Blake Crouch’s novel Dark Matter is one of the best science fiction novels of the past decade. Its dark, mysterious story screamed for a TV adaptation. That adaptation is finally here, with an Apple TV+ series starring Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly. Episode 1, “Are You Happy in Life,” finds the main character’s life flipped upside down in a mysterious premiere.

Dark Matter Story and Cast

The novel, which follows Jason Dessen (Edgerton) as he tries to connect with his family after he is abducted at the beginning of the story, is split into nine episodes for the Apple TV+ series. At the same time, Daniela (Connelly) realizes that something about her husband is different since he came home from a friend’s celebration at a nearby bar. Both the novel and the show are about connecting the dots and realizing how the two stories are tied together.

Strong performances carry Dark Matter, and the first episode is dominated by Edgerton, who captures the character of Jason Dessen really well. The early part of the story is incredibly disorienting for the main character, as he is trying to figure out what has happened to him and who did it. Edgerton captures the fear, desperation, and confusion that the character feels very well.

Twists and Turns

Blake Crouch’s novel probably won’t see too many changes in the Apple TV+ version, since the author is deeply involved with the production, including the scripts. Some key changes will undoubtedly occur—one, inevitably, already has—but fans of the novel should be able to watch the show and feel like they’re getting something true to the story they love.

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A major twist occurs near the middle of Dark Matter novel. The twist, however, is really difficult to conceal on-screen. The producers chose to rip the band-aid off right away and get the twist our there in the first episode. It’s a controversial decision, but proves to be the right one. If you want to avoid spoilers for the first episode, don’t read further because the twist will be revealed from the next paragraph onward.

When Dessen gets attacked and knocked out early in the episode, he has no idea who is responsible. At the end of the episode, we see the man who had abducted him returning to Dessen’s home. When he arrives, we see that it is Jason Dessen, but another version of him. Revealing it this early provides a “what the heck is going on?” effect for the viewer that is just as effective as the book’s twist. Since it happens at the very end of the first episode, it serves as a nice cliffhanger that should have many viewers wanting answers.

Dark Matter is a Search For Answers

The novel is about Dessen’s search for answers—and his search for contentment with his place in life— so here’s hoping that the answers are revealed in bits throughout the series rather than giving the viewer a lot of knowledge that the character doesn’t have. The first episode makes it seem like this won’t be the case, so Dark Matter is off to a very nice start. Once viewers realize what is happening, a lot of possibilities unlock for the storytellers and the narrative becomes fascinating.

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Dark Matter takes place in Chicago, and the city provides a nice setting for the dark, mysterious story. The first episode takes place mainly at night and includes places most people wouldn’t want to be walking around in after dark. Visually, the environments do a great job of matching the darkness and confusion of the first episode. There’s a lot of mystery to the first episode of Dark Matter, and it is portrayed just as well visually as it is through character work. Chicago is a sprawling city with a great skyline, so it will be fascinating to see what the showrunners do with the setting as the story unfolds and Jason’s situation becomes more clear.

The first episode of Dark Matter will leave viewers with many more questions than answers. But that’s the point, and the story definitely does enough to make the audience want to come back for more. Fans of good science fiction stories will want to check out the first episode on Apple TV Plus, and fans of the book should definitely love what they’re getting early on in the show.

A book twist gets revealed in the first episode

Review Summary

Dark Matter’s first episode is a great introduction to Jason Dessen and leaves viewers wanting answers after the final scenes.

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