Tag Archives: Netflix

Altered States With Altered Carbon

19 Feb

With Altered Carbon, that great god of television glory—aka Netflix—has once again launched a binge-watching worthy series that’s smart, sexy, mind-boggling, bloody, engrossing, and, honestly, a total mind fuck. It crosses genres, subverts expectations, and sucks you in like damn and wow. It’s science fiction and romance and film noir and cyberpunk and futuristic and murder mystery and cop show and conspiracy action thriller all at the same time. It’s Max Headroom’s violent, sexual, mind-bendy grandchild. (Appropriately so then, Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer, shows up for two episodes as Carnage, who runs a real death cage fight.)

Carnage

Welcome to Altered Carbon.

The world of Altered Carbon

WARNING: there will be mild spoilers ahead. I’ll do my best not to ruin the Big Reveals, because they should be experienced organically to properly appreciate the storytelling. But no promises.

THE STORY: In a cyberpunk future, the consciousness of every human being is now downloaded into a hard drive, called a “stack”, that is stored at the base of the skull on the brain stem. The body, now called a “sleeve”, has become merely the shell that encases the “soul stack” of a person. This means a person only truly dies, known as “real death” or “RD”, when the stack is destroyed, like a gunshot directly to the stack. It also means people can live for hundreds of years, changing sleeves along the way.

It’s all in the bag

If the sleeve dies, a stack can be dialed up into a new sleeve, the person therefore inhabiting a new body. A person’s original body can be kept in cold storage while his or her stack is stored elsewhere, for example, when a man is imprisoned, he essentially “goes to sleep” for hundreds of years while his sleeve goes on ice. However, there’s no guarantee that sleeve won’t be used by someone else in the interim and possibly killed while being used, so that when you’re dialed up, it may not be into the sleeve in which you were born. Race, gender, height, weight, health—it’s all a lottery now. You get what you can afford. This is the same for damaged sleeves if you’re attached to your existing reflection. If your arm is injured and can’t be saved, you can get it replaced with an upgrade, bionic arm in moments—if you have the credits. People can also dial up “dead” loved ones, especially if those loved ones are “coded” not to be re-sleeve after sleeve death for religious reasons, and have them live again if, perhaps, not in the same sleeve in which they’d led their lives. (This makes for a hilarious re-use of a biker gangster as a Spanish grandmother and a Russian mobster.)

People can also “double sleeve”, essentially copying their stack and downloading into two different sleeves at the same time. While technically illegal, when you live forever and have unlimited wealth, the sky’s the limit. Literally so, if you’re one of the super rich.

Hundreds of years old, these “Meths” (aka Methuselahs), live far above the common man in sky palaces. Their wealth enables them to grown clones of their sleeves and constantly download themselves over the years into new sleeves that match their birth sleeves. They have a system that regularly uploads their consciousness into back-up drives that protect them against real death. They’re untouchable demi gods to which the lower classes only dream to rub shoulders against.

And one of them has just been murdered.

Enter Envoy detective Takeshi Kovacs who has been in stasis for 250 years and was just woken up by industrial magnate Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to solve the man’s murder. From the moment he awakens, Takeshi is plague by the attentions of Detective Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), a bad ass cop with a jones for catching Bancroft in what she is sure are corrupt and nefarious dealings—if only she can prove it. She also has a deeper connection to the sleeve Takeshi now inhabits, one that deepens the stakes for them all.

Tak was once a super soldier for the police force that menaces the outer worlds. When he’s betrayed by the unit to which he’d dedicated his life, he becomes an Envoy, a revolutionary operator with scary potent observational and investigational skills. Envoys were renown for being able to be dropped in on any world, into any situation, and quickly adapt and manipulate the environment and the people to their own ends—until they were betrayed and wiped out. Tak then became a mercenary, one who eventually was apprehended by his former commander, earning him a sentence of hundreds of years for his crimes.

Until Bancroft wakes him up.

