Dark Angel 1×21 – …And Jesus Brought a Casserole

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And so, Dark Angel’s masterful debut season comes to an end. To call this finale a masterpiece would be an understatement, because this episode is a spectacular hour of television that brings the entire year into one terrific collision while leaving just enough loose ends for one heck of a cliffhanger.

An assault by the escaped X5s on Manticore was the only way Dark Angel’s first season could have ended, and it felt extremely satisfying to see Max and her siblings (lead by Lydecker no less) launch an attack on the corporation that created them. If I had any complaints about this finale, it would be that we’d never met Krit or Sil before, which lessened the emotional investment a tad. It would have been much more epic if they had been introduced beforehand and we’d grown attached over the course of the year. Nevertheless, that’s a minor quibble as they don’t take too much screen time and the hour rightfully focused on the two X5s that matter: Max and Zack.

I never liked Zack, so his sacrifice in the finale is a highly welcome development as far as I’m concerned. Naturally since it’s his last hour, he becomes infinitely more likeable (darn writers) as he gives Max a new heart by blowing his brains out. The entire sequence is incredible, with the defibrillator beats coinciding with various flashes from Max’s life this year, until Zack savagely takes Renfro hostage and makes his monumental decision (“X5-599 I’ve got a heart for you”). Bravo writers, you took an irritating character and turned him into the ultimate badass martyr.

The finale is also an immensely revelatory hour where Lydecker is concerned. We discover that his unwavering belief in Manticore stems from a need to save soldiers’ lives (since using X5s means much less warriors on the battlefield). It makes sense seeing as how he served his country in the past. We also discover that he’s always had a soft spot for Max (he once sat by her in the infirmary) because she was inspired by his murdered wife. It’s enlightening, yet admittedly creepy (which is why I love Max choking him when he looks at her funny).

Of course the scene I hate rewatching most is Logan cradling a dying Max in his arms. With the original Dark Angel score from the pilot playing over the scene (it’s seriously affecting), and Max trying to tell Logan she loves him in between tears, it’s utterly traumatizing to watch — punctuated by Weatherly and Alba’s incredible performances. Thankfully they were together in real life here (and about to be engaged), so that makes things a bit better.

…And Jesus Brought A Casserole is home to one of the greatest fake-outs in television history. It starts with Max’s X7 clone seemingly shooting our heroine. However, Max surprisingly wins, and we see her live out her perfect life: she’s back at Crash while her family, friends (and enemies) come together. Sketchy flirts with Sil, Krit and Logan share a laugh, Herbal drinks with Zack, and Max even buys a pitcher of ice-water for Lydecker. Most importantly, Zack approves of Logan, and our X5 takes her love home to finally consummate their relationship. It’s all remarkably gorgeous, until that damn crow makes an appearance and the couple find themselves drenched in blood. And so it’s revealed: none of this was real. Max was indeed shot as she brutally crashes to the ground in slow motion. It’s horrifying, but so impeccably executed.

And thus, after a season of watching Max on the run, Dark Angel’s first season ends with our heroine back “home”, strapped to a bed and forced to listen to Zack’s beating heart (thank you Madame X you twisted madwoman). It’s Renfro’s first tactic in breaking down Max, and it’s a haunting note to end things on.

And then, the camera beautifully pans down through Max’s eye as we transition to a fantastic visual: Logan on the Space Needle on his own. And now, it’s his turn to give the voiceover as he echoes her words from the pilot (found below in its entirety). It’s a captivating parallel to Max’s worry over her siblings in the show’s opener, and there’s a wonderful sense of full-circle finality to it all.

It’s worth noting that I really hate rewatching this finale; it’s just too darn depressing. That’s a testament to how effective it is, but honestly I’d just rather watch Meow which at least balances the dreary grimness of it all with a bucket-load of fun.

Post-Pulse Bits

– Love the shot of Max getting tasered in midair and crashing to the ground when she tries to make a jump for Lydecker.

– Lydecker continues to be a badass this week, this time shooting Renfro’s operatives dead and kidnapping Max.

– The motel Lydecker takes Max to is The Yum Yum Tree. It’s the same one Max and Bruno visited in the Pilot. Yes continuity on this show is epic.

– There’s a nice callback to Lydecker’s alcoholism (Cold Comfort) as he drinks himself into a stupor before almost shooting Max and himself. Love her kicking him at the last second.

