In my opinion, this is probably one of the best uses of the amnesia trope I've ever seen, and I've read a lot of fanfiction depicting this very concept many times. You have six strangers who wake up with absolutely no idea who they are and what their relationships are to each other, never mind why they are on a spaceship in the first place. Amidst their confusion and apprehensive, there is also a level of unease and distrust along with desperation and the need to remain together as a team. Of course, the reveal of who they were before is given at the end of the first episode: they're criminals, deemed dangerous and placed on this particular ship for a reason. Clearly disturbed by this revelation, this creates a level of tension but also curiosity about who they used to be and what does this mean, especially since they don't remember committing those crimes. The very notion of amnesia is being mostly in the present and being kind of a blank slate, the past is a mystery. But is makes you question, once you gain your memories back are you going to be exactly the same as you were before or, because of your new experiences, do you have the ability to change the course of the path you created for yourself? If you don't get your memories back and just get the information of what you've done, can you rectify your actions? Does your past actions define you as a person, regardless whether you try to fix things or not? Is there a chance of making peace and moving on, or will your past demons still haunt you and are you doomed of making the same mistakes?
See, this is something that has always intrigued me about amnesia storylines, the whole concept of questioning who you are versus who you were, and this show executes it brilliantly.
Another aspect about that which I love is how it's not black and white, it enters that gray area of the motivations of each character, and not everything is what it appears to be. Some may be framed for crimes they didn't commit, others may simply have been victims of circumstance, while others may have secret agendas that we have yet to uncover. The show focuses on each member of the crew throughout the season, giving each character a chance to shine, and although we do get some answers, not everything is revealed.
And the characters themselves are beautifully flawed and complex. Identifying themselves as a number system of which they woke up, they are all curious about their pasts and themselves but also want to hide then things they discover from the others. Some of them, such as Six and Four, go out of their way to try and confront their pasts head-on which, admittedly, is rather impulsive and reckless but in their minds it's something they need to do. And it's just so fascinating seeing how they all react differently to the things they learn, which when kept secrets can create tension between them and everyone else since then you don't know how the rest of them will react. The high tension and apprehensive that happens throughout, even while they're trying to be together as a team, makes for fantastic drama, this is especially true in the last few episodes where they're basically together as a family-like unit and then shit happens to make them question each other. The show manages to pull it off quite convincingly, especially in the finale when shit hits the fan and the last few minutes of the episode gives us that shocking revelation which has us reeling with so many questions for the next season.
Dark Matter is a very character-driven show, with enough mystery and intrigue to keep you fascinated and at the edge of your seat as things start to slowly unravel. It also has not just the amnesia trope done so well, but it has several other tropes (of the scifi genre) that hit all the right buttons for me. The biggest, of course, being the found family aspect which I am attracted to the most. This ragtag of dysfunctional criminals have a slow burn of getting together as a team, but they eventually get there and it's beautiful to witness the kinds of friendships that happen with individual sets of characters, and overall as a crew.
Other things to add:
** The main cast of the show is racially diverse, and we have an Asian woman who has asserted herself as being team leader of the crew from the very first episode, and with good reason.
** My favorite characters are Two and Five. Two is incredibly badass, assertive, and is one of the levelheaded characters who makes logical and pragmatic decisions, and I really love her character arc in particular. Five is the youngest of the group, just a teenager, but she is undoubtedly the heart of the entire show, at least in my eyes. She has the innocence of her because, unlike the rest, she wasn't part of the original crew, but despite this she tries her best to be part of the team anyway. She is adorable and kind, her friendship with Six and Two is super sweet, and I envy/want her hair and style of clothing. The character who I am most intrigued by is Four, followed closely by Six. The character who is probably my least favorite is One, though that is mostly due to his initial introduction as being this very stereotypical Gryffindor-type with always trying to do the right thing instead of the smart thing, trying to be idealistic rather than realistic. He has good intentions, it just doesn't really mesh with their surroundings, which later in the show we understand why.
** Another essential character on the show is the Android, who is a vital part of the spaceship and becomes a part of the crew by the end of the season. She also has immense growth in the first season, where we see that, despite her function as a mere machine (as sophisticated and complicated as her programming and design may be) she has developed emotions for the crew she is loyal to, she cares for them. It's a character that I didn't expect to have feelings for, but by the end of the season I really loved the fact that she became accepted as part of the crew. Also, I much prefer the actress here than her role on Lost Girl.
** Dark Matter is like a combination of such shows as Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, with a little bit of Helix, plus some other science fiction shows as well. It has the influence of certain scifi tropes and elements that are familiar, but used in a unique and fascinating way that just work for the story being told. And it is awesome.
In Conclusion: Dark Matter is such a fantastic piece of science fiction that is so hard to find nowadays. It has all the right elements packed into one show, and it is addictive and I was practically at the edge of my seat, especially during the last several episodes when the tension and stakes were quite high as everything is unraveling. The action and fight sequences are unbelievable to watch, the cinematography and setting is of everything, including the Raza (the spaceship) is absolutely gorgeous, the characters are so beautifully flawed and complex with their relationships with each other and their inner conflicts with themselves. This is such good science fiction, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
The second season of Dark Matter just premiered recently, and I honestly can't wait to see what comes next in the story. As I mentioned, I definitely recommend this show because it needs to be talked about more, it is just that fantastic. I can't gush about it enough. (◕‿◕✿)
Here is the S1 trailer, for anyone who is further interested and curious about the show.