Dark Angel 2×08 – Gill Girl

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There’s no two ways around it, Gill Girl is an embarrassing episode of Dark Angel.

Mermaids? Really? Am I still watching the same show? The mere notion is groan-inducing, and it’s the worst thing the show’s ever produced (Boo is exempt from comparison). Sure the writers try to give the mermaid a serious edge, being “designed for amphibious sabotage and laying mines”, but it feels painfully forced. And if the mermaid AND merman weren’t bad enough, the writers had to throw in the fact that they had EGGS too. And don’t even get me started on that terrible ending with Max and Logan sitting under a full moon as they watch the Mer-family swim off into the ocean. Ugh. Where’s the thrilling and daring Dark Angel of last season? Because this cheesy mess is unacceptable.

It’s a shame the hour’s main plot is so atrocious, because the episode surprisingly gets a lot of things right. The virus scare, the banter between Max and Alec (the strip club scene is comedy gold) – but it’s all for naught because of the severe lows in the freak of the week plot. In fact, without the humor, the second half of the episode is a disaster as it has nothing but the mermaid garbage to keep it afloat (pardon the pun).

I also have another major beef with the hour: why half-delve into Max’s religious beliefs when you could dedicate an entire episode to this fascinating exploration? The last time she confronted religion, it was in the outstanding Pollo Loco (when she wasn’t much of a believer), but now, all we get is that little scene in the church with the disappearing old lady and an all-too brief conversation about miracles with Original Cindy. It’s a truly wasted opportunity.

But the episode’s worst element? Max nagging about wanting a happy ending and “going for the Disney version.” It’s just so heavy-handed and terrible, and it’s NOT Dark Angel. We get it, she wants to see the Mer-Family happy because she can’t be happy with Logan; you don’t have to bang that notion on our head with a flaming sledgehammer… twice.

Speaking of Max, this episode features one of the show’s most iconic scenes, and that’s our heroine stripping in slow motion to gain entry into the club. While I won’t deny that it’s one of my favorite scenes from the show (Alba’s NEVER looked better), it’s enormously gratuitous. In fact, I can’t help but always flash back to Alba’s DVD commentary from the season one finale, where she mentions that the first season “was the show” with obvious disdain for network interference in the second season. I’m sure this sequence was ridiculously uncomfortable for her to film, and it’s admittedly irritating to see such a badass character being served up on a platter so callously. But on the other hand, Max is a badass, and she’s often used her beauty because of the power it wields over the opposite sex. So I’m torn…

Although Max and Logan are Dark Angels endgame couple, Gill Girl effectively showcases why so many people ship Max and Alec. Whether they’re throwing zingers at one another, or kicking ass side by side, they’re always an utter joy to watch. In addition, Alba and Ackles do a great job of elevating whatever material they’re given and supplying it with a real sense of gravitas.

Post-Pulse Bits

– The teaser has an awesome fakeout with Logan calling Max for help, when it turns out he’s just babysitting. We don’t see Max interact with kids enough, and it’s VERY amusing (I particularly love the brownie seduction).

– The transition from Max reading about the little mermaid to the actual mermaid being captured is pretty stupid. And the gills are disgusting.

– Why do I feel like Max would have let Logan die if she knew beforehand that Asha was his emergency speed dial? Still, Alba’s performance is incredible. It’s heartbreaking to watch her helpless on the sidelines as the doctors try to save Logan.

– White is back and he’s jumping rope. Funny, and so not threatening.

– Although it’s very angsty, I do like Max walking away from Logan in the hospital in slow motion. There’s an added detail with him in the wheelchair for the first time in a while that makes it even more powerful.

– How hysterical is Max’s attempt at “fitting in” with the lap dance? Patting Alec on the head and fiddling with his ear.

– Normal is quite hilarious like a giddy boy enjoying his various lap-dances at the “burlesque hall.” I especially love it when he and Sketchy spot Max in Alec’s lap and assume she’s a stripper.

– The merman reveal is an effective twist, but only because you wouldn’t think the show would jump the shark so preposterously.

– Interesting tidbit: White apparently has a wife and son. God help them with his tantrums.

