Dark Matter Series Premiere Review: One Strange Trip

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Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" best handled the topic of choice.

Dark Matter Season 1 Episode 1 and Dark Matter Season 1 Episode 2 are the latest on this topic.

Duplicate characters existing in separate dimensions is hardly a novel concept on television (or almost any creative medium).

Tender Moment - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1 - Dark Matter (2024)

The first such episode featuring a parallel universe was, no shock, on the 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Parallel." An astronaut returns from a lengthy journey to find his world not quite the same as he remembers it.

Another early example came in 1970 on the soap opera Dark Shadows. Vampire Barnabas Collins found a room in his mansion, Collinwood, a portal he used to escape to parallel time.

Lover No. 2 - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1

This concept was most vital in the 1967 Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror." It was set in a dimension where evil twins of the Star Trek characters lived.

This mirror universe was revisited on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise. In addition, Lt. Worf went through a series of dimensions in the Star Trek: The Next Generations episode "Parallels."

Many science-fiction series have availed themselves of this concept, with the Stargate franchise, Red Dwarf, and Sliders doing so most frequently.

This brings us to the latest such series, Dark Matter, streaming on Apple TV+.

Intermittent Son - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1

This Dark Matter is based on the 2016 novel by Blake Crouch and shouldn't be confused with the show by the same name that aired on the Syfy Channel from 2015 to 2017.

Because, as in any parallel timeline/dimension/world-type program, there's always plenty of cause for confusion.

In Jason Dessen, Joel Edgerton portrays the perfect schlubby everyman.

Jason was doing something right. He's got a hot artist wife, Daniela (genre fave Jennifer Connelly), and a teen son, Charlie, who he can help with both math and girl problems.

Happy Couple - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1

But, as the title of the premiere episode, "Are You Happy in Your Life?" suggests, something was missing.

That point was brought home when his friend, Ryan Holder, called to tell Jason he had won the Pavia Prize for physics.

While he should have been happy for his friend, Jason clearly suffered a pang of jealousy instead. While Jason settled into family life, Ryan continued pursuing his research, excluding everything else.

This is where that "the path not taken" concept comes home to roost.

Different Lives - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 2

Ryan attempted to mollify Jason by telling him he should have won the prize.

They both knew that was a kind lie, as Jason was futilely attempting to teach physics to a bunch of device-addicted automatons at a local college. He'd settled.

Then came the "be careful what you wish for" moment upon which this trope depends.

Daniela browbeat Jason into attending Ryan's celebration at Jason's local pub, no less. While there, Ryan invited him to join his new startup, which he was funding with the prize money. The catch was he'd have to move from Chicago to San Francisco.

Masked Abductor - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1

Not shockingly, the life of envious, drunken Jason was about to change. For better or worse, it was still unclear after two episodes. But it was a definite change.

Jason got abducted, beaten, and injected by a man in a Michael Myers mask. Let's call that "No good deed goes unpunished."

It was understandable that Jason took a while to get his bearings after waking up, especially since it wasn't his world.

But it would take him far too long to figure that out. If everyone looks at you like you're confused, maybe you should stop trying to convince them that they're wrong and you're right.

Changing Places - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 2

He determined that the world's Jason Dessen is like a scientific Howard Hughes, a genius who made his mark at his Velocity company and then disappeared for a year.

Meanwhile, the man in the mask turned out to be that world's Jason, who wants to escape the bright lights of fame and slip back into normalcy, with a milder version of the hot artist with whom he had broken up and a teen son who was part of the package.

So, to keep things simple, let's call the two men Original Jason and Duplicate Jason. Fortunately, Original Jason's face got beat up a little in their earlier brawl, so he's now ruggedly handsome. That's how to tell them apart.

Original Jason met that dimension's Daniela, who has had the time to become a famed artist since she and Duplicate Jason never started a family. So there's no Charlie.

Multimedia Artist - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 2

Daniela explained how parallel dimensions work. Decisions can cause multiple worlds to be populated by the same people. You can see where this is going, can't you?

After ransacking Duplicate Jason's study, Original Jason discovered that Duplicate Jason had perfected the research that he had set aside to teach about Schroedinger's Cat to the indifferent. He hasn't yet determined that Duplicate Jason has taken over his life.

He quickly lost his only ally when Dawn from Velocity gunned down Daniela. Then again, maybe Daniela will pop up in a new dimension no worse for wear.

One mystery to be solved is what's up with Jason's company. While Amanda seems well-meaning, Leighton is secretive at best or evil at worst. And Original Jason remained largely clueless about Velocity's mission, although he's sure to learn more now that he's been captured.

Unknown Motivation - Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 1

Has Dark Matter found a new angle on parallel dimensions?

How can Original Jason find his way home?

What exactly has Duplicate Jason created?

Comment below.

Trip of a Lifetime Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (13 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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Dark Matter (2024) Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Dr. Randolph: Mr. Dessen, what brings you to our ER?
Jason: I think there's something wrong with my mind.

Jason: You know me, right?
Matt: I don't think so.
Jason: Come on, Matt.
Matt: How do you know me?
Jason: 'Cause I come in here all the time.