The crew of the Raza went for a romp in the past and dealt with the mind-bending possibilities of time travel in Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 9, taking us along for the ride.
Once again, the series dealt viewers an old sci-fi staple (time travel in this instance), with a more specific trope of "main cast tries awkwardly to blend in Suburbia, USA."
In fact, "Isn't That a Paradox?" was just chock full of cliches, from the nosy neighbors showing up with a food item to the overly--curious group of kids accidentally causing trouble for the protagonists.
I have to say, scriptwriters in general have this rather curious view of suburban neighborhoods, like they're always holding block parties or being social with each other, or just being in each other's business.
Oddly enough, it's actually almost anachronistic, as if these people come out of an episode of "Leave It to Beaver."
Anyhow, much of the conflict here came as a result of script-induced idiocy, such as the Android -- who had previously noticed the kids each time they looked at her -- somehow missing them following her all the way to the Marauder.
(How did the kids on bikes keep up with the Android in a van, anyway?)
And then there was the rather bizarre assumption on the part of the kid's father that the photo on his phone was of a genuine spaceship... as opposed to, I don't know, something that got Photoshopped.
And then the dad told local law enforcement, and they didn't laugh their heads off and ignore such a ridiculous report.
"Yes, Deputy, my son has a photo of a spaceship in the woods. You need to call the FBI right now!" "Um, yeah, we'll get right on that..."
I also have a hard time believing that Two and Three, fairly canny survivalists, were dumb enough to not check for any booby traps or defenses on the super-valuable blink drive in the basement.
Brophy: How did you get your blink drive?
Three: It’s a long story.
Brophy: You stole it?
Three: ...Okay, that’s the short version.
One really enjoyable aspect of this episode was the small character moments, such as when Three expressed his pleasure in seeing Two smile again or Five hanging out playing video games with Three.
The character interactions and relationships have, from the beginning, served as one of Dark Matter's key strengths.
Speaking of relationships, the one between Three and Sarah is pretty much going in the direction I predicted:
Sarah: Can’t you see how this changes things? You’re not stuck on this ship anymore! You’re free to go down there and start a new life! Have a chance with someone else, someone real.
Three [insistent]: You’re real.
Sarah: But *this* isn’t. As much as I want it to be, it’s not. It’s a fantasy.
Three: Okay, but you know what *is* real? My feelings for you.
Sarah: *Now*. But how long until you start resenting me, stop coming to visit? How long are we going to keep pretending this is enough? I can’t live like this. I need more.
My guess is that either Sarah will go completely stark-raving mad and try to kill everyone or else perform some sort of heroic sacrifice and lay down (what remains of) her life to save Three and the others.
We shall see.
Another part I enjoyed about "Isn't That a Paradox?" was the humor. Who could have predicted that Two would go all goo-goo over a dog, and that *Three* would be the reasonable one?
Three: No, we are not getting a dog!
Two: It would be great for crew morale!
Three: We could screw with the timeline! Hm? What if the dog that we bring back is instrumental in finding a cure for Sukulsky Syndrome or something?
And then there was the Android all but bullying her way onto the mission with her pitch-perfect deadpan passive-aggressive style. And then, later, when she reminded them at the party of their various roles:
Remember, you’re a couple. [to Six] We’re a couple. [to Five] And you’re a disaffected youth committed to sulking and avoiding all social discourse.The Android [to Three and Two]
Alas, I can't help but feel something was missing from the interaction with Professor Brophy. Sure, the Android and Five showed up and held him at gunpoint, but he definitely went to giving up his blink drive in a hurry.
The audience did learn a few interesting plot points during the Raza's jaunt in the past, including that they might have been indirectly responsible for the development of faster than light travel.
Plus, they learned the origins of the blink drive as a project by Alecto Corp. Honestly, it's probably a good thing that Two ordered the device disconnected.
From an in-universe perspective, it's caused catastrophic problems twice (dimension-hopping and now time travel), not to mention Ryo's ongoing obsession with the thing.
From a story-telling point of view, the blink drive potentially creates all sorts of issues and would make many potential obstacles for the protagonists very simple to overcome. In short, boring and un-dramatic.
Let's talk about time travel for a second. As discussed in this episode, there are several schools of thought regarding traveling to the past and its potential effects:
1. Anything you do in the past could have catastrophic consequences, changing the future to the point where you cease to exist.
2. Nothing you do in the past has any effect on you or the time line from which you originated, instead creating a wholly new and separate branch from the moment you arrive in the past.
3. Nothing you do in the past will change anything in the future because your presence in the past was always meant to happen and is a part of the past. This is known as a stable time loop.
The Android heavily implied that Option 3 was in play with this particular story. For those who are keeping score, Star Trek likes Number 1, Stargate generally favored Number 2, and Babylon 5 was Number 3 all the way.
(Frankly, I find the third one rather depressing because it completely eliminates the whole concept of free will in favor of "fate.")
Three: We went six hundred years into the future?
Android: No. Of course not.
Three: Good. Had me going there for a second.
Android: We’ve traveled six hundred years into the past.
The episode declined to examine much of the deeper philosophical implications of their adventure in the primitive 21st Century. Whether or not that's a good thing, I'll leave up to you to decide.
Be sure to stop by our Dark Matter quotes page for a rundown of some of the episode's best lines!
Don't forget you can watch Dark Matter online! And tune in Friday, August 4, 2017 at 9/8c on Syfy for Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 9, "Built, Not Born."
What did you think of "Isn't That a Paradox?"? Did you find the Raza's trip to the past an enjoyable diversion or a contrived and stilted mess? Let us know in the comments section below!