Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "Flushed"

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Episode Information

Title: "Flushed"
Writer: Rene Echevarria and Charles H. Eglee
Director: Terrence O'Hara
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***1/2
Reviewed on: October 22, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


We see in this episode that even transgenic super-soldiers have an achilles heel.

Since the beginning of the series, we have known that Max needs to take pills to prevent seizures that are part and parcel of her genetically engineered origin. At the beginning of this episode, her seizures are much worse than usual, so she goes through her medicine more quickly than usual. Uncharacteristically, she "borrows" the squatters' "rent" money to buy some more pills, then she heads to Logan's apartment, where he has invited her for dinner. Instead, she simply lies down to wait out the worst of the seizures. It's surprising that she already trusts Logan enough to show him her weakness. They talk about where they were when the EM pulse hit. Logan was on a boat with a lady friend. Max was with a foster family who had a daughter, Lucy, about her age; the father beat up Lucy and Max, and sexually abused Lucy. (Why not Max as well?) Yet again, we see the huge differences in Logan's and Max's backgrounds.

The pills Max needs are sources of tryptophan, which she says are an amino acid. According to Wikipedia, this is correct. Tryptophan is an amino acid the human body cannot manufacture, so it's necessary to ingest it in food. As Max points out later in the episode, milk is a natural source of tryptophan, although if she really wanted to eat something with lots of tryptophan, it appears she should've gone for cheese or poultry.

While Max is having these problems, she is very short tempered with her friends. Plus, when the policeman on the take comes early for the squatters' payoff, she is forced to admit that she took the money. She promises her friends and the policeman that she'll get the money by the next morning. She promptly goes out and steals an SUV, then sells it to a chop shop, but must wait until the next morning for payment.

Max's friends believe she's hooked on drugs, and they flush her new stock of pills and stage an intervention. Max can't believe they are sticking their noses in her business and storms out to find some more pills. Her regular distributor is sold out, so she is forced to rob a local hospital. She is caught and thrown into prison.

While waiting to be booked, she meets up with another new prisoner, Break. He sells antique (as in pre-pulse) clothes, and often has run-ins with the police because he is vocally against police brutality. For some reason, Break takes a shine to Max and plays mother hen to her when they get put into the main jail. He gets her some milk to help out with her seizures, and she talks him into helping her escape.

That night, Break creates a diversion with some very impressive opera singing while Max makes her move. He continues to sing long after the guards begin to beat him up. Why is he willing to do this for Max after having known her for just a few hours? We can't really say. However, Max has obviously been weakened by her seizures, since she cannot scale the fence quickly enough and is overpowered by the guards. The warden even shows up, and he also takes a shine to Max, having her sent to his own house (inside the prison compound). At first, it seemed like he understood what her barcode meant, but later it seems that he just like petite girls.

On the outside, Logan is trying to find Max, and encounters Original Cindy at Jam Pony. She accuses him of getting Max hooked on drugs as some type of sugar daddy, but he explains that she has a neurological condition that requires her to take them. Logan uses his connections to a city detective to determine that Max has been imprisoned for trying to steal drugs. Cindy is aghast to think she caused Max's arrest, so she agrees to help Logan spring Max. Logan's detective friend takes Cindy to jail as a prostitute; Cindy has a supply of Max's pills, and quickly hooks up with Break to find her.

Max is still horribly sick, but wakes up in the warden's house. The warden has another "daughter", a girl named Maria, whose mother was a prisoner who died. Maria takes care of the warden's house and tries to take care of Max; it's soon clear that the warden is sexually abusing her. Max begins to hallucinate and confuse Maria with her former foster sister, Lucy, who was in a similar abusive situation. Max feels very guilty that she didn't help Lucy, but instead fled from the family, even though at the time she was far too young and inexperienced to have known what to do. She vows that she will rescue Maria.

Break arranges for Cindy to join the detail cleaning the warden's house. She sneaks Max the pills. This happens none too soon, because Lydecker has gotten wind of Max's arrest, and arrives with a force to begin searching the prison. Max quickly recovers her physical prowess and forces the warden to help them escape in his car. Once outside the prison, he tries to overcome them, but is killed. Logan hacks into the prison's records and deletes key files just before Lydecker can get them, so Lydecker is completely foiled again.

In the end, Logan arranges for Maria to be adopted by a couple unable to have children. Max and her friends make up. Cindy and Kendra tell Max that they know she's into something big and important and want to be in on it. But when Max tries to tell them she's an enhanced woman, they laugh it off as "aren't we all"? If only they knew!

This episode was a look at how quickly events can spiral out of control. We see just how fragile the balance of everyone's lives are in the society on the show. Without the payoff money, the squatters are forced to evacuate their building, losing all of their possessions. One wonders if the squatters will be as willing in the future to allow Kendra and Max to hold the payoff money - given how much money it apparently was, this is no small responsibility.

This episode was also a look at Max's vulnerabilities. Given that, it's a little strange to see this episode so early in the show - seems that it would be more appropriate later, after we see her being invincible for awhile. But it does show that even Max needs help from time to time.

Seeing Max's abusive foster father again makes me wonder how Max did turn out to be so normal, or at least as normal as a transgenic person could be. How many other abusive situations was she in? I had to wonder why she tolerated the abuse, but I think that she realized that while she might be able to kill the foster father, it wouldn't necessarily make the situation better for her (or Lucy) and that she'd have to run again. If only she knew about the possibilities of getting police intervention on Lucy's behalf, but she was ignorant about society at that point.

The warden and his "pet" daughter were a sickening situation. With society being so unsettled and chaotic, one has to wonder how many other bizarre and abusive situations exist that (hopefully) wouldn't have been able to get by in a more civilized time. People with power seem to be able to set up their own little kingdoms and rule within them with impunity. Perhaps Max will be more willing to help Logan in his fight against corruption now.

I have to wonder about some character motivations here. We get a quick scene with Max's former private investigator, who tipped Lydecker off to Max's arrest. From what we saw, there was no way that Lydecker knew the PI came into that information. So why did he volunteer it? Does he get paid for his help? I would think he'd want to avoid Lydecker's attention as much as possible, since Lydecker apparently had pulled out his fingernails (which was implied in "Heat"). And previously he had helped Max, by warning her about Lydecker.

The other character I wonder about is Break. Why was he so willing to help Max? He was clearly a business man who was just as comfortable making deals with the prison guards as running his outside business. Max gave him no indication that she would be able to help him in return in the future, so what did he have to gain? He certainly knew he was setting himself up for a beating by making a diversion for her. I guess he really liked the hat she gave him.

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