Dark Angel 2×16 – Exposure

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This is the kind of episode we should have had more of this year.

There’s no denying that the show feels completely different this season with the breeding cult mythology taking center stage. The priestesses, the snakes, the rituals – it’s so out there and it’s not Dark Angel, but it’s handled in a remarkably confident manner. If only we didn’t have to slog through so, many, weak, standalone, plots to get here.

This week, Max discovers that the breeding cult is creepier that she ever could have imagined after Logan gets a lead on the whereabouts of White’s son. Apparently, young Familiars are put through a horrifying test to see who’ll be able to withstand an ominous event called “The Coming”. Thankfully, our little Maxie turns out to be immune herself, and White finds himself hellbent on discovering if she’s special, or if the rest of the transgenics are immune as well.

But not only does this episode expand the cult’s mythology, it gives Max and Logan a reason to get out of town for the first time since season one’s Haven. It’s awesome to see our favorite duo thinking on their feet and investigating a case together just like old times, free from all the virus melodrama. Max in particular, reminds us why she’s so brilliant and resourceful when she fakes the sickness (since the Familiars are expecting it), and plots her nifty escape. Of course that’s where the episode’s zaniness kicks in again with a telekinetic(!) child Familiar. It’s absurd and insane, but somehow it works.

And then there’s Sketchy, who unlike Cindy, gets a full-fledged storyline as a reporter on the hunt for transgenics. Not only does this subplot integrate him into the main plot, it provides intriguing insight into Sketchy’s psyche – he feels like he has more to offer than being just a bike messenger. In addition, it gets O.C. and Alec working together to try and foil him at every turn. Sadly for them, Otto’s capture of Sketchy motivates him to pursue out the conspiracy even further (uh oh).

Post-Pulse Bits

– Loved Sketchy rattling on about transgenics and their “deformed faces” as Max and Alec, two downright perfect genetic specimens, stand right beside him.

Wendy is back! Well not for long, she gets strangled quite quickly in the teaser.

– Thankfully, Max managed to score some gas this week sans gunshot wound.

– Why isn’t Max more subtle when they’re questioning the concierge? She’s usually sneakier.

– Really Max? Red Bull? Yuck.

– Loved Alec and Cindy double-teaming Sketchy and ruining the film.

– This is the first time we hear the Familiars’ signature catchphrase “Fe’nos Tol.” I’m guessing it means something like hello/goodbye (which quite conveniently, is the name of the following episode).

– The first hint of Samuel’s telekinetic power: he reveals Max hiding behind the curtain. I love how she panics and tries to attack them all only to get overpowered. It’s so very creepy.

– Well Normal sure is evil; he totally throws Sketchy under the bus and reveals his location to Otto. Hilariously, Sketchy throws up on Otto when he runs into him.

– The suspicious Sheriff eventually taking Logan’s side was a bit too convenient no?

– Obviously Max’s little escape is the coolest scene of the hour. I love how after Samuel subdues and elevates her, she resorts to flashing the “little freak” before knocking him out. I guess the episode’s title refers to several forms of exposure.

– Fantastic slow-mo reveal with Max-in-priestess-garb making her way past White then choking out the priestess like a badass.

– Although it was satisfying to watch Logan run over White, Max’s escape with Ray is a bit anticlimactic.

Barbs & Barcodes

Alec: I’m as worried about exposure as you are.
Max: I’d believe that if you covered your barcode better, Monty Cora.
Alec: Look, I seriously doubt White and his merry band of transgenic hunters get their tips from the New World Weekly. I mean, besides, this is Sketchy we’re talking about. What are the chances he stumbles across an actual Manticore alum that’s stupid enough to let him snap a shot?
Sketchy: Hey, guys. (Snaps a picture of them)
Max (to Alec): You were saying?

Max: Ten bucks for a soda?!
Logan: Honour bar prices. They’ll gouge you any way they can.
Max: No honour in a broken world.

Logan: Nice work.
Max: I watch, I learn, I steal sodas.

Cindy: (to Sketchy) Looks like you ran all the way from sector three. And you smell like it, too.

