Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 1: "Shortie's in Love"

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Episode Information

Title: "Shortie's in Love"
Writer: Adisa Iwa
Director: Paul Shapiro
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 18, 2007

Synopsis from TV.com


Original Cindy's true love comes back to town, but things are not what they appear.

Original Cindy's first love, Diamond, shows up in town, claiming that she just got out on parole. From Diamond's attitude and what her conversation reveals about her past, we can tell she's trouble. Even so, Cindy can't help falling for her again, and soon she's asking Max if it's OK if Diamond stays at their place. Max initially takes to Diamond just fine.

Logan calls Max for some help regarding a local arms smuggler, Lemkin. Lemkin has been paying off the police to look the other way while he smuggles major weapons, and his group may even have been involved in securing the nuke used in the pulse that crippled the US. Logan has some electronic information that would incriminate Lemkin, but needs an encryption disk that is stored in Lemkin's house in a safe. It seems Lemkin is a bit of an obsessive-compulsive security freak (that may be perfectly justified, given his occupation), so Max isn't going to be able to just sneak in and bust the safe. She's going to need to do some reconnaissance, and Logan has plans of Lemkin's house that he gives her. She delivers a package to the house for Jam Pony and takes a peek inside.

Meanwhile, Cindy and Diamond are happily renewing their relationship. Cindy reveals that before she met Diamond the first time, she was meek and shy, but Diamond helped her become her true self. This explains a lot of Cindy's mannerisms (like talking about herself in the third person) and slang, since Diamond has them too. I was happy to have picked up on this before the writers felt they needed to state it explicitly. But, some warning signs begin to show. Max, Cindy, and Diamond are set upon by a group of thugs while out on the street; we assume the men are from Lemkin, but how does he even know her intentions yet? Later, Diamond picks up the signs of Max's alternate occupation as a cat burglar and offers to help Max out if she wants. Diamond is obviously not intending to completely law-abiding, despite what she's told Cindy. Max privately tells Cindy that she can't handle Diamond living with them. Cindy is very hurt, but agrees that Diamond will be gone the next day.

That night, Max sets out to knock over Lemkin's safe. Diamond follows her. (Frankly, I'm not sure how she did that, because I would've thought Max would've driven most of the way there on her motorcycle.) Max cleverly navigates the laser beam maze in front of the safe, grabs the disk and some money from the safe, and sends the loot back through the laser beams on a cable. Diamond grabs the loot, accidentally sets off the security system, and runs, leaving Max to be instantly trapped behind bars in the room with the safe.

The police haul Max in for interrogation, but the seem to be more interested in her "partner", Diamond. They show Max the security footage from the house with Diamond cutting and running. I don't think that Max had quite realized until this point exactly what went wrong, because she hadn't seen Diamond. Nevertheless, she claims not to know who Diamond is. The police give up on the questioning surprisingly easily, turning her over to another set of operatives... who shoot her with a tranquilizer gun. From here, the plot takes a sharp turn from what one might expect.

Max wakes up secured to a gurney in a lab room. A man of obvious importance questions her about Diamond, but again she claims not to know her. When the man leaves and a minion arrives to "take care" of Max, she breaks out and manages to hide away on a truck to escape. Turns out that she had been taken to Synthedyne, a very large pharmaceutical corporation. She and Logan consult with Logan's friend Sebastian on what Synthedyne is up to.

Sythedyne became very powerful via black market sales during an influenza epidemic some years before. Now they do lots of research on diseases, plus run some other operations on the side, such as private prisons. Diamond was in one of their prisons, until she escaped. Apparently everyone in her cell block was told that they had cancer, and then Synthedyne "treated" them. In reality, the prisoners were healthy, but Synthedyne infected them with various experimental bioweapons. As long as the prisoners were being treated with the antidotes, they are healthy and not contagious. But once they go off their treatment, they will rapidly develop symptoms and die, plus become very contagious. Diamond could start infecting others at any time, so Max races off to find her.

