Episode Review of Dark Angel Season 2: "Some Assembly Required"

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Episode Information

Title: "Some Assembly Required"
Writer: Robert Doherty
Director: Nick Marck
Rating (out of 4 stars): *** 1/2
Reviewed on: February 8, 2008

Synopsis from TV.com


Max finds out Zack is still alive, but their reunion turns tragic.

At the beginning of the episode, we see some Steelheads robbing a store. The Steelheads are a gang that traffics in body parts and bionic implants; they have metal implants in themselves for both decorative and functional uses. Alec had an encounter with them in the previous episode ("Two"). Logan gets a copy of the store's surveillance video and shows it to Max. The newest Steelhead is Zack: he has part of his face and one eye replaced with a metal implant, and an exoskeleton helping at least one limb.

Max immediately begins searching for Zack. She uses Alec's limited knowledge of the Steelheads to track them down and pick a fight. Zack arrives to help his fellow Steelheads - when Max calls to him, he does not recognize her right away. We see him searching his memories and putting a few bits together and then realizing who she is: X-452, a member of his unit. He seems very hesitant and unsure, but Max gets him to go with her.

Max and Logan take Zack to Logan's doctor friend, who apparently has full knowledge of Logan's and Max's medical histories, including Manticore. The doctor discovers that most of Zack's internal organs are biosynthetic implants, which makes sense since Renfro in "Designate This" said his organs had been harvested. His new organs are better than the real thing! The doctor also says that most of Zack's memories are intact, but the part of the brain that connects all the associated memory parts has been replaced by an implant. As Zack gradually puts together these associations, he should regain most of his memory.

All of this sounds nearly too good to be true, and the other shoe will drop eventually. For now, Max takes Zack back to her apartment (Original Cindy has left temporarily). Zack begins sorting through more memories that Max has jogged, which is traumatizing for him. He comes to two realizations: he loves Max, and he failed her. He is very upset and pledges never to let anything happen to her again.

Zack's realization of his love for Max is sad, but understandable. He has seen bits of their past together, and we see how his feelings toward Max come through, but he doesn't recall the fact that Max did not return his feelings in that way. Max sees the problem, but doesn't want to reject Zack when he's so fragile.

Overnight, Zack's "skin" grows over most of his implant and he has an "eye" generated by an LCD screen. The doctor says Zack has small nanomachines in his blood that are repairing him - apparently the "treatment" the Steelheads had been giving him was removing the nanomachines so that he'd keep his more robotic form, which was pleasing to them. Speaking of the Steelheads, their leader is upset to have lost his newest soldier, whom he bought from an unknown source, and sends his minions to Crash to find Max.

Max and Zack visit Logan, who is eager to get information on the Steelheads from Zack for Eyes Only. At this point, we get our first glimpse at the second problem with Zack: while at Manticore, he was seriously conditioned against Logan as Eyes Only. Zack remembers that Logan helped them (at the end of the first season), but his perception of that event has been colored by his conditioning - he thinks that Logan betrayed them. Max tries to convince him otherwise, but we'll see later that she wasn't successful.

Max, Zack, Original Cindy, Alec, and Sketchy go to hang out at Crash. Some of the conversation here is very interesting and sharp, since everyone but Sketchy knows the truth about Manticore. Alec tries to warn Max that Zack is hot for her and it will be trouble. While Max is getting beer, she is drugged and captured by the Steelhead minions, who take her back to their lair. They are limited in brain capacity and didn't realize Zack was there, too.

The Steelhead leader is fully aware that Max (and Alec) are from Manticore. He's debating what to do with her (besides getting Zack back) when Zack bursts in to rescue her. He makes short work of the Steelheads. As he begins to un-handcuff Max, he makes a move on her, and she rebuffs him. He is crushed, since his memories led him to believe they were together. Max tries to explain, but Zack starts to remember seeing her with Logan and realizes that she loves Logan. He still is conditioned against Logan, so he rushes off to kill him.

Max manages to free herself, and the first thing she wisely does is warn Logan to flee. Logan manages to make it to the basement parking garage of his building before Zack catches up to him with a gun. Logan does a good job of ducking and running in his exoskeleton, but he would have been toast in short order if Max hadn't arrived. Max tries to stop Zack, but their fighting is roughly equal. Max finally gets an opportunity to seriously shock Zack, which overloads his electronics.

Max and Logan return Zack to the doctor. He says that Zack will live, but his memories have been reset: he's basically in the same state as he was in the beginning of the episode. So he's still got the conditioning against Logan. Max and Logan debate the possibilities: possibly they could try to help Zack re-connect his memories in a better way, but there's a good chance that virtually the same situation would result. Max is heartbroken, but she can't take the chance that Zack might kill Logan. She decides to leave Zack alone: he is given a new "life". At the end of the episode, he wakes up in a hospital, and his "friend" talks to him; a whole life working on a ranch has been manufactured for him. He was in a car accident and has amnesia. The "friend" wheels him out of the hospital while Max watches.

There is a running sub-plot throughout the episode that provides a bit of humor. Original Cindy has covered for Max's absences at Jam Pony by telling Normal that Max has been having violent, work-related fantasies, so she's been seeing a psychiatrist. Normal apparently realizes that Max is no one to mess with in a fight, so throughout the rest of the episode he is very accomodating to her.

This episode finally puts to rest what happened to Zack in a way that is both happy and sad. After Zack did so much for the X-5s and Max in particular, it's good to see that his life wasn't so short after all. But the fact that he can't know the truth about his life, and that Max can't share it with him, is quite sad. Max didn't really hesitate in making this choice, which tells us her true feelings about Logan despite her doubts in the previous few episodes.

Was her decision morally correct? After all, does she have the right to decide for Zack? I'm not really sure about that, but it certainly seems like Zack will have a longer and happier life without being his "real" self. Is there any chance that he will eventually put together the memories from his previous life? We don't know. However, I would think that once he starts to build a life and recent memories, it would cushion the effect of any revelations from the past. Maybe Max is counting on that and hoping to visit him someday.

It was pretty amazing to me that Logan was able to find a new "life" for Zack so easily. After all, Zack's "friend" will have to fill out and carry on some kind of cover story forever. What does the friend (and his wife, and his other employees, etc.) have to gain from that? I suppose he'll get a good worker in Zack, but it's still an unbelievably altruistic act.

The fact that Zack could continue to live, with most of his organs gone and lots of replacements is a bit of a stretch. Why bother to harvest organs (even at Manticore) if the replacements are so great? One might imagine he was a prototype for some of these replacements, but in that case one wouldn't expect them to all work so well. Will he have breakdowns? If that happens, what doctor will be able to treat him? Will the facade also break down then? This aspect of the episode was a little contrived, which brought down my rating just a bit.

Zack's obsession with Max was also a little obvious, but was reasonably logical, given the memory technology described in the show. Seeing the shattered and hesitant Zack was really quite a difference from his confident and arrogant demeanor most of last season, and really brought home that this person wasn't really Zack.

What will the result be from this episode? I don't see any real effects, except its emotional toll on Max. She found her brother, only to lose him again. She's lost all of her siblings from the previous season, and now she only really has Alec and Joshua.

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