Once an idealist under his battle scars, Takeshi has awoken to a world he doesn’t recognize, on a different planet than the one he was on when he went to sleep, and with the people he loved long lost to real death. He is now a grumpy tool only in the job for himself and the promise of a fortune and his birth sleeve as a reward for solving Bancroft’s murder. Except Tak can’t fight his true nature, the core of him that still cares no matter how much he protests to the contrary. And the list of people worming their way into his circle of protection keeps growing…whether he likes it or not.

Clearly, there’s a LOT going on in the ten episodes of Altered Carbon. And fan as I am of the series, it I have to admit, it ain’t all good.

THE BAD STUFF:

While the show runner on this one is a woman, that doesn’t mean, in a Game of Thrones world where rape is an acceptable plot device, there isn’t a lot of violence and nudity in Altered Carbon. There’s a whole hopping lot of both, though violence prevails most of all. This includes a naked fight scene a la Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises, where Ortega engages in a bloody knife brawl with a number of cloned sleeves. This is one case of nudity in Altered Carbon, though, where the nudity is designed to be empowering and deliberately used as a manifestation of the character’s head self-perspective and how she sees her body as a tool, rather than objectifying her for the male gaze. For more on this, check out this interview with actress Dichen Lachman about that scene and her character, Rei, who is the naked combantant. Be warned, it includes series spoilers galore.

There’s an argument to be made that the prevalence of nudity stems not from producers’ desire to curry favor with permanently adolescent fans boys, but rather an outgrowth from a society that has made the human form an interchangeable commodity. How can modesty persist when your body may be interchanged with another’s at any time?

Sexy times for the sake of sex.

And yes, the violence is such that it may as well be another character in the cast. This is a world that uses virtual reality, where time has no constant, as a means of torture. Here, one can kill a victim over and over again in the most brutal and bloody of ways including chopping off limbs and removing innards, all virtually but while being connected to the physical body’s pain receptors, only to start a new VR session and begin again for a seemingly endless amount of time. A sleeve holds no inherent value; there are instances in Altered Carbon where people fight to the sleeve death for the promise of a sleeve upgrade as a reward. Naturally, that makes for an inherently violent world.

For a show with so much female bad ass representation, it’s still driven by a moody, growly, maladjusted white man, one who all the women he comes into contact with want to bone, no matter how badly he treats them. It’s a film noir construct, the Bogey hyper masculine hardliner disdaining all the Bacall femme fatales that rotate into his sphere but banging them nonetheless. Even in a futuristic society where the consciousness can be transported from form to form, women are still portrayed stuck in the past.

THE GOOD:

THE MAIN CAST:

Joel Kinnaman, late of The Killing and the forgettable Suicide Squad, anchors Altered Carbon with his big presence. Seriously, the guy is huge and his normally beanpole form is ripped and cut and beautifully bulked out for this role. Hoo. Shah. He broods and grumbles and bad asses through the entire series, but he also brings out Tak’s tortured sweetness, an idealism that even 200 years of cold storage hasn’t fully frozen out of him. It keeps popping up to conflict him when he wants to be a cold, ruthless operator, but he can’t quite keep his heart from getting in the way.

As Ortega, Martha Higareda plays the perhaps typical cop with a mission, but she does it by distaining a typical approach and instilling Ortega with a man’s attitude and vocabulary. She doesn’t play a lady cop; she plays a cop and has an attitude that would do John McLain proud. Ortega takes on the unlikeable heroine mantle with pride and spews ferocity and anger and complexity all over it.

James Purefoy, a personal favorite in everything he does, oozes through his scenes with smarmy confidence, exuding the charm and power of the wealthiest man on several planets, sprinkled with the comfortable arrogance of someone who genuinely believes himself to be a god. As in the TV series Rome, his…erm…talent is on display here, including The Purefoy, as I like to call it, once again making a casual on-screen, full-frontal appearance. No, I did not hit the pause button, nor did I screen cap it, and I’m sticking to that.

But truly, the one who steals the show is Chris Conner as Poe.

Once Tak accepts Bancroft’s case, he embeds himself at The Raven, a hotel run by an AI (artificial intelligence) named Poe, as in Edgar Allen. Poe hasn’t had any guests for hundreds of years, due to the AIs reputation of getting obsessively attached to their guests. Tak genuinely couldn’t give a shit about this and sets up shop at The Raven. Good thing too as Poe almost immediately proves his worth when Tak is attacked before he can even register as a guest.

Poe is an absolute delight. Snarky, smart, sweet, ruthless, loyal, dedicated, and oh so funny, he’s the land-locked sidekick/valet/butler Tak’s been missing in his life. Alfred to Tak’s Great Detective. As an AI, he’s tied to The Raven, but he can move about in VR (and does) and adds a rich depth and complexity to what’s nominally a bunch of ones and zeros. For a programable entity, he’s the most human and most humane one of the bunch.

THE ROMANCE:

Yes, there is romance. As mentioned earlier, Ortega has a prior connection to the sleeve that Tak is put into, which takes the idea of a love-triangle and really fucks with it. But Tak is also nursing a broken heart from this lost love, and his hallucinations, a side effect of being re-sleeved, keep her front and center in his journey. As Tak and Ortega get closer and the complexity of their connection deepens, the emotional risks of their relationship add texture and stakes to the on-going mystery and the threat of the enemies stacking up against them. It’s no surprise that in the end, Tak’s big heart, and not only for Ortega, is nearly both their undoing.

Sticking close together.

THE MULTICULTURALISM:

Altered Carbon, like Max Headroom and Firefly and Blade Runner before it, builds its world on an Asian heavy multiculturalism. Set in a re-envisioned San Francisco, called The Bay, there are flying cars and neon signs and prevalent blinking screens that never turn off, pummeling the eyes with images and adverts that recall pretty much every science fiction show of the last 20 years. People speak all kinds of languages and understand one another. There’s no Farscape-esque universal translator either. Ortega speaks to her partner in Spanish and he replies in Arabic. There are subtitles; we can read them. There is no spoon feeding required. Tak’s Japanese/Croatian lineage speaks to the show’s inherent multicultural nature too, even if the tone-deaf move of folding an Asian character into a white man’s sleeve stomps all over that same multiculturalism with a pair of Kovacs’ combat boots.

THE STORYTELLING:

The storytelling is complex and deep, but so well paced. Nothing is revealed too soon, but once the revelation is made, one can look back and see the layers being laid in past episodes. That’s bloody hard to do and especially in a visual platform as rich as this show where there’s always something to see on the screen, nothing is wasted, no image thrown away in building the rich texture of this show. One of the appeals of the Harry Potter franchise from a craft perspective is how deftly Rowling plots the series over the length of the seven books; events happen in book five for which Rowling lays the groundwork in book two. Altered Carbon does that too, enough so that when I finished the series, I wanted to immediately watch it again so as to see those touchpoints again, this time with the benefit of foreknowledge of what was to come.

Accompanying this deep plotting and detailed planning is a respect for its audience that is rare to find in entertainment today. In Romancelandia, writers often debate the idea of dumbing down our storytelling, our writing, in order to reach a wider audience, a significant percentage of whom may not have a large vocabulary or an extensive reading and comprehension ability. I deal with this a lot in my day job where much of which we’re producing needs to reach an incredibly large audience, as in millions of people, whose lives may depend on being able to read and comprehend our message. As a writer, I think it’s my job to enhance my stories with complex writing, words that enrich as much as the story they form. If my readers have to look up a few words, then I’ve done my job right. (This is much less an issue in historical romance where a certain complexity of phrase and flowery language is expected.)

Altered Carbon doesn’t dumb down to its audience. The show presents complex word-building from the outset and it doesn’t waste time spoon-feeding the audience as to the nuts and bolts of things. We are plunged right into the muck of things and as the show presses on, it expects its viewers to keep up or catch up. That’s not to say it doesn’t give us a map; the trope of dropping someone new into the situation as a proxy for the audience is used in episode one to bring us all up to speed, but the information we need is parceled out as part of the storytelling without any recapping or “As you know, Bob,” retreads along the way.

