Some thoughts on Dark Matter‘s Android played by the lovely and talented Zoie Palmer…
When I originally developed the idea for the series that would become Dark Matter, I envisioned Android a lot differently than the character who ended up on our screens. For one, the character was envisioned as male. In the comic books, he was less childlike than the final t.v. version and more akin to a polished butler in attitude. Finally, the plan was for this character to be more of a supporting player. That WAS the plan, but that plan changed after we cast Zoie Palmer.
Zoie brought something completely different to the role. Her portrayal was sweet, humorous, and irresistibly charming. This character I had created on paper came to three dimensional life in ways I never expected. So, as the first season progressed and episodes started coming in short, my response was to write extra scenes for our Android to flesh out her character and make her an equally important member of the Raza crew. And, of course, Zoie Palmer was more than up for the challenge.
Zoie’s onscreen presence and her chemistry with the other actors was undeniable, but what really surprised me was the fan reaction. Online and in those focus group testings the networks love so much, Android continually topped the lists of favorite characters. Each of the crew members had their supporters, but Android commanded a passionate fanbase I honestly never imagined when I first created the character.
And within that fanbase, what I found truly remarkable and touching were the number of viewers who reached out to say they connected with Android because they were autistic and saw in her a character with whom they could relate.
#autistic person it’s hard for me to let #DarkMatter #Android go. Know what? I just won’t!”
“I have a friend whose young son is autistic & he adores the Android. His mum hasn’t had the heart to tell him that
#DarkMatter isn’t coming back (yet!).”
#DarkMatter android awesome, autistic people related to her, characters developed deeper, miss dinner time chats #RAZA”
“We need 2 raise awareness for women with
#autism. Too bad we won’t see #DarkMatter s Android anymore.”
@ZoiePalmer for your take on the Android, for precisely this reason. #syfy #Darkmatter #autism #spectrum”
” It really mirrors many of the self-esteem issues of AS people. In many scenes, she sits around the table with her crew while they engage in chit chat as she follows the discussion and earnestly tries to enter the conversation–very awkwardly–sound familiar? She often takes things too literally and asks the the other characters what they really mean. In season 2, the Android character is given a special chip that allows it/her to interact socially more intuitively–like a NT human. She uses it to pass as human to save a fellow crew member. In the next episode, she takes to chip out and goes back to being non-NT android. She says that this is her real identity–so cool. Such an intense episode and a real role-model for an AS person. –Zoie Palmer’s performances as that character is phenomenal”
“I’m autistic and how the crew is with android makes me feel like I’m normal!”
Wow. Looking back on those tweets, comments, messages, and emails, I’m struck by varied emotions. I’m amazed, touched, and incredibly proud of Zoie and Android. But, above all, there’s overwhelming compassion for these wonderful fans who connected so deeply with something I helped create.
I am humbled.
Final gifs courtesy of FYEAHTHEANDROID
30 thoughts on “Dark Matter’s Android”
One of the best creations to come out of the collaboration of Dark Matter hands down. It’s very important to have this visibility on the screen. Just one more reason why this wasn’t just a typical sci-fi show.
Zoie never failed to knock it out of the park every time she was on the screen. I remember remarking during the Q&A she did how hard it must be to find the fine line between being just enough “android” without overdoing it. She hit it every time. Like the whole show, I really miss seeing her character on the screen.
It’s heartwarming, but not really surprising, to read those comments from viewers. Art often winds up affecting people in unique, unexpected and wonderful ways that one never expects. With apologies to Robert Browning, sometimes our reach really *does* exceed our grasp.
And… of course I really meant to say that our grasp sometimes exceeds our reach. Now it makes sense.
What ever happened to that edit feature? 🙂
Thank you. That was an enjoyable and informative post. I have been fascinated with synthetic beings since falling in love with Star Wars as a young boy. I loved Android on Dark Matter and I created my own named FYXYS years ago for my own book Aretherra.
Thanks again, Eric
I have an edit button on my last post.
Sometimes you get an edit button sometimes you dont.Its a mystery.
As a person on the spectrum, I just saw someone who saw a growth opportunity in becoming more human. It’s wise to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something until you learn a reason not to, but now that it’s pointed out, I suppose an NT would understand intuitively what is meant or the reason not to ask.
I don’t see the advantage for an android to process information more like an NT, which is to experience the world in a more summarized form. Androids wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the detail of the information stream and can learn to make their summarized conclusions just as fast as NT’s without losing track of the source information like I assume NT’s do.
