I came across this interesting Screen Rant article today by Toby Symonds which offers up his take on what he felt were ridiculous plot twists (and a few that weren’t) on shows that aired on syfy.  Among the culprits was the decision NOT to kill of Ronon Dex in the Atlantis finale and the decision to reveal SIX as the mole at the conclusion of Dark Matter’s first season.

https://screenrant.com/syfy-shows-plot-twists-hurt-saved/#leave-comment

I love nothing more than a discussion or heated debate about the creative decisions made on a production I was a part of.  And, while I appreciate Toby taking the time write the article and point out what didn’t work for him, I can’t help but disagree with a few of his points and weigh in –

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My response –

First off, thanks for taking the time to feature the series. We didn’t have a lot of money to make the show, nor did we receive a lot of support from TPTB while we were making it, but we had a great cast and crew, and an even greater fanbase that’s still very active online.

Second, I wanted to respond to your take that: a) SIX lacked motivation and b) was an illogical choice to be the traitor.

I started developing Dark Matter way back when I was working on Stargate: Atlantis. The plan was to complete the final season of Atlantis and segue smoothly into the first season of Dark Matter. As it turned out, however, we had two seasons of Stargate: Universe and about a year of development work before Dark Matter finally saw the light of a t.v. screen. Between that gap and the years I spent developing DM while working on SGA, I had a good five years to develop the show. As a result, going into the writers’ room for that first season, I had all of the character and major story arcs mapped out, along with a five-year plan. I approached each season like an installment in a book series, with a beginning, middle, and end. And so, season 1 kicks off with the revelation that our characters are wanted criminals and ends, appropriately enough, with them being hauled off to prison (In season 2, our character come together, finally united, in common purpose – to redeem themselves and do the right thing…only to have it blow up in their faces – quite literally – with the destruction of EOS-7 which ignites a galaxy-wide corporate war).

Before I even sat down to write the pilot, I already knew how season 1 would end – with their capture and the reveal that one of them was a traitor and former mole/agent for the Galactic Authority. And I also knew that character would have to be SIX. It really couldn’t be anyone else given their respective backstories. More importantly, one of the central themes of the series was the nature vs. nurture debate. Are you born bad or are you a product of your environment? Dark Matter, like much of the research that has been done on the subject (check out the excellent Three Strangers) posits the answer is: a little of both. SIX is the crew’s moral center (although you could argue FIVE parallels these values). He is/was a principled law enforcement officer tasked with bringing in this galaxy’s most wanted and, despite the mind wipe, demonstrates these honest and right-minded outlooks throughout the show’s first season. Although he possesses no memories of his past, aspects of who he was inform who he is post-mindwipe (In the same way we see these post-mindwipe characteristics bleed through in, say, TWO’s brutal takedown of the casino staff in Episode 4, and execution of Wexler at the end of Episode 11).

One of the great things about having a detailed game plan going in is the opportunities it affords you to seed in clues that pay off later on down the line. Like the Android’s strange but seemingly innocuous comment to TWO prior to her space walk in Episode 3, a comment that hints at TWO’s reveal as a bio-engineered construct (hinted at in more obvious fashion, two episodes later, when her wound miraculously heals). In Episode 8, SIX flashes back to his past and receives the truth about who he is via an undercover Lieutenant Anders. In one of the episode’s final moments, an overwhelmed SIX sits alone amidst the destruction only to have Anders get the drop on him. In the next scene, ONE and FOUR arrive on the scene – but Anders is long gone. Why did he leave and let SIX go? What happened off-screen? It’s a huge red flag.

In the ensuing episodes, we see a sudden shift in SIX’s character, culminating in his emotional plea to FIVE to leave the ship. At this point, he knows that it’s going to end badly. And, after the delivery of the white hole bomb that ends up destroying the Mikkei facility and the planet, claiming thousands of lives, he finally makes the call on the decision he has been mulling over since Episode 8. These people are dangerous and he has to bring them in. And so he sets his plan in motion…

A second important theme in this series was the notion of redemption. Throughout the show’s first season, we peel the onion on the crews’ histories and they must come to terms with their past lives, their past actions, and look to start fresh, be better. In season 2, this theme is studied in another light, through the prism of SIX who seeks redemption for his betrayal. While the rest of the crew is looking to turn over a new leaf and “do the right thing” (spearheaded by TWO), SIX seeks to regain the trust of his former friends. And it’s not something that happens overnight. It takes theentirety of the show’s second season for the crew to accept SIX back into the fold. In short, like most of the character developments and reveals on Dark Matter, I wanted it to feel earned.

