The mysteries deepen in season two of Dark Matter, the show where you can trust no one… not even yourself. Bryan Cairns reports from the set
We take a look at the US TV series about, yep, dark matters going on in the future.
Be careful what you wish for” could be the mission statement of Dark Matter. Based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel of the same name, the debut season of the Syfy show found six crew members awakening from stasis with no recollection of who they were – and no idea how they ended up on a derelict spaceship named Raza. Their only names were the numbers allotted to them in the order they woke up. Searching for their true identities, the group quickly discovered they were mercenaries with blood on their hands – and that somebody had been pulling their strings…
“One of the things that I loved about the show, when we first envisioned it, was these characters are all sort of a tabula rasa,” executive producer Joseph Mallozzi tells SFX. “They basically don’t know who they are or how they got on board this ship. They start off at the same level as the audience. The characters are finding out about themselves at the same pace as the audience. At the beginning, people were like, ‘Well, this character seems kind of flat. This character is too much like this.’ As the season progressed, you begin to add depth to the characters.
“The best example is the character of Three, played by Anthony Lemke, who really came off as an asshole in the first episode,” says Mallozzi. “I was actually surprised by how many people hated him. ‘Maybe we made him too unlikeable?’ Then, as the season progresses and we find out about his backstory, his relationship and the woman he left behind, we humanise the character. Now he’s a fan favourite.”
It’s a sunny April morning when SFX visits the Dark Matter set, which used to serve as home base for now finished succubus drama Lost Girl. The Toronto soundstage has been transformed into various sections of the Raza. There’s the bridge, infirmary, cargo hold, escape pods and endless corridors. In another area stands the Marauder, the shuttle employed to transport the crew from space to their landing destination.
Today, nobody is blasting guns, delivering a beating or even raising their voice. Instead, it’s a quieter sequence involving Three, the Android (Zoie Palmer) and newcomer Nyx (Melanie Liburd). The duo are escorting the Android to the charging platform. For some unknown reason, the Android has opted to go offline for the greater good. That decision doesn’t sit well with Nyx, while Three seems to have accepted her fate. It’s just one of many hard knocks the team will be forced to weather in season two.
Essentially, I do have a five-year plan. I know where each year will end
Case in point: when Dark Matter returns, the gang is going to require Wentworth Miller’s assistance in staging a prison break. The season one finale threw a major curveball when Six (Roger Cross) was revealed to be a traitor in their midst. For unknown reasons, he turned them over to the Galactic Authority and they are currently under lockdown.
“We open in this maximum security prison, Hyperion 8,” explains Mallozzi. “We focus on what they are going to do. Can they escape? If they can escape, can they do it alone? Must they rely on other individuals inside the prison? If they are successful, what then? How do they feel about Six? Is he still part of the crew?”
Not if Five (Jodelle Ferland) has her way. The youngest crew member developed a special sister/older brother relationship with Six. She trusted him, so it’s understandable that Five is struggling with forgiving his betrayal.
“She actually reacts in a very visceral, physical fashion when she sees him,” acknowledges Mallozzi. “We are going to establish it’s a Supermax (prison), so essentially there is an area for the worst of the worst. Those are individuals like Two, Three and Four. Then there’s a minimum security wing for individuals like Five or One, so we see how they navigate those waters.”
An intergalactic prison provides a wealth of complicated characters who can be either friend or foe. When the crew eventually escapes from their confinement, a few new faces tag along for the ride.
“There’s the character Nyx, who is an incredibly accomplished fighter to the point where you’re wondering, ‘What the hell is going on?’” says Mallozzi. “She can actually go toe-to-toe with Two (Melissa O’Neil), and no normal human being can go toe-to-toe with Two. She has a mystery of her own.
“Devin (Shaun Sipos), a medic in the prison, is the one character who can actually make a
vast contribution given his medical know-how. We have an android, but not a trained doctor. It turns out before he ended up in prison, he was actually a surgeon. We explore his downfall and he has a dark side.
“Then there’s the character of Arax Nero (Mike Dopud), who is a prison boss with all the connections,” Mallozzi adds. “He’s a tough guy and muscles his way in as well.”
Viewers can also expect Wil Wheaton’s Alexander Rook and David Hewlett’s Talbor Calchek to resurface. Other episodes tackle cloning, alternate universes with evil doppelgangers and elaborate heists. And, with the stakes higher than ever, no one is safe. More than one character could end up dead. And, despite Dark Matter’s heavy mythology and serialised nature, Mallozzi promises audiences will not have to wait years for answers.
“One thing that drives me nuts about certain mystery shows is that they hold on to the mystery for so long or they never resolve the mystery in a satisfactory manner,” says Mallozzi. “That’s one of the things I wanted. The series premiere ended with a ‘holy crap’ moment, where we find out these people we’ve been following for these 43 minutes are actually the worst of the worst. A lot of the critics said, ‘Ah, they should have saved that for the end of the season reveal.’ I suppose I could have, but I wanted to accelerate the story.
“I’ve been sitting on this show and the ideas for so long, for years and years, so one of the benefits was it allowed me to really think things through and come up with a solid backstory,” Mallozzi concludes. “Essentially, I do have a five-year plan. I know where each year will end. Ultimately, the story is about redemption. Are people born bad or are they a product of their environment? It’s the whole nature-versus-nurture debate. I like that we are exploring it through seven very different characters. It’s not going to be a happy ending for everyone, though.”
Dark Matter is on Syfy on 4 July.
Fun and games behind-thescenes on Dark Matter.
We all know it’s impossible to walk normally when people are watching.
The guy at the back is really bad at selfies. “Wait, why are we laughing again?” “I have no idea…”