In Review: Dark Matter, Episode 1 “Pilot–Part I”

I will definitely be returning to see what happens next week. This was interesting, the acting good, and the mysteries intriguing.

Dark Matter, Episode 1 “Pilot–Part I” Broadcast June 12, 2015

Written by Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie

Directed by T.J. Scott

Somewhere in space a massive ship floats while red lights and a muted claxon go off. Within, the corridors are dark, lit only by vertical red lights in the wall. Sparks erupt from seams in the walls. A recording of a female voice repeats that life support is at fifteen percent. A door opens, showing One in a clear capsule, awake and frightened. He pushes open the glass and easily exits his pod. He bolts down a passageway, missing the opening of another door with Two in the same state as he was. Barefoot, the sparks are causing some pain for One, but he makes his way to the bridge followed by Two, who backhands him to the floor. She goes to a console and is body-slammed by One. They begin to fight, but she is obviously more skilled than he is. With him knocked out, Two activates a console, hears that life support is down to twelve percent, and begins hitting a series of buttons. She restores life support, the claxon stops, and all the interior lights activate. One stands up just as Three appears in the door with a pair of pistols drawn on them. “Who are you?” he demands. They reply in unison, “I don’t know.” Three has no idea who he is either. He lowers his guns. Cue opening title sequence.

The ship still isn’t moving, thought the distress lights and sounds have stopped. Another pod opens revealing Four, then Five, then Six. Three bangs on Six’s door to wake him while the others watch. Six can’t remember who he is either. As One explains to their newest member that they all have no memories, Three calls them over to see the cargo bay he’s discovered. One suggests they should call themselves by the order they woke. They find clothes and coms, and Three finds a long locked container he breaks open. Inside are weapons, of which he grabs an excessively long rifle. Five goes to grab one as well, but Two takes it from her, saying they need to explore the ship; she determines the pairings–Three and Six, One and Four, and Two and Five. Three says he’s hoping for trouble. As they make their way, Three suggests he should be leader of their group. This doesn’t sound good to Six. They open the door to a dark room which lights up, revealing it’s a ship. Six sits down and its dash lights up. Meanwhile, One is rambling to Four about their predicament until the latter takes the lead. They find a training room filled with several katanas. Four picks up two and begins to go through several fast routines with the blades, showing that he has knowledge in how to use them. Away from Six, Three stumbles upon a woman in a pod. He touches the device and it lights up. He leaves to get Six and the woman opens her eyes. On the bridge, Two notices that the ship has activated a security protocol. Down below, Three is thrown in the air and into a wall by the awakened woman. Six gets the jump on her from behind with a cocked rifle. She smacks it aside and disarms him of his other weapons before slamming him against a wall. Six calls Two. “We’re under attack!” “By who?” Two asks as the unknown woman marches over to Six. Cue first commercial break.

This was really entertaining for a SyFy Channel show. I was expecting a cliché show with cliché effects and it was much better than I expected. I like the mystery of the characters, with them demonstrating traits that give insights into who they are. By the end of the episode five of the characters learn their identities, but before that they are trying to piece together the truth. One seems like the speaker of the group, Two is the captain of their ship, Three is a fighter, Four is a weapons master, Five is an engineer, and Six seems like a fighter as well. This is only the first half of the pilot, so any of these positions could change by next week. There’s an action sequence involving the ship that addresses something that I’ve never seen a science fiction show do before — that was impressive. The design of the ship and its interiors is good. It looks believable, unlike a Roger Corman or SciFi movie from a few years ago. The only part of the show I didn’t like was the location they arrive at. This is where the reality of this universe fell apart, and I felt I was looking at the stereotypical Eastern European abandoned industrial setting chosen to save on a budget. Outside of this, I’m looking forward to next week’s installment.

The good: A smart script that teased each person’s forgotten strengths, decent special effects, Zoie Palmer stealing her scenes, Jodelle Ferland’s character seeming to know more than she was sharing, a good mystery behind the doors, and a great cliffhanger.

Fun lines: “You were in the way,” “Hello, sweetcakes,” “Hey there,” “Okay. Start her up,” “Yeah, there’s a lot of that goin’ around,” “No such data exists,” “Chatty guy,” “…and the door,” “Nice,” “The Raza?”, and “I vote against her voting.”

The bad: The setting for the colony took me completely out of the show. The information given there was good, but it looked completely out of character for what I felt about how this universe had been established.

The final line: I will definitely be returning to see what happens next week. This was interesting, the acting good, and the mysteries intriguing. My fingers are crossed that the worlds this group goes to look better than what was encountered tonight. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
One Comment
  • Joseph Mallozzi
    13 June 2015 at 4:41 am -

    Well, here’s hoping you enjoy episode #102 as much – or more!

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