THE IMPLICATIONS:

Nearly a week after viewing, my mind is still buzzing with all the implications and raised by Altered Carbon. The show raises questions of the nature of the soul and the value of a bodily form. When a soul can be kept in a hard drive and uploaded at random, what then makes it a soul rather than simply more data? Morality reforms in a world where sleeves can be killed and then the victim dialed back up to testify against his or her murderer. Where a person can voluntarily agree to have his or her sleeve killed for sport with the promise of an upgrade for the trouble. Where death suddenly has several degrees.

It’s a referendum on torture and an examination of whether love can last over hundreds of years. It’s a dissertation of gender identity: when your spouse can be dialed up into a sleeve of the opposing gender, are you still attracted to each other. Do you still love that woman who is absolutely unchanged except for the fact that she now wears a man’s shell? Do you recognize her soul inside that sleeve?

What makes memory when that memory can be obliterated by dying before the next upload. Is any event truly real if the memory of it is destroyed before the backup kicks in?

Overall, I found Altered Carbon to be compelling television. Underneath its science fiction, film noir trappings is an exploration of identity and morality and the nature of self and the soul that still has my mind spinning right round, baby. Right round.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll mind-fuck you in the very best of ways–but only if you ask really, really nice.

Kiersten Hallie Krum writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. She is the award-winning author of Wild on the Rocks, and its follow-up, SEALed With a Twist. She is also a past winner of the Emily Award for unpublished novels.

A member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Long Island Romance Writers, Kiersten has been working in book publishing for more than twenty years in marketing and promotion. At other times in her career, she’s worked back stage for a regional theater, managed advertorials for a commerce newspaper in the World Trade Center, and served as senior editor for a pharmaceutical advertising agency.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. Born and bred in New Jersey (and accent free), Kiersten sings as easily, and as frequently, as she breathes, drives fast with the windows down and the music up, likes to randomly switch accents for kicks and giggles, and would be happy to spend all her money traveling for the rest of her life. Find out more about Kiersten and her books on her website www.kierstenkrum.com

Sexy Saturday Round Up

9 Dec

By Elizabeth Shore

We’ve crossed over into December, Sexies, so we’re now officially in “holiday madness” month. Mad indeed! The stores, the food, the parties – and what’s with the upside-down Christmas tree trend?! Who knows? Who cares! Spin the dreidel, grab a cuppa ‘nog, and take a break from the bizarre by settling in for the fun reads we’ve gathered up for you this week. Bottoms up!

Does your real family or your office family want to do Secret Santa? Check out these 5 free websites for making the gift exchange a snap.

Sexual harassment allegations giving guys anxiety about how to behave when dating. Yeah. Really.

Yet another good reason to put down your phone – cause it’s messing with your brain.

Robots! Sexiness! Cyberpunk Dystopia! Strap in and turn on Netflix’s new series Altered Carbon.

How to moan.

From Madeline:

Did you know that NYC strippers are on strike!

Would an intimacy director help? Movie studios are working to find ways to make sex scenes safer.

A show about SMILFS! Single mothers…

Ever tried wooing an office crush with a $12.00 chocolate chip cookie? This woman tried.

Tales from the orgasm lab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Master of None “First Date” episode made me glad I’m not on Tinder

19 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m writing this post while binge watching Season 2 of Master of None, the Netflix comedy created (and often written and directed) by and starring Aziz Ansari as actor and newly single Dev Shah.

Here’s the trailer for Season 2:

It took me a little while to warm up to the show; I started Season 1 soon after it debuted, but didn’t get far. But over the last week I’ve been making my way through Season 1, then went right into Season 2.