– This is the first appearance of White’s right-hand guy, Otto. He seems… nice.

– Good to know there isn’t much animosity between Max and Asha anymore as they both work to fix Mr. Merman’s water tank.

– I’m a sucker for shows going meta, so it’s pretty cool that Alec acknowledges out loud the fact that Logan always has a solution for everything. He really is the perfect embodiment of the audience this week.

– Love the scene with Max and Alec climbing and infiltrating White’s base (although the stunt doubles are quite visible).

– The worst wirework the show’s ever done is Max hopping the barrier and FLYING to the lower level. It’s so awkward and badly-staged. Seriously the entire action sequence with the steam explosion is a big flop. The one saving grace is the funny bit with Alec knocking the same old guard out as they leave.

– Anyone else notice the horrendously CGI-ed gun when White watches the eye-cam feed? Ugh.

– It sure looks like Alec has his sights set on Asha now.

– I never noticed before, but Alba and Ackles both have the same initials (JA). There’s another reason to ship the couple.

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: Hi. What’s your name?
Girl: Go away.
Max: Nice name. I’m Max.
Logan: Brittany, say hi.
Brittany: No.
Logan: Max is here to help me take care of you.
Brittany: No.
Max: Took the word right out of my mouth.

Logan: I’m exhausted. She won’t take a nap…she won’t eat anything I give her…
Max: Oh, she doesn’t like bruschentta with a crisp pre-Pulse sauterne?

Logan: Look, it’s one thing for Manticore to give you a retrovirus tailor-made to kill me, but I seriously doubt that they factored a six-year-old into their evil plan.

Alec: There’s one problem. There’s no ladies allowed inside unless they’re working.
Max: What?
Alec: That’s okay, there’s a line around back. Girls show up, and management picks the good ones.
Max: No way!
Alec: Come on, Max, don’t sell yourself short. I mean, you’ve got a decent shot.
Max: Forget it!
Alec: All right, fine, be a prude.

Bouncer: Get a look at the catch of the day. You ain’t never seen seafood this fresh.

Alec: (noticing Max) All right, that’s good, sweetie. Thank you.
Stripper: But the song isn’t over yet.
Alec: You know, you’re just so beautiful I can’t take it anymore.

Max: Can we concentrate on coming up with a plan?
Alec: I’m thinking.
Max: You’re talking.
Alec: I can do both.
Max: I doubt that.
Alec: Well, you just lost your tip. (She hits him)

Alec: It’s a shame.
Max: It’s sick, is what it is.
Alec: No, I mean her all alone out there in the ocean, nothin’ but fish to talk to…

Max: He touched my ass, someone get him outta here.
Alec: (grabbing him) Alright you’re going.
Max: (dramatically shouting) That’s right this is a decent place!

Alec: So uh, the girl in the tank, she’s just a friend right?

Alec: See, I told you – he’s not gonna die for anybody. He’s going right back into the water. He’s gonna swim away and meet a nice flounder somewhere.

Max: Pay attention!
Alec: I got us a gun, didn’t I?
Max:(sarcastically) Yippee.

Must Download Tune
One Minute Man by Missy Elliot

Conclusion

Gill Girl is an entertaining but extremely uneven hour of Dark Angel.

Nad Rating
C

11 comments

  1. I liked a lot about this episode, actually. Logan's disastrous attempt at babysitting put a smile on my face. I didn't find the mermaids as stupid as you did and I actually thought they made pretty effective mutants of the week because the looked pretty human and didn't talk. Nice not to have a distraction from our main characters.

    The Little Mermaid is a great fairy tale to compare to the Max/Logan relationship, although the added parallel of the actual mermaids was totally unnecessary. In the original non-Disney story, there is a love triangle between two humans and a non-human (the titular mermaid). The Prince eventually chooses the human (who he thinks saved his life, although it was really the mermaid) and the mermaid kills herself. Oh, fairy tales. How horribly dark and depressing you are.

  2. How fascinating that you enjoyed it so much. I'm really glad, I thought you would absolutely detest it. You keep surprising me sunbunny ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. “it's enormously gratuitous. In fact, I can't help but always flash back to Alba's DVD commentary from the season one finale, where she mentions that the first season “was the show” with obvious disdain for network interference in the second season.”

