Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "Meow"

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Episode Information

Title: "Meow"
Writer: David Zabel
Director: D.J. Caruso
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 28, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


This episode starts out lightly, but the storylines converge at the end to something far more serious.

Logan has been tinkering with the exoskeleton from "I and I Am a Camera", but he needs a specific computer processor to replace a damaged one. He finds out that the same processor is used in the robotic arms in nuclear power plants. He doesn't want to tell Max about the exoskeleton, so he makes up an urgent reason why Max needs to rip off the processor. This conversation is a laugh, because his made-up story doesn't hang together very well, but Max agrees to do it that evening. Logan also remembers that the next day is the first anniversary of Max's original breaking-and-entering into Logan's apartment, so he's planned a celebratory dinner.

Frankly, Logan is being pretty selfish here. Even though Max is nearly a superhero, he's asking her to risk her life to get something that is not, in fact, crucial to some emergency. I think Logan is taking her abilities for granted just a bit. This belief is underlined when Zack gets shot later in this episode.

Shortly thereafter, Max realizes that she's in heat again. (The last time was in "Heat".) This time, she can explain the situation to Original Cindy and get her to watch her back so she doesn't do anything stupid. This storyline gets played mostly for laughs, as we see Max hit on anything that's male. It's amazing what a little soft porn music and strategic camera angles can do to make almost any man look attractive. Cindy finally has to slug Max when she begins making the moves on Normal!

On the more serious side of things, we see that Lydecker is circling the wagons at Manticore against Madame X. He's starting to realize that if he doesn't act quickly, she's going to ruin his credibility and take over his "kids". He finds out that one of his aides has been informing on him to Madame X. While Lydecker is gathering this information, we see that Zack is performing his own covert reconnaissance of Lydecker and Madame X in order to ascertain the location of Tinga. Earlier in the episode, Max had remarked that Zack found out Tinga wasn't at the Manticore compound.

Max swipes the computer processor from the nuclear plant for Logan, but she's in agony and can barely keep her hands off of him. The processor is what Logan needs to finish fixing the exoskeleton, and he's planning to surprise Max with it at their dinner the next night.

Lydecker realizes he needs some results in order to support his position and undermine Madame X. He makes a deal with an agent from South Africa: the South African can locate Max because of the metal left behind from her Red Soldier implant ("Rising"), and in exchange Lydecker will give the South African prototype information on some Manticore genetic experiments. I have to wonder why the South Africans don't locate and abduct Max for themselves if they can locate her. Maybe they figure they don't have the manpower to take her down, given her past short work with the other Red Soldiers.

Madame X decides to terminate Lydecker using the armed hoverdrone, but Lydecker cleverly substitutes the aide's photograph instead. As Lydecker remarked to the aide, "You forgot who you work for." Lydecker is no idiot, and it's nice to see him be effective, as long as it's not against Max and the other X-5s! It makes him a more worthy criminal. As Lydecker is supposed to be dying, Madame X tries to take over the South African operation to locate Max, but Lydecker saunters up and subtly tells her to get lost. Infighting among the enemies of the X-5s can only be good!

Max decides to cancel on the anniversary dinner with Logan because she just can't control herself. But she can't sit still, either, so she goes out on her motorcycle and ends up hooking up with a random hunk she met earlier. They have a very violent affair, and Max is mortified (and back to normal) when it is through. She has a long heart-to-heart talk with Cindy, which really brings some much-needed seriousness to this storyline. Max can't control the urges, and they make her feel like Manticore is still manipulating her. Cindy encourages her to admit her love for Logan, but Max is too embarrassed to even think about talking to him. We may laugh when Max is out of control and mooning over trashy men, but it's really no laughing matter at all.

Max finally goes to Logan's apartment to apologize. She explains her cycles of being in heat, which does surprise Logan into a moment of speechlessness. She even admits that she canceled on Logan the night before, only to "kick it" with another guy. Logan's fan-girls probably melted with his response: he's not upset, it doesn't matter, it wasn't her fault. Is anyone really that understanding? Maybe he doesn't have any right to feel jealous or insulted, but I think most men would. Heck, I think women would be as well. After all, they do have a developing, serious relationship, and she went for a one-night stand.

