As I mentioned in a previous post, two my favorite sub-genres of SF television are AU (alternate universe) and time travel.  They both allow us to shed light on our characters, and the show’s world, in ways we wouldn’t normally be permitted within the established narrative.  “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”, for instance, answers a few outstanding questions, some going as far back as our very first episode, while also teeing up a bunch of future storylines as well.  There was A LOT going on in this episode and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you may have missed a few crucial tidbits even on second and third viewing (which is de rigueur for every episode of Dark Matter).

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

First off, can I just say what a fantastic job VFX Supervisor (and Dark Matter Supervising Producer) Lawren Bancroft-Wilson is doing this year.  That shot of The Raza moving through the debris from the destroyed space station?  Wow. Kudos to Lawren and his VFX team, with FUSEFX at the forefront, delivering some truly spectacular visuals this season, from The Raza’s atmospheric entry and landing to…well, the finale.  Great, great stuff!

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Earlier this season, someone was asking about ship to ship battles.  Specifically, why hadn’t we seen any yet?  Well, we’ve seen some pretty good ones so far this season, once again thanks to LBW and co.  Always fun to see The Raza in action but, in particular, to check out how far the ship has come in its level of detailing.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Android: “A slight variance in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background suggests an extremely unusual possibility.”

I received a fair amount of love for this theoretical conjecture on the part of the Android, but must give credit where credit is due.  When crafting a hypothetical explanation for the inter-universe jump, I consulting with the experts – in this case, former Stargate science tech advisor Mika McKinnon who stepped up with the assist (GeoMika).

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

One of my very favorite guest stars, Torri Higginson, reprises her role as the opportunistic Commander Delaney Truffault.  The character was originally supposed to meet her end in Episode 11 of the show’s first season, but a scheduling conflict and some serious reconsideration of her role in the grand scheme of things saved her.  When it came time to casting the role I knew Torri would be great – but her performance surpassed my lofty expectations.  She played Truffault with such sass and bemused confidence that I instantly fell in love.  And, boy oh boy, that shot of her swaggering down the corridor of The Raza after she takes out FOUR and SIX? Perfection.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

The crew’s research uncovers intriguing tidbits of information, hints of what could have been and clues to what may come…

There’s a corporate war in full swing, something that has only been hinted at back in our reality.

The war finds its roots in long-standing corporate conflicts, but was seemingly sparked by the destruction of a space station, EOS-7, during a summit attended by representatives from the various corporations as well as the League of Autonomous Worlds.

Ferrous Corp is suspected as being the culprit behind the station’s destruction, although they have steadfastly denied the charge.  Oh, hey, Commander Nieman!

Kal Varrick (SIX’s alter-ego) uploaded a virus to the ship’s computer before going into stasis, one that would disable The Raza, thus rendering it “dead in space” (see Episode 1).

He has arranged for the ship to emit a subspace distress call to make it easier to track (see Episode 1).

The Raza’s security system is an Android who can be take offline with a verbal shutdown command.

If the Android perceives an insurmountable threat, she is programmed to wipe the ship’s data stores (see Episode 1).

We learn that The Raza paid a recent visit to the headquarters of Dwarf Star Technologies, killing over two hundred company personnel including company CEO Alexander Rook (see Episode…oh, it won’t be long).

The script’s first draft included another scene, a file SIX accesses prior to the video of his death…

He double-clicks, bringing up various sub-files (SERVICE, MISSIONS, RECORD, COMMENDATIONS) including the one he clicks on: DEATH. We switch to a deposition video – Commander Tarvis of the Galactic Authority (last seen in Episode 106)is being questioned.

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was our best agent up until the incident on Hydaum-12. That mission – it changed him. Though, in all fairness, over ten thousand lives lost – it would’ve changed anyone.

She fields an unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He requested a leave of absence and we gave it to him. I honestly wasn’t sure he’d ever come back – but he did, six months later. And requested the toughest assignment on book. In retrospect, I should’ve turned him down. He wasn’t ready.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He went undercover to bring in the crew of the outlaw ship, The Raza.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was murdered while sending a data burst back to G.A. Central Command. He died on camera. The visual evidence was logged as part of the inquest into –

SIX freezes the video, enters another sequence, bringing up another video.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

This reality’s Ishida Ryo has retaken the throne of Zairon with the help of his step-brother, Hiro, and other loyal agents within the court.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

To quote actress Melissa O’Neil on the Portia-Boone “sexy time” scene: “My butt clenched reading it.”