    I didn't think Jessica was as objectified as she could've been, all things considered… I'm sure that's why there's so many other gratuitous shots of even more scantily clad women inside the strip club…(Did we really need such a lengthy montage of Normal getting a series of lap dances? Talk about gratuitous!) …because Jessica wouldn't “co-operate” with whoever came up with the strip club idea. Is it even plausible that fisherman would sell a mermaid to a strip club instead of …I dunno…a carnival sideshow… or calling the newspapers over their find? Pretty contrived, if you ask me. Somebody just wanted to boost the ratings with sex…shocker.) Yup, I'm guessing Jessica Alba rebelled and fought the network (good for her) and that's why Max expressed her disgust at Alec's suggestion and didn't *really* go “undercover” as a stripper in the ep. I mean, she barely tried to look like she was fitting in. I understand being embarrassed for the actress, but it could've been worse (based on other undercover-stripper scenes I've seen in other shows).

    I like The Little Mermaid. The Disney version. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also liked the fact that Max fought for a happy ending, as cheesy as it might be…show's been too angsty for me lately. But that's about all I liked. Alec/Max was funny of course. So far I'm not seeing romantic chemistry between them…just sibling squabbling. I'm waiting to see if it turns into something more. But as far as I've gotten (ep 2×14), I've seen no indication of jealousy on either Max or Alec's part. She lectures him about how he treats women. He teases her about Logan and any other guy with a crush on her. But I just don't see any undercurrent of jealousy/”I want you for myself!” I think the actors are making a conscious decision to play it like siblings? Max seems completely devoted to Logan, with no sign of wavering. But I understand people shipping her with Alec anyway, especially since Logan/Max are too angsty this season. I was kinda rooting for Logan/Max in season one, when they were more flirty/playful. They complemented eachother. They took turns saving eachother's lives. It was cool. ๐Ÿ˜› And I'd be happy if they got over their angsty patch. But I'm not opposed to Alec/Max. Basically I'm just enjoying their interaction more this season 'cause Logan/Max are a drag, thanks to the writers' contrived virus keeping them apart. I'm open to either couple. I just hope season 2 ends with a happy ending for Max, either way!

  4. sunbunny, I wish I could've enjoyed Logan's babysitting more…I should appreciate any attempt at levity this season. Unfortunately the scene only seemed to reinforce the gender stereotype that women are “naturally” good with kids and men can't handle it and need a woman's help. Plus I get enough of Max being “maternal” with Joshua! Oh well, at least Max was smiling for awhile. ๐Ÿ˜› I did like her bribing the kid with the brownie. Max is more likeable to me when she's being a sneaky thief/trickster type, rather than a suffering martyr.

  5. I hate this episode. This episode, as well as Boo and Brainiac, made me not want to continue watching this show when I saw it originally. This is the first really far out episode. That they had gills I can almost accept, but that they also laid eggs like fish was just way too absurd. This is an episode which really shows the drastic difference between season one and season two! The whole strip club environment seems to have been included so they could have a gratuitous slow motion bum shot, which I find out of place in this show.

    The first season, while it wasn't that realistic, at least it wasn't totally disconnected from reality, which is the case with this episode. Also, season one had a very consistent style and flow between the episodes, while season two was very uneven.

    Almost all of the really “out there” episodes were stand alone episodes with no direct cronological connection to any other episodes. You can actually skip ep 4-8*, and it won't make any difference, episode 9 flows directly from episode 3(!)

    *ep. 6&7 are interconnected, though.

  6. So true Kurt. Thanks for commenting. I agree with everything you said, especially how absurd the eggs were. This really is the kind of episode that proves how much the show deviated in season two. It's so off-base from reality as opposed to season one.

    I like what you mentioned about episode 9 flowing directly from episode 3. I never tried that before! I'll definitely see how that goes next time I rewatch the show. Looking forward to reading more of your comments on other episodes. Love discovering new Dark Angel fans ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hahahaha hilarious pun, Nad! So funny.

