Logan Cale -
Valarie Rae Millar
OTHER DARK ANGEL SEASONS
OTHER ENHANCED PEOPLE SHOWS
Now and Again
OTHER POST APOCALYPSE SHOWS
The Last Train
Planet of the Apes
When Max was nine, she and a group of other children broke out of the laboratory where they had been created and experimented on their whole lives. Now she lives in a city devastated when America was plunged into a deep depression by the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear weapon detonated over the country. Working by day as a bike courier, she also doubles as a thief at night, using her genetically enhanced abilities to carry out impossible robberies.
Then, one night, she waltzes into the penthouse apartment of a man who turns out to be a rebel broadcaster trying to undermine those who are using the situation to cheat and lie and murder their way to comfortable lives. He is helping a mother and daughter bring down a bogus pharmaceutical magnate, but when they are snatched, Max decides that it's time to take a stand, but on her own terms.
Developed by James Cameron (of TERMINATOR fame), we had high hopes of DARK ANGEL, but it fails to live up to them in this opening feature length pilot. The backdrop is interesting enough, but comes across as just another mildly dystopian future. There is some moderate action, but nothing really to get excited about.
Of course this is the opening episode and so there is still time for the show to find its feets and come up with something better, but it will need much better plots than the thin one on display here.
Another problem here could be Jessica Alba as Max. She is a perfectly able actress, but the ultimate badass she is not and when she has to come across as threatening she fails miserably. Still, there is time for both her and the show to get better.Top
The experiments that were carried out on Max as a child have left her with a period of time every three months or so when her hormones turn her into a sex-hungry machine. Her new sexual target gets more than he bargained for, however, when she discovers the name and location of the woman who helped her escape and takes him on a visit. Lydecker's men swoop in, but they, and Max, didn't count on her new friends.
The first episode proper of the show and it's not overwhelming. The opening sequence again shows Max's unconventional methods of taking down the bad guys, but the big finale that the build up promises never happens. Max runs and that's about it. Considering the show was conceived by master of action cinema James Cameron, the ending is one big fizzle.
It also throws away one of the mysteries of Max's life, the woman who helped her. That might have been a slow burn plot arc, but it's over and done with in one episode.
Heat is a disappointing start to the series. It is hoped that it will improve soon.Top
The seizures that periodically attack Max are getting worse and with the supply of the only drug that can help control them getting harder to find, she attempts a robbery on the local hospital dispensary. Without her enhanced abilities, she is quickly captured and put in prison. An abortive escape attempt brings her to Lydecker's attention and the race is on to extract her before his troops arrive.
This episode starts off well enough with more side-effects of Max's condition coming to light, but one she is put into prison things pretty much fall apart. She meets a pantomime inmate who helps her out, the warden houses her in his home for no readily apparent reason and she meets a young girl whose plight is exactly like that of another girl that once she knew. The likelihood of any of this, let alone all of this, is nonexistant and undermines what was otherwise a promising scenario.
Once again, Jessica Alba proves to be easy on the eye, but completely fails to convey the hard case that she is supposed to be. When she announces that 'the bitch is back' it's more likely to make you laugh than impress.Top
Logan asks Max to help with an investigation into the death of one of his heroes, but she finds that the hero faked his own death for the quiet life. When he really ends up dead a couple of days later, it's clear that both she and Logan were played. On the other hand, she proves herself to be a player of a different kind when she and Sindy dress up like call girls to shake down the russian gangsters about to kill one of their more stupid friends.
It's hard to determine whether the makers of DARK ANGEL are paying attention to their own creation or not. Max is a genetically engineered killing machine, but doesn't kill people (although she has no problem in manoeuvring them into positions where they will kill each other), That's sort of OK, but she has the power to be able to make huge amounts of money in casinos, but refuses to do so on moral grounds? Remember this is the girl who has no moral scruples about stealing from Cale's home in the Pilot. How she managed to be a successful thief is open to question as well as she has been caught in the act every time so far and only managed to escape because of her superpowers. It's just utter nonsense.
Worse still are Jessica Alba and Valarie Rae Millar's performances as false prostitutes. These are either terrible, terrible performances, or they meant to be completely unbelievable in which case the gangsters would not possibly have been fooled by them or their plan.
