These days, both Marvel and DC Comics dominate the TV market thanks to the likes of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Arrow and The Flash, yet the only big sci-fi show still going strong is, of course, Doctor Who. Then out of the blue on the Syfy channel, Dark Matter arrives, which also began life as a comic book series that was produced by Dark Horse, and even though it did borrow familiar elements from shows even the most casual of sci-fi fans would recognise (Firefly, Blake’s 7, etc.), it was a show that ultimately proved to be popular with audiences. Season 1 managed to establish its characters and the universe they inhabited, but with Season 2, they hit the ground running following the shock twist at the end of last series.
The stakes here are much higher than before, both on a powerful and personal level. Throughout the series we are constantly teased about an impending war between the major corporations that will rise, as well as another betrayal from within the core team, which doesn’t come into play until the final two episodes. Granted, there are contrivances to be found, sorely as a means of getting from point A to point B, but the writing here is still as strong as before. Plus, it certainly didn’t chicken out of its conclusion, which is probably more gut wrenching than the previous series’ gut punching finale. The characters grow and continue to have strong development along with compelling motivations driving them, which goes to show how far they have come from the stiff archetypes they started out as from the very beginning. Like the first season, this series does a commendable job of giving lingering attention to each and every character's backstory, fleshing them out and making each one dynamic in their own way.
The series cleverly created stories that revolved around that, including the Android starting to develop human qualities (as well as craving for Hot Chocolate), Four wanting to help his people, Six coming to conflict with both loyalties and ideologies and Two trying to escape a near-death situation involving her nanites. This series saw the shocking departure of One, and in his place are two new characters in Devon and Nyx; Devon is ultimately one-dimensional, bland and served no purpose to the plot whatsoever, neither did he make any impact in the slightest. As for Nyx, well, Melanie Liburd was solid in the role, but her character was… there. Not terrible by any means, she was just…like we say... there.
The original six cast members still do a great job in their respective roles; Zoie Palmer is especially fantastic as the Android, still managing to pull off the machine AI side convincingly, whilst also being very endearing with a subtle dose of humour coming through. Melissa O'Neil is also terrific as Two, giving off a real, strong commanding presence, whilst Jodelle Ferland brilliantly conveys both vulnerability and quirkiness as the adorable Five. Anthony Lemke is still a riot as Three, and both Roger Cross and Alex Mallari Jr. still do solid jobs as both Six and Four.
Usually, following seasons can never live up to the first, but here, season 2 manages to stand alongside its first season strongly and proudly. The original characters evolve and mature throughout this series, clarity and depth is given to on-going storylines as well as new ones, and the theme of change is present throughout with the status quo occasionally shaken up. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where the story goes following that finale, but it’s clear that a big future is in store for our ragtag team of antiheroes, and that’s good enough reason to get excited about the future.
DARK MATTER SEASON 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTORS: VARIOUS / SCREENWRITERS: VARIOUS / STARRING: ZOIE PALMER, JODELLE FERLAND, MARC BENDAVID, ANTHONY LEMKE, MELISSA O’NEIL / RELEASE DATE: 10TH OCTOBER