[Female Protagonists on SciFi TV] Max Guevara (X5-452) in Dark Angel

One of the most kick ass heroines on science fiction TV is Max Guevara or X5-452 as the bar-code on her neck says.

Girls kick ass; says so on a t-shirt

Name: Max Guevara (X5-452)
Portrayed by: Jessica Alba, Geneva Locke, and Brittany Cuevas
TV Series: Dark Angel (2000-2003)
Original channel: FOX
Status: Ended after 2 seasons, 43 episodes

Max Guevara is the protagonist of the Dark Angel TV series. The two season show chronicles her life in a post apocalyptic Seattle where she tries to live a normal life, elude capture by government agents, while searching for her brothers and sisters. She escaped from a covert government research facility codenamed Manticore as a nine year old child and the government have been hunting her and her fellow escapees ever since. USA is a third world country since the Pulse that destroyed most electronics, run as a police state.

The first season begins in 2019, ten years after Max escape. Max work as a bike messenger during the day and as a cat burglar during the night. She has to deal with a crazy reactionary boss called Normal, getting expensive medicine for her shakes and evading a persistent government agent named Lydecker.

She meets and become involved with Logan Cale played by Michael Weaherly after burglarizing his place. The acrobatics she makes to reach his place is a highlight in the Pilot. He is the secret spokesperson against oppression and corruption in the post-Pulse world under the alias Eyes Only and he recruits Max to help him fight. They have a very romantic and tragic relationship as later in the series she become infected with a virus that will kill them him if they ever touch again.

Normal: Well, well, well. Someone who’s two hours late for work looks like they were a dirty little party girl last night. My God, girl, look at your eyes. Whaddaya been drinkin’, gasoline?

Max: I had to have radical emergency amateur brain surgery to remove a nanochip from my cerebellum before I stroked from a neurochemical overload.

Normal: This is all one great big joke to you, isn’t it?

Rising

An entertaining part of the show is Jam Pony, the company Max rides for with her friends Original Cindy (Valarie Rae Miller), Herbal Thought (Alimi Ballard), and Sketchy (Richard Gunn). Their boss is called Normal, because he isn’t (photo).

Max also search for her eleven brothers and sisters that escaped with her. Now and then they show up for a few episodes and then move on. the most recurring one is Zack played by William Gregory Lee, he is their group leader and her eldest brother. He makes every effort to keep them spread out and he shows up to protect Max or to ask her to help him protect another sibling.

The Manticore hunt for them is led by Colonel Donald Lydecker played by John Savage, who was their trainer at Manticore. He is replaced at the end of the season by the even more ruthless Elizabeth Renfro played by Nana Visitor.

Season two changes quite a bit after Max and Logan brought down Manticore and freed all the transgenics within. Max becomes a close friend of Joshua, a transgenic with canine DNA. He was the first transgenic created by Manticore’s founder Sandman. Dean, sorry Alec, a fellow X-5 also becomes a main character played by Jensen Ackles (Supernatural). It goes a bit wild this season with all kinds of different transgenics and in the end of the series they rebel against the government.

A major theme in season two is a millennia-old breeding cult that takes offence to the artificially created transgenics and starts to hunt them down. Sandman was a renegade from the cult that hid messages in Max genetic code. Season two ended before Sandman’s plan for Max is revealed.

Dark Angel Trailer


I collected and edited a bit more information about Max from wikipedia, enjoy:

Early life at Manticore

Max was genetically engineered but carried to term by a human woman. Max has a barcode on the back of her neck, with her identifying number sequence (332960073452). She is an X5 model and is thus referred to as X5-452. Max Guevara is the name that she gave to herself.

Max and her X5 brothers and sisters were raised and trained by Colonel Donald Michael Lydecker who also had a role in the components of their creation. He trained them to be soldiers using harsh and brutal techniques, described by Max later as torture. During their training, Max was the subject of at least one brutal medical experiment involving the re-healing of deliberately shattered limbs. Max also was required to take part in an exercise involving the hunting down and killing of a prisoner, her reaction to which haunts her later.

