Dark Angel: Flushed

"Supposed to be a revved-up girl. Truth is I'm a lemon."

This is a dark, disturbing episode; it's so effective that I often dread rewatching it.

Of course, the fact that it's so unsettling, demonstrates just how capably and quickly Dark Angel found its voice. It's a brave decision to make the show's kickass heroine this weak so early in the show's run, yet it works because it imbues Max with a ton of vulnerability. The girl isn't just a genetically engineered supersoldier, she's witnessed the worst in people, and she has some flaws of her own.

The hour does an effective job of taking Max's life and sending it spiraling out of control. As our heroine finds herself sorely in need of some Tryptophan to control her harsh seizures, she begins fighting with Cindy, getting into trouble at work, and even ripping off Kendra and the building's rent money. Eventually she lands herself in prison and in a harrowing abusive household that's all too similar to a foster home she lived in after her escape. It's here that her guilt for not helping out a fellow foster child when she was young resurfaces, and she tries to right those wrongs. While I positively hate it when writers resort to sexual violence to threaten their female heroines, I'll admit that the device worked effectively here to forge a link with Max's past.

Max's post-apocalyptic world, and prison-life in particular, is skillfully realized this week down to every last detail in the set design. As a viewer, you never once question the show's setting and it's the sort of stellar production design that's only been matched by Mad Men in recent years. And the manner in which Max is touched and groped by the corrupt cop? It's all so very uncomfortable and eerie.

For the second week in a row, Logan displays how he resourceful he is by working with Original Cindy (love their growing bond), utilizing his police contact Matt Sung, hatching the Walter bribery scheme, and erasing Max's records from the prison seconds before Lydecker can learn how she looks like. In addition, his dynamic with Max continues to evolve in a wonderful manner. I absolutely love the episode's strangely upbeat final scene as the two return to their playful banter. While the tonal shift feels a tad jarring, it's a nonetheless welcome sight after the bleakness of the hour.

Post-Pulse Bits

- Such a touching scene with Max asking Logan to stay with her as she falls asleep, seizing and powerless.

- Badass moment with Max ripping off the sleazy Mafia's car as his partner robs a poor elderly Asian couple.

- Obviously we're to assume Max is significantly weaker when she's out of her meds because the orderlies at the hospital captured her way too quickly.

- Sketchy cracked me up with his various excuses covering for Max at work.

- Although we never see Break again, he builds an immediate rapport with Max in the prison (particular when he gets her fresh milk from a goat in a nearby cell-block).

- Max's escape attempt with the failed slow-motion jump is hard to watch. Thankfully Break makes it kind of amusing with the opera singing.

- Cindy's infiltration as a hooker is hilarious. Valerie Rae Miller is a comedic gem.

- Lydecker feels like an afterthought in this one, but it makes sense to paint him as a specter constantly waiting on the sidelines and ready to pounce on Max as soon as he can catch a trace of her.

- The camera angles, the ominous music... the sexual abuse flashback is horrifying to watch.

- I'm fascinated by the reveal that Manticore taught Max and the other kids not to get involved with situations outside their main objective - which explains why she never helped poor abused Lucy.

- Favorite moment of the hour: the towering triumphant instant when Max reclaims her power and viciously chokes the Warden half to death.

- Although this episode didn't have much action, I love Max hoping onto the incoming van and disposing of the agents as her glee for asskicking returns once more. And crash-driving into the Warden? Immensely satisfying.

- Max telling the girls the truth about her nature as they laugh in her face was a fun little touch.

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: Most days, I get by fine. I blend with the crowd. Just another one of the huddled masses yearning to get by unnoticed. Problemo is, I'm not as like them as I'd like to be. I got made, not born, and because it was humans that made me, somewhere along the line a couple of wires got crossed in my head. Someone botched the job. So some days, that's how I feel - a botched job.

Logan: It’s nothing fancy. Just one of my run-of-the-mill, spur-of-the-moment culinary miracles.

Walter: You know I could take it out in trade but I'm a married man.
Kendra: You're a real pillar of virtue Walter. Your wife's a lucky woman.

Normal: Well, well, well. So far, your moron colleagues have come up with the following excuses for why you’re strolling in here at the crack of noon: you had a dental emergency; your aunt died...again; and my personal favorite, from this idiot, you were detained by the sector police for practicing witchcraft. Now, would you care to further insult my intelligence?
Max: I overslept.