There have been moments of recognition, but episode four of the new season, titled “First Date,” was one that made me grateful that I’m not using dating apps. I almost wrote, “grateful that I’m not single,” but that’s not totally accurate. While I’m happy to be in a five-year long-term relationship, even back when I was single, I could barely handle online dating, let alone dating apps.

I think the reason they never did the trick is that, unlike the woman Dev goes out with who, mid-date, starts using the app where they met, Love at First Sight, because she’s both just not that into him and truly enjoys swiping, I was never “into dating,” I was into meeting someone I could connect with. I hated the awkwardness of first dates, the way they could very easily feel like job interviews in more casual settings.

Back in 2010, I went on what’s still my worst date ever, in which a guy seemed to be deliberately trying to make our date agonizing. The thing is, on a dating site or app, it’s relatively easy to make yourself seem more interesting than you are in real life. The converse, for me, was also true: the few times I did using dating sites, I always felt torn between being honest about who I am and trying to upsell myself. If I painted too rosy a picture, I worried I wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. But when would the right time have been to tell someone I was a hoarder who couldn’t open the door to her apartment without slamming her body weight against it? That’s just not something that would ever work in the context of an “about me” blurb.

But Tinder, which I’ve only observed on a friend’s phone, seems to take all the pressure of summarizing yourself and presenting a pretty image to a whole new level. I imagine that if I were on it, I would also become obsessed with not the quality of my matches, but the quantity. My mood would swoop up or down depending on how popular I found myself with the people there. And while there are exceptions, I have trouble imagining I’d have met someone who I could actually settle down with via a dating app.

I’ve always preferred to meet people I date more organically, either through a shared activity (like playing Boggle or trivia, both of which have yielded me dates), via a mutual friend or simply by chance. As my sex column and erotica writing career developed, I also faced a clash between my public, online persona and the “real me.” That’s not to say that I wasn’t myself in my writing—I always was (and am), to a fault—but it’s awkward when someone can Google you and find out you like giving blowjobs or have posed nude or an endless stream of other details I’ve shared with the world. There is a tension between the me who sits around in sweats and binges TV shows, who’s super dorky and romantic and cries easily, and the more readily available version that comes up via Google. They’re all parts of me, but ones that are hard to convey in an hour or two, especially when there’s all the pressure of a first date.

I know there are some people who simply enjoy the act of dating, of going out and meeting multiple people, no matter the outcome. But I was never one of them. I was more about the destination than the journey. That’s not to say I didn’t like when a date went perfectly, the kind where I lost track of time and wound up getting home in the wee hours when I’d planned to be back early. But watching Dev go on so many dates on Master of None, I didn’t feel a shred of envy. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything, and while I don’t plan to ever be single again, if that should ever happen, I won’t be using technology to help me bond with anyone. I’ll fumble through the madness that is dating all by myself. At least I don’t have a Tinder worst date story, right?

What do you think? Are dating apps a modern blessing or curse? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Let’s Not Wait Until We’re 70 to Talk About Sex Toys

7 Apr

by Thien-Kim Lam

Netflix's Grace and Frankie

I’m not a big fan of sitcoms, but Netflix’s Grace & Frankie has been lighting up my television. I’ve even been tempted to cheat on my husband and watch ahead. But I’m not. I promise.

The premise of the show sounds like romance tropes on crack. Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) learn that their husbands have been secret lovers for twenty years. You read that right. Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) have come out and want to get married. Grace and Frankie, who couldn’t be more more different, are thrown together with crisis as their common denominator. The fallout is both entertaining and awkward as the children try not to take sides between their mothers and their step dad-to-be.

 

via Giphy

What makes the show different from your typical romance is that our heroines are well into their 70s. There aren’t very many romance books that feature heroines over fifty. Even Hollywood isn’t kind to women actresses once they reach their forties. To see older women playing funny, ambitious, and even raunchy multi-dimensional characters? I love it.

While I’m not even close to their ages, I love seeing these two amazing women and the characters they embody every night on my tv.

I learned a something very important from Grace and Frankie: Don’t wait until you’re 70 to talk about sex toys with your friends.

via Giphy

In season two, the two women have many discussions about lube and vibrators. The discussions aren’t always easy or comfortable for either characters. Even though Grace ran a successful skincare business, she still has a hard time ask for what she needs during sex. I won’t spoil it for you but let’s just say that Frankie makes her own lube out of yams.

Netflix even made this fake commercial for her yam lube:

During the twelve years that I sold sex toys at home parties, the majority of my clients were embarrassed to discuss sex toys and speaking up in the bedroom. You might scoff and say it’s an older generation thing, but that wasn’t what I saw.

Women of all ages, social class, and ethnicity had a tough time talking about sex. They were comfortable discussing it with me, a person they’d only met. But their friends? It took a few glass of wine to reach that comfort level. Some didn’t even talk to their husband about their lack of orgasms during sex.

We’re excited to tell everyone about the most comfortable yet stylish shoes we’ve found,so why can’t we do that with sex toys? Talk to your girlfriends about sex, vibrators, lube, foreplay–anything sex and body related. Maybe a friend tried a new position that blows her mind. Or you found a vibrator that makes you sing–loud.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Here’s some ideas:

  • Watch Grace and Frankie together.
  • Visit boutique sex shops with your friends
  • Host a home sex toy party
  • Start an erotic romance book club

Sex is fun. The more you talk about it, the less taboo it feels.

Do you talk to your friends about sex toys?

Thien-Kim Lam is runs an erotic romance virtual book club and you’re invited! She is currently writing romances about Asian American women who have mega hot sex. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries included. Check her Pleasure Pairings guide with buzzy recommendations for the adventurous reader

I Was Enjoying DARK MATTER ‘Til They ****ing Killed My Favorite Character

23 Feb

by Madeline Iva

***Yeah, this post is chock full of spoilers.  You’ve been warned.*** Dark Matter is a successful comic book made into a Canadian television show that you can binge watch on Netflix–which is what I did.  The gloomy ship, the tough characters and the cloudy mystery about their identity sucked me right in until I was devouring episodes left and right.

One. He's the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

One. He’s the good guy on a ship of tough criminals. So how did he wind up with them?

WHY I LOOOOOOOOVED DARK MATTER SO MUCH:

The premise is pretty brilliant.  Six people wake up in sleep pods on a dark ship in space.  Their memories have been wiped.  In addition to that, the android that sort of runs the ship wakes up and starts attacking them, so they knock her out and end up injuring her.  To get her back up requires a memory wipe, so she too doesn’t know what happened to them all.  It’s science-fiction, but it’s also mystery.  Who are they? Who did this to them? Why? 

darkmattertwo

Two. She’s hot.

They give themselves numbers and I knew that they’d eventually run into their pasts and get names, but it made me extraordinarily satisfied that they call each other by numbers.  It becomes an alternative identity.  Later on Three learns his name is Marcus–but if the others still call him Three, it’s like they’re disavowing his messed up Marcus past and saying that he can go back to being their three–i.e. annoying, but not a completely heartless dick.

I like One best.  He is a good looking guy–but I mean, they’re all good looking, so really, it isn’t only that. However, in a ship full of tough people, he’s the good guy.  Which is a little scary, because the rest (Five excepted) so obviously are not. I usually don’t like the super good guys.  I like the maybe-villains.  But One is played by a very talented actor, who via subtle expressions and delivery squeezes a three-dimensional performance out of a two dimensional character.

Three is all walking id, questioning every decision that isn’t based on pure selfishness–so of course, he is fun to watch and a bit of a wild card. Later on, we see Three has a real soft spot for women. At one point we think Two has been executed and Three’s face is really something to see in that moment.  Three, also, is one of the best actors on the show–at certain moments.

THREE

THREE. Also the show’s id character. Also kinda hot. Sometimes. Also a good actor.

Two is the toughest character in the beginning.  Played by an asian female with some extraordinary thighs, she takes command of the ship with her bad-ass attitude.  One is quickly drawn to her, but when she wants to scratch her bootie itch and have a little meaningless sex, it’s Three she calls upon, not One. Which makes One smart.  So there are tensions between One and Two because: love triangle!  Not to mention that One and Three are diametrically opposed in terms of morality.

Yet pretty soon, it turns out that One discovers he’s got a BIG secret to keep and Three is right there when this secret is revealed to One.  So the two are connected in that way for a while and it’s massively uncomfortable for One. Which is great! (Although I hope you can follow what I’m saying, because it’s starting to sound like weird SFF algebra.)

Probably the most handsome guy on the show. But....meh.

Four is probably the most handsome guy on the show. But….meh. He adds the most in ensemble moments.

The show delivers Big Secrets every so often and they are mostly yummy.  The show is at it’s best when it returns to its gloomy mystery origins: you just don’t know who you can trust.  Goodie!

It’s often young Five who circles us around to these gripping plot reversals. I think I liked her at first simply because I associated her with these moments. But I also delight in Five being a Young Adult character–a main character and a girl–in a sci-fi television show.  I’m trying to think of another major adult SFF show where that’s the case, and I can’t.

Five aka "The Kid."

Five aka “The Kid.”

I enjoyed watching the Android–though you and I know her as Lauren  from LOST GIRL.  She gets dinged up from the git go and starts to go “off program”. For instance, she starts seeking approval from the humans.  The “right” thing to do would be to wipe her system and reboot–a kind of android seppuku. At one point there’s the potential to “upgrade her system” to make her feel and seem more like a human and a ‘rouge android’ element is introduced.  The program upgrade makes the Android seem like a whole other character.  The actress performs this well, but…ugh! (more later below).

So there was something here for everyone–I thought a lot of the ideas in the show were fabulous.

WHAT WENT WRONG…

I’m not saying this show was perfect.  One problem I had with five is that she’s so obviously an older actress playing a younger character.  She and Two are equally short, and she has far larger breasts, so buying that she was a teen was a challenge (She’s was twenty-two when they filmed).  I had to keep squinting to suspend disbelief about her.  I mean, it’s not just that they all decide she’s a young teen when she looks anywhere from sixteen to twenty-three, it’s that they keep saying things like: “She’s just a KID!” like she’s only twelve or something…But that’s not saying anything against the actress, who is quite good. Another thing is that she keeps having new clothes to wear when a) she was a stowaway, presumably on the ship without luggage, and b) everyone else on the show seems to be in the same-o, same-old clothes.

Android fail. Every few episodes she's getting zapped and it's lights out.

Android fail. Every few episodes she’s getting zapped and it’s lights out.

I had problems with the android ‘upgrade program’, although it was more like an epiphany. The plot of this particular episode struck my robot-romance fixated nerve.  It made me realize that the ‘upgrade’ shortcut would never work for a successful robot/human romance.  What do we love about idea of a cyborg/AI/robot/android romance if it’s not that the android represents the most difficult challenge of all? Huge boundaries (impossible boundaries some would say) exist in terms of getting a cold and emotionless being to develop attraction, love, and passion. That’s a HUGE obstacle. A quick upgrade to the system???? That’s just cheating. )

I delighted in watching Six waiting in a doctor’s office for a very long time where they continuously ran ads about adventuring off world via clone proxies.  Your body and mind are scanned in a pod, and your look-a-like clone wakes up on some other world.  Your clone enjoys your vacay and then all the memories from your clone are downloaded back into your memory while you’re in the pod.  You wake up and come out of the scanner remembering the events and sensations of your vacation.  Meanwhile, the cyborg that looks like you and is walking around as you, is taken somewhere, has a memory wipe and is put into a vat for recycling…

Six

Six. Nobody trusts nobody–not even the android.