It also doesn't help that neither of the two stories manages to be satisfying and neither manages to hold the attention for half the running time.
Oh, and the acronym? That stands for Cash Rules Everything Around Me.Top
Max gets her bike impounded by dodgy cops and needs money to get it back out of the impound. Her private investigator comes up with information about one of her fellow child escapees, but wants even more money. When Logan won't help her walk into what he believes to be a trap, she pays a visit to the impound yard, but finds that she's already too late to save the investigator. The race is on to save her friend.
DARK ANGEL throws in some shades of grey to its usual black and white view of right and wrong. Max finds the one person that she thought she needed only to find that she has outgrown him and that he has become the thing that they were all trying to avoid.
Apart from that, it's all very straightforward and even the sudden arrival of Logan's Feng Shui - spouting wife doesn't spoil things too much.Top
A scientist comes in to town with a young prodigy, a boy whose incredible birth defects have been put right through genetic manipulation. Max is fascinated, hoping that this research might be of use in dealing with her seizures and so attends the conference, but a gang of terrorists take over with the aim of 'freeing the boy'. They didn't count on Max, but Max didn't count on the presence of Lydecker amongst the audience.
A straightforward hostage story, this episode doesn't make the most of either Max's abilities (the action once again proving to be less that stunning) nor of the possibilities afforded by having Max and Lydecker locked in the same place. Jessica Alba certainly cleans up nicely though.Top
One of the kids that broke out of Manticore gets taken in Seattle from right under the nose of Zack. Max and Zack track down Lydecker, but he claims not to have the girl. Logan tracks her down to a third party planning to sell her to China for the technology. Lydecker has a plan to get inside, a plan that includes betraying them both to his new allies for the money.
This episode starts off well enough with the kidnap, but then goes downhill from there. Tracking down Lydecker through the local AA meetings is stupid, but is saved by his speech to the other alcoholics, a masterwork of hardass cynicism. The rest of the plot is completely predictable with the exception of the sudden genetic disorder that makes the prisoner age dramatically and forces Zack and Max to make a heartbreaking decision. Though this isn't predictable it is utterly unbelievable.
As for the side story of the courier workers' upsetting a takeover deal for the company that employs them, well the less said the better.Top
Now that Lydecker knows where Max lives and what she looks like, wanted posters go up all over Seattle. This makes life hard for Max, but she manages to evade capture and get out of the city with Zack's help. When Logan goes under the knife to stop from being completely paralysed, though, she returns and gives him her blood in order that he will live. It takes another sacrifice to save her from the consequences of her own.
The fact that Max is a wanted woman means that there's a whole lot more urgency and action in this episode and it works much better as a result. The storyline is lean and just gets on with the job, improving things all around. The ending isn't exactly shocking and leaves the resolution open ended, but it's one of the better episodes for all that.Top
Max tries to cook Logan dinner, but the latest mission gets in the way and she quits. The mission backfires when it turns out that the bad guys are setting up Logan to find out who is making the transmissions about the bad guys so that they can end it. Max needs to get Logan back and end a particularly nasty child smuggling operation.
The personal side of the story here is really rather dull, not mention repetitive. Not only has Max quite before, but her constantly harping on about it to her friends is just hackneyed and not very well played either. Fortunately, as soon as Logan is taken prisoner things look up a bit and the action takes over, saving the day. Max's way of handling the hired muscle is also quite neat.Top
A witness in big case that is going to bring down the corrupt mayor is set up for execution, so Logan sends Max in to protect him. The witness turns out to be Bruno, the man who put Logan in his chair and upon whom Max took her own sweet revenge. Babysitting him for 24 hours is going to be Max's idea of hell.
