Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dark Angel Season 2, Episode 20: Love Among the Runes


We start in breeding cult central! Complete with a prison full of people the Cult has rejected (the implication is that they’re mentally ill) and all the reality based cult members dressing up and getting all excited by the meteor storms and they’re deadly venomous snake (which is so a constrictor and not venomous). Not only does the storm distract them enough that they don’t notice one of their prisoners escape, but he manages to steal their pet snake as well.

See, security here kind of fails.

White is also enjoying the meteor storm and doing the same chant when his assistant tells him he has a meeting – alas all the official paperwork and hoops one has to jump through when one isn’t a member of a covert kill squad any more.

In Terminal City Max has a whole range of contacts including transgenics who know the full mythological history of the modified caduceus symbol of the Breeding Cult. But Joshua will not hear that Sandeman may have been involved with the Breeding Cult since he still puts “Father” on a pedestal. They also receive a report of a transgenic on the run – Max heads out to help. She calls Alec whose at work at Jampony reminiscing with another employee – another new X5. They both head out.

All three of them get into sector 5 with their Jam Pony passes and surge through the police on their bikes, easily pulling out the transgenic and leaving White to have his little hissy fit in their wake. They get him to Terminal City and the safety of the crowd of transgenics.

At Jam Pony Normal continues his crusade against transgenics, ranting to Alec about the danger of the X series, while Alec nods and smiles and gets him to give more sector passes to more X5 workers and encourages him to have them ride motorcycles. As Max notes to Original Cindy, Normal’s calling to vigilance while Jampony is transgenic central.

Logan’s crashing in Joshua’s old home and contacting Terminal City for new supplies to set up Eyes Only again – Terminal City has a lot of excellent technology abandoned when the containment on the bioweapons failed. All is looking shiny until Max and Logan talk with all their underlying tension and sadness. Which she doesn’t talk with with Alec because she prefers to mope – and we find out that, hiding from the transgenics, the escaped inmate and his pet snake from the Breeding Cult are also hiding in Terminal City. Also I kind of love the rivalry between the transgenics adapted for arctic conditions and those adapted for desert conditions. And Max is finally forced to tell Alec that he told Logan they were a couple. Alec refuses to accept that – he’s not going to be her bad guy.

Not everything is going their way though, White’s team has found out something useful: X series body temperature is 3 degrees higher than normal people’s. Making them easy to pick out with high tech thermal imaging. His good mood is ruined when his priestess tells him that “he’s escaped”.  White’s worried because he “knows too much.”

Alec takes the hardware to Logan, refusing to avoid Logan because of Max’s lie; and Logan is wearing his exoskeleton again even though he doesn’t need it to walk with Joshua’s blood transfusion, because it vastly enhances his lower body strength. Alec tries to explain the Max thing to Logan several times but he doesn’t give Alec chance in between giving him lots of noble speeches about letting her go and be with someone like herself.

At Crash Max accepts some Original Cindy therapy before being joined by Alec who tells her he didn’t break her secret and how noble Logan was. And then they notice new markings on Max’s wrist, like a tattoo. Only max hasn’t got a new tattoo.

To Terminal City to send pictures to Logan – he theorises they’re coded to her DNA like her barcode and that he thinks the symbols are similar to the one’s on Joshua’s medallion – the one he got from “Father”.

Biggs, the new transgenic is irritated by the growing anti-mutant sentiment but has far more to worry about – one of White’s men picks him up on camera. He notices he’s been followed but he’s already surrounded and only just manages to escape.

The escaped Breeding Cult Inmate uses a pencil to fake a barcode and pass himself off as an X Series called CJ to join the Transgenics with his pet snake. He claims to be X5 and Max instantly does not believe him. Not being able to act like a vaguely sensible person for 5 seconds, he destroys his cover. He tries to spar with Max. It doesn’t go well for him. Just in case his cover isn’t shattered he also asks about Joshua’s caduceus symbol necklace. Then the news about Biggs appears on television, his cover blown and everyone’s distracted. Alec calls Biggs, but he’s attacked by a mob of people with clubs

Max and Alec rush off to find Biggs tied up by his feet in the middle of a mob – he’s been beaten to death.

