You Can't Go Home Again
"411 on the DL" Plot Summary:
Max happily races her motorcycle against a black-helmeted opponent until an obnoxious cop impounds the vehicle. She says the night just plain sucks. Logan isn't having a great evening either; his ex-wife has come to visit, offering decorating tips and swearing that she has given up drinking. Val admits there's no one she hurt more than Logan.
The clerk where Max's cycle is impounded demands $3000 cash. Herbal, the Bible-quoting Rastafarian from the Jam Pony, has problems with his best friend making passes at his wife. Cindy tries to console them both, but Max stops paying attention when she sees a classified ad with her bar code and an address. As Max races away, a blonde job applicant named Sam impresses Normal with his good manners.
Logan thinks someone from Manticore must have placed the ad to trap Max, but she wants to believe it's one of the other 12 escapees. Val interrupts their chat, gushing over Logan's generosity on his answering machine. Max says she always thought of him as a lone warrior, not the married type. That night Max goes to the address in the ad, where she finds Vogelsang. He has information about a fugitive from Manticore, but wants $15,000. From a balcony, someone spies on the conversation.
Herbal is caught smoking pot and fired by Normal, who introduces Sam as the model new recruit. Val, who is taking Logan to a street fair, tells him not to act like a caretaker by offering her money; she wants to be self-sufficient. Max intercepts them, asking Logan for the $15,000 she feels he owes her for "helping to save civilization," but when he resists, she says she'll explore other options. That night she breaks into the lot where her cycle is secured, sailing over the fence as she takes it back. Meanwhile Lydecker and his men discuss their surveillance of Vogelsang, frustrated because his cochlear implant broadcast has been disrupted by ear fluid.
Normal gets Max to show Sam around town. They stop for coffee as she waits for a call from her researcher, who reads her Zack's tattoo number. Later, she spies on Logan's ex, discovering that Val has a new husband and is desperate for cash. Still, Max is in a good mood until she learns that Vogelsang has been shot through the back of head. When Lydecker arrives on the scene, she flees.
Max begs Logan to help her find the tattoo parlor where Zack went to have his bar code removed, admitting that she has tried to do the same, but it always grew back. Though he fears for her safety, Logan gets her the information. Max says there's something he needs to know about his ex. In Chinatown, she tracks down Zack's address. Max breaks in to find the classified ad with her number, the helmet of the guy she raced against, photos of herself with Vogelsang, and bottles of Tryptophan. Someone grabs her from behind. It's Sam, who is really Zack. "Why didn't you tell me?" she asks.
Lydecker's men attack, but Zack and Max flee to the roof and end up in a train yard. When she asks, Zack admits he killed Vogelsang, who knew too much. Max is upset that he murdered an innocent man, but Zack insists that the Manticore survivors are soldiers and must live as if it's war. He directs her to leave the city with him, but not to stay with him; nor will he tell her where the other Manticore children are, so she can't compromise their safety. "The only thing you can rely on is yourself," he says, insisting that any affection she feels is a sentimental lie. Max says that may be true, but she won't live as if she's still at Manticore. Because she won't take his orders, Zack leaves her behind.
Val visits Logan again, but he tells her to take the money she needs and get out. His assistant Blaine finds Max brooding in a bar, where Herbal, Sketchy, and Original Cindy are celebrating Herbal's reinstatement at the Jam Pony now that Sam has skipped town. Blaine warns Max that Logan is lonely, so she visits. The two compare notes about wanting someone they can connect with. They decide to take a spin around the park in the rain.
When this episode ran the full introductory explanation (for the third time this series) and I realized I couldn't remember half the characters' names until other characters talked to them, I realized that Fox has done Dark Angel a great disservice by premiering it during a month that required so many preemptions for sports and politics. This was perhaps the strongest episode yet, although it's hitting the point where we need some of the looming questions about Lydecker answered even more than we need to know about the other Manticore kids. Surely if Zack knows where the others are, Lydecker could find out. So why is he hanging around Seattle trying to catch this one girl? For that matter, why is he trying to catch any of them? They're in no position to report his past sins to anyone, and there's no central power trying to reunite them as an army. Is that Lydecker's goal, and if so, why does he shoot at them so often?
We appear to have met Max at the most exciting juncture of her life since she fled Manticore -- first she finds her savior, then information about her mother, now another survivor. It's fairly easy to guess that Sam will turn out to be Zack, but I have to agree with Max that it makes little sense for him to insinuate himself in her life without telling her who he really is. Nor does it make sense that he preaches spiritual sentimentality as Sam, then insists as Zack that she must be a soldier. Max has a healthy degree of cynicism and is quite witty scorning the idea that they're there now because a butterfly farted a millennia ago, but it's impossible to believe Zack thinks she'd give up her friends and her soul (which is what she calls her motorcycle) just for an illusion of safety, particularly when he offers no community, no knowledge, no power in return.
Finally we get a little insight into Logan's past (and evidence of the heterosexuality of his assistant/masseur). I'm not sure what to make of learning that he let his ex-wife dupe him, especially when that plot device seemed pretty transparent long before Max went to check her out. Is it supposed to humanize him, since he's so safely isolated behind his wealth? I still have trouble feeling sorry for Logan, who won't even give Max the money he rightly owes her to make her own decisions about her life. Maybe she doesn't really mind because it makes her feel less kept by him, but I'm not sure I like the extent to which he expects her to fend for herself when, unlike his ex, she's already independent and she needs his help to be the person he wants her to be. This is not really a partnership.
Herbal has the best lines in "411 on the DL" -- he discusses how jealousy is poison, he insists that God never makes anyone deal with more than he can handle, and in the end, he agrees that it's all right if his foot showed his cheating friend how to find the door. Herbal believes he got his job back because of the loyalty of his friends, and even if that's only partly true, it fits in well with the theme of the story.
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