It was 2000 when the Dark Angel series began. I had seen television commercials promoting the show, emphasizing creator and director (of the pilot and series finale) James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator, Titanic, Avatar).
“A group of genetically-enhanced children escape from a lab project. Years later we meet Max, one of the escapees who now works for a messenger service in the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest.”
That was the premise. An electro magnetic pulse “nuke” goes off in 2009 in America completely turning all the 1s and 0s of electronic information (such as bank account information) to plain old 0s. America turned from financial powerhouse to poverty nation overnight. We meet Max, a genetically engineered child raised to be an expert soldier and assassin. Escaping the facility where she was being trained, Manticore, she and her brothers and sisters separate and blend in with the rest of the normal population. Skip forward to 2019 and we begin the story…
My Dark Angel items
The order of the items, in chronological order (of story)
Dark Angel – Before the Dawn (Novel) – (2002)
Dark Angel – Season 1 (TV) – (2000-2001)
Dark Angel – Season 2 (TV) – (2001-2002)
Dark Angel – Skin Game (Novel) – (2003)
Dark Angel – After the D (Novel) – (2003)
Dark Angel – Before the Dawn (Novel)
To be honest, I thought this novel was terrible. I absolutely hated many aspects of it. While much of the beginning was a complete recap of some of the earlier season 1 episodes, but in novel form, the other storylines that filled the timeline between Max’s escape and season 1 were really weak. The whole thing with Moody and the Chinese clan just seemed a bit unbelievable – simply because there’s no reference of ANY of it in season 1 or season 2 of the television series. Same with any mention of Seth. Now, I get it. That’s the point of the prequel…I just found it very unbelievable. Also the meetings with Original Cindy and Kendra seemed forced, Original Cindy’s voice wasn’t really captured well. Also, much of the story leads all the way until the last 20 pages or so, where Max and Seth finally meet. It seemed like such an incredibly long wait for the climax, which seemed anti-climatic in my opinion. I read 280~ pages, 40 or so(?) were probably recap. I didn’t think I could go on….
More on this novel later though…it wasn’t that bad when you combine it with the television series and novels.
Dark Angel – Season 1 (TV)
I found season 1 to be very interesting. The main villain was Colonel Lydecker and Manticore. The characters were established and Max slowly turns from selfish girl to savior. Season 1 focuses on covert government ops, escape and evade, it’s very stealthy. It’s more about the military, guns, crime, as well as Max’s X5 brothers and sisters.
Dark Angel – Season 2 (TV)
Season 2 was a bit different, I disliked the introduction of dog-boy Joshua as well as the story and villain of Ames White and his cult. The series went further into genetics, “transgenics”, religion, cults and stuff. Pretty much non-existent this season was crime, guns, Max’s X5 siblings. The best parts of the series were the various X series characters and Alec (Jensen Ackles). My two favorite episodes being “Brainiac” and “The Berrisford Agenda”. My least favorite being any Joshua focused episodes…though the Annie stuff was pretty touching and surprising.
Dark Angel – Skin Game (Novel)
Now, we finally get to the interesting part of the story. What I had been waiting for for 8 years (though to be fair, I could have read this 5 years ago if I knew they existed…). Now, it’s possible I found the prequel novel, Before the Dawn, incredible long because I really just wanted to get to this book. Anyways…it’s great: Alec, Mole, Logan, Original City, and Sketchy are back. Normal makes an especially heartfelt appearance. Newly introduced Clemente and Ames White return with a whole mess of other characters as well as resolving plot lines.
I’ll summarize the plot quickly:
This occurs right after Freak Nation (series finale). Max tries to hold off the National Guard/Army invasion of Terminal City while a serial killer loose in Seattle kills, and skins people. Eventually, we find out the serial killer, “Kelpy”, is a transgenic who has chameleon powers. He is released from his Manticore prison by Max in Season 2, episode 1 (Designate This) but because of his blending powers, you don’t see him, even though he is there. Sneaky. He falls in love with Max and tries to “wear skin” from the people he’s killed so that he can “become human” and prevent his uncontrollable camouflage powers. He eventually tries to kill and skin Logan so that Max, who loves Logan, will fall in love with him (Kelpy). In the climax, he touches Logan but apparently steals some of his DNA…so when Max kicks his ass, the virus that plagued the Max/Logan relationship in Season 2 kills him. Interesting twist on things. I didn’t expect it. By catching the serial killer and co-operating with the police, the transgenics of Terminal City prove that they are on the side of the law and the invasion of Terminal City is delayed. Also in the end, Eyes Only broadcasts that Kelpy was created/influenced by Ames White. This effectively puts Ames White on the run from the NSA as well as his Familiar cult brothers.