Logan: Ready?
Max: Watch and learn.
Logan: If you’re not out of there in an hour, I’m coming in after you.
Max: Damn right you are.

Priestess: Does it hurt?
Max: Yeah, except I want my money back; I asked for the heart with the dagger through it.

Otto: We’re looking for one of your messengers. Male, early twenties, long hair, ratty clothes.
Normal: Tragically, sir, you’ve just described every young man in my employ.
Otto: He had a camera.
Normal: Calvin Simon Theodore, a.k.a. Sketchy. Six foot, roughly 180 pounds, smells vaguely of rotten fruit. What’d he do?
Otto: Just tell us where we can find him.
Normal: Crash. 1313 Euclid. It’s a bar. He and his fellow reprobates go there after work to drink themselves into stupors.

Samuel: Want me to put you down?
Max: Depends. If you hold me up here long enough, will your head explode?
Samuel: You can’t win.
Max: Really? Not even if I do this?
(She flashes him. He blinks and Max kicks him).
Max: Made you look.

Max: (after choking out the priestess) Sweet dreams bitch.

Max: That nutcase priestess bitch said he had to prove himself, like this was some kind of test to see if he would survive. If he didn’t, he wasn’t one of them.
Logan: You were exposed. You didn’t get sick.
Max: (holding up her bandaged hand) Guess that makes me an honorary member.
Logan: Congratulations.
Max: Think if I concentrated hard enough, I could make stuff fly around the room?
Logan: I wouldn’t count on it. My guess would be that the kid that went all Poltergeist on you was part of some kind of special breeding line.
Max: Make you wonder what other tricks they have up their sleeves. Poor kid. Mom’s gone…dad’s a freak…Not exactly the storybook ending we were hoping for.

Conclusion

Exposure is an atmospheric and effective episode that amidst all the craziness, still manages to remain ridiculously confident.

Nad Rating
A-

15 comments

  1. I too was glad to see Max & Logan working together, lightening up a bit and recapturing some of that fun season one interaction. I enjoyed Sketchy's increased screentime and integration into the plot. I agree with you about the interesting insights. Now he's not just a comic relief buttmonkey – he's more sympathetic and relatable, with his feelings of inferiority, job dissatisfaction, and desire for a greater purpose in life. I'm sure you can guess that I was *not* worried about Joshua's possible exposure. πŸ˜› This show's not getting any Aww!PoorJosh reactions from me, no matter how hard they try (and boy do they try, in the next few eps!) If only the writing would acknowledge Joshua's screw-ups, instead of treating him like a saint. I'm sure that's largely why I *do* feel for Alec and Sketchy. Nobody acts like they *aren't* flawed, so I can easily like them despite their flaws, y'know? I guess every TV show has to have that one insufferable character who's like, the Writer's Pet, or something. πŸ˜›

    Still not loving the Breeding Cult storyline, and as I mentioned earlier on your blog, I hate that the writers didn't let Max didn't save Wendy, as well as her son. Max rescued many more Women In Peril in the first season…not everyone…that would've been unrealistic…but enough to make a difference and make me see her as a true hero. I also liked it when she saved “regular” humans (who don't have her abilities and really need her help more than, say, Joshua needs her, in my opinion), moreso than season two's focus on her being a champion of the transgenics. Plus I want Max to be an *active* “Savior of the Downtrodden”… not a passive tool, programmed by her Creator/”Father” with special DNA to serve *his* plan for her. Whatever happened to Max's search for her *Mother*, btw? I'd rather learn about her, a victim of Manticore's own “breeding program” (hmm, no wonder I really wanted Max to save Wendy, huh? The writers totally could've played on that parallel to Max's mom) who tried to save her daughter…and might be a prisoner somewhere, in need of saving *by* her daughter! Why was that plot thread from season one just dropped? It had real emotional potential, along with Max's search for her siblings. More I think of it, the more annoyed I am by all this build-up of the mystery of “Father” instead, and his connection to the Cult. I don't really care what purpose he “designed” Max for. I want Max to find her own purpose and choose her own destiny, dammit. But then, I've never really liked the Chosen One trope. :P.

