Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "Rising"

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Episode Information

Title: "Rising"
Writer: Jose Molina and David Zabel
Director: Duane Clark
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***1/2
Reviewed on: November 8, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


In this excellent episode, Max finally has to reveal her secret to Original Cindy.

Following right on the end of the previous episode ("Art Attack"), we begin by seeing Logan at his doctor's office, trying to convince his doctor that he really is starting to regain feeling in his legs. His doctor thinks it's wishful thinking, although his blood test does show that Logan has a huge number of embryonic stem cells in his blood, which he cannot explain. Logan is sure that they are from his blood transfusion from Max in "Blah Blah Woof Woof", and that they are responsible for his improving function. He and Max perform another blood transfusion in his apartment.

Meanwhile, we see that the Red Series soldiers from "Red" are still in town. Their almost inhuman nature is underlined when one of them, who is about to burn out and die, allows himself to be burned on a pyre by his fellow soldiers. Since he can't feel pain, I guess, why not? It's still very eerie. We see that the Reds are restless under Johannsen's control; he channels their energy into finding Max, telling them that her genetics are the key to extending their lives. Later, Johannsen recruits a volunteer to replace the dead soldier and we watch the implant embed itself inside the man's neck. Finally, Johannsen can let the soldiers loose: they have finally figured out the last phone number to call Max's damaged pager, which they picked up in "Red". It was Original Cindy - they plan to track her down and let her lead them to Max.

Max's life has encountered a lot of changes. First, Logan is trying to regain his legs. At Jam Pony, Original Cindy has found a job as a telemarketer and quits her messenger job. Max discovers that her roommate, Kendra, has been having an affair with the police officer that used to shake them down for a payoff. Original Cindy's first day at her new job is rough, since she is cold calling for an insurance company. She unknowingly leads the Red Soldiers to the bar to meet Max.

Max recognizes one of the soldiers and manages to flee the bar. She leaps onto a moving truck and loses two of them, but the third makes it onto the truck with her. After a short fight, she impales him on a metal rod. This does kill him, although it takes awhile. She apparently takes the body to Logan, who in turn takes it and them to his friend Sebastian. Sebastian is the quadriplegic who has a fondness for conspiracy theories, so he has dug into all the information on operations like Manticore and the Red Soldiers, which is how he helped Logan in "Red". It's not completely clear what resources Sebastian has or how he has them, but while they watch, another person (a doctor?) removes the implant from the dead body. The implant retracts itself and becomes inert, awaiting the chance to embed itself in another body.

Johannsen and the remaining Reds are not going to be stopped, and they follow Cindy back to her job, where she is working late because she hasn't managed to make a sale yet. They hold her hostage and force her to call Max and get her to come there. Cindy manages to warn Max that something is wrong, and Max quickly realizes it must be the Reds. She knows she can't just break in on them when they are in a secure position, so she uses the Red implant on herself to give herself an extra boost. She does this and runs off before Logan or Sebastian can stop her.

Max bursts into Cindy's office and proceeds to beat the crap out of the Reds. She kills the last one by exploding his own grenade on him, which temporarily leaves her off-guard, and Johannsen gets the drop on her with a gun. Fortunately for Max, Logan has deduced the location of Cindy's office and followed after her. He shuts of the lights and temporarily disorients Johannsen, who is killed by one of his own mortally-wounded soldiers.

Max collapses and begins having seizures. By phone, Sebastian instructs Logan and Cindy in the only procedure that might let them remove the implant from Max. They deliver a strong shock directly to Max's implant, which burns it out. She is safe!

Logan and Cindy take Max back to Logan's apartment. When Max wakes up, she decides it's only fair to tell Cindy her Manticore secret. Cindy is pretty shocked, but the fact that Max risked her life by using the implant and rescuing Cindy goes a long way toward convincing her to forgive Max for hiding the truth.

At the end of the episode, Cindy asks for her job back at Jam Pony. Logan surprises Max by standing up by himself - as Max says, "I forgot how tall you were." She and Logan then go for a joyride on her motorcycle, with Logan driving.

There are two big storylines that are at least somewhat resolved in this episode. The first is the immediate threat posed by the Red Soldiers. The cadre led by Johannsen in search of Max is dead. It's clear that Johannsen had some major backing, so I doubt the threat is neutralized, but it should take some time for them to regroup and decide how to proceed.

The social dynamics with the Reds is very interesting. Most of the Reds are "volunteers" from death row, so they don't have much to lose. However, they clearly are not just happy to be alive, since it's mentioned several times that they are expecting to be well-paid. Obviously, criminals are not necessarily the most reliable soldiers. Then, they are under the command of an un-enhanced human. We saw that Johannsen's control over the soldiers was not complete. I wonder why the soldiers listen to him at all - just to get paid? They could use their super strength to rob a bank and get all the money they want. What else could be compelling them to obey? Are they just not that smart?

In the end, Johannsen told Max that her genetics being able to help the soldiers was a lie. I think that he must mean that the current soldiers cannot be helped, because obviously his bosses want Max for some reason. Conveniently, Johannsen's revelation was timed to get him killed by his own man.

The second big storyline to be resolved is Max hiding her true identity from Original Cindy. I'm glad that this issue was brought up and that Max's secret was actually revealed. Given all the amazing things Max has done in Cindy's presence, it would be completely beyond disbelief to think that Cindy would be gullible enough to fall for Max's explanations. Will Cindy start helping Max and Logan out in "saving the world"?

Max told Cindy how much she valued having a friend, since she'd never had one before Cindy, but her actions spoke a lot louder than words. When Cindy signaled she was in trouble, Max did not hesitate in helping her, even using the implant to make sure she would succeed. At the time she used it, Sebastian hadn't even mentioned that it might be possible to remove it from her, so Max was ostensibly accepting a death sentence by using it on herself. That's friendship! I also couldn't help thinking that Max amped up by the implant would've been a wet dream for Lydecker - if only he saw her then!

The thing that knocked the episode down for me was the implausibility of how the implant in Max was neutralized. Why wouldn't that huge shock also damage Max? It seems like a better approach would have been to say that Max's body eventually rejected the foreign object as part of its enhanced healing capabilities.

On another subject, how much better will Logan's movement get? Will Max's blood really completely heal him? He's so impatient for improvement that I hope he doesn't wring Max dry of blood to hurry things along.

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