Dark Angel 1×12 – Rising

Rising.jpg

Rising is Dark Angel’s first perfect episode.

Yes the hour is filled with explosive action and a couple of monumental events, but it’s the emotional core beating beneath everything that makes it such a poignant milestone in the show’s run.

From a pure plot perspective, The Reds are back and they’re more terrifying than ever. They’re revealed to be death row inmates who’ve been seduced by money and freedom, and are now tempted by the prospect of a longer life (if they can get a hold of Max and her ova). It’s suitably creepy, and their goal makes them downright horrifying antagonists.

The episode’s standout moment is certainly Max finally telling Original Cindy the truth about who she is. It’s a development I never thought would happen this early in the show’s run (if ever) and it’s one of the best pieces of acting Jessica Alba’s ever done. It literally breaks my heart every time I watch her break into tears as the one shard of normalcy in her life fades away. And then quite realistically, Cindy doesn’t lie to spare her friend’s feelings. She admits that this revelation will undoubtedly change things, but she’ll still look out for her best friend. She sees Max’s pain and embraces her, then hilariously follows it up by checking out her “hot” barcode. The scene is just profoundly awesome in every way, and I love that Max and Cindy’s dynamic is given equal weight to Max and Logan’s relationship. That’s a wonderful move on the writers’ part as it proves that the show isn’t just about Max’s love interests. She needs the support of her friends to keep on fighting.

Just when you think one standout sequence is enough, another one comes right along, cementing this episode as one of the greatest Dark Angel’s ever produced. Yes I’m talking about the final scene between Max and Logan where he tells her to “close her eyes” before rising from the wheelchair. It’s a marvelously moving scene that feels like the ultimate culmination to the first half of the season. Alba is just adorable, and Weatherly is the most charming he’s ever been. And for the second time, a touching scene is punctuated by a funny moment: Logan zooming through the streets of Seattle on Max’s bike as she holds on with a grin. It’s worth nothing that the sequence is underlined by a harsh truth: Manticore, whether our heroes would like to admit it or not, is quite capable of doing good – as evidenced by creating this utterly magical moment between our two lovebirds.

Post-Pulse Bits

– Love the romantic candlelight setting with Max transfusing Logan with blood. There’s a wonderful, ethereal mood to it as Max drifts away, passes out and we cut to the credits. Also, it links this episode to the previous transfusion in Blah Blah Woof.

– Very nifty yet ominous shot with Max’s pager being tracked as the camera zooms in out of the sky onto our heroine riding through the streets.

– Who else wanted to punch Logan for shoving Bling when he tried to help him after his fall?

– So we finally discover the identity of Mr. Multiples and it’s none other than our favorite corrupt cop Walter. How creepy.

– You can tell the Jam Pony crew is depressed when Cindy mentions her new job. It’s interesting that they’re all aiming for something more.

– Badass sequence: The Reds arriving at the bar as Max fearfully runs for her life through the alley and (awkwardly) jumps onto a truck. The ensuing fight is short, but I love how she impales one of the Reds.

– The actors playing The Reds are pretty darn atrocious, aren’t they? I do love Cindy calling them “girls” though.

– How awesome is Cindy warning Max about the Reds by referring to the “boy” she’s going out with? I vividly remember not catching this hilarious bit when I first watched it.

“I have a date with a couple of Reds and I need to be all that I can be.” I get goosebumps every time I watch Max rush into the lab and insert the implant in her neck (which sends her into a mini-seizure).

– One of my all time favorite Dark Angel moments: Max crashing through the glass with that glorious panning shot and epic score as she raises her bloodshot eyes and utters the perfect line “How do I look in red?”

– Much like Max’s last encounter with the Reds, the episode’s set-piece with an amped-up Max is the best fight the show’s done so far. It’s brutal, filled with people flying and crashing into walls, and brilliantly bookended with Max pulling a grenade and jumping for cover.

– It’s fun to see Cindy and Logan working as a team and electro-shocking Max. “(This is whack!”) 

– There’s a strong message with both Cindy and Herbal altering their speech pattern to fit in, and finding themselves miserable in the process.

– I hate to say it but the final voiceover (which basically consists of one line) is lame and unnecessary. There’s really no need to spell things out with Max worried about what “tomorrow” will bring.

Barbs & Barcodes

Cindy: (to Herbal) Forget to put water in the bong, boo? You talkin’ strange.

Normal: (to Cindy) Well, I am so pleased – one less disrespectful, uppity, loud-mouthed, deadbeat hooligan to ruin my day. The door’s that way.

Cindy: I happen to be blessed with mad verbal skills. Kids used to pay me cash money to come up with dis they could use. So, in a way, I guess you could say I sold insurance against catastrophic tongue failure.

Sebastian: My guess is they want you so they can harvest your ova.
Max: Like being a girl isn’t hard enough; they want me to be mommy to a whole army of these guys.

