Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark Angel, Season 2, Episode 21: Freak Nation


Terminal City has come to the media’s attention and general random humans are expressing their hatred for all things transgenic by throwing things at the fence. Because, y’know, that’ll show ‘em. Max drives up on her bike, smashes through their burning X of warning (awwwfully close to a burning cross there) and leaps the fence, expressing her contempt for the fool protestors.

She meets with Mole (the desert-adapted reptilian transgenic) with a stash of money she stole from some drug dealers. The population of Terminal city is booming as all kinds of transgenics arrive. A television plays the endless hate speech from the vigilantes that the transgenics regard with contempt and humour and Joshua has painted them a rather awesome flag.

White is getting some new helpers – the Phalanx, the best the Breeding Cult has. White isn’t exactly thrilled to be having them on side. Thule leads her Phalanx to meet the unhappy White, with lots of dramatic music telling us just how tough they are. She endears herself by belittling White and mocking his failure – with an extra sexist edge to her insult that he couldn’t kill “a girl.”

Jam Pony business continues as normal, more transgenics abound and Normal celebrates Alec’s (fictional) birthday which surprises Alec. And at Joshua’s/Logan’s the medical gloves come out so Logan can examine any new markings on Max. Because, y’know, asking your ex who can’t touch you and with whom you have massive unrequited sexual desire who thinks you cheated on him to examine your half naked body in detail isn’t in any way kicking him in the teeth. Logan takes photos so he can translate the symbols (sureeeee that’s why).

On the streets a young heavily pregnant woman and a teenaged boy are walking, avoiding the hover drones and the police – when a car seems to follow them. They start to run, but the door opens and Joshua gestures them to get inside – they hurry in. The woman is Jem (X5) and Dalton (X6). They’re driving but someone pulls out in front of Mole, the driver, and they crash. Oops

Wouldn’t X5s or X6s be better for this job? Last week the mentioned having X3s and X4s (which isn’t bad considering the canon has the X4s wiped out except for a few hopelessly violent individuals kept permanently imprisoned)

Now a crowd starts gathering and they have a lizardman and dogman in the front seat. When the guy they hit gets out holding a metal pipe to attack them, Mole gets out. Mole has anger issues and bad ass stamped on his forehead. Mole isn’t going to let someone shout insults at him, even if he is a lizardman in broad daylight. Mole is something of a complete fool, but he’s kind of awesome with it. Of course, he remonstrates with the man, punctuated with a shotgun to make his point. Joshua suggests they run, Mole says “we don’t run, we fall back.”

I think I kind of love Mole and am desperately sad he only appears in these last 2 episodes.

They escape on foot, obviously attracting a lot of attention. Joshua calls Max and she sends them to Jam Pony since they’re nearby to get help from Alec, before the phone dies. They run, chased by police with guns. They meet Alec at Jam Pony – just as a whole load of police show up. Alec starts waving and trying to talk to the police, Mole decides to take Alec hostage with his gun and retreat inside Jam Pony. Joshua pulls a gun and points it at the police and Jem, who’s a quick on, grabs his arm and points it at her instead, making her the second hostage. They retreat into Jam Pony and shut the door behind them.

Normal is kind of stunned by the whole thing. They try to escape through the back but the police open fire and miss everyone but Alec. Playing hostage. Wow, that’s an impressive fail there – I mean he’s also a teeny tiny man next to Mole and Joshua. When they come back in Normal has a gun pointed at them. He’s shocked when it’s Alec using his transgenic speed to take the gun off him. Someone makes a run and Cici, another employee at Jam Pony and another X5 stops them. Normal is shocked that his golden boy is a mutant (“take me Jesus” Mole: “careful what you wish for”)

A massive siege develops and Max gets in by riding a Hover Drone through a window. Some people just have to make a dramatic entrance. Mole is harsh with the hostages and Max tells him they’re not the enemy – Mole is less sure. She looks around and sees all her old colleagues and friends looking at her like she’s a stranger (y’know this would be far more dramatic if we’d spent more time developing on her friendships with these people). Normal tries to leave, Mole looms – and Original Cindy tells him to sit down. Normal thinks she’s a transgenic (and throws in a random lesbian reference) and she says no – she’s a friend and if they leave the transgenics will be killed. Normal doesn’t have a problem with that, Cindy says she does – and so does anyone else in the room who is a friend of Max’s.

