DISCLAIMER: This recap of Dark Matter Season 1 Episode 3, “The Box” contains spoilers. Read at your risk.

Last Week

Dark Matter’s second episode (“Trip of A Lifetime”) left our jaws on the floor. After Original Jason (Joel Edgerton) finally unpacked the theory that he and Jason2 had been “the same person” until his fateful decision to stay with pregnant Daniella (Jennifer Connelly). This pivot point created two branching realities: one where Jason and Daniella get married and have Charlie, and another where Jason2 helps found Velocity and builds the quantum box which, ironically, he used to port to Jason’s reality and forcibly switch lives with him.

All this closeness and revelation pushed Original Jason and Alternate Daniella into bed together. But their (problematic?) hook-up was interrupted when Velocity’s frowning, leather-loving security agent, Dawn (Marquita Brooks) showed, put a bullet between Alternate Daniella’s eyes and re-captured Original Jason.

RELATED: Roger Corman: More Than ‘The King of the B’s’

This week in Dark Matter’s “The Box”, Original Jason is back inside the industrial-chic bowels of the Velocity Labs campus, where we will learn a lot more about the quantum technology Jason2 created and which everyone simply calls The Box.

Finding What’s Real

The episode begins with an exhausted-looking Amanda (Alice Braga) asleep on top of the covers in her and Jason2’s bed. She’s awakened by a call from Velocity, and while we can’t hear the other side, it’s clear she’s panicked by the (fully unnecessary) murder of Alternate Daniella. This vibe is echoed by Leighton (Dayo Okeniyi) when he visits Orignal Jason who is tied up in a cell at the facility. When Jason asks if he sent Dawn to Daniella’s apartment, Leighton looks shaken. He tries to play it cool, but it’s clear that cold-blooded murder was not a part of the plan.

Back in Oringal Jason’s universe, Jason2 seems on edge too. While he ruthlessly continues to steal Original Jason’s life by wooing Original Daniella, surprising her by blithely buying a second bottle of expensive wine on their dinner date, he obsessively watches the stream of the webcam he set up to watch The Box in this universe. Is he worried that someone is going to show up looking for him? But he soon finds he has more immediate problems when he discovers there is a dinner party planned at the house the next night. One which will include Original Jason and Daniella’s closest friends whom Jason2 has never met and knows nothing about.

RELATED: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Prime Video Unleashes Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

This Was Not The Plan

At Velocity Labs, Leighton gets a visit from Chicago Police Detective Jamie Mason (Kate Eastman) who has inherited the missing persons cases that involve Velocity Labs’ employees. A cagey Leighton plays it cool. He’s just the handsome grandson of the company’s founder (who also raised him) who’s taking Velocity into the future. Detective Mason doesn’t buy it and asks him about not only Jason Dessen’s disappearance but another employee, Blair Caplan, who vanished a few months before Jason.

Detective Mason tells him that Jason has re-appeared recently at both the hospital and Daniella’s art show. He feigns surprise and triples down on all of his lies hoping to brush her off. But Detective Mason wants to speak to another Velocity employee whom Jason Dessen was romantically involved with, Dr. Amanda Lucas.

Post-interview Amanda and Leighton argue in a control room. Things are coming apart at Velocity Labs and Jason is terrified that if the police put the pieces together the billions he sunk into developing The Box will go poof and he and Amanda will go to jail. Amanda is more concerned about the growing list of missing people.

RELATED: Mr. and Mrs. Smith Returns for Season 2 – With a Twist

She reveals that including Jason2 and Blair Caplan there are a total of FOUR people missing from Velocity and now they have a murder on their hands as well. Things are unraveling very quickly and these two bosses are freaking out. They need Original Jason to explain why he’s the only Box Pilot ever to return. Lucky for them he seems to have had a change of heart and is willing to talk.

leighton, played by dayo okeniyi, leans over and looks ahead in an interview room .

Original Jason, who now seems at least open to the idea that his memories of his other life are not real, asks his partners to explain what they were working on and why keeping it quiet is worthy of murder. Leighton shows him The Box, which is kept in a secure hangar. Original Jason is amazed to behold the device he only dreamed of making and between him and Leighton the tech is explained.

The Box

The Box uses some kind of active shielding (“Like the world’s most expensive noise canceling headphones”) to block all interference (not just sound) inside the chamber. This solitude (and probably some other tech) allows a person to be put in quantum superposition (like Shrodinger’s cat) so they can visit the multiple realities that branch off from all of their previous choices. Before Jason2 made his trip, two other employees (including Blair Caplan) tried the box and never returned. A guilt-stricken Jason made the next attempt and then Velocity tried again. This time recruiting a volunteer anonymously and not disclosing what they were signing up for. Yeah, Leighton sucks. But what about Amanda? Maybe not.

RELATED: Noir: Nicolas Cage to Star in Live-Action Spider-Man Noir Series

When Leighton shows the video of Jason2 running into the box, he is chased by a panicked Amanda who very clearly doesn’t want him to go. Then Leighton shows him the video of his “return” and the medical team flying into the hangar with the gurney we saw in episode one.

Back in Original Jason’s world, Jason2 continues to throw money around. This time buying Charlie (Oaks Fegley) an expensive skateboard deck. Why is he so flush with cash? He’s also continuing to cram for the impending dinner party, pumping Charlie for basic information he should know about his friends. While scouring the party guests social media for info he discovers that one of them is named Blair Caplan! In Jason2’s reality, she’s one of the Box Pilots who disappeared, but in this one, she’s Daniella’s pal (who we met at the art gallery in episode one). This party is getting more and more complicated.

