Huh. Well. I liked Dark Matter (Season 2) much better than Dark Matter (Season 1). The dialog and plotting improved, and now—ta-da!—I care about the characters as a cohesive group.
There were a variety of meta-improvements as well: they got rid of the cheap, irrelevant title sequence that calls to mind Transformers, and they gave the episodes titles. Yay!
And, incidentally, I learned that the ship is called The Raza as in “tabula rasa”, meaning “blank slate”. The premise of the show is that the crew are all given a new start, a blank slate. I’m glad there’s a reason for the weird (deliberately alien-sounding) name of the ship, but I wish the ship had been given a meaningful name by the characters, not the writers of the show. In the universe of the show, the ship was called The Raza before it was crewed by people with their memories wiped, which makes no sense. In contrast, Mal names his second-hand Firefly spaceship Serenity after fighting on the side of the Independents, the losing side, in the bloody Battle of Serenity Valley…
There was this awesome image of the crew that was rectangly-shaped in the more useful direction than the DVD cover I’ve used, but I think maybe that image is fanart and I didn’t want to just lift it from Google images, because that’s a bad impulse to indulge. Sometimes even a financially dangerous one!
More below on how Season 2 went, with lotsa SPOILERS.
We learn that the crew was apprehended through the actions of Six in the Season 1 finale because he is actually (was?) a Galactic Authority cop, and felt that turning in the crew was, simply, the right thing to do. He subsequently realizes, to his dismay, that the system is anything but just, and that far from demonstrating his loyalty, he’s betrayed the only people that still matter in his life. Since in Season 1 he’s a bit of a safe, flat, comforting nobody, all this character development is a welcome surprise. Five, in particular, hurts from his betrayal. Six nearly pays for it with his life, but rejoins the crew on the ship when they escape, heals from his wounds, and later regains the crew’s trust.
In their escape, the crew are helped by three other prisoners who join them on the Raza, one an enemy mole who’s unmasked and killed halfway through the season. The new doctor character, a substance abuser, disappears before a romance with Nyx can develop.
Nyx is a kind of psychic. She’s a good fighter, even against Four, because she can predict others’ moves. Her brother, though, is even better at prediction. In fact, he’s a captive part of the Seers’ hive-mind machine, from which Nyx rescues him while supposedly visiting the station to steal valuable drugs for resale. The Seers catch up with the Raza, though, and the crew is forced to give up Nyx’s brother. Four gives him a dagger that he uses to kill himself to avoid helping the Seers; Nyx later finds out and feels that Four, who’d been her lover, has deeply betrayed her.
When the crew of the Raza are caught, Five isn’t jailed. One, also not a mercenary, is released back to the unfamiliar rich-boy life of Derrick Moss, but immediately suspects that he’s been betrayed by those claiming to be Derrick’s friends. He gets shot by the real Jace Corso, but I doubt he’s dead, because otherwise that’s a lot of character and plot to just chuck out the window. Two later kills Jace Corso in retribution, admirably adhering to the Evil Overlord rules in refusing to spare his life to learn more about the people behind One’s “murder”.
Five learns more about the histories of Three, Four, and especially Two, when the ship accidentally activates their old memories, obscuring their friendlier new ones. This sends Two on a quest for a particular odd building, the HQ of the company that created her. The crew infiltrate the building to get her a life-saving upgrade injection, but Three brings back a mysterious parasite. The crew barely manages to rid him of it.
Three is approached by what seem like old friends, who turn out to be brutal in a way that Three realizes that he himself no longer is. He’s way different from the beginning of Season 1 now; much more likeable. In fact, he and Five get quite close, emotionally, when he rescues her and nearly gets shot to death. Awww…
The android, who risked her “life” to protect data about the crew of the Raza and helped Five and the others escape the Galactic Authority prison, accidentally discovers a club of androids successfully (illegally) masquerading as humans; they give her the ability to do so as well, which she uses to assist her crew. She continues to think of herself as flawed, like a human, but becomes convinced that she’s accepted as a friend by the crew as she is. A virus almost kills her and the crew; some of the computer science is dumb, but the threat is real.
All through the season, we know that war is coming; the mysterious thingy that Five’s friends died to protect turns out to be a component of a teleportation engine called a blink drive. [Insert conventional nonsense about wrinkles in time and bending in space and all that.] The Raza activates the blink drive but accidentally travels to an alternate reality—a worse one—and, ominously, brings the other Raza’s shuttle back with it.
Four plots to become emperor again, and, in a bloodbath, succeeds in spite of his stepmother and her allies, the Seers.
In the season finale, the crew sends Five in an incongruous blonde wig to an important corporate meeting where she meets a friendly incognito android who turns out to be the bomb they’re trying to stop. He succumbs to ethical arguments and gets rid of the bomb by ejecting himself from the station. However, the station still explodes because Four has stolen the invaluable blink drive for its military power and sabotaged the station’s power generator. Four’s jealous bodyguard and childhood sweetheart has attacked Nyx, and just about everybody, including the clever government guy chasing the crew, seems to be dead one way or another. Eeek!