"The Next Gen" is the fifth episode of the first season of The Zeta Project.
At the Sorben Institute, there is a lab explosion—accidentally caused by Bucky. The new dean is annoyed that this is the fifth time and suspends Bucky of his lab privileges, locks him in his room and takes away his Net connections. Luckily, Bucky had a backup and begins to search through his favorite sites. One of them includes the NSA database.
While searching for information on Dr. Selig at a local Ground Wire, Zeta accidentally intercepts instructions for another government infiltration unit, IU7, to kill Roland De Fleures, an arms dealer on the island of San Palago. Not caring whether he is guilty or innocent, he believes that the assassination attempt is wrong and chooses to try to intercept it. While they are at an airport, however, a complication arrives in the form of Bucky, who has learned of the more advanced IU7 with a quick jaunt into some classified NSA files and wants to control it for himself. While technically not compromising Zeta's circuits, as promised, he uses an inductance controller to hold up the flight terminal's computers until they allow him to come along.
Upon arrival, Zeta and Ro promptly deprive him of the Controller and temporarily ditch him on the docks. However, in the time it takes them to ask some questions to some people who turn out to be some of De Fleures' overly hostile lackeys, be attacked by them, and fend them off, Bucky is able to access the Internet and trace the cash flow on the island to Casa Primero, De Fleures' house. Upon arrival, they find the house to be extremely heavily guarded, down to an electrified field surrounding most of the walls. Back at the docks, the massive IU7 robot breaks out of a crate, its mission clear. Zeta is able to infiltrate the house by posing as De Fleures' daughter, Dominique, then as a series of guards, before finally arriving in De Fleures' office and (after being himself held at gunpoint) warning him of the danger.
De Fleures is dismissive; this is far from the first time his life has been threatened. When IU7 comes to his house, single-handedly fighting its way past his guards after is cover his blown, though, he begins to reconsider. As it breaks through his defenses, Zeta distracts the robot by posing as De Fleures, barely avoiding its blasts and jumping out of a window. Unfortunately, while this allows De Fleures to escape danger, IU7 catches up with Zeta himself, