"Shorties in Love"
Original airdate: April 17, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Plague of Affection

"Shorties in Love" Plot Summary:

Original Cindy's first love, Diamond, comes back into her life after being paroled from prison. Though she swears she's turned over a new leaf, Diamond seems overly interested in Max's equipment and physical prowess in street fights. Meanwhile, Logan asks Max to break into the house of a crime lord named Lemkin, who possesses computer discs that may lead them to stolen nuclear weapons. When Max breaks into his stronghold to steal the disks, Diamond follows her and takes the loot -- the data Logan wants plus the cash Max needs to repair her water heater. Leaving Max to take the rap when the police arrive, Diamond runs to Original Cindy, admitting that she fled prison because she's dying of cancer. She asks Max's roommate to run away with her.

After a brief police interrogation, Max awakes from unconsciousness in a mysterious lab. When she escapes, she learns with Logan's help that she was held prisoner by Synthedine Pharmaceuticals, which has no interest in the stolen disks; they want only to recapture Diamond, who escaped from one of their privately-run prisons. Logan discovers that Diamond never had cancer and was given "medicine" containing an experimental pathogen meant to spread a plague. When Synthedine captures Cindy along with Diamond, Max sneaks back into their lab. She helps Original Cindy escape and lets Diamond infect the head of the corporation with her rapidly-spreading illness.

Cindy tells Max that she'll never forget her first love, who taught her to be strong and independent...and original. Max repeats the conversation to Logan, saying she wouldn't know whether it's true. She asks whether she can read one of the poems she knows he writes. Logan shows her one about herself, but rather than admit how moved she is, Max dismisses it politely and rushes away. Later she admits to herself that she will draw strength from his image of her.


It continues to amaze me that no matter what techno-thriller drama occupies the A-plot of Dark Angel, the bulk of the show remains focused on relationships -- to its great credit, far more than any other genre series currently running. As Max says (and Sketchy and Logan confirm), men love watching and hearing about lesbians, yet the bulk of Diamond and Cindy's onscreen relationship focuses not on sex but joking and affection. It's great fun to hear someone who seems more Original Cindy than Cindy -- as Max points out, Diamond uses the same expressions and talks about herself in the third person. Original Cindy says Diamond gave her her sunshine, and because of the chemistry between the two women, it's easy to understand why she keeps giving second chances to someone with such a bad track record.

Diamond hasn't completely reformed and causes a lot of trouble for Max, but Max has no problem forgiving her; she's been on the run herself, and Diamond wouldn't have been able to steal so much loot if Max hadn't taken the cash despite Logan's disapproval. It's easy for Logan to disapprove from the penthouse where he writes poetry and wonders whether that, too, will count against his manly image in Max's eyes. It doesn't, of course, though Logan throws his notebook across the room when Max flees rather than admit his poem about her stirred her emotions. Maybe he'll notice that she stole the page.

I'm not sure what relationship rules Max thinks she's playing by, nor why. She's not stupid, she certainly realizes how disempowered Logan feels around her for a variety of reasons...and she knows that he's attracted to her even before she reads the poem. Still, she sits around dissing men with her girlfriends, sharing all the usual gripes about their fetishes and lack of real feeling. Diamond's witty assertion that she's never met a man worthy of her kiss becomes creepy when she uses her infectious body fluids to kill the head of Synthedine. It's not anti-male so much as anti-patriarchal given what the men of the corporation have done to her body, and Max suffers from similar problems because of what Lydecker and his ilk did to her in her youth. Her resentment of Logan's obsession with his life's work may run deeper than envy; she may unconsciously associate him with the sort of people he pursues. Indeed, she is most comfortable with him by candlelight when a brownout makes computer interruptions impossible.

Oh yeah, the plot. Synthedine got rich off black-market influenza vaccine and now develops bioweapons of mass destruction, yet their doctors didn't notice anything unusual about Max's physiology while they were administering drugs to make her talk? Not too swift. Still, their trucks must have amazing shock absorbers if Max rode underneath one through Seattle to the lab complex. No suggestion that any of this will tie into an arc, especially since Synthedine's CEO ends up dead and no one inside has any idea who Max is. Next week, however, we get to meet Lydecker's boss Madame X, played by Deep Space Nine's Nana Visitor -- woo hoo! I might have to start rooting for the bad guys.

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