The mystery is unraveling in Dark Matter, and every answer Jason gets creates more questions. The fourth episode of the event series sets up the latter episodes of Dark Matter and establishes the stakes for all of the characters involved. The story and characters overcome sometimes uneven pacing in an episode that finally gives fans some answers.

Dark Matter is an Apple TV+ series based on the novel of the same name by Blake Crouch. Widely considered one of the best science fiction novels of the last fifteen years, Dark Matter’s transition to TV has benefitted from Crouch being directly involved in the production. While there have been some significant changes for the sake of television, the story’s spirit has remained largely the same.

Dark Matter Episode 4 Explains the Box More

Until now, much of what is happening in Dark Matter has been a mystery to viewers. In this newest episode, what the box and corridor mean begins to make more sense. Jason (Joel Edgerton) and Amanda (Alice Braga) have fled Velocity at the end of Episode 3 and are under the influence of Lavender Fairy, the drug that allows their bodies to withstand the effects of being in the box. When they regain their faculties, they find themselves in a large corridor with seemingly endless doors. As this new episode progresses, they realize that each door leads to a different version of Chicago timelines created by past choices made in life.

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The versions of Chicago we experience in Episode 4 are reflections of Jason and Amanda’s fear and uncertainty about their situation. Each version of the city is deserted, as the characters feel alone. In addition, each one finds them in an environment buried under snow, completely underwater, or destroyed. This is where their mental states are at the time that they first start exploring the corridor. In time, Jason and Amanda discover that they have a large role in creating the environments they walk into. Whatever they are thinking or feeling when they open the door decides which reality they will discover.

In Dark Matter, a central theme of the story is asking whether you’re happy in life and whether you’d opt for a different reality if given the chance. Jason and Amanda’s experience in the corridor offers a powerful alternative to this question. Instead of seeking a different reality, they learn that their mindset helps control their reality.

Jason2’s Plan Unfolds

As the Jason we first met continues to try to find his way back to his family, Jason2 continues to infiltrate the family and take the place of Jason1. Initially, his motivation was that he wanted a life with Daniela (Jennifer Connelly) and Charlie (Oakes Fegley). Jason2’s belief is that having them will make him happy. In Episode 4, we begin to see that thinking unravel.

Jason2 proceeds to quit “his” job as a professor/teacher, and he begins to seek the glory and challenge that his career in his original timeline gave him. The career that, in his other life, cost him a relationship with Daniela and a family that included Charlie. His desire to have everything seeps through here, as he reaches out to the Leighton (Dayo Okeniyi) of this timeline to try to start Velocity in this world.

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Jason2 feels more villainous and evil in the Apple TV+ series than in the novel. So far, that seems to be a good thing for the show. With the twists that take place later in the novel already addressed in the show, there needs to be increased tension and heightened stakes in other ways. The evolution of Jason2 as a rather unhinged and greedy individual is a good way to accomplish that feat. A key example is how Jason2 misses Max’s memorial at home, and seems rather unapologetic about it. To him, material things like a new car make up for it. It’s a key difference between Jason1 and Jason2 that Daniela picks up on.

Setting Up the Second Half of Dark Matter

Episode 4’s biggest drawback is the same thing that has held the rest of the series back so far. The exposition is done completely through dialogue, which slows the pacing of the show down perhaps too much. There’s a lot for the viewer to learn along the way, but it would be nice if there was a little more show and a little less tell to get that accomplished.

Aside from that, Episode 4 of Dark Matter is strong. It continues to establish why Jason1 and Jason2 made the different choices they did, and it sets up future episodes nicely. Getting to see different versions of Chicago is a highlight, as is the Jason2 angle with Leighton. It’s not the best episode of the series so far, but it does nothing to make viewers turn away.

Too much exposition affects pacing

Review Summary

Dark Matter Episode 4 is a strong addition to the story where we finally see what the box and corridor are all about.

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