Dark Angel 1×03 – Flushed

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This is a dark, disturbing episode; it’s so effective that I often dread rewatching it.

Of course, the fact that it’s so unsettling, demonstrates just how capably and quickly Dark Angel found its voice. It’s a brave decision to make the show’s kickass heroine this weak so early in the show’s run, yet it works because it imbues Max with a ton of vulnerability. The girl isn’t just a genetically engineered supersoldier, she’s witnessed the worst in people, and she has some flaws of her own.

The hour does an effective job of taking Max’s life and sending it spiraling out of control. As our heroine finds herself sorely in need of some Tryptophan to control her harsh seizures, she begins fighting with Cindy, getting into trouble at work, and even ripping off Kendra and the building’s rent money. Eventually she lands herself in prison and in a harrowing abusive household that’s all too similar to a foster home she lived in after her escape. It’s here that her guilt for not helping out a fellow foster child when she was young resurfaces, and she tries to right those wrongs. While I positively hate it when writers resort to sexual violence to threaten their female heroines, I’ll admit that the device worked effectively here to forge a link with Max’s past.

Max’s post-apocalyptic world, and prison-life in particular, is skillfully realized this week down to every last detail in the set design. As a viewer, you never once question the show’s setting and it’s the sort of stellar production design that’s only been matched by Mad Men in recent years. And the manner in which Max is touched and groped by the corrupt cop? It’s all so very uncomfortable and eerie.

For the second week in a row, Logan displays how he resourceful he is by working with Original Cindy (love their growing bond), utilizing his police contact Matt Sung, hatching the Walter bribery scheme, and erasing Max’s records from the prison seconds before Lydecker can learn how she looks like. In addition, his dynamic with Max continues to evolve in a wonderful manner. I absolutely love the episode’s strangely upbeat final scene as the two return to their playful banter. While the tonal shift feels a tad jarring, it’s a nonetheless welcome sight after the bleakness of the hour.

Post-Pulse Bits

– Such a touching scene with Max asking Logan to stay with her as she falls asleep, seizing and powerless.

– Badass moment with Max ripping off the sleazy Mafia’s car as his partner robs a poor elderly Asian couple.

– Obviously we’re to assume Max is significantly weaker when she’s out of meds because the orderlies at the hospital captured her way too quickly.

– Sketchy cracked me up with his various excuses covering for Max at work.

– Although we never see Break again, he builds an immediate rapport with Max in the prison (particular when he gets her fresh milk from a goat in a nearby cell-block).

– Max’s escape attempt with the failed slow-motion jump is hard to watch. Thankfully Break makes it kind of amusing with the opera singing.

– Cindy’s infiltration as a hooker is hilarious. Valerie Rae Miller is a comedic gem.

– Lydecker feels like an afterthought in this one, but it makes sense to paint him as a specter constantly waiting on the sidelines and ready to pounce on Max as soon as he can catch a trace of her.

 The camera angles, the ominous music… the sexual abuse flashback is horrifying to watch.

– I’m fascinated by the reveal that Manticore taught Max and the other kids not to get involved with situations outside their main objective – which explains why she never helped poor abused Lucy.

– Favorite moment of the hour: the towering triumphant instant when Max reclaims her power and viciously chokes the Warden half to death.

– Although this episode didn’t have much action, I love Max hoping onto the incoming van and disposing of the agents as her glee for asskicking returns once more. And crash-driving into the Warden? Immensely satisfying.

– Max telling the girls the truth about her nature as they laugh in her face was a fun little touch.

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: Most days, I get by fine. I blend with the crowd. Just another one of the huddled masses yearning to get by unnoticed. Problemo is, I’m not as like them as I’d like to be. I got made, not born, and because it was humans that made me, somewhere along the line a couple of wires got crossed in my head. Someone botched the job. So some days, that’s how I feel – a botched job.

Logan: It’s nothing fancy. Just one of my run-of-the-mill, spur-of-the-moment culinary miracles.

Walter: You know I could take it out in trade but I’m a married man.
Kendra: You’re a real pillar of virtue Walter. Your wife’s a lucky woman.

Normal: Well, well, well. So far, your moron colleagues have come up with the following excuses for why you’re strolling in here at the crack of noon: you had a dental emergency; your aunt died…again; and my personal favorite, from this idiot, you were detained by the sector police for practicing witchcraft. Now, would you care to further insult my intelligence?
Max: I overslept.