Very interesting thoughts.
Just 2 thoughts on your issue. Remember that Android did not want to put the chip in. She just wanted to reach her potential–as herself and not be a human/android–or even pass as one!
Now, Android feels emotions and has a ego–a sense of self. That is just what she is. I think that Android continues to process everything the can in summarized form–like her the fact that she continues to nero-link with the ship. But Android has emotions–which need to be felt in real time as they unfold for a person to understand them in the first place and then process them. Android has to consciously recognize how she feels about everything. I would argue that it is hard or impossible humans deal with the emotional part of life in the full analog form!! No way that even an android would be able to recognize or deal with emotions in such a summarized form. Can you imagine the potential for cognitive dissonance in the sentient android population(which Victor was already a master of)!! Off the chart! This entire idea could be explored for science fiction–with an audience of…me!!!lol lol Joseph don’t do it!!! save yourself!!ha hahaha.
First, remember that Android did not want to put the chip in. She did not want to be a human or even pass as one. She does continue to neo-link with the ship. It seems like she continues to use her android “summarized processing” as much as she can.
Second, Android is sentient, feels emotions in real time, and has an ego/ sense of self. Humans have a hard or impossible time recognizing and dealing with their own emotions—in analog real-time!! I imagine it would not be any easier for an android to deal with and process their own feelings and emotions. Just imagine the potential for Android cognitive dissonance( and Victor seemed to have mastered that already;)!! That by itself could be the basis of a science fiction story—with an potential audience of…me.lol (Joseph don’t do it!!) haha
(the web site erased this response once. sorry if both eventually show up.)
thanks for the post. I really warmed to Zoie’s interpretation of the android. The character just grew and grew in depth and charm. The pinnacle for me was the time travel episode in season 3. She was so funny in that,. Virtually every line just cracked me up.
It’s beautiful how a character can change and grow in unexpected ways
Yep. Zoie’s Android definitely offered something significant and expanded entertainment to those on the ASD spectrum. Over the last 5 years or so scientists have been researching how AI humanoids can assist those with autism. Some scientists and engineers have now formed companies, with products aimed at doing as much.
Yes, Zoie made a new fan with me! The accent scene was genius! 😀
I got in this morning! I wonder if time of day is a factor? 🤔
I loved the android. She had a delightful naivety to her and I miss seeing the character on the little screen. Dark Matter being cancelled is a major loss – it was so good. Killjoys is nowhere in the same league and I stopped watching that. We need good sci-fi and Dark Matter delivered. Also: #Boobs 🙂
My husband adored the Android. Zoie is a versatile and fantastic actor to bring such a memorable character to life.
Ans yes, also #Boobs
oh yeah….everyone loves Zoie’s performance – of BOOBS! lol
Love Android, ZOIE…
I have a new appreciation for Zoe’s take on subtle sense of humor since I am taking my time to watch (I refer specifically to the introduction of the Helper Droid and Sarah character of S1E7) the DM and concentrate on her action much less than having lunch across the street from Soma’s at the restaurant of the same name.
I shouldn’t have read this at work….I will just tell everyone I have allergies.
Another one perfectly cast!
As many others have already said, I loved the Android character of Dark Matter and Zoie did a fabulous job realizing her own sense of “self” for us.
Hey, I missed the post asking us to tell our story… is it too late to add to the many who posted or shall I stick it here?
Well, answering myself, here it is:
I’m Carol and I’m a transplanted Brooklyn New York girl into the shore area of New Jersey. I moved here with my parents in ’76 so we could be closer to my older brother who was married to a wonderful gal. They had two great kids, my niece and nephew, now both grown. My brother passed in 2016 and both parents have long ago passed. I’m single and have no kids other than the several kitty cats adopted from shelters along the way. Each lived in excess of 15 years with me, so one’s passing was always a great shock. I have Basil & Stash living with me now in a too-big house, in a heavily over taxed state. I would like to retire soon, but fear financially, I just cannot survive without working. So I guess I will work until I drop. I may have to leave this house and state but do not relish the upset of a move.
I’ve had a slew of jobs, from legal proofreader/editor at a downtown NYC law firm; many years in commercial banking (at 3 banks); a retail bookseller in a mall; many years at AT&T Bell Labs starting as an administrative assistant, then allowed to actually design (internal art & media design studio); a few more years at AT&T’s spin off Lucent Technologies, in the same role. I attended night college during this time and have a degree in art.
I learned a lot from this disparate string of jobs but somehow always found the work wanting. I was never satisfied and felt that my true calling wasn’t being met. Then, I discovered the world of big-pharma, a major job driver in NJ. Somehow, I landed a job as an IT problem management analyst (without really knowing what that was) and 5 months in discovered I had ovarian cancer. Well, that was a shock. But I determined that I would win out, so I had the surgery and took 8 weeks off to recuperate and begin chemo, telling myself I still had not found what I wanted to do in life, best to carry on – and survive.
I beat cancer, lost all of my hair (it grew back mostly silver/white) and have some residual nerve damage in my hands & feet from the chemo. Boo. It now keeps company with the arthritis.
While bouncing around several big pharma jobs I discovered what I truly enjoy doing (for work) which is informative writing combined with art design. Thus I have worked as a corporate instructional designer in both big pharma and telecommunications industries ever since. Sometimes I switch off and do technical writing as well. Hey, the world of IT is filled with interesting if not strange folks. I love the challenge of designing a course, whether for instructor-led or self-paced (eLearning modules). I’m very handy with Adobe Captivate and many other self-taught apps that aid me in creating really nice courses. It’s quite satisfying to help someone learn and understand. I do my own programming, art design and write all content. Every assignment helps me learn more about quite varied topics.
I have always loved reading good quality sci-fi through the years. I watch sci-fi TV (though no longer the SyFy channel), vet shows, nature/animal shows and especially the Science Channel. A few historical novels and Masterpiece Theater productions are also appreciated.
I don’t bother watching films in theaters any more. The last one I saw was “Interstellar” where the robot stole the show!
I suppose I should halt this mini novel before I overstay my visit. Thanks for taking the time to read about me.
Android, through Zoie’s interpretation and the great writing, is a terrific memorable character.
I was very impressed with Zoie’s acting ability. The Android was one of my favorite characters on the show. Zoie seemed to easily slip between her two distinct personas on the show. Amazing.
BTW, if you are interested in a good movie about someone on the Autism spectrum, check out the movie Please Stand By starring Dakota Fanning. While not a perfect movie, it is sweet and touching.
I had no problems getting into the blog today. Is WordPress finally helping you?
Hey BoltBait, I read your bio to my computer science hubby. Your commodore story brought back good memories for him. 🙂
I imagine that many people (of a certain age) in the computer industry have similar stories. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Android was one of my favorite characters for sure. But all the characters were my favorite in their own ways. Dark Matter filled a hole which I never knew existed. Still quite salty that it got canceled. Heres to the success of your new projects and lets hope they provide the same happiness.
This post made my day. Even this s post is important for AS people–becasue AS people feel so isolated. Through many many repeated difficult life experiences, even many high-functioning AS people feel alone–and eventually internalize the feeling that he/she is usually alone in every feeling. I am certain that most AS people, like me, wondered if they were the only one that felt this way(despite the comments that you and Zoie already made on this topic). This makes me so happy that other AS people feel the same about the Android character.
In my opinion, Android is the best portrayal of an “AS person” in TV. This WAS NOT by accident. An A-level producer/writer who is earnest and who cares about quality works with an A-level actor who also is very earnest and cares about the quality–the end product is not an accident.
Again, thank you Joseph!
and also another big thank you to Zoie!.
One word “I MISS Dark Matter” ok 4 😛
‘In many scenes, she sits around the table with her crew while they engage in chit chat as she follows the discussion and earnestly tries to enter the conversation–very awkwardly–sound familiar? She often takes things too literally and asks the the other characters what they really mean.’
Sounds like me – although I do not try to enter conversations nowadays (my brains get system failures very easily when I interact orally). I can relate to the Android more than to any other character.
(One of the most annoying things I know is that after I have asked what someone means by what they have said, they usually say, ‘You know what I mean’, or they assume I became upset.)
I love all the characters, but I agree that Zoie did an amazing job as the android… I think she was my favorite character although all of the others were very close behind. The Raza crew each had background stories that would have been interesting to learn more about. I will miss the show and hope for a “miracle renewal” of it someday.
Those comments touch my heart; I remember seeing that a lot in the feed when we were doing our RenewDarkMatter campaign. I made sure to engage and acknowledge those Twitter followers. I bet Patrick would feel the same way if he was higher functioning.