Max is a genetically-enhanced human prototype hunted by her former military handlers through the edgy, underground street life version of 21st century America. Max is aided in her quest - both to avoid capture and reunite with her "siblings" scattered in the aftermath of their escape - by Logan Cale
X5-494, or "Alec", was an X5 created by the covert government program known as Manticore, and trained to be an assassin and a soldier. He escaped from Manticore in the year 2020 when the facility was destroyed in an attempt to cover up the program's existence.
Not long before "The Pulse" (an electro-magnetic pulse bomb set off over the United States), Max/X5-452 and a number of her unit escape from Manticore in 2009. X5-494 was not one of the '09 escapees as he was not in their unit, although his identical twin brother Ben/X5-493 was. Manticore tightened its grip on the remaining X5s, with the twins of the escapees being subjected to the harshest discipline for fear of them following in their brothers and sisters' footsteps. 494 did not achieve his freedom until more than 10 years later, when Max instigated the destruction of Manticore and freed the transgenics. 494 did not have a name, so Max named him Alec for "Smart Alec". Alec was already outside of the compound when Manticore was brought down, assigned to corral Max back to Manticore and to facilitate the capture and/or death of Eyes Only. Observing the facility in flames and human soldiers attempting to kill his fellow transgenics as they were escaping, he made a hasty retreat.
Once free, he engages in various methods, generally illegal, to gain quick cash; one of the first was cage fighting. He wasn't planning on doing this long, but ceased altogether (excepting mental coercion) after he gets caught, is forced to kill, and then nearly killed, by Ames White, the deadly agent assigned to hunt down and destroy all escaped transgenics. Alec then emulates Max by working at Jam Pony (a bike messenger service) in order to secure a Sector Pass and scout potential places to steal from. He also runs various scams and had shady business dealings around the city. However, he does limit himself to products that won't get his clientele killed, limiting his customer base.
Wired for survival, he's initially looking out only for himself, but, through Max's influence and his own repressed conscience, he changes enough that he willingly and often risks himself for friends and transgenics in distress. By the end of the series, he and Max work together to build up the new community for Manticore escapees dubbed Terminal City, a place where they could live and defend themselves from the hostile "ordinaries", as well as the government, and makes a stand with Max and the other transgenics.
Powers and Abilities:
As is standard with X5s (and partially shared with the other transgenics), he has many superior physical traits, including:
* Enhanced: strength, speed, agility, reflexes, durability, stamina and coordination.
* Accelerated healing and metabolism (this makes it very difficult to become drunk).
* Enhanced senses: eyesight (can zoom in and focus on objects from great distances) and hearing.
* Enhanced immune system (all transgenics were made immune to all common bio-warfare agents).
* Eidetic memory.
* Very high I.Q.
Although he appears to be an ordinary human (except for the bar code on the back of his neck that's genetically encoded into his DNA), he possesses extraordinary physical strength, able to overpower a man three times his weight, his reflexes are superhumanly fast, and his eyesight and sense of hearing and smell are extremely acute, which, along with his training, would make it very hard for someone or something to catch him by surprise.
He can leap great distances vertically, allowing him to jump over a barbed fence, and is capable of sprinting at extreme speeds allowing him to blur, making it very difficult for anyone to catch him on foot, except another transgenic.
X5s have enhanced night vision, to the point where they can see well in very little light, and telescopic vision, allowing them to selectively zoom in, and view objects from a distance.
All transgenics have a high number of stem cells in their blood allowing for them to have extremely high regeneration rates. However, if an X5's organ becomes extremely damaged, such as a bullet to the heart, it has to be replaced, and can only be replaced with an X5 or bio-mechanical substitute. All X5s are O-negative blood-typed and are
universal donors but can only receive from another X5.
Their metabolisms are extremely high, thus making them almost completely insusceptible to alcohol and possibly poisons. Their higher body temperature means that a scanning device invented by Ames White's government agency can single them out in a crowd.
Alec (pre-series, as X5-494) became a concert-level pianist in less than a day in preparation for the Berrisford mission.
