Dark Angel 1×06 – Prodigy

bc168-normal_dark-angel-s1-ep06-0227

Dark Angel continues to defy my expectations beautifully.

The first time I watched Dark Angel, I was sure Max wouldn’t ever cross paths with Lydecker until the season finale. That was just how TV shows worked back then; they’d set up a bunch of arcs in the pilot, and then indulge in stall tactics until the epic collision come finale time. I distinctly remember these preconceptions being shattered with this episode when Dark Angel‘s big bad, Donald Lydecker, took a seat right next to our heroine in one of the show’s first ever jawdropping moments.

A lot of credit goes to John Savage who pulls off the Lydecker role with such immaculate precision and a ton of dimension. The guy isn’t unlikeable, in fact he’s quite charming as he discusses the Pulse (he believes it strengthened the species) and his gifted children. Jessica Alba is also excellent as she maintains her composure with just the right hint of fear and inherent strength. The chemistry between our heroine and big bad is off the charts, and that’s a joy to behold.

Just when you think there won’t be any more complications, a rebel faction called The May 22nd Movement takes everyone hostage and viciously throws the speaker Dr. Tanaka off the roof. It’s all quite exciting culminating in one of the show’s most iconic moments ever: the superb set piece (that’s sadly quite dated in 2013) with Max hurling herself off the building after Logan as they embrace mid-air and crash onto a bed. It’s all very action-y and romantic. And then of course they banter.

The episode is also notable for the fact that Max has the opportunity to let Lydecker die, and yet she still chooses to save him. We soon learn that it’s not about her being “high-minded”, she just wants to know what makes her so “flawed” (besides the seizures) and if she has an “expiration date”. It’s an interesting question that I wish the show had the chance to answer.

Post-Pulse Bits

– Max knows molecules and very complicated science-babble. Shocking!

– It says a lot about Logan that he falls off his chair and hides it from Max. And then snaps at her.

– God Logan’s penthouse is freakin’ fantastic. What an elaborate set.

– Max fixing Sketchy’s tire as Cindy babbles is a very cool blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

– Hilarious bit: Max fake-coughing and telling Normal to “feel” her “forehead”.

– How great does Alba look in that classy beige business suit?

– The flashback with Lydecker chaining the kids underwater as they drown still horrifies me today.

– I love how Max relied on her training (know your enemy) to keep her cool with Lydecker.

– Nice continuity: Max hesitant of giving Lydecker the gun knowing his history.

– Love the little moment with Max eying Logan when he surrenders and faking a sprained ankle.

– If you look closely when Max and Logan are on the bed, you can spot Weatherly pulling Alba down. It’s supposed to happen accidentally, but the actors obviously thought it would get a genuine reaction from Alba if he actually pulled it.

– World-building: Toothpaste is rare (as are tomatoes and endives), and the military is remorseless.

– Max kicking ass: love the hallway flip and her swiftly snapping a thug’s neck.

– Note: This is the second time in six episodes that Max carries a child to safety. She’s made to be a mother that one.

– Lydecker effectively regains his creepiness by brutally shooting the terrorist leader at the end.

– Another heartwarming ending with Max and Logan. Now she regrets not “swiping towels”. Ha! Appreciate your towels people!

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: I was hoping we could score some towels.
Kendra: If I get invited to shower with anyone, I’ll see what I can do.

Logan: You have that “Logan, I need a favor” look on your face.
Max: Don’t I always? I mean, isn’t that the only reason why I come around?

Max: Don’t ask me how I got here.
Kendra: Your rich boyfriend, that’s obvious.

Max: At Manticore, Lydecker used to tell us the same thing. “There are no limits. What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve, with the right training.” Only we could still get shot and killed like Eva, starve to death, or even drown. I’ve often wondered why we didn’t just turn on him. We were stronger, faster; any one of us could have snapped his neck before he knew what hit him. But we were too scared, and he knew it.

Cindy: Look, Herbal, it’s one thing for me and Sketchy to play pretend gourmet ’cause we broke. But that bitch for real.

Max: You’re such a gentleman (slams the guard against a wall) Too bad I’m not a lady.

Max: I just kept my head down and let the mens fight it out.

Logan: Taking a header off that building was above and beyond the call.
Max: Just lookin’ out for my meal ticket. How many guys can cook and save the world?
Logan: So… that was Lydecker.
Max: Yup. My own private antichrist, up close and personal.

