It's deja vu all over again on Episode 4 of Dark Matter

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Jun 23, 2017

Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched Season 3, Episode 4 of Dark Matter, "All the Time in the World," then stop where you are. This is a recap. It is full of spoilers.

If there's one sci-fi episode trope that is almost universally enjoyable no matter how many times you see it, it's the Time Loop Episode, and that's exactly what this week's Dark Matter is all about. Three gets stuck in a time loop and has to spend most of the episode convincing his crewmates.

Fun fact: Showrunner Joseph Mallozzi wrote this episode. He and his writing partner, Paul Mullie, also wrote the time loop episode of Stargate: SG-1, "Window of Opportunity," which is why big chunks of this episode feel at least tonally similar to that one.

Anyway, back to the Raza, where Three is having a very bad day, over and over and over again, but so is basically everyone else. They just don't realize how many times they've lived through it. Five is moping about Six leaving; Adrian and Solara are sparring -- Adrian getting his ass kicked, repeatedly; and Android is always stuck repairing the ship.

When you think about it, Three was the only character they could have possibly put in this situation. Adrian and Solara are too new, and Two, Five and the Android would be almost immediately believed. Instead, we get the least trustworthy member of the core crew, stuck in a position where he has to get everyone to believe him in order to fix it. And how does he convince them? Well, no plan is foolproof.

Plan A: Learn what is wrong with the ship. This goes exactly as well as you'd expect. He has no idea what she's talking about and cannot remember the technobabble no matter how many times she tells him, so, on to ...

Plan B: Drugs! Three figures if he never falls asleep then the day won't reset, so he takes space Adderall. He is wrong. This is becoming a pattern.

Okay, Plan C! Android is going to teach him French. It takes about 4 million years, but luckily they all happen in the same day. Also, Three and Android start a band. In French. I am their biggest fan.

What do you think their name is? Do they have t-shirts? Are they touring?

The French thing actually works! Sorta. It doesn't really work, but, rather hilariously, Three manages to accidentally learn how to say what is wrong with the ship IN French, which does manage to convince Two and Android that he's telling the truth, because there's no way he mastered both a foreign language and physics in his sleep.

The problem, though, as it always is, is that they don't know what is causing the loop or how to break it, so Android suggests that he start actively finding things to do differently throughout his day in hopes that something changes. As fun as the French montage was, this is the part of the episode that is actually interesting, because it's the best look at Three as a person we've gotten all season -- possibly ever on the show.

In previous loops, he avoided Five because he didn't really know how to engage to make her feel better. Now at least he's trying, and we see why he avoided her in the first place. He's terrible at being supportive. Every time he tries to talk to her he tries to say the right thing and fails because there's nothing to say. Five doesn't need to be cheered up, she's lonely. She just needs to know that she's still got people who care about her and who will be there for her now that Six is gone. Eventually, Three just gives up trying to say the right thing and says what he's actually thinking -- that he doesn't know what to say -- and that actually works.

There's also a bit of fun with Adrian and Solara. Since we know so little about them, Three's time loop offers us a chance to learn. Three wants to convince them that he's stuck in a loop too, and he decides the way to do this is to get them to divulge some secrets to him that he can use to prove it the next time around. Solara offers to spar with him, an offer he declines nearly every time, until he starts "doing things differently." Eventually, they give up the secrets and we learn that Adrian once cross-dressed his way out of a jam, while Solara divulges the name of the first girl she kissed. The Adrian thing isn't really surprising, even only knowing what we know about the character, but Solara's secret at the very least proves that this galaxy does, in fact, have gay people in it! (That kiss between Two and Nyx in the premiere does not count, people!)

Of course, the biggest barrier for Three is that he needs to start talking to Sarah. He found out at the end of the last episode that Five has stored her consciousness in the ship's computer and he hasn't been to visit her once. He struggles with this several times throughout the episode because he can't quite decide if she's real when she doesn't have a body. It's actually a really interesting question. Are we our personalities and memories or our physical forms? Do we exist if we don't have a physical version of ourselves? Personally, I say yes, and eventually Three agrees with me, but it takes him a while to get there. (This also brings up a question about whether artificial intelligence can at any point be just considered regular intelligence -- like, is Android a person? -- but I'm sure we'll explore that concept at another time.)

Time loop episodes can't be all fun all the time, though, and it's time to get a little serious (before we get REALLY serious). As Three is coming out of Sarah's little construct, he walks right into the waiting pistol of one of the bounty hunters that Ryo sent after the Raza in the last episode. His name is Ash and he likes to shoot people in the face. Good thing Three is stuck in a time loop, cause he just wakes up in bed all over again and quickly convinces his friends about the loop. They decide to capture the bounty hunter and figure out how Ryo knows where they are.

Turns out that in addition to being deadly, Ash is also able to walk through walls, which is troubling. Ash pins Three, so Adrian grabs a big glowy clock thing, smashes it over Ash’s head, and the day restarts again, only this time, Adrian is looping too. WE HAVE FOUND THE SOURCE OF THE TIME LOOP!

This time through the loop, they manage to capture Ash, figure out that the Blink Drive is the reason he could find them, and get some good threats in before Ash phases through the floor and attacks Five. Solara comes to her rescue, and she and Ash engage in some prime fisticuffs before the cavalry arrives. He attempts to phase away but gets stuck halfway through a wall. That's not a good way to go, but a great way to get some new wall art for the Raza.

Here is where things go wonky and get really, really interesting all at once. Android thinks she's figured out how to fix the time loop and ends up sending herself careening through time instead. She encounters Portia and Marcus, sees herself crying out of grief, getting dissected (disassembled?), and as some kind of futuristic, black-haired goth version of herself.

That last one is happening "at the end of time," where also exists a very, very old version of Five who has been waiting for her to arrive. Old Five tells her that when she goes back to her own time she has to destroy the device to fix the time loop. Before Android leaves, though, Five lists off a bunch of big events to come, including the "Dwarf Star Conspiracy," the "fall of the house of Ishida," “meeting Android’s creator” and a bunch of other portentous things to come.

Android ends up back where she started and immediately destroys the device. Everything is back to normal, except now there are so many things to parse. I imagine some of this stuff is going to come up this season, while others may never play out, depending on how long the show runs. It does give you a lot of things to look out for, like further signs of the Android resistance, the return of Dwarf Star and possibly other nanite enhanced people like Two, and seriously, WHO IS GOING TO DIE? I am now very worried and very intrigued.

Another intriguing thing: We end on Zairon with Ryo and some dude trapped in a terrifying chair with a headset and big glow tubes coming all out of everywhere, and it really doesn't seem like good news for the Raza.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode a lot. It's not perfect, but we got to know the characters a little deeper, got some laughs in the middle of a galaxy-wide war, and got a whole bunch of future stuff to talk about and debate and dissect for seasons to come, I'm sure.