Senator McKinley, front and centre in the mutant hunting, mildly disapproves of the mob violence but emphasises how scary transgenics are. As he leaves the podium he pokes White to deal with their escapee. Max is not amused and wants them to load up with the most lethal weapons they can – they’re going to rescue the captured transgenics White has. She also gives them her suspicions about CJ – confirmed when they find a bag full of snake he’s left behind

White’s assistant, Otto, goes with a team to Jam Pony to give Normal grief about hiring a transgenic. Sketchy recognises him and tells Cindy who hurriedly finds and takes Max’s and Alec’s personnel file before they can search them. Only Sketchy knows what she did and asks what she’s doing – are there more transgenics and is she trying to protect them – he sees she has Max and Alec’s files – he asks why. She pushes back – why does he think

Max gets to interview CJ. He claims he’s “not crazy” and he was locked up because of his dad who was up to his neck in the Cult before he got out and turned his back on them. He left the cult because he knew his son, CJ, wouldn’t survive their initiation process. He knew because he was a scientist and tested his son’s DNA, much to the Cult’s disapproval. He doesn’t know what the initiation is for since he didn’t pass it only knows that he father wanted to use science to change things and they called it “heresy”.  So he left and went out and founded… Mantecore. Before the government took over.

Yes, his father is Sandeman. Max wants him to help her find Sandeman

Meanwhile Alec and Joshua are steaming at Biggs and remember the men who were spouting crap about transgenics in the area. They decide to go have a word with them – let the vicious beating commence! Unlike Biggs they’re not beaten to death, Alec just tells them to get out of town.

Going to the meeting with Sandeman, CJ and Max are interrupted by White and his goons – and, Surprise! White is Sandeman’s son as well, CJ is his brother. Max is captured. Because she went running off without telling anyone where she was going. Because she’s smart like that

Ames White promises CJ he’s not going to go back to the asylum since he captured Max (and yes, White changed his name). He rips Max’s clothes exposing more of the symbols appearing. White can apparently read them and says they’re his usual stuff about the “meek inheriting the earth” he says no, the strong will inherit, which is what their Cult is about. CJ realises that Max is the one Sandeman was talking about and begins babbling while White asks about his son. Realising he’s made a mistake, CJ tases White and frees Max.

They sneak out and find a line of transgenics being loaded on a van for transport (WHY? That many transgenics in one place should have been able to escape, surely, especially since they all seem to be X series?) Max charges in taking out all the guards (see?) including Otto while CJ fires a machine gun to help. She gets in the van and CJ stands in the doorway as a human shield. White shoots him. Max closes the door and White and all his goons fire at the armoured van because, y’know, that’ll work. Max escapes.

In Crash, Cindy and Sketchy talk transgenics and Max’s secret and her slapping him down, pointing out what a friend Max has been to him. “So what if she were made in a lab, she’s the best person you know.”

Logan and Max continue their awkwardness of awkwardness (and the ice transgenic and desert transgenic keep up their massively fun rivalry)

CJ has been thrown back in the asylum – gagged and straight jacketed.

Arrgh, see see see? We have Max working with the transgenics, uniting them, bringing them together, building a network that helps support each other. This could have been an epic storyline for the whole of season 2! Not weird reptiles that spit green goo, not mind control and mafia, not hallowe’en episode I can’t even begin to describe, not the super computer psychic or the many many times Max brushed/breathed on/whatever Logan and everyone ran around wailing.

Show us the different transgenics by making them characters to talk to, even bit characters like this episode, get some idea of who they are and at least match their odd appearances to discernible and realistic goals on the part of Manticore rather than just throwing up weird and wonderful monsters that need to be killed. We could have brought in some of Max’s group and established a base – Crit, Sil, Jondy. It could have been a lot more.

This is what season 2 could have been!

Is it a sign that they finally realised this that they even changed the opening credits back to the ones they used in season 1? Completely with removing that damn ridiculous voice over?

The downside, of course, is the appropriation. Not only the repeated and gross use of tr@nny as a slur for transgenic, but also referring to mob violence against the transgenics as “lynchings”. You could present anger and attacks without using real oppressions and outright slurs that are already in use. We could do without the “crazy” CJ babbling incoherently as well.

I give this 4 fangs in a desperate act of mourning for what this season could have been