Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dark Angel, Season 2, Episode 1: Designate This

The second season of Dark Angel opens with everyone sad about Max’s absence – and presumed death. Cindy is keeping Max’s locker free at Jam Pony and Logan, looking much scruffier with a whole new unshaven look, is denouncing Manticore on Eyes Only.

In Manticore, Max is being bludgeoned back into shape by Renfro and co, training with a sudden herd of X5s and having her individuality broken down in unpleasant and creative ways. Including showing her the still alive body of Zack, being slowly cut up and his organs harvested for donation to other, injured X5s, something Renfro says is Max’s fault.  Renfro’s next target is Eyes Only to leave her with no life-lines even as Max fights to retain her identity.

Aw damn, they added a cheesy voice over to the opening credits. Booo. Maybe it’ll save them having to recap everything.

Hah, no. Commence recapping of the pulse while Logan is on an Eyes Only mission posing as a veteran for VA ration cards – which apparently the VA has been withholding. While he does this, a woman shoots a gun into the air and says she’s from the S1W and is there to make sure everyone gets the ration cards they’re owed. She’s working with Logan (who is still able to walk with his exoskeleton from last season). This also gets him a link into Manticore since part of their funding was routed with the VA accounts. He and Asha, the S1W woman, delve into why Manticore is a thing for Logan.

And in Manticore, Max gets a new cell mate – X5494, identical twin to Ben – who was 493 (all the X5s now have identical twins made from the same DNA). Who isn’t best pleased with ben since he had to spend 6 months in psy-opps testing to make sure he wasn’t an unstable serial killer like his twin. Seems he’s been sent to Max’s cell because they’ve been ordered to breed. Since Max & co blew up the DNA databank, Manticore’s solution is to make the X5s breed. We get a nice insight into what the X5s are told about the outside world (filth and degradation) and Max kicks him and makes it clear sex is not going to happen. 494 has also taken a course in slang so he can be a good assassin and is even running a black market in Manticore.

The next day 494 covers for her and claims they had sex when Renfro asks. Which Renfro takes as a sign of victory, but she’s also curious as to why max is healthy – since her X7 clones with almost identical DNA is suffering from late stage progeria.

Max finally cuts her way through a cell wall and escapes into Manticore’s basement – where she meets Joshua – a man with dog DNA. Yes, half man, half dog (don’t ask, just try to run with it). He has a name not a number because he was named by “Father” – called Sandman who left him a long time ago after he made them – and Joshua was the first thing he made.  Joshua leads Max to an exit – through a corridor lined with cells in which there were monkey-men, cat-men, snake-men (and probably a damn Wendigo or two, since they’re compulsory these days). He leads her to a barred window – and warns her there’s a pack of X7s in the forest, with their hive-mind (“lots of one”).  She plans to return the next night.

Elsewhere in Manticore, the one-eyed McGuinnis is offering the very-on-the-run Lydecker a deal, he can rejoin Manticore if he hands over Eyes-Only. Lydecker arranges to meet Logan and appears to lead him into a trap. Except not, because Lydecker isn’t a big enough fool to trust Renfro – he kills the Manticore guards and takes poor McGuinnis captive. Lydecker is upset by Tinga’s murder and wants to know what she’s doing to the rest of the X5s. All McGuinnis knows is that Renfro was looking for something special in Tinga’s DNA, needing deep extraction – which wasn’t there (guess whose DNA has it?). Lydecker kills McGuinnis and goes off with Logan to share all the info about Manticore he has

Max continues to make her visits to cut through the bars on the cell – but Joshua wants to escape with her. Max is concerned because of how different he looks – and how people would react. But when she returns to her cell, 494 is there. But he covers for her and wonders why she wants to escape – she has enough to eat and a roof over her head, in post-pulse America that’s more than most. Max doesn’t want to be used and says Manticore are the bad guys. She also decides to call 494 Alec (as in Smart Alec).

Renfro’s Manticore team finds that Lydecker double crossed them and she fears what Lydecker could tell Eyes Only, especially since he knows their location which would cause the often mentioned Committee to bury them. They do find a blood sample from Logan’s wound.

