Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "I and I Am a Camera"

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Episode Information

Title: "I and I am a Camera"
Writer: David Simkins
Director: Jeff Woolnough
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 20, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


This episode was a little lighter because of its quirky guest character, even though it dealt with some pretty heavy issues. It also set up some major changes for later in the series.

A series of recently-released parolees have been murdered in similar ways, including Herbal's friend, and the police don't seem very worried. These two facts put Max and Logan on the case. Meanwhile, Max has several brief encounters with an odd man who has a gadgety head camera to record everything. He notices that Max has special abilities, and he even helps her evade a security guard, then shows off his own abilities by jumping a 10 foot fence. As Max says, he's also revved up in some way. The guy keeps urging Max to work with him on something.

These two plots come together when Max breaks into the odd guy's place (to get him to stop bugging her) and discovers news stories about the murdered parolees. She thinks he's the killer, and from the remaining parolee on his list, she knows where he's headed next.

Max arrives at the next victim's apartment just in time to see the odd guy breaking in. She jumps him to stop him from killing, but it turns out that he was there to stop the victim from being killed - by a police hoverdrone. The hoverdrone shows up and scans the victim's face, and Max and the other man get the victim out of the way just before the hoverdrone opens up with two guns. There have never been armed hoverdrones before.

Max and the odd guy take this information to Logan. Logan's uncle Jonas (as we learned in "Art Attack") runs the company that manufactures the hoverdrones. Logan decides to try to find out from his uncle what's going on with these armed hoverdrones. We also find out the odd guy's special powers are from a lower-body exoskeleton that he wears under his clothes: he believes it was destiny that he found it abandoned by the department of defense at a previous job, and now he's out avenging wrongs. The interplay between him and Max and Logan is great, because the guy clearly doesn't have an overly firm grip on reality and has read too many comic books.

The odd guy took pictures of the latest attack, so he and Max go to his place to develop them to eventually use as proof to Logan's uncle of what the drones are doing. While developing the pictures, we find out more about the guy's past: his younger sister was killed by thieves when he was also young, but he believed he should have been able to stop it. Thus he is fighting evil to avenge her. Unfortunately the pictures did not come out. But he reveals he knows where the hoverdrones refuel, so they can get the pictures right from the drone at that time, which would be the next day.

The next day, Logan visits Jonas. Jonas claims not to know about any armed drones, and claims they'd be bad for publicity since the idea of the drones is based on defense and crime prevention. But he says he'll check into it. Later, he calls Logan and arranges a covert meeting to give him information. After the call, Jonas remarks to his business partner that Logan is stubborn, so he's going to send him on a wild goose chase until the testing period on the armed hoverdrones is over. The partner is dubious about the diversion, and the hoverdrone shows up and kills Jonas. The partner then directs the drone to search for Logan.

Max and the odd guy break into the hoverdrone headquarters and discover that Logan has been targeted. Supposedly once the drone has a mission, it cannot be diverted, so they give up on coercing the employees and go to find Logan. Using Max's motorcycle, they catch up with Logan just in time to keep him from becoming target practice. While the odd guy carries Logan to safety, Max uses his car to trick the hoverdrone and eventually destroy it. During the excitement, the odd guy's exoskeleton is damaged.

Back at Logan's apartment, Logan and Max discover what happened to Jonas. Logan realizes that the manufacturer of hoverdrones secretly making armed ones is a huge scandal worthy of Eyes Only. But if he publicizes it, the government will end up seizing the company and all its money, which would leave Logan (and the rest of his family) without income. Max tries to convince Logan not to do it, but Logan is determined.

The odd guy, whose name turns out to be Phil, decides to return home to his mother (whom he hasn't communicated with in years). He leaves his exoskeleton to Logan.

In one of the final scenes, we see Jonas's business partner negotiating with Madame X at Manticore for the sale of the remaining armed hoverdrone prototype. She happily promises to pay him in full; he hands over the computer information and the key to the location of the drone, and she covertly takes his picture for the drone to use as identification.

This episode wasn't quite at the high level of emotion and visceral impact as the previous, but it was solid and had a lot of continuity with the past and setup for the future. First, the hoverdrones are a huge issue. The writing of the episode was clever enough to keep the armed hoverdrones from proliferating wildly, but also to make sure the remaining one ended up in the place where it could to the most damage to our heroes: at Manticore. How soon before a hoverdrone with Max's picture will be out looking for her? The other X-5s that do not have their faces known are a little safer, at least for the moment.

The hoverdrone technology, specifically its artificial intelligence, is pretty impressive. While Max was fighting it, it tracked her vehicle while it was partly or mostly out of sight, and anticipated it to some extent. Of course, it had a flaw in that it was tracking the vehicle and not Logan himself, although it might have decided anyone that was helping Logan also should be killed. The idea of just a surveillance hoverdrone is creepy enough; an armed one that can identify people is really scary.

Jonas and his business partner fell prey to the classic stupid move that I bemoaned in "Shortie's in Love": why do the manufacturers of horribly deadly weapons think that no one will ever use them against them? Jonas might have been taken by surprise, but his partner should have realized that Madame X would decide to cover her tracks by killing him. At the least he should have set up a remote exchange of the money and the final control of the hoverdrone.

The fallout from the revelation of the armed hoverdrones has wrecked Logan's family's business. It's hard to believe the family doesn't have some other investments, but possibly the government will freeze a lot of their finances until they've finished investigating. Logan no longer has the deep pockets that he has used to. Even though he can sell some art, as he mentioned, he's going to have trouble keeping up his Eyes Only work. Heck, he'll have trouble keeping up his lifestyle. Will he be a little more favorable to Max's ideas of a little theft?

The plot with Phil was, well, odd. He definitely added some humor because his character was so strange, you had to just laugh at him. Max playing the straight man to his weird ideas just added to the humor. I also found this character especially funny watching in 2007 because the actor, Rainn Wilson, plays a disturbingly similar character named Dwight in the TV series The Office. Most of the plot with Phil was not too important; the most important part was the outcome: Logan now has an exoskeleton. Assuming he can fix it, he may be up on his feet again.

Finally, one running subplot in this episode was Logan's attitude toward Max. At the beginning of the episode, he was definitely still mulling Lydecker's "warning" of Max's killer instincts in the previous episode and we could see it was worrying him. His attitude toward Max was a little off. Max could tell (since she told Original Cindy), but she apparently decided to try to ignore it for now. However, the events of the episode seem to have convinced Logan that looks can be deceiving. At the end of the episode, he toasted his uncle Jonas to the effect of, "Beneath a smiling demeanor, a cold-blooded killer," which he could also mean to apply to Max. But by that point, we can tell his attitude has changed and he doesn't actually think it applies to her. At the end of the episode, he shreds the pictures Lydecker had sent him.

Where will things go from here? The threat to Max has been upped again, since now there could be a hoverdrone out there with her picture. Can Manticore manufacture more? Logan might have a way to get out of his wheelchair again, but he may be handicapped now by lack of funding.

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