Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 2: "Proof of Purchase"

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Episode Information

Title: "Proof of Purchase"
Writer: Tommy Thompson
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Rating (out of 4 stars): *** 1/2
Reviewed on: January 29, 2008

Synopsis from TV.com


In this episode, we get into some grittier material as Max yet again shows her heart of gold.

At the start of this episode, Max is unaware of the trouble that her fellow transgenics are getting into. She and Logan have come to some kind of accommodation regarding the virus she is carrying, because they are at least comfortable sitting in the kitchen together. Logan is making dinner for them, when Max accidentally licks a spoon and puts it in the sauce. She freaks out when she realizes what could've happened if Logan had eaten the sauce and runs off. Later, she and Logan get connected with a former Manticore geneticist who may be able to fix Max's retrovirus. He only needs $10,000 and blood samples. Logan comes up with $5000 initially by selling more artwork.

Alec is captured by White and his men. In desperation, Alec makes a deal with White. Alec will kill three transgenics in the next 24 hours and then White will let him live. In order to guarantee Alec's obedience, White has a small explosive implanted along Alec's brain stem. He also instructs Alec to cut off each victim's barcode as "proof of purchase". Ewww.

At the same time, Joshua (the dog-like creature Max met in Manticore's basement) has been searching for his "father", Sandeman. He's been breaking into houses that have residents named Sandeman, according to his 10-year-old phone book. He hasn't found his father, but he's been terrorizing the residents, and a picture of him makes it into the tabloids.

Max sees the picture of Joshua, and asks Logan to try to coordinate the police reports and on-going sightings in an effort to find him. Alec shows up, all innocently willing to help Max locate Joshua and any other transgenics. It obviously never crosses his mind that Max might help him get out of his unsavory situation. Max and Alec begin looking through a section of town that is officially off-limits because of bioweapon leakage after the pulse, but is unofficially the home of numerous shady characters. They don't get far before Logan calls Max with a better lead. Alec remains, however, and eventually kills one of the odder-looking transgenics we've seen and removes its barcode.

Later, Alec encounters a lower-ranking Manticore soldier (possibly X-6). He orders the kid into an alley and appears to kill him and take his barcode. But, Alec's time is running out, so he goes to White and asks for more time. In response, White reveals the kid who Alec claimed to kill - he just cut off the barcode and then took the unconscious kid to a hospital. White denies Alec more time, but lets him use the time remaining to try to get one more transgenic.

Alec manages to hook up with Max again as she is catching up with Joshua. We can see that he is itching to save himself by killing her, but he decides Joshua would be a better victim. They finally find Joshua at the next to last address on his list, which is now a vacant lot. Alec uses some kind of shock weapon on both of them to disable them and looks for Joshua's barcode - there isn't one! Joshua claims this is because he was created first. So, he is left with Max. He cannot bring himself to kill her.

In the end, Max quickly takes Alec to her ex-Manticore geneticist. The geneticist will remove Alec's explosive for $10,000. Alec only has $5000. Max uses Logan's second $5000 to pay the rest of the bill. With mere seconds remaining, the geneticist removes the explosive and Alec is OK. But, the geneticist is fleeing town that evening, and refuses to finish the work for Max and Logan. Alec has ruined their chance! The geneticist does leave Max with all of his notes and work so far.

Max tells Alec to get lost. She and Joshua check out the last Sandeman address, which is an abandoned house. Joshua claims to recognize some of the effects and books, so this was his father's house. He decides to stay there while looking for his father. Max pledges to help him.

Throughout this episode was a subplot involving Lydecker. He examined what appeared to be an archaeological site in the city, with a number of buried skeletons and some "cave paintings". He recognizes some of the symbols in the paintings. He gets a scientist friend to analyze the images, and they seem to be related to some kind of Native American story where a woman was forced to have children until the "perfect" one was achieved. We're not sure why Lydecker is interested in this, but he was going to visit the scientist when his car is forced off the road by another vehicle. The vehicle is recovered by the police, but the body is not.

This episode had a lot more meat to it than the previous two, even though I can't say that the stories in the previous two episodes weren't important. First, the character of White became much more interesting. Previously he had just seemed to be angry. Now we can see that he is manipulative, clever, and sadistic. I don't think that his conversational manipulations are as subtle as Lydecker's, but his added sadism makes up for it. Lydecker could kill a man or pluck out his eye if it was necessary, but I think White could do that and enjoy it. He did an excellent job of covering all the bases with Alec. The only aspect he didn't foresee was Alec trying to get help from Max, which almost didn't happen in time. If Alec thought White would really keep his word and let him live upon successful completion of his mission, Alec was being seriously naive.

Which brings us to Alec. We knew that he counted on Manticore for the big things (room, board, a safe place to hide), but otherwise he was pretty selfish. We see that again here as he thinks only of himself - it doesn't even occur to him to seek help from Max for his situation. He does have at least a small conscience, though, since he couldn't kill the human-looking boy. The "creature" was no problem, though, which is a sad comment on humans in general. He didn't kill Max in the end, but as Max attitude shows, why would you thank someone for not killing you in cold blood?

In the previous episode, Alec saw Max's generosity and selflessness with the other Manticore escapees, but apparently he didn't realize that she might apply it to him as well. He owes her his life, but she has essentially disowned him. What will he do to redeem himself to her?

Max and Logan almost found a solution to the virus problem, or so the geneticist led us to think. How will Logan react to Max spending his $5000 this way? Well, I'm sure he'd agree with her actions, but also be (rightfully) pissed off. How long can they continue to talk and not touch? Will they be able to find someone to continue the geneticist's work? How long will Logan's money hold out?

Joshua tried to convince Max that Sandeman would be able to fix the virus in Max, but who knows if that's true? Who knows if Sandeman is even alive still? If he is, why hasn't he made his presence known at Manticore lately, or even after it was destroyed? Max seems to have a flashback to her early childhood where Sandeman appears, but is this just wishful thinking?

What's up with Lydecker's discovery? Does it tie in with Sandeman and Manticore? Is Lydecker actually dead? With no body, I'm tempted to think he's been whisked away somewhere. Otherwise, it was a pretty ignominous death for such a compelling character.

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