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Alec Dark Angel

Jensen Ackles as Alec

Alec McDowell (X5-494) is a fictional television character portrayed by Jensen Ackles in the 2000–2002 cyberpunk television series Dark Angel, created by James Cameron.

Alec was named for his "smart alec" attitude[1]. He's a transgenic, though he prefers genetically empowered ("Freak Nation"), and is an X5, like Max (there are several X series, going up to X8). He was bred, trained, and raised by Manticore, a facility that used experimental genetic technology to produce various classes of enhanced beings for warfare. Born to a surrogate mother, Alec was around 20 years old when he first appeared on Dark Angel. Unlike his genetically identical twin, Ben (a.k.a. X5-493), he was never considered to be Max Guevara's "brother," since Ben and Max were not genetic siblings. Alec was from a separate unit, and never met her until he was assigned as her breeding partner in the season 2 premiere [2].

Just before "The Pulse" (an electro-magnetic pulse bomb set off over the United States), Max and a number of her unit escaped from Manticore in 2009. X5-494, however, was not one of the '09 escapees and did not achieve his freedom until more than 10 years later when Max instigated the destruction of Manticore and freed the transgenics[3]. Alec was already outside of the compound then, assigned to corral Max back to Manticore and to facilitate the capture and/or death of Eyes Only[4].

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 [5]) after he gets caught, is forced to kill, and then nearly killed [6], 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[7]. 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[8].

Wired for survival, he's initially looking out only for himself[9], 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[10]. By the end of the series, he and Max work together to build up the new community for Manticore escapees dubbed Terminal City (a.k.a. Transgenic City, or more commonly: T.C.), a place where they could live and defend themselves from the hostile "ordinaries" (normal humans), as well as the government, and makes a stand with Max and the other transgenics[11].

Powers & abilitiesEdit

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[12], including the abilitity to jump extremely high.
  • Accelerated healing with stem cells and metabolism, which makes it very difficult to become drunk[13].
  • Enhanced eyesight, which allows him to see perfectly in the dark and selectively zoom in on objects from great distances, and hearing.
  • Enhanced immune system--all transgenics were made immune to all common bio-warfare agents[14].
  • Eidetic memory.
  • Genius level IQ[15].

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[16]. All X5s are O-negative blood-typed and are universal donors but can only receive from another X5[17].

Their metabolisms are extremely high, thus making them almost completely insusceptible to alcohol and possibly poisons[18][19].

X5s are very dexterous and have extraordinary agility and coordination and advanced lung capacity, allowing them to perform complicated acrobatic and gymnastic maneuvers that would be very difficult for a human, with ease.

In addition to his superior physique, Alec possesses a genius level I.Q. and problem-solving skills. He is very gifted at assessing people and situations, which makes him highly adaptive to change and able to learn and mimic with extreme speed and accuracy.

SkillsEdit

X5s, meant to be the (transgenic) officers, were exceptionally well trained and suited for military combat, strategy, and espionage (including various weapons and martial arts).

Like all X5s, Alec endured brutal physical and mental training and rigid discipline (brainwashing) from childhood till the time of his escape, and his training combined with his enhanced physique makes him nearly unstoppable when facing normal humans, though he is by no means invincible. Trained as a Manticore supersoldier/assassin, some assumptions are that: he is highly skilled in CQB, recon, infiltration, tracking, observation, escape and evasion, espionage, computers, explosives, and handling vehicles (including various military planes and helicopters), has achieved fluency in many languages, and has a black belt in various martial arts such as Krav Maga,Taekwondo,and Judo.

X5s, as children, were trained to hold their breath for four minutes and can hold their breath for much longer as adults.

Alec (pre-series, as X5-494) became a concert-level pianist in less than a day in preparation for the Berrisford mission [20].

Relevant HistoryEdit

  • Twin Brother Ben

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 [21]Pollo Loco"). 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 [22].

X5-493's escape resulted in PSY-OPS time for Alec, as did his eventual psychosis at a later date[23].

Alec[24] 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 [25] 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 [26][27].

  • Love

In the episode "The Berrisford Agenda", we see 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[28].

  • 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 was willing to back 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. (Max's second choice for 494's name was "Dick".) 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.

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). However, the show was canceled, leaving the Max/Alec relationship only a possibility.

  • The novels

Alec's adventures with Max continue after the end of the Dark Angel series in the Max Allan Collins novels Skin Game and After the Dark. There are also details of his years at Manticore in The Eyes Only Dossier by D.A. Stern.

Detailed (fan created) information about X5-494 can be found at the website Genetically Empowered [1].


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