And it’s not any better in Jason2’s world, where Original Jason’s sense of reality is rapidly unraveling. After seeing the box and reviewing “his” work, Original Jason is visited by Amanda. She reveals to him that her role in the company was to train the Box Pilots to withstand the psychological rigors of quantum travel. And that she and Jason2 were in love for more than a year.

The overload of data seems to short-circuit Original Jason’s grasp on the situation. In a vulnerable moment, he admits that he is beginning to believe that his mind may have been altered by the quantum experience and that maybe he is Jason2 after all. But far from being relieved, Amanda, a brilliant psychologist sees (perhaps for the first time) that Original Jason is truly not her Jason, the one that walked into The Box 14 months ago. In her heart, she knows this is another version of the man sitting before her. And now she has to do something about it. 

Dinner Parties and Torture

And now… the dreaded dinner party. As Daniella finishes preparing a Beef Wellington (ambitious!) Jason2 continues to prep for the party where he’s written crib notes on the guests in his iPhone Notes App (okay Apple).

As the party kicks off Jason2 immediately finds himself in conversation with this reality’s Blair Caplan and it doesn’t go well. Jason2’s awkward restating of the basic facts of her life (stuff he should already know) puts her on alert. He does a bit better with some of the other guests until Ryan shows up. Having put this reality’s Ryan in his place about the job offer, there’s tension between them. But after a side chat in the kitchen in which Ryan apologizes for overstepping, it’s clear that this new, more confident version of Jason is raising red flags in his friend too. 

a man, jason2 and daniella embrace in apple tv's dark matter

At Velocity Labs, Original Jason is once again grilled by Leighton in the weird fishbowl interrogation room where half the company, including Amanda, stands outside watching it happen through the windows. Things have escalated. Leighton now seems to think that the Jason sitting before him is, in fact, an imposter. A situation that gets much darker when puffy Alternate Ryan is pushed forward by scary Dawn, implying that Velocity now knows everything.

The game Original Jason has been playing to get information is now over, so he viciously attacks Leighton until he is dragged off. Meanwhile, Jason2 is deep into dinner with his “friends”, when he faces his final test. Original Daniella asks him a very specific question that he should absolutely know the answer to and… he nails it. His prep has paid off. In ping-ponging scenes between both realities, the fates of both Jason’s begins to once again depart.

While Original Jason is beaten and nearly killed by Dawn, Jason2 makes a sentimental toast at the table of his besties who now seem overjoyed at this new version of Jason. Especially Orginal Daniella who, post-party, seems overjoyed with this revitalized version of her husband.

Post-interrogation, Original Jason is thrown into a room with Alternate Ryan who is horrified that his reaching out to Velocity has caused all this horror, including Alternate Daniella’s murder. He explains that he is the one who created the drug, called Lavender Fairy, which works in tandem with The Box to make quantum travel possible.

CRAZY TECH ALERT: Even with The Box keeping the traveler from being observed in any way, quantum travel would be impossible because of “the observer effect”. Because the traveler observing the situation would cause their consciousness to “decohere”, thus making the travel impossible.  Ryan’s drug stops that process from happening. But just as all this comes together, Leighton shows up and takes Ryan away. To the same fate as Alternate Daniella? 

Time To Go

After a moment in the original reality where Jason2 cements his control over Orignal Daniella, we are back at Velocity Labs. Amanda, who has had enough, springs Original Jason from his cell. They try to make their escape up the elevator but are immediately discovered. So there’s only one way out of the facility… and it’s shaped like a box. A chase ensues where Dawn and company pursue Original Jason and Amanda into the hangar. The pair just make it inside, with scary Dawn hot on their heels. They manage to shut the door on The Box, chopping off Dawn’s fingers in the process! With the door to The Box sealed Amanda reveals that she’s going intends to use The Box to help them make their escape and begins prepping them for travel. This includes injecting the Lavender Fairy into a specific vein. She injects Original Jason and herself. As they drift off, Original Jason says he doesn’t know how to make the box work. But expresses his deepest hope: he wants to get back to his family. Then… blackness. 

Change Is The Only Constant

Late at night, in the under-stairs office nook of Original Jason, a triumphant Jason2 is continuing to teach himself about his new life. He watches some (honestly strange) video that Charlie took of the family playing the game Clue (what?) while working his way through the family’s vital documents stored in a metal box.

He sees Charlie’s birth certificate and Social Security card and smiles. This is the boy he never had but now does. Then he discovers there’s a second birth certificate for a “Maxmillian Dessen” who was born on October 7, 2006… the same day as Charlie! Is this a brother? A twin? Where is he? It looks like our smug friend Jason2 has A LOT MORE to learn before he can fully claim this life as his own. 

jason and amanda peer around a corner

Back in The Box, Original Jason and Amanda wake up from their Lavender Sleep. Whatever confusion they had about how the device works seems to have resolved because they now find themselves in a transformed space. The cold, grey square of the box with its single door has been transformed into a seemingly endless hallway of identical doors. Do they each lead to another reality? If so, how will they ever find the right way back to Original Jason’s world? 

They don’t know. And neither do we. 

Catch up on our Dark Matter Recaps, here!

Dark Matter is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week: RAPUNZEL