Guard: Let me ask you... how much does a strung-out little skeezebag tramp like you go for these days?
Break: Ask your wife.
Guard: What’d you say?
Break: Twenty to life. That’s what she ought to get, if you ask me.

Max: How about you?
Break: Cannibalism. I ate my parents.
Max: Good source of protein.

Cindy: Damn girl what's in those pills?
Max: Spinach.

Cindy: (to The Warden) Anybody look twice, you’re the queen of the Rose Parade - just smile and wave. Get in.

Lydecker: That hump Vogelsang just bought himself another manicure.

Logan: I always knew that underneath that bio-engineered, military-issue armor plating, there was a beating heart.
Max: Let’s not go overboard here. I’m not signing up to join the Logan Cale Brigade for the Defense of Widows, Small Children, and Lost Animals.
Logan: You could be field commander.
Max: I think not. So what’s for dinner? You gonna feed me or are you gonna just sit there?
Logan: You know, you were much sweeter when you weren’t feeling well.
Max: The bitch is back.

- A well-produced albeit disturbing hour of Dark Angel.

3.5 out of 5 seizure pills.

Previously posted on Nad's Reviews.


TJ said...

I remember I loved this show back then. I have always thought of give it another try, but was afraid that I'd find it a bit dated.

But your wonderful reviews Nadim makes me wanna go for it again. We'll see:)

Anonymous said...

Possibly the best depiction of an apocalyptic world in television history. Most underated show of all time IMO. A mix of buffy,alias,nikita in a wonderful setting.

Nadim said...

Time to get back into it TJ. Trust me it's still excellent, and more relevant than ever in our current times.

Plus, I'm still at episode 3 in my rewatch so you're not late :)

Anonymous said...

Dark Angel remains THE most underated show in tv history. A mix of buffy,alias and nikita in an apocalyptic setting. Set design ranks up there with big budget films. Amusing, engaging characters. Pretty much a flawless show. Two excellent and fairly different seasons. The decision to cancel this show was worse than the decision to cancel Angel.
Looking foward to future reviews Nadim.

Nadim said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly Anonymous! It's so underrated and has touches of all my favorite kickass heroine shows like Alias, Nikita, Buffy and even Dollhouse.
The two seasons are insanely different but I love them both for different reasons so I'm excited to continue my rewatch. Really glad you're reading and enjoying :)

P.S. Over ten years later and I'm STILL pissed the show was cancelled without a resolution.

ChrisB said...

You mentioned the thing I found most interesting about this episode. Only three shows in, and already we have seen our kick-ass heroine sick, weak and vulnerable. A brave choice, but it certainly works in making her more relatable and more likable.

I was very impressed with the character growth in this episode. While I am sure Max has been ill before, I got the impression that she has never allowed anyone else to take care of her the way she let Logan at the beginning. The fact that he allowed her to be weak and to rest gave her emotional as well as physical strength.

At the same time, she learns that Original Cindy and Kendra truly care about her. The intervention came from a place of love; OC helped her escape; Kendra took care of the money. By allowing these three people to care about her and to help her, Max is able to tell the women the truth. OK, so they don't believe her. But, they've got her back.

What an enormous amount of character development for such a new show. And, can I just say, if that is truly Abraham Benrubi singing that aria, just wow!

Nadim Safieddine said...

Yes Chris it used to annoy me that they made her weak so early in the show's run, but when I recently rewatched this hour, I realized what a brilliant decision it was as it made Max even more relatable and likeable!

Love what you wrote about how Cindy and Kendra showed they cared about her which lead to her revealing the truth. God I love these characters and I"m glad you're already attached within just a few hours! The season just gets better and better.

arie said...

"P.S. Over ten years later and I'm STILL pissed the show was cancelled without a resolution."

I just bought the three Dark Angel books. One is a prequel of sorts, and the other two deal with the events after season two. I haven't read them yet, but from what I've read from the writers season three was going to be "pretty whack" (to quote Joshua)!

Nadim Safieddine said...

Hey Arie,

I remember reading the books years ago and not being impressed. The best resolution you can find is the season two finale commentary where Charles Eglee and Moira Dekker pretty much spell out everything about the show's mythology and season three. That's the REAL continuity unlike the books which were the result of a freelance writer who was hired and was never really part of the writer's room. :) So rush to that commentary if you haven't heard it!