Back in 2012, I went out with a well-developed plan for a space opera, one with a beginning, middle and end to every storyline and character arc, answers to every question. It was to be a self-contained and satisfying narrative. But after the show was green lit and we went into production, those plans changed – slightly at first (ie. making our Android female), then more significantly (ie killing off the character of ONE). And yet, while the changes required adjustments that necessarily echoed through future narrative threads, they didn’t really affect the promised answers to all the questions the show would pose, or the endings I had intended for these characters. As time wore on, however, and I spent more time on the show, with these characters, interacting with fandom, I began to have a change of heart. And I began to think that, maybe, that downbeat heartbreaker of an ending I had planned for the series wasn’t really appropriate anymore. Maybe these characters, and fans, or at least some of them, deserved a more hopeful conclusion to Dark Matter. So I began to make more adjustments, pulling up storylines, making slight character modifications, ensuring it would all track and those little set-ups would nevertheless pay off in some fashion down the line.
In time, I decided on another ending, one I began to seed and build toward – but, alas, never got to reveal. That particular conclusion will remain a secret, for now. But as for that alt. dark timeline, here it is:
We see a version of this story play through Dark Matter’s second and third seasons. In the show, Ryo’s relationship with Hiro isn’t emphasized to the extent I’d originally planned and the murder of his half-brother is decidedly deliberate rather than accidental. Of course, as outlined in my recent #DarkGate Q&A, the plan wasn’t for TWO to execute Ryo (although she comes tantalizingly close in Episode 312, “My Final Gift To You”) but for the Android to essentially “restore” FOUR via the transfer transit pod he used in Episode 207, “She’s One Of Them Now”. Still, I loved the bittersweetness of this ending and I can only imagine what a fantastic scene TWO’s farewell conversation with her old friend could have been.
Again, we see echoes of this intended storyline in season 2 and 3 – the guilt that weighs on him for his past actions (turning in the crew, his indirect responsibility for the destruction and loss of life on Hyadum-12), knowledge of the family he left behind – but rather than succumb, our SIX fights through it and actually helps TWO battle parallel inner demons following the destruction of EOS-7. Again, as explained in my recent #DarkGate Q&A, the plan was for SIX to seemingly sacrifice himself at the end of the show’s third season – only to find his way back to our reality by drawing an assist from a most unlikely ally, the mercenary and mercurial Alt. Tash. In hindsight, I really loved this planned ending for SIX because it touched on Dark Matter’s central theme of our memories making us who we are. It also offered up the single hopeful end to our crewmembers’ individual journeys.
Ah, now this was a change that required a little more fiddling, chiefest of which was a rethinking of TWO’s essential being. In my original vision, her physical being, while still biological, was nevertheless more bio-synthetic in design. When I abandoned this ending, I moved up the storyline involving her failed nanites, addressing the issue, instead, in the show’s second season. Another bittersweet conclusion which echoed one of my favorite anime of all time, and an inspiration for Dark Matter as a whole – Cowboy Bebop.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment I had to make pertained to the character of ONE who I’d envisioned continuing his role as the angel to THREE’s devil, developing that love-hate bromance to the point where, in their last moments, either has the opportunity to save themselves by abandoning the other but, instead, choose to go down fighting – a nice little bookend to our opener.
Most heartbreaking of all was this intended ending for our lovable Android that, again, harkens back to the recurring memory theme that is the heart of our show. Of course, this would have worked much better if FIVE was younger (closer to 12) and if the Android’s sad demise wouldn’t have triggered the inevitable mass fandom uproar.
And our last show would have been of FIVE on the bridge of The Raza, all alone.
End of series.
And, at the time, I would have been satisfied with this conclusion – but even then, I did consider the possibility that fans may not have shared my feelings for the ending I had given them. And so, just in case, I had a back-up plan…and the in to one final miniseries adventure…