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Some awesome twinning sequences in this episode.  Kudos again to VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and director Andy Mikita.  Find out how they pulled it off here: The Fine Art of Twinning

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Bring on the bad guys!  One of my biggest regrets of season 1 was the loss of Wexler and Tash, two psychotic but colorful mercs who met their spectacular ends back in Episode 10.  Well, here was an opportunity to bring them back – along with the duplicitous Jace Corso.  Scheduling was a huge challenge here as all three actors – Ennis Esmer, Jessica Sipos, and Marc Bendavid – had other commitments we needed to work around.  But, thankfully, we were able to make it work in the end and all three delivered delightfully diabolical performances.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Since the episode was running long, we had to cut some dialogue for time.  FOUR’s conversation with the captive Portia and Boone offered a little more insight into Blink Drive’s workings in the script…

Portia and Boone are on their feet when he enters.

PORTIA: You didn’t account for temporal displacement. That’s why you and the rest of your crew are here. You tested the drive without making the proper adjustments.

Off FOUR –

PORTIA: So instead of going from point A to point B in your universe, you punched a hole in the fabric of space-time and ended up here in ours.

FOUR: We didn’t know we had to make those changes to the drive.

PORTIA: Didn’t the scientist you tortured tell you?

FOUR: We didn’t torture a scientist.

BOONE: Rookie mistake. You ARE different from the Ishida we know.

And, oh yeah, we also find out a little more about this reality’s ongoing conflict between Zairon and the Republic of Pyr…

PORTIA: After EOS-7, the corporations backing Pyr had bigger things to worry about than some regional conflict. They pulled their support and we took advantage, targeting your homeworld’s enemy and destroying their fleet.

BOONE: And Zairon welcomed you back with open arms.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Jace Corso’s launching of the nuclear missile, with TWO still on the planet, is a tip of the hat to the AU machinations in Star Trek: The Original Series’ classic “Mirror, Mirror”.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

It’s TWO and Tash Round #2 in one of the greatest fights the show has done to date.  Let’s give it up for stunt coordinator John Stead, director Andy Mikita, editor Teresa Hannigan, actresses Melissa O’Neil and Jessica Sipos, and their stunt doubles.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Commander Truffault’s double-cross and taking of The Raza results in an exchange between her and TWO that was a little meatier in the director’s cut…

TWO: I thought we had a deal.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: We did – a deal you never had any intention of following through on. We both know that. So here’s the new deal: the lives of your crew in exchange for the drive.

TWO hesitates. Beat.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Look at the big picture. You just need it to get home. We need it to save millions of lives by putting an end to a war that has ravaged this reality for years.

TWO: By winning it? How long is that going to take? Ferrous Corp had the drive on their side in this conflict, and you’re still fighting.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: I’d argue our enemy didn’t make the most efficient use of a very valuable asset. They also made a mistake by letting your counterparts keep it.

TWO: I’m guessing they didn’t have a choice.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Probably not. Still, it’s hard to win a war when you’re relying on an ally who thrives on chaos. (beat) Look – this universe or your own, what difference does it make? What the hell’s really waiting for you back there?

TWO: Our own mess.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: (sighs) Your people in exchange for the drive. So, what’s it going to be?

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

The final goodbye twinning sequence was, in a word, a nightmare.  Director Andy Mikita had planned to shoot the entire thing as a oner, one continuous shot that followed TWO over to a waiting Alt Android and Portia, captured their exchange, then ended on our originals as the doubles left the shot.  And it almost all went according to plan.  Andy carefully planned the shot.  He informed the cast and crew.  We ordered the special equipment required which arrived..MINUS a crucial piece that made shooting the sequence all but impossible.  They persevered but, when it came time to assemble the cut, it was clear the eyelines were not matching up.  Most baffling was the fact that the Androids were surprisingly way off in their exchange.  We couldn’t figure it out until VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson realized our new Android outfit includes boots with heels that add another three inches or so.  As a result, the entire sequence had to be reshot in the Episode 210 schedule.

