*** This article contains major spoilers for the Dark Matter Season 3 episode “One Last Card to Play”***
Who could have seen that one coming? Friday night’s Dark Matter was full of twists and turns when the alternate universe crew of the Raza showed up to cause a bit of trouble between the real Raza crew and their corporate allies at Mikkei. It was yet another thrill ride episode, written by newcomer Alison Hepburn and directed by Gail Harvey, that welcomed back guest stars Ennis Esmer as Wexler and Jessica Sipos as Tash, and once again showed off terrific performances by Anthony Lemke and Melissa O’Neil.
While the crew’s relationship with Truffault (Tori Higginson) was salvaged, the beginnings of an alliance between Portia (Melissa O’Neil) and Nieman (David Richmond-Peck) could spell real danger in the future. Of course, who can worry about tomorrow, when today’s danger is already here? After failing to make contact with Six (Roger Cross) all episode, Five (Jodelle Ferland) decided to make a pit stop on the Traugott colony only to discover a score of scattered bodies.
What will this mean for Six? Could the Raza be in more danger now than ever? Will we see the alt-crew again? As always, showrunner Joseph Mallozzi is answering all our burning Dark Matter questions.
The TV Junkies: First and foremost, what I really enjoyed about this episode were all the great surprises and reversals.
Joseph Mallozzi: Yes, that was a lot of fun. We broke that in the writers’ room last year around this time. It’s always so tough when you’re coming up with those twists and turns. It reminds me a bit of an episode of Stargate SG-1 called “Ripple Effect” where there was a twist I wanted to do at the end, but I didn’t know what the twist was until I actually sat down and wrote it. Then I got to the twist and I thought, “this is what I’ll do” and it worked out. It was one of those rare instances where it worked out. With this one, it was packed full of fun little twists.
TTVJ: This was the first episode written by Alison Hepburn, who is a script coordinator for the show. How did that come about?
JM: You know, Alison started off as our executive producer’s assistant and then moved up to our script coordinator. She let me read a pilot that she’d written that I thought was really good, it was a sci-fi pilot with very strong characters, very grounded dialogue, and I thought she did really well. In general, something we used to do in Stargate is promote from within, so I wanted to give her a shot, especially because she knows the characters. Alison is someone I always bounce ideas off. She’s always been really good with that, she’s got a great sci-fi mind and great character mind. I’ll come up against an issue on a script and I’ll say, “this is the issue. What do we do about this?” Of course she’ll automatically come up with a suggestion and I’ll say, “nope, don’t tell me yet. Think about it and come back.” She’ll come back and have some ideas, and either they’re ideas I can use or sometimes they’re ideas that will give me an idea for another idea. So I just thought, based on that, she should get a shot.
She did a really good job and delivered a really solid draft. Once we got into production I have to take over and I’ll do rewrites, and when there are production concerns I’ll add scenes here and there, but that’s the same with all scripts. She did a really solid job and she’s back in writer’s room for Season 4. Hopefully if we get a Season 4 she’ll be writing another episode.
TTVJ: Here at The TV Junkies we’re always big advocates of bringing in new female voices, so it’s great to see it happening in Dark Matter.
JM: Absolutely. It’s the same on the directing side. We try to use two to three new directors every season and this season we introduce a couple. Episode 309 and 310 are two new directors to us, male and female, and we’ll learn a little more about them as we get closer to those episodes.
TTVJ: Melissa O’Neil did a great job in this episode. You could really tell the subtle differences between Two and Portia and it was really the first giveaway that something was amiss. Was that all her?
JM: Yeah, totally her. What’s really tough is—all the cast is great, and people talk about Anthony and Zoie and Jodelle a lot, but Melissa has a subtlety to her performance that’s very tough to do. I think she is fantastic. When you consider that this was her first TV gig, it’s really quite amazing. I just go back to Episode 304, for instance, which was a very comic episode, and Anthony and Zoie got a lot of love for all the comedy, but Melissa’s straight person that played throughout that episode was really the sounding board for all of them. She also has a sense of humor as well, and, for someone who has been doing this for such a short amount of time, she’s able to convey a certain depth and, frankly, behind-the-scenes savviness that is really impressive. For instance, in her duel performances as Two and Portia, and actually a triple performance as Rebecca, as three slightly different people. It’s definitely all her. The differences are subtle, but they’re definitely there. There’s a sultriness to Portia that you pick up on after awhile.
TTVJ: Do you have a lot of discussions with Melissa and the rest of the cast about the progression of their characters, or do you sort of let them do what they do best?
