This is Michael Weatherly’s episode, and he owns it.
I haven’t really followed Weatherly’s career since Dark Angel (although I hear he’s a big success on NCIS), but he does a wonderful job here capturing Logan’s anguish as his paralysis begins to return. Interestingly enough, his desperation reaches such insane levels, that he begins to visit an ex-Manticore doctor behind Max’s back. It’s a fascinating development, as Eyes Only had sworn to help our heroine track down even the slightest hint of her past. Thankfully, Max’s reaction is surprisingly mature, because as hurt as she is, she nonetheless recognizes the potential that Dr. Vertes provides, and still seeks out her help.
Female Trouble also introduces another X5 into the mix: Jace – whom we discover stayed behind during the original escape and was subsequently reprogrammed (the kids had been designed with “too much independence“). Of course the real jawdropper of a twist here is that she’d gotten pregnant, which as Max points out is a real “career-ender” back at Manticore. It’s a welcome twist on the rogue X5 shtick, as Jace isn’t the most compelling of characters. I didn’t find myself invested in her plight, but I was intrigued to see if she’d get to live on with her baby.
Of course the real meat of the story is Logan’s near suicide when he finds himself back in the chair. It’s heartbreaking, but appropriately realistic and disturbing given everything we’ve learned about him so far. But then, the most unexpected of things – a little droplet of water – reminds him what a hero he is as he saves his elderly, fallen neighbor. It’s an fascinating move to not have Max be the one that changes his mind. Although, I do get goosebumps every time I watch the scene with her spotting the ambulance, urgently panicking and then hugging Logan tight.
– Max tells Bling she has “Kyoto Lakers exhibition tickets”. Ha!
– Signs that Logan is getting really desperate? He’s selling the paintings in his house!
– Love Max and Vertes facing off as Jace attacks and we have our first proper X5 fight scene since Max & Zack in Blah Blah Woof Woof. It’s too short, but very impressive culminating with Max falling through the roof of Vertes’ car.
– Logan pushing Max away as she tries to help him up and asking her if “it’s easier for her if he’s in the chair” is a really uncomfortable moment. I do love him apologizing in the ensuing car ride though.
– Interesting tidbit: the “Manticore brain trust” used to break the kids’ limbs. Yup, that’s pretty gruesome. I’m glad their numbers are dwindling.
– Max and Jace’s second fight is another cool sequence with Jace crashing through the skylight and Max disguised with the lab-coat. The choreography on the show has greatly improved, although again the fight is cut too short when Jace falls out of nowhere.
– The tension between Max and Dr. Vertes is quite amusing, particularity how Max sarcastically calls the doctor a “great humanitarian” when she flaunts her charity work.
– Max says “duly noted” quite a few times throughout the series whenever someone tries to warn her of doing something reckless. Do people ever say this line because I’d never heard it before?
– Max choke-slamming Jace back onto the bed is an awesome moment I can rewatch a zillion times.
– Interestingly enough when Adriana calls Deck to strike a deal, we discover they had some sort of fling in the past. Although the only thing that really buys her “a whole lotta birthdays” is when she offers him the X5s.
– I never point out fashion on this show but I have to ask: how does Jessica Alba manage to look so hot wearing futuristic/hip-hop baggy shorts? Damn.
– I’m not sure what to make of Jace’s bizarre “I’m so damn dumb” speech to Lydecker. It’s so very weird. Thankfully, Lydecker totally saves the moment by brutally and unexpectedly shooting Adriana after promising her her freedom.
– Normal knocking Sketchy off his bike with a coin is hilarious. I like my Jam Pony crew in small doses; they don’t always need long, distracting subplots.
– It’s pleasantly surprising that Jace alerts Max of the ambush and they both escape on her bike. One of the series’ most memorable moments is the shot of both of them flying over Lydecker (complete with Max blowing the baddie a kiss). And again, Lydecker smiles when his kids manage to escape his grasp.
– There’s another mention of “her”, the woman who authorized Lydecker to use deadly force (which he refuses to do).
– Max reading Logan’s file to discover his suicidal tendencies is a bit too convenient; the flashback to their car conversation was more convincing.
– Logan was born in 1988, that’s the year I was born. Of course I’m just 25, and he’s 31 on the show.
– There’s a pretty big goof in this episode as we had been lead to believe that Logan lived on the penthouse. This episode completely retcons that with Mrs. Moreno living above him.
– I didn’t catch this before, but when Max and Logan discuss if Mrs. Moreno is fine, they’re obviously referring to him. Yeah I can be a dumb blonde sometimes.
– The final voiceover is Max’s best one yet. It reflects on Logan, reveals to the audience that it’s the 11 year anniversary of the escape (as Max pops champagne on the Space Needle), and allows Max to revel in the fact that Jace’s baby will have her name. The score and Alba’s delivery are just beautifully poignant.
Barbs & Barcodes
Bling: He hasn’t been himself the last few days.
Max: Hard being a Messiah.
Max: (about Logan) He didn’t ruin my evening. He couldn’t ruin my evening even if he wanted to. My evening is fine.
Cindy: Never underestimate the thoughtlessness and insensitivity of the three-legged gender.
Max: (to Vertes) I’m asking myself why someone sworn to alleviate suffering is packing heat!
Logan: What? Is she all right?
Max: Yes. Thanks to moi, her transgenic guardian angel, she’s fine.
Max: And you just forgot to tell me that the bride of Mengele was right here in Seattle?
Logan: Not everything I do is automatically your business.
Max: Excuse me, but finding one of the bright young sadists who did experiments on us back in the day certainly is my business!
Max: Sounds like Manticore’s gotten its swerve on since my day.
Max: (to Vertes) Subhuman, superhuman, what’s the difference? We’re all just a bunch of lab rats to you people.
Max: You stay out in the world long enough, you find out Manticore had it all backwards. Everything matters except the objective.
Max: At least I get to choose how to live my life. It’s not up to some military command; it’s called freedom.
Jace: Spare me the propaganda.
Max: (voiceover) With everything that’s gone down, I almost forgot: eleven years ago tonight, we escaped from Manticore. When I think of everything I’ve been through — the good, the bad, and the blur in between… well, I’m not gonna think about it. It’ll just give me a headache. (She pops the champagne cork) Donald Lydecker wherever you are, you can kiss my genetically-engineered ass! Zack, Brin, Jondy, Tinga, and everyone… happy anniversary kids. A baby… named after me. That is awesome.
Female Trouble is an absorbing and exciting episode of Dark Angel.