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As I mentioned in a previous post, two my favorite sub-genres of SF television are AU (alternate universe) and time travel.  They both allow us to shed light on our characters, and the show’s world, in ways we wouldn’t normally be permitted within the established narrative.  “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”, for instance, answers a few outstanding questions, some going as far back as our very first episode, while also teeing up a bunch of future storylines as well.  There was A LOT going on in this episode and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if you may have missed a few crucial tidbits even on second and third viewing (which is de rigueur for every episode of Dark Matter).

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First off, can I just say what a fantastic job VFX Supervisor (and Dark Matter Supervising Producer) Lawren Bancroft-Wilson is doing this year.  That shot of The Raza moving through the debris from the destroyed space station?  Wow. Kudos to Lawren and his VFX team, with FUSEFX at the forefront, delivering some truly spectacular visuals this season, from The Raza’s atmospheric entry and landing to…well, the finale.  Great, great stuff!

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Earlier this season, someone was asking about ship to ship battles.  Specifically, why hadn’t we seen any yet?  Well, we’ve seen some pretty good ones so far this season, once again thanks to LBW and co.  Always fun to see The Raza in action but, in particular, to check out how far the ship has come in its level of detailing.

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Android: “A slight variance in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background suggests an extremely unusual possibility.”

I received a fair amount of love for this theoretical conjecture on the part of the Android, but must give credit where credit is due.  When crafting a hypothetical explanation for the inter-universe jump, I consulting with the experts – in this case, former Stargate science tech advisor Mika McKinnon who stepped up with the assist (GeoMika).

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One of my very favorite guest stars, Torri Higginson, reprises her role as the opportunistic Commander Delaney Truffault.  The character was originally supposed to meet her end in Episode 11 of the show’s first season, but a scheduling conflict and some serious reconsideration of her role in the grand scheme of things saved her.  When it came time to casting the role I knew Torri would be great – but her performance surpassed my lofty expectations.  She played Truffault with such sass and bemused confidence that I instantly fell in love.  And, boy oh boy, that shot of her swaggering down the corridor of The Raza after she takes out FOUR and SIX? Perfection.

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The crew’s research uncovers intriguing tidbits of information, hints of what could have been and clues to what may come…

There’s a corporate war in full swing, something that has only been hinted at back in our reality.

The war finds its roots in long-standing corporate conflicts, but was seemingly sparked by the destruction of a space station, EOS-7, during a summit attended by representatives from the various corporations as well as the League of Autonomous Worlds.

Ferrous Corp is suspected as being the culprit behind the station’s destruction, although they have steadfastly denied the charge.  Oh, hey, Commander Nieman!

Kal Varrick (SIX’s alter-ego) uploaded a virus to the ship’s computer before going into stasis, one that would disable The Raza, thus rendering it “dead in space” (see Episode 1).

He has arranged for the ship to emit a subspace distress call to make it easier to track (see Episode 1).

The Raza’s security system is an Android who can be take offline with a verbal shutdown command.

If the Android perceives an insurmountable threat, she is programmed to wipe the ship’s data stores (see Episode 1).

We learn that The Raza paid a recent visit to the headquarters of Dwarf Star Technologies, killing over two hundred company personnel including company CEO Alexander Rook (see Episode…oh, it won’t be long).

The script’s first draft included another scene, a file SIX accesses prior to the video of his death…

He double-clicks, bringing up various sub-files (SERVICE, MISSIONS, RECORD, COMMENDATIONS) including the one he clicks on: DEATH. We switch to a deposition video – Commander Tarvis of the Galactic Authority (last seen in Episode 106)is being questioned.

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was our best agent up until the incident on Hydaum-12. That mission – it changed him. Though, in all fairness, over ten thousand lives lost – it would’ve changed anyone.

She fields an unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He requested a leave of absence and we gave it to him. I honestly wasn’t sure he’d ever come back – but he did, six months later. And requested the toughest assignment on book. In retrospect, I should’ve turned him down. He wasn’t ready.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He went undercover to bring in the crew of the outlaw ship, The Raza.

