Dark Angel 2×06 – Two

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Now this is more like it. Two beautifully balances comedy and darkness to maximum effect.

This week’s freak of the week revolves around sector police being slaughtered by a mysterious transgenic whom we’re lead to believe is Joshua. It’s eventually revealed that the canine killer is Joshua’s brother Isaac, who’s seeking retribution against Manticore guards who brutally beat him (and ripped out his tongue) after Father Sandeman’s departure. It’s a sufficiently creepy storyline, made even scarier by Isaac’s horrifying appearance. But, it’s also a pretty standalone plot, and it’s not the reason the episode works so well.

The real gem of the hour is Jensen Ackles who completely elevates the show as Alec. After realizing that Max can easily traverse sector points with her Jam Pony pass, he joins Normal’s crew and begins causing trouble upon arrival. Of course I’ve mentioned how epic his banter with Maxie is (and it’s in full-force this week), but his extracurricular activities also attract the attention of the newest additions to the Dark Angel mythology: the “butt-ugly” Steelheads. After Alec sends Sketchy on a drug run, we meet this creepy territorial faction who are obsessed with a special brand of implanted biotech. They’re bizarrely compelling antagonists, and naturally Alec kicks their asses (while on the phone with Logan no less). We later discover that he very honorably is on a mission to pay Max back for the money she wasted on him.

It’s worth mentioning that while I don’t love the Isaac storyline, it at least allows Max and Joshua’s dynamic to further grow. Not only is she quite motherly towards him, but this is the first time he lashes out at her (blaming her for letting them out) and he even ends up physically pushing his little fella out of his way. It’s the most interesting these two have been together since the premiere.

Two isn’t an episode I usually get excited to rewatch, but it’s very well executed, providing a sharp contrast to the utter silliness of last week’s outing (Boo). Unfortunately, the episode’s ending is a bit weak with Max and Joshua at Isaac’s grave. We’re simply not that attached to the fallen canine to care about this supposedly grave loss. Wouldn’t the episode have benefited from a return to a more upbeat ending with all the seriousness going on? It just feels creepy, and not in a good way.

Post-Pulse Bits

– The teaser is just phenomenal simply for the fact that it lets Max be a cat burglar again (I only wish she still had the original catsuit last seen in Meow). I love that Alex interrupts her heist as they fight like little kids over a priceless baseball which they both end up losing. Their sibling rivalry is perfect, and he still wants a ride home after all is said and done.

– Lovely scene with Logan harping on Max for stealing and judging. There’s even an awesome reference to the dress she stole in Art Attack.

– I’ll say it again: every line between Max and Alec sparkles. Their banter is the utmost peak of hilarity (find all their great dialogue below).

– Normal recognizes Alec as Monty Cora from the cage fight (Proof Of Purchase). There are hints that he might have a strange fixation with Alec. Might he be gay?

– My favorite scene of the episode: Max and Alec delivering a package as he cases the grandma and her plasma screen while Max teaches him about being polite (for tips) and not stealing from good people. It hilariously ends with them each getting a quarter.

– Finally SOMEONE (Logan) gave Max a cellphone. About time sweetheart.

– Logan also goes undercover this week to talk to the tongue-less cop. But Joshua doesn’t have a barcode Mr. Cale!

–  Max meeting Isaac for the first time in the sewers always terrifies me. Thankfully Max gets to beat up a cop after Joshua saves Isaac (and gets caught in the process).

– There’s a real taste of things to come if the transgenics get exposed with the police brutally beating Joshua in prison. It’s heartbreaking to watch Big Fella so helpless.

– So all Max needs to go undercover as a reporter is a hat and camera? I’ll let it slide since it’s a Post-Pulse world and all, and it is fun to watch her kick the sleazy cop’s ass and escape with Joshua (who communicates with a pack of fellow captive dogs to keep the guards away).

– There’s a brief albeit cool fight scene between Max and Isaac and it’s interesting how she can’t really take him down. It’s Joshua who ultimately comes to the rescue and stabs his brother before howling like a puppy over his fallen body.

– I like Max and Alec smiling at each other at the end. But then there’s an ominous moment where the female Steelhead he’s hitting on reveals that she knows what he is.

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: Read my lips pretty boy: get a life, get a job, and stop sticking your nose into mine. Don’t make me kick your ass!
Alec: You know, this whole tough-chick act thing is really unbecoming. “I’m gonna bounce you on your ass. I’m gonna smack your bitch head.” It’s so unfeminine.

Logan: It was your heist. You were there first.
Max: That’s what I said! And I bet you he was gonna take whatever he got from it and blow it on hookers and beer.
Logan: Guy has no decency.
Max: Tell me about it.
Logan: And the nerve to rip off what you were rightfully stealing.
Max: Exactly. It’s like he’s a child who doesn’t know right from wrong.
Max: Are you busting on me?
Logan: Me?
Max: I only steal from bad people. And only for a good cause.
Logan: Like when you need a part for your motorcycle, or a cocktail dress to wear at a wedding?
Max: Without my motorcycle, I can’t…and the whole dress thing…I was gonna return it…and this isn’t even about me. This is about you.

Max: I suppose I could find something else to steal.
Logan: There are a lot of bad guys out there.
Max: But I wouldn’t want to drag you down to my level.