– Brin knocking the clerk out with that highly-flexible kick always makes me laugh.

– If you didn’t notice, Krit is played by Joshua Alba (Jessica Alba’s brother). The resemblance is scary; he has her lips.

– Max says Bling told her about the warehouse. It’s the last time anyone ever mentions him.

– A perfect example of the show going meta: Max noting what “a cliche it would be” if Lydecker turned out to be her father.

– Lydecker scooping the eyeball out with a spoon – talk about casual.

– I love Lydecker and Logan’s talk (found below). It even has a reference to Prodigy.

– It’s interesting that the X5s are terrified of a crow: all because one of their own was accidentally shot when they were kids as revealed in a collective flashback. “Anyway, it’s just a bird.” Apparently not.

– Max taking Logan to the Space Needle is one of the show’s most pivotal moments, and a nice payoff to her invite in Heat. It’s an enlightening scene as she reveals the therapeutic reason behind her love for the spot, and divulges that she has to take down Manticore so she can be with Logan, her “family”. Hilariously, he’s afraid of heights.

– There’s a super cool shot of the X5s in army gear lined up outside Manticore as they all flash-back one by one. Yes we’re kind of sick of these flashbacks by now but it’s natural to see them one last time on this occasion.

– Pretty bizarre with Max and Zack finding their respective DNA in the genetics lab.

– I always get terrified when the Manticore alarm goes off and the X7s are released. Lydecker really builds them up as frightening creatures who are stronger and faster than X5s with “hive minds”.

– There’s a brilliant albeit way too brief encounter between Max and Brin as the former subdues the woman who kicked her ass two episodes ago all too easily. Still, she did catch her by surprise and there’s a wonderful exchange. “No that’s US out there.”

– Lydecker blowing up his life’s work (the DNA lab) is a magnificent moment, particularly how he overcomes his hesitation. I love that the show had the balls to go through with this game-changing move.

– Max’s fight with her X7 clone is awesome. We’ve been watching a young Geneva Locker deliver an astounding performance all year long, so it’s a thrill to see the two Maxes going head to head. And how does Max win? She viciously breaks her clone’s hand.

– A glaring clue that Max isn’t experiencing something real: her hair is suddenly straight, and damn if it isn’t the hottest Alba has looked all year. Interesting tidbit: Alba’s hair is red because she was L’Oreal’s spokeswoman around that time.

– Alba’s delivery of “What’s happening?” when she sees the blood breaks my heart every time.

– There’s a very cool moment with Lydecker hitting Logan so he can drag him away from Max.

– As Zack sobs over Max’s lifeless body, he asks her to “promise to fight them”, before dutifully killing himself. It’s just tremendously chilling.

Barbs & Barcodes

Lydecker: No maid service. No wake-up call. No mints on the pillow.
Clerk: No worries – we pride ourselves on our discretion as much as we do on our lack of amenities.

Lydecker: (to Renfro) You got a real set of brass ones.

Lydecker: It’s very gratifying watching kids realize their purpose in life.
Logan: You have any idea how twisted that is?
Lydecker: And why exactly are you here? It’s not your fight. But neither was the terrorist attack on the genetics conference. I remember you. It’s all about her…isn’t it? You’re in love with her.
Logan: Can I have a screwdriver please?
Lydecker: It’s all right son. I understand.

Max: I look down at the people and think about how everybody’s got problems. Maybe not a secret government agency on their ass, but you know — problems. And if I sit up here long enough, I start to feel like I’m just one of those people, a regular girl.
Logan: Well I hate to break it to you Max, but you’re never going to be a regular anything.

Max: I’d kiss you, but I have to keep my head in the game.
Logan: Just come back.

Max: (After using the retina scanner) Guess there is an “eye” in team.

Max: (to her X7 clone) You know what really pisses me off? When a poser bites my stylo.

Krit: (To Max) So you broke into his house? (to Logan) And you liked that?
Logan: Well, she went for the good stuff; I could tell she had taste.
Max: The black catsuit didn’t hurt, either.

Max: Where am I?
Renfro: I think you know…

Logan: Sometimes it seems like it happened to someone else—like maybe it was a story I heard. Even though I know what happened, sometimes I can’t help feeling that she’s not really gone…that she’s still out there. And I just hope she’s okay.

