Dark Matter: Zoie Palmer Previews an Upgrade for the Android

Ian Watson/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy
Ian Watson/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy

Dark Matter left us in an emotional state last week when Three’s (Anthony Lemke) tragic past was revealed, and in true Four (Alex Mallari Jr.) style, he murdered his former mentor–who just so happened to be the one who murdered his parents. We also found out more about the Android’s (Zoie Palmer) program error, thanks to her run in with some like-minded Androids that easily passed for regular people.

Friday’s episode “We Voted Not to Space You” picks up right where things left off. After discovering a “person of interest” in Derrick Moss’s (Marc Bendavid) murder case, Two (Melissa O’Neil) makes it her mission to find out exactly who that is. When they realize that getting close to the Galactic Authority isn’t the best idea when you’re wanted criminals, the Android volunteers to go undercover. Lucky for them, it just so happens she has a nifty personality upgrade that will help her fit right in with other humans.

We had the chance to chat with Palmer about the challenge of playing a whole new Android and how to toe the line between emotions and mechanics.

The TV Junkies: What was your reaction when you read the script and found out that the Android would be getting that upgrade?

Zoie Palmer: It was great. Like anything, any time you get to do something other than [what you normally do], especially on a series where you’re doing the same character for such a long time. I’ve been doing series for awhile now in different capacities, so any time they throw you a curve ball for me it’s fantastic, scary–for an actor–and just fun.

TTVJ: In my conversations with Joseph Mallozzi he’s mentioned how the role of the Android has really expanded thanks to your portrayal. How does that feel?

ZP: It’s been great. I was nervous when I started this part because I had no real idea of how to approach it. I play human beings typically and I don’t have a lot of experience with other characters like this. I didn’t watch Star Trek—I know of Data, but I didn’t watch the show, and I don’t know about any other Androids.

I had no idea how to get into it to begin with, and it was really about me figuring it out, so I’ve been doing a lot of that as I go. Trying new things to find the line between her being literally a machine and how far I can push that, without breaking character, to allow people to connect with her.

TTVJ: What is the process of the walking that line between the robot and human emotions?

ZP: I think of it as everything from a little kid—and when I say little I mean really little, like when a one or two year-old is figuring out what it is to laugh and a two-year-old’s version of humour. As we get older we get a better grasp of humour and better sense of humour, but babies are learning that. Animals too, in terms of emotion. We project onto our pets a lot about what they feel; we figure they feel certain things, and I think we’re right to whatever degree we are.

I had to go into that head space of what that looks like, because it didn’t feel like there was another way in, so I went into it from really early childhood and pets [laughs]. As odd as that sounds. I have a couple of dogs, and I project onto them all the time about what they think and feel about what I’m doing.

TTVJ: How much say did you have over what the Android’s personality and behaviourism would be for this episode?

ZP: Oh, lots. I talked with Joe because the difficulty with that episode was that I’m trying to play a character that isn’t yet established. I wasn’t really playing the Android per se; it was her, but it wasn’t anyone we know. The challenge was to bring her off the page so she wasn’t a generic person, but that she was a person who had depth to some degree, and in a short period of time to fully bring a person to life who we have no history of.

She’s very similar to the other characters when we first meet them on the Raza, in that we have no history of her. It was my job to find a way in to that, and Joe said, ‘maybe you can picture that the Android has had with a few drinks. What does that look like? Drunk Android!’ [laughs] I went with that and what’s from the script. I’m married to what they have me doing in the script, so it was all about trying to find my way from the words to the character, as opposed to the character to the script. It was sort of backwards in that way.

Ian Watson/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy
Ian Watson/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy

TTVJ: In last week’s episode, the Android met with that group of Androids, which culminated in her getting that upgrade and getting a kiss. She agreed to it, but was it out of genuine romantic interest?

ZP: I always am hesitant to get very specific in terms of answering these questions. People often go, ‘how much empathy do you think the Android has, how much compassion, what’s her capacity for love and romance?’ I hesitate to answer because we’re still in the journey of her. We’re still in the arc of where she was at the beginning of the series to where will she go. I think the answer to that question is it’s kind of in transition. I don’t think she’s hit capacity to any degree.

In terms of that specific situation, I think she is absolutely interested. I don’t know that she is feeling the way you or I might feel if somebody said, ‘may I kiss you?’ I’m not sure she’s feeling that, and where you want to kiss them back. I don’t know if she’s having that comparable response, but she’s absolutely curious to move forward. The Android is the kind of character that wouldn’t understand the social etiquette of how uncomfortable it would be to refuse a kiss. If we put ourselves in that situation and your answer was no, it’s an awkward moment now. She doesn’t have that. She doesn’t understand it would be an awkward moment; she would just say no, you may not, and would have walked off. The fact that she agreed at all to me is indicative of the fact that she definitely is interested to whatever degree she can be.

TTVJ: Lost Girl alumni Kris Holden-Ried is in this episode as the Galactic Authority Chief Investigator. You don’t have any scenes together, but were you able to have a mini-reunion on set?

ZP: It’s funny, I don’t know if it was a Lost Girl reunion. Kris and I are quite good friends, so we see each other fairly regularly. I did see him on set; we were on set at the same time a couple of times. He would just finish shooting a scene or I would finish shooting a scene and would tag in and out. I’m so fond of Kris and he does really great work, and with this character too. All of the people on Lost Girl that I still connect, which is pretty much them all, they’re such a good gang that getting any time with them is always awesome.

TTVJ: The “Bury Your Gays” trope has been a huge part of the TV conversation this year, especially in terms of women. On Lost Girl you got to be part of a LGBTQ couple that managed to get a happy ending. How did that feel?

ZP: I was just happy that the writers made a really clear choice, to some degree. I was happy that it wasn’t a wishy washy ending. I didn’t personally have an agenda of how the show ended and what relationship bloomed, if you will. My agenda was that I really hoped a decision would happen, that they wouldn’t ride the line, they wouldn’t do the thing where they all win or they all lose, so it would make everyone happy. What I love about being an actor on TV shows is the stakes are high; the stakes on the show were often high and the fact that some people were probably disappointed and some people were elated, I was just thrilled that they didn’t toe the line.

TTVJ: Can you preview what the Android’s journey will look like moving forward–without spoiling anything?

ZP: Uh, no–no, I can’t! [laughs] I think it’s really interesting and what Joe and Paul [Mullie] have done with this whole season, and certainly with my character as I play her, has been such a treat. They’ve given me so much to play with and I think we really get a fuller sense of the Android, and also the idea of what potential she has. I think the next few episodes open up the possibilities for her and it feels quite endless to some degree. It will be interesting to see how people respond to that. I think it’s really great what they’re bringing to her so that she isn’t one-dimensional. She’s as three-dimensional as an Android can be and I think it’ll be interesting for people to see and certainly for me to play.


Are you looking forward to the Android’s upgrade? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Dark Matter airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET on Space Channel and Syfy.