Dark Matter: Apple TV+ sci-fi series review


The review of the Apple TV+ series with Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly as protagonists. The first two episodes will be available from May 8th.

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Dark Matter

Release Year: 2024

Director: Jakob Verbruggen

Genre: Science fiction, Drama, Thriller

Platform: Apple TV+

Dark Matter is a sci-fi series, more cerebral than nerdy, which starts from an existentialist question: the what if that torments, like the lives of all of us, even that of a physics teacher who is offered the possibility of experimenting with other possible existences. At your own risk.

Dark Matter: Jason, the great promise of physics, has the opportunity to live an unlived life. But how many unlived lives are possible?

Quantum mechanics, unlike the more 'boring' classical mechanics, is based on an oddity: the smaller matter becomes, the more eccentric it becomes. Everything is made up of molecules; each molecule is made up of combinations of atoms; each atom - despite the etymology which would have it be "indivisible" - from further 'grains' of the atom, which assume a behavior contrary to the more predictable higher assemblies, since they are capable, for example, of taking more directions and of being in two places at the same time.

Dark Matter, the Apple TV+ series, based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Blake Crouch (who collaborated on the script), takes advantage of quantum magic to imagine other possible life paths for its protagonist Jason, played by Joel Edgerton, also producer of the show. A physics teacher at a college in Chicago, Jason is happily married to Daniela, an artist, and has a fifteen-year-old son, Charlie, with her. 

Invited by a neuroscientist colleague to celebrate the (large) scholarship won by the latter, Jason gets drunk and ends up the victim of a kidnapping. When he wakes up, he finds himself in another existence, in which the crossroads of fifteen years earlier - choosing between family life and an academic career - has been resolved in another direction. Now, however, it is up to Jason to understand whether the untaken and now viable alternative is better than the previous one and whether, if the previous one is ultimately preferable, it is possible to go back.

The plot, more intricate than how it was summarized to avoid spoilers, betrays, despite its brevity, two of the souls of the series: on the one hand, the comparison between scientific reasons and ethical concerns typical of the sci-fi genre, a genre that takes vitality from the mysteries of nature and bends them to an investigation into the unknown, not only outside of us but also inside us that resists understanding and rational decoding. Dark matter is not only what can be drawn upon only indirectly, through the detection of its effects, but also that impenetrable kernel of otherness that dwells in the human being, his lumpy heart of darkness. 

On the other hand, Dark Matter would seem to follow quantum not only to unravel Jason's existentialist question - "And if I had made another decision, fifteen years ago, would I also be a star of scientific research now?" –, he doesn't just ask himself if, like the grains of atoms, even our little lives could be 'consumed' simultaneously in different parts of the universe, without mutually excluding each other. It also does something else: it multiplies the possible worlds and the passages that allow Jason to inhabit them all.

Dark Matter: conclusion and evaluation

Matter can behave like a body or a wave: Dark Matter follows Jason's body in its passages from one existential box to another, but it also tries to stage the consequences produced by the refraction resulting from the wave movement, the mechanism of superfetation of this ubiquitous body, the confusion and fragmentation that its simultaneous existence in multiple places generates. In short, he does something very complex that inevitably requires the viewer not only attention and patience but also a certain predisposition to undertake an intellectual adventure, a psychedelic trip into the quantum 'sustainable' absurdity of the multiverse. 

However, both the operation of enhancing the inventive mechanisms - relying too much on the basic idea, on the 'algorithmic' instructions that make the story proceed - and the softening of a writing that is too monotonous and tragically devoid of intimate charms, both the aseptic atmospheres – some would say necessary for the genre, but in the long run too vacuously aestheticizing – cool the sentimental material of the representation. From this excess of coldness, from this dramaturgical robotism, a paradox arises, upon closer inspection: Dark Matter doesn't work entirely precisely because everything works too much.