“Painkiller Jane” Recaps: Episode 1.1 “Pilot”

Meet Jane Vasco (Kristanna Loken). She’s a renegade DEA agent whose gritty little life is about to change. She’s also going to be one of the few ass-whipping chicks you can watch on TV for the next few months, so sit back and soak her up. For the record, this is a little show called Painkiller Jane.

Yes, I know that AfterEllen.com doesn’t usually soil its dainty electronic hands with shows that aren’t gay, but this one stars out actress Kristanna Loken, who is really tall, and really hot. And aren’t those reasons enough?

Enough with the rationalizations, let’s get back to Painkiller Jane. I know I’m getting quality schlock when I’m treated to a heavy-handed ’40s noir-style voiceover. But the good part is that it’s Kristanna Loken who is doing the talking, with her arch delivery and trademark raspy growl. (Is it just me, or does she sound a little like Sharon Gless in her Cagney and Lacey days?)

The scene: A young, innocent-looking Jane is being chased by a group of bullies.

Vasco V.O.: When I was little, my dad called me his Painkiller Jane. Whenever I got hurt, I made the pain go away. Only I didn’t just bury it or push it aside; I pretty much murdered it.

Jane picks up a machine gun and opens fire on the group of marauding boys. But before we have the chance to think "Painkiller Jane was a psychopath in her youth!" it turns out it was just a fantasy. Funny, her fantasy looks a lot like mine when I was that age. Kids!

Cut to little Jane staring up at a big anonymous corporate building.

Vasco V.O.: Afterwards, I’d go to a peaceful place in my mind. I called it The Emerald City — partly because it was green, mostly because I could only dream about what magic must be inside.

Um, how many kids — besides maybe Alex P. Keaton — soothe themselves with fantasies about high-rise office buildings?

Vasco V.O.: It was my way of controlling a world that was out of control. Control can be a dangerous illusion. There are some things you have absolutely no control over. Gravity being one of the big ones.

We cut to a body being tossed out of the Emerald City high-rise. Hopefully it’s a flying monkey, or someone’s about to be roadkill.

Alas, it’s Jane’s body. She’s wiggling frantically as she plummets hundreds of feet to the ground.

Vasco V.O.: If you thought I was having a bad day then, four days earlier was even worse. Confused? So was I.

Running with the shadows of the night — Cut to Jane and her sassy sidekick clomping through a darkened city street in tight dresses and chunky heels.

Vasco V.O.: A new designer drug had started circulating through the clubs. Maureen and I were hoping to score it. Maureen’s my partner. As DEA agents, we’d been working this case for three weeks. If we’d done it my way, we would have made this bust two weeks ago. Only we didn’t do it my way.

Maureen looks like "Heartbreaker"-era Pat Benatar, and she and Jane look like they’re on a date and headed for ’80s night at the local girl bar. D-yikes!

Vasco V.O.: And one more day in her borrowed heels, and I’d be limping permanently.

They enter a sleazy (and ostensibly straight) nightclub, and Maureen snaps at Jane, "Play by the rules." Jane tosses her blond mane contemptuously. I’m sensing a certain "dynamic" between these two.

The agents stroll through the club full of writhing bodies, and I’m getting the distinct vibe that this could easily go all Blade at any point. In fact, I’m sort of hoping it does. Traci Lords as a porny vampire and vats of blood spurting through a sprinkler system onto a rave dance floor? Come on!

But alas, there are no vampires in this sleazy club. Just some suspected drug dealers, whose rap sheets automatically pop up on the screen as if Loken is still using the computer program in her head from her Terminatrix days.

The perps in question make a drug deal, and Jane hitches up her skirt and draws a gun from a tiny holster conveniently strapped to her shapely thigh. "You wanted to play by the rules," she tells Maureen. "Well, it looks like they’ve just been broken."

Loken chases several perps through some winding hallways until she corners them in a back room. "DEA, freeze!" she commands them. "Hands up!" Somehow the three-against-one problem doesn’t quite feel mitigated by the fact that she’s the only one with a gun.

But there’s something fishy going on. The perps seem to be having a little battle of their own. And when they turn around to face her, two of them have shape-shifted to look like the other guy. Suddenly it’s Loken versus the Del Rubio Triplets, and she wants to know what the hell is going on.

One of them pipes up: "Listen to me. My name is Andre McBride. I’m a government agent. We’re on the same team."

Jane: I’m sure!
Andre McBride No. 2: I don’t think you’re sure of anything right now.
Andre McBride No. 1: The man beside me is producing an hallucination right now. You can’t trust what you see.
Andre McBride No. 3: Are you sure you can believe what you’re hearing, much less what you’re seeing?
Andre McBride No. 1: He’s a genetic aberration!
Jane: We all have our problems …
Andre McBride No. 1: Right now, this is your problem. He’s trying to gain time, to confuse you.
Jane: He’s doing a damn good job.
Andre McBride No. 1: The man beside me is going to kill you.
Andre McBride No. 2: He’s lying.

Crafty Jane sees that though he is standing still, the shadow of Andre No. 3 is moving, drawing a gun from behind his back and aiming it at her. She shoots and kills him, and some ectoplasmy sounds and visual effects reveal his true appearance as he hits the ground. Then Andre No. 2 loses his "mask" and draws a gun on her, but Jane wastes him too. Andre No. 1 looks incredibly relieved.

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