Dark Matter episode 2 recap & review: A slow build ends with a catastrophic shock

Jason does his best to work out the mystery of what has happened to him.
Dark Matter - Cr: Apple
Dark Matter - Cr: Apple /

A slightly slower-paced episode that allows Jason and viewers to acclimate to the new setting, Dark Matter waits until the end of episode 2 to pull the rug out from all of us, Jason included, by dropping a big reveal about what's really going on here and delivering a gut punch that you won't see coming. Spoilers ahead for those who haven't watched the first two episodes yet.

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The bulk of Dark Matter's second episode is about Jason struggling to adapt to his new circumstances while the alternate version of himself, Alt-Jason, as I call him, is making himself right at home in Jason's old life, primarily by focusing on his wife, Daniela.

Realizing that something might be seriously wrong with him, Jason goes to a hospital to get tested for a brain tumor or anything else that might explain his newly altered reality. All of his scans come back clean. So maybe it's a mental thing? Should he check himself into an inpatient hospital?

Dark Matter - Cr: Apple /

While Amanda, Leighton, and the other people at Jason's apparent company, Velocity, continue searching for him, he goes on a search of his own, for Daniela. In this reality, Daniela has continued painting and is on the verge of opening a spectacular new exhibit showcasing her pieces. Jason tracks her down and attends the opening night.

Lo and behold, guess who serves as one of Daniela's primary inspirations? Yep. Jason. Even though they aren't married in this reality, they still share a past. It's just much different than the one Jason knows. In fact, it all comes back to Charlie. We learn that when Daniela found out she was pregnant, Alt-Jason left her because he wanted to focus on his work. Not wanting to be a single mother, Daniela had an abortion. That explains several things, but we'll get to that in a minute.

At the exhibition, Jason also runs into Ryan, who looks a bit worse for the wear in this reality. Alt-Jason usurped his achievements and won the prestigious Pavia Award in this reality, not Ryan. And despite Jason's crazy babbling about how he and Daniela are really married and have a son together, she still finds something about him she believes and invites him back to her house with Ryan.

Dark Matter - Cr: Apple /

The three get to chatting, and Jason posits a quandary: what if a man was abducted one night, and his entire world was completely different when he woke up? He tells Ryan and Daniela that it's him he's referring to, obviously, and Ryan thinks Jason is messing with them. Jason's mention of Charlie is taken as a nasty barb because of how Alt-Jason left things with Daniela. According to her, the last time they spoke, Alt-Jason said she'd "probably never see him again." That's what inspired her to create the paintings of him at the exhibit.

For whatever reason, Daniela still chooses to help Jason. Together, they trick Amanda into leaving her house by telling her Jason is checking himself into a facility. He gives her the name of the hospital. Then he and Daniela enter her house—or Jason's house, as he still thinks of it—and explore the place, looking for clues. Jason expresses his frustration with the fact that Charlie's room is now his office. He takes a box-like model off of Alt-Jason's desk.

That night, Daniela invites Jason to stay the night. Despite the insanity of his story, she finds herself believing him. She can't help but ask him about her alternate self and their life together. Jason's honesty wins her over, and they share a kiss that turns steamy. Is it cheating to hook up with your wife in a different reality?

Remember that cube-like desk model that looks curiously similar to the Schrödinger's cat diagram? Poring over Alt-Jason's notes, Jason discovers something incredible. That box is indicative of the project he was working on a long time ago. A device that allows the user to send a particle into a different reality.

Except the other version of himself has figured out how to send a whole person into another reality. Jason theorizes that he split into two versions of himself at that pivotal moment when Daniela revealed she was pregnant. What if Alt-Jason stayed in this world but also sent himself into the other timeline where Jason is from?

Dark Matter - Cr: Apple /

We already got Daniela's little on-the-nose speech about wanting to see if the grass is greener on the other side. That's a clear theme in this show. So it would make sense that the other Jason, the one who chose work, would still have dreams about what life would be like as a family man. He just made it happen. Existing in two places at once as two separate versions of Jason Dessen. It also implies that Alt-Jason might be the real Jason since he would be the one who created the device. But that might get into tricky chicken-or-the-egg-coming-first stuff, so I won't think about it too hard.

But the night takes a sudden and shocking turn in the episode's final moments. Someone starts banging on Daniela's door at the same moment Jason receives a phone call. It's one of the Velocity field agents and they immediately shoot Daniela in the head and then kidnap Jason.

Daniela's death is a shock, but it does make sense for plot purposes. They need Jason to continue searching for the truth and having him just re-settle into a new life with Daniela would slow things down. Now he's alone once again and more desperate than ever to return home to the timeline where Daniela is still alive. Plus, the shocking brutality of the moment casts doubt on Velocity's intentions.

As our Jason is reeling and desperately trying to return to his family, Alt-Jason is busy being creepy and mysterious. He blows off Ryan, telling him he overstepped by calling Daniela about the job offer, making it clear he has no interest in taking it.

Toward the end of the episode, we see Alt-Jason entering a storage unit where he keeps weapons, cameras, and his mask. He sets up cameras outside of a full-size model of that little box model we saw earlier. This massive cube must be the device he's been using to traverse realities.

The question is, how many times has he done this? And are there other Jasons running around out there? And why does he need to keep cameras on the device? Is he scared that the other Jason will figure out how to return? Or does he already know he will at some point?

Dark Matter. B+. A jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end significantly raises the stakes of this twisty thriller. . . Trip of a Lifetime

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