JM: We do discuss. Anthony and Melissa and all the cast will come by the office and discuss things like character arcs and specific episodic beats. Frankly, Zoie and I exchange more texts than I do with my girlfriend because she’s asking if she can try this or that. It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to trust them. These characters are as much theirs as they are mine. I’ve created them, but they’ve given them life. You’ve got to give them a certain amount of leeway and then you’re always incredibly rewarded. They have such good instincts. They made these characters their own, so they know better than anyone how to make shifts in tone and, in the case of Portia, imbuing her with an undercurrent of sexuality that really permeates throughout all her scenes.
TTVJ: It was great to see Tash and Wexler return here. I really didn’t anticipate that everyone, except for Jace Corso, to come back on the Marauder.
JM: In fact, everyone assumed it would be Jace Corso to come back and no one else, when it was the opposite.
TTVJ: It seems like Tash is out of the picture now, though the ending hints that we’ll definitely see the rest of them again in the near future.
JM: Well, no, Tash was just stunned by the Android (Zoie Palmer), so she’s around.
TTVJ: Here I was thinking the different colours meant she was killed.
JM: We have three different stunners. There’s the gun that Two uses which she took off the guard in Hyperion-8, and that’s a stunner that has almost an electrical net-like charge, which is a whitish blue. Then there’s the Seer guns, which were stolen as well, and then the handheld stun guns that we saw in Reynaldo’s compound that the Android used to stun Tash back in Episode 208 last season where she’s having it out with Two in the alternate universe. That’s actually a little call back from a scene from last season.
TTVJ: This episode is, of course, the first time we saw one of the Android’s future visions, which did end up playing out a little differently.
JM: Correct. They do mention the butterfly effect, so essentially it was more or less the same scene played out slightly different, but similar enough that you recognize it’s the first future flash.
TTVJ: One thing I really liked was that they used that future information in their favour. Is that something they’ll continue to do?
JM: It’s quite possible.
TTVJ: There’s a lot of trouble circling the Raza, with Ryo out for vengeance as well as Ferrous Corporation. Should we be concerned for their health?
JM: Yeah, you should definitely be concerned, you should always be concerned. You mentioned Ferrous Corp and Ryo. Those are known enemies. There are also unknown enemies. Back in episode 107, the person who sent Wendy the Android against them was someone they’d never heard of before, and we haven’t seen him. There’s also the Galactic Authority, they’re still wanted criminals. They should be constantly in a state of readiness, if you will. But that’s one of the nice things is it’s very much them against the universe. That’s why they make such a close-knit family, because they have no one else to rely on but each other.
TTVJ: Adrian (Mishka Thébaud) and Solara (Ayisha Issa) left the ship this episode, though the door was certainly left open for them to come back. Was I imagining those sparks flying between Adrian and Five?
JM: Well, I don’t know. Maybe there was a little something there. I don’t if it’s sparks or if she found him sweet and cute, maybe not a boyfriend, or maybe. I don’t know. In terms of maturity, she’s a little younger, but she’s certainly more mature. He seems clueless about it, so there’s a possibility of a crush one way or another in that scene.
TTVJ: It’s funny, moreso this season than the others, I’ve seen people tweeting about who they’re shipping with. I’ve seen Three and Five, which surprised me, and I’ve seen Three and the Android as well.
JM: Thrandroid, yes! I love that.
TTVJ: Speaking of Three, we also saw another scene between him and Sarah (Natalie Brown). It’s amazing, every time you see her room it looks more and more like a deluxe spa.
JM: Mmhmm. It’s the power of the imagination.
TTVJ: It looks amazing. Where is it filmed?
JM: It’s at our studio. Ian Brock, our production designer, he created this beautiful place I described as a “little slice of heaven”, and that’s exactly how he visualized it. This stark white, minimalist room, with a little garden. It’s a little home now for her.
TTVJ: It’s fun to visit, but with the look Three was giving, he’s not entirely happy. What is Three feeling about the situation with Sarah right now?
JM: In his mind he’s conflicted. He cares for her, but, on the other hand, what future do they have together? He’s conflicted and it’ll be interesting to see how things develop on that front.
TTVJ: We ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, with the crew finding bodies on the former Traugott colony. What can we expect from next week’s episode?
JM: After Episode 303, people were outraged, they were like, “aw, Six is gone! Six has left the ship!” Imagine how outraged they’re going to be now that he’s presumably been killed.
TTVJ: You would never do that to us, Joe.
JM: Why do you say that? You never know what to expect.
What did you think of this week’s 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.