pilot, which can be a neutral skill, I guess. And Three is pretty happy that at least they are the best mercenaries.

Five, however, isn’t in the files. The Android asks her if she’s afraid of them now — knowing they have a history of “violence, mental instability, extreme antisocial behavior, and deceit.” Five counters that what matters is who they are now.

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But she doesn’t wholly believe that. Because she’s upset that she’s not in the files, isn’t a member of the crew. Everyone else knows they belong here, even if the past bothers them. With no information, Five is left out even of the anger and confusion of the others. And no idea how she got where she is.

So, is it better to find out who you were and be disappointed or to know nothing? And among the five who discovered a criminal past, whose reaction is the right one? One’s denial? Two’s determination to not let a file dictate her identity? Three’s shrug and good humor ? Four’s conscious choice to ignore it all? Six’s simple happiness at being able to fly?

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Speaking of Six, what about the instincts they have that aren’t memories? Even without the memories, people’s personalities are strong. Two is the leader, since she stepped up and everyone let her. Four’s a fan of making a stand and dying in a blaze of glory. No one was happy to let Six go off and die. These instincts speak louder than the files.

Add to all of this Five’s tendency to have other people’s memories, which this week means she knows that someone erased their memories rather than it being an accident. One is so obvious a candidate that it can’t be him — he reacts so poorly to the file, that it could be that his file is a fake and he used it to get on board to wipe everyone’s memories. Plus, he was the first one up. He’s either a red herring or a double-bluff. Four’s got a puzzle-box with a mysterious ring inside, and he was the one to tell everyone to leave the memories behind. Maybe he did it. If we’re assuming the writers will go for the least likely looking suspect, then I think Three. Guess we’ll find out as the season goes on.

Some assort musings:

  • Glad we ended with Three continuing to fight the locked door. This is the true battle of the show
  • The Android hasn’t been that interesting to me, but her exchange with Five was pretty good. “Maybe don’t tell people you can smell their pheromones.” “But I can.”
  • Tori Higginson was one of the Mikkei captains! Aw, there are going to be so many Stargate cameos in this show, and I am excited. I still miss Weir.
  • So, beyond the super-stereotypical characters and plots, the most bothersome part of the show I’ve seen are the action sequences. Oh god, kill the bad slow-mo. Kill it with fire. It’s so bad, and it makes the show look so cheap.
  • However, the moment where One, Three, and Four are ready to go out in a blaze of glory, only to scare the crap out of Six? Priceless. That’s the kind of thing I love seeing.

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I am not that sophisticated.


Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.

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