Dark Angel

Dark Angel 2×05 – Boo

"Haggis, haggis, haggis, one water, one nothing."
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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 (!!!!).

Post-Pulse Bits

– 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?
Max: Crash?
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.

Conclusion


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.

Nad Rating
C

16 comments

  1. This was pretty bad. It did have a couple parts that made me smile: Logan and Asha showing up matter-of-factly stating their secret identities, demanding credit for saving everyone, and asking the priest to marry them, and Joshua's sad “Beth dies.” I think it would've been more fun if we'd established more clearly from the get-go it was a dream. I thought something was up when Rafer showed up at Max's, but I wasn't sure until Normal was evil.

  2. “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.”

    Oh my god, you've nailed it! This is why DA season 2 is reminding me (in a bad way) of BTVS… because Buffy really lost me when it got too dreary and “look how hard adulthood is”. I really prefer early Buffy and early Max. Do I need my entertainment to remind me how tough adult responsibilities are? No, not at all. 😛 Dark Angel season 1 depicted a tough life… a “broken world” 😉 But somehow there was still a feeling of …optimism? Or something. I really don't enjoy watching Max (or Buffy) weighed down by responsibilities, and depressed over her life. Season 1 Max said she didn't know why they called it a Depression since nobody really seemed too depressed (post-Pulse). That's the Max I want to see. Somewhat cynical, yes, but also capable of having a good time and not letting herself fall into a funk.

    You've given me even *more* reason to dislike Joshua (as if I needed more), now that you've made the connection for me that Max is like a neurotic mom who has to take care of this Big Kid. I don't want to watch Max get all maternal and take care of annoying kids! In the same way I don't enjoy hearing my neighbours trying to deal with their own brats. 😛 This may sound heartless, but there it is. Similarly, I've been hoping Max would snap out of her self-blame and stop taking responsibility for the actions of everyone she released from Manticore. She saved them from death by fire! She is *not* responsible for whatever bad actions they may take now that they're out in the world. Manticore is responsible for making them what they are. And, ultimately, each one of them is responsible for their own actions now that *they* are adults. In the same way we can't really blame our parents for screwing us up, forever. After a certain point, our actions are our own decisions and we have to suffer the consequences if we do wrong. So, please, Max, stop treating Joshua (and any others) like children who need your looking after. She's not *even* their parent, she's *one* of the traumatized children. And I for one don't need to see her grow up in this way…by acting maternal towards everyone else. Parents need to learn to let go of their children anyway.

    Man, is this why Alec gets to be the “badass free spirit” in season 2 instead? Because women are “supposed” to be maternal?! And men are typically portrayed as wisecrackin' fun free spirits more often than women in fiction/TV. Now I'm pissed off. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Max's character change was a TV network mandate by sexist stereotype-enforcing jerks. The show does seem less feminist this season…

  3. I miss that feeling of optimism from season one as well. It's a fine line and they managed it to so beautifully in the first year!

    Excellent analysis on Max being maternal. I don't know what they were thinking but it just remarkably annoying. Max's character change was most probably a network mandate like you mentioned, and it's probably why Alba herself kept saying that season 2 wasn't “the show” and the network just didn't get it anymore. A real pity…

  4. Logan & Asha revealing their secret identities was my fav part too. Logan removing his glasses with a flourish as he says “Eyes Only”. Heh. But overall I thought “Boo” was painfully unfunny. Even though I want less angst (for Max's character) this season, I'm finding almost all the show's attempts at comedy relief to be cringeworthy and lame. Except Alec. Even Normal doesn't amuse me anymore, with his extremely over-the-top reactions to fight clubs & strip clubs. I guess I'm not a big fan of broad physical comedy. So… Max fighting a headless body or shoving the head down the toilet… and Joshua being…Joshua… just makes me roll my eyes. You know that incredulous look Original Cindy often gives people? That's me. 😛

    I found it pretty depressing that Max denied being one of the transgenics…even though it was just a dream. So she really does hate herself. Great. I suffered through Buffy's self-loathing – I really didn't want Max to go through that kind of character arc. Well, this lends credence to my theory that Max is so mad at/mean to Alec because he reminds her of herself. I hope she snaps out of it soon, 'cause I can only feel sorry for her for so long before I start to get annoyed with and dislike the character. And there I was, congratulating the writers for making Max more likeable than Buffy, in season one! Dammit, I want to admire my TV heroes, for rising above challenges. It's no fun watching them mope and whine and self-destruct.

