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