'Dark Matter's' Complex Plot Intrigues Fans and Actors

Four talks with the Android from Dark Matter
Four talks with the Android during Season 2, Episode 12 of Syfy's "Dark Matter," which aired during the summer of 2016. (Image credit: SyFy)

Whether audiences love him or hate him, Alex Mallari Jr. said he's glad fans of "Dark Matter" care about the actions of his character, Ryo Tetsuda. The show finishes up its second season Friday (Sept. 16). A third season of "Dark Matter" is on its way next year.

Tetsuda was known in the show as "Four" at first, because he and his six crewmates woke up in a starship with no memories of their past identities. The character speaks few words and tends to be a man of action, particularly with his blade. 

In Season 1, however, Tetsuda's dark past quickly came to light. His stepmother framed him for the murder of his father, Emperor Ishida Tetsuda. By the end of Season 1, the former Four narrowly escaped wrongful imprisonment for the crime. The start of Season 2 was no easier; it saw Tetsuda and two crewmates stuck in prison, staging a dramatic escape, then temporarily becoming disabled when a "neural link" caused them to take on their old identities. [Exclusive: Newly-Renewed 'Dark Matter' Season Finale Clip]

"I'm happy that he's retrieved his memories and got the closure he deserves," Mallari told Space.com about the character. "He can feel like he can carry on his father's legacy. That's all he ever wanted, to help out his people in their war. That's been really haunting him."

Learning by watching

The many twists and turns of "Dark Matter" can be confusing for fans, and Mallari told Space.com that he himself often misses the connections until he can rewatch old episodes. 

"Everything is connected," he said. "As much as I try and delve into each script and connect each thing, [writers] Joe [Mallozzi] and Paul [Mullie] are just absolute geniuses. Literally, there are so many connecting parts in the story arc that I miss a lot of them."

Mallari recalled an episode early in Season 1 in which the ship's android talks with one of the crewmates. That character, called Two, tells the android that a vital ship repair that requires working in the vacuum of space can't happen without the android, and the android counters that Two can fix it.

It was only much later in Season 1 that viewers found out Two is an advanced synthetic being who can survive the vacuum of space. Mallari said it is moments like this that make him get lost in the show during rewatches of his and his fellow actors' work.

"Some of my other things I've done in the past and review, I find myself getting caught in the act of criticizing my performances. I'm a perfectionist," he said. "But when it comes to 'Dark Matter,' I find myself suspending all disbelief and delving into the story line."

Season 3 isn't shooting yet — that will begin around November — but Mallari said he already has hopes for learning more about Tetsuda's past. 

"Did Ryo want the throne, or is it a case of 'Be careful what you ask for?'" Mallari asked, adding that he wonders how Tetsuda would handle that pressure. The actor said he's also dying to know why Misaki Han-Shireikan, the Commander of the Imperial Royal Guard, is still alive when everyone else in that line of power appears to be dead.

"She's dangerous!" Tetsuda said with a laugh. 

The Season 2 finale of "Dark Matter" airs Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. CDT).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace