Summer season on SyFy is back in action with the groundbreaking series Killjoys and Dark Matter. After innovative, fresh and groundbreaking first seasons comprised of great casting, awesome story line and world building, and interesting characterization and character development, season 2 for both series has started off strong. Here’s a quick look at what the premieres gave us and what might be in store for us this summer!
Killjoys follows the exploits of a bounty hunter crew John and D’avin Jacoby and their captain, Dutch, operating in the Quad system, far away from Earth, aboard their AI equipped ship Lucy , in the far future. There are many political factions, rebel groups and illegal tech and biological operations going on in the quad, covering up many conspiracies and mysteries yet to be revealed. The end of last season had D’avin captured and being held in a top secret facility on dead planet Arkyn, the only planet/moon in the Quad system to result in a failed colony. Never the less, a top secret government facility is there, with super shields to protect it from any un-authorized entry. Determined to infiltrate it to save D’avin, and possible allow Dutch to confront her nemesis/mentor Khlyen, Davin’s brother John and Dutch recruit their bartender/rebellion operative to sneak them into a Mos Eisley-like hive of scum and villainy to barter for a shield that can penetrate Arkyn’s defenses. But when the shield turns out to be embedded in an augmented human, things get really complex. More and more of the mystery regarding the fusion of human and bio-computer technology is revealed, and D’avin’s past and what the government did to his mind to cover up his actions using illegal tech is illuminated a bit more. This show does a great job at incrementally peeling back layers of lore in this richly fleshed out solar system, complete with its own politics, cultures and history, while wrapping it into a story that is mysterious and compelling, involving characters that feel real. Dutch is strong and burdened, and realistically deals with her painful history and the realities of her present. John is lighthearted and optimistic and humorous, but develops his inner strength as he is challenged more and more by the hard choices and difficult situations he has to face to protect his captain and his brother. D’avin struggles with his identity and loyalties despite the trauma he is subjected to, trying to be more like his brother. Khlyen is a cold hardass with super powers, but has a mysterious goodness in him that he does a great job at hiding. And they banter and interact organically and originally, and make hard decisions and solicit true empathy from the viewer. Not to mention the CGI and fight scenes are awesome, are not overdone or relied upon for the show’s success, and look amazing. They aren’t overused, but when they are used, they are super well done and super effective at progressing the plot and just being downright entertaining. This show has everything going for it and I can’t wait to see the mysteries surrounding all the characters, the politics, and the hard moral choices unfold for each of the characters this season in this rich, amazingly developed, back-storied, and beautifully CGI’d world!
Dark Matter operates in much the same way as Killjoys does, developing a rich and intricate lore, poltical background and nuanced character development. But this show is even more mysterious, with a more claustriphobic feel. The show revolves around the six-person crew (who take the order their awakening as their names) of a derelict spaceship awakens from stasis in the farthest reaches of space. Their memories wiped clean, they have no recollection of who they are or how they got on board. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination: a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone. Multiple government and independent agencies are after them for information and for retribution. Last season ended with 6’s betrayal, as it turns out he was a GA agent all along, and only just remembered. And it turns out 5, the little badass computer geek, was the one who wiped everyone’s memories. What makes this show interesting is everyone is getting their memories back either by science, natural recollection, or by being informed externally at different rates, and not everyone is being honest about it. This makes for great drama and tense interactions, interesting plot lines and intense action! The season premiere sees One, Two, Three and Four wake up in maximum security prison, thanks to Six’s betrayal. Five is given special treatment because she is young and has special talents for computers. One is let out because of his real identity as a powerful CEO, but is shockingly killed by his doppelganger ( a mysterious clone that appears in season 1) and we don’t know what the deal is. Two, Three and Four plot their escape from inside the prison, using Four’s old criminal ties and Two and Three’s cunning, and Six struggles with his decision to betray his friends after he sees what the GA has in store for him. Again, SyFy does an excellent job with world building. These institutions and characters feel really fleshed out, and the mystery is super compelling. Who are these characters really and what are their true motivations, and what do these institutions really have in store for them in light of their secret agendas and knowledge? Of course the CGI and action is top notch and expertly deployed.
While Killjoys has more of a “western, run and gun/Firefly” type feel to it, Dark Matter has a much grittier, noir/Battlestar Galactica feel to it. Indeed one could say that Killjoys is the spiritual successor to Firefly and Dark Matter is the spiritual successor to Battlestar Galactica. And if the first season and the second season premiere are any indication, they are well on their way to living up to that spirit. The only danger I foresee for these shows is that they are either written into plot holes and situations they can’t logically or realistically escape, or are overwritten into campy-ness, or that they become to reliant on action and CGI. But so far they are fresh and interesting, only rarely showcasing any hints of any of those pitfalls, and the danger of catastrophic degeneration into one of those pitfalls usually doesn’t present itself til seasons 3 or 4 if it happens at all, so tune in now and enjoy!