  5. Aww thanks! Your review helped me make the connection and realize that's the kind of character dynamic I'm seeing between Max and Joshua…and now I have a better understanding of why I haven't enjoyed their scenes much. (although the “big fella, little fella” thing was kinda cute …the first couple times. :P)

    Yes it's a real shame so many TV shows are wrecked by the networks insistence on following formulas and forcing characters to conform to certain gender roles. It's just my luck, when I start to watch a show and admire it for surprising me, the network always interferes and makes it pretty much the opposite of what I liked in the first place! Better to be cancelled too soon, leaving us with good memories…and fanfic. 🙂

  6. I'm very intrigued to see if you'll still feel that way by the time you finish the season. The show becomes so good again in the end that it actually manages to make the disappointing a huge cancellation that I'm still not over 🙁

  7. I can't wait to be disappointed in a good way. 😉 Even though I'm complaining about the changes, I'm still eager to watch the next episode, and the next, and see how it all ends. It's not a chore to finish like some shows I've abandoned. 😛 Of course now I'm looking forward to your reviews too. 🙂 Just need more hours in the day. Gonna have to explore the rest of your site eventually…

  8. I used to hate this episode, but it has grown on me. It's kind of an insight into Max's worries. And it features a totally obscure reference to the Last Starfighter.

  9. Well, surprise, surprise: I actually kind of enjoyed it as well! Let's be honest, this wasn't boring like Haven. It was too ridiculous, yes, but that ridiculousness became so entertaining as the episode moved along. I really found myself enjoying every little thing that was happening.

    The best thing about this episode that makes it about 3 times better than Haven (I seriously didn't like that one) is that it's really a psycho-analysis into Max's identity. I LOVE that part where she says she's not one of them; that's one of the things I was hoping this season would delve into: whether Max's connection with Joshua will make her realize she's more human or more like “them”. So I loved that moment, and that they produced an episodes solely for that purpose.

    Did everything in this hour work? Hell no. In fact, the main plot concerning the headless body was too weird for this show and I couldn't stand that “head”. But in the end, when it became clear what message the episode was going for, I really smiled widely and appreciated that the show actually “went there”. It was a terrific moment and made me love Alba so much more during her delivery of that line. Shows like Arrow prepared an entire season to delve into the whole identity crisis theme and let's face it, most of it didn't work. So I'm glad DA focused on it in just one very ridiculous episode.

    That's what made this an unforgettable episode for me. It's not something I'll particularly want to watch again but it was necessary and I enjoyed it.

  10. You're right it was completely focused on HER purpose. That does make it more valuable as an hour for sure 🙂

    I love that you compared it to Arrow. Seriously that show FLOPPED when it tackled identity. I still can't tell you anything about what they did because none of it made sense. One offbeat episode of DA beat an entire season of that by a mile!

    Loved reading your thoughts on this really!

  11. I’m a sucker for Halloween episodes. So I think this was the best time to try something this different of an episode. The jam pony crew is always hilarious. I love episodes where Jessica shows her comedic side & loved her handing Normal a tissue at Jam Pony. The scavenger hunt & charade scenes were so funny & Logan saying he got bingo made me laugh. At least this one was entertaining & I love the spooky music & visuals that go so well with this show at the end of it along with the pumpkin.

      1. They are rare & I think it’s sad. I’ll admit, when Sally called for help that’s when I thought what has this show become? But It’s a dream episode, so that’s understandable. It’s a successful comedy episode that as you said, tackles Max’s self-identity. Max making up stuff on the spot about the scavenger hunt & everyone in this were hysterical. Also idk if u noticed, but at the beginning of the episode at Jam Pony, some guy dressed as Normal for Halloween! He had the clipboard, glasses, headset, similar clothes it was priceless! 😂

      2. It’s where Normal is yelling hello & says he’s talking to himself. He’s staring right at the guy.

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