Anyway, all this to say that, perhaps despite appearances, we were never making it up as we went along. There was always a good reason (at least so far as I was concerned) that we did what we did. Every narrative decision was tied to character or thematically linked. As for that Ronon decision on Stargate: Atlantis…

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My response –

The only thing I can say to this is that Enemy at the Gate was never intended as a series finale. In retrospect, yes, we could have killed off Ronon, perhaps even destroyed Atlantis itself, but the plan had always been to come back for a sixth season. Had we done so, AND killed off the Ronon character, the show would have been poorer for it.

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Just a few nitpicks –

Regarding SG-1 – The plan was not to have the show bow out after two seasons. The show had a two season order but the plan was always to go the full five. When Paul and I joined the show’s writing staff in season 4, it was with the understanding that the show would go one more year and conclude with its fifth and final season.

Also, the creative dream was not to end the show after season 7 either. We were simply under the assumption that season 7 would be SG-1’s last – but, in all fairness, we made the same assumption for season 4, 6, 8, and 9. The show’s tenth season, ironically, was the only one I felt confident would NOT be its last – so, of course, it was.

And finally, on a show I never worked on – but watched the hell out of and loved…

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Could let this one go without putting in my two cents –

Regarding the critique of the final moments of the Farscape finale (a show on this list that I was not a part of but I watched and loved) – in all fairness, I’m sure it didn’t seem like such a gamble at the time because, from what I understand, they had already been informed they’d been picked up for another season…only to have the pick-up rescinded.

Check out the article.  There are takes on other productions as well: SGU, Wynonna Earp, and BSG to name a few.

Thoughts?

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gforce

That fellow needs to go back and re-watch S1 of Dark Matter, or if he already did he needs to do so again and pay better attention. When I went back and did a S1 re-watch, I was amazed at how many hints, clues, and foreshadowing occurred throughout the whole season. I remember specifically rewatching the episode you mention where SIX encounters Anders, but then ONE and FOUR arrive and Anders is gone. I remember it seeming odd at the first viewing, but on second watch after seeing the S1 finale, it made perfect sense.

I always found the series like that – a wonderful puzzle that had so many interlocking pieces where even sometimes the most innocent dialog turned out to foreshadow major events. It’s one of the main things that I LOVED about the show.

I miss it terribly still.

Kevin Clawson
Kevin Clawson

I loved that twist. I remember sitting there and verbally saying “noooo” under my breath. It did make perfect sense but I think as fans we just didn’t want it to be true. How could Five’s brother bear do this?? It did fit perfectly into the story line. I’m just so glad it wasn’t a cliff hanger ending! I needed him to get back with the crew. It would have been terrible for the show to be cut short on a cliff hanger involving Six… Too soon?

JM

oh, i like that….so nice to hear a bot of an explanation on these things. Nowt really further to add…..’cept to state my continued annoyance at these things always ending early. no proper finish sad I’ve been saying since Dark Skies and the like…..why can we not just negotiate some clause in contracts that will guarantee some kind of ‘ending’ when the inevitable finally happens, whether it’s truly right time or not? i.e. renew two seasons at a time…so writers know they will have another season to finish off/ give a years notice, or if not that…some clause so at least like fasrcape….if not a full season, least couple of hours/ movie/ mini series, just to end it….? if writers put their feet collectively down and banded together on that….i’m sure it could be done!

Farscape was always one of my favs to! Dnt think it ever did get the full appreciation it really deserved.

Colleen Scott
Colleen Scott

Thank you that was very helpful.

