Dark Angel

Season 2 Episode 1

Designate This

Aired Unknown Sep 28, 2001 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
161 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Designate This
After months of being imprisoned at Manticore, Max has resisted powerful attempts at re-programming and breeding and plans her escape from the genetics lab. She is aided in her breakout by the gentle but beast-like Joshua, an early Manticore creation, and together they release all the other Manticore creatures. Max attempts to reunite with Logan, only to discover that he is now number one on Manticore's most wanted list.moreless

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  • The beginning of the second season sees a radical shift in the show, towards more SF oriented plots and events. This can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. I prefer season one's style of stories, but season two still ranks very, very highly.moreless

    Season two opens where season one ended, with Max in Manticore's (and Madame X's) hands, and most everyone presuming Max dead.

    Logan, via Eyes Only, is putting the pressure on Manticore, calling attention to the Wyoming facility where Max is being held (without him knowing she's alive).

    Max, meanwhile, has an escape plan, pretty much straight out of Escape From Alcatraz -- she has broken the mortar out of the cinderblocks of her cell and she has begun recon starting from the space behind that wall, which leads her into the basement of Manticore, and the anomalies kept there (and alluded to the first season). These would be the genetic misfits and experiments which produced humanoid but very certainly non-human creatures with different mixes of animal genes in their cocktails. There, she meets Joshua, a man with much more dog than she has cat, and he helps her to escape. He was one of the first creations, and he's been down there and free for a fair length of time. Unlike all the others, he apparently knew his creator, the genius behind the gene technology which made Manticore possible -- a man he refers to as Sandman.

    While all this has been happening, Max has also met and rejected Alex (a clone of last season's Ben), who has been assigned to her as a "mating partner" -- as a result of Max's destruction of the gene bank at the end of last season, apparently that's the only way for Manticore to produce new soldiers. Being very much out for himself, he doesn't report her rejection, but instead treats it as a matter of course.

    Max does, indeed, escape, with Joshua's and Alex's help. Manticore, however, has expected this possibility, and set her up to inadvertently kill Logan by using a tailored retrovirus that will only kill him, if he and Max engage in any intimate activity -- like kissing.

    This revelation, given by Alex, sends Max back to the Manticore facilty to get the antidote, but upon arrival, she finds that the risk of exposure has caused the government to decide it was time to cut its losses, and to burn the facility to the ground -- with all the X's and Anomalies inside it.

    Max sets them all free, and then flees herself, after Madame X is killed, but not before Madame X tells Max that she is, indeed, the genetic specimen they had all been looking for, and that she should seek out Sandman.

    If all this seems a little bit less down-to-earth than most of the plots of season one, you'd be pretty accurate in your analysis.

    Starting with season two, the plots and the events involved do, indeed, begin to become far more SF oriented and less human-oriented than before. I think this actually detracts from the series, but not a great deal. The writing is still top notch, and the plots, while slightly more improbable, are still as good as SF gets. I say this, mind you, as a life-long SF fan. I just think the human-style stories had an almost perfect balance between the underlying SF element of the show and plain old good storytelling about people. I still rate the show as a 10, just a softer 10.moreless
  • The beginning of season 2 sees Max back at Manticore, and introduces new, much-needed characters.

    I gave this episode such a high score because immediately I saw a massive improvement in the writing from season one. I was SO disappointed with pretty much all of season one, I thought the characters were undeveloped and the storylines were pretty weak - so much more could have been done with them. It is obvious from the outset that JAlba has been given a much-needed makeover and now looks pretty badass to go with her character, a definite improvement. Also, the introduction of Alec provides the "pretty boy" (their words, not mine) aspect which is never a bad thing. Joshua, the first recurring transgenic character that isn't an X-5 is great and provides good comedic moments. So altogether, I really enjoyed the onset of new characters, hoping this would herald better storylines.

