I used to detest this episode. But rewatching it today, I’m impressed by the plethora of important moments lurking beneath its absurd premise.
I and I am A Camera sees the introduction of Phil, a pretty ludicrous character in his own right. Whether he’s obsessing over Max’s name or questioning Logan about his “powers”, he arrives with a healthy dose of comic relief that makes for a relatively lighthearted hour. But he’s also revealed to be quite similar to Max, particularly with a dark backstory regarding a murdered sister which sent him on his vigilante path. In addition, he supplies Dark Angel with a pretty monumental treat: the exoskeleton which he generously gifts to Logan at the end of the hour, opening up a world of wonderful possibilities.
As a direct follow-up to Pollo Loco, Logan is still wary of Max’s true nature. This subplot is less successful; I get what they’re going for absolutely, but it’s too heavy-handed and forced. It’s not like Logan never knew about her “darkness”, but he still grew to love her in the present. Thankfully, he sees the light by the end of the hour and shreds Lydecker’s pictures to pieces.
The return of Uncle Jonas (first seen in Art Attack) raises an intriguing moral dilemma concerning Logan’s source of wealth. Our idealistic cyber-journalist is dedicated to fighting police corruption, yet his funds are mostly derived from his uncle’s dubious business. This hour is a real turning point for Logan as he ultimately opts to let go of his Cale Trust fortune and blow the lid on Jonas’ assassin hoverdrones (an admittedly genius breakthrough in futuristic weaponry). It’s a compelling development that appropriately strips Logan of his various resources.
– I like Max’s opening fight against the thugs in the alley. If only Phil’s camera snapshots weren’t so imposing.
– Normal calling the gang a “cretin-fest” made me laugh.
– It’s fascinating to see kids stumbling onto a dead body (Herbal’s friend) and not really batting an eyelid before returning to their game. That’s a post-Pulse world ladies and gents.
– Max says Snuffy was sweet. Really? Based on what interaction?
– It’s funny how Max can never seem to carry out a truly successful burglary. Something always seems to go wrong.
– Blink and you’ll miss it: As Cindy gives Max a pep-talk, the latter is perched on the chair like a cat (feline DNA and all).
– Alba and Weatherly are downright hilarious with their reactions as a nutty Phil questions them and flashes them.
– Another great touch: Phil is drinking milk when he’s sitting with Max and Logan. That’s another thing he has in common with our heroine.
– Notice the beyond laughable shot of a dead Jonas still holding the whiskey glass after being shot to pieces. Yeah that’s realistic.
– Max and Phil interrupting an S&M session by mistake is a very funny little moment.
– There’s a nice sense of surprising urgency when Max discovers Logan is the target. Love how she hops into his car and drives him to safety before slamming the hoverdrone to pieces.
– Nice touch with Max advocating Phil’s no littering rule before bidding him goodbye. They have an amusing dynamic although their destiny talk isn’t as successful.
– Beautiful final scene with Max drinking expensive wine with a now-poor Logan.
– Love the final twist with Jonas’ partner selling the hoverdrone specs to Madame X at Manticore. Naturally she snaps a picture of him (cementing him as the drone’s next target).
– Honestly, I would have liked to see some direct follow-up to Ben’s death and the ramifications of that on Max’s psyche. It’s a bit jarring to see her act so matter-of-fact.
Barbs & Barcodes
Max: Sometimes it sounds like you can almost switch teams.
Cindy: Let’s not get gross.
Max: See, now, you shouldn’t have done that. ’Cause even though he’s a drunken idiot, he happens to be a friend and now I gotta kick your ass.
Normal: You kids could learn something from his example.
Sketchy: (sneezing) BITE ME!
Max: Bless ya.
Phil: I can see your future.
Max: Then you’ve already watched me turn around and walk away ’cause you’re a whack job.
Max: Great. How’d I get the smart one?
Phil: Max…is that short for Maximum?
Phil: As in Maximum Force? Maximum Girl? Woman. I meant Maximum Woman.
Max: It’s not short for anything.
Phil: Aw…damn, got a screw loose.
Max: No argument there.
Phil: (to Logan) So, what’s your chair do? I mean… Or are your powers mostly mental?
Jonas: Logan! You’re up early. I thought you Bohemian types only ventured out when the sun had set.
Phil: I believe a bullet or a fragment thereof has lodged itself in my mid-anterior servomotor.
Max: Better than lodging into your mid-anterior actual leg.
Max: So your idea of going to war is taking a vow of poverty. That’ll show them, Logan.
Max: You know, only a bored, rich, liberal, white guy would piss away a fortune to prove he wasn’t a bored, rich, liberal, white guy. Nobody would think any less of you if you decided to let this one slide. I would invite you not to be a dope.
Logan: My Uncle Jonas gave me this bottle when I graduated from college. Told me to save it for a special occasion.
Max: Like financial ruin?
Logan: Why not?
Logan: To my dear Uncle Jonas, who, underneath his winning smile, was a cold-blooded killer.
Max: The one thing I learned in my years at Manticore is never underestimate what people are capable of doing to each other.
Max: Thing is…it’s always there, the darkness…right on my tail.
Logan: I know… but you got moves.
While it might seem downright moronic on the surface, I And A Am A Camera effectively (and quite surprisingly) gets a lot of things right.