Max: Was “Stay the hell out of my life” not direct enough?
Alec: Max, you told me to find a job. I figured what better place than somewhere I already have a friend?
Max: If by “friend” you mean someone who’d just as soon drop an anvil on you, then welcome.
Alec: You don’t mean that.
Max: Find me an anvil and watch me go.

Cindy: He’s from Manticore, huh? Say what you want, they sure know how to make ’em pretty.
Max: Try spending an afternoon with him. He’ll drive you crazy with his laughing, and his talking, and his breathing…
Cindy: Shugga, you got issues.

Max: I’m telling you he’s no good.
Cindy: I know. Free beer – just flat out evil.
Alec: Oooh a quarter, she might as well kiss that TV goodbye.

Eddie: What’s a poofter like you need with five hundred bucks, anyway, eh?
Alec (in a British accent): Actually, I need it for a ride on your mum.

Alec: It’s just ’cause she’s hot, you know.
Logan: What is?
Alec: Everything. Everything she gets away with. You honestly think we’d be down here in this moldy dump looking for God-knows-what if she were ugly?
Logan: We’re down here to give Max a hand.
Alec (laughing): You’re so whipped.

Max: (to Joshua) I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but I got a thing with dogs. Feline DNA.

Conclusion


Equal parts dark and humorous, Two is a surprisingly terrific hour of Dark Angel.

Nad Rating
B+

6 comments

  1. Like you, I wasn't a fan of the Joshua/Isaac stuff. The twist was pretty obvious from the title. But I'm loving Alec. More Jensen, please. 🙂

  2. I hated that Joshua blamed Max for letting the Manticore prisoners out… oh yeah, should she have let you all die in that fire instead? I especially hate that Max blames herself throughout the season (so far), whenever one of the transgenics hurts someone. She is *not* responsible for what they do once they're out! Did *she* train/brainwash them? I don't think so. Arrgh, I just find it so infuriating. Sure we can feel sorry for Isaac because he was tortured, but it's like, when an abused child grows up they have a choice: to become an abuser or not. You can't just let them get away with abuse because they started out as victims. Like I wrote in my last comment on your blog, I believe we all have to take responsibility for our own actions as adults, no matter how screwed up our childhoods were. Isaac had obviously snapped and couldn't be reasoned with and was attacking innocents…so that dog needed to be put down. Joshua was out of line, blaming Max and getting physical with her. But I can understand his initial lash-out. I just can't accept Max *believing* Joshua's right and she's responsible for any transgenics actions. She liberated prisoners and saved lives during that fire. It's not like she had to time to decide which ones were safe to release and which ones might be rabid dogs. Okay, I'm sorry to harp on this. 🙂

    Despite the Joshua-annoying-me-as-usual aspect of the episode, this is one of my fav eps of season 2. Because of Alec, of course, and some fun interaction between Max & Logan. I want to see her cat-burgle more often too. It's fun. I'm glad Logan didn't reeeaally have a problem with it and was just teasing her.

  3. I hate comparing shows all the time but this REALLY felt like an episode of The Flash again. Which, to be fair, is a testament to how ahead-of-its-time Dark Angel was. Fifteen years ago and we still have shows producing episodes that resemble DA so much.

    The freak of the week in particular gave me a huge Flash vibe: a standalone case that has an emotional connection to one of our characters (this time it was Joshua). I loved the Joshua/Isaac twist as I somehow didn't see it coming. Seriously, I love how unpredictable this show is. Continuously exceeding my expectations, bravo guys.

    Alec is indeed amazing on this show! His banter with Max is very much needed with all the darkness surrounding this season. But I'm glad the Joshua/Max fight happened. Someone needed to address that Max letting everyone at Manticore loose was bound to have negative consequences on the world.

    And the dress reference! Aww, warmed my heart! I always love shows that appreciate continuity and this one seems to do it all the time with constant references to previous episodes. More Max-burglary scenes would be nice too 🙂

    I didn't think I was going to like these standalone episodes as much as I did. For some reason, I'm loving them more than the few standalone episodes from season one. At least they're developing characters pretty well here and Alec's addition has definitely been a welcome surprise.

    “Say what you want but they sure know how to make 'em pretty.” Hahahahaha ahh Original Cindy always cracks me up in a spit-out-your-drink kind of way. God, I'm gonna miss these characters :/

  4. Hahha i swear I'm seeing The Flash references as well now thanks to you! Loving that you're enjoying Alec and all the AWESOME continuity stuff! The show did it SO well. Fascinating point you made about the fact that s2 standalone episodes may actually be better than season one's! hmmmmmmm interesting.

    Cindy is tooooo hilarious! I only wish she had a bigger part in season 2. She was quite under-utilised! Btw Alba and Valerie Miller became close friends after the show! Lots of pics of them together after the show got cancelled 🙂 I doubt they're' still friends now though hehehe.

  5. These standalone episodes are really good. The music reminded me of Flushed. Alec was hilarious! I loved Max & Joshua’s relationship here, especially the scene where they lash out at each other. Their acting was great there. I also like that Max gave Joshua “It” & how that story relates to this one. I hate seeing poor Joshua getting beat up by the police & Isaac by the guards, especially since I love dogs.

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