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How Blake Crouch Turned His Best-Selling Sci-Fi Thriller To Apple TV+’s Dark Matter

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When introduced to Jason Dessen (played by Joel Edgerton) in Apple TV+‘s Dark Matter, it becomes evident that he prioritizes his family, including his wife, Daniela (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly), and their teenage son, Charlie (played by Oakes Fegley). Despite his dedication to family life, Jason, a modest college professor, occasionally reflects on the professional path he chose not to pursue in quantum physics.

Everything changes abruptly when an unidentified assailant seizes Jason from the streets of Chicago one evening and transports him to an alternate reality where he prioritized his career over his family fifteen years earlier. In this parallel universe, Jason is a celebrated physicist who has invented a metallic cube capable of accessing multiple dimensions. It’s this version of Jason, dubbed Jason2, who orchestrates the abduction in a bid to swap lives with him.

Dark Matter, adapted from Blake Crouch’s bestselling 2016 novel of the same title, follows Jason’s journey as he endeavors to return to his original reality and be reunited with his loved ones. The narrative, explored in the first two episodes now available for streaming, delves into the speculative realm of “what ifs” regarding existence—a concept Crouch acknowledges was influenced by personal introspection.

“I was in my mid-30s,” he says. “And I felt like I’d been alive long enough to sort of look back at all the paths I’d taken and not taken and start to wonder what if I had done this instead of that.”

This philosophical underpinning also resonated with executive producer Matt Tolmach (known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming), who was captivated by the existential themes prevalent in the series. In an email to TIME, Tolmach expressed his fascination with the fundamental inquiries posed by the show: questions of purpose, identity, and regret that are universally relatable. He emphasized how Crouch’s narrative manages to unravel these inquiries in a profoundly thought-provoking manner, tapping into the complexities of human existence.

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