Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dark Angel, Season 1, Episode 10: Red

We start with a nice moment with Kendra and Max – Max enjoying bath night (with the power they have to steal) and Kendra discussing her new boyfriend “Mr. Multiples”

Bjut of course Logan has to call to ruin Max’s bath night – Logan has a witness who may be able to bring down corrupt mayor Steckler once and for all and he wants someone other than the corrupt witness protection to keep him safe. She has time to finish her bath before roaring ion on her motorcycle to the safe house and pulling the guy out – just before the assassins hit.

She takes him back to Logan and they both get to see who the witness is. Bruno Anselmo, the goon who worked for Sonrisa and was tricked by Max into killing his boss. The man who shot Logan and put him in a wheelchair. Bruno can testify against the Mayor for how he worked with Sonrisa, stealing drugs that were needed to save veteran’s lives – several of which died, including Max’s friend.

Max is less than pleased with looking after Bruno – but Logan points out if he, who was paralysed by Bruno, can manage it than so can Max. Max has the fun job of taking him to a safe house and tolerating his constant attempts to hit on her, his complaints about the room, his pickiness about the food and general failure to realise what danger he’s in. Max takes great pleasure in repeatedly smacking him, but while Max is getting food, Bruno orders lap dancers. Max explains to him the whole point of a safe house – that no-one’s supposed to know where it is – and they have to move on to a hotel.

But even in the hotel, Bruno sneaks out and Max has to track him down to a bar, get dragged into a bar fight which she has to finish before pulling him back to the hotel. Her patience exhausted, she chains him to the bed – but Bruno insists on calling his daughter who, much to Max’s surprise, does actually exist and isn’t an excuse. But even this is interrupted – not by Bruno, but by 3 large guys killing the concierge (with a simple flick of their wrist) and heading up to their room. Max grabs Bruno and they run and hide among the homeless.

Logan, meanwhile, is watching the hover drone tape of him being shot, over and over watching Bruno Anselmo shoot him. Bling does not think this is very healthy even though he admires Logan for keeping Bruno safe. And at Jam Pony, Original Cindy, Sketchy and Normal have noticed Max’s absence – and Cindy calls Logan. Logan makes an excuse for her and says she’ll have a doctor’s note – and Cindy threatens Logan with violence if he gets Max hurt, because she’s Cindy and awesome like that.

Max fills Logan in on what’s been happening and that the last 3 goons didn’t look like Steckler’s people. Logan gets the security tapes from the hotel to check – and sees one of the goons driving his fist through a lift door. He takes the information to Sebastian, one of his experts, who says they are South African military – special forces called Reds, with an implant in their neck that makes them hyper-adrenalised among other things. They’re super strong and immune to pain – but they burn out within 6 months. But if they mixed the implant with transgenic technology – like Max, maybe they could extend the life span of the soldiers.

In fact, we cut to the Reds and find one with a cut in his arm that has to be cauterised because it won’t stop bleeding. He feels no pain and their boss/handler tells them they won’t have such problems if they get the girl –Max.

Max takes Bruno to see his daughter and ex-wife – and there’s another attempt on his life, this time just a man with a gun. Max gets him to the courthouse just in time – and just in time to testify, albeit rather dramatically. He gives his testimony – but then the court is adjourned due to a bomb threat. They leave the building and Bruno leads Max to the back stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, the Reds are waiting – and Bruno knocks the handle off the door, locking them in. He’s heard the word on the street that someone’s been looking for a “Mantecore prototype” and since he’s seen what Max can do, he thinks she is one. He even set up the bar fight to show off her capabilities.

She fights the 3 Reds, repeatedly hitting them but taking more than a few hits herself. They’re immune to pain, hard to damage and extremely strong. They fight for some time, her using speed to try and avoid them until Logan drives in, shoots one of the Reds and give Max chance to jump in the car and escape – but the Reds are determined to come back and find her.

And Bruno is shot. Leaving the courthouse without Max, he has no-one to protect him.

In the aftermath, Steckler is indicted and Logan helps patch up Max who has took several injuries from the Reds – even an X5 can’t tackle them unscathed.

I’ve said it before and, yes, I’m saying it again, the dystopian of this world is really well done. Just little things like Max having to heat up pots of water for bath night, them having to steal power – there’s these constant reminders of the state of the city and the country and the way they have to live.

I also like the treatment of sex workers. There are, inevitably, a lot of sex workers in a dystopian world where there are so many people who have so little money. Max continually respects them, and this is something we’ve seen in other episodes as well, and she takes issue with people trying to extort the working girls for money. There is a sense of pity through it – the idea that these women have no other choices, but that very much fits the dystopia and the on-going commentary on class and the wealth divide.

With the inclusion of Sebastian as well we now have 2 characters who are disabled (3 if we include Max’s seizures). He’s in a consulting role, but is presented as an expert to be respected (and could not really be in an action role) and one to be sought even by Logan who has a lot of information at his finger tips.

The story keeps being interesting – there’s connecting threads even when there isn’t meta – it keeps it going and holding the series together. It never truly devolves into monster of the week.