    I don't know how I feel about this episode. I definitely didn't hate it as much as you did, but hated small little parts such as the eggs things. Huge eye-roll for me. But the mermaids storyline, for some reason, was absurdly enjoyable. I can't explain why I'm liking some of this show's “ridiculousness”. Maybe because I'm watching it in 2015 and I keep comparing it to some of the shows that are airing now. I can't imagine another show attempting to pull off this kind of “crazy” now without coming off as TOO insane. DA, on the other hand, seemed pretty confident on where it's going and wasn't at all afraid in heading there.

    “The merman reveal is an effective twist, but only because you wouldn't think the show would jump the shark so preposterously.” THIS. I loved the twist and it was SO unexpected but possibly because we LITERALLY wouldn't have expected this to happen on Dark Angel. I'm looking at this positively though, as in “you would never think we'd go this far, well bamn!” And they do. And it's freakin' fantastic.

    I love how bold the show got this season. And holy cow, Max and Alec's scene in the strip club was AMAZING! Wow, yeah I can totally see why people ship these two (I'm still Team Max/Logan…do they have a name for it or anything?). It was downright hilarious the way she played with his hair and face and he was just like “what the hell are you doing”.

    Is it too weird that I liked this one?? Hehe. I'm anxiously waiting for “Brainiac” now, lol.

  8. Hhahah awesome. I love it when we disagree (Cuz it's so rare) and you can convince me of another viewpoint. I love what you said about no other show daring to do something like this. You're right, it was pretty insane and bold! In fact, it's awesome that you called the show this year “bold” when so many people attacked it for being so different and “lame.”. I think you have a very strong and intriguing viewpoint here!

    No name for Logan and Max weirdly enough, but SO MANY Alba and Alec shippers. Here's some interesting behind the scenes for you: there's an interview somewhere on youtube with Jensen Ackles (who plays Alec) in some convention being asked about Dark Angel. He says that he and Alba would bicker A LOT just like their characters – that she was sometimes rude to him in fact. But I guess that's why their chemistry on score was so good! Apparently after the show ended she apologized at one point and they became good friends! Haha! There's even shots of them together at one of Ackles' movie premieres were she came to support him ๐Ÿ˜€

    Also, there were lots of rumours of Michael Weatherly being pissed behind the scenes that Alec got so much screen time as his expense this season. But this was just rumours and nothing proven. I do wonder though…

    Also Chris, no thoughts on the Max's slow-mo strip scene???? She looked GORGEOUS, but there's definitely a point to be made that maybe it was too gratuitious!

  9. Gratuitous my ass, she looked freakin amazing!! Ahahahaha no, I kid of course, I see what you mean though. Something like this would've never happened in season one. I don't think I mind it as much though. Perhaps something about watching this in 2015, no? And perhaps because she looked gorgeous lol.

    Wow, fascinating about Alba and Ackles though! Hahaha I can't believe she was rude to him, that's so funny. I would never ship Max and Alec. I love their onscreen banter so, so much. The chemistry is really all there and everything but that kind of bickering isn't sexy enough in my opinion ๐Ÿ˜› gee, now I'm worried they end up together!!

  10. I didnโ€™t mind the mermaid & merman as much as you did. I guess because they stayed silent the entire time they didnโ€™t bother me & I really donโ€™t care about the gills or eggs. When I first watched season 2, I also thought it was completely different from season 1 & missed season 1. But now that Iโ€™m rewatching season 2, I have no problems overall with the episodes. I liked the story here & all of the character involvements. Itโ€™s nice to finally see a happy ending. As always, Alec & Max are comedy gold & I ship them so hard! ๐Ÿ˜‚ one thing I really love is Max & Asha cool with each other, instead of being icy toward one another because of the past love triangle with Logan. I understand Jessica being mad & feeling uncomfortable with the slow-mo, but especially compared to what shown on tv today, it wasnโ€™t that bad. She still wore a lot of clothing, even in the photoshoots. But something that hasnโ€™t been mentioned yet is watching this episode as a woman. In season one, Max was built up to be an awesome role model & there was barely any female degrading, so itโ€™s hard to see her & the eye-candy women in this episode from that perspective. But it is a strip club after all. I at least like that Max resisted & called it sick.

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