Renfro desperately tries to get Max to spill on Eyes-Only, telling her that Manticore appears as a VA hospital on the paperwork and if news vans arrive it will be burned down with everyone stuck in the cells, including Max, for the sake of plausible deniability. Max isn’t impressed. So time for Plan B – using the same technique on her as they used on Zack. She wakes in her cell with Alec telling her they’ve dispatched an X5 to take out a reporter friend of hers. Realising Logan’s in trouble, she decides she has to go help Logan – and recruits Alec to help down in the basement at the window with Joshua. Alec finally asks Joshua to help them with the bars Max has been trying to cut through for days and Joshua easily rips them out of the wall, with a little glare and growl at the stunned Alec who quits his smart-arse comments. Joshua and Alec provide the distraction while Max runs for – and leaps over –the fence around Manticore.

Max arrives at Logan’s for a reunion kiss and her insistence that she leave, someone’s coming to get him – but before they can leave he collapses. Alec appears in the doorway and tells her she killed him – mission accomplished. Just like with Zack, the escape et al was a fake so they could achieve the mission. In this case with a disease in Max that is set to target Logan’s DNA (which they got from the blood sample), spread by touch. And she can have the cure if they both return to Manticore.

Meanwhile in Mentacore, a scientist reports to Renfro with the DNA work up they did on Max to find out why she isn’t suffering from progeria. Max is the chosen one with the super special DNA (are we shocked?). Naturally, receiving super special information, she keeps it secret by shooting the scientist (who apparently did all the work on it entirely alone and no-one else has seen his remarkable discovery). She then makes a sinister call in French saying that she’s found what they’re looking for.

At Logan’s, Max and Alec fight until Max can kick Alec’s gun to Logan to keep to trained on Alec who puts his hands up (really? Logan is sweating and barely conscious and Alec can move so fast all you see is a blur!) Alec doesn’t really care and asks if he can go home when the disease kills Logan – but Max says it won’t be there and transmit’s Logan’s Eyes-Only bulletin with the report on Manticore’s location.

At Manticore, Renfro gives the order to lock down the barracks and “cauterise” the site. Logan finally gets weak enough to drop the gun. Alec picks it up and points it at him – and Asha appears behind him, holding Alec at gunpoint. This time Alec decides he’s not putting up with that and takes it off her.

While this is happening Max returns to Menticore in time to see the fires and explosions. She breaks in and opens turns off the lock down, opening all the cell doors, including the hyrbids in the basement, everyone runs and flees for the fence. Renfro sends two people – normal humans – to go take in Max alive (presumably with the power of wishful thinking and asking nicely) and Max turns the tables and kidnaps her to find the antigen to cure Logan. Renfro tries to insist on leaving, but Max slams her against a wall (her refusing to use Max’s name may have something to do with that). She hands over the cure – and a guard arrives and points a gun at them. Renfro screams “no” and puts herself between the guard and Max, getting shot protecting her. Renfro gasps that they can’t get rid of the virus in Max and tells Max she’s the one they’ve been looking for – and gasps for her to find Sandman, then dies. Yeah, try to imagine how high up the priority ladder Renfro’s dying wish is?

Asha injects Logan with the cure which insta-cures him – but if Max touches him he’ll be reinfected. They both plan to “beat this” but also consider what it will be like with not just a dozen escaped transgenics – but hundreds and how it’s important to keep them hidden since people fear what they don’t understand.

The sound you just heard? That was the canon breaking and crying in a corner. See, Manticore has gone from creating the perfect soldier to creating Man-dogs for shits and giggles! Yes, the people who can’t manage to put together an enhanced human without seizures, going into heat and dying from progeria has managed to pull off a human/canine hybrid. And a whole menagerie of animal people? What did they put on the funding applications for Noah’s Transgenic Arc?

Also, this organisation that spent oodles of resources tracking down 10 escaped X5s? Has whole stables of them! X5s, X6s, X7s, twins and dog-faced men in the basement. Which begs the question why, if Renfro is curious whether Max has taken medication outside of Manticore, she didn’t just check Max’s twin?

And Tinga had to die so they could “extract” something from her DNA. Putting aside the fact Renfro had Tinga’s DNA on file AND HER TWIN (this twin thing just break so much of the first season) it still doesn’t take a tank, tubes and murder to examine someone’s DNA no matter how “deep” you have to extract it (what does that even MEAN?) Skin scrapes, blood samples, a cheek swab?

Then we have, of course, to dump a special “chosen one” storyline on Max. Did it really need this?

And the virus? Yay another season of unresolved sexual tension? Whoopee.