Unintelligible O.S. question –

COMMANDER TARVIS: He was murdered while sending a data burst back to G.A. Central Command. He died on camera. The visual evidence was logged as part of the inquest into –

SIX freezes the video, enters another sequence, bringing up another video.

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This reality’s Ishida Ryo has retaken the throne of Zairon with the help of his step-brother, Hiro, and other loyal agents within the court.

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To quote actress Melissa O’Neil on the Portia-Boone “sexy time” scene: “My butt clenched reading it.”

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Some awesome twinning sequences in this episode.  Kudos again to VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and director Andy Mikita.  Find out how they pulled it off here: The Fine Art of Twinning

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Bring on the bad guys!  One of my biggest regrets of season 1 was the loss of Wexler and Tash, two psychotic but colorful mercs who met their spectacular ends back in Episode 10.  Well, here was an opportunity to bring them back – along with the duplicitous Jace Corso.  Scheduling was a huge challenge here as all three actors – Ennis Esmer, Jessica Sipos, and Marc Bendavid – had other commitments we needed to work around.  But, thankfully, we were able to make it work in the end and all three delivered delightfully diabolical performances.

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Since the episode was running long, we had to cut some dialogue for time.  FOUR’s conversation with the captive Portia and Boone offered a little more insight into Blink Drive’s workings in the script…

Portia and Boone are on their feet when he enters.

PORTIA: You didn’t account for temporal displacement. That’s why you and the rest of your crew are here. You tested the drive without making the proper adjustments.

Off FOUR –

PORTIA: So instead of going from point A to point B in your universe, you punched a hole in the fabric of space-time and ended up here in ours.

FOUR: We didn’t know we had to make those changes to the drive.

PORTIA: Didn’t the scientist you tortured tell you?

FOUR: We didn’t torture a scientist.

BOONE: Rookie mistake. You ARE different from the Ishida we know.

And, oh yeah, we also find out a little more about this reality’s ongoing conflict between Zairon and the Republic of Pyr…

PORTIA: After EOS-7, the corporations backing Pyr had bigger things to worry about than some regional conflict. They pulled their support and we took advantage, targeting your homeworld’s enemy and destroying their fleet.

BOONE: And Zairon welcomed you back with open arms.

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Jace Corso’s launching of the nuclear missile, with TWO still on the planet, is a tip of the hat to the AU machinations in Star Trek: The Original Series’ classic “Mirror, Mirror”.

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It’s TWO and Tash Round #2 in one of the greatest fights the show has done to date.  Let’s give it up for stunt coordinator John Stead, director Andy Mikita, editor Teresa Hannigan, actresses Melissa O’Neil and Jessica Sipos, and their stunt doubles.

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Commander Truffault’s double-cross and taking of The Raza results in an exchange between her and TWO that was a little meatier in the director’s cut…

TWO: I thought we had a deal.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: We did – a deal you never had any intention of following through on. We both know that. So here’s the new deal: the lives of your crew in exchange for the drive.

TWO hesitates. Beat.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Look at the big picture. You just need it to get home. We need it to save millions of lives by putting an end to a war that has ravaged this reality for years.

TWO: By winning it? How long is that going to take? Ferrous Corp had the drive on their side in this conflict, and you’re still fighting.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: I’d argue our enemy didn’t make the most efficient use of a very valuable asset. They also made a mistake by letting your counterparts keep it.

TWO: I’m guessing they didn’t have a choice.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: Probably not. Still, it’s hard to win a war when you’re relying on an ally who thrives on chaos. (beat) Look – this universe or your own, what difference does it make? What the hell’s really waiting for you back there?

TWO: Our own mess.

COMMANDER TRUFFAULT: (sighs) Your people in exchange for the drive. So, what’s it going to be?