    Blogger doesn't like my long comments, but Blogger's not the boss of me. To be continued…

  2. Anyway, White removing his tie (to strangle with) and advancing on Wendy as she cowered away from him on a bed, had a disturbing rape-y vibe. Appropriate, I suppose, since The Breeding Cult was founded on kidnap/rape/murder. Would've been nice to see Max save *this* woman, at least, considering how many women have been killed by the Cult over the years. Wendy's death was a real downer for me. “Not exactly the storybook ending we were hoping for.” Indeed. The fact that only her Special Son was saved in the end, kinda has this unfortunate effect… seemingly reinforcing the Breeding Cult's own attitude of valuing the children over their mothers' lives. I guess the most disappointing thing about the Breeding Cult storyline is… it actually has the potential to continue Max's season one propensity towards helping women who are being exploited/hurt by men abusing their position of power over them… only I end up frustrated because that's not the aspect of the Cult that the show is choosing to focus on. :/ (I mean, the point of the Cult's existence is unknown, but preventing them from using and discarding more women in the future, doesn't seem to be the characters' or writers' priority.) FOX probably told 'em to tone down the feminism in season two, along with all the other changes aimed at reaching a more mainstream/young/male audience. Sigh.

    Still agree with you: “This is the kind of episode we should have had more of this year.” I can't help nitpicking these final eps of the series, although I agree they feel more exciting and story arc-y. Not that I'm opposed to a *good* standalone, of course. πŸ™‚ But it felt like the writers were wasting time with filler and deliberately holding back 'til they got closer to the season finale. Some plot developments (and brand new characters!) coming up in the next few episodes…I feel should've been introduced earlier…instead of Gill Girls and others who ended up being rather pointless in the larger scheme of things. Oh well. I need Herbal to come back and try to convince me that “it's all good, all the time.” They never should've got rid of him and his hypnotically soothing mantra. πŸ˜‰

  3. Hahah songspin I LOVE your long comments. So insightful and intriguing, particularly your views concerning the feminism being toned down. I never really noticed that and it's pretty fascinating.

    And I've thought about Max's mother being dropped a lot. It was tackled in Heat and then TOTALLY forgotten. What the hell?? She could have been a HUGE part of the show. Maybe she would have been part of season 3's plan eventually? They really dropped the ball on that one…

  4. Aww, thanks Nadim. You shouldn't encourage me. πŸ˜‰ But I'm glad 'cause I thought I might've freaked you out with my long comments before, gossiping about those Dark Angels of DEATH (Gail Berman and Joss Whedon), and ranting about that *adorable* Dog-Boy I love so much. πŸ˜‰ I do tend to go on. It's embarrassing. Feminism, yup, that's another subject that inspires long rants. Thank you for allowing me to geek out here!

    Max's mom…yeah…it would've been nice if Max was reminded of her by Wendy's situation… then she might've been more motivated to save Wendy. Even if Wendy still died, the writers could've tied it to Max being even more determined to find her own mother, or something. I wonder what the writers had planned for season 3 and beyond? Did any of them give interviews about it? If not, can we belatedly pester them with a million questions about Dark Angel on twitter? πŸ˜‰ (I'm not even on twitter. But now I'm tempted.) Too many of my favorite shows end on cliffhangers…All showrunners should reveal their plans, after premature cancellation. And release unaired episode scripts online! A few shows have done that recently, and now I'm greedy for everyone to do it. πŸ™‚ Take advantage of the full potential of the internet, people! (Says the luddite who's not on twitter)

  5. The writers revealed all their plans for season 3 in the DVD commentary of the season 2 finale. I will tell you all in my final review. Did you finish the season? If yes, don't say thoughts until I post my review πŸ˜›
    And no, they didn't mention any mother plans πŸ™
    But yes, pester away on Twitter. I've tried a lot but no one answers!

  6. Yes, I've been trying to control myself and wait for your reviews instead of commenting on future eps in the wrong place. πŸ˜‰ Sometimes it's tough to refrain from making connections between episodes or saying something about a previous ep without seeing it differently after viewing a later ep and wanting to reference that later ep…how *do* you do it, as a reviewer? πŸ™‚ But I'm trying!