494's identical twin/genetic clone, X5-493, Ben, was one of the children in Max's Unit who escaped in 2009. Ben, however, didn't adapt to the outside world, remained lost and confused, and became a serial killer that Max had to stop and kill. Max having to kill Ben was a major reason for Max's antagonism towards Alec, since he served as a constant reminder of what she had been forced to do.
X5-493's escape resulted in PSY-OPS time for Alec, as did his eventual psychosis at a later date. Fortunately, Manticore concluded after a period of observation that 494 was sane and therefore Ben's psychosis was not genetic.
Alec gets arrested for Ben's murder of a man named Timothy Ryan, for which the police have an eye witness and DNA evidence. Ben also killed at least ten other people.
* The '09ers' Escape *
This caused a lot of trouble for all of the X5s, after the escape, Manticore attempted to "simplify" those remaining since they were thought to be designed with too much independence, sending them through extreme re-indoctrination. The twins of the escapees were assumed to have the same psychological make-up, and so got the worst treatment, including six months in PSY-OPS.
* Love *
In flashbacks to 494's first long-term away mission in 2018 when he was ordered to observe, then assassinate, Robert Berrisford, a Manticore subcontractor who was becoming too curious about the supersoldier program. However, while using the alias of the young piano teacher Simon Lehane (whom 494 killed in order to take his identity), 494 fell in love with Berrisford's seventeen-year-old daughter, Rachel. Rachel would have been killed in the car bomb he was supposed to set off, and at the last minute, 494 attempted to stop the execution. Unfortunately, his Manticore handlers were suspicious of 494 and triggered the bomb. Robert Berrisford survived, but Rachel ended up in a coma that lasted for two years. 494 was brutally punished by Manticore for his disobedience. However, he was allowed to live (Manticore having done all they could to make him forget, or not care, about the Berrisford mission) and ultimately resumed his role as a soldier. After the fall of Manticore in 2020, Alec did get the opportunity to say good-bye to Rachel at her bedside before she ultimately died. It was in this episode that Max realized Alec was capable of love and was far more than a killing machine for Manticore.
* His name *
494 was given the name "Alec" by Max when she first met him while imprisoned at Manticore. He was supposed to be her "designated breeding partner", but when Max refused his ordered advances, 494 backed off, albeit with a very snarky attitude. After that, Max dubbed him "Alec" — as in "smart aleck" — due to his egotistical cockiness, and a wary love/hate relationship between the two ensued. 494 liked the name "Alec" and kept it. The last name "McDowell" was given to the character by one of Dark Angel's writers, whose favorite actor was Malcolm McDowell. However, the name was never actually revealed on the show; the scene in which it was once shown on a file folder was edited out. Writer Moira Dekker states in the commentary for "Designate This" that he was originally conceived of as a character like Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell in the film version of "A Clockwork Orange"), but turned out nothing like him.
* Joshua *
Alec grew a friendship with Joshua, the transgenic termed "Dog Boy" by the tabloids. Mid-way Season 2, Alec began hanging around Joshua's new-found home (before he was forced to to stay under the radar due to his arresting in the episode "Hello, Goodbye") and started using Joshua to get money. Joshua would paint things and Alec began selling them to an art dealer, giving Joshua half of the money. Soon enough Alec grew a liking to Joshua and started hanging with him regularly, and Max, Alec, and Joshua became "Little Fella", "Medium Fella", and "Big Fella". In the commentary on the episode "Hello, Goodbye" the producers suggested that they would make a spin-off series called "A Dog and His Boy". Most fans think they were joking around, but many think it would've been a great way to continue the show. Eventually Joshua and Alec become best friends and spend much time together, but Alec still managed to get Joshua to do much of his dirty work.
Many fans thought that if Dark Angel had continued for a third season, there would have been a romance between Alec and Max, and there was actually a story treatment by the show's writers to that effect (one of several). The creators have confirmed that Alec was indeed brought into Season 2 as a potential love interest for Max and rival to Logan; however, the way that season two developed, they had more of a love-hate sibling relationship. Then the show was canceled.
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