"Cows don't leave the slaughterhouse. Steaks do." I'm uncertain what I expected from an episode whose synopsis promised a man's life would "take a turn for the worse" after he meets his perfect woman using a "cutting-edge dating app" - perhaps I expected a little more emphasis on the app.
Instead, the episode turns itself on its head by totally transforming the story into a dystopian nightmare about what may really go into finding your perfect match, a nightmare that has me completely rethinking my own use of dating apps. A nightmare that quite literally conceptualises the phrase "made for someone".
There were some fairly unsubtle hints in the lead-up to the reveal that Adam was simply a sentient being designed in a test tube at the request of a lonely, heartbroken young woman. Most were related to names or phrases used to describe love (ie the company being named "Make-a-Match" or the founder's surname being "Maker".
Perhaps the most significant example unrelated to a word or phrase was the opening scene of the episode, in which Adam appears to be on a date with an attractive blonde lady (Becky, according to Wikipedia), except it appeared more like Adam was being subjected to an invasive interrogation, complete with an iPad questionnaire that Becky would fill out. We learn later on in the episode that this "date" and the questionnaire serves as almost a dry run, to ensure this latest version of Adam matches the specifications the client has demanded.
"Matchmaker", the episode title itself was an easily unnoticed reference to the literalness of the plot - a dystopian story with a relatively positive conclusion. We might expect that Adam - and all the previous and future versions of Adam - would prove his love to the client who requested him, Amanda, due to his apparent characteristics of loyalty and persistence, but that would be a far too depressing and predictable ending for this episode.
Instead, Adam - and the other Adams - break free, free not only of the oppressive Make-a-Match headquarters to which they are confined (following a quite brilliant riot sequence), but also of the shackles of what they are designed to believe about love, about everyone having someone out there perfect for them. Instead, they forge their own, independent paths, knowing now one simple, illuminating fact: "One relationship [doesn't] define our whole lives!"
Matchmaker could be overtly depressing - and perhaps would have been without the final conclusion, but still manages to avoid that trap quite well with good humour, a fast pace and an excellent cast. It also provides a wonderful social commentary on the outlook society has towards love (not to mention how we can easily infer a commentary on the problematic nature of designer babies), which fills an extremely interesting, thought-provoking and recommendable 40 minutes of TV. I'll be back next week to reconnect with Dimension 404. Will you?
- Aired on Syfy, October 5 2017 at 21:00.