The brutality of the X5s’ lives eventually led to escape. In 2009, led by Zack (X5-599) and pursued by Manticore, twelve of the X5s escaped through a snow-filled forest. Max fell into a frozen pond, and having learned how to hold her breath underwater for long periods of time, managed to outwit the men looking for her. She was eventually found by Hannah, a sympathetic Manticore nurse who took Max to her house, a move which eventually allowed Max to escape to the world outside.

Max: I don’t want a used ride. I want my motorcycle.

Original Cindy: It’s just a machine.

Max: It’s an extension of my soul, if there is such a thing.

411 on the DL

2009-2019

Max eventually made her way to Casper, Wyoming, where she met Lucy Barrett, a little girl who helped Max stow away in her mother‘s SUV. Later, after arriving in Los Angeles, California, Lucy’s mother, Joann, agreed to let Max live with them. Max and Lucy endured much abuse from Lucy’s alcoholic father, Jack. On June 1, 2009, terrorists detonated an electromagnetic pulse weapon in the atmosphere over the U.S. which destroyed the vast majority of computer and communication systems. As a result, the United States became a place of chaos and anarchy. Over time this anarchy was replaced with a combination of martial law, corruption, and crime. On the same day, after defending herself from Jack, she ran away from the Barrett’s home. She eventually joined up with Moody and the Chinese Clan, a group of thieves taking refuge in the remains of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In 2019, Max left Los Angeles to search for one of her Manticore siblings in Seattle, Washington. While stopping in Eureka, California, Max met “Original Cindy” McEachin and the two of them traveled to Seattle together.

2019-2020 (TV series season 1)

By the year 2019, Max is living in Seattle, Washington. She works as a bicycle messenger for Jam Pony, giving her freedom to travel around the city, and resides as a squatter in an abandoned building, first with Kendra and later with Original Cindy. Other friends from work include Herbal Thought and Sketchy . Max also lives a secret life as a cat burglar, in order to fund the expensive search for her missing brothers and sisters.

It is during one of these attempts that she meets Logan Cale, the cyber-journalist “Eyes Only”. Cale allows her to escape from his apartment, however, since he is interested in learning more about her. Through the use of security footage he discovers who she is and invites Max to his apartment. It is there that he identifies her as one of the escaped X-5s. Max and Logan make a pact: he will help her find her missing siblings if she will help him solve mysteries. Logan also helps to protect Max from Lydecker, who is searching for her and the other escaped X-5s. Through their work together, Max and Logan eventually fall in love.

Their feelings for each other, however, become complicated when Max finds Zach, who is concerned with her loyalty to Logan as it may compromise her safety. Eventually, as more siblings are discovered, and after Manticore betrays the escaped X-5’s and murders one of them, Tinga, a plan is developed to attack Manticore, destroying its genetic engineering facility, one which eventually involves Lydecker who defects after he is betrayed and targeted for execution by Manticore’s director Dr. Elizabeth Renfro/Madame X . While the mission is successful, both Max and Zach are caught, with Max being critically injured (actually shot by a younger clone). Zach sacrifices himself to save Max.

With Max last seen having apparently fatal injuries, and now a secret prisoner of Manticore, she is assumed to be dead by Logan.

2020-2021 (TV series season 2)

At the start of season 2, Max is at Manticore, relocated to an hour south of Seattle. After receiving medical treatment for her injuries, Max is re-integrated with her fellow X5s and then required to take part in a breeding program, intended to replace Manticore’s destroyed genetics laboratory, and is paired with a clone of Ben, whom she promptly names, Alec, because he was a “smart alec”. Max also secretly befriends an early creation of Manticore, part-human, part-canine, named Joshua . He was the first (viable) Manticore creation, and is the only one without a barcode.

