Dark Matter Premiere Recap: Alternate Reality Bites — Grade It!

In the series premiere of Apple TV+’s Dark Matter, a former physicist is abducted into an alternate version of his life by a masked man who’s freakishly close to him. And it only gets weirder from there.

In the first episode (two are currently available to stream), we meet Jason (The Underground Railroad’s Joel Edgerton) and his wife Daniela (Snowpiercer’s Jennifer Connelly), a married couple living in Chicago with their teenaged son, Charlie (The Fabelmans‘ Oakes Fegley). Everything seems hunky-dory until Jason is invited out to celebrate an achievement by his friend and former colleague Ryan Holder (Westworld’s Jimmi Simpson). Ryan won the Pavia Prize, an award in the field of neuroscience that could eventually lead to grant money and career opportunities down the road. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Jason. On one hand, he’s happy for Ryan. On the other, it’s a glimpse of the life he could’ve lived had he chosen career over family.

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Daniela convinces Jason to head to the local watering hole for the celebration. Ryan says he owes Jason; Jason provided him some notes that were essential to completing his award-winning work. After a few drinks, Ryan says he wants Jason to be a member of his new neuro-tech team. The catch? The job is located in San Francisco. Jason doesn’t seem very interested, but we can’t exactly tell why yet.

Dark Matter premiere
Dark Matter premiere

On his rainy, drunken walk home, he’s mugged by a man in a mask who takes his wallet and phone, and forces him into a car. The guy somehow knows his cell phone passcode, then asks how Ryan is doing. They arrive to a strange location where Jason is forced to remove his clothes. They walk inside a run-down industrial building, where he tries to fight off the assailant, who winds up cutting his arm on a piece of broken banister. Jason is thrown down the stairs and injected with a mysterious substance. He’s given a bag with new clothes and is ordered to put them on because he’ll soon be unconscious. As he nods off, he asks the guy who he is. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” is the only reply he gets.

When he wakes up, he’s poked and prodded by doctors, doused in cold water and put into some sort of dorm. A woman enters and gives him a hug, but he doesn’t recognize her. She says her name is Amanda and that he’s cleared from quarantine. In a meeting with a man named Leighton, Amanda calls Jason their “chief science officer and cofounder.” Leighton says Jason is “the only one who’s returned.” He’s been gone for over 14 months and they want to know where he was and what he saw. They want to keep him for observation, but he makes a run for it. He’s confused and angry; his memories, foggy. He hops in a cab and gives the driver his address.

When he arrives home, he’s confused to find Amanda. The scene cuts, as the man with the mask gets out of a car. “Jason” — aka, Jason 2, a version of himself without the facial injuries — finds Daniela standing at the sink. Her first words to him are icy. She almost doesn’t seem like the same woman we met before. He tells her about the job offer and apologizes for not returning her calls. She eventually accepts his apology.

Dark Matter premiere
Dark Matter premiere

When the scene cuts back to the original Jason, he can’t figure out where Daniela is or why Amanda is standing in his apartment. Nothing is as he left it. Instead of his son’s bedroom, the room is full of trophies, including one commemorating his Pavia Prize win. There are huge folders full of research. Negative energy vacuums. Particle collision. He grabs his phone and makes a call, looking to contact with his wife, but he has the wrong number. While he continues to downward spiral, Amanda tells him he doesn’t have a wife.

As some shady henchmen pull up, Jason flees out the back door and starts running. Meanwhile, Jason 2 takes Daniela upstairs for some sexy funtime in the bedroom. As they undress and lay on the bed, we can see Jason 2’s arm wrapped up in bandages, confirming that he — this version of him — was the man in the mask. She asks him what happened and he replies, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

Will you be watching more of Dark Matter? Grade the premiere below, then let us know in the comments.

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