Conclusion
While it’s undeniably depressing, …And Jesus Brought A Casserole is a superbly-constructed finale that acts as a powerful closer to an excellent debut season.

 Nad Rating
A+

6 comments

  1. That fake out was just mean. Just straight up mean. It occurred to me after Zack approved of Logan that things were weirdly perfect, and that the other shoe had to drop but I was still expecting Lydecker to double cross them somehow.

    As happy as I am that Zack, the-perennial-wet-blanket-who-shows-up-to-save-the-day-anyway-brooding-and-complaining, is dead, did it not occur to him that Brin was in the building, incapacitated, and currently evil? Killing one sister to save the other isn't exactly a heroic move, but it would've saved his own life.

    Lydecker modeling Max after his dead wife is one of the creepiest things I've ever heard, especially because he constantly refers to her and her brethren as “his kids.” That said, I didn't see it coming. I was prepared for Lydecker to have been in love with her biological mother or something.

    PS. Crows were a death omen for some Native American tribes.

    PPS. What the heck does the title of this episode mean?

  2. I think it was made pretty clear that Zack was in love with Max (creepy) so he always gave her special treatment, and in this case it was his own life.

    The title of the episode I have no idea. I mean it's obvious it had something to do with the last supper and I remember DA fans speculating a lot about it with great theories but I can't seem to remember 🙁

    So all in all, what are you thoughts on the first season and the finale?? Are you going to stick with the show and watch season 2 sunbunny? I'm really interested in hearing your overall detailed thoughts now that you've finished the season!

  3. I really don't see myself ever loving the show as much as you do, but it's fun and sweet, if sometimes silly. It kind of reminds me of Roswell in a way, if that makes sense. I'll definitely watch the second season, although I might not feel that way if it wasn't for the presence of a certain Mr. Ackles…

    It can be pretty cheesy at times and Jessica Alba still grates on me a bit. I really like the show for Michael Weatherly (when did he stop being so adorable; it's sad) and the world they created. Like you've been saying, it's remarkable how much detail and thought when into post pulse Seattle.

  4. Sniff. That was too heartbreaking and indeed depressing like you said.

    I loved Meow more than this for sure, but I have to praise the writers for that GENIUS fake-out. How in the world did I not see it coming?! Everything was too perfect and yet it felt “real”, and I kept waiting for Lydecker to make some villainous move (even at the bar) but holy damn hell… I did not see that coming. I very much questioned how Max survived the bullet when fighting her clone but at the same time, I just immediately got over it. But I don't think I'll be able to recover from the sight of Logan holding Max in his arms and crying. Damn music killed me!! Sniff.

    What a cleverly plotted finale though, honestly. THIS is how you do a finale. And like you said, it really made the season feel like it's come full-circle with the X5s teaming up together to take down the facility that created them. Everything felt like a spot-on detailed reference to something we'd seen or heard before, and I can't praise this show enough for its wonderful universe. They've really built up Manticore as this big hell-hole that I've come to cringe every time I see those flashbacks. Damn crow.

    But the final 2 minutes were really too depressing 🙁 I still somehow didn't care so much about Zack (thanks for the heart though, buddy) but seeing Max trapped in like that with that blonde lady…ugh, it irks me. Can't wait to see how she finds her way out of there!

    What a fantastic first season. It's exceeded my expectations about a dozen times, and that's more than amazing considering this is a show that aired FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Thanks for these reviews, seriously! I love reading each one after just finishing an ep..

  5. Right? So very depressing and yet you can't fault it because it's so brilliantly plotted! And the sight of Max dying in Logan's arms? A killer! Not to mention that outstanding fake-out that's just gut-wrenching on every level.

    Also, what the hell does the title mean? I can't seem to figure it out!

    Reading your comments really reminded me and confirmed how amazing this show is. It really is an exceptional debut season that's so satisfying on every level. Can't wait to read your thoughts on season two's episodes!

  6. Your review says it all! The best part about this episode is how it all comes together full-circle. The most realistic part of the fake-out was that it, at least to me, wasn’t rushed. Adding the crow was chilling & amazing. I always love those haunting flashbacks, especially since they’re a huge missing part of the second season. And the way they were placed & used in particular scenes here was genius. One of the things this show does best, especially in this episode & the series finale, is the suspense. I already knew what would happen & my heart was still pounding. Also loved Zack giving his heart to Max & the beautiful flashes of Max’s life.

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