Beware, spoilers ahead.
If Syfy's Dark Matter had ended after Season 2, it would have been a really terrible way to end the series, with virtually every member of the Raza appearing to die.
Luckily for co-creator Joseph Mallozzi and Dark Matter fans, the Syfy Channel gave us a Season 3 that the executive producer promises will not be quite as dark as Season 2, he told Syfy Wire in an exclusive interview.
First up for Dark Matter ... "getting the band back together," said Mallozzi. But after that they've got one huge score to settle with past crew member Four, who is now Emperor Ishida Ryo. Four stole their blink drive and blew up the EOS-7 space station and the Council of Corporations in an effort to create an all-out intergalactic corporate war which he believes will help his people on Zairon.
Mallozzi (Stargate SG-1) talked with Syfy Wire about all things Dark Matter and what we have to look forward to in Season 3 and beyond, and we discuss his position as God of the Dark Matter universe.
You left us in a little bit of a pickle when it comes to the Season 2 cliffhanger.
Joseph Mallozzi: Sorry about that.
You killed off most everybody, except the Android.
It wasn't me. It was the story. I am just a vessel through which the story unfurls.
Joe, I'm not buying that. I'm sorry, but you are the God of the Dark Matter universe. And when you blow up everybody and poison people and stuff like that ... hey, we can take it personally.
There will be repercussions.
Yes, as I'm sure you heard about it from the fans.
Yeah, yeah. You know what, each season I set up with a different type of cliffhanger. In Season 1 it was them being carted off to prison. In Season 2 it was the destruction of the EOS-7 space station. In Season 3, it's a different type of cliffhanger. Looking ahead, it's really going to be more anticipation for Season 4 than "Oh my God, what have you done?" type of response I expect from the fans.
Now you got a real challenge as we come back in for the Season 3 premiere, because you had to figure out how to make everybody alive or at least most people alive, I'm assuming, otherwise it will be a really short season. And you have to get them back together again in some way or shape or form so that they're actually a crew again.
Yeah, that's the plan for Episode 1, is getting the band back together, see who survived and ultimately getting them reunited for a renewed purpose. And that's to take down the individual who did this to them. Who happens to be a former ally. And that essentially sets the stage for Season 3 amid the backdrop of a corporate war.
"The individual" has to be Four. If we talk about Season 2 a bit, the team really took a hit between suffering through Six's betrayal initially and the loss of One and now the betrayal of Four. You really ripped apart the core team that we became fond of and rooted for in Season 1.
At its heart the series is about redemption and whether you can start over and put the past behind you. And our characters are afforded a very unique opportunity. In fact they're not really directly psychologically weighed down by actions of the past, and yet at the same time indirectly they are because the past comes back to haunt them in various ways. So basically the attempt in Season 2 led by Six was to pursue his own redemption arc after turning them in. But [once he returns to the crew] he's kind of pushing them and saying, "We can make a difference. We've got the blink drive," and really pushing Two as commander to make this decision to go out and help and try to avert this corporate war.
On the other hand you've got Three who's like, "Who cares. It's not our problem." And for Four it's chaos and it's like, "Great. We can take advantage of this." And ultimately Two decides, "Okay, this is what we're going to do." Get's everyone onboard. Doesn't actually say we're going to seek redemption, but essentially is going to do the right thing. Going to save people as Milo, Nyx's late brother, told Five, "There is a point in history where people can stand up and make a difference." They take it upon themselves to make that difference. But then they fail at the end of Season 2 and it's going to have repercussions, especially for Two who made that decision to try and be better and have it fail.
How the past catches up with you in the case of One. The past caught up with him. And in the cases of other characters over the course of the season, that happens as well. The fact that you just can't outrun your past. You have to step up and deal with it or it takes you down. That was kind of the lesson of Season 2. Two was a darker, darker season and while Season 3 will be dark as well it will have a lot of moments of light. We've got a couple funny episodes this season that fans are really going to enjoy.
I always love the lighter episodes.
There's a lesson I learned on Stargate is people tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters. At the end of the day this show is a soap opera set in space. It's about the characters and their relationships and humor is such an important element. I always find that goes really a long way towards humanizing them. I remember when Three was first introduced in the premiere people hated him, and yet over time as we got to know his sense of humor. We got to know his backstory. He's become a huge fan favorite, which is great. A huge sigh of relief for me.
What themes do you see going through the new season? I know you said it was about redemption, but there also seem to be themes of family and other themes in Dark Matter too.
