Alec McDowell
Biographical Information
Real Name: Alec McDowell
Designation: X5-494, 331845739494
Species: X5


Occupation: Jam Pony
Boxer (former)
Manticore Soldier (former)
Status: Alive
Age: 21

Ben (twin)

Interests: Max Guevara (Flirtation)
Rachel Berrisford (First Love)
Marina and Little Suki (Simultaneous Exes)
Asha Barlow (Brief Flirtation)
Character Information
Gender: Male
Hair color: Dirty Blond
Eye color: Green
Height: 6'1
Production Details
First appearance: Designate This
Portrayed by: Jensen Ackles
We're living on borrowed time. And if you don't put your heart out there on the line, you're never really living at all.
Alec to Asha

X5-494, or "Alec", was an X5 created by the covert government program known as Manticore as an identical twin of X5-493, or "Ben", and trained to be an assassin and a soldier. He was one of the 10 beta soldiers manufactured to use flirting as their weapon. 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 escaped 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.

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Alec at Jam Pony

Once free, he engaged 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 emulated 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 ran various scams and had shady business dealings around the city. However, he did 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.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.

Powers and 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.
  • 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.
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Alec's bar code

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.

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.


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.

Relevant HistoryEdit

  • Twin Brother Ben
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Alec's 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 (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.

X5-493's escape resulted in PSY-OPS time for Alec and his eventual psychosis earned Alec another 6 months in PSY-OPS. Fortunately, Manticore concluded that 494 was sane and therefore Ben's psychosis was not genetic. It's understandable why Alec harbors resentment towards Ben, although that resentment is mostly resolved through Max' confession regarding Ben's death.

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

494 posing as Simon Lehane.

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. It is revealed in the DVD commentary by Co-Producer/Writer Moira Kirkland Dekker and Producer Janace Tashijan that the kiss Alec shares with Rachel in the pool, was his first kiss.

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
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First meeting of Alec and Max

It is possible that X5-494 was given a name by his unit names during training, like Lane, Keema, Devon and Jewel, but this is unknown. 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. 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.

  • Relationship with Max

Alec (then known as 494) met Max while she was imprisoned at Manticore. He was assigned as her "Designated Breeding Partner" and sent to her cell one night to carry out his orders. Max was initially startled by his appearance, thinking he was Ben back from the dead, however he quickly cleared up that confusion by stating his designation (494, not 493.) 494 started to undress himself, prompting Max to question his intentions. After he identified himself as her breeding partner and repeated their orders, “We’re supposed to copulate every night until you get pregnant.” he proceeded to tell her to get naked. Max was understandably horrified by the orders and kicked him across the cell, stating, “[That’s] the only kind of physical contact you and I are gonna have.” Unlike some of the other Manticore soldiers assigned to the Breeding Program, Alec didn't force Max to follow through on their orders. He also didn't immediately give away her attempts to escape. Max named 494 "Alec" at the culmination of their first meeting.

Max and Alec - S2E8- Gill Girl

S2E8: Gill Girl

Shortly after they met the two broke out of Manticore, Max to save Logan, and Alec under orders to ensure Max kill Eyes-Only with the genetically targeted virus she was unknowingly infected with and then return her to Manticore.

After Manticore was destroyed Alec crossed paths with Max and reluctantly helped her and a group of young transgenics. Alec seemed to genuinely like Max, even in the beginning, though he contemplated killing her in order to save his own life after Ames White implanted a bomb on his brain stem and would only disable it if Alec brought proof that he killed three transgenics. He ultimately couldn't bring himself to kill her and Max sacrificed the money she intended to use to find a cure for the virus, to get the bomb removed, saving his life. Alec was genuinely grateful, though Max initially blamed him for her failed relationship with Logan telling him she’ll never forgive him.