Logan sees the news on television and heads out. Thule and the Phalanx are dramatically training when White calls them and tells them he knows where Max is – but that it’s also very very very public. White tries to pull “lookit my agency badge I’m taking over” but the police in charge of the site isn’t putting up with it, he wants to keep the hostages alive. He calls Max and hostage negotiations begin – Mole doesn’t think they have much chance of them working.

The television continues to show clip after clip of people hating transgenics, when the police deliver the armoured van Max asked for. After demanding the snipers back off, she releases the first group of hostages. Using the rest as human shields – Cindy volunteers to be Max’s – the rest of them move to the van. Logan, in the crowd, spots White’s hidden snipers and run forwards shouting a warning as one of them shoots Cici, he fires back, using his exoskeleton to super jump. Everyone rushes back into Jam Pony.

Inside, Cici is dead from her wound. (y’know it’d be nice if they brought in extra-X5s for some reason other to kill them). They realise White screwed it all up to escalate the situation. Mole loses it and suggests killing hostages to “show they mean business”. Awww and you were beginning to grow on me Mole. Logan and Max talk him down but Mole says if they come near the building he’s taking people out. He goes upstairs – and Joshua follows him.

With the screw up blamed on the police, White is able to take over and plan his tactical team. Inside, Max has another self-blame moment over Cici. Inside, Jem starts to give birth aided by Cindy who hasn’t a clue what she’s doing and just keeps saying “push” over and over. Normal decides to intervene (out of character? Nah, you know Normal wouldn’t miss a chance to show he knows more than Cindy). Normal tells Jem to breath and relax – he knows because his father was a dairy farmer.

White has his tactical team – the Phalanx. And even Otto questions who these people are. He tells Thule that if they bring Max out in a bodybag the crowd will clap and cheer and never realise she was their only hope. Cryptic comment is annoyingly cryptic.

Looking at Jem giving birth Max declares she’s going out there to White to stop this – since he wants it to end as badly as possible. Logan says she can’t, first for obvious reasons and then because he’s translated the markings on her skin saying she will deliver the helpless when the “shroud of death” covers the earth. Yay for cryptic saviour policies. Mole and Logan argue – and Max gets a psychic flash of people coming

No, really

She hurries everyone upstairs while White tells Thule to kill everyone with a pulse. They attack – and everyone takes cover upstairs – but Alec and Mole are both out of ammo. Time to plan for melee while Normal and Cindy encourage Jem to be quiet. The Phalanx inch closer, hearing Jem’s muffled pregnancy cries – until they walk under Max, Alec, Mole and Joshua hiding pressed to the ceiling who drop down in ambush and Logan, the only one with a gun, opens fire, using his last bullets.

Time for the fight scene! Of course Max faces off against Thule. Joshua pounds his first enemy to goo, slamming his unhelmeted head against the wall. Mole tries to hold off White and another-  before Joshua takes one off him and, seemingly, pounds it into goo. Logan is badly out matched by the guy who takes all the bullets to the bullet proof vest – until Joshua arrives and sends him sailing across the room.

Angry Joshua is Angry and being the First apparently means something.

Normal continues to deliver Jem’s baby by torchlight with flying glass all around.

Mole is being pounded by White when Joshua arrives – yes Joshua again – and recognises White as the man who killed Annie. You don’t want to be White right then. Logan saves the injured Alec who isn’t doing so well against his opponent with an exo-skeleton enhanced kick. She flies across the room through the glass landing next to Jem – who, even though giving bear, punches her in the face. Cindy and Sketchy sit on her and handcuff her.

And Max and Thule? Classic super-hero fight, Max loses and loses and loses until Max pulls a level of bad ass out of somewhere and cuffs her to a pillar with her own handcuffs. And then completely doesn’t kill her – which I would. Leave no Phalanx standing, how’s that for a message to the Breeding Cult? They go around cuffing all the Phalanx (whyyyy?) while Joshua is still playing with White. Joshua lifts White over his knee and prepares to break his back – and Max stops him


Max pulls the best explanation for not killing their enemy she can – if a transgenic kills a human being that’s all anyone will remember. Maybe but without White around there’s going to be a nice shift the other way and I’d still kill the Phalanx. Ok, maybe not kill – how about debilitating injuries?