Now that Diamond has the money Max stole, she wastes no time. She tells Cindy that she has cancer, and she wants to spend her remaining time with Cindy someplace warm and beautiful. Cindy quits her job, and they take a bus with the intention of going to Mexico. Diamond has begun feeling worse. Max figures out where they are heading and tries to chase down the bus by motorcycle. She is too late, though, because Synthedyne's operatives have already stopped the bus, put the passengers into quarantine, and taken Diamond and Cindy back to Synthedyne. Max heads there.

At Synthedyne, the doctor says that the disease is too far along in Diamond for her to be saved - we can start to see lesions developing on her face. Fortunately, Cindy has not been infected. Max sneaks in and sets off the quarantine alarm so that everyone has to suit up, which provides her with a disguise. She finds Cindy and Diamond, and tells Diamond the truth about her disease. Max and Cindy escape from Synthedyne, but Diamond tracks down the head of Synthedyne and deliberately infects him with her disease. She also breaks open a vial, which one supposes must contain a sample of the infectious agent. While I agree this is some poetic justice, I'm not sure it will yield the result she wanted. After all, didn't they say the disease was manageable as long as you take the medicine? I suppose it dooms him to doing that for the rest of his life, along with the other employees that are infected.

At the end of the episode, Cindy mourns Diamond, but seems like she will be OK.

This episode starts out going one way and is pretty predictable, but then it takes a completely random turn in the middle. We think Diamond's a criminal and trouble-maker and that once she gets Max in trouble, Max will confront Cindy and Cindy will have to decide Diamond is no good. But instead we discover that Diamond is an unknowing experimental subject, and with her impending death, all her former vices become unimportant. Somehow the whole thing is a little unsatisfying, although the implications of the second half of the episode are so enormous that it helps compensate.

We see again through Sythedyne how the government has become so weakened and ineffective that big corporations and organizations can become their own empires. Sythedyne was running all kinds of experiments with no consideration for the morality of their acts, and they had their own paramilitary forces and equipment to back them up. They are developing bioweapons - for who? The highest bidder? This is not good on any level. An accident in the lab could put the employees at risk, or if any of the subjects escaped (like Diamond), the public could accidentally be put at risk. Plus, who knows where the buyer of such a weapon will ultimately use it? I'm always amazed that there are people willing to develop such weapons when there is virtually no way to guarantee it won't be used against you. I wonder if finding out what Synthedyne is up to will put them on Logan's target list.

The amoral nature of Synthedyne was underlined with a bit of black comedy near the end. Max has activated the "outbreak" alarm, so everyone at Synthedyne is donning protective suits. But the head of Synthedyne can't be bothered because he is arguing on the phone for a better tee time for his golf day! This kind of callousness was a means used by the writers of justifying his painful death.

For the second episode in a row, Logan's initial quest was stopped. In this case, Max got the disks Logan needed, but once Diamond took them, we don't know where they ended up. I suppose that it's realistic that things don't always go as planned, but it's making Logan's missions seem less important.

Getting some background on Original Cindy and spending some time on Max's everyday life at the beginning of the episode was a pleasant breather from the urgency of many of the episodes. I also enjoy Max's live-and-let-live attitude toward pretty much everyone: she accepts them as they are and doesn't have to approve or disapprove.

A running subplot through the episode is that we (and Max) discover that Logan writes poetry. Max teases him mercilessly about it, and Logan is very defensive. At the end, Max finally gets to read some of it, although we do not. (That's probably good, because what makes good poetry is so subjective.) This is a nice scene, because Logan is obviously so desperate for Max's approval of it, but then Max is so moved that we only get a quick flash of her real feelings before she puts on an unaffected attitude toward Logan. The chemistry and interplay between them is almost always just perfect.

This episode doesn't have any direct effects on where the series is going, but sets up another type of evil that needs to be fought. So many bad guys, so little time!

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