*** This article contains major spoilers for the Dark Matter Season 3 episode “All the Time in the World”***
Who knew time travel could be so much fun? Dark Matter injected some much-needed hilarity into the world of betrayal and corporate war this week with “All the Time in the World”, written by co-creator Joseph Mallozzi and directed by Ron Murphy (who also directed this week’s episode of Wynonna Earp). After Three (Anthony Lemke) found himself stuck in an endless time loop, he tried and failed again and again to convince the crew, finally succeeding through the mastery of the French language, proving that it really does pay to be bilingual.
The episode quickly sobered up, however, when the Android (Zoie Palmer) found herself experiencing time leaps into the future, where she saw several morbid scenes, including one where she’s taken apart by Electus Corp, the same company behind the Seers. What does it all mean? Are the crew really headed for a tragic end? Will they let it happen if it means a “positive result” for the galaxy?
In our weekly chat with Dark Matter‘s showrunner, he answers some of these questions and more, including the process of writing the episode, and why Five (Jodelle Ferland) was the one the Android met in the future.
The TV Junkies: First off, I really enjoyed watching this episode. I can see why you love it so much.
Joseph Mallozzi: Thank you, it was a lot of fun. I knew I wanted to do a time loop episode. Every show has done their own time loop episode, so essentially what I did was I ended up watching two dozen versions done by different shows and a dozen time loop movies, basically seeing what was already done. Paul [Mullie] and I wrote the Stargate SG-1 “Window of Opportunity” time loop episode, and it’s a fan-favorite because what made it unique were the characters. In SG-1, they were juggling, they had these little through lines and O’Neil dipping Carter.
In this case, I knew the guy I wanted in the time loop would be Three. Anthony just nailed it, he was terrific in this episode. Then it was just making use of his forte; besides his comic abilities, his knowledge of the French language, which figured in quite nicely as well.
TTVJ: I loved those scenes between Three and the Android. I’m curious, where did that song come from?
JM: It’s a very old French song. It’s a song that a lot of North American shows go to as a quintessential French song, from The Simpsons to American Horror Story. I thought it would just be perfect as a capper to that French scene, and that a little duet would be fun. It was great, we went into the recording studio with our composer Ben Pinkerton, and Zoie and Anthony really got into it.
TTVJ: This was one of those episodes where you really notice how great the direction is. I love the shot of the milk swirling into the coffee.
JM: Yes, in that loop. That’s Ron Murphy, our director. He’s a very funny guy. He directs a lot of Trailer Park Boys and comes from a comedy background. We picked him specifically for the episode and he delivered big time. A lot of it is timing, the cuts, and he did a great job.
TTVJ: Especially, now that I’ve gotten the chance to visit the set, I know how many times you have to film the same scene, it must have felt like overkill having the film the same scene for different parts of the episode.
JM: Yes, yes, I thought it was great. It’s an episode that takes place on our standing sets, and we’re essentially repeating a lot of the same scenes, so we’ll save time! In the end, it wasn’t quite as easy. It had its own challenges, the chiefest being the script. We went into the writer’s room to break the story and we couldn’t find a way to make it work. We ended up skipping Episode 4 and breaking the next three or four episodes, and when it came down to write it I didn’t have an outline, so I just sat down and I wrote. I tend to write comedy quicker. The Android scenes in Season 1, the accent scene, the quirkiness, is the type of stuff I like to write. When I sat down to write I didn’t know how it would go, and I ended up writing 32 pages in a day, which is the most I’ve ever done.
It just came together amazingly well in the end. I can’t say enough amazing things about the cast, crew and the director. Everyone who came together. Also our guest stars, Michael Reventar, who plays Ash the assassin, is terrific. He has a great throw down with Ayisha [Issa], Solara Shockley, and that was all John Stead’s doing. It was a terrific fight sequence. Then there’s that scene where the Android meets up with future Five and all those jump aheads to the future, will all pay off in future episodes, as well as all the things that Five mentions. Things like the Accelerated, the Fall of the House of Ishida, Carina. Half of that stuff will pay off between now and Season 3, and the rest will pay off between now and the end of the series.
TTVJ: Now that the Android has all this knowledge, how will this affect her moving forward?
