Episode Review of Dark Angel Season ???: ???

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Episode Information

Title: "Heat"
Writer: Patrick Harbinson
Director: Michael Katleman
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: October 19, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


This episode takes up where the pilot left off: at the end of the pilot, Logan told Max about some criminals who were taking money from people to sneak the people into Canada via boat, but who were instead forcing the people overboard out at sea. Max infiltrates their ship and steals their cash. The criminals immediately start accusing each other about the location of the missing money, and soon shoot it out. The would-be emigrants don't make it to Canada, but at least they are alive.

This little bit of plot is over quickly, but it's somewhat ironic watching it in 2007, when illegal immigration into the US has become such a big national topic. How would our feelings change in the matter if the US was not so wealthy, and people actually wanted to leave? The scam of taking the people's money and then killing them at sea is similar to scams we hear about in the present day, usually of Mexicans who are scammed and then killed or left to die in the desert.

After this refreshing activity, Max heads to her favorite bar to join her friends. She's acting a bit odd, which her friends pick up on: she seems to be giving the eye to every man in the joint. After a quick trip to Logan's apartment to drop off the money from the people smugglers, she picks up a guy called Eric in the bar. Her interior monologue reveals that some of her transgenic background included feline DNA, which has the side effect of putting her in "heat"; she knows it's happening, but has a hard time talking herself out of doing things she'll regret later.

She brings Eric back to her and Kendra's apartment, but he passes out drunk before anything can happen! However, he doesn't remember this in the morning and believes they had a night of passion. Although Max tries to brush him off, he quickly calls himself her boyfriend and sends her a box of motor oil at work. I have to give him credit for a rather insightful gift: Max is unlikely to be impressed by traditional girly gifts, and the oil will be useful for her motorcycle.

Logan tells Max that he may have found the location of Hannah, the nurse who picked her up just after she escaped from Manticore ten years ago. Hannah may be on Sedro Island, some 80 miles out of town. Max immediately plans to go see her, despite the fact that she has no pass to get out of the city, and Lydecker probably is also aware of Hannah's location and significance.

As Max prepares for the trip, she is in the process of dumping Eric when he reveals that he has an uncle with the sector police - the same police that guard all roads out of the city. She invites Eric on the trip, but doesn't mention that she's going to be traveling nearly at the speed of sound the whole way, in the dark, with no headlights on her motorcycle. When they approach the guard station, Max asks Eric to call his uncle for an impromptu pass through the checkpoint, but Eric reluctantly reveals that his uncle is a janitor for the police. So they blast through the checkpoint at full speed.

The existence of checkpoints and guards around the city gives an added dimension to life in the Dark Angel universe. Are the police there to make sure people stay in or out of the city? How easy is it to get a legitimate pass for travel? One would have to assume that commerce isn't too impeded by the checkpoints, or things would be really bad. Actually, I question the feasibility of guarding the access to a city the size of Seattle. Are there really guard stations on every road in and out of the city? That's a huge amount of manpower. The road Max and Eric were on did not look to be a major road, so one would have to assume that even larger roads would have a more significant police presence.

Max's use of Eric is also revealing, although whether it reveals more about Max's personality or the current culture is not clear. Max had no problem leading Eric on in their relationship in order to use his connections. Although she obviously doesn't wish him to be hurt or killed, she has no qualms about risking his life breaking through the guard station, when it's his back that's toward the bullets as they ride away. Eric also had no problems joining Max on an apparent joyride to an undisclosed location; given the unrest in society, you'd think he'd want to know where they are going. Ah, maybe they're both just being teenagers!

They arrive at the mainland across from Sedro Island, and Max leaves her motorcycle and keys with Eric, then swims over to the island. She finds Hannah at her house relatively quickly and is invited in. Max begins plying Hannah with questions about the Manticore project in general and her mother in particular. Hannah was a nurse in the project, but because of the security surrounding the project, she was not informed about most aspects. She reveals that the mothers of the children were recruited for pay to essentially be surrogate mothers, using in vitro fertilization. After birth, the women were sent back to where they came from, which Hannah implies were not usually good circumstances. Max is disappointed that her mother was just a mother for pay.