At the heart of it, you're absolutely right. That's again something I learned from Stargate is people tune in for this family. It's almost like they tune in every Friday night to visit with extended family, and it's something that we're cognizant of and wanted to capture. You'll notice that as of the end of Season 1 the Android has been joining them at the mess table, sitting down, sharing the meals with them. There's a nice little scene at the end of Season 1, episode one, where Three is about to go take his food, or Five is about to take her food, and Six is like, "Where are you going? You always talk about how we're a family and family eats together," and Three's about to grab his food and go, and he gets a look from Six, so they all sit down and share a meal. It's the little instances like that that go a long way toward reestablishing that family unit.
Thematically, at the heart of Season 3 is this notion that their former ally and friend is now their fiercest enemy. I remember taking psychology at university and learning about this study that found that former friends make the worst of enemies. They know you. They know you intimately. But in the case of Ryo Ishida what's very interesting is that he knows them better than they know themselves in that he knows what they were like before the mind wipes. He knows things about them and that's something that going to figure in later in the season. He'll confront them armed with these secrets and some of these secrets are surprises. Some of them are huge revelations, sometimes ugly revelations, that our characters wish they hadn't heard.
At the end of the day he's not just Ryo Ishida who basically reverted back to his former self. He still has Four's memories. So you can see that in his actions where at the end of Episode 12, he could have held them prisoner until they gave up the blink drive but he didn't. He let them go and then approached Six and Two and asked for the blink drive, and said, "Look, I need it to save my people." And to his surprise, they turned him down. So in his mind he had no choice. And when he boarded the ship in the finale, he told Misaki non-lethal force only. She took it upon herself to do the opposite.
I don't think he's going to be too happy when he finds out she poisoned Nyx, considering he wanted her to be his Empress and all.
No, probably not. And also he set off the explosion to take out the station to start a war that will presumably help Zairon, his home world, and defeat his enemies. But he contacted the Android and in his mind he gave her ample warning to tell the crew, "Abandon the station." So in his mind he thinks their going to understand. But, of course, once they return to the ship, whoever returns to the ship, is going to be less than understanding.
You know how these things go. You get into an argument with someone and you're playing kind of telephone and you're not talking directly but things build on one another. That's the situation they're going to find themselves in this season.
You've got this whole corporate war thing going on, which is really interesting. It's not just Ryo's manipulation of the situation, it's manipulations from all directions.
That's another thing that's kind of fun is playing the corporate war and the stance of their sometime ally, Commander Truffault, and how it affects them directly and indirectly. The interesting thing about the corporate war is that it's a vast galaxy. So we could either A) take part in the battle, or B) come across the effects of a battle.
For instance, in Episode Three we're going to be exploring a munitions factory colony that was essentially abandoned by its corporation because it's trying to fight a war and it gets targeted by another corporation, and our team find themselves caught in the middle. So that's kind of an indirect effect of the war. But also because it's so vast we can also tell stories that don't necessarily touch on the war. So it will always be going on throughout either as a background element or upfront.
And then presumably, because I like to approach each season like an installment of a book series, we'll have our conclusion to the corporate war and potentially set up the fourth installment of our series. Hopefully we'll get five installments.
Anything else about what's coming up?
It will be interesting to see, although I already know the answer to that (laughs), how the palace storyline will play out, and Ryo's quest to rule and Misaki, his right hand woman, will figure into it.
We're introducing a new character by the name of Teku Fonsei played by Andrew Moodie. He's Ryo's former tutor who was loyal to him and was languishing in the palace dungeon for years. He's released and he's essentially going to be a counterpart to Misaki, in trying to steer Ryo in his rule. That's a completely different storyline. It's also very interesting.
Will we see some of our favorite recurring characters back this season?
We certainly will. We'll be bringing back some fan favorites. At the end of the finale, Three's beaten and he looks up and coming out of focus is this kind of familiar face, Lieutenant Anders, who we last saw taking two or three shots to the chest in Episode 2 ... Six's former buddy. How he managed to survive is kind of a mystery. Is it a ghost Anders or what's going on?
Or is he an android?
Who knows? We'll find out. No spoilers.
The fact that anyone can be an android could cause some problems for our heroes.
You file that thought away 'til later this season ... So Anders is one who's recurring, and Commander Delaney Truffault is another one. She's a character who is a sometimes ally. She's got quite a bit of swagger. Remember Torri Higginson on Stargate: Atlantis where she played Elizabeth Weir. She plays Truffaut with a little bit of Elizabeth Weir, a little bit of Mae West. Originally her character was intended for a three episode arc in Season 1, and was supposed to die at the end of the third episode. Basically she couldn't make the third episode ... And her character just popped. So basically in Season 2 she was in three episodes and in Season 3 she'll be coming back. She actually kicks ass in our season premiere.
