"The Accomplice" is the series premiere of The Zeta Project. It first aired on January 27, 2001. In this episode, Zeta meets a runaway named Rosalie Rowan. They decide to search for the scientists who created Zeta together so that they can prove that Zeta is peaceful.
From a bus terminal in Wood Valley, Maryland, Zeta calls the NSA and asks to speak to Agent Bennet. When Bennet comes on the line, Zeta tries to assure him that he no longer wants to hurt anyone. Bennet immediately calls his agents, telling them he's located Zeta. By coincidence, Agents West and Lee are in the station on a routine sweep, and West sees him with a special scope that can penetrate his holographic disguise. West immediately draws his sidearm and starts shooting. Zeta manages to evade them and hops a bus to Spring City.
In the city, a police officer is booking a rebellious teenaged girl, Rosalie Rowan for shoplifting from a local grocery store. According to his files, she is a runaway from an orphanage. But when his back is turned, she lifts his keys, unlocks her cuffs, and is gone inside of a few seconds.
Ro returns to a gang hideout with the stolen food, but is put off to be told that that is only the first part of her "initiation".
Bennet leads a team into the city in a special hovercraft, explaining that their objective is to disable, not destroy, Zeta. Zeta tries to call Bennet again from a phone booth, and the NSA traces the call.
At the same time, Ro is being told to act as lookout while the rest of the gang commits an armed robbery. When she refuses, the gang's leader, Slam, aims a gun at her. Seeing it, Zeta throws himself in front of her, taking a shot from it, and revealing himself to the nearby agents.
Ro and Zeta both run to a garage. Zeta hotwires a car, but is too damaged to pilot it properly. He begs Ro to help him, and she reluctantly jumps in and takes the wheel, driving them to a safe hiding place. There, Zeta makes repairs to his damaged systems, and introduces himself: he is a U.S. government infiltration droid, designed to replace and assassinate targets, only he no longer wants to do so. Ro backs away nervously, but he asks her if she would like something to eat. She is taken aback, as no one has ever asked her that before.
Zeta replaces his holographic disguise and they go to a burger restaurant. Zeta explains that he discovered that his latest target was innocent, which means that any of his targets could be innocent. He refused to carry out his assignment and then ran.
Ro, who has more street smarts than he, tells him his obvious mistake was trying to contact Bennet, who assumes he's gone rogue and is inclined to shoot first and ask questions later. Zeta asks Ro for help. She says she doesn't want to get in trouble, but becomes immediately interested when Zeta pays the check and mentions he has a built-in cred card with an unlimited account. She offers to share a little bit of guidance in exchange for 5,000 creds, and a new set of clothes. After she's been fitted out, she also advises him to adopt a younger, more casual human disguise.
Bennet tells his men to continue their surveillance. Agent Lee wonders if Zeta is being truthful when he says he no longer wants to kill. Bennet scoffs, saying that even if Zeta believes he has grown a conscience, it is only because he has been reprogrammed by the terrorist organization he was sent to infiltrate as a cover for their true plans. Therefore, although their mission is to capture him and put him back to work as a weapon, if he should become a threat to national security, they must destroy him.
Ro spends the night in the backseat of the car, and is surprised when she wakes to find that "Zee", as she now calls him, spent the whole night watching over her. Out of scientific interest, he shows her a cockroach he found, and she swats it away in disgust. She wonders why the person who programmed him forgot to leave out such basic information. Then she realizes that his programmer is the person he needs to find, since that person can convince the NSA that his change of heart is real. Zeta says he doesn't know who programmed him, and can only access the name through a secure computer. The nearest one is in the NSA agents' hovercraft.
Realizing that Zeta plans to sneak into it, Ro wants out and he pays her the agreed-upon amount. They see Agent West leave the hovercraft to grab lunch, and he asks her for one small last favor: that she distract or delay West long enough for Zeta to impersonate him and sneak on board.
Wishing Zee the best, Ro separates from him and tackles Agent West in a diner, posing as a passerby who spills a plate of food on his suit and rushes to clean him off.
Zeta sneaks on board disguised as West and starts to download the right file.
Even West is smart enough to realize who Ro really is and what she's doing, and runs out of the diner. Ro is tempted to let him go, since she's already been paid, but her conscience bites and she runs out and tackles him, delaying him a few extra seconds.
Seeing West running back to the hovercraft, Bennet turns on the "West" sitting inside and throws a device meant to disable his movement. It works temporarily, but his internal repair system manages to locate the device and burn it off. He escapes the hovercraft. The other agents pursue, but Ro whizzes past in their car, and Zeta jumps in, allowing them to escape.
Zeta explains that he only downloaded part of the file he needed, and a blurred image of the team of scientists that created him; both were damaged by the disabler, and will take time to reconstruct. Zeta tries to discourage Ro from coming with him, it is too dangerous. Ro shoots back that she's got nowhere else to go, and besides, Zeta is the one who's in danger without her watching out for him.
Now a team, the pair set off in search of Zeta's freedom.
Ground Wire Gag
Ro: What is that thing?
- The NSA had tried to take Zeta into custody in the aforementioned episode, only turning to lethal force when he wouldn't cooperate; Bennett made it clear he was willing to engage and destroy him anywhere necessary. From this episode on they're attempting to take him intact due to his cost; Bennett makes it clear "if it becomes necessary to neutralize that threat [to national security], I'll destroy him myself" but Zeta never makes that necessary.
Home video releases
- The episode introduces Ro, and several members of Bennett's team, all of whom become regulars on the show.
- West is told not to fire his sidearm near civilians and has it taken from him by Bennett. This is in contrast to "Zeta", where the NSA were fully willing to open fire. This is due to the lighter, more kid-friendly tone of the show compared to "Batman Beyond".
- Like Robin in Superman: The Animated Series, "Knight Time", Ro finds it creepy when someone imitates her voice precisely.
- Diedrich Bader replaces Gary Cole for the voice of Zeta from this episode onward.
|Diedrich Bader||Zeta / Zee|
|Julie Nathanson||Rosalie "Ro" Rowan|
|Kurtwood Smith||Agent Bennet|
|Michael Rosenbaum||Agent West|
|Lauren Tom||Agent Lee|
|Greg Eagles||Old Man|
Ro: Hope that hologram's got pockets, 'cause I don't have money for this.
Agent Bennett: That girl in the car was either an accomplice or a hostage. One way or another we have to find out.
Agent West: But if he's working for terrorists, why not just blast him?
Agent West: Stop! (gasps) You're the accomplice!
(as Agent West runs out of the diner)
(Ro tackles Agent West)
(Ro saves Zeta from the agents, landing Zeta in the hotwired car and speeding away)