    This first episode sees the destruction of Manticore, thanks to Max, and her decision to release all of the transgenics kept there. This has repercussions later in the season but nevertheless provides a steady flow of new "bit-part" characters which are entertaining if nothing else. One of the things I enjoyed most about this episode was, as mentioned earlier, the improvement in the writing - this was really apparent in the dialogue. I LOVED the conversations between Max and Alec, they were both revealing yet funny, as well as executed perfectly by both actors. This continues throughout the season, which makes season two so good. Overall, this episode is an indication of the way the rest of the season plays out - great writing, much better acting and a great, twisting storyline. Enjoy!moreless
  • Enter the Sandman

    This was a cracking season premiere! Taking a lot of what made season 1 work, then building on it two-fold, only to completely destroy any bearings to last season in the final few minutes, is an extremely bold maneuver, one that definitely pays off (for now, at least). This is Dark Angel in overdrive: more action, snappier one-liners and a killer main storyline.

    We're introduced to a host of new characters and from the offset they instantly gel with the regulars, canine or otherwise. Alec, played by then unknown Supernatural tottie, Jensen Ackles, is inspired casting. After such a strong performance last season, he's back as an entirely different character and it completely works. Charming, sarcastic, macho and a bit of a 'dick,' there are so many shades of Winchester to him you'll expect Sam to pop up any second.

    We're also introduced to Asha (played by Ashley Scott) who doesn't stand out that much among all of the X5 action, for now just someone who Logan can bounce lines off. And then there's Joshua, one of my favourite things about season 2. Played terrifically by then unknown Kevin Durand (of Lost fame), who lends such an affable quality to Joshua you forget how ludicrous his character should be (and I can only imagine how backwards it could have gone had casting been different); he rounds out the cast. Max and Joshua click instantly as a comedic duo and there's genuine chemistry between Alba and Durand.

    Since this episode's aim is to wrap up any and all strands from the first season, the writers are allowed to pull out all the stops. Max is tortured and reprogrammed within the first few minutes of the episode. Lydecker wheels Logan directly into the hands of Manticore. Eyes Only reveals the location of Manticore and as a failsafe the 'committee' destroys the facility that made season 1 so iconic. Max has been infected with some kind of bio-weapon that prevents any physical contact with Logan (thank god for all of the new arm-candy on offer for Max and Logan, respectively). Oh and did I mention every single soldier from Manticore is now running about all willy-nilly in Seattle?

    This season certainly loses its way, and there's no denying the show fails to retain the tight plotting of last year, but it still works. 'Designate This' may mislead fans into thinking this year will be more military-heavy than ever, but after the next two episodes, the shows DNA effectively changes, for better and for worse.

    - Anyone spot Boomer (Grace Park)?

    - New Credit sequence. I love new credit sequences!

    - Alba looks amazing with long hair.

    - I can't say the same for Logan...

    With a trenchant script, quality acting and some fantastic choreography, Dark Angel's sophomore year (or should I say final?) starts off with a bang!moreless
  • max gets out

    the first episode of the second season was ok but not really what i was expecting, it seemed alittle darker than the first season was and it just seems different. logans hair has changed for the worst i think, i like his old hair, also max's hair is now strait and tho it looks ok i like it much better the other way. and it seems lydecker is still good, for the moment at least. also that new girl with logan, i dont like, they didnt explain her at all. so the start to the second season doesnt look all that promiseing for me, with luck it will get better.moreless
Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba

Max Guevara "X5-452"

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly

Logan Cale/Eyes Only

Richard Gunn

Richard Gunn

Calvin 'Sketchy' Theodore

Valarie Rae Miller

Valarie Rae Miller

Cynthia 'Original Cindy' McEachin (Season 1-2)

Martin Cummins

Martin Cummins

Ames White (Season 2)

J.C. MacKenzie

J.C. MacKenzie

Reagan 'Normal' Ronald

John Savage

John Savage

Colonel Donald Michael Lydecker

Guest Star

Robert Gossett

Robert Gossett

Col. Jim McGinnis

Guest Star

Yee Jee Tso

Yee Jee Tso

Lanky Messenger

Guest Star

Geneva Locke

Geneva Locke

Young Max

Recurring Role

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Dr. Elizabeth Renfro

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • TRIVIA: Mike Mitchell, the stunt coordinator for Dark Angel, plays the Manticore guard that shoots and kills Dr. Renfro in this episode.