Babysitting the world's worse witness has got to be the oldest story in the police procedural series handbook and has crossed over into most sci-fi/action shows as well. This episode doesn't do a lot with it to freshen it up except to introduce a sting in the tail as to Bruno's motives and some souped-up supersoldiers who provide the first real challenge to Max's strength to date. Of course their threat might have been more effective had any of the damage that they do to her slowed her down for more than a second. That's a plot thread that's coming back some time in the future for sure. Bruno is a completely stupid and unbelievable character. Knowing himself to be a target, he sets himself up with strippers, sneaks out the bathroom window and gets up to far too many old tricks. The whole thing with him having to call his daughter to read her bedtime stories over the phone also introduces a really out of place moment of sentimentality that is as sickening as it is unbelievable.Top
Two parcels to be delivered get mixed up and a stolen painting suddenly ends up being the only thing that can save Max's cycle courier boss. Unfortunately, she's stuck at a party with Logan's family in a stolen $6,000 dress.
Credibility was not high on the agenda when this story was written that's for sure. Max walks out on Logan's party like a dozen times and manages to keep her dress pristine whilst creeping around old buildings, taking on the Korean navy and beating the crap out of the bad guys. You can't believe any of this for a second and so it's very hard to care about any of it either. Jessica Alba looks very nice in the dress, though.Top
The soldiers engineered to be superhuman for a short lifespan are still searching for Max and find a lead in the shape of Original Sindy. Barely escaping them once, Max realises that the only way that she can defeat them and save her friend is to become one of them and take the life-shortening implant.
The direct sequel to Red brings back the supersoldiers, now revealed to be convicted killers awaiting execution given a new, if short, life, that have provided the only real threat to Max to have come along so far. This means that there's more action than there has been in previous episodes, as if they were saving it up for this. Of course this just casts the a light on the other episodes and their fairly poor action showings.
With all that action to get through, there's barely any time for plot which gets jammed in as hard and quickly as possible just to get through it in the running time.Top
Now that Logan is walking around again, he and Max are finding their relationship changing, becoming deeper and more awkward. The Zack escapes from Manticore and calls Max for help. It's a trick to learn more about where the other X5 kids are, but Zack and Max get away to warn all but one of their fellows. That means a rescue mission.
There's a very big sense of 'so what?' setting in on this show. The changing relationship between Logan and Max is about the only part of it that the audience can possibly care about and that is at the whim of his health, which is failing as quickly as it came back. The plot regarding Zack and the other X5s is so low key that ant could probably step over it and not know it. The action at the end, when it finally comes, is nothing special and lasts only a few seconds. For a show that promised to be a kick-ass action series there is a serious lack of kick-ass action.Top
Logan goes to see a downmarket doctor in the hope of stopping the deterioration of the mobility that Max's blood gave to his legs. Max recognises the woman as a Manticor doctor and is willing to kill her, but one of the X5 kids that did not escape is already on that job. Matters are complicated when the assassin turns out to be pregnant.
It's funny how Lydecker is turning into our favourite character here as he is the only one who is consistent. OK, he's the villain, but he is consistent. Max is total wuss in this episode. When she threatens to kill the girl she once knew, you don't believe her for a minute, but when she all but weeps over Logan not killing himself you believe that.
As for the plot, well Manticor's training and indoctrination programme really sucks. This example of their handiwork gets herself knocked up and is only out of the compound for a couple of days before she's rejecting everything that they've spent years drilling into her. It's the fact that the action is once again so uninspired that is the big disappintment.Top
Logan gets details of a police officer who might have information about the murder of 18 protestors just after the pulse destroyed american civilisation. He and Max head out of the city to a small town and find that life there is just as hard as in Seattle. Max suffers an attack and is out of action when some killers come looking for a young boy she has befriended. It is up to wheelchair-bound Logan to hold them off by any means necessary.
Sometimes you're just given no choice and it's kill or be killed. That's the rather depressing message behind this overly constructed episode. The whole plot is artificially shaped around that message and giving Logan a sense of worth as he saves the day, wheelchair or no wheelchair. As a result, it's even less believable than usual, but is saved by a big action finale in which the man with the wheels manages to dish out more kick-ass than super-genetic woman Max has managed the whole season.Top
Original Sindy's first girlfriend reappears on the scene and very quickly picks up that there's something different about Max. Following her on a heist, she steals Max's loot in a scam to get to Mexico and live out the rest of her days with Sindy, but Max learns that those days in Mexico will be numbered as she has been infected with a virus that will kill her and everyone around her in a matter of hours.