    Blogger only barely tolerates me. Twitter can't handle the likes of me! I'd break Twitter. 'Cause I can't be concise like Twitter demands. πŸ˜‰ Looking forward to your final review…although I'll be a bit sad it's over 'cause it's been fun talking to you about Dark Angel!

  7. I liked this one. Especially the Sketchy/Alec/Cindy stuff. Although it was AWFULLY sloppy of White to allow a *photographer* that close to an active operation.

    Aww! Downtown Storybrooke!

    I'm not sure it was okay for a grown woman to flash a pubescent boy in order to facilitate an escape…it struck me as rather creepy.

  8. A good episode since it got the “myth arc” story going after a lot of annoying stand alone episodes. The only thing about this episode I don't like is the magic powers which the boy has. It's absurd that the cult should have been able to breed people with magic powers – but then again, Manticore did that as well, since the Brainiac guy seem to have magical abilities as well (I suppose it's not what the writers intended, but obviously he can tell the future despite the nonsense about his brain being a “probability supercomputer” – Chip Johannessen must be blamed, because the Brainiac episode is bad because of really, really bad writing – just think of the repeated “kind of magnificent” line ugh).

    This is one of the elements which contrasts with season one – it's not just the absurd monsters (gill girl/Gossamer) but also the inclusion of magic abilities. Moira Kirland Dekker, the writer, also wrote “Blah Blah Woof Woof” which features ESP – but that episode is ambiguous about whether they really did have ESP or not. This episode has no such ambiguity, Max is thrown against the wall buy a boy with supernatural abilities. Heck, I like the show “Supernatural”, but I think that kind of stuff is out of place in Dark Angel.

  9. Another solid episode! Max walking past White in slow-mo (dressed as a priestess) was a FANTASTIC sequence. Gave me the chills. And it all perfectly culminated with her delivery of the line “sweet dreams, bitches”. I'm obsessed with Max now. Just obsessed. She's probably my favorite TV character of all time.

    I'm so glad that, unlike Haven, this episode proved that it can take its endgame couple out of town and out of their comfort zone and STILL be engrossing and entertaining. Their scene at the hotel reception was PRICELESS. It was hilarious seeing Max blow her cover so easily while Logan just shoots her a look, haha! Love these guys.

    So glad to see the show back to some heavy serialized storytelling. It should be one heck of a final ride for me now! But Sketchy's involvement all of a sudden is very worrisome. I can only see this ending in him getting killed or something :/ Original Cindy and Alec lying to him was cool though, especially the part where Cindy switches the films on his camera. VERY quick and she didn't even have to discuss the plan with Alec..they just understood each other and did it, quick and easy. I wish the show would've given us more Alec/Cindy scenes because those seemed very interesting here.

    Also, all that cult stuff with the candles, the students chanting and the creepy music gave me a huge Wayward Pines vibe. But let's forget that show ever happened. (Btw I've used the phrase “Fuhgeddaboudit” twice already today). Yes this show is affecting me in more ways than one.

  10. It warms my heart to hear you say she's your “Favorite TV character of all time.” I KNEW you'd love this show πŸ˜€

    Yes I LOVE the idea of more Alec and Cindy scenes this year. They could have had the coolest friendship I never thought of that! This dynamic had soo much potential in Exposure. What a pity!

    WAYWARD PINES!!! hahaha you're so right! Love how you're seeing The Flash, and Wayward and so many currents shows in Dark Angel.

    I need to start using that phrase! hahahhahaa

  11. So true about the supernatural abilities. It's really shocking on Dark Angel Kurt. But hey, at least this episode did it well unlike the lunacy in Borrowed Time and the rest of the season's misfires.

  12. Didn’t care about the breeding cult story when I first watched this season, but now I can’t wait for more! What an episode! I love how they explore Sketchy’s relatable psyche. So cool that the transgenic can talk & understand. I feel so bad for all of the transgenics & as I mentioned for love in vein, they have a relatable, methaphorical story that’s actually humanistic.

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