Do my eyes deceive me, or did this feel like a good ol’ season one hour?
There’s no denying that Alec is the year’s MVP, and The Berrisford Agenda gives season two’s standout character an excellent opportunity to show off his dramatic chops. There’s no freaks of the week, breeding cults, or virus drama here, just a well-executed standalone hour with some much-needed backstory.
What starts off with Max and Alec on a routine Jam Pony run, soon turns into a traumatic experience for the latter as we slowly uncover the details of a deep-cover mission he underwent back at Manticore. His target was a Manticore subcontractor whose daughter he eventually fell in love with. It’s an intriguing storyline, and Jensen Ackles sells it with a beautifully nuanced performance. It’s also a turning point for his relationship with Max as she finally gets to see why he is the way he is (and it’s remarkably similar to the old-her). In fact, their relationship comes a long way when she sympathetically approaches him at the end and he defensively insists that he’s “always alright”. No tough facade there.
I love the fact that the writers never really paint Alec as an all-out good guy simply because he’s one of the show’s primary protagonists. This is most evident in the cemetery sequence where Rachel’s dad reiterates his hate for the X5. It’s a brave move from a writing standpoint, as other shows would have you take Alec’s side even if he’s the wrong party. But no, our hero is far from innocent.
Thankfully, the episode doesn’t completely drown itself in misery as there’s a wonderfully lighthearted (albeit short) sequence with Joshua throwing a dinner party for Max, Logan and Cindy. I absolutely love the conversation between Max and Logan as they drive over (it feels very normal), while Joshua sets everything up with Cindy. Michael Weatherly in particular is awesome as Logan brings along his bottle of wine and reacts to Joshua’s colorful “table manners”.
– The look on Weatherly’s face after Joshua says “Virus bitch going, Max and Logan getting busy”? is just beyond priceless.
– Say what you will about Manticore, they sure know how to educate and culture their X5s – as evidenced by Alec’s incredible piano skills.
– Joshua’s painting is a nice bit of continuity from Medium Is The Message. This time he draws Alec whom he labels as “complicated”.
– Agent Sandoval in the flashbacks! It’s been a while! For those of you who’ve forgotten, Lydecker had him killed with the crazy hoverdrone in Meow.
– The fact that Alec has animosity towards Max escaping Manticore is nothing new. And I like that she still saves him from Berrisford’s guys in the alley (wish we got a better fight scene though).
– I commend the writers for not forcing a love triangle. In fact, Logan even urges Max to check on her brother.
– Alec screaming at Berrisford to shoot him is a strong moment for the character and his undeniable death wish. Thankfully, Max knocks the crap out of Rachel’s dad at the last moment.
– Touching scene with Alec visiting a comatose Rachel. She later passes away, and I guess we’re to assume she was waiting for Alec’s apology before heading off into the light?
– What is it with this show and quick fade-outs? Slow them down a bit and let us bask in the final moments people.
Barbs & Barcodes
Normal: (to Alec) Should have expected when I hired a man in possession of your raw animal charisma that there’d be some kind of future, uh, l’affaire du coeur.
Max: You think they encouraged dating within your unit at Manticore? They didn’t.
Logan: Aside from the whole breeding-partner thing.
Max: Oh, totally different situation. And also, may I add, disgusting.
Logan: Well, I am looking forward to spending some time with Joshua.
Max: Yeah. Yeah, I think you two will get along. Just you know, remember to act natural.
Logan: As opposed to the unnatural way I normally act?
Max: No. You know what I mean. Just don’t stare.
Logan: Oh, okay. Don’t stare at the genetically-engineered part-man, part-dog guy. Got it.
Max: He just has weird table manners. And his hygiene’s a little questionable.
Logan: Max, I know how to handle myself at a dinner party.
Max: I know. I’m just saying… Of course you do.
Logan: Fix myself a dry martini, and politely ask after his stock options.
Cindy: (to Logan) Men. (to Joshua) Dogs. No difference.
Normal: Let’s go, people! These packages aren’t going to sprout little feet and walk home by themselves!
Joshua: (to Max) Alec only outsmarts Alec; he doesn’t know himself. Look… (gestures at his painting) outside lots of pretty colors – tricks and treats. Inside darkness, confusion… Alec.
Alec: You can’t understand; you weren’t there. You ran. You and your little rugrat brothers and sisters. You think life was rough when we were ten? A little schooling, a little brainwashing, some maneuvers outside? You think that was tough?
Max: Sucked pretty hard.
Alec: Take it from me. Later on, it got a whole lot worse. But you did what you had to do. Then you tried to forget. And when you couldn’t forget, they had ways of making you not care.
Max: I’m sorry.
Alec: I don’t want your pity. I want your absence.
Max: (to Logan) I know… “be careful.”
Logan: Might want to look out for him the next few days.
Max: He doesn’t want me looking out for him. He wants to be left alone, pretend like it never happened. He’s so cut off.
Logan: Sounds like this girl I used to know. She was just looking out for herself. No responsibilities, no entanglements.
Max: Yeah. ‘Cause she kept thinking if she ran far enough and fast enough, she could forget all the things they made her do. But sooner or later, it always catches up to you. Learned that the hard way.
Logan: Now it’s Alec’s turn.
The Berrisford Agenda is an engrossing and tragically poignant hour of Dark Angel.