It’s no secret that I never liked Zack, but Some Assembly Required succeeds in making the unlikeable X5’s return a worthwhile affair with some action-packed moments and good emotional beats.
The Steelheads (from Two) are back, and they’ve recruited a retrofitted Zack into their midst. Naturally, Max takes it upon herself to save her brother, but his acclimation to a normal life is short-lived; it’s soon revealed that Manticore had brainwashed big brother as he instinctively finds his sights set on Eyes Only / Logan. There’s a powerful message here as Max ultimately decides to give up her brother for the love of her life, leading to a poignant moment when she denies knowing him (after he somehow recognizes her). Our Maxie’s been through a lot this year, and this heartbreaking decision further adds to the long list of responsibilities and sacrifices she’s had to endure. So long Zack, you won’t really be missed.
Thankfully, no freak-of-the-week in this episode which is an enormous relief. With a distinct focus on Zack and Max’s relationship, Some Assembly Required feels like Dark Angel season one which is pretty awesome. In addition, we get a bunch of enjoyable moments with Cindy and the Jam Pony crew while Alec gets to spout off his usual array of amusing one-liners. In fact, the show feels much more confident this year with regards to the group dynamics (I never really enjoyed Herbal or Kendra last season) so that’s a real plus.
– The teaser is very effective with the Steelheads robbing an electronic store as we transition to Max and Logan watching them on the security footage. And then Zack shows up and smashes the camera as we cut to the credits.
– I love how Cindy gets Normal terrified of Max and her violent “work-related” fantasies.
– Raise your hand if you think Alec deserved to have Max slam the locker shut on his hand.
– It’s awesome to watch Max and Alec double-team the Steelheads with their super-speed. That is, until pretty boy gets choked by Zack upon arrival.
– Dr. Sam Car is back! We last saw him in Rising, and he’s been great on Mad Men this year.
– I did not miss seeing those zillion Manticore flashbacks again. Thanks a lot Zack.
– I believe the last time Max and Zack were on that beach was in Hit A Sista Back.
– Alec noticing Zack’s kinky hots for Max made me laugh.
– Max got kidnapped a bit too easily for my taste. The dumb Steelhead just poked her with something and knocked her out? Where’s the advanced X5 immunity?
– How creepy is Zack moving in for the kiss on a chained Max? His incest has always been tremendously unsettling.
– The episode’s most exciting sequence is definitely Max breaking free of her chains and warning Logan as Zack hunts him down Terminator style with the red eye (in true James Cameron fashion). It’s a well executed chase beginning with Zack crashing through the skylight, and culminating with Max arriving on her motorcycle and the little fight between the duo. However, the climax fizzles out as Max very conveniently fries Zack with the spilled soap/water. That just made me cringe.
– Wonderful visual touch that’s been consistently reused since the pilot: Max sitting on top of the chair in the doctor’s office like a cat. I just love this subtle reminder of our heroine’s feline DNA.
– Woohoo, back to the Space Needle for the first time since the season premiere. Sadly, the voiceover is just not very insightful or necessary. Oy.
Barbs & Barcodes
Cindy: Fact is, she had a doctor’s appointment this morning.
Normal: Yeah, I don’t pay you people enough to see a doctor.
Cindy: Look, she made me promise to keep it on the low-low, but, um…this doctor that she’s been seeing is a shrink.
Normal: I see. Has the stress from her eleven-to-four job finally become too much for her?
Sketchy: (answering Cindy) You bellowed, Your Originalness?
Sketchy: (after Max grabs him) Have you been lifting weights, Max?
Sketchy: I made a promise.
Max: I promise you if you don’t tell me in five seconds, I’m gonna introduce your face to your colon.
Max: Guess we’re just gonna have to get their attention, then.
Alec: Please tell me you’re gonna get naked.
Zack: We abandoned our mission.
Max: We got a new mission. It’s called getting a life.
Well: I don’t want to know what goes on in that sick little mind of yours.
Alec: That hurts.
Max: Truth always does.
Cindy: Wonder what’s keeping my girl.
Alec: I’d give her a hand but she’d probably just bite it off.
Alec: There goes her knight in shining armor. Oh, God forbid our little Max have to lug a big, heavy pitcher of beer with her delicate little hands, huh? (Original Cindy gives him a look.) What?
Some Assembly Required is a surprisingly moving and often thrilling hour of Dark Angel.