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The final goodbye twinning sequence was, in a word, a nightmare.  Director Andy Mikita had planned to shoot the entire thing as a oner, one continuous shot that followed TWO over to a waiting Alt Android and Portia, captured their exchange, then ended on our originals as the doubles left the shot.  And it almost all went according to plan.  Andy carefully planned the shot.  He informed the cast and crew.  We ordered the special equipment required which arrived..MINUS a crucial piece that made shooting the sequence all but impossible.  They persevered but, when it came time to assemble the cut, it was clear the eyelines were not matching up.  Most baffling was the fact that the Androids were surprisingly way off in their exchange.  We couldn’t figure it out until VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson realized our new Android outfit includes boots with heels that add another three inches or so.  As a result, the entire sequence had to be reshot in the Episode 210 schedule.

A couple of notes on this scene…

Melissa O’Neil loved Portia Lin’s coat so much (she was almost reduced to tears during her fitting) that I rewrote this scene so that her character could actually keep it.

When we originally broke this story, we’d planned for our crew to take the AU Alt Raza back to they reality with them, but ultimately decided against it because it complicated some of the developments we had planned later on down the line.

There’s this exchange between the androids that many of you picked up on:

ALT ANDROID: My presence on the other Raza would be redundant. Besides, my loyalty is to my original crew – and Portia in particular. I owe her a debt of gratitude.

Our Android finds this curious –

ANDROID: For what?

ALT ANDROID: For making me more.

The episode that offers the backstory on this one is going to blow your minds!

With the change in Raza’s, I ended up losing a scene from the original draft that opened with this preamble:

FOUR steps onto the bridge to find the Android standing there, listening to a discordant new age MUSIC that plays over the speakers. She notices him and the music automatically LOWERS.

FOUR: What are you doing?

ANDROID: While going through the new Raza’s database, I discovered a music library. I thought it might be interesting to play a piece and learn what kind of emotions it engenders in me.

FOUR: And?

ANDROID: Initial confusion followed by slight irritation, then discomfort, frustration and, ultimately, disappointment. I don’t like this at all.

FOUR: Well, there you go – an interesting emotional response.

The music turns OFF. The Android, clearly pleased –

ANDROID: Yes. I look forward to experiencing an equally visceral reaction to more selections.

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Finally, the crew returns home…with some unexpected guests in the form of an FTL-capable Marauder that jumps before they have a chance to deal with it, opening the door to all sorts of new potential storylines.  Aint scifi grand?

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Well, that was fun.  I have a lot to offer up on this episode in the coming days – script and production insights, BTS pics, deleted dialogue – but, for now, I turn this blog over to everyone who took the time to respond with some well thought-out reviews of “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”:

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Dark Matter 208 Review: Old Faces, New Enemies by Tom Gardiner at Three If By Space

“Okay, I’m going to start my Dark Matter 208 review by saying this was easily my favorite episode ever. This may not be the last time I say those words, but the Dark Matter gang are going to have to work pretty darned hard to top themselves after this one. “

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Dark Matter Takes A Vacation to the Multiverse in “Stuff to Steal, People to Kill” by Jen Stayrook at The Workprint

“Maybe it’s my affinity for fan fiction, but I LOVE stories that involve a parallel universe. Taking characters we know and love and flipping them around because of one change in the timeline gets me all gooey inside.”

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Dark Matter – Stuff To Steal, People To Kill – Review: “A Tale Of Two Raza’s” + POLL

“In all of my years of television watching I’ve seen a ton of alternate universe episodes of shows and I can’t recall a single one that was as tightly written and perfectly executed as this episode.”

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A Sashurai’s Review: Dark Matter – Season 2×08 (Stop me if you heard this, two androids walk into a Raza…) by Sashurai at Blade of the Sashurai

“A delightful venture into experimental technology results in Dark Matter’s first profound arc into the sub-plot of parallel dimensions. Not withstanding a few kinks in the hull, this episode collectively straddles the space-fence with a fresh plot and sees the return of characters long distant from the series.”

