Dark Angel 2×13 – Harbor Lights

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Fantastic – just what the show needed after the mess it’s become in recent weeks.

The beauty of Harbor Lights is this: it takes a simple everyday occurrence – Max waiting in line for gas – and effectively turns her whole world upside down thanks to one stray bullet and her inherent need to be the heroine we know she is.

The teaser itself is one of the most chilling masterpieces the show’s ever done; after unsuccessfully trying to call Logan following the Borrowed Time debacle, Max decides to take some time off and get out of town. Suddenly, a gun-toting biker sends the area into a frenzy and Max rushes (in slow-motion I might add) to save a little boy and ends up catching a bullet in the process. The whole incident is superbly constructed, culminating with a masterful overhead shot of Max laying in a pool of her own blood. I don’t think we’ve ever seen her this incapacitated, and it’s a nightmare-ish set-up for the hour.

What follows is Max’s terrifying ordeal at Harbor Light medical. Naturally, her unique physiology coupled with the DNA virus captures the CDC’s attention, and even Logan’s contact (Dr. Sam Carr) isn’t enough to keep them away from her. This leads to the introduction of the amusingly-creepy Dr. George. It’s a pity we don’t see this slimeball again as he’s a different kind of villain (I imagine he would have been brought back in season three). On top of everything, White finds out about Max’s ordeal and sends a deranged, super-powered nurse after her (further cementing just how vastly-connected the “Familiars” are).

It’s also worth mentioning that the show does an incredible job of bringing a post-pulse hospital to life with all the filth, grime and corruption that comes with it. The production values are top-notch, perfectly transporting us into Max’s predicament in this strange new environment. In addition, this harrowing setting gives Max the chance to really think on her feet without her usual support system (well, except for Logan’s implausible computer gimmicks). Harbor Lights is just different than your average Dark Angel episode, and the episode is all the better for it.

Post-Pulse Bits

– Mas waiting for gas is extremely reminiscent of Haven when she waited in line with Sketchy.

– Love the ominous foreshadowing with Max spotting a guy reading a newspaper with an expose on mutants.

– Awesome little touch with Max bruising the female doctor. “Girl’s got a grip like a vice”. Indeed.

– Love Logan’s first visit to Max (or Linda as he calls her) while parading as her “husband.” And no Logan, she’s not “faster than a speeding bullet“.

– So our Big Bad plays golf. Charming.

– The scene with Max waking up in the quarantined room and fainting before she can escape is hard to watch. Dr. George really deserved an asskicking.

– Logan’s reaction to Dr. George denying White and his fake-FBI badge entry into the hospital is priceless.

– Max is wonderfully sarcastic and witty this week, particularly with Dr. George who is fascinated by her no-junk DNA (referenced in Bag ‘Em)

– Logan overhears White and Nurse Betty spout some sort of ancestral pledge. Hmm…

– Favorite scene of the episode: Logan alerting Max of Nurse Betty through Morse code (yeah it’s pretty unbelievable) and Max breaking free at the last second before she gets injected. The fight itself is great, with Betty casually flipping a bed and trying to suffocate Max who finally throws her out the window. Interesting note: Betty lands in the parking lot next to Logan and White, and we discover she survived thanks to the no-pain shtick.

– It’s interesting to note that just like White in Medium Is The Message, Nurse Betty refers to Max as “transgenic filth” – proving that the Familiars have some sort of superiority complex over transgenics.

– The cat and mouse game between White and Max goes on for a bit too long, but it’s still entertaining.

– There’s a very nifty shot of Max hanging from the ceiling as White stalks her in the darkness. I love that it’s noticeably Jessica and not some stunt double. Props Miss Alba.

– It’s hard to watch White kick a wounded Maxie, but that makes her breaking his leg all the more satisfying. It’s not really a full-on fight scene, but the resolution is different for the show with Logan arriving via helicopter and lifting Max to safety (while wearing gloves course).

– As has been the case all season, Cindy’s appearance barely registers in terms of screen-time, but she’s predictably hilarious – taking care of Max and throwing barbs at Logan.

– The ending is pretty ominous with Max worried of what the future might bring if the transgenics are exposed. It’s effectively paired with Dr. George handing her file over to someone in D.C. Uh oh…

– Will you look at that – I didn’t even notice that Joshua and Alec didn’t show up this week.

Barbs & Barcodes

Max: Nice haircut.
Logan: Nice gunshot wound.
Max: If I knew this is all it took to get a visit from Logan Cale, I would’ve gotten my ass shot up a while ago.

George: I promise we won’t hurt you. We’ll do everything we can to keep you comfortable.
Max: Oh, as long as I’m a comfortable prisoner, that’s a whole ‘nother deal.

Otto: So what do we do now?
White: Now? Well, now we go home. We pray really, really hard that she doesn’t expose the massive government conspiracy that we’ve been assigned to cover up.
Otto: Oh, sarcasm. Very good, sir.

Max: Hey, doc. Where’s your body condom? Better hope I don’t sneeze.
George: Your test results just came in. You’re not contagious.
Max: Wow – told you that about a thousand times.
George: Well, we needed to take every precaution. Hope you understand.
Max: Yeah. You know, we could still be best friends. Why don’t you take these precautions off of me and I can get the hell out of here?
George: I’m afraid that won’t be possible. At least not yet.
Max: Question – did you pay your malpractice insurance? ‘Cause you know, I’d prefer a cash settlement to taking your house and car.

Max: (after George mentions her perfect DNA) So now you’re keeping me here because I’m too healthy?

Betty: Transgenic filth. I was trying to make it painless for you. Now it’s going to hurt.
Max: Took the words right out of my mouth.