I think Logan was too caught up in his surprise to be upset: revealing the working exoskeleton to Max. She's surprised, all right, but then it malfunctions immediately. Logan apologizes, but as Max says, "it's never been about you being able to walk, not for me", and they finally get down to some serious kissing. About time!

With his usual impeccable timing, Zack arrives and announces he's found Tinga, and they need to rescue her right now. Of course, Max doesn't hesitate. Tinga is being held in some kind of abandoned industrial complex. Max and Zack head off, while Logan hacks into some live spy satellite video and gives them reconnaissance over a radio link. Things really start to rev up, because the South Africans and Lydecker have just located Max, and they follow her signal to the complex where Tinga is being held.

Max and Zack split up to get by Madame X's security. Max gets inside the building without too much trouble, but Zack is shot by some of the guards. Logan sees Lydecker's forces beginning to surround the compound, and warns Max and Zack to leave. Zack retreats, although I wonder if he would've done that if he hadn't been injured. Max has seen Tinga: immersed in the water, tubes attached, her long hair billowing out around her like a dark cloud. In shock, Max will not leave. She breaks the glass aquarium to free Tinga, and takes her in her arms in tears. Lydecker and his men burst in to find them that way. We can still hear Logan on the comm link calling for Max, and ... TO BE CONTINUED.

This episode starts out pretty slowly, but really builds up by the end and raises the stakes for the last episode of the season. In the first part of the episode, Max and Logan are preoccupied with some relatively unimportant parts of their lives. But, of course, that doesn't mean that their enemies are taking a break, too. The first part of the episode involving Max and Logan is almost filler material to give Lydecker, Madame X, and Zack time to get events moving.

That's not to say the first part of the episode is wasted, since it provides more character development for Max and Logan. Logan must be the ultimate sensitive guy: remembering their "anniversary", not minding her having sex with other men, pausing in their make-out session to make sure it was what Max really wanted... You know, it's no wonder that Max and Logan haven't gotten together before, because just when one of them starts acting sensible, the other one is falling apart. And now, will they ever be together again? I knew something bad was going to happen when Logan assured Max (before she went to get Tinga) that they had all the time in the world... or maybe not.

All the machinations between Lydecker and Madame X were amusing to watch. It's still unclear who their bosses are, and whether those bosses are only running Manticore, or if there are many other operations involved. I'm getting the impression that Manticore is only one small part of a much larger organization. It's satisfying to see Lydecker stymie Madame X, and we almost cheer for Lydecker. Even though Lydecker is by no means a "good guy", we definitely get the impression that he is more moderate than Madame X. Or maybe he's just the enemy we know.

It makes sense for Zack to be searching for Tinga right away, after he saw how Brin was so effectively brainwashed after returning to Manticore for a relatively short period of time. He doesn't want that to happen again. How much has he figured out about Madame X and the organization overseeing Manticore? Will that information be useful to him and Max later on?

It was great irony for Max to lead Lydecker to Madame X's experimental lab. I believe Max made a conscious decision not to leave Tinga and allow herself to be captured. Even though she was in shock at Tinga's condition, certainly her training would not allow her to be immobilized in such a dangerous situation. I believe she realized Lydecker was coming and wanted to make sure that since she couldn't take Tinga away, that Tinga would fall into Lydecker's hands and be removed from this experiment. I think her decision was justified, because when Lydecker came in and realized what was going on, he certainly seemed shocked. The man may have approved breaking the bones of his kids for experimental purposes (as revealed in "Female Trouble"), but I think the experiments on Tinga went too far even for him.

What will happen next? Max is now in Lydecker's custody. But Zack has most likely escaped, although he is injured. And both Zack and Logan have a personal stake in rescuing Max from wherever Lydecker might take her. What about Tinga? We don't know what's been done to her so far, and we don't know what effect it will have on her that she was removed from her "incubator" prematurely. So we really have no idea what her status is. What will happen between Lydecker and Madame X because of this? We don't have any idea on this either, since both of them are so adept at turning things to their advantage. Possibly while they are scrambling to cut each other down, Max might find an opening to escape.

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