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“Dark Matter is back in its groove as the payoffs from earlier episodes come about in a satisfying, logical, and well-paced manner…” by Michael Ahr at Den of Geek

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Dark Matter: Stuff to Steal, People to Kill – Another Shocker by Michael Knox-Smith at Mike’s Film Talk

Dark Matter flew into parallel worlds in “Stuff to Steal and People to Kill.” Mallozzi and Mullie continue to throw fans off balance. This time by “punching a hole” in space time.”

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“For something that you looked at as just another op in the previous episode of Dark Matter at first, it really shook up your perception of where things are going. And just when you were starting to figure things out…” by Jideobi Odunze at Geeked Out Nation

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“There’s something so inherently tantalizing about alternate-reality episodes in sci-fi. Dark Matter Season 2 Episode 8 doesn’t spend a ton of time contemplating the philosophical implications at all, but the actors sure had fun…” by Kathleen Wiebel at TV Fanatic

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Veronica Scott recaps Dark Matter episode ‘Stuff to Steal, People to Kill’: Let’s visit a parallel universe

“I thoroughly enjoy the varied and creative ways the writers have taken this season to show us what truly nasty and unpleasant people the crew of the Raza were before Five wiped all their memories.”

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“We loved this week’s exploration of parallel universes. The writers have set up an alternate version of the crew that they could potentially use again in the future, and we love that prospect…” by Christopher Hart at The Nerd Recites

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Geeksiders Josh and Anna weigh in:

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A sneak peek at tonight’s episode:

Et encore, mais cet fois en Francais:

Ad another sneak peek for you:

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Pay close attention to tonight’s episode!  Plenty of clues related to past episodes, and hints as to what’s to come!

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Your first exclusive clip from tomorrow night’s episode of Dark Matter, “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”.  The crew receives a distress call from Regulus-12…

http://www.space.com/33782-regulus-12-space-station-heavily-damaged-in-dark-matter-show-clip.html

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Your second exclusive clip from tomorrow night’s episode.  THREE receives some troubling news from “The Android”…

http://parade.com/499805/rielyhaven/dark-matter-exclusive-clip/

I talk to Baz Greenland of The Digital Fix:

Exclusive interview with Dark Matter showrunner Joseph Mallozzi

“TDF: We’ve seen the evolution of several characters over the last twenty episodes. Which character has been the most fun to write?

Mallozzi: As I often tell interviewers, picking favorites on this show isn’t as simple as picking your favorite child. There are no disappointments in this group. Each one of them brings something different to the table and each one is fun to write for different reasons.”

More BTS tidbits to get you in the mood for tomorrow night’s episode…

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Thanks to those of you asking about Bubba.  He is on the mend and should get his stitches out this weekend.  To celebrate, Akemi made him a new bowtie – and a matching collar for Lulu:

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One of the biggest challenges about approving episodic stills for this episode was actually finding non-spoilers photographs to sign off on.  I don’t recall how many finally made the cut but I do recall it was significantly fewer than previous episodes.  Such is the life of a producer on a heavily-serialized science fiction series – especially when it comes to AU episodes.

So, to make up for the lack of official promotional photos, I thought I’d post some of the behind-the-scenes photos I snapped during the production of this episode – directed by Andy Mikita, written by yours truly.

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A shot of the monitor.  Notice anything…unusual?

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A rare scene (for season 2) scene in the ship’s underbelly.

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Another monitor shot, this one featuring Torri Higginson (as Commander Truffault), one of several surprising guest stars this episode.

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The crew gathers for the first shot of the day.

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Director Andy Mikita in action.

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“Stuff To Steal, People To Kill” is one of my top two favorite episodes of Dark Matter’s second season.  It combines many of the things I love: humor, high stakes, character insights, surprising reveals, and long overdue payoffs (a couple stretching as far back as our very first episode!).  It’s pretty bananas and a lot of fun!

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Spoiler TV’s Aimee Hicks previews “Stuff To Steal, People To Kill”

In case you missed it…

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The “She’s One Of The Now” episode photo recap.