Cass Morrison

I think I’m one of the few people who found the series finale for Farscape satisfying. Yes, Aeryn and John get together and nope, it’s not happily ever after. I’m not a fan of killing all the characters when the series is cancelled (as was done for Once a Thief) but the way John & Aeryn crystals could mix together seemed fitting and impermanent (as shown by the movie follow up).

nantokanaru77

Disagree with TS.
DM was great. I love the story and the plot twists. Bad idea for Syfy to cancel it. sad

Bryan Knutson
Bryan Knutson

Thank you for sharing! It’s nice to learn what happens behind the scenes of some of my favorite shows. I wish it were international law that all TV shows be given the opportunity to close their open storylines upon cancellation in either a final three episode arc or a lengthened TV movie. Networks would think harder about cancelling so many shows at the drop of a hat and the viewers/fans do not get left hanging. Some shows get comic books or whatnot to finish their stories but it’s just not the same in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what other shows you will come up with next!

LJ
LJ

Did he watch any of these shows…at all?! The only “twists” I’ve been unhappy with are the network(s) not renewing my favorite shows by my favorite writers. (I’m not still angry…I’m not still angry…okay, maybe just a bit…)

I thought the SIX twist was perfect, btw.

And that’s the most I’ve posted here for a very long time, lol.

~LJ

Tuptiang
Tuptiang

It’s a small world as I just finished watching DM SS1 E11 as you noted above. I felt is was needing some financial juice but the sets worked. The only Stargate to come up short was SU, and you ended it well. I know you mentioned Jason Momoa, and had you not I most likely not have seen him in his latest blockbuster extravaganza “Aquaman”. I was taken aback by his cameo appearance in an earlier DC movie. I read your remarks with eyes wide open. I guess the writer of the article thinks he is closer to the creative juice bars than he thinks he is. I have spent time reading your blog and comments; this joker obviously hasn’t. He only dreams of having a successful show. If you were such a hack writer, why was there such fan turmoil with the cancelation of DM and why would I have an interest in “the Rookie”. I am looking forward to its next season. It was with a surprising interest that I was Anthony Lemke’s guest appearance in that Toronto show about an ex-hockey player turned P.I. I was also surprised at Claudie Blacks injection from Farscape. I watched it only because I came across the DVDs at the locale Blockbuster’s. She added a good commic touch that played well off Daniel’s character.

Ponytail
Ponytail

The only thing that hurt SyFy shows was the idiotic SyFy corporate decision making that cancelled popular shows leaving their huge fan base hanging.

Ken Harnish
Ken Harnish

I thought the plot line with six was clever. I think back to the scene where the crew is being carried out as the scene that leaves an impression. If I were to complain about plot holes I would ask did three actually take his guns to statis with him? One would not seem to be able to have been with the crew when they intercepted Rothgar and the weapons shipment. He was no murderer after all. Why didn’t Five tell the crew about her stowaway friend when she was finally accepted onto the crew? How did the crew explain the weapons to the miners after Three told them the ship had been looted by raiders? How did the crew get away with not telling the miners their names?
I never watched Staregate faithfully, so I could not comment on it.
I only picked up the items about Dark Matter after watching it a hundred times. I will continue to watch it even with its flaws. It is still a great escape show for me. When I am down or stressed, I love watching it, espeacially episode One.

shinyhula

I wrote on this blog that I screamed at my laptop when I saw it was Six. The minute I saw Six I know (after I stopped screaming “Noooo!”) that his principles are exactly what would make him think he’s doing the right thing. I’d like to see what’s his face suggest killing of Ronan Dex to Jason’s face. Chewbacca? Please, that is snarky nonsense. Ronan is The Quiet Man, Jet Black, The Punisher, The Shogun Assassin. Our Favorite Satedan deserved to live.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

I love nothing more than a discussion or heated debate about the creative decisions made on a production I was a part of. That’s one reason why you have us, your fans, whether you want us or not. wink

It’s a refreshing change to have a debate without name calling these days. Thanks for that! Oh and I agree, Six, with his background, had to have been the one.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Boltbait: Five out of five?! Thanks! I’ll cue Sea of Rust up next.

N
N

14 Ridiculous Assumptions Made by a Viewer Who Missed the Nuance…

The only one I agreed on was Sliders. Really wish that show could get a reboot. To be fair, I haven’t watched all of the shows mentioned so it’s possible the author had other good points but frankly, missing the point on Six’s betrayal made that seem unlikely.