*** This article contains major spoilers for the Dark Matter Season 3 episode “Isn’t That a Paradox?”***
Dark Matter went on a trip to the past this week, thanks to a blink drive recall that sent the crew 600 years back to our modern day Earth. After discovering a blink drive signal, they quickly found themselves going undercover in the small town of Fort Falls, Wisconsin, where they immediately drew everyone’s attention, of course.
“Isn’t That Paradox?”, written by Dark Matter creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, and directed by Craig David Wallace, was genuinely fun escape from the usual space battles and near-death experiences the crew deals, delivering a heavy dose of a comedy that especially highlighted the always terrific performance from Zoie Palmer as the Android.
By the end of the hour the crew had a new functioning blink drive, ready to be used as a last resort, and Ryo (Alex Mallari Jr.) looked set to make a dangerous alliance. We spoke with Mallozzi for our weekly breakdown of the episode’s events, including some special guests stars and a preview of the much-anticipated Android origin story.
The TV Junkies: There were so many fun comedy moments, like the bit with the cupcake, taking an Uber or comparing football with Quidditch. Did they flow easily while you were writing?
Joseph Mallozzi: I don’t know what it is about the comedy. I don’t know if I could write a comedy, but I enjoy writing comic episodes within a non-comic series. It’s just fun putting characters in those situations. As I mentioned, it was an episode I had to write because the planned episode was not going to fly, but it came easily enough.
TTVJ: I can tell that the comedy you really enjoy writing for is the Android, because Zoie Palmer was hands down the MVP of this episode. I’m curious, though, why was the Android so enamoured with the idea of blending in with the people of Earth?
JM: I think she’s fascinated by the culture, and she’s always been fascinated by humanity. This was a chance for her to be out and about and observe humanity in a completely different way. Usually she’s undercover on some sort of op. This allows her to play a different kind of role. I would think she’s kind of a student of history as well, and finds that side of humanity interesting. I just love the prospect of her going undercover and not using the upgrade. The fact that she was hacked afforded us that opportunity. [Using the upgrade] undercover, being a human just like everyone else, that’s fun and fine, but I really wanted her to be a fish out of water. We saw that opportunity with the damage from the hack. Those little moments where she’s at the dinner party and she’s trying to fit in, she brings cookies and wants them to portion them appropriately, she’s trying to make small talk by talking about a TV show and it fails miserably. There are a lot of little moments that didn’t make the cut unfortunately, because the episode ran long, but there are a lot of them in there.
TTVJ: I really enjoyed the B-plot of the episode where these kids are scared of alien invaders, and we’re seeing the reverse of that where we know they’re just the crew and the Android is adorable.
JM: Yeah, it was just fun getting them to go undercover in those personas. Noreen [Landry] just did a fantastic job on costumes. I love Five’s (Jodelle Ferland) goth chick outfit and I think Jodelle loved it as well. It was pure cosplay.
TTVJ: I read that Melissa O’Neil’s dog had a cameo in this episode. How did that come about?
JM: Well, I wrote a dog park scene and originally I was going to have [my dogs] Suji and Lulu be background players, then Melissa mentioned that she wanted to have a little cameo for Tehya. Her and Jodelle have strongly lobbied for a dog on board the ship, so I thought it would be a fun way to address it in that moment. It’s one of those weird instances where Three (Anthony Lemke) has to be the voice of reason, saying, “no, we’re not getting a dog.” He couches it in the standard time travel paradox or butterfly effect [argument], that what if these dogs end up being crucial in finding a cure for Sokolsky syndrome. Sokolsky, by the way, is the last name of our executive producer’s assistant, Elliot Sokolsky, which follows in grand tradition of Tataryn’s disease, which is what Sarah (Natalie Brown) was suffering from, which is after our former first AD Brandon Tataryn. Who knows, maybe Townsend syndrome in Season 4?
TTVJ: I’m ready, Joe. Anytime. That would be awesome. But one thing I’m curious about–obviously you didn’t film in Wisconsin, so where is Fort Falls actually set?
JM: Fort Falls is in Hamilton, [Ontario]. It was one of those instances where we were able to shoot in a exterior contemporary setting and not have to worry about hiding anything. Everything pretty much played as it was. We switched up the license plates, but other than that we were just lucky. We chose Wisconsin because we figured we might get a lot of snow, which would have made all those scripted biking scenes a nightmare, but the weather held. It was actually quite nice.
