The phrase “we’re our personal worst enemies” takes on a literal which means in Apple TV+‘s “Darkish Matter,” primarily based on Blake Crouch’s 2016 novel of the identical identify, and tailored by the writer for tv. A large and complex puzzle, the sequence is stunning and unsettling, however doesn’t fairly fulfill ultimately. 

“Darkish Matter” opens in present-day Chicago. Jason Dessen (Joel Edgerton), a scruffy physics professor, resides an unremarkable however pleased middle-class existence along with his spouse, Daniela (Jennifer Connelly), and their teenage son, Charlie (Oakes Fegley). After an evening out celebrating his buddy Ryan’s (Jimmi Simpson) prestigious science award, Jason is crushed and kidnapped, awakening in a parallel universe the place he thrives professionally and monetarily as a rockstar physicist. Nonetheless, as a substitute of the heat of his household, he comes dwelling to his live-in girlfriend, Amanda (a stellar Alice Braga), who’s overwhelmed by his sudden reappearance. By the top of Episode 1, “Are You Completely happy in Your Life?” it’s clear to the viewers that OG Jason has been kidnapped and changed by the Jason Dessen residing on this different actuality. 

Because the sequence unfolds, the polished however less-tempered Jason2 makes an attempt to stroll in OG Jason’s footwear. But, small particulars like a nut allergy and a flossing behavior start to alert Daniela that one thing may be very off along with her husband. In Jason2’s world, the OG Jason bonds with Amanda and begins piecing Jason2’s scheme collectively. Sadly, getting again to the life he’s at all times identified proves to be extra mentally and bodily taxing than he initially thought, particularly as a result of Leighton (Dayo Okeniyi), the billionaire techie Jason2 works for, isn’t too eager to let his prized scientist out of his grasp. 

A whole lot of the ideas in “Darkish Matter” work effectively. Edgerton is spectacular in his depictions of each variations of Jason. Although their variations are refined, they’re distinct sufficient to distinguish the pair simply.  Furthermore, as OG Jason and Amanda journey to assorted components of the multiverse looking for his true dwelling, different variations of Chicago, from shiny and spectacular to apocalyptic and devastating, are showcased. With set manufacturing spearheaded by Patricio M. Farrell, these universes are all fantastically rendered. Additionally, on OG Jason’s quest, he encounters varied variations of Daniela, every as intriguing and spectacular because the final, a testomony to Connelly’s expertise. 

Sadly, as fascinating because the character research inside “Darkish Matter” are, the scientific facets – particularly relating to Jason2’s magical multiverse touring machine, The Field, take away from the story’s core. Since sci-fi and physics jargon aren’t precisely digestible for the common viewer, the viewers is repeatedly proven the inside workings of The Field, which entails an injectable drug referred to as ampoules, a terrifying and twisted hall and the would-be multiverse-traveler attempting to have complete management over his unconscious. Consequently, some chapters really feel sluggish, overlooking large themes and leaving different characters within the present, together with Blair (​​Amanda Brugel), Daniela’s greatest buddy, to languish underneath half-baked arcs. As a first-time showrunner and the present’s creator, it seems Crouch was reluctant to go away any stone unturned. 

Throughout 9 episodes, each Jasons confront their selections and regrets. Nonetheless, Episode 6, “Superposition” is a standout. As Jason2 begins to see the imperfections in OG Jason’s “idyllic” life, the unique Jason and Amanda discover a universe that gives them some semblance of peace and a brand new starting. Even with The Field and the science of all of it hanging within the background, the episode lastly provides the actors their due. As a result of “Darkish Matter” is violent, bleak and a bit repetitious, “Superposition” presents viewers a much-needed reprieve. 

As intriguing as “Darkish Matter” is, the tales and timelines develop into extra convoluted because the present presses on. Whereas the viewers and Jason2 are a number of paces forward of OG Jason for a lot of the sequence, issues slide off the rails by Episode 8, “Jupiter,” as viewers notice issues aren’t precisely as they seem. Consequently, what might have been a welcomed twist appears like a letdown. 

When Crouch revealed his novel almost a decade in the past, fewer motion pictures and TV tasks centering multiverses existed. Since then, movies like “All the pieces In every single place All at As soon as,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe and reveals like Starz’s “Counterpart” have made these ideas extra commonplace. Although “Darkish Matter” is ok, it might have been genuinely thrilling if Crouch had trusted his viewers with out an in depth roadmap, letting his materials and the stellar performances from the actors converse for themselves.

The primary two episodes of “Darkish Matter” premiere Could 8 on Apple TV+ with new episodes dropping weekly on Wednesdays.

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