A couple of notes on this scene…

Melissa O’Neil loved Portia Lin’s coat so much (she was almost reduced to tears during her fitting) that I rewrote this scene so that her character could actually keep it.

When we originally broke this story, we’d planned for our crew to take the AU Alt Raza back to they reality with them, but ultimately decided against it because it complicated some of the developments we had planned later on down the line.

There’s this exchange between the androids that many of you picked up on:

ALT ANDROID: My presence on the other Raza would be redundant. Besides, my loyalty is to my original crew – and Portia in particular. I owe her a debt of gratitude.

Our Android finds this curious –

ANDROID: For what?

ALT ANDROID: For making me more.

The episode that offers the backstory on this one is going to blow your minds!

With the change in Raza’s, I ended up losing a scene from the original draft that opened with this preamble:

FOUR steps onto the bridge to find the Android standing there, listening to a discordant new age MUSIC that plays over the speakers. She notices him and the music automatically LOWERS.

FOUR: What are you doing?

ANDROID: While going through the new Raza’s database, I discovered a music library. I thought it might be interesting to play a piece and learn what kind of emotions it engenders in me.

FOUR: And?

ANDROID: Initial confusion followed by slight irritation, then discomfort, frustration and, ultimately, disappointment. I don’t like this at all.

FOUR: Well, there you go – an interesting emotional response.

The music turns OFF. The Android, clearly pleased –

ANDROID: Yes. I look forward to experiencing an equally visceral reaction to more selections.

August 22, 2016: Let’s Talk Dark Matter “episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

Finally, the crew returns home…with some unexpected guests in the form of an FTL-capable Marauder that jumps before they have a chance to deal with it, opening the door to all sorts of new potential storylines.  Aint scifi grand?

20 thoughts on “August 22, 2016: Let’s talk Dark Matter “Episode 21: Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”!

  1. All I can say is you killed us with this episode. It was flat-out great! I also happen to love AU & time travel stories, but AU most of all. “What might have been” is always interesting.

    And I’m hoping you were efficient in your use of AltMarauder and stuffed it with Ennis Esmer, Jessica Sipos, and our dear Marc Bendavid so we can see them all again. At some point. Please?

  2. Interesting. Almost hard to believe there were any complications with 208 as perfectly as it all turned out in the finished product.
    Congrats again to all of DMs cast and crew on an absolutely mind blowingly AMAZING job! Both eps 205 (with androids human-ness chip) and 208 (in the AU) helped tremendously with a nice recovery in the live U.S ratings.
    I expect live U.S viewership will significantly increase from this point forward after more potential viewers catch word of how phenomenal this last ep was.

    And as for moving forward … I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so, albeit – Why do i get the feeling Commander Truffault isnt human?

    Ah the things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm.

    Can’t wait to have my mind blown again next Friday!

    Dark Matter -You know its there but you’ll never see it coming!

    Thanks again for all you do Joe!
    There are these little moments walking along the long windy and sometimes bumpy path when you truly do amaze me.

  3. Two thumbs up! LOL While I have my own hopes and speculations, I look forward to what your serve up in the near and distant episodes.

    You should have at least the original number of episodes, and years you planned initially, as well as making it into a nighttime decades long serial. That is the thing about Si/Fi the universe is the unlimitedness in it’s possibilities. Maybe sometimes more than one Universe. 🙂

  4. Oow wow, Joe, WOW!
    What an episode! That was truly EPIC!
    Absolutely the best so far….
    To have Wexler, Tash AND Corso back …. brilliant! I loved all the AU crew bickering too. Totally believable.
    Thanks Joe…

  5. This episode was a literal AU smorgasbord! I enjoyed from beginning to end. Still trying to avoid spoilers until after tonight’s airing in the UK but I will say loved the VFX, attention to detail and Truffault’s “eye shades”. So cool!! There were so many “OMG”, “Oh S#~t” moments!

