Original airdate: January 16, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Max Enters A Witness Protection Program

"Red" Plot Summary:

Logan interrupts Max in the bath to remind her she needs to protect a top-secret federal witness, who will testify to Mayor Steckler's involvement in Edgar Sonrisa's black-market sale of medicine needed to treat Balkan War Syndrome. She takes the witness from inept federal marshals, only to discover he's Bruno Anselmo, the former Sonrisa employee who paralyzed Logan in a gunfight. Max is all for killing him outright, but Logan insists that putting Steckler away is more important than any personal concerns.

Bruno calls hookers while Max is out getting him food, escapes her protective custody to brawl in a bar, orders champagne and whipped cream, repeatedly hits on Max and insists on visiting his daughter in a park before the trial. Max resists all these ideas, especially when she realizes a group of thugs led by a man named Johannsen is pursuing them. Logan gets ahold of security footage of the thugs and realizes they're stronger than normal humans. A friend identifies them as "military disposables," a group of South African "Red Series" soldiers who have implants that block their pain receptors and raise their adrenaline levels. They are fearless, and just as strong as Manticore's genetically engineered kids.

Max saves Bruno from an assassin in the park, after which he explains that he's testifying so his daughter will have one thing she can be proud of when she thinks of her father. At the trial, Logan tries to find Max to warn her that the bad guys are much stronger than she knows. But Max insists on sneaking Bruno in through the back door -- specifically, by breaking down the door with her motorcycle and dropping him off right in the courtroom -- so she never meets Logan to get the message. Bruno testifies about the mayor's dealings with Sonrisa, but the trial is interrupted when the court receives a bomb threat and the judge orders everyone out of the building.

Max tries to protect Bruno by taking him underground, but he traps her there with Johannsen's men, saying word on street is that a fortune's being offered for a Manticore prototype, which is just what he thinks she is. He's grateful she saved his life, but he's a bad guy; he needs money for his family. Then Bruno flees, but he is shot and killed by the assassin from whom Max saved him in the park. In the garage, Max manages to hold her own against the thugs, electrocuting one, but she's pretty banged up when Logan drives in, shoots another thug, and rescues her in the back of his car. Johannsen is undeterred; he calls an unnamed supervisor, saying Max is even stronger than they expected, but they have a lead on her whereabouts.

Max and Logan hear on the news that Bruno's testimony got Steckler convicted. Max claims she doesn't mind having been beaten up, which is good for her training, but Logan knows she's afraid.


I think now we have a pretty good idea what Lydecker's new project is: providing the genetic engineering that the South African Red Series need to stop their super-soldiers from burning out in less than a year. And even though we never heard Johannsen's telephone contact, it's pretty obviously Lydecker or someone close to him, though you'd think at this point Lydecker would realize he needs an army of enhanced soldiers to catch Max. I'm also interested in Kendra's new boyfriend -- she brags that he can make love for twelve hours straight without stopping for breath, which impresses Max. Kendra assures her roommate that she's met the guy, but she's not getting near him now. I'm betting Zack, though it would be hilarious if it were Normal.

Dark Angel will undoubtedly be cited by groups that support positive images of differently-abled people no matter what, but this episode features a particularly moving scene between Logan and a man with cerebral palsy who communicates by sending signals through a voice synthesizer. These two manage to figure out that Red Series soldiers are chasing Max, which later enables Logan to save her, even though neither of them can walk. Logan has to confront his repressed rage over his condition when he realizes Bruno, his star witness, is also the man who put him in a wheelchair. He claims Bruno is just a germ in the greater disease represented by Steckler, but Bling thinks Logan is going to explode if he doesn't deal with his anger.

Bruno's a marvelous character, so it's too bad he's really dead this time. He's utterly despicable, yet he deeply believes his love for his daughter exonerates the rest of his life. At times he's reminiscent of Sketchy, who also likes lap dancers when he can find them and bar brawls when he's got someone else to do his fighting for him. It's not clear whether Bruno keeps trying to seduce Max because that's what she'd expect or just because he wants to; his wife figures Max must be a lap dancer and says Bruno has fewer enemies as bad as herself.

That ends up being a red herring -- I expected the wife to be in on the plot to off Bruno -- but it works really well. There's no overt suggestion that the thugs are after Max instead of Bruno until he switches sides. It's unnerving for the viewer, because we're starting to like the guy, and it arouses pretty direct anger against Logan for the unexpected dangers his crusades keep putting Max in. They get the central bad guy -- the mayor, who remains in the background -- yet it seems clear that he, too, is a symptom of a disease whose source is not yet clear.

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