Cindy: ‘Cause Original Cindy’s got you covered all over like foundation makeup on a drag queen.

Logan: So what are you gonna tell her?
Max: The truth.
Logan: Is that wise?
Max: Maybe not. But after today, I think she’s earned it.

Max: (to Cindy) I was scared that if I told you what was up, it would all change… and that you would look at me like you are right now… like I was some kind of freak you didn’t even recognize.

Normal: Well, well, well. Someone who’s two hours late for work looks like they were a dirty little party girl last night. My God, girl, look at your eyes. Whaddaya been drinkin’, gasoline?
Max: I had to have radical emergency amateur brain surgery to remove a nanochip from my cerebellum before I stroked out from a neurochemical overload.
Normal: This is all one great big joke to you, isn’t it? You’re late one more time, missy, you’re gonna be fired. Get some eye drops.

Cindy: How ’bout you leave her alone? Maybe she don’t feel so hot.
Normal: Well, ingesting petroleum products will do that to you every time.

Max: Mmm… flowers? Jewelry?
Logan: Since when do you wear jewelry?
Max: I’m open to the idea.

Max: It’s like some kind of miracle.
Logan: You’re the miracle. You did this. You gave me back my life.
Max: Thank the clever folks at Manticore… I’d forgotten how tall you were.

Max: You’re gonna have to take it slow.
Logan: I don’t wanna take it slow, I wanna go fast.

Conclusion
While Rising might have a couple of off-beats here and there, the emotion is so on-point that I have no hesitations in labeling it the show’s first bonafide masterpiece.

Nad Rating
A+

6 comments

  1. I'm not sure I'd go with 'perfect,' but it's definitely my favorite episode so far! The Red guys are rather terrifying. You need a terrifying villain when your heroine is as badass as Max. A lot of the other baddies feel too weak for her to even be bothering with.

    There were a lot of great moments in this one: the shot of Max with the blood coming out of her eyes was fairly awesome, as were the scenes between her Original Cindy and her and Logan. I don't think of Jessica Alba as a particularly strong actress, but she did a decent job here. I especially liked the 'close your eyes' moment. I really though that might be the big smoochy moment. Sigh.

    The blood transfusion thing reminded me of how Sookie is always drinking vampire blood from someone or other on True Blood. Was it weird, though, that Logan was so eager? And I hope he didn't take too much. They seemed to be there for a long time.

    I'm seriously considering changing my voicemail message to “You've reached the number you dialed.” Except no one dials phones anymore…pity.

  2. It's perfect perfect PERFECT!!! Hehe glad it's your favorite so far. It's definitely the strongest of the first 12 episodes of the season. Slow down because I'm only one episode ahead of you at the moment 😛 I want to hear your thoughts on EVERY eppy.

  3. OH GOD..EPIC, EPIC, EPIC! I hardly remember feeling this kind of enthusiasm when watching a TV show and it's all mostly because of that final Max/Logan scene. The way he rises from the chair and stands in front of her…that entire sequence will forever be etched in my mind. And I literally cracked up laughing when she said “thank the clever folks at Manticore.” Hahahahah what a beautiful way to infuse a comedic line into such a heartwarming scene. And when they started talking about going “fast” (gave me a huge Flash vibe btw), I knew they were about to go on Max's bike but I didn't expect to see Logan the one driving! AWESOMENESS.

    And to top it all off, Cindy knows!!! Wow. I also really appreciated the way she tipped her off by saying she wants to introduce her to some boy…hahaha, hysterical and incredibly smart! But seriously, how did they manage to do this reveal this early on?? Now I am very curious to see if anyone else from Max and Cindy's life will also find out.

    I really don't know what else to say! This really reminded me of how I felt when I first saw that season 2 episode of Alias when the CIA takes down SD6 (it was the midseason finale, if I'm not mistaken). Both are EXTREMELY risky, game-changing episodes and both result in PERFECT endings relating to the shows' star couples. In fact, now that I think about it, Vaughn and Logan are very similar I guess.

    Seriously, the budget on this show though…wow! Beyond impressive.

  4. Wooope. Rising is definitely in my all time top-three DA episodes. Freakin' adore this. Everything you mentioned is why this one is so incredible in every single way.

    I never made the link but you're right, this is a lot like Phase One (Alias' most mindblowing hour), however, Max and Logan are definitely the stronger couple since at least Logan has a personality unlike somewhat useless Vaughn! Hahaha!

    I so wish I could watch Dark Angel again for the first time 🙁

    And didn't you get all teary-eyed with Max's confession to Cindy??? Come on spit it out!

  5. I don’t think this episode was perfect, but I did love it! Max’s confession to Cindy at the end was so sad & their hug was so beautiful. Love their friendship. I also liked Logan standing up from his wheelchair. But the thing that I don’t like about Logan is how selfish he seems towards Max. He even told Alec the same thing at the end of season 2 I believe. Other than that, I like his character

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