I thought the show was creating an ironic situation in which Six was ignoring a bit of information crucial (and funny) in terms of unravelling the core mystery.   My hope was that someone had wanted a bad guy dream team to go do bad deeds across the universe.  So they made clones of the original criminals and when those deeds were done, wiped the clone memories–but for some reason the clones weren’t put in the vat.  Instead they ended up in the sleep pods on the ship — To me this TOTALLY explained the mystery of how they wound up on the ship together and why they had no memories…

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod...

Six wakes up as a clone from the pod…

Alas, that was not the actual solution to the mystery.  This was the writer in me, weaving together my own plot soup based on ingredients provided by the show.

My sweetie hated the clone device.  He hated it because real clones (one day) are/will be real people. This show perpetuates the idea of clones as objects to purchase and discard.  The clone thing is used as a plot device later on in other ways, but the clones when badly hurt tend to simply disintegrate a la Buffy stabbing the vampires and making them go poof. Why would a clone do that, he asked? It’s stupid. A clone–because it’s an actual human body–would go splat, not poof. It would not disintegrate into a cloud of clumpy dust.

Yeah, so that was kind of a regrettable choice.  Meanwhile, I loved my idea of the crew being memory-wiped clones.  The show has them on the ship starting from square one in a state of distrust, but circumstances make them pull together.  We know they were probably very bad in their former lives, but rallied by the influence of Five, aka ‘The Kid’, they have a chance to become new, better people. (Insert here your own philosophical discussion with a friend over the role of memory in personhood and if one can change merely by starting over. This is the good kind of sci-fi.)  As they slowly pull together to become a unit they build loyalty to each other and we know that many of the forms their enemy will take are elements of their past coming to haunt them. Everyone knows karma is a bitch–but it’s very enjoyable to watch.

One finds out that there is indeed a very bad guy out there with One’s face. (See! One is a clone!) Unfortunately, however, for my pet theory, the bad guy Derek Moss says something like “I’d think you were a clone, but someone would have had to scan my body to do that, and no one did.”

Booooooooo!

dark-matter-season-2-coverHowever, I was still delighted that One had this evil Doppleganger out in the world that could cause him no end of trouble.

But here’s the big problem.  They f**king killed One.  Whyyyyyyy? It seemed gratuitous and unnecessary given that they never really followed the conspiracy plot path the killing seemed based upon.  You eventually find out where the crew’s memories are stored and I knew that Evil One aka Derek Moss was still out there.  So my FTL plotting muscles realized ‘the gang’ was going to kidnap Evil Derek and stick One’s memories into him.  But that didn’t happen either. 😦

But! When Derek reappeared, I was like: Yay! Evil Derek is better than no One at all.  Alas, in that very episode the show killed off Evil Derek.

Oh people.  I was so disgruntled.  One was the glue that kept my interest in the show at super-high levels. Yeah, I liked all these ideas about the others and sometimes their interactions were okaaaaaay, but for me, One was the secret sauce.  Yes, the whole prison break thing was good. Yes, finding out Two’s backstory was pretty cool.

Frankly, since One/Derek’s death, I’ve only made it through about four more episodes while mostly folding laundry and checking email.  I just don’t care anymore–Maybe other audience members, more familiar with the comic books than I am, are looking forward to what’s around the corner.  Maybe they know stuff that I don’t.  Apparently DARK MATTER  has a very loyal following.  But I, good people, am done.

If you know the Dark Matter comics, tell me — is there reason to hope? Should I give the show another chance?

Have you ever suffered torment from the character you were rooting for being killed off? (I’m looking at you SLEEPY HOLLOW fans.) Did you slog onward or just give up?  I’ve resorted to writing DARK MATTER fan fic as a way of detoxing.  Sigh.  It’s premised on my rogue clone idea…Maybe it’ll become its own thing one day.

Follow us at Lady Smut where we make the darkness matter.  And subscribe to our newsletter if you want fabulous free reads. ; >

Meanwhile, here’s something to pluck up your spirits — we ran a giveaway from Lux Aromatica last week, and to say thank you to our readers Lux made a coupon just for you.  2017-02-ladysmut-flash-sale

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

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