JM: You can’t really let it affect you. As Five tells her, this is the way the future will unfold, and very quickly. In fact, in Episode 6 a variation of a future flash she saw will take place. It’s something she’ll discuss with the crew and as the season progresses they’re going to find out about some of the various things future Five mentioned, coming true in some surprising ways.
TTVJ: Early in this episode the concept of the butterfly effect was mentioned. Will that have any weight on how things happen?
JM: It could. I mean, in many small ways. It really depends on what they do with the knowledge they’ve been armed with. One of the future flashes will play out in a slightly different version, and all these scenes will be revisited in slightly tweaked versions, suggesting that the butterfly effect is in play. As you go down the line, bigger changes come into effect and, at the end of the day, you really don’t know how much of a change will be made by being inactive and how much of a change you can effect by being active. On the flip side, in classic time travel scenario, how much your attempts to change the future are what contribute to creating said future. This is all fun temporal games that we all play in these types of episodes. Answers will be coming your way Seasons 3, 4 and 5.
TTVJ: I’m curious, what was the process for Jodelle to get into that aged up look?
JM: That was a long and involved process. I’ll put them up on the blog, but we had very different variations; makeup looks, texturing for the face, wigs. We ended up going with what [you see on screen]. It’s one of those processes where if we had more time and more money it could have looked even better, but it’s interesting to imagine the Five character as old, beaten down, kind of dour, solemn and the opposite of the hopeful, spirited young girl we know.
TTVJ: I did think it was an interesting choice to have Five as the future character, though I do feel that Jodelle, as young as she is, brought a lot of world-weary gravitas to it.
JM: I think of all the characters, she’s the bonafide survivor, so in my mind it made sense to make it her, and her the Android have that connection. I loved the idea of, in the distant, distant future, her and the Android floating around somewhere between galaxies.
TTVJ: Like you previewed it last week, this episode did have some really great character moments. I loved the scenes between Three and Five, but I wanted to talk about his moments with Sarah. Now that he’s accepted that she’s back, where do they go from here?
JM: Well, we’re going to see. One of the nice things about having an episode like this is you’re able to have various cracks at developing certain storylines. Normally in a show, if we didn’t do this type of episode, it would take multiple visits for him to get where he eventually got. Because of the time loop he’s able to experience, re-experience and then get it right, so that at the end we essentially get a fast pass to this point in their relationship. Of course, it is somewhat problematic that your girlfriend is a digital consciousness uploaded to the ship. What kind of a role she’ll play in future episodes remains to be seen. I mean, at some point the relationship has to move beyond living in this virtual environment. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself in a not-too-distant future.
TTVJ: When writing the episode, did you get a sense of how long the time loop really was for Three?
JM: It’s been awhile. I’d say dozens of times. Most of these stories start off with the character experiencing it for the first time, which is why I decided I would do that differently. Right from the get-go, in the tease, you’re with Three and you, along with the rest of the audience, is wondering what the hell is going on until he sits up in bed and you realize, “holy sh*t, he’s telling the truth, he’s in the loop.” It’s just a way to cut to the chase.
It was a lot of fun hitting those beats, with Solara, Adrian [Mishka Thebaud], the Five beats, him talking to Sarah, and the lengths he would go to convince [Two and the Android]. I thought Melissa [O’Neil] was the unsung hero of this episode because she was very funny, especially in that scene where Three and the Android are talking simultaneously, and she says “oh, you had me going,” and she’s walking off, dismissing him as he’s desperately calling out to her. I thought she was very funny in this episode as well, playing the straight woman.
TTVJ: The episode ended with Ryo speaking to a someone in a strange green device. Should we know who that is?
JM: No. However, if you go back to the end of last week’s episode, you’ll see Ryo addressing a room full of mercenaries and assassins and among them is Ash, front and centre featured, and in the back is a familiar looking guy in what looks like a wheelchair. Presumably he’s another soldier of fortune that Ryo will count on to take out the crew of the Raza. We will see what this guy’s deal is very soon.
TTVJ: Are the crew going to run into all them at one point or another?
JM: The crew of the Raza is very elusive and Ash was able to catch up with them because of the blink drive’s sub-space signature, which they put an end to. Who knows, someone else is going to take a shot, but they’re going to be very hard to pin down. That’s not going to stop Ryo from trying.
What are your thoughts on that dramatic glimpse into the future? Sound off in the comments below.
Dark Matter airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy and Space Channel.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.