Max subsequently escapes, with Joshua and Alec’s help, only to find Alec’s help was a Manticore ploy, and that a genetically-specific retrovirus designed to kill Eyes Only has been encoded to her DNA. In revenge, she broadcasts the location of Manticore, and returns for the antigen and to free the transgenics, eventually leading to public knowledge of their existence.

Lydecker disappears, leaving mysterious clues to Manticore’s origins. Max’s problems are further compounded when her kind is suddenly being hunted, and exterminated by Ames White. He is both a government agent, and a member of a breeding cult which spans back centuries into humanity’s past. He particularly targets Max, who is revealed to have been created for a special purpose by White’s father, Sandeman, the designer of all the Manticore transgenics. At the same time, Max tries to help Joshua, the gentle transhuman whose physical appearance makes him a target on the outside, avoid the increasing risk of exposure as a transgenic, and not re-infect Logan with the deadly virus while hoping for a long-shot at a cure. Max and Alec, despite their differences and rocky start, often worked together to help save their fellow escapees. Eventually, all the transgenics (in Seattle), make a stand in a joint effort to fight against the vicious prejudice trying to destroy them, and for a place to call their own.

Characteristics and skills

Max and the other X-5 children were given extensive combat training while at Manticore, including martial arts, acrobatics, infiltration, marksmanship with many weapons, and computer technology. Max, while an exceptionally powerful and astute fighter, has a standing personal philosophy which she states several times throughout the series: “I don’t do guns”.

Max is unique among the X5s in that she possesses no junk DNA, every one of her gene sequences was coded by Sandeman, the original maker of the transgenics, for a purpose. Her unique DNA is somehow related to thwarting the Familiar breeding cult’s plans to become the dominant species. Max also possesses DNA harvested from Colonel Donald Lydecker’s dead wife, but is not a clone of her.

Feline DNA

While outwardly indistinguishable from any normal human (except for the bar code on her neck), Max possesses several physical and mental enhancements as a result of genetic engineering. This genetic makeup is often connected with images from classical mythology (first indicated by the name of her original home, Manticore, a creature in Greek mythology). It is further demonstrated through a conversation in the pilot episode:

MAX: “I know they made me. Even got the designer label on the back of my neck to prove it”.
LOGAN: “Technical term for you is Chimera'”.
MAX: “Yeah, made-up creature, like in mythology. Head of a lion, body of a goat. Your basic hodge-podge”.

Of her genetic make-up, she notes in Season One, Episode 2, Heat:

“Kendra was right. I am in heat, or something like that…all because they spiced up that genetic cocktail called me with a dash of feline DNA. So I can jump fifteen feet of razor wire and take out a 250-pound linebacker with my thumb and index finger, which makes me an awesome killing machine and a hoot at parties. But it also means that three times a year I’m climbing the walls, looking for some action”.

Max also displays her affinity for cats in the pilot episode of the series, when she meets Logan for the first time while attempting to steal a statue in his apartment. When Logan asks why she was interested in the statue, Max replies, “because it’s the Egyptian goddess Bast. The goddess who comprehends all goddesses, eye of Ra, protector, avenger, destroyer…giver of life who lives forever”.

As a result of her genetic makeup and training, Max has the following special abilities:

  • Enhanced strength, speed, agility, reflexes, durability, stamina and coordination
  • Accelerated healing
  • Enhanced eyesight, hearing, and night vision
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Eidetic memory
  • Very high I.Q.
  • Expert martial artist and sharpshooter.
  • Specialist in Close Quarters Battle, infiltration and tracking
  • Computer proficiency
  • Peak athletic condition

Design flaw

Max also has an a design flaw which can leave her virtually helpless: the inability of her brain to create enough serotonin. This condition leads to uncontrollable seizures and complete powerlessness. Of her condition, Max states, “I’m supposed to be a revved-up girl … truth is, I’m a lemon.” Max’s powers can be revived through external means: either through the food supplement, tryptophan, or by drinking a glass of milk. In season 2 this no longer became an issue as the government captured her and repaired the faulty genes (this was never expressly stated in the show but it was implied in season 1 that design flaws in the genetic codes of the transgens could be repaired and in the second season after being captured by manticore her serotonin levels were never an issue).