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Behind the scenes on Dark Matter: Wardrobe!

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Fun facts about our latest episode.

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The Syfy Hair Awards

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One of my favorite Dark Matter reviewers considers “She’s One Of Them Now”.

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I discuss “She’s One Of Them Now” with Kelly Townsend of The TV Junkies.

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“This was a great episode, which revealed a lot about Reynaud and her interest in the Raza. I also liked the fact that Nyx’s former crew members make another appearance near the end of the story. Things look like they could be about to get interesting for the last few episodes of this second season…” by Ian Cullen at SciFi Pulse

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“As it is, this is another of the show’s teases, hopefully for later plot, much like Two’s shakes that have been introduced but not yet resolved. I look forward to it…” by Aaron Billingham at Kneel Before Blog.

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“This week’s episode was certainly the most fun one yet as the crew of the Raza embarked on a mission to hunt down the mysterious Alicia Reynaud (Inga Cadranel) and find out what the key really does…” by Baz Greenland at The Digital Fix

 

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Some very interesting feedback on this latest instalment.  One of the surprisingly strongest reactions is to the opening scene that many found too OTT (Over the Top).  More than a couple of fans have stated they found the scene specifically less Dark Matter and more Lost Girl like (I haven’t seen Lost Girl so I’ll need you to explain that one).

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Well, it so happens that, in the script’s first draft, this scene played out quiet differently.  Here’s the original version:

VFX – SPACE

Establish an upscale space station.

TABOR: Look, let me lay it out for you.

INT. TABOR’S APARTMENT

A casually-attired Tabor sits in his upscale suite, chatting on his computer.

TABOR: You’re one of this galaxy’s most notorious criminals. You’ve got a rap sheet as long the Kuiper Belt. You’re a swindler, a thief, a convicted felon and smuggler. (beat) And I want you as a client.

ON the individual he is talking to, a seedy-looking criminal type – ALDVIK JONES – who scratches his beard, uncertain.

ALDVIK: I don’t know if I need an agent…

TABOR: I’m not an agent. I’m a handler. I handle careers with care. Just so you know, my client roster includes seven of this galaxy’s Ten Most Wanted including Rax Veiland who just climbed up to the number three spot last week. He’s a real go-getter that one.

ALDVIK: Ten percent seems kinda steep…

TABOR: A small price to pay for peace of mind. Think about it. I’ll source jobs for you, screen and vet every employer, and handle all financial transactions. I don’t get paid unless you get paid.

Suddenly, the door BUZZES.

TABOR: Hang on. That’s probably my girlfriend, Perelandra. She’s always forgetting her pass key.

He gets up, calls back:

TABOR: By the way, I also offer packaging services – you know, pair you up with a good getaway pilot or demolition expert for those team jobs. Think about it!

He opens the door.

TABOR: Hello, sweetheart –

To REVEAL TWO standing there, flanked by THREE and SIX. Tabor is stunned.

TABOR: Oh. Portia. Well this is a pleasant surprise.

He smiles amiably. Then, the smile drops.

TABOR’s POV as she decks him. LIGHTS OUT!

Have a preference?

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THE ANDROID PAYS NYX A VISIT

There was a snippet of dialogue lost in the edit that shed significant light on the Android’s understanding of her place on the The Raza.  The scripted exchange…

ANDROID: You may find it hard to believe, but I once considered myself an outsider on this ship.

Nyx chooses to say nothing, although we can tell she doesn’t find it hard to believe at all. The Android continues –

ANDROID: I assumed the things that made me different made it impossible for the others to accept me as an equal – but really it was just the opposite.

NYX: Yeah, well, I’ve been on my own for a long time. This “team thing” is going to take some getting used to.

ANDROID In that respect, you’re no different than anyone else onboard.

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NYX OFFERS TWO BACK-UP

In the script, before boarding the Marauder, TWO encounters Nyx by the airlock…

INT. RAZA – CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE AIRLOCK

Nyx stands at the airlock waiting. TWO and SIX turn the corner and head down the corridor towards her.