Max: (to Betty) Let me guess. You’re one of White’s breeding-cult psychos. You’d think after ten generations of selective reproduction, you wouldn’t have such a fat ass.

Logan: You okay?
Max: Not even close.

Cindy: You have a hole in your stomach, you got a sprained ankle, couple of cracked ribs, not to mention all the cuts and bruises all over the damn place. (To Logan) Do me a favor. CDC ever lock me down in quarantine, leave me there.
Logan: Consider it done.

Conclusion


Tense and thoroughly engaging, Harbor Lights is one of season two’s standout hours.

Nad Rating
A


6 comments

  1. Pretty good episode – I was definitely anxious for Max. I winced every time she winced in pain. I hate seeing her incapacitated. At least it wasn't as bad and contrived as I thought Haven was, in terms of making Max helpless. But I did roll my eyes a bit at the contrivance of that kid just standing there, calmly waiting for Max to rescue him from stray bullets. πŸ˜‰ I mean, he wasn't *that* young, like a toddler who might be unaware of his surroundings. You'd think he'd show some reaction to the chaos around him, try to get to his mom when they were separated, try to get away from the people waving guns around…just *move* basically. He didn't look frozen in fear, but maybe he was supposed to be and it was just bad acting.

    I liked the grimy post-Pulse hospital setting too. πŸ™‚ I agree, it looks like they were setting up Dr. George as a possible season 3 villain. In fact I was wondering if he'd show up again this season, but I guess not…

    When White called the Cult-belonging Nurse for a favor, I wondered again why he and the rest of the Breeding Cult crazies didn't even *try* telling their wives the truth and recruiting them, instead of just killing them after they gave birth. Since women *can* join, and all. Feels like more women are victims/dying this season… Wendy, Rachel, Annie…did I miss any? Oh yeah, that girl in “Love In Vein”. It's not that many, I guess, but I'm sensitive to the Women In Refrigerators trope. Both Rachel and Annie were barely-defined love interests who were used to develop male characters and make them all tortured and sympathetic. :/ It worked on me the first time, with Alec, and I'm sure that's partly 'cause I like Alec better than Joshua and *wanted* more screentime/development for him. But Josh…definitely didn't need more screentime or Aww! Poor Fella! moments. Anyway, I'd always rather see women survive and kick ass, than be victims/props for guys' stories.

    Why did Wendy have to die? πŸ™ Remember how many women and children Max saved in season one? I miss that. She's still saving children…but I can't help noticing they're usually little boys ('cause boys are more important! :P) whereas there seemed to be a deliberate feminist aspect to season one, dealing with how women/girls don't usually have much power in society and tend to suffer the most at the hands of corrupt police officers, etc. I was impressed by the show tackling these issues, like the season one ep wher Max saved young girls from being sold into slavery/prostitution. 'Kay I'll shaddup about the glory days of season one. πŸ˜› It's just, with the breeding cult story and other things this season…women are being abused, raped and killed, but I'm not really feeling the empowering aspect we used to have where Max would fight these injustices towards other women, and usually win.

    “I didn't even notice Joshua and Alec didn't show up this week.”

    I did! Rejoicing over the former's absence, but missing the latter. It's too bad they seem to be a package deal, usually appearing in eps together so I can't fully enjoy any episode. πŸ˜›

  2. I never noticed that Max didn't save nearly as many women as she did in season one. I guess the empowering aspect did wane quite a bit this year, especially with the virus that made Max all angsty. A pity…

  3. I liked it. It reminded me more of season one. I missed Alec, didn't miss Joshua. They did a great job building up the tension and I totally agree–that hospital was beautiful (in a depressing, decrepit sort of way).

  4. Perhaps my favorite episode of season 2 so far! Everything was just so incredible and I'm glad we're toning down the freaks of the week stuff now. It got pretty ridiculous lately.

    The teaser literally had my jaw drop. The overhead shot of Max drowning in her own blood was soo good and terrifying but my favorite scene was the hospital room cat-fight she had with that nurse. My goodness, it was just so beautifully choreographed. Kudos for such an incredible production, honestly.

    I too noticed the hospital and all its “filth”, once again proving how amazing the production values at this show are. You just totally believe the “setting” with the poorly painted walls, the messy hallways, the wires dangling from the machines… It's too post-pulse, and too realistic. I'm always saying this but really this show continues to exceed my expectations.

    What I loved about that scene of Max hanging from the ceiling during her cat-and-mouse scene with White (which, agreed, ran a bit too long but was thoroughly intense) was how tired she looked since she was still recovering from a gunshot wound. Jessica Alba really sold that scene, with her shutting her eyes in pain and trembling as she held on. Breathtaking.

    At first, I was confused how Max was able to touch Logan and not get him sick and thought that it would be explained later, so thanks for clearing that up for me! I totally missed the gloves-thing. Also, surprisingly I was okay with no Joshua and Alec. Can't wait for more πŸ™‚

  5. Isn't this eppy so brilliant? It's one of the best episodes in the show's run! So creative and cool. All those details you mentioned about the hospital – gorgeous!

    And I love that fight scene. Max is such a badass there with her witty one-liners. I know exactly what you mean about Alba looking tired while hanging on – also awesome!

    Hahah the gloves were pretty obvious how did you miss them! Probably blinded by the general awesomeness of this hour πŸ˜€

  6. 1st time I watched this I thought it dragged on. But I now I find it awesome! I wish I had Logan’s intelligence. Max was particularly great in this episode. No filler at all. The teaser was amazing & so is every little detail about the hospital, looks just like a season one production made from scratch.

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