Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "C.R.E.A.M."

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Episode Information

Title: "C.R.E.A.M."
Writer: David Zabel
Director: Chris Long
Rating (out of 4 stars): **1/2
Reviewed on: October 24, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


There were some fun moments in this show, but it suffered from have two completely unconnected storylines.

Alina Herrero contacts Eyes Only to ask him to determine the fate of her father, Nathan Herrero. Nathan was a journalist and political activist who was a friend of Logan's. He fought against both the corrupt Seattle government and the Russian mafia, making enemies of both, until he disappeared about two years before the show's present day. He was assumed to have been kidnapped and murdered by one of his enemies, but his body was never found.

Logan finally decides to help Alina, but the case is very cold after two years. Logan's detective friend tells him that the police investigated Herrero's disappearance, but not with much zeal, and the file on the case is missing. Logan asks Max to break into City Hall repository of police records, where somehow he knows there will be a copy of the file. Max does a quick turn as a cat burglar, in and out, giving the file to Logan.

Using the file, Logan tracks down the current whereabouts of Herrero's past friends and associates. His old housekeeper has been out of work for awhile, and yet somehow just bought a house. Max plants some listening devices around her new house, and they quickly discover that Herrero is not dead, but is living with the housekeeper; they are lovers. After some debate, Logan and Max decide to tell Alina that her father is still alive, and Max arranges a meeting time for them.

Meanwhile, Max's friend Calvin (AKA Sketchy) is getting himself in trouble. He has hired out his courier services to the Russian mafia, and they ask him to deliver an envelope of money. He manages to lose the envelope with all $15,000. We don't really know the value of the dollar in their society versus today's dollar, but we can assume that $15,000 is still a pretty significant sum. Calvin tries to work out a repayment deal with the mafia, but not surprisingly, they are not inclined to be lenient. They string Calvin up by the heels, naked, and given him 36 hours to repay them.

Max and Original Cindy rescue Calvin. For some unknown reason, they decide to help Calvin get out of his jam. With just a few hours left on his deadline, they get all dolled up and head to the (illegal?) gambling emporium run by the Russian mafia. They have a small stake, which they intend to run up to the $15,000. First, Max uses her enhanced abilities to predict numbers on the roulette wheel. (This is the first time I've ever seen this done. Max is right that it should be simple physics with the angular velocity of the wheel and the speed of the ball, but with the chaotic bouncing, I'm not sure it would be so easily predicted. This is also one of the first signs we have that Max's intelligence, or at least math skills, have also been enhanced, not just her physical abilities.)

However, the roulette wheel is just not increasing their money fast enough. They have attracted the interest of the proprietors, anyway, so they play dumb and talk themselves into a high-stakes poker game. Between their dumb act and the luck of the cards, they don't do too well, until the deal gets to Max. She is able to stack the deck without detections, and sets up two hands. The guy with all the money gets a full house, and she gets a straight flush (after she turns in two cards!). Max wins it all, getting just enough money to pay off Calvin's debt. Some of the mafia goons try to rob them outside, but Max and Cindy kick their asses. It's somewhat humorous that Cindy's kicks to one of the goons conveniently keeps her back turned to Max's super physical abilities.

So Calvin is able to repay the mafia (with their own money!) and thereby saves his skin. Will he continue to work for them? Not if he's smart, although they may not give him much choice. And after this experience, Calvin wants Max and Cindy to use their scam on other gambling places to make some money. Where's his head? As Cindy says, CREAM: Cash Rules Everything Around Me. This does tie things together in this episode, as everyone seems to be motivated by money.

Back to the Herrero plot. Alina is on her way to see her father, but pauses dramatically on the street outside, and her father's apartment explodes. The news reports he and his lover are killed. Surprisingly, it is Logan rather than Max who realizes that Alina arranged the assassination. Max catches up with Alina on a train out of the country and demands an explanation. Alina says it was a combination of hatred and a pay-off from some of Herrero's old enemies. Max breaks the briefcase holding Alina's pay-off, and most of it floats away out of the train.

In a nice epilogue to the episode, Logan gets a package in the mail from Herrero. It has a video tape. On it, Herrero thanks Logan for getting him back in touch with his daughter and looks forward to their meeting. He also includes information and evidence that Logan can use to finally put a corrupt official in jail.

Well, this episode was a little schizophrenic. The plot involving Herrero was OK, but it suffered from having Max and Cindy's big gambling scene interrupting it in the middle. I also didn't develop a real feel or sympathy for Alina or Herrero, so I didn't much care about their fates. The beginning of the episode, where Alina meets with "Eyes Only" via video camera was a good touch.

The second plot involving Calvin was just a bit silly. It ultimately seemed like a reason to get Max and Cindy in sexy clothes. Plus, the gambling scenes went on WAY too long. How long will Max continue to help Calvin out? In the pilot, she "saved" him from having to reveal to his girlfriend that he was cheating on her - at that time Max said she wouldn't help him again. More to the point, why would Max and Cindy risk their lives for him? As expected, the mafia tried to take their poker winnings back; despite what Cindy thinks, if Max hadn't been there, things would have turned out very differently. And the danger to them isn't necessarily over, because it any of the mafia goons were to recognize Max or Cindy again, they'd probably be inclined to take revenge.

One smaller scene that was nice: Max refusing Logan's gift of a gun. We haven't really seen Max using guns, and now we see that it is a conscious decision. She has bad memories of a gun being used to kill one of her siblings at Manticore. So does Max have an aversion to guns or to killing in general? We haven't seen her actually kill anyone for sure, and in previous episodes (such as the beginning of "Heat"), we've seen her set up people to kill each other, but she hasn't pulled the trigger. Even if she doesn't like killing people herself, she obviously doesn't mind someone else killing bad people, and especially likes it when the bad people kill each other.

Another scene gave us a look at Logan's occasional double standards. He meets with his detective friend, then gives the detective a toy for his son. He tells the detective, "Don't worry, it doesn't mean you're on the take." In what world? The detective is giving Logan information he is not legally entitled to, and in return Logan is giving him gifts. Apparently even though Logan is fighting the corruption of politicians and city employees, he has no problem corrupting a few of them for his own purposes. The detective rationalizes it as helping out the good guys, and Logan apparently agrees. Ah, the ends justifying the means.

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