I hate to admit it, but in some twisted way, Boo somehow works. Yes the episode is infamously regarded as the single worst hour of Dark Angel ever made (and I’ve frequently labeled it as such), but the more I think about it, the more I find myself impressed by what it does manage to accomplish. See unlike Love In Vein (we’ll get to that trainwreck eventually), Boo has the right to go batshit insane being a straight-up dream episode. In fact, it still manages to tackle a serious thematic motif (Max’s denial of who she is) in the midst of a whacky dream world filled with blink-and-you’ll-miss-em references. It’s surprisingly ambitious, in an exceptionally silly sort of way.
The episode’s events are set off when Max refuses to let Joshua go out into the world on the one night people wouldn’t notice (Halloween). Her guilt sends her into a bizarro dream that ultimately causes her to change her mind and take her “big fella” out trick or treating. On one hand, I appreciate the fact that Max has grown so much this year (she’s practically a neurotic mom compared to the badass free spirit she was in season one). But on the other hand, it’s nowhere near as fun to watch, which I guess is the whole point of becoming an adult.
Cindy intriguingly points out that Max is not actually afraid of people judging Joshua, she’s actually frightened of people judging her. It’s a fascinating point, because Max has struggled with her identity since the beginning of the series. That’s why it’s especially poignant when Sketchy and Normal arrest the transgenics and she finally proclaims:“No I’m not one of them”. This heroine is on a journey, and it’s not going to be easy for her to accept her true nature. Thankfully Logan and Asha break the tension as they arrive with the intention of getting hitched (!!!!).
– The teaser with Max interrupting Logan and Asha is pretty awkward. It’s like they weren’t sure what tone they were going for.
– Sketchy announces that he’s “the shape of things to come.” That was the tagline used in the promotional materials of Dark Angel’s first season to describe Max. It can’t be a coincidence.
– After Max and Cindy sneakily convince Normal to give them all a day off, we spend some time with the duo riding through Seattle and waiting at a traffic light. These day-to-day moments with the Jam Pony crew were the bread and butter of season one, and I adore them.
– The episode’s funniest moment is probably Joshua and the trick or treaters screaming in each other’s faces.
– The first sign that things are not what they seem: Rafer disguised as an X5 picking up Max (even though they had decided to meet at Crash).
– Max’s reaction after Rafer’s mom (the fortuneteller) basically has a heart attack. “Great first impression.” Ha!
– Didn’t we just use a split screen effect in Radar Love. At least wait a couple of episodes before you overuse the damn device.
– Thankfully, Normal at least gets to have some fun in dream world as he heads up a transgenic hunting party and sneezes whenever Katarina is around (since he’s allergic to cats). Also, his “over over” bit with Sketchy is kind of priceless.
– Lots of references to other episodes in this one: Jam Clydesdale, an army marches on its stomach, Pierpont Lempkin, and Idle Hands (one of Jessica Alba’s first films).
– After Logan plays his game of Bingo, he mentions the target is a priest, minister or Rabbi (a reference to the joke Max heard from the homeless guy at the stoplight). I do wish we would learn more about religious leaders and their influence in a Post-Pulse world (in a more serious episode of course). The topic is just ripe with potential.
– When Max gives Sally a swirly, it’s actually the first time we see Logan’s luxurious bathroom.
– “Rafer I had a real nice time, call me.” And then she punches him while looking all gorgeous.
– Hysterical visual: the transgenics lead by Max walking in slow motion as Joshua flips his hair Baywatch-style.
– Lots of feline tidbits for Katarina: she directs Rafer towards the sandbox, sips milk, and almost has a catfight with our other resident kitty, Max.
– The fight scene between Max and the headless body is actually fun, especially with the hip-hop music blaring. I love how he slams her into the wall and she bangs her head like a cartoon.
– The final Space Needle scene between Max and Cindy is very cool as they go all meta on flashbacks culminating with the ultimate dream trope: Max is naked!
– Who else noticed the mask from Scream on one of the trick or treaters on the street? Too funny.
– The biggest goof of all: we’ve established countless times right from the pilot that Max does NOT sleep. So basically this whole episode shouldn’t have happened.
Barbs & Barcodes
Normal: (to Sketchy) You have an ass where your head should be.
Cindy: Why you gotta be so salty?
Normal: You can whine all you like in that illiterate dialect of yours, but we’re not closing early! Capisce?
Rafer: How’s it going?
Max: Oh, you know. Just another day in a broken world.
Max: So what are you gonna go as tonight?
Cindy: Either Snow-Ho and the Seven Little Pimps, or Rick James. I’m thinkin’ Superfreak, but it depends on how much curl activator I can get.
Mom: You are not what you seem!
Max: Guess you busted me on my push-up bra.
Max: Here’s the deal. Under no circumstances do I want that guy to know he’s rolling with a bunch of transgenics. Mess up and your mutant asses will be kicked!
Normal: Max, looks like you’re hanging out with a higher class of people than usual.
Rafer: What are you looking for here?
Max: Ming vase.
Joshua: (same time) Saxophone.
Max: You know, one of those fourteenth-century, royal Chinese saxophones?
Max: Talk fast or the left eye goes first.
Sally: Some bar. Munch? Crunch? Smash? Rash?
Sally: That’s the one.
Max: Oh, this just gets better and better.
Katarina: (playing Charades) Faster, Pussycat! Kill, Kill, Kill!
Rafer: That’s a–
Max: (speaking very quickly) Battery-operated, voice-activated, fully articulated animatronic head. Realistic, isn’t it?
Logan: I’m Eyes Only.
Asha: I’m Supreme Commandant of S1W.
Priest: Saints preserve us.
Logan: When you have a moment, Your Cleanliness, would you marry us?
Cindy: What the hell was that?!
Max: Flashback. Happens all the time.
While it might seem like a downright embarrassing hour of Dark Angel (and it sort of is). Boo has glimmers of hope in between. And hey, any episode that lets Alba tap into her comedic side gets a pass from me.