    • Beginning with this episode, the episode title/name now appears before the guest credits after the title montage.

    • With this episode, the intro features a new voiceover at the very beginning of the titles, describing the show's scenario (and Max) as follows:

      They designed her to be the perfect soldier. A human weapon. Then she escaped. In a future, not far from now, in a broken world, she is haunted by her past... She cannot run.... She must fight... to discover -- her Destiny.

  • QUOTES (14)

    • Alec: Kinda makes you wonder what else is down here. I mean, seriously, did you get a look at that thing?
      Max: He's not a thing. His name is Joshua.
      Joshua: X7s in the forest. Pretty... pretty wack.
      Alec: Yeah, yeah, Sasquatch. Hey, why don't you make yourself useful, and, uh...quit mumbling and come over here and help us out with these bars?
      Joshua: Okay.
      (Joshua goes to the window and pulls the bar right off. He hands them to Alec and growls. Alec gulps.)

    • Alec: You're in no shape to be tanging with those X7s. If you're lucky, you'll make it to the yard and they'll take you alive.
      Max: Then help me.
      Alec: I told you. I'm not looking for trouble.
      Max: This is your chance to get me out of your life for good.
      Alec: I guess if you escape, I'll get a new breeding partner.
      Max: Now we're talking.

    • (Max climbs back through the hole in her cell and finds X5-494 sitting on her bunk)
      X5-494: Forgot we had a date?
      Max: So when did the stormtroopers bust in?
      X5-494: (Chuckling) Don't worry. I didn't set off the alarm. Not yet.

    • Renfro: You're nothing but meat to me.

    • X5-494: Well, let's get this over with, huh? (starts to take off shirt)
      Max: What are you doing?
      X5-494: We've been paired off. I'm your breeding partner.
      Max: My what?
      X5-494: We're suppose to copulate every night until you get pregnant.
      Max: That's sick.

    • Max: Max. My name is Max.

    • Max: I think I'm going to call you Alec.
      X5-494/Alec: Alec?
      Max: As in smart aleck.
      Alec: I can live with that.
      Max: Good, cause my second choice was Dick.

    • Alec: Yeah, I'd stop touching him if I were you. You're just gonna make it worse.
      Max: What the hell are you talking about?
      Alec: A genetically targeted retrovirus. You're the carrier. Any intimate contact between you activates the agent. Now, you didn't kiss him or anything, did you?

    • Lydecker: You all right?
      Logan: You shot me!
      Lydecker: I told you to duck.

    • X5-494: Fine. Don't "freak out" on me. (Max gives him a weird look) I took Common Verbal Usage when I got cleared for my solo missions.

    • X5-494: What the hell was that?!
      Max: The only kind of physical contact you and I are gonna have.

    • Original Cindy: Sector four? I ain't goin' all the way out there. It's raining.
      Normal: Is it raining, in Seattle? Stop the presses.

    • X5-494: Successful copulation between myself and X5-452, ma'am...twice.

    • Renfro: State your designation.
      Max: Kiss my transgenic ass!

  • NOTES (0)


    • Max: I think I'm going to call you Alec.
      X5494/Alec: Alec?
      Max: As in smart aleck.

      A person regarded as obnoxiously self-assertive. An impudent person.
      The phrase smart alec(k) arose from the exploits of one Alec Hoag. A celebrated pimp, thief, and confidence man operating out of New York City in the 1840's, Mr. Hoag operated a con by which prostitutes and their pimps robbed foolish customers.