TWO: I’ll catch up.

Nyx throws SIX an amiable but perhaps not wholly convincing smile as he passes her, opens the door, and heads into the marauder. Nyx throws a look back to make sure he’s clear, then turns and addresses TWO –

NYX: Need back-up?

TWO: I’ll be okay.

NYX: Look, you’ve got the history with him, you know him better than I do, but he betrayed you once and, even though he did help us escape lock-up…he betrayed you once.

Off TWO –

NYX: Maybe I’m out of line here. After all, we’re pretty much strangers and you’re still taking a chance on me –

TWO: I’ll be fine. And so will he.

NYX: If you say so.

TWO goes to head through the airlock then holds up, throws a look back to Nyx –

TWO: You’re on this ship because I trust you – but, to be honest, I haven’t trusted you with everything. There are some things you should know about me.

NYX: Well that sounds intriguing…and slightly ominous.

TWO: We’ll talk later.

TWO heads out. Nyx watches her go.

The scene was lost for time.

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GUESSING THE PASSWORD

This one really, really REALLY bothered me because if the timing had been right, it would have been a very fun sequence.  It wasn’t so we had to go with an altered version.

THREE and FOUR look on as FIVE carefully places the cover on the device, then lifts it off its stand. BEAT.

FIVE: I think we’re good –

DISEMBODIED VOICE (O.S.): Password authentication required.

THREE: Password?

DISEMBODIED VOICE (O.S.): Incorrect.

THREE: That wasn’t a guess!

DISEMBODIED VOICE (O.S.): Incorrect.

THREE: How many tries do I get?!

DISEMBODIED VOICE (O.S.): Third and final attempt – incorrect.

Suddenly, an ALARM SOUNDS.

FOUR: That was it!

They bolt for the door.

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DEVON’S SACRIFICE

The crew of The Raza did some terrible things in their respective pasts, but they have a leg up on redeeming themselves because they possess no memories of their terrible histories.  Devon, on the other hand, made some mistakes, and those memories haunt him, making his search for redemption all that much harder.  He drinks, does drugs to dull the pain that accompany those memories and, at episode’s end, he is confronted by the Seers who have predicted his actions based on his habits.  In this scene, Devon is finally afforded the opportunity to redeem himself by making the ultimate sacrifice, giving up his life covering for Nyx who, unbeknownst to the Seers, is actually on the station.  In the scripted scene, Devon’s sacrifice is made all the more tragic in that he saves Nyx by ultimately selling himself out.  Shaun Sipos was brilliant in this scene and it really kills me that it was not included in its entirety…

HANSMEED: Where’s The Raza?

DEVON: Long gone.

Again, off a suspicious Hansmeed –

DEVON: Hangar seven. Docked under an alias, but the specs should line up. Check for yourself. They left.

Hansmeed throws a look to one of his men. The man taps an ear comm and ducks out. It’s clear he’s doing just that.

HANSMEED: And why would they leave you behind?

DEVON: You say you know me? Then you should already have your answer. (beat) I’m a junkie. A screw-up. A short-term burden and a long-term liability. Over the course of my sorry life, I have hurt – intentionally and not – everyone who ever took a chance on me.

HANSMEED: We want Nyx.

DEVON: Well, I can’t help you with that. She’s one of them now.

Hansmeed’s man steps back in and gives him a nod back. Devon’s information apparently checks out. Hansmeed swings a look back to Devon.

HANSMEED: Where did they go?

DEVON: No idea. Can’t help you with that either.

Hansmeed considers, then throws a look to his men. They quickly step in and stab Devon, then step away. He slumps to the floor, bleeding out. Hansmeed looms over him, gives a shad shake of his head –

HANSMEED: What a waste.

Then, turning to his men –

HANSMEED: Back to the ship. Let’s run the next predictive model.

And with that, they’re off, leaving him to bleed out.

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