A lot happens…I couldn’t wait to read the 3rd book…
Dark Angel – After the Dark (Novel)
…which I started reading the day after I finished the second. The third is…different. 6~ months have passed since book 2. Terminal City is slowly becoming a normal part of society. The gang all celebrates the advent of Christmas (how ironic/coincidental that I read this novel given the time I read it…) and by accident, Logan and Max touch. The virus from Season 2 appears inert and it is explained that Kelpy had taken the host virus from Max and the “target” DNA from Logan (ehh!?!, I didn’t really buy this but whatever) which basically made the virus disappear. Basically, the virus becomes a non-issue. It is then that Logan decides to tell Max about Seth (from book 1, which I should mention, is foreshadowed in the first novel). There’s some distrust and they have a fight instead of, you know, have sex. Immediately after the fight where Logan and Max part ways for a bit, Logan gets kidnapped by Ames White who tries to leverage Logan to get back in good graces with his cult group, the Familiars. Max, after the fight with Logan, visits Jam Pony to cool off and talks to Original Cindy who smacks some sense into her that Logan loves her. By the way, Normal makes an appearance here and I have to say, the Normal character development between the 2 books are my favorite moments in the novels. I really loved what the writer did with Normal and how he was written. Kudos on that. Anyways, back to the story. Logan gets kidnapped by Ames White, the ransom is Ray White, Ames’ son. In a slightly disturbing move, Ray get killed along the way which means there’s no leverage for Max. In the end, Max and company kick Ames White and company’s ass. Terminal City Transgenics >> Ames White’s cult. Joshua does the final deed of ripping Ames White’s head off, something well deserved since Season 2. Max and Logan make up and it’s implied that the last thing they do…is have sex. How nice.
All 3 novels combined
Now, going back to novel 1: Before the Dawn. Like I said, I hated it when I read it but by the third novel, I had appreciated the story. Also, the story in novel 2: Skin Game, also played a part in the final novel. I again gotta say, I love it when the plot lines connect and the stories combine to a coherent, solid story. Which is exactly what happened in all 3 novels. There was some open ended questions in the third novel but nothing that you really needed to know (the open ended plot is that Lydecker was still alive and knew where Max’s mom was). The premise for another novel but not really necessary to the story…it’s brand new so for me, it’s whatever.
The novels, eventually, portrayed the story and conclusion that I longed to understand and read. It was definitely worth reading all of the novels to see the completed storyline. While reading wiki’s and this post might provide you with a summary of the story, the fun part is the journey. So if you’re a fan, I recommend reading everything. It’s always great to see how characters you’ve grown to love have matured and changed over time as well as finding out their (sometimes final) fate. Closure. It’s all about closure.
Side notes/facts I learned:
3 Battlestar Galactica actors/actresses make appearances in this series:
Grace Park (DA: “Female Breeding X5″ – BSG: Lt. Sharon Valerii – Boomer)
Nicki Clyne (DA: X6 / Fixit – BSG: Cally Tyrol)
Rick Worthy (DA: Lieutenant Clemente – BSG: Simon)
In “The Berrisford Agenda”, it’s actually Jensen Ackles playing piano. He said that he studied very hard for 2 weeks to play that and he can’t remember any of it. I always found that awesome and ridiculously crazy because it is played VERY well…and he just learned it for a couple of minutes in one episode. That’s some crazy actor determination. I really liked the character Alec and it was great to see the serious side of him in this episode. It’s always great to see the skilled part of his X5ness and not the “I get my ass kicked cuz I’m a fool” part.