‘Dark Matter’ Episode 3 Recap & Ending Explained: Did Leighton Kill Ryan?


The first two episodes of Apple TV+’s Dark Matter introduced us to the physics teacher, Jason1, and another version of him from an alternate reality, Jason2, who was a highly qualified scientist. Unlike Jason1, who decided to settle down with Daniela1, Jason2 centered his whole life around his search for the door to different realities. This pursuit came with the side-effect of loneliness, and one day, he decided to switch places with the version of himself who was living a happy life. While Jason2 comfortably slipped into the place of Jason1, the latter felt confused and disoriented as he couldn’t make head or tail of the dysfunctional relationships in Jason2’s life. Jason1 started to make some headway by forming a bond with Daniela2. However, that was cut short by Dawn, a Velocity agent, as she shot Daniela2 in the head and killed her. Let’s find out if, in episode 3 of Dark Matter, the inhabitants of the aforementioned realities are able to figure out if the version of Jason that’s in front of them is an impostor or not.

Spoiler Alert

Leighton Shows The Box To Jason1

Episode 3 of Dark Matter opens with Jason1 tied up in the lavish prison cell in Velocity. Leighton seems to be apologetic about Daniela2’s death, but he is still under the impression that Jason1 is actually Jason2, who is suffering from some form of amnesia. Meanwhile, Jason2 is enjoying life with Daniela1, drinking wine and eating good food. Of course, he doesn’t recognize some of Daniela1’s old friends, but that’s a minor hiccup in the larger scheme of things. Detective Mason shows up at Velocity to not only look into Jason2’s disappearance but also to find out some details about the whereabouts of Blair Caplan (for the sake of clarity, this is Blair2). Apparently, they used to work in different departments, but they went missing at around the same time. Leighton obviously lies to Mason about Jason2 and Blair. He even gets Amanda to lie to Mason. 

However, something about Mason’s eerie smile says that she has already connected the dots; she just wants the tiniest bit of confirmation to make some arrests. Leighton obviously doesn’t want that to happen because they’ll lose billions of dollars. Amanda says that four people have gone missing, Daniela2 is dead, and the loss of a life can’t be compensated with money. While the two are arguing, Jason1 suddenly agrees to take a walk through the memory lane because he probably believes (or wants to believe) that he is suffering from amnesia. So, Leighton decides to show Jason1 the box that is used to transport between different realities. Since Jason1 gave up working on the project in his reality a long time ago, Leighton assumed that he had retained his memories until he got the Pavia award. Any memories that he made after that have been erased. Jason1 finds out that a total of three people went into the box to test if it worked, and none of them returned. When Blair2 didn’t make it back, Jason2 went in, and then Jason1 was the one who returned.

Leighton Figures Out Jason1 Isn’t Jason2

Jason2 goes out with Charlie to do some shopping, and he essentially bribes him to get some information on all the people who are going to attend the party at his house so that he doesn’t come off as an impostor. Meanwhile, Jason1 reads Jason2’s notes and published works, and that’s when it finally hits him: he isn’t suffering from any kind of amnesia; he is just not the person who everyone thinks he is (even though they look and act the same). From what I understand, Jason1 doesn’t remember being switched by Jason2, or at least, he hasn’t figured out that the person who brought him to this reality is another version of himself. For the viewers, it’s easy to understand that these two versions of Jason Dessen have been switched. But if you put yourself in Jason1’s shoes and imagine finding yourself in a reality where everything is different after a party where you drank a lot of booze, things are bound to be confusing. 

Sadly, Leighton doesn’t receive the aforementioned revelation well, as he resorts to physical violence to get Jason1 to reveal who he is and how he has figured out the process of inter-reality traveling. Jason1’s suffering is juxtaposed, in a hilarious (or maybe sad) way, with Jason2 totally enjoying the party that’s being hosted by Daniela1. Jason2’s environment is so warm and cozy, and then there’s Jason1 being pummeled to hell by Dawn in a cold and oppressive cell. Jason2 has a little difficulty figuring out what the guests are doing in their respective lives, and he almost fails to remember the name of a hotel, but that’s not enough to spoil the whole party. By the way, Leighton tries to convince Jason1 that this reality-traveling project is to solve the issues of the reality they are in by learning from different realities. However, something about the Leighton’s attitude, as well as the vibe of the whole workplace, tells me that their intentions aren’t that noble. There’s something bigger at play that we aren’t seeing yet.

Did Leighton Kill Ryan?

Daniela1 probably has some idea that the version of Jason that’s in front of her isn’t actually the version of Jason she is familiar with, but she is unable to put her finger on it because, no matter how rational you are, you’re not going to immediately come to the conclusion that your loved one is an impostor from a different dimension. That said, the way Daniela1 compares the behavior of Jason1 and Jason2, I think she is worrying about whether or not he is suicidal. Usually, and this is purely anecdotal and probably not based on anything scientific, before a person is about to die by suicide, they show a sudden burst in energy, positivity, and enthusiasm, and then they bid adieu. Since Jason2 is much more excited and chirpier than Jason1, Daniela1 thinks that her husband is about to do something drastic. Sadly, she is unaware of the fact that something drastic has already happened, and the man in front of him is painting it all as a byproduct of his tryst with death. Jason1 has a conversation about the liquid that Ryan2 was making for Jason2. It’s essentially a product that puts certain parts of the brain to sleep so that the box can use the brain to connect with all the versions of it across the multiverse. This process takes around 3 minutes, and once the subject wakes up, they are allowed to walk between realities. My understanding of the sci-fi concept can be wrong, but that’s what I was able to surmise from Ryan2 and Jason1’s discussion. Anyway, Ryan2 is taken away by Leighton and probably killed off-screen. 

At the end of Dark Matter episode 3, when Amanda tries to break Jason1 out of Velocity, she essentially says that Ryan2 isn’t alive anymore. Maybe Leighton tried to force him to get the box working, but he failed, leading to his death. Amanda and Jason1 are spotted by Leighton, and he and Dawn chase them down. Jason1 and Amanda decide to enter the reality-traveling box and escape the place because everything in that reality is trying to kill them. While closing the massive door of the box, Jason1 crushes and cuts off Dawn’s fingers (which is pretty satisfying because she is a menace). Then, Amanda and Jason1 proceed to take the liquid, set the timer on the mobile to three minutes, and then they pass out. When they wake up, they find themselves in an infinite corridor. As mentioned before, the box serves as a gateway to all the realities in which all the versions of the subjects exist. Well, the realities where the Jason of that world didn’t build the box are probably inaccessible? Okay, here’s where things get a little confusing. Jason2 built the reality-traveling box. That same box exists in Jason1’s reality. The box itself doesn’t travel between realities. It connects the openings. Or maybe if one version of Jason makes the box, it magically appears in every reality that has a version of him, thereby allowing the subject to travel. Either way, Jason1 and Amanda have a very difficult task ahead of them. If they walk through the wrong door, they risk getting lost in the multiverse. We’ll have to wait till next week to know the outcome of their little gamble.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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