Guard: Let me ask you… how much does a strung-out little skeezebag tramp like you go for these days?
Break: Ask your wife.
Guard: What’d you say?
Break: Twenty to life. That’s what she ought to get, if you ask me.

Max: How about you?
Break: Cannibalism. I ate my parents.
Max: Good source of protein.

Cindy: Damn girl what’s in those pills?
Max: Spinach.

Cindy: (to The Warden) Anybody look twice, you’re the queen of the Rose Parade – just smile and wave. Get in.

Lydecker: That hump Vogelsang just bought himself another manicure.

Logan: I always knew that underneath that bio-engineered, military-issue armor plating, there was a beating heart.
Max: Let’s not go overboard here. I’m not signing up to join the Logan Cale Brigade for the Defense of Widows, Small Children, and Lost Animals.
Logan: You could be field commander.
Max: I think not. So what’s for dinner? You gonna feed me or are you gonna just sit there?
Logan: You know, you were much sweeter when you weren’t feeling well.
Max: The bitch is back.

Conclusion

A well-produced albeit disturbing hour of Dark Angel.

Nad Rating
B+

5 comments

  1. This one I liked. Max seemed more palatable to me when she let her guard down a bit. The scene with Logan was great. I liked her prison friend guy and Original Cindy as a hooker was a hoot. Not to mention I loved her and Kendra's attempted intervention. Not to nitpick, but wouldn't it have been easier for Max to nab an SSRI at the hospital? I'm sure they would do more for her than the stuff that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving. So, no serontonin…is that why she never sleeps?

  2. Disturbing indeed. But another incredible hour!

    Original Cindy (still loving the name btw) was hilarious and her scenes were very much needed in such a dark and gritty hour. I've been really enjoying the show's small flashbacks into Max's disturbing childhood, and I loved how Lydecker got SO, SO close here! Very intense.

    Really enjoyed Max crash-driving into the Warden! So freaking satisfying. And I love what you said about the set design. It's really incredible, I can't imagine how much money this show cost back then.

    We really always have the same thoughts (kinda creepy, get outta my head dude), because while watching I also thought to myself for real, you can't question the show's setting all thanks to the stellar production.

    And the final scene..EPIC! “The bitch is back.” Eh welcome back!

  3. Whenever I think of a disturbing episode of television, I think of this one for some reason! It REALLY traumatised me as a kid! Esp those flashbacks with the pedophile foster dad closing those doors! *shudder*

    And the set design. Ooooof. No show has ever matched it. You looks at stuff like Once Upon A Time where all the backgrounds are CGI and it REALLY takes you out of the moment! So few shows have such a STRONG sense of place like Dark Angel. You are completely transported while watching it and it's glorious!

    And the upbeat “bitch” ending always kills me. It's the perfect jarring tonal contrast to so much darkness!

  4. Good God that was so unsettling – even more so than The Handmaid's Tale!! I don't remember watching this AT ALL. Not that it's forgettable, but it's just too disturbing. It really made my blood boil. If I ever watch this show a THIRD time, I imagine I'll be skipping this one just because it's so traumatizing.

    But it's all worth it because Max choking the warden was immensely satisfying. And the music was uplifting and suitably powerful at that moment too. I actually let out a huge sigh of relief once she finally escaped.

    I freakin' love the dialogue on this show. I keep thinking about Supergirl for some reason when watching this now because they have some of the most cringeworthy dialogue over there. But Dark Angel? So nuanced, I love it. It's 'different', in a Buffy kind of way, but that's what makes it all the more unique and amusing.

    The opening VO for example was such a brilliant way to kick off the episode. Awesome foreshadowing to the disturbing things to come. And I laughed out loud at Max's Spinach line.

    I completely agree that the banter in the last 5 minutes with Max and Original Cindy then Max and Logan was SO tonally jarring, I'd prefer it stayed serious.

    But then again, “the bitch is back” is kind of a perfect line to end this bleak episode.

  5. This is one of my favorites. So sad, beautiful & disturbing. The flashbacks are well done because of the dark tone, lighting & music. The manticore ones are always frightening yet captivating. The jail escape is brutal. Love Logan & Cindy rescuing Max. The jam pony scenes are always some of my favorites because of the dialogue & acting, especially here with Normal saying all those excuses & Sketchy telling Normal that Max was a final contestant for a game show 😂

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