Dark Matter episode #102 has aired in most of the world (I know because, this afternoon, I was live tweeting the episode with viewers watching on @syfynl, @SyfyFr, and @Syfy_Spain) so that means I can offer a little behind the scenes insight into the episode…
1) The mugshots…
In the comic book, the assorted mugshots flash up on screen and the visual display delivers the punch. Director T.J. Scott suggested that the mugshots should flash up one at a time with our Android reading off the names and rap sheet. It was a brilliant idea that really delivered on that WTF?! reveal.
These mugshots were one of the first things we shot for the show. The characters of Jace Corso/ONE (Marc Bendavid), Marcus Boone/THREE (Anthony Lemke), and Griffin Jones/SIX (Roger Cross) were shot against a nondescript backdrop on swivel chairs to allow for movement and profile views.
1st Assistant Art Director Roxanne Borris did her usual spectacular job generating the graphics for these mugshots. Note the details: fingerprints, DNA scan, voice recall, and last known whereabouts in the lower right corner. And, of course, the Galactic Authority emblem.
We differentiated two rap sheets from the rest, the one belonging to Portia Lin/TWO (Melissa O’Neil) and the other belonging to Ryo Tetsuda/FOUR (Alex Mallari Jr.) because we wanted to suggest that, unlike the other guys, these two were not necessarily career criminals – OR had yet to be caught and serve any actual time for past transgressions.
On the surface, it may just seem like an arbitrary decision…but as I’ve said in previous interviews, we’re seeding clues throughout this series. Sometimes, even the subtlest and most inconspicuous of elements turn out to be pieces to some bigger puzzle.
Instead of mugshots, we wanted TWO and FOUR’s photos to be security cam captures. These were shot weeks later by our stunt coordinator and second unit director John Stead.
The staircase FOUR is coming up is actually a back stairwell to the production office…
While TWO’s quasi industrial setting is actually the back wall of one of our stages…
As for FIVE (Jodelle Ferland) – well, we didn’t do one for her. Why isn’t she up there with the rest of them? Well, that’s something she wonders herself…
2) But I CAN smell them!
…in one of my favorite scenes in this episode. Zoie Palmer and Jodelle Ferland (The Android and FIVE) are simply great together. I love the interaction between their characters – and this is a relationship that develops quite nicely over the course of this first season. This exchange, by the way, was Zoie’s first audition scene. Later, during production, she suggested adding a line at the end of the scene: “But I can smell them!”. It’s small touches like this (and the “Okay, TWO” line that ends the tease, another Zoie Palmer addition) that make the character that much warmer and endearing.
3) From superbadass to cause for concern…
Another favorite was the “Rate us from superbadass to cause for concern” marauder conversation between SIX (Roger Cross) and THREE (Anthony Lemke). These two play off each other so well that their performances would have me laughing every time I’d rewatch this scene. Anthony’s “You’d rate her higher? Yeah…” couple with Roger’s look of stunned disbelief is comedy gold. THREE’s final reach up for the controls and SIX waving him off was an ad-libbed bit of business that perfectly capped this exchange.
4) Who made you team leader?
And speaking of favorites, this next scene offers up two of my favorite performances by Melissa O’Neil and Marc Bendavid. From the get-go, TWO is faced with a push and pull from opposing sides – ONE and his ethical altruism embodying a bright future and THREE and his mercenary outlook representing their dark past. As their leader, she must walk the fine line between them, well aware that doing the right thing is not always the right thing to do, while selfishness comes with a cost as well. She must balance a commanding presence with empathy for her crew…something that is often easier said than done.
5) When that shuttle comes back, I want you on it.
After a seemingly inconsequential exchange between THREE and FOUR (“I’ll have your head cut off before you could even draw.” – file that bit of dialogue away for future reference), TWO pulls ONE away to have a little conversation with him. The marauder and the corridor are actually on two different stages on two different locations and, as a result, these scenes were shot days apart.
Here, TWO completes the balancing act – commanding in the previous scene; empathetic here. The nice hard smack she gives him before she turns to leave sounded a lot more impressive on the day. For some reason, the sound of that slap was dampened – which is a shame because I really loved it.
Finally, boys may be boys – but she’s not about to let them get away with it, calling him on it with a parting no look: “And stop staring at my ass!”. In the words of Eric Cartman: “Respect my authoritah!”
Final two days to get those questions in for Executive Producer Jay Firestone!