TTVJ: We met one of the inventors of the blink drive, played by comedian Seán Cullen, who worked for Electus Corp. Did we know before that they were behind the blink drive?
JM: No, we did not. They’re one of the more insidious corporations.
Seán Cullen actually auditioned for a smaller role, but I thought he’d be perfect for the professor, so we offered him the role. Apparently he’s a huge sci-fi fan, and he’s very familiar with the show. He was great and such a funny guy, nice guy. We’d be shooting on location and I could hear him and Melissa singing together in the other room. It was a lot of fun having him on board.
TTVJ: Time travel is always tricky, and here you’ve set up the possibility that the crew’s trip to the past may have triggered the invention of FTL. Should we take this as another sign that the crew can’t really change the future?
JM: You could [argue] it both ways. The fact is, we don’t know the specifics of what led to the creation of the FTL drive before they went on that journey. Is it possible that the FTL drive was created without their interference? And does that mean they can affect the future, or is it that the realize at the end that “holy shit, this is the way it was all along. We were destined to go back and screw with the timeline.” I don’t know, you could read it both ways.
TTVJ: I have to wonder if all these paradoxes gave you a headache while writing this episode.
JM: No, not really. It was a lot of fun. My writing partner Paul [Mullie] helped out a lot with the little twists and turns. He’s Mr. Science and Logic, so we went over the script together and found those little moments. I always love a good time travel episode as long as it makes sense within the context of the episode. There are so many different ways to do time travel, you just have to choose your version and be true to it. That’s what we set out to do. As always, it offers an opportunity for humor. It was the best of both worlds.
TTVJ: We already know you’re a master of continuity, so if anyone can tackle time travel, it’s you.
JM: Hopefully, yes. Check Reddit once the episode airs. I gave Reddit a little shout out in the episode too. When I do a lot of my question answering, I always check the Reddit boards.
TTVJ: One character moment I wanted to talk about was between Two and Three. Three has steadily become the biggest support system for Two on the ship. Is it his destiny on the show to become her right hand man?
JM: He’s evolved a lot over the seasons. In Season 1 him and the character of One (Marc Bendavid) were the devil and angel on Two’s shoulders. She tried to negotiate this role as the ship’s commander. I don’t think either of them were right or wrong. Certainly Three tended to be more mercenary in his approach, and he wasn’t wrong. Over the course of the show the entire crew has bonded. They’ve lost members and have been betrayed, but the members that have remained have grown quite stronger in terms of their bonds. I think Two and Three have a significant bond, about as significant as Five and the Android. All the characters have interesting bonds, but Two and Three are very different, yet very complementary as well.
TTVJ: Considering where they came from in Season 1, they’ve really developed into a great male and female friendship that you rarely get to see on television.
JM: Yeah, actually, now that you mention it, that’s true! Thank you!
TTVJ: However, there’s trouble in digital paradise for Three and Sarah. She brought up a valid point that he’s not the only one not getting enough out of their situation. Are we reaching a breaking point for Sarah?
JM: It does look like it. That’s all I’ll say.
TTVJ: We had two small, but important scenes at the end of the episode. The first is the the only time we saw Ryo in the episode, taking a call with Nieman (David Richmond-Peck) and the alt-crew. Is there an unholy alliance forming?
JM: It does seem to be, yeah. Ferrous Corp., the alternates and Ryo could spell big trouble for our crew. Things are going to come to a head before our season finale. As of 308, things get pretty crazy. I think this is the best run of the show to date.
TTVJ: Victor the Android (Brendan Murray) made a surprise appearance at the end. As next week is the big Android origin story, is it safe to say he has a major role to play in it?
JM: Well, apparently he needs some help, and he’s contacting his old friend the Android, and presumably to help him she’s going to involve the crew of the Raza. This door in will offer insights into Two’s backstory, the Android’s origins. We find out the Android’s name, and we offer glimpses through the Android’s eyes into the past. We access these memories and they are going to play like her POV of various scenes that play out. You find out, for instance, back in episode 303, Adrian mentioned Shrike and Jasper, two former members of the crew, and said that “Portia happened to them.” We’re actually going to find out what happened to them, in addition to a few other insights. One of which opens the door to episode 311.
Did you get a kick out of the crew’s attempt to blend in with modern day Earth? What are your thoughts on this episode? 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.