Without realizing it, I finished Dark Matter (DM) Season 3 (S3) last night, and overall, I liked it. In my mind, it was a little more uneven than the previous two seasons were, but I think it is because they are trying to set-up multiple story threads to touch on in upcoming seasons (if the show has been renew–need to check as I haven’t looked to see if Syfy has renewed it yet). Otherwise, the season had some ups and downs–more so than in the previous two seasons.
Permadeath & Exit Stage Right
They used death in S3 much as they had done in S2 to emphasize the (I guess) the capriciousness of the universe and to illustrate that they universe that the characters inhabit is a dangerous place. The problem is, they used the deaths throughout the series, rather than at the traditional places where one might expect it, in order (again, guessing here) to keep viewers on there toes and to emphasize that no character is safe in this narrative. However, they also had a fairly robust cast of “side characters” who existed in the world for a few episodes (or played a major part), who often left the ship for whatever reason, while others (new ones) would come on-board. So this gave the episodes a less stable feel and very few characters on the ship were actually stable. This contributed very much to the uneven feel of the episodes.
No Single Narrative Thread
There were many different plot lines running through DM: S3. One such plot line (an important one that I won’t spoil) literally got introduced two episodes before the finale. I think it (and another related “prophecy” plot line) should have placed earlier in the season, perhaps even in the first or second episode, and I think that would have gone a long way to giving the show a consistent plot “through line” to build on throughout the season. As it was, there were many different elements going on–from double and triple crosses, to colonists rights vs corporate rights, to the idea of a good ruler vs a bad ruler, to searching for vengeance, to surviving, and et. cetera, that it all just came off just a bit jumbled. A good kind of jumbled (for me, at least, as I love it when plots get convoluted), but still jumbled when compared to something that has a full season long arc that all the episodes have been building to (say, the final season of Star Trek Enterprise or Deep Space Nine).
Humor and Characters
One of the things that I really like about the show is that while DM can be a “dark” show (i.e., perma-death and all that), it isn’t all about blah, blah, world is such a bad place, blah, blah, blah, “Red Wedding,” blah, blah, blah, “hate all my characters, let me kill them all of in horrible ways,” blah, blah, blah. (Yes, I know that this is a very unsubtle dig at Game of Thrones, but I’ll take any shot I can to restore a more “balanced” view of Fantasy that is more in line with tradition High Fantasy a la Tolkien, than the dreary, grim dark muck that we mostly have right now, even if that includes cheap shots). DM allows its characters, particularly the character of the Android, but other characters as well, to inhabit an almost comedic space that one might find in a sitcom, rather than a drama. Make no mistake, this is a sci-fi action show with the requisite space battles, warping, light speed, AI vs human conflict, etc., show that you might expect, but there are some truly hilarious moments that all characters get to participate in. However, the Android gets to have some of the funniest lines, reminiscent of Data from Star Trek The Next Generation. The actor’s deadpan delivery makes some of the lines truly laugh out loud funny.
Overall Rating: B (Above Average): Okay, so I was going to give it a B-, but then I got to thinking about all the fun that I had with the characters, especially the Android and I raised the grade slightly. All it needs is a single through line for the season and less of a “revolving door” secondary character policy–let them stay on for an entire season.
Edit: Just discovered that Syfy has cancelled Dark Matter. There will be no Season 4. To be honest, I’m not really surprised, although it has more to do with Syfy than it does with DM. To me, Syfy is just the television equivalent of EA at this point, with executives who care more about their investors and share prices that their audience. I learned this the hard way when Syfy cancelled Star Gate: Universe just as it was finding its footing. It put on the show Alphas as a replacement (only to cancel it after just two seasons). Too bad, I really liked DM and thought it had room really grow. I should let anyone know who might be interested in starting it though (a potential minor spoiler, but I don’t really guess it matters now): S3 ends on a cliffhanger (that is now likely to go unresolved). Just thought you should know.