Another average episode starts off well enough with the arrival of Diamond on the scene giving the possibilities of some character development, but the weak plot takes over and degenerates into a story about prisoners being experimented on that is crammed into the last quarter of the running time because the first three quarters were gently paced. This means that Max is forced to escape from, break back into and escape from again a supposedly secure location with ridiculous ease. That's nothing, though, to the ease with which Sindy appears to come to terms with the death of her firs love. Diamond's revenge on her killer is squirm-inducing though.Top
Logan discovers that an X5 was found killed in nearby woods. Max goes to pay her respects, but discovers that the victim is not an X5, but was killed by one. And more people are going to die. Following clues from her past, she has to become the hunter and bring down the X5 before Lydecker gets there or a priest becomes the next victim of the hunt.
It seems that when the other X5s show up the series takes a big boost in the storyline area. This is much better as Max is faced with an opponent that is her equal and also with her own emotional traumas as she flashes back to the religion that the kids made up whilst in Manticore to fill the hole that their trainers hadn't bothered to deal with. That religion is the cause of the other X5's mental instability and the murders that he is carrying out. By buying into that back then, Max is partly responsible for what is happening now.
Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester in SUPERNATURAL plays the unstable X5, but is unable to pull off either the tortured soul or the psycho killer personas. He does look the physical part though. Nana Visitor of STAR TREK:DEEP SPACE NINE also pops up in a cameo role to little effect.Top
Ex-convicts are being killed with multiple gun wounds, but no witnesses. The hovering cameras of the police seem to have managed to avoid catching any clues on camera, something that Logan doesn't believe and so he goes to his uncle, who makes the things, and asks for any footage that might have been buried. What he uncovers is a plot far more reaching than a simple revenge squad and going public with it might take away his fortune and his future.
The mystery plot at the heart of this episode is a pretty good one, but it is overwhelmed by the presence of a supergeek using a military exoskeleton to play at superhero and stalker of Max. so much time is spent on his personal background tragedy that the main story suffers where it might have been much more exciting and definitely much more interesting. The moral dilemma facing Logan between revealing what he knows or letting it pass so that he can continue to fund his fight for truth, justice and the american way is a more interesting angle, but it is barely played out in a few moments.Top
When the family of one of the X5s that Max helped out put out a missing persons ad, it leads Lydecker directly to them. Max tries to help out protecting them, but they are up against not only Lydecker, but also one of their own and a whole new player in the power game.
This episode promises to be an action oriented one as the plot is quickly set up and the two battle lines drawn, but the bursts of action are brief and not very spectacular (the wire-walking is impressive though) and there is a lot of sitting around and mooning over the merits of family against safety. Max once again proves how hard as nails she is by crying all over the place. The big saving grace, however, is the emergence of a more complicated power struggle as Lydecker's boss (Nana Visitor, over-playing the villainous side) proves to have a whole other agenda planned.Top
When her feline DNA starts acting up and putting her in serious heat again, Max has to blow off an anniversary date with Logan. Zack shows up with information about their missing sister and an attack plan, but Lydecker has brushed aside the attempt on his life and is hot on Max's trail.
It's the penultimate episode which means that it's one long set up for the big finale. The relationship between Max and Logan is falling into place, but before then there is the attack on the research facility where the other X5 is being held and a 'to be continued' caption that leaves Max in Lydecker's control. The finale is duly set up, but the episode is far from a classic.Top
Max is back in Lydecker's hands, but learns that he's not responsible for the worst of what is happening to the other X5 children. With three others, Max, Logan and Lydecker take on the whole of Manticore's operation, but not everyone is going to get out alive and there might be a surprise or two along the way.
The big finale has to carry out the twin jobs of finishing off the series is style whilst leaving enough plot strands open to ensure that the audience comes back for a second helping. Well this finale certainly has a lot of action in the last twenty minutes, but it's actually the surprising twists that get packed in right at the end that make it stand out. It feels like a wholly artificial set of plot manipulations, but that doesn't matter. Where the show leaves it heroes makes it all the harder for us not to know what happens next and that is what a finale is supposed to do.Top
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