    To those waiting for this episode on iTunes, I’ve complained in an email to Apple. I initially rec’d a reply but nothing since. I will pursue tomorrow – now it’s just the principle of the “dark” matter. I have it DVR’d but I’m one of those weirdos that listens to shows/movies on the drive to & from work (I don’t watch). I want this episode in my driving collection!

  6. Wow! This was the best DM episode so far! Many interesting tidbits and many teasers for what’s still to come. Good work Joe, Paul, Andy, LBW, the cast and everyone else involved!

  7. “Finally, the crew returns home…with some unexpected guests in the form of an FTL-capable Marauder that jumps before they have a chance to deal with it, opening the door to all sorts of new potential storylines. Aint scifi grand?”

    Jace Corso ??

  8. I also noticed the boots Portia wore with the shiny heels that seemed taller than what Two usually wears (and no shiny heels). The full length shots of Android do show those high-heeled boots, same color as the beige of the uniform/outfit.

    Gotta hand it to the ladies for spending hours standing in those boots. I couldn’t do it and have not since high school days (long, long time ago). Back then we had platform shoes, which made walking a bit easier. As someone with flatfeet, high heels have never been desired nor possible for me.

    Thanks for sharing the Director’s cut dialog/scenes. What was the crucial equipment piece that didn’t come with the ordered items for that one continuous shot? I hope you got your money back, how lame.
    That brings to mind, does the DM production lease/rent various equipment instead of purchasing outright? Where from, a specialty TV production equipment supplier?

    I wouldn’t want to handle logistics for DM, especially cast comings & goings. Kudos to those on your staff who DO handle it!

    “… I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you may have missed a few crucial tidbits even on second and third viewing (which is de rigueur for every episode of Dark Matter).” Absolutely REQUIRED – several or more viewings per ep!

    … “Jace Corso’s launching of the nuclear missile, with TWO still on the planet, is a tip of the hat to the AU machinations in Star Trek: The Original Series’ classic “Mirror, Mirror”. Yes indeed it was and I did notice. As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I would be remiss

    … “Ain’t scifi grand?” Agreed — it IS grand and my favorite genre since the age of 8 when I began reading it ;-)”

    Is it Friday yet?
    2cats

  9. Who’s our little pea pod, whomever (whoever?) it is will be wonderful. Unless it’s Bizarro Truffault in which case heaven help the universe with two double-crossing Truffaults running loose.

    I’m hoping for a Sipos family reunion on this week’s ep? Yes? Soon? It’s like they always say, the family that fights together gets to conquer the universe.

    I’m now re-addicted to sweet potato fries which are wonderful with a tiny bit of Heinz ketchup, something about the sweet potatoes brings out every one of the tangy 57 spices in Heinz.

  10. One of the things that I found interesting about this episode is that the crew of AU Raza includes the REAL Jace Corzo and not Derek Moss posing as Corzo. Then, just as I was getting my hopes up about more episodes with Marc, *BLAM* he gets killed again. *sigh*

  11. FOUR: We didn’t torture a scientist.

    BOONE: Rookie mistake. You ARE different from the Ishida we know.

    That would have been funny!

    “My butt clenched reading it.” What? :O

    shinyhula: There’s a place in Destin that makes sweet potato fries sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Love those!

    You never did explain about One in the alternate reality. Did One never join the crew or did they discover and kill him? Hmm, maybe it was One that hitched a ride? That would be good because the real One is dead, so no paradox right? Although….paradoxes didn’t come into play in that episode. So time travel and alternative dimensions have different rules about paradoxes? I’m getting a headache thinking about this!!!!

  12. Jeff picked up on the “Mirror, Mirror” Star Trek reference and pointed it out while we were watching. I only vaguely remember the episode. Haven’t watched it in more than a decade and just remember the pictures of the characters in my head. I got very excited when I saw the names at the beginning of the episode of who were going to be *IN* that episode. This was definitely among my favorite episodes — a nice tie with the episode where Android uses her emotion chip. They are all so close to being my favorites, but some I like for other reasons. When I have to watch an episode a few times to take it all in, I love that episode even more. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to watch some Fringe episodes to look at all the clues to references in the past and the future.

    Thank you for sharing all the thinking behind what was planned and what had to be lost and all the cool trivia in between.

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