After running into Max and quarreling over a failed heist, Alec followed Max’ lead and took a job at Jam Pony, after which, he and Max settled into a complicated partnership. In the DVD commentary for Hello, Goodbye, Director Jeff Woolnough and writer/story editor Jose Molina express how fun it was to create Max and Alec scenes: “I always like writing Alec with Max just because he is like an older brother who just lives for making his little sister miserable. And every chance he gets to crack a joke, especially at her expense or even better at Logan’s he’s gonna take it. And it’s just because he loves her like a little sister but the way he show it is by being a jerk.”

Their love-hate friction shifted slightly when Max learned more about Alec's past. Max realized that he is capable of love in the episode The Berrisford Agenda, in which the tragic story of Alec’s first love, Rachel Berrisford, is revealed. Max began to accept that she and Alec weren't all that different and although Alec was unable to express his feelings surrounding the tragedy even after Max intervened at the Berrisford residence and saved him, it's clear that they bonded. But Max never had romantic feelings for Alec.

In the DVD commentary for Hello Goodbye, Director Jeff Woolnough and Writer Jose Molina explain that Alec and Asha didn't hook up in Borrowed Time in order to strengthen the Logan-Max-Alec triangle and keep Alec open to do story lines with Max. Also, it had been remarked by the writers of the show that if the show would not have been cancelled so early, then they would have played with Asha's and Alec's relationship.

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Joshua and Alec

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.

The Creation of Alec Edit

The writers and producers (Co-Executive Producer Kenneth Biller, Executive Producer/Writer René Echevarria, Co-Producer/Writer Moira Kirkland Dekker and Director Jeff Woolnough) wanted to add a male X5 to the cast since Season One. They liked the idea of having someone who contrasted with Max in that he grew up at Manticore and was amoral, fun and initially not so much interested in saving the world (a lot like Max in Season One.) This character, Alec/X5-494, was also created as a love interest for Max.

The writers and producers were really happy with Jensen Ackles and his portrayal of Ben, in fact they thought Pollo Loco was one of the best episodes they did in Season One. Since the show takes place in the future and there's cloning and everything, they decided to hire Jensen and say he was Ben's twin.

Trivia Edit

  • No one had seen Jensen do anything but very, very heavy drama and yet they didn't ask him to audition, nor did he ask for a rundown of the character. They had absolutely no idea whether he could do comedy or what his timing would be like. They all just agreed that they'd love to work together. When the dailies for the mating partners scene came out, which was the first scene he shot as Alec, everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. The chemistry was immediately apparent and working. Jessica had been unsure about some of the cast changes so it helped that she had liked working with Jensen in the first season.
  • The fight between Max and Alec at Logan's apartment in Designate This, took roughly 10 hours to shoot, over two days. The script was unhelpful since it just had two words for those 10 hours: “They fight.” The Jensen Ackles-Jessica Alba throwdowns were always great, so it was worth it. Jensen and Jessica were both pretty handy and could do a lot of their own fighting.
  • Michael Weatherly has stated that his portrayal of Tony on NCIS is heavily influenced by Jensen Ackles' portrayal of Alec, going so far as to Tweet: “There is no #DiNozzo w/o jensenackles AlecX-494. GREAT job on that show- the lesson was in how to have fun! Kills it on @cw_supernatural”


Season Two Appearances
Designate This Bag 'Em Proof of Purchase Radar Love Boo Two Some Assembly Required Gill Girl Medium is the Message Brainiac The Berrisford Agenda
Borrowed Time Harbor Lights Love in Vein Fuhgeddaboudit Exposure Hello, Goodbye Dawg Day Afternoon She Ain't Heavy Love Among the Runes Freak Nation

Gallery Edit

→ see also Alec McDowell/Gallery

See AlsoEdit

  Season Two Characters edit

Alec McDowellAsha BarlowLogan CaleMax GuevaraJoshuaOriginal CindyNormalSketchyAmes White


Annie FisherDonald LydeckerDr. Beverly ShankarMoleElizabeth RenfroMatt SungZack

See Also: Season One Characters