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