Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dark Angel, Season 2, Episode 8: Gill Girl

 Max gets an urgent call from Logan – catastrophe has struck. He sounds panic, there’s crashing and things breaking and the phone goes dead. Naturally Max launches into action, crossing the town to reach his penthouse and finding it in disarray. Logan is on the floor – with a little girl.

Turns out it’s his cousin’s sister’s daughter and Logan has been stuck with babysitting and needs help because he can’t handle the child. He needs help (I’m going to give the show the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s Max’s day off and she isn’t actually blowing off her job so she can babysit)

This ends up with Max telling the Little Mermaid story to Britney – in a totally natural segue to today’s transgenic. Cut to a group of fishermen pulling up their nets on shore and discovering they’ve snagged a body (something they consider more irritating than shocking, which is another of Dark Angel’s wonderful hints about what society has become that it did so well in the first season). But when examining her they find she’s alive – and she has gills in her side.

This info gets passed on to Ames White (remember him?) who sets his agency to find her

Back at Logan’s, a much happier Britney leaves with her mother and, before she goes, she kisses Max then kisses Logan. Seconds later, Logan begins to feel feverish and weak, a rash appears on his arm and face; they quickly decide that the virus Max is carrying was transmitted through Britney’s kiss Max calls Asha and they rush the unconscious Logan into hospital.

In desperation, Max goes to the chapel to pray and beg for Logan’s life. A moment later, Asha comes in to tell Max that he’s going to be all right. Turns out Logan caught chicken pox off Britney, despite his childhood immunity (what? He’s exposed to the disease and within hours he has rashes and is passing out? What kind of mutant super virus is this?)  Logan goes to see Max but she’s spooked and won’t let him near her, or drive home with her., her panic over him possibly having the Manticore virus frightening her badly.

Meanwhile, at Jam Pony, Sketchy and Alec end up inviting Normal to come to a strip club with them to avoid being saddled with a last minute delivery. When they get there it’s clear Alec is both a regular and doesn’t bother to remember the names of the girls there – and they find the “mermaid” in a tank. As she swims back and forth, Alec’s X5 vision notices the barcode on the back of her neck.

At home, preparing for a bath she tells Original Cindy that she went to the chapel and believes she got a miracle – Logan’s Manticore virus being turned into chickpox (I rather think Logan touching something Max has touched would result in Logan being dead several times over by now. The miracle would be that he’s not already dead). She doesn’t want to ruin the second chance. Which is when Alec arrives to tell her about the mermaid. At the same time, White gets a report of where she is as well and is told there’s already a man onto it.

Switch to the club where we see a man going into the club after having ripped down a poster of the “mermaid” and Alec and Max following him in. Except Max can’t go in – no women allowed in unless they’re dancing and there’s a line out back for women who want to dance in the club, they show up each night hoping for a chance. She’s reluctant but Alec talks her into it. She goes round the back and there’s a large crowd of women vying to get in, showing their bodies to the bouncer in the alley. He turns the women away, saying they’re full. Max walks up to him, removing her t-shirt (she has a tank-top on underneath and yes the camera pans up and down and settles on her backside) and  she walks past the bouncer, he doesn’t stop her, just watches her looking faintly stunned.

Inside Max shows the mermaid her barcode and they communicate with Manticore hand signals (the mermaid talks using whale song). Max finds Alec with a dancer (who he shoos off when he sees Max approaching with massive disapproval) and starts to yell at him for being distracted when he points out someone he’s pegged as White’s man – the one we saw go in before them, with no drink and no girls. Max pretends – awfully – to be a dancer with Alec. They snark back and forth, Sketchy and Normal leave since Normal blew all his money on dancers (which we got a montage of) and they see Max pretending to be a dancer.

They see the man makes his move towards the tank and Max intercepts him, pretending to be a dancer who has been groped – and Alec swoops in pretending to be a bouncer, pushing him outside. Outside he actually manages to get Alec in a hold until Max intervenes and knocks him aside – damaging his rubber suite and revealing gills in his side. The suit circulates water around him, without the suit he can’t breathe. They hear gun shots inside, leaving Alec to help the merman, she runs inside as the crowd streams out and finds the tank empty.

They take him to Logan’s who is being treated by Asha (and not only had the quickest onset of chicken pox ever but is now totally cured without a single crusty spot either! Maybe Max’s right, maybe it is divine intervention because nothing else explains this) they put the merman in the shower, the water running over him allows him to breathe while Max and Logan discuss a local base they feel White must have since there’s so much transgenic activity in Seattle.

Asha repairs the merman’s rubber suit while Max and Logan have the “it’s too dangerous” “but I have to” discussion for the 86785786990th time. Seriously, Logan, give it a rest, you have never ever won this argument.  Merman grabs Max and Alec and leads them down to the water to see his eggs. Yes, the merfolk lay eggs. Eggs. I’m not even touching this one (they’re not even fishy eggs! They’re hard shelled bird or reptile eggs! And her genetic code has changed this much that she lays eggs, but she still has breasts? What, is she a monotreme? And they’re like a tenth the size of a new born baby! How much do they grow?! Ok I’ll stop poking now)

At white’s base, White has a phone call with his wife and young son which contrasts sharply with the way he treats the mermaid – treating her as a thing and with utter contempt. And confirming that the merfolk are incapable of speaking English – or human languages.

They raid the base, taking down guards and having the merman swim inside through the water pipes of the old steam plant to open a door and let them in. They rescue her – but the alarm goes off when the guard they took out is noticed missing. They escape by ramming a fork lift into a steam tank

Happy ever after moment (did the babies hatch and become minnows? Ai…).

The strip club wasn’t handled as well as it could have been at all. If they were going to have a strip club and felt it necessary, fine – but Alec not being able to remember the dancer’s name? Having the wonderful chance to explore the world and class with the women trying to get in to dance and not touching it? Dark Angel has been very good at this in season 1, and seem to try a lot less in season 2. And we certainly didn’t need the slow camera pan on Jessica Alba removing clothing. Or Normal and his string of dances

I suppose this is a BELIEVABLE transgenic creature they’d create. Though one has to think that an acquatic, yet air breathing, transgenic based on whales or dolphins or seals would be better – then it could speak English and actually function on land. And not lay eggs. Or if it’s meant to be entirely water based, why not some webbed hands or feet? (And don’t see it’s so it can fit in with humanity – they communicate with whale song and can’t breathe air). Yes, I know, nitpicky and you’re not meant to take the show that seriously – but it’s the gap between season 1 and season 2 thinking from the writers that really shows.