Syfy and Space Channel may have a new hit on their hands. With the space epic trifecta of a great cast, lots of action and plenty of humour, Dark Matter is a strong addition to the sci-fi world. It’s no secret that the team at The TV Junkies were excited about the new series, and I’m happy to say it did not disappoint.
The first episode hit the ground running with a strong premise that can only be described as a mix of the initial intrigue and mystery of The Maze Runner coupled with the humour and colour of Firefly. No one knows who they are and why they’re there, but this time we actually care about what happens to them (no offense, Dylan O’Brien). It’s a surprising feat, considering their names are literally just numbers at this point. Though, really, isn’t it so much easier to remember them that way?
I was surprised by how quickly we were able to delve into the mystery. While at first they believed they were on a transport ship, heading to drop off weapons to a planet in need, the final moments of the episode revealed that five out of six of them were actually deadly criminals known as the Rasa, who were on their way to kill a planet of miners. Except that One has a pendant that proves that he was sent to help them. How’s that for a plot twist?
While I was surprised that we learned their real identities so quickly, it gave me hope for how deep the mystery actually goes. If we’re getting bombshells like that in the first episode, imagine everything we’ll uncover by the season end? It’s definitely a strong indication of what’s to come.
Besides its premise and plot twists, by far the show’s biggest strength is its vibrant cast. For me, the real breakout star of the premiere was Melissa O’Neil as Two. The actress has come a long way from her Canadian Idol days to here her tremendous television acting debut. Two just oozed confidence, making her the natural leader of the group, in spite of Three’s (Anthony Lemke) intimidation tactics and One’s sincere moral compass. She has the perfect balance between brawn and brain, making her one of the most dynamic characters to watch on screen.
That’s not to say that the other cast members weren’t as exciting to watch. Mark Bendavid’s One is clearly meant to be the hero of the show and from day one (pun intended) it’s easy to find yourself rooting for him. While the others are already finding their skills and assets, One is still trying to figure that out, which is something everyone can relate to. Of all the characters, he has the most room to grow and I’m looking forward to seeing it play out.
I was also really excited to see Jordelle Ferland in the role of Five. For years I knew her as the creepy little girl on shows like Smallville and Supernatural, so it’s great to see her all grown in up a lead role of her own. As a film and TV horror veteran, you can see how Ferland brings her experience to the screen here. While we expect her to be the hyperactive young girl from most sci-fi shows, there’s a real enigmatic aura about Five that makes us feel unsure about her. Not to mention that chilling dream about carving people’s eyes out. Is that some distorted memory? And how did she know about that metal door?
While those three were definite favourites, there’s no doubt that each cast member will have a moment to shine throughout the series. Zoie Palmer has the very difficult job of turning an android into a likeable character, which any sci-fi fan knows takes a lot of time and patience on the actor’s part to get it right. Luckily, Palmer plays really well off of O’Neil, subtly turning her monotone responses into snappy zingers. I feel like I haven’t seen enough of Roger Cross’s Six to get a clear picture of him, but his on-screen chemistry with Three and Five added a lot of humour and depth to the episode. Three, of course, is a typical smart-mouthed space cowboy, but I’m betting portrayer Anthony Lemke is bound to bring much more to the table soon.
As for Alex Mallari Jr.’s Four? Three words: Samurai in space. That sword training sequence was a terrific preview of some of the action we can look forward to throughout the season. Too cool. Though what is the mystery behind that puzzle box?
Overall, Dark Matter‘s premiere was a fantastic start to what will hopefully be a great first season. It had enough heart and charisma to draw us in while leaving us with plenty of questions to have us begging for more.
Favourite Dark humour moments:
Six and Three had the best banter of the entire crew, from Six’s deadpan “no” when Three asked about his leadership chances and the quality of the ship’s “food.”
“Would you like me to show you?” So much unexpected sass in that delivery, Android.
“You’re heading down to the planet to look for answers. I suggest you wear pants.”
One on the scary lizard people: “Okay, I admit, that sounded bad.”
“I vote against her voting.” I’m starting to wonder if Three is also his mental maturity age.
Are you already setting up next week’s Dark Matter on your DVR/PVR or were you unimpressed? Sound off in the comments below. I can’t wait to see the crew’s reaction to the Rasa bombshell. Will we get some more answers or just be left with more questions?
Dark Matter airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Space Channel and Syfy.
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.