Max’s circle and influences

While her primary training as a child (both negative and positive) came from Zack and Lydecker, as an adult, Max was influenced by a number of other individuals, including Logan, Original Cindy, and Joshua. She also befriended Phil, The Street Sweeper, a deluded moral crusader who lends his exoskeleton to Logan so the paralyzed man could walk once more. She went out of her way to rescue gene therapy test subject, Jude Thatcher from being captured by Lydecker.

Max considers the other X5 children to be her only real family. Ben or X5-493 (twin of Alec/X5-494), her brother, becomes deranged after the escape and eventually Max must kill him. Max and Zack eventually find Brin or X5-734 (Nicole Bilderback), who has a fatal design flaw and realizes she has no choice but to return to Manticore. Max also encounters Jace (Shireen Crutchfield) who did not escape and resented Max for having done so. When Jace discovers she is pregnant, however, she defects from Manticore, informing Max that she’ll name her baby after her sister. Tinga/Penny or X5-656 (Lisa Ann Cabasa) is married to Charlie and has a highly gifted son, Case who is kidnapped by Lydecker and eventually trades herself in exchange for her son’s release. She (secretly tearfully) has to send her nephew away, knowing she may never see him again. Two other X5s are Krit or X5-471 (Joshua Alba) and Syl or X5-701(Nicki Lynn Aycox). Max has a genetic twin Sam (X5-453) who was in a different unit. Sam never escaped Manticore’s influence until Max brought it down, and bears resentment towards her twin sister.

Other posts on Female Protagonists on SciFi TV

  1. Olivia Dunham in Fringe
  2. Max Guevara (X5-452) in Dark Angel
  3. Erica Evans on V
  4. Molly Anne Caffrey on Threshold
  5. Wendy ‘Dub-Dub’ Watson on The Middleman
  6. Jane Vasco on Painkiller Jane
  7. Æon Flux on Æon Flux
  8. Dana Scully on The X-Files
  9. Myka Bering on Warehouse 13
  10. Dr. Helena Magnus on Sanctuary
  11. Sarah Walker on Chuck
  12. Echo on Dollhouse
  13. Amy Pond on Doctor Who
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  • Yes, I do remember this one. It was fun, especially season 1. Season 2 turned a bit to much to the cheesy for my taste, but it was still fun. :-)

  • Yes, I do remember this one. It was fun, especially season 1. Season 2 turned a bit to much to the cheesy for my taste, but it was still fun. :-)

  • Pingback: [Female Protagonists on SciFi TV] Olivia Dunham in Fringe » Cybermage()

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  • Danny

    Possibly the worst decision a network had ever made – to cancel Dark Angel.

    Even though I was very young when this was first aired, I watched it and ADORED it. Max Guevara remains to be my favourite female protagonist and I’m still hoping for a reunion between Jessica Alba and the producers of DA. It should totally come back – stronger and fiercer than ever.

  • Danny

    Possibly the worst decision a network had ever made – to cancel Dark Angel.

    Even though I was very young when this was first aired, I watched it and ADORED it. Max Guevara remains to be my favourite female protagonist and I’m still hoping for a reunion between Jessica Alba and the producers of DA. It should totally come back – stronger and fiercer than ever.

  • ove

    Hi Danny, I hear you man. If only …

  • ove

    Hi Danny, I hear you man. If only …

  • nessquick

    I’m so mad they cancelled this. I barley started watching the series on youtube, but kind of knew about it when it originally aired, (when I was was watching Buffy), but whey did they just end it like that. They should have at least finished it out with a season 3, just to give it a good ending.

  • Lady Victoria

    Season 1 was superior. After they brought down Manticore and killed Donald Lydecker, the series lost it’s focus and became cheesy with the cult stuff. I thought the transgenic anomolies ruined season 2. Best part of season 2 was Alec.