Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 2: "Brainiac"

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Episode Information

Title: "Brainiac"
Writer: Chip Johannessen
Director: Stephen Williams
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: February 15, 2008

Synopsis from TV.com


In this episode, we meet a very odd Manticore transgenic, who does have one normal male characteristic: an obsession with Max.

At the beginning of this episode, we follow a bit of the life of an odd guy named Brain. We gradually see that he has some kind of precognitive powers. He goes to an arcade where the resistance group S1W is headquartered and witnesses their arrest, ducking a police bullet before it is shot. However, he seems to be nearly invisible: he tries to blend in with the S1W members as they are rounded up and carted off, but is ignored.

Asha is arrested along with the other S1W members, and Logan is not happy with this, of course. Max and Alec visit the S1W's (former) headquarters in order to grab a few personal effects of Asha's before they become state's evidence. While there, they come upon some hints that Brain has left for Max so that Max will find him. Max and Alec go to Brain's apartment and discover an odd, overweight guy about their age. They blindfold him and take him to a secret location where they are meeting Logan.

Max tries to question Brain about what he was doing there when the S1W was arrested and what information he knows. Brain starts spouting off probabilities of various actions occurring. He also complains incessantly about being tied up, until eventually Logan changes his blindfold into a gag. Brain recognizes Logan as Eyes Only.

Logan wants Max and Alec to break S1W out of custody when they are being transferred on a police bus. (It's not clear why Alec is helping out, but we get the feeling he has hopes for getting on the good side of Asha. Also, he likes teasing Max about possible feelings between Asha and Logan.) Brain tells them the plan won't work, but he's ignored. Finally, as Max and Logan leave, Brain tells Max her only chance is to "break an egg", which is a slogan from a TV commercial we saw him watching earlier.

Max and Logan get rid of the two policeman on the bus with no problem, but not before the silent alarm was activated. Police cruisers are on their way, but Alec can't figure out which of the dozens of keys unlocks the jail on the bus. So Max starts driving the bus to flee the police. They are driving parallel to train tracks, and a train is coming in their direction. Max remembers "break an egg" and swerves the bus to go through a "break an egg" advertising billboard, which lets them get across the train tracks just before the train comes through and cuts off the police.

Max, Alec, and the S1W return to Logan's secret meeting place. The S1W members are glad to be free, but they think Brain is the one that turned them in in the first place. Brain denies it, and Max is intrigued by his predictions, so she takes him back to Logan's apartment to try to use his computers to search for evidence of who betrayed S1W. Brain claims that one of the S1W members is a police informant, but doesn't know who.

While they are working, Max asks about how Brain got his abilities. It turns out that Brain is a Manticore X-5 transgenic, but he was programmed for strategy and calculation, not for normal soldiering. He says he has the ability to store lots of factual information plus behavioral information and then uses that to extrapolate probabilities of future events. As a child, he was fed information on all the X-5s so that their battle behavior could be predicted, but he was especially obsessed with Max, even then. Max doesn't even remember him, but Brain says that another aspect of his genetics is to be "forgettable" so that people generally don't even notice him. Max is dubious about all this, but goes along with it for the moment.

They go back to the secret place without figuring out who the informant is, which doesn't make the S1W happy. But then Brain says that the police are coming in a raid, and tells them a specific route to take to escape. Then he disappears when no one is looking. All of them safely escape from the raid. Brain is in the process of being ignored by the police again, when he decides to punch one just to get arrested.

Max, of course, goes to break him out of jail. He sprained his ankle, so she has to carry him out, which is pretty funny. During their exit, they have to hide for awhile to escape detection. Brain has a vision of Max in the future; she is going through a sawmill to rescue S1W, opens a closed door and gets shot. Brain relays the vision to her, except the part about getting shot; I guess he is too traumatized by the prospect. He waxes on about how wonderful she is. While they are in the police office, they find evidence telling them who the S1W informant is.

Logan has arranged for the S1W members to escape into Canada. They are waiting for their ride at a sawmill. Max and Brain realize they are in trouble because of the informant and Brain's vision, so they ride Max's motorcycle to the sawmill to stop the police. The S1W see the police coming, so they run to hide in the sawmill. The informant locks them into a room and guards it with a gun.

Max neutralizes the initial police presence and enters the sawmill to find the S1W, just like in Brain's vision. When she goes to open the crucial door, Brain jumps out and knocks her down, taking the bullet himself. Max subdues the informant and releases the S1W. As Brain is dying, he tells the S1W the only escape route. Max uses Brain's "forgettability" to avoid police notice, and Brain dies.

In the end, the S1W are free and can even stay in Seattle, since somewhere along the line Brain sabotaged the police computers with their records. Logan does an Eyes Only message commemorating Brain.

Well, this episode was reasonably entertaining, but had very little point to it. At first, it looked like it was going to finish off the S1W, one way or another, but no - their situation was essentially set back to where it was at the beginning of the episode. We met a very unusual character in Brain, but since he's dead, that can't do much for the series in the future. That's probably good, considering that his abilities could have become quite a plot device.

Speaking of his abilities...they were just a little unbelievable. Initially Brain presented them as integrating facts and behaviors and allowing extrapolations in to the future. I can buy that idea, even if it's stretched a bit, as explaining the "break an egg" escape in the police bus. Brain knew the time of the train, the time Max was grabbing the bus, and the placement of the billboard, so he told Max what to do in a memorable slogan. But later when Brain starts having full-fledged visions of the future, it's just too much to believe. (We know they are actually visions to him, not just dramatizations for our benefit, because Brain comments on how Max looks so beautiful when she's running.) I would almost be able to accept his abilities better if the writers really did decide to say he had a bit of psychic ability in his enhanced genetics. At least that would be pretending to be credible.

His ability to not be noticed is another really odd trait. I don't know how you code that into genetics. I don't think he looked exceedingly normal, especially since he was rather heavy.

Brain himself was relatively interesting, and his grooming routine getting ready for his first meeting with Max was funny. However, did we really need another male character who is obsessed with Max? At least he doesn't even try to deny it. He's such a pathetic and nerdy guy that when he said that there was a 0.05% chance Max would kiss him, we feel sorry for him. His sacrifice at the end of the episode was sweet, although at first I didn't realize what had happened. The sound on my DVD was a little weird or something, because I never heard the gunshot.

A nice touch was Alec moving into Brain's former apartment and selling all his TVs (except one!). How typical. It makes up for how selfless he was earlier in the episode.

This episode didn't really do anything to further the series. No new developments with Max's virus. No new discoveries about White. No change in the Max-Logan-Asha triangle, despite Alec teasing her. We didn't really get any new character development, either. Brain commented on how Max helped Asha even though she thought Asha might be writing love poems to Logan - but Max's heart of gold is nothing new to us.

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