And Jem’s baby is born – and, of course, Normal’s heart melts. She’s born with no barcode – Max declares her free.

How do they get out? By dressing all the human folk (Cindy, Sketchy, Logan, Alec) in the Phalanx’s nifty leather armour and commandeering an ambulance and armoured car to transport the “prisoners”.

Inside the police detective finds the rest of the hostages, all fine downstairs. Upstairs the policeman gets the joyously fun sight of White and his crew, half of them in their underwear, cuffed, tied and gagged

Given the situation, the policeman decides it’s vital that they go after the transgenics – and they just don’t have time to rescue White and his crew (though, really, at least some of them should be having concussion and internal bleeding issues).

The police chase after and catch up with the gang – but they keep moving (armoured vehicles and all – being fired upon isn’t so much an issue). They drive through the gates of Terminal City, followed by a squad of police cars. Max directs them deeper in, into a giant car park until they can go no further. The police draw a megaphone and demand their surrender.

They throw out their weapons and step out with their hands up. Everyone gets on their knees with their hands on their heads except Max who walks forwards. She tells them to go. He tells her to get down on her knees, he won’t tell her again. Max responds that she’s not going to tell him again

At which he hears many many guns clicking. And lots of transgenic eyes glowing. He’s surrounded by an army of transgenics, all armed (and, given they’re Manticore, all trained soldiers), hundreds of them. The gang around Max stands up. The police leave, outside the fence, except the guy calling the shots, he stays to talk.

He respects that she made sure there was no bloodbath, but says she hasn’t won anything. He tells her that everyone’s lives depends on the decisions she makes. He leaves

Mole speaks up telling everyone to split up and go to ground. Max interrupts him, saying they stay put. Mole says that the perimeter will be locked down with tanks in a couple of hours, they have to run. Max points out they have nowhere to go – she won’t stop anyone leaving but she’s tired of running and hiding and being afraid. “They made us and they trained us to defend this country, it’s time the faced us and took some responsibility.” After an inspiring speech, everyone raises their hand to stand with Max, including Mole.

The television, doing another clip, interviews Normal. But he says nothing hateful  he says they’#re not monster and talks about delivering a beautiful baby girl.

There’s a tense stand off at the permiteter of Terminal City and, on the roof, they raise Joshua’s flag.

And it ends.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH not now, it was just getting good! But no, it was cancelled! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

See, see see this is my epic ranting point about season 2. They took the awesome show we had in season 1 and then through endless relationship angst, whining and monster of the week at it until it was irredeemable.

Imagine if the meta plot developed in the last 4 episodes had been present in the whole season? I think we could have forgiven the creaking canon, we could have accepted the woo-woo, gods’ know we’ve tolerated worse canon derailment from speculative fiction. Hey you could have even concentrated on keeping the canon fairly consistent even little things like explaining why the whole breeding cult thing seemed to be French in the beginning when Renfro was in command?

But instead we had pseudovampires and psychics and mind control, that hallowe’en episode, mermaids, the steelheads, strange glue-spitting lizards and so much more pointless crap

Alec could have been an interesting character but instead was a source of constant screw ups that you’d think he was never trained on undercover missions. Same with Joshua, so much potential to develop themes, the character, messages of inclusion and identifying with even people you’d rather hide, isolation and family – and most of the time he was used as comic relief, alongside Alec.

Remaining episodes were filled in with endless angst between Max and Logan, love triangles with Asha and/or Alec and this damn virus that added nothing to any real story but more layers of angst and moping.

And the inclusion, the awesome inclusion and commentary of season 1 died. Herbal disappeared, the class commentary of the excellently portrayed dystopia was lost, Sebastian was lost and Original Cindy went from being a major, awesome character to a tiny bit part who showed up every time Max needed a shoulder to cry on. Reducing Cindy to a Lesbian Best Friend was tragic. In their place we had Alec, Joshua and the immensely pointless Asha

So the show was cancelled, just as the excellent story was being revealed– the truth behind Sandeman, the Breeding Cult, Max’s DNA and transgenic integration into society all ended up not being told. And I can’t blame the network, not after the drek that dominated most of the season.