Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dark Angel: Season 1, Episode 12: Rising

 Logan is checking his new found feeling in his legs with his doctor. Naturally the doctor tries to discourage him from getting his hopes up since nerve damage doesn’t heal (then why does Logan have Bling as a physiotherapist? Does the doctor revel in giving false hope?). But there is one thing unusual in Logan’s blood – it’s full of undifferentiated stem cells.

Now, where does a man get them? Well it seems Mantecore creations have tons of them in their blood stream since they can regenerate any tissue and greatly help with healing – and Logan got a blood transfusion from Max not too long ago. Intrigued and hopeful – Max and Logan are eager to try again.

After 2 transfusions and minimal movement, Logan tries to stand – and falls, needing Bling to help him back up, much to his anger and frustration – then leaves him depressed and bleak

Max’s unique genes mean she’s in demand – and the Red Series are back, with one of them being burned because their body has given out under the implant. He lasted only 2 months (out of the maximum of 6) and his 2 fellows are testy with their handler at how little time he had. The only solution he can offer is Max – find Max and they can use her genes to lengthen their lives. The plan is to use Max’s broken pager to try and find the last person who called her – get them and use them to get to Max.

At Jam Pony Herbal is doing his best to speak without his strong Island accent because his girlfriend is having trouble understanding him. Both Original Cindy and Sketchy disapprove of him changing his accent and his preferred method of speaking, which neither of them have problem understanding. They find it sad that he’s giving up part of what makes him him to conform.

And Cindy has a new job – cold calling selling life and dismemberment insurance – and takes great pleasure telling Normal that she quits. The new job isn’t a mass amount of fun though since she doesn’t achieve much – mainly due to her code switching and following the rigid script that’s pushed on her rather than relying on her own natural speech.

Max is trying to deal with the changes around her – Cindy quitting, Kendra in a relationship with Walter, the cop who used to extort them (while Cindy makes it clear there’s no reason to judge Kendra, she wants what she wants and loves who she loves) and Logan being depressed and moody.

The Red Series gain a new member, showing us their increased strength as well as the characteristic bleeding from the eyes, and go out hunting for Max. The last number that called max came from Cindy – and in her flat they find a photo of Max and a neighbour who tells them about Cindy’s new job.

The Reds catch up to Max at the bar – and she runs. Only one can keep up as she flees on the back of the truck and in the fight he gets impaled on an iron bar – something even a Red can’t survive. As he dies he gasps that they need her so they may live. This gives Max chance to get the body back to Logan and his conspiracy theory contact, Sebastian.  They try to play it cagey around Sebastian but he is both too intelligent and too well informed – knows that Max is Mantecore and an X5 from the group that escaped and knows why the Reds want her – not, as they think, to extend their own lives, but to harvest Max’s ova to create a new generation of super soldiers. One they don’t have to recruit from South Africa’s condemned criminal population which is what they currently do. They can’t live without the implant and, Sebastian warns her, in single combat Reds are just too strong and too tough even for a Mantecore transgenic.

Back at Red central, their handler is furious at them for losing the implant and the 2 remaining Reds are furious at him for caring more about the implant than the man they lost. One of them hits the handler but they daren’t kill him – especially when he taunts them with their violent, criminal past. They return to the original plan of following Original Cindy to her new job

At her new job she’s just managing to make her first sale using her natural way of speaking when the Reds burst in – perfect timing. They force Cindy to call Max and ask her to come to her workplace. She calls Max to invite her out for a club – but sends a warning, saying Max has to meet her “new hot boy” which Max knows is suspicious given that Original Cindy is a lesbian.

Knowing she’s facing Reds and that Cindy’s life is in danger Max goes to Sebastian’s and takes the implant they recovered – and inserts it in her own neck. Sebastian tries to warn her but she is determined, even though it could kill her. It’s even more dangerous for Mantecore transgenics than Reds, overcharging their already overcharged bodies, meaning Max may burn out in hours rather than months. Logan rushes to help as well.

At the insurance office, Max bursts through the window and dramatically disables both the Reds. It’s a nifty fight scene that ranks up the super hero-ness with people being thrown through walls. Max’s already greater speed and skill with Red strength means the Reds are no threat. But in the end the handler points a gun at her while she’s weakened from the implant after the fight.

They have a nice villainous exposition moment with Max saying how he lied to the Reds about helping them with Mantecore genetics. The handler doesn’t care and calls them criminals, scum of the earth, they don’t matter – Max rejects that, they’re not expendable just because they’re criminals.

This is when Logan manages to turn off the lights, struggling to half climb up the wall since they’re out of his reach in his wheelchair. In the dark, the handler misses Max and one of the surviving Reds staggers forward with an axe – the handler shoots him 4 times, but he still gets chance to swing the axe and kill him.

Max is unconscious on the floor, seizing and with blood pouring from her eyes. Logan drags himself over the floor to her and Cindy brings a torch – over the phone Sebastian guides them in using the defibrillator they brought on Max’s implant – shorting it out.

Max wakes up in Logan’s flat and is worried that she almost got Cindy killed – and decides to tell her the truth about everything. It’s a powerful, touching scene, with Original Cindy shocked and processing – but acknowledging that Max risked her life to save hers.

Back at Jam Pony, Cindy has to ask for her job back (given the war in her old job) and Normal grudgingly accepts her back – and Herbal is back speaking how he always used to, accent and all.

And Max goes to Logan – and finds he can stand up – not for long, but he can still stand. They decide not to take it slow – but go fast, starting with a ride on Max’s bike. But on the voice over at the end, Max wonders at the new issues she and Logan will have to face.

Another awesome Dark Angel episode that further broadens the world – even with the series focused on Seattle, we’ve still got some impression of the world outside

This episode also did an excellent job of addressing issues subtly which Dark Angel is so good at. It looked at and challenged the idea that convicted criminals are inherently expendable and have no value. And it looked at code switching, of Original Cindy and Herbal both suppressing their natural accents and speech patterns in order to conform – and how it made them both miserable and unhappy and – above all – how it so clearly and utterly wasn’t them. They were both better off without the switch and Cindy even more successful.  And it did that with just a couple of short scenes, a couple of conversations. Not many shows manage that