Dark Matter: Season 3 Episode 12 review – My Final Gift to You
This review contains spoilers.
It’s a great thing when a show treats its penultimate episode as if it’s the season finale. It exhibits confidence in the storytelling – confidence that all of the season’s endgame high points can be fully played out, without them needing to serve as the literal grande finale or the closing cliffhanger.
Joseph Mallozzi did that exactly here. He gave us everything that we’ve been dying to see all season – a showdown between Ryo and The Raza crew (“this little game of ours has finally come to and end”), a decisive outcome for that feud and more. After capturing Two last week, Ryo invited our crew to his home under the promise of his protection (though his actual wording was very suspicious – he said: “your ship will not be attacked and you will be able to come and go as you please,” which is hardly a promise to ensure their personal safety).
Our crew accepted, but only after Five suggested that they use clones – the availability of which seems like somewhat of an easy get-out on the show, on occasion. It allows our crew to enter any situation without fear of death. The greatest risk to them is that their clone will be killed and that they will lose its memories. Perhaps there are some limitations around how often our crew can use these clones, but it seems a little baffling why then don’t use them in most situations, if they have this capability.
The use of these clones allowed for one very wonderful moment, however. After Three learned of his role that he played in Sarah’s death (thanks to Ryo telling everyone their secrets, like some kind of psychic shogun), he deliberately lingered behind while Five and Six escaped so that he could commit clone-suicide. His intent was to deliberately lose all of the memories that his clone held, so that he would no longer remember that he (unknowingly) poisoned Sarah to death.
Typically Three is someone who likes to know the truth, no matter how hard it is to hear (this was evidenced here by him demanding that Ryo told him, even after Ryo asked: “are you sure you want to know?”), so his choice here was non-typical of his character. It was likely instead inspired by his recent time spent with Sarah and how he doesn’t want to mar that (given that she’s now taken her leave of him, to join the androids’ plight), and probably the fact that he doesn’t think he can live with the guilt of it.
Once on Zairon, Ryo kept his word – as our crew knew he would – and made sure that The Raza crew were unharmed, while also trying to stifle a rising coop among his followers. After one random, bearded warrior took ownership for the subterfuge and then took his own life, Misaki eventually revealed that she sought to kill Ryo. She stated that she did this to serve the throne itself, then we got a rather brilliant duel (one only rivalled by the superb opening fight between Ryo and Two at the start of the episode).
Without trying to sound immodest, I called this Misaki betrayal way back near the start of the season:
Someone else might kill him… I would recommend watching out for Misaki for this. She proved herself to be cold-blooded when she killed Nyx and I think all it would take would be for her to feel that Ryo isn’t an adequate Emperor for the throne and she would happily assassinate him.
I think this was pretty apparent though. Mallozzi often painted Misaki as cruel and bitter, with a burning urge for power simmering under the surface. Ultimately, Two murdered her by using Misaki’s own poisoned blade against her. Definitely a fitting end, given how she killed Nyx. I’ll be sad to see Ellen Wong go, but not Misaki herself.
The crew sitting around to debate Ryo’s fate was one of the strongest Dark Matter scenes across the entire breadth of the show, in my opinion. It held powerful dialogue, intimate visual choices, and it really encapsulated everything that’s great about this show; from their inclusion of The Android’s opinion to their divided opinions on killing Ryo (each crew member had an honourable outlook, because they were all either trying to protect Ryo or protect the group as a whole).
All of the cast were exceptional in this episode, but Alex Mallari Jr really stood out for me. Everything from his polite delivery of the crew’s secrets, to his calm, watery-eyed acceptance of the crew’s decision to kill him was delivered beautifully (along with his secret about Two’s daughter – “my final gift to you”). The only thing missing, which would have made this episode perfect, would have been if we actually saw Two execute Ryo.
It would be a shame to see him go, but it would have put a truly stunning full stop onto the end of what was already a magnificent hour of television. One thing I’m very glad about is that this cliffhanger didn’t close out the season. Unlike last season’s “who’s dead and who’s not?” closing cliffhanger – which was a little too annoying – Mallozzi has sensibly placed this one ahead of the finale, which means we’ll no doubt get our answer.
Don’t forget – the Dark Raza crew were suspiciously absent in this episode, which means they’ll probably play a big part in the finale. Despite them being aligned to Ryo prior to this, I think someone on this dark crew will kill him. It would solve all of the current problems, as Ryo would be removed from the board (rather poetically, by a version of our crew – meaning they get revenge in some roundabout way), without our crew actually having to go through with their decision and spill his blood themselves.
Image credits: SyFy