Hannah calls into work, ostensibly to let her employer know she's going to be late. Max realizes that she is actually tipping off Lydecker to her presence. After chatting for awhile longer, Max tells Hannah that she had no choice calling Lydecker, but even though she cooperated, Lydecker will kill her. Therefore they must flee the island. Max leads Hannah overland toward the shore for their escape.

Meanwhile, Logan calls Max's beeper, but Eric returns his call. Eric is a little distraught, having been waiting for Max for several hours. Logan deduces what Max is up to, and hacks into Lydecker's operatives' communications. He jams one team's communications and takes their place, radioing in that they've caught the fugitives; Lydecker calls off the search. (I was very happy that when Lydecker realized he had been duped, he demanded that Logan reveal who he was; Logan wisely disconnected, rather than trying to make some kind of taunting or sarcastic remark that might have been compromising.) Logan also instructs Eric to borrow a boat and goto the island to pick up Max and Hannah.

The escape is successful, and Max, Hannah, and Eric make it back into the city. Eric was just a little freaked out about all the events, so he breaks off his "relationship" with Max, saving her the trouble. Logan arranges a fake identity and passport for Hannah to leave the country, so that she will hopefully be safe from further retaliation by Lydecker. Before she leaves, Hannah tells Max that she did know Max's mother just a bit (although not her name); Max's mother quickly realized that something was weird with the program and did not want to give up her baby. She tried to escape before she gave birth, and when it was time for her to give birth, she fought so much they had to sedate her for the induction procedure. Max takes comfort in having inherited her fighting spirit from her mother.

This episode follows nicely on the details from the pilot, but the details were not crucial for understanding the episode. Key flashbacks were given (or repeated) to remind us of events from Max's past. The first part of the episode, with Max in "heat", was a little off, but that seemed to be intentional, since all Max's friends were noticing it as well. Frankly, I cringed at the idea of Max being all sex-crazy, but fortunately she got over it pretty quickly, nothing actually happened with her and Eric, and she didn't end up doing anything really embarrassing.

There was a bit of a logical problem with Max's visit to Hannah. She was obviously expecting that Hannah would have to tell Lydecker she was there. Why didn't she have a better plan for leaving the island? She herself could swim back to the mainland, but Hannah could not. Did she initially plan on abandoning Hannah to her fate with Lydecker? I think she was improvising a little too much here, and she really got lucky that Logan and Eric happened to get in touch with each other.

The so-called affair between Max and Eric was pretty painful. I did kind of enjoy how Max and Kendra arranged to not let Eric know that he passed out before managing any action, but then the guy could just not take a hint. He was so pathetically desperate to stay with Max that it was painful. Clearly Max would normally be way out of his league.

The discussion between Logan and Max about her "boyfriend" was also a bit painful, but intentionally so, since the romantic tension between them suddenly spiked. As they said, they don't have any commitments to each other, so there is no cause for any jealousy. But by breaching the subject, they have opened themselves to the possibility.

Hannah is sent off to Canada, I believe. Canada is apparently something of a safe haven for people fleeing Seattle - it's not too far away at least. In this future, is the Canadian government trying to keep out illegal immigrants like the US is today? Do you suppose they've built a fence along the border? (That would be quite a fence!)

Finally, there's the information that Max learns about her mother. I'm not sure why Max has such strong feelings about her mother. My impression was that the mothers were complete surrogates: the eggs from which the children grew were not from these women. Presumably, the eggs were chosen from "suitable" women by Manticore for their favorable traits. That means that there was really no way that Max's "mother" could greatly influence how Max turned out. Certainly, the surrogate mother provides the nutrition for the baby, but there's no genetics involved. Thus when Max feels like she gained her spunk from her surrogate mother, that can't really be the case. Nevertheless, the woman who carried Max to tern would certainly be an important connection to Max's past.

Where does the series go from here? Max has learned a bit more about her past, but still has many questions. She has a new determination to find her mother, if possible. And Logan was still working on information about one of her siblings, Zack. Lydecker has been easily foiled now twice by Max and/or Logan, and so he should be getting much warier. In the future, he should be harder to deal with.

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