The Dark Matter of My Soul

(spoilers for Dark Matter)

I didn't think I would like this show. I half remembered reading an issue or two of the comic book and although the idea was certainly creative, I wasn't too interested. I have a limit on how much spaceship TV series stuff I could deal with and I thought I was fully sated for the moment with the weird group of characters I grew to love from Battlestar Galactica. This Dark Matter show would get, maybe, three episodes from me before I found something else to do with my Friday nights. Probably drinking.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Over the course of three seasons, Dark Matter drew me in with its smart pacing, not too heavy science that still felt accurate, action scenes and the character development. What could have been simple formulaic television that ruined its initial premise wasn't what this series ended up being. What started out as a show about a group of six different people suffering from amnesia and an android ended up being a show about fighting corporations, testing loyalties and, ultimately, family.

Many shows aim for getting the crew or group of co-workers to form into a pseudo-family bond by some point in the show's story line. Very few do this well in my humble opinion but science fiction usually gets there or near there better than most other genres. The crew of the Raza landed on this perfectly. Even with the traitorous moments of certain crew members *cough* Four and Six *cough* the crew became a family. Two was the mother, Six became the father figure, Four and Three were older brothers/uncles, The Android was a weird cousin and Five was everyone's little sister.  Even people who happened to be on the Raza for a short time became odd distant family- to be mourned when they passed or called upon when help was needed, such as Nyx, Truffault and Anders.

The show was also memorable for how it depicted people who usually get the short straw in most media, if only performing slightly better in the realm of science fiction. The depictions of women and their roles/appearances are done pretty well on Dark Matter. There are of course missteps but generally the women on this show, particularly on the crew of the Raza, are shown as capable and equal to the men, if not better.

Meet Two Boss.
When we are introduced to the team we meet One, a white male who would read as the main protagonist in any other series, and Two, a tough woman who immediately starts fighting him when she meets him on the bridge of the ship. Her reasoning? He's in "the way" of her fixing the life support systems. THIS is our team leader. Two stepped up from the first episode to get the team on course and focused. She is organized, quick thinking and has taught herself how to operate the ship as opposed to Six's innate knowledge that he has with the smaller Marauder scouting vessel. The crew looks to Two for direction and decision making calls. This is not to say she falls into the "just tough as nails" leadership role. Two is definitely a hardcore leader but she will also take support and advice from her crew who will all watch her back and fight for her survival. Such was the case when she needed to get new nanites to continue living and the rest of the team rallied and came together with a plan to get her what she needed to survive.

Two isn't the only woman in charge and/or fully capable of doing things as well as or better than her male cohorts. Nyx is an excellent fighter and tactician just like the bodyguard Solara in her short time on the ship. Truffault and even the evil Alicia Reynaud are top tier businesswomen in their respective corporations. Misaki Han was a serious badass warrior serving and, ultimately, betraying her emperor. Five is not only the heart of the Raza crew but also the go to person with all the answers to the questions that are technology based and is learning to be a capable fighter on her own. And the Android, which isn't a woman per se but counts, has developed as more than a mere robotic embodiment of the ship and has become a vital part of the humanity of the ship with excellent moments of serving as backup to the crew and comedic levity.

I also like the diversity of the crew which has morphed over the course of the three seasons we were given. We start with a crew of four men, two women and a female android. Two of the male characters are POC and the leading woman is one as well. As we go through the seasons we lose one of the white male leads and are joined by two white males for a super short time and the character of Nyx, a black women with special powers, who stays around for a longer time, gets involved with Ryo and becomes part of the family. Then we get two more characters- Solara and Adrian, both portrayed by POC actors. Even the empire of Zairon, which appears to be based on ancient Japanese dynasty, is filled with people of different ethnic backgrounds. The same can be said for the various worlds and spaceports visited by the crew as well.  By season 3, this is our Dark Matter crew and the future seems pretty diverse.

What I thought would be a television show based on a singular idea of a crew just trying to get their memories back, a literal ship of fools, transformed into a series about bonding with strangers, empathy, finding your moral base, determining what future you are willing to fight and die for, reconciling with your past misdeeds and the misdeeds done against you and creating the family you need from your friends. I wish that we would have been able to get the last two seasons of this smart series but I'm glad that we at least got these three well-written and performed seasons. I'm sure that the show creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie will figure out a way to get the rest of the Raza's story out in some form but in the meantime I'll be enjoying it all again on Netflix. You should too. It's good science-fiction and an excellent story of humans being flawed but noble humans, with androids and now aliens thrown in the mix.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.
The Dark Matter of My Soul The Dark Matter of My Soul Reviewed by SeanFields on Monday, October 02, 2017 Rating: 5
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