Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "Female Trouble"

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Episode Information

Title: "Female Trouble"
Writer: Patrick Harbinson
Director: John T. Kretchmer
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 15, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


Logan's desperation to retain his mobility leads him on a collision course with Manticore operatives.

At the beginning of this episode, we learn that Logan has been avoiding Max. He's also sold off one of his favorite paintings. We discover that this is because he is secretly seeing a (very expensive) doctor about stopping the loss of his oh-so-recently-regained use of his legs. The doctor, Dr. Vertes, operates in an anonymous building in a seedy part of town, but she certainly seems to know what she's talking about when it comes to Logan's condition. Apparently his immune system is attacking the stem cells from Max's blood and this is causing his newly regenerated nerves to die back just as quickly as they regrew. She has some ideas to try to stop the immune system attack, and Logan is her willing guinea pig.

Max will only put up with Logan avoiding her for so long before she gets really suspicious. She follows Logan to one of his doctor's appointments, then afterward breaks into the doctor's office and ends up confronting the doctor. Dr. Vertes refuses to discuss Logan's conditions, but before Max can be more convincing, the doctor is attacked - by a Manticore operative, an X-5 transgenic soldier who did not escape, named Jace.

Max manages to keep the doctor from getting killed and they escape from Jace's attack. Max stashes the doctor at Logan's safehouse (Exactly where is this? The cabin by the lake seen in "Blah Blah Woof Woof"? That seems pretty far away, but we aren't informed about the location.), then goes to confront Logan.

Logan is pretty ticked off that Max followed him, which brings up a serious issue in relationships: when does normal concern cross the line into suspicion, jealousy, and/or possessiveness? This is an especially crucial issue when one of the people involved has enhanced physical and mental abilities and military training. Back to the episode... Max also reveals that she recognizes the doctor as one of the doctors from Manticore. When Logan and Max go speak with the doctor, she says she left Manticore because she couldn't deal with the experiments any more - things like breaking the limbs on the children to see just how fast they would heal. Max still thinks she's the devil incarnate. The doctor tells them that Manticore must be hunting down all their former key employees, since other people she knows have been killed in the past few years. Logan wants her to continue his treatments, but the doctor is concerned that Jace will try to attack her again.

Max has the answer to that: she sets up a trap and captures Jace. Jace is restrained in the doctor's lab, and an examination reveals that she is pregnant. They are all shocked, to say the least. While the doctor continues Logan's treatments, Max tries to convince Jace to leave Manticore. At first, Jace just spouts Manticore propaganda, and we see from her flashbacks that Max and the other escapees have been labeled traitors in the brainwashing of the remaining children. Max keeps working on Jace, expounding the values of free will and emphasizing how Manticore will certainly take her baby away from her for experimental purposes. After some time (a day? a few days? it's not clear), Jace claims to have rejected Manticore and just wants to be free to raise her child. Max trusts her enough to leave her alone at the safehouse.

But it turns out that neither Dr. Vertes nor Jace are being honest. The idea of Manticore operatives out to kill her has compelled Dr. Vertes to contact Lydecker: she offers him Jace and Max in return for a return to Manticore and a long life. Lydecker apparently agrees. Separately, Jace contacts Lydecker, and he and a team arrive at the no-longer-so-safehouse, bringing Vertes. Lydecker gives Jace a severe tongue-lashing for screwing up her mission and for getting pregnant. He finishes her mission for her by shooting Vertes dead. Interestingly, I don't think he ever actually says Jace is pregnant or mentions babies; he talks about it in all kinds of euphemisms. He does say that he intends to use the baby as a research project and "make lemonade from the lemons you've handed me". What a great guy.

Jace, Lydecker, and his team set up a trap for Max. Lydecker disobeys the order he received in "The Kidz Are Aiight" when he tells his team to make sure to take Max alive - I was guessing he would do that. Jace calls Max and lures her to the safehouse. But, Jace has apparently changed her mind again and as Max arrives, she signals it's a trap. Then Jace herself tries to flee, and Max gives her a ride on her motorcycle to safety. Lydecker is left more than empty-handed, since he lost an additional X-5.

Logan arranges for Jace to get out of the country to Mexico, where she hopefully raise her child in peace. Logan's hopes have been shattered, though, with the death of Dr. Vertes. Max tries to reassure him that other treatments will be found, but she completely misses his suicidal signals and leaves him alone. He decides to kill himself with his pistol, but is distracted by water dripping from the apartment above his. When he investigates, he finds that the elderly woman living there has fallen in the bathroom and is injured. He calls for paramedics and decides that maybe he isn't quite ready to die yet. Max pieces together the clues a little too late and rushes back to Logan. She realizes it was a close call as she watches him put his gun away.

At the very end of the episode, Max sees Jace off on her bus trip. Jace promises to name her child Max, which makes Max nearly burst with pride.

This is another very good episode, following through on previous storylines. The motivation for the plot is Logan's condition, but the focus of the episode is split between him and Max. For the first time we are shown that Logan's monetary resources are not unlimited, since he had to sell a painting for cash for the doctor. Unfortunately for Logan, he didn't have enough treatments for it to be clear whether or not they were helping him. Logan's mental condition has definitely deteriorated along with his nerves. He even snaps at Max, wondering if she would prefer it if he were confined to a wheelchair. There are several touching moments in this plot. First, when Logan says that he has felt complete since he had the use of his legs back, Max says that he was never incomplete to her. Later, when Max has thought Logan might have killed himself, she throws herself into a desperate hug of relief. Logan needs to get a clue that Max is going to be there for him, and surely a transgenic super-soldier will eventually be able to find a way to help him! The scene with Logan's change of heart while rescuing his elderly neighbor was a little too obvious and cliched.

Max is remarkably clueless in this episode. She doesn't catch on to Logan's suicidal comments. His attitude seemed so obvious, but maybe that's because of our relative objectivity as a viewer. Is Max so naive to believe people don't commit suicide? Or does she just not consider it an option for Logan? Max believes Jace when she says she's not going back to Manticore. The situation with Jace turned out OK because Jace really did eventually turn on Manticore, but if Jace had not had a true change of heart, things could have been very bad for Max. Max also doesn't trust the doctor; she turns out to be right about this, but only because the doctor was trying to strike a bargain for her life, not because the doctor initially had some nefarious plan.

Lydecker has been foiled again, and his situation vis a vis the Manticore leadership should worsen, since he disobeyed orders and lost another X-5 soldier. Lydecker really needs to score some kind of victory or gain a new source of support, or else it's going to be hard to believe that his bosses won't just fire him - or worse. We see again that he really has a strange relationship with his "kids": does he actually care for them enough to cause him not to want to kill them? Or is he calculating that their value alive will eventually be worth the risks he takes to keep them alive? The way he avoided directly addressing Jace's pregnancy was interesting, possibly like a disappointed father might act when confronted by his pregnant teenage daughter. It's hard to believe, though, that he would be so callous when discussing the disposition of the baby, because even though the X-5s are supposed to be soldiers, surely he would realize the "soliders" do have some feelings. I suppose he was trying to emphasize Manticore's complete possession of them, but in this case it backfired.

What's next for our characters? Logan is apparently destined to return to his wheelchair, barring a major breakthrough. Max has helped one of her sisters escape. Lydecker has even more evidence that Max has taken up residence in Seattle - really, can't he come up with another plan to find her there?

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