Original airdate: October 10, 2000
by Michelle Erica Green

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

"Heat" Plot Summary:

At Logan's request, Max steals a case containing the payments from would-be escapees to smugglers who have promised to take them to Canada...but who really intend to dump them all in the Pacific. The suspicious smugglers kill one another, to the delight of Logan who puts out a Streaming Freedom report on the deaths. Max asks for more information about Zack, but Logan doesn't have it yet. Meanwhile, Lydecker visits Sketchy, threatening to peel every inch of skin from the investigator's body if he doesn't provide information about Max.

Max heads to the bar with Kendra and Cindy. Her friends tease her that she's awfully hot for all the boys in there. Max, whose feline DNA makes her very agile but also sends her into heat three times a year, drags Eric home with her but he passes out on her bed before she's even gotten undressed. Still, she pretends in the morning that they were lovers just to make him happy. In gratitude, he sends her a quart of valuable motor oil.

Cole discovers information about a base shut down in Wyoming in 2009, just after the Project Manticore children ran away. He has tracked down a woman named Hannah who worked there, the one who took Max in the night of the escape. Realizing that Lydecker must know where Hannah is, Max rushes to the island where Hannah now lives. Because Eric brags about his uncle who supervises sector police, she takes him along to get them through security checkpoints. While she visits with Hannah, learning that the mothers of Project Manticore were paid as surrogates, Cole tries to beep Max and gets Eric instead.

Max knows Hannah has alerted Lydecker to her presence and warns the older woman that he will kill them both. While they try to reach the water, Eric helps Logan track the transmission frequency of Lydecker's men, allowing the covert electronics expert to give Lydecker false reports while Max and Hannah make a daring escape by zipwire over a dam. Eric then rescues the women in a boat from the mainland. Though he finds Max "awesome" and "exciting," Eric later breaks up with her because she makes him fear for his safety, assuring her that the other night was "amazing" for him. Max says that he saved her life and gave her motor oil, which is more than any other man has ever done for her.

Logan, who is relieved to learn that Eric was never Max's boyfriend, gets Hannah a new passport and some cash. Hannah admits to Max that she has more information about Max's mother. A girl about Max's age now, she didn't want to give up her baby, and seven months into her pregnancy, she tried to escape. After delivery, she was moved to psychiatric facility. "I had a mother who loved me and maybe she's still out there somewhere," reflects Max, noting that it doesn't really change anything in her life...except it changes everything.


Though the spectacular visuals in "Heat" serve only to support predictable outcomes, this is still an effective episode. Sure, it's a cheap gimmick for the writers to declare that the hot babe gets so horny three times a year, any slacker in Dark Angel's young male demographic would have a chance with her. Yet despite the superficial "boyfriend" plot in which Max hides the truth about their sexual non-togetherness and reaps unexpected rewards, the emotional core of "Heat" revolves around her relationships with women: her roommate, her lesbian best friend, her savior, and the mother she never knew.

By spectacular visuals, I refer to gate-crashing and riding a wire over a fence, not the sight of Jessica Alba in a tank top, though I'm sure that doesn't hurt with the boys in the audience either. The special effects team does a fine job maneuvering the balancing act on the side of the dam and the motorcycle shots, but there's never much suspense about whether Max will make it through. Since the producers seem determined to exploit her erotic potential, it would be nice to see Max enjoying her sexuality instead of feeling like a victim of it or having to use it to protect the innocent.

Characterization has been stronger thus far on this series than plot. The details involving background players are lovely: Max's roommate Kendra teaches Japanese to kids who sometimes have to pay her with coffee, a fellow courier refuses for religious reasons to deliver porn to a client. Despite the misery of her childhood and the hazards she faces every day, Max's world seems less bleak than Frank Black's or even Fox Mulder's. She's got friends, even if she can't tell them her secrets. She's got a sense of humor, telling a thug he's kind of cute before knocking him out. She seems more mature than Buffy, neither cynical nor resentful of the hand she's been dealt. She's warm and empathetic without seeming at all soft. She's a woman it's easy to admire.

Dark Angel Reviews
Get Critical