DARK MAT­TER

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

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents -

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.”

adding char­ac­ter

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…”

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