I love the period when a show revs up for its finale. With only three hours to go, Hit A Sista Back impressively raises the stakes and brings everything together for a climactic final stretch of episodes.
Throughout Dark Angel‘s debut season, we’ve seen the ramifications of being on-the-run taking their toll on Max, but nothing could prepare us for the consequences that Tinga and her family have to face with Lydecker and his goons on their trail. Since Max’s sister effectively left town in The Kidz Are Alright, her husband’s attempts at finding her end up costing the family the ultimate price. It’s a poignant story arc that shows the viewers (and Max) just how much the X5s have to lose if they try to live a normal life.
Guest-star Sebastian Spence delivers a superb performance as Tinga’s husband Charles, and manages to make you emphasize with his plight in the span of forty short minutes. It’s fascinating to watch his state of mind as he questions if he would have ever stayed with his wife had he known the truth (I particularly loved his scene with Logan as they have a midnight drink) until he finally comes to terms with his wife’s unusual nature.
Renfro really comes in to her own in this episode as a force to be reckoned with. She orchestrates an elaborate plot with a reprogrammed Brin to kidnap Tinga right under Lydecker’s nose. The reason behind this doublecross is Tinga’s apparently unique DNA, which allows her to pass off her genetics to her offspring (unlike other X5s). It’s a welcome development that complicates matters even further as we head into the finale.
The episode’s ending is positively horrifyingly. First we see Max on the Space Needle spouting off one of her voiceovers (this time with the whole princess motif), and then everything transitions to one mammoth reveal: Renfro arrives at a top-secret facility where she has Tinga captive in some tube with green fluid and wires sticking out of her. It’s an extremely unsettling and tragic bookend to the hour (and the ominous music is just perfect).
– Awesome teaser with Max seeing Tinga on the milk carton and Lydecker being revealed as the “special tutor”.
– Case’s bedtime story is about a little prince and princess who escaped from an evil castle with “nomalies” in the basement. It’s heavy-handed, but it makes sense that Tinga would use the story as an outlet to tell the truth.
– It’s heartwarming that Max is so loyal and dedicated to saving Tinga’s family before she even meets them.
– Love Tinga’s introduction as Max is attacked by an unseen figure.
– It’s amusing that Lydecker (while sucking on a lollipop) paints a very happy picture about Manticore to Case. He evens tell him he can climb monkey bars and go swimming there (i.e. chained to the bottom of the pool a la Prodigy).
– Max and Tinga’s escape plot is quite thrilling to watch, culminating with Zack’s return and the epic faceoff between Max and Brin. That fight is actually one of my favorites of the series because as hard as Max tries, she still ends up outright losing for the first time. However, even with her brainwashing, a creepy Brin surprisingly lets her go since she hasn’t forgotten that Max saved her once. “The next time I see you little sister, I’m bringing you home.” Outstanding.
– The look on Charles’ face when his wife viciously punches through the wall to retrieve her rifle stash is hilarious.
– While Lydecker’s barcode-virus is indeed disturbing, it’s also a genius move on his part.
– Reminder that Zack is annoying: his vicious chocking of Sebastian.
– How creepy is Lydecker wanting to use Tinga to make hundreds of kids?
– I like that as hard as Zack tries, he can’t stop himself from saving his family for a second time in 24 hours.
– The entire exchange in South Market is both heartbreaking and riveting. As a miserable Tinga gives up her freedom, Brin shockingly orders an attack that surprises even Lydecker. Brin then takes control of the hummer, kidnaps Tinga (who for a second thinks Brin is about to save her), and fakes an accident. Brilliant.
– I love how Max promises Case that she’ll bring his mommy back to him.
Barbs & Barcodes
Logan: So when I tell you this is a bad idea and a trap…?
Max: I say, “Thanks for the good advice…and can you track down an address for me?”
Tinga: What, the old plumber gag? I thought that went out with J. Edgar Hoover.
Max: Man loves the classics.
Tinga: That’s a lot of manpower, Max.
Max: Good thing we’re a lot of girlpower.
Tinga: When we get them out of there tonight, I’m going to tell him everything.
Max: Honey, when you and me take out 20 trained operatives without breaking a sweat… I think he’s going to come real on his own, that there’s something special about you.
Zack: If she’s smart, she’ll tell him to take the kid and go. Otherwise, they’re gonna wind up sharing a suite back at Manticore.
Max: You’re a real family-values guy, aren’t you?
Zack: Family isn’t an option. Not for us.
Logan: You can’t really blame the guy for being freaked out. Wonder why she never told him.
Max: You make it sound easy.
Logan: No. If you’re going to have a relationship with someone, you have a right to know what you’re getting into.
Max: Only, the thing about relationships… is you never know what you’re getting yourself into.
Lydecker: This isn’t as big a tragedy as you think it is.
Max: Whatever you have to tell yourself.
Hit A Sista Back is an excellent episode that does a terrific job of setting up the final two hours of the season.