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.
– 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.
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.