Conclusion
Thrilling and thoroughly absorbing, this is the strongest episode since the pilot.

 Nad Rating
A-

8 comments

  1. “Toothpaste is rare and the military is remorseless.” That juxtaposition made me laugh. The effects and the blatant disregard of physics made the Max saving Logan scene difficult to watch. They were cute on the bed afterward. I like how she starts to leaves and then turns around. Did she forget he couldn't follow? Was she having second thoughts about leaving him? It really was an interesting choice to put the main character's possible love interest in a wheelchair.

  2. Yes the fact that he's on a wheelchair is so unlike the typical television romance and it's a big reason why they're my favorite couple on any TV show 🙂

  3. I can't believe Max and Lydecker were sitting side by side!! And it's only episode 6! This show is really about to ruin slow-paced TV shows for me.
    And Max having the opportunity to kill him right then and there but refrains from pulling the trigger was perfect. She's such a beautifully written, layered character. And yes, I'm still shocked the writers put them that close to each other this soon.

    Honestly, I can't wait for their first real “fight” or whenever Lydecker finds out about her. I agree, the actor plays this villainous character insanely well. Hard not to love but you also want to slap him on the face.

    This show has been defying my expectations too. I'm actually worried about the rest of the series now because the bar has been certainly raised. If your Nad Ratings are of any indication, it's that I shouldn't be worried at all 🙂

  4. I'd forgotten how how quickly the show moves until you've been pointing it out. But you're right. Hannah, Zack, and now Lydecker – it's all quite quick. So many shows today just stretch things out for whole frickin' seasons and it's SO Exhausting.

    And I'm happy to see that you also think Max is so layered. She really is my favorite TV character and I always use her as a reference when people say Jessica Alba can't act. Sorry but Dark Angel proves otherwise. I think she just never found a role that spoke to her as much!

  5. I loved absolutely everything about this one!! Even though I knew Lydecker would be sitting next to her within moments, it was still shocking just to see it happen. What a show.

    And Max and Logan hanging in mid-air before crashing on the bed is so, so fun. Love the banter here and even though the set piece is unfortunately outdated like you said, it's still so very cool.

    Also what a heartwarming final scene. I have to say, I forgot how much chemistry the actors had and maybe THAT much chemistry is a little rare to find in TV shows nowadays? Because I really can't think of any current show that makes me root for the main couple like Max and Logan. Plus, it's rare to find a healthy, positive and amusing relationship on the air right now (I'm thinking about the depressing nature of every single relationship on The Handmaid's Tale or the toxic Underwood marriage on House of Cards).

    I don't know what it is but I miss watching characters being heroes instead of anti-heroes (HTGAWM ugh). Shows used to be so positive back then! And even Dark Angel which took place in an unsettling post-pulse world was able to write layered characters without having to give them any questionable morals and was STILL entertaining and uplifting. I mean even Buffy was about a girl who fought vampires and saved the world from hell but it was never depressing. Just saying, TV shows nowadays need to take note!

  6. So true Chris. I think that's why a show like THIS IS US or a movie like WONDER WOMAN has resonated so much now. Both are about heroes and pure positivity and sometimes that's exactly what people are looking for! Btw I think Prodigy is one of my all time fave eppies of the show; such a nice simple premise with Lydecker next to Max in the conference. Just thinking about it gives me chills 😀

  7. One of the best episodes. I love how Jude relates to Max & her finally meeting Lydecker. Yeah, it’s surprising to see them meet this early, but you can’t expect their cat and mouse games to continue for the entire season & them not meeting until the end. That’s just repetitive. Also, it was a great idea to introduce them to each other because of the “know your enemy” thing. And we do get to know much more about Lydecker in the next episode, so that he can have more of a familiarity with the audience instead of staying at the sidelines the whole time. Poor Jude, his story is so sad & the Manticore flashbacks/Max voiceover are so scary & always well done. Maybe I find those so significant because you rarely see that kind of torture & abuse on kids. It’s also one of the reasons I prefer season 1 over 2. You lose something very valuable & special w/o those haunting & chilling Manticore flashbacks. The music in the episode is amazing!

    1. Excellent point kathleen. The lack of flashbacks in season 2 REALLY changed the show. Intrigued to read your thoughts on those episodes as well!

Share Your Thoughts

%d bloggers like this: