DARK MATTER. Will Apple’s new science fiction fry your brain? [REVIEW of two episodes]

It’s definitely too early to render a final verdict, but already it should be emphasized that Dark Matter is a production of exceptional quality.

Jakub Piwoński

12 May 2024

dark matter

Whoever it may be, but people at Apple understand science fiction. After Severance, See, Silos, and Foundation, the streaming platform has brought us another highly intriguing sci-fi series. Dark Matter, after two episodes, looks even better than the trailer suggested.

There’s a scene in the first episode of Dark Matter where the character played by Joel Edgerton (captivating from the first minutes), a university lecturer, explains intricate paradoxes of quantum physics to his students. How is it possible that a monkey can be alive and dead at the same time? The students don’t seem interested in resolving this dilemma, which deepens the protagonist’s sense of the futility of his role.

Fortunately, the creators of Dark Matter managed to arouse interest in viewers, as evidenced by overwhelmingly positive reviews of the pilot episodes of this new sci-fi series. I certainly endorse these praises, though I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t remain somewhat reserved in my final judgment. It’s definitely too early to render a final verdict, but already it’s worth emphasizing that we’re dealing with a production of exceptional quality. I’ve lived in this world for too long and watched too many intriguing sci-fi series not to know that such complex, labyrinthine concepts can easily falter. The first cases that come to mind are Raised by Wolves and Westworld, initially strongly impactful television spectacles with distinct philosophical messages, from which only remnants remained in later stages of production.

However, I hope Dark Matter follows the fate of Severance, to which it’s stylistically close, and manages to hold our attention until the very end. The story, which is based on Blake Crouch’s novel, is conducive to building tension and sustaining our interest. The main character, happy but rather bored, is abducted at one point. It turns out he ends up in an alternate version of his life where his wife isn’t his wife, and his son was never born. What’s best about this is that to restore everything to normal, the hero will have to overcome… himself.

We will probably dissect Dark Matter layer by layer to fully understand the intricacy of its scientific inspirations (specifically multiverse theories), reminiscent of the traditions of hard science fiction, exemplified in works like Primer, as well as “softer” and much more popular productions like Sliders. The director of this Apple original, Louis Leterrier, is more associated with strictly entertaining cinema. For now, however, I see an appropriate balance in Dark Matter between these two methods of communicating these incredibly fascinating scientific dilemmas.

Regardless of how events unfold, it seems certain that certain questions underlying the plot will resonate in our minds until the end of our adventure with Dark Matter. They echo—what would life look like if different choices were made within it? Is there a timeline out there where an alter ego handles life differently? Can a monkey be alive and dead simultaneously?

Ultimately, life is nothing but the art of making the right decisions and accepting their consequences. How painfully the protagonist of Dark Matter will realize this, we will find out every Wednesday until the end of June. I’m intrigued.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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