We're also going to be introducing two new characters who'll be hitching a ride on the Raza. One of them is Mishka Thébaud is Adrian Maro who is Talbor Calchek assistant. Talbor Calchek, of course, played by David Hewlett. And he's a bit of runt, in way over his head and he kind of insinuates himself aboard the Raza, along with his body guard played by Ayisha Issa, a character by the name of Solara Shockley, and she's kind of a no-nonsense kick-ass type of character who takes an instant dislike to Three and the feeling is mutual. And they're back and forth is very interesting.
The one storyline you left me hanging with last season was when the doctor, Devon, got killed. I wonder if the crew is ever going to find out what happened. They think he just left, but that's sort of sad that he would die and nobody would know about it.
It is sad. I'm not going to say whether we'll come back, but in life people come into your life and they come and go and you don't know. The end of the story is when they leave, but in the back of your mind they're out there somewhere.
I know, but he was being loyal to them, and he died because of them, and they don't know. It's so sad.
At the end they don't know. The second to the last shot is Nyx sitting up in the bar waiting, thinking basically he's decided not to show. And you go back to him and he's lying in a pool of blood.
I suppose he could still be alive. We didn't actually see him dead, just close to dead.
Who knows what the future holds.
What's your biggest challenge with this new season?
With the new season, scripts are always the challenge for me, to be honest with you. I mean getting into the room, which we're going to be doing on Monday, with a look ahead to season four and really beating out those stories is really the most challenging part. Just in a general sense, because I know where I'm going. I know how I want to begin season four. I know how I want to end the season. I know all the character arcs for the stories throughout the season. I know some of the stories I want to tell. But it is in the getting there that is the challenge in putting together those details. And then once you get into the script it's always a challenge.
At the end of Season 3 we set up our fourth chapter and it takes the show in a wildly different direction and it's going to be huge.
Have you been picked up for a fourth season yet?
No. Every year we just start the writers' room early. That's one of the ways we run an efficient production is to make sure there are not surprises. We come in with seven to ten scripts ready so the art department plans accordingly down the line. Basically we're hopeful. We're a huge international hit. We're a huge hit in Canada.
What other challenges have popped up for Season 3?
I have to say one of the challenges that came up this year that turned out to be a pleasant surprise was episode nine, which was originally slotted for the episode 11 spot. But the original story we wanted to tell we couldn't because of actor availability. And it suddenly didn't make sense for it to be episode 11. It had to be Episode 9. And suddenly I had two weeks to write the script. And I decided that story idea ... essentially I can tell you. It's not a big spoiler.
It's basically our crew traveling back to 2017 and having to go undercover in Wisconsin as a suburban family. It's our version of Back to the Future meets Stranger Things. I screened the episodes for my girlfriend and she's not a huge sci-fi fan, but she loved that episode. She says that episode is her favorite episode of the series. It's kind of heartening. So if you want to introduce someone you know who hasn't seen the show to the show, I think episode nine would be a great episode to show them.
It was just a case where I had to scramble and I tend to write the funnier episodes quickly. Episode four is also a funny episode and it turned out great. The cast loved episode nine. They were just terrific in it and our guest stars are terrific. So it was a big challenge and it took me by surprise, but it couldn't have worked out better.
In terms of challenges, it was no different than any other year. You're trying to make the best show possible on a limited budget, but you produce on the page. You run an efficient production and you make sure the money ends up onscreen. And that's how I approach every show I work on and every episode I work on. If you compare Dark Matter to a lot of the other shows out there you'd be surprised to learn that we have significantly less money than the majority of those shows.
For someone who's never seen the show, why should they catch up and then watch the third season?
I think they're in for a treat this season, because each season is very different. Each season is bigger and better than the one before. Each season is unique. As I mentioned before this is a great jumping on point for new fans because we have a couple very funny episodes. And just in terms of coming in new or coming in fresh to the series, those are the types of episodes I think really win over first timers.
At the end of the day it's a fun show. It's a show with a sense of humor. It's a show with distinct characters who you like for different reasons. And one of the things I love about checking out the fan response to the show is that people really respond to different characters. It's not like you have a show where basically you have a couple elite characters ... This is a show where there are six or seven very distinct characters. Different people have their favorites, just because the characters are so different.
Three is a perfect year to come on board for Dark Matter. Action adventure. Twists and turns. Our trade mark shocks and surprises. Plenty of revelations. It's the perfect water cooler show. Got to watch it live. You don't want it to be spoiled ... It's going to be huge.