Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dark Angel, Season 1, Episode 15: Haven

Logan has a mission – to leave the city and check on some protestors who were killed and buried. To find out more he needs to talk to a source. But his usual source of passes, Matt Sung, doesn’t have the pull to get him a pass out of the city.

Max and Logan were planning a holiday in the mountains – which, as far as she’s concerned, is still on. Logan, back in his wheelchair, is not enthused with the idea of a rural trip at all. He’s all for backing out until Max reveals that she has passes to leave the city. Suddenly Logan changes his mind and he’d just love to go on a rural get away with Max. Uh-huh, you’d think he’d know better than to pull that with a transgenic killing machine.

On the way we can already see Logan’s dastardly plans, rather than going to the cabin he owns, they’re going to a completely different place in a cabin rented from a woman called Trudy. When they arrive they find a small town and we see how the pulse hit the rural areas, far from government centres and with little police force, a local militia enforces the peace and the curfews and tries to prevent the town being overrun with refugees who fled the city after the Pulse.

Max finds out what Logan is up to and they have a very predictable argument about being at work all the time and not being able to solve all the world’s problems, Logan going  off to speak to his source while Max stays in the cabin. She meets Sage, Trudy’s young nephew and they talk about their mutual nightmares of bad memories – and Max struggles to take her pills as her seizures start.

Logan’s contacts tap out, the man being unwilling to stick his neck out to come forwards and he joins Max and Sage at the local bar where Max is feeling a bit better after taking her pills and drinking lots of milk for the tryptophan. While playing pool, one of the men at the bar makes a comment about Max’s backside while she bends over the table and Logan moves to defend her honour. The man knocks Logan’s wheelchair over and Max turns round and beats the man and his friends into submission.

The next day Logan is in a snit. When max says she isn’t cold or hungry he accuses her of thinking him incapable because he’s in a wheelchair, especially after the bar fight. She angrily asks him how that was about him (they were, after all, commenting on her backside). She extends an olive branch that he stomps on so she leaves for a walk.

Logan speaks to his contact, Herman, an ex-policeman who was present when unarmed activists were murdered. He doesn’t want to talk and tries to justify the murders in the wake of the anarchy of the Pulse. People were rioting, looting and activists were “inciting” violence. He pointed out that rich people like Logan wanted their neighbourhoods to be protected during the chaos but expected them to be “nice.” While that clearly hits Logan hard but he refuses to allow that as a justification for the murder of unarmed people protesting against police brutality.

On her walk Max sees Sage at a small graveyard for the Gilan family – father, mother and child Sam. Sage says he dreams about Sam and takes her to the house where they died – during the Pulse they had a generator running for electricity, it shorted out and burned down the house. Max explores the ruins and shows Sage a patterned doorknob she found – Sage starts shaking and runs away. Max runs to follow, but her tremors stop her.

Sage is approached by one of the goons  from the bar, B.C., who threatens him, making sure Sage has the correct story about the Gilan family’s death and pushing him towards not remembering what happened. When Sage stares at him, the man hits him.

Max tries to check up on Sage at Trudy’s house since he left in a panic, she sees him and grabs him to speak to him before he can run. His shirt tears and she sees his chest is covered in burn scars – and that the palm of his hand has a burn on it that looks exactly like the door knob she found.

Making the clear conclusion, that night she digs up Sam Gilan’s grave – and finds it empty. The next day she and Logan confront Trudy, his aunt and the doctor who signed the death ceritificates about her hiding the fact that Sam Gilan is alive and is really Sage. After a brief attempt to cover up she admits she did it to protect him so he wouldn’t be killed like his parents were – she saw B.C. and his cronies at their house on the night of the fire, the night of the Pulse and that was when she found Sage/Sam. Max asked why she didn’t go to the police, but there were no police, all the police had been reassigned to the cities to stop the rioting. She maintained the lie and Sage was so traumatised by the event he came to believe it himself. When asked why the Gilans were killed she says it was because they were outsiders. They hear a bang and Sage runs from the house, having overheard what she said.

B.C, and his gang meet – they attacked and killed the Gilans because they were outsiders, because they were Arabic, because their generator meant they had power when no-one else did, because they believed they knew about the Pulse – and basically as a scapegoat for what had happened. Now worried about Trudy and Sage talking to them, they decide to act.

Max finds and comforts Sage and takes him into the cabin, where she staggers and nearly falls from her tremors again. She takes Sage to a back room while BC and one of his gang arrive. Logan confronts them with a gun and, when Herman arrives, they start to back off – but they grab Herman and shoot him with his own gun and a fire fight begins between them and Logan.

BC and his friend go to get the other 2 while Logan check on Herman, who dies after telling Logan that all of the police – even him – pulled the triggers on the protestors.

Inside Max is barely able to move for the seizures, leaving Logan and Sage to barricade and trap the house as best they can for BC and his friends’ return.

There follows a dramatic and epic fight where with guns and traps, Logan successfully brings down 3 of BC’s gang, until BC knocks him out of his chair with a shot to the shoulder. BC pours kerosene on the floor and sets it alight when Logan shoots him in the leg. BC draws a knife and they wrestle on the floor but Logan, with several months in a wheelchair, has much better upper body strength and stabs BC. Sage is shaking and flashbacking from the fire and the events of the night when his parents died but manages to snap out of it enough to use the fire extinguisher.

Happily ever after.

Dystopia moment: Sketchy needs shoes – and he has to go through several different barters – petrol, shoes, lingerie, bike tires all to try and get some shoes. The economy is in such a wreck that even finding basic goods requires considerable wrangling. Yes it’s another clever, crafty little insert, along with the sector passes, the queuing for hours for petrol and the worry about there not being enough that really paints the picture of the dystopia. It’s also interesting to see how the dystopia affects different areas of the country in a very realistic fashion. With most of the population in the cities, of course resources were dedicated there, but that left these rural areas to fend for themselves as best they could.

There was also a wonderful statement about people’s habit of scapegoating minorities and the marginalised in times of trouble. The Gilans as outsiders, as POC, were scapegoated for the disaster of the Pulse. It made no sense – bit how often does such dehumanising scapegoating make sense? Throughout history we have seen marginalised groups persecuted on the justification of some of the most patently ridiculous accusations and scapegoating.

There is an interesting dynamic between Logan and Max over the bar fight. Logan is irritated that Max stepped into the fight after he was knocked out of his wheelchair, feeling belittled by it and feeling the need to re-assert his competence. At the same time, Logan confronted the men because they were commenting on Max’s backside – which is an interesting combination of gender and disability, he feels lessened that she, as an able bodied person, had to step in “for him” but it only began because he, as a man, felt that he should defend Max’s honour (despite knowing Max is more than capable of defending herself).

We also have an assertion of capability for disability – in wheelchair-bound Logan and PTSD-suffering Sage defeating BC and his gang without Max being able to help. But we also have an expression of the need for accommodations, with the lack of ramps in the house and even Max, super-powered, super-soldier Max, needing time and her medicine to recover from her own disability.