"I and I Am A Camera"
Original airdate: May 1, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Lensman Gives Logan His Exoskeleton

"I and I Am A Camera" Plot Summary:

While saving Sketchy from a gang of thugs after his wallet, Max encounters a vigilante fighting street violence and litter. Although Phil seems more than a little nuts, he also seems unnaturally powerful -- he can leap over fences and run faster than most humans. After seeing Max in action, he becomes obsessed with her, leaving messages asking her to work with him. Max considers Phil a stalker, though she also assumes she can handle him until she finds evidence in his apartment linking him to a number of brutal killings of ex-convicts.

With Logan's help, Max follows her stalker to the apartment of a recently paroled sex offender whose address was published in the paper. But instead of killing the former convict, Phil saves him from a hoverdrone of a type Max has never seen before. Since Logan's uncle manufactures police hoverdrones, Logan asks his family for help investigating whether some drones have been modified for illicit use by law enforcement officials to get rid of undesirables outside the legal system. Uncle Jonas calls a business partner to warn that his nephew has uncovered their scheme to sell new drones which can track and kill a target using only a photograph as input. The partner has Jonas killed rather than risk a leak. Then he feeds the drone a photo of Logan, making Eyes Only the next target.

Max and Logan learn that Phil wears a powerful electronic exoskeleton stolen from the Department of Defense. This gives him his strength and speed, but it gets damaged when he tries to help Max stop the drones' deployment -- leading to Max's discovery that Logan is next on the hit list. She saves Logan's life, but when he decides to go public with Cale Industries' involvement in the construction of illegal search-and-destroy devices, she can't save his fortune from being siezed by the government. Logan doesn't mind, since he now knows his privileged life was built on the suffering of others.

Max convinces Phil to give up his lifestyle as a rogue superhero and go visit his mother. Before he leaves, Phil has his exoskeleton shipped to Logan, thinking that if Logan can get it fixed, it might help him to walk. Meanwhile, Madame X buys the remaining prototype drone from Jonas' panicked partner, choosing to test the machine's abilities on its manufacturer by taking a digital picture of the man as he leaves her office. Now she can kill anyone who has ever had a photo taken.


From the previews it looked like this was going to be a boring action episode full of rogue hoverdrones. "I and I Am A Camera" instead confronted two issues at the heart of Dark Angel: the lone-wolf sociopathic behavior of would-be-superheroes, and the impossibility of living a clean life of privilege in the midst of poverty and corruption. It's rather funny that Max assumes Phil must be weird, even psychotic, certainly someone to be avoided, considering the circumstances of her own life that force her to live apart from others and act strangely at times. It's also charming that Phil turns out to be a genuinely good guy, reminiscent of the Lone Gunmen -- a nebbish with a penchant for secret government equipment and an absolute belief in his responsibility to defend society from evildoers. Jonas jokes that Logan must have watched too many X-Files episodes as a child, but Phil's the one who thinks it's worth considering aliens as a possible source of the reprogrammed hoverdrones.

Logan Cale shares Phil's most likeable qualities, but doesn't seem to realize how incredibly lucky he is compared to most people, even without the use of his legs. The decision to give up his family fortune in order to expose the deadly hoverdrones seems rushed and foolhardy; as Max says, only a wealthy white male would consider such a sacrifice noble rather than neurotic. Logan owns his apartment, but without the money from his trust fund, he's not going to be able to get the latest computer equipment so he can hack into the police department computers, nor bribe officials to cross borders and release photographs, nor pay for emergency transport for himself and others when Lydecker inevitably tracks them down. His idealism is admirable and laughable at the same time. The bravest act he performs all episode is the shredding of photographs of the murderous Max as a child; apparently he has decided that no matter what she's been designed to do, her spirit is stronger than her programming.

With Phil's exoskeleton, it looks like Logan may get the use of his legs back and then some. Whether that will be enough to make him believe he can handle an intimate relationship with Max remains to be seen. She's not much in the mood for socializing at the end of this episode, having to attend a funeral for Herbal's ex-convict friend murdered by one of the drones, but she seems particularly down when she reports to Cindy that Logan looks at her these days like he sees something he doesn't like. It's too bad Phil doesn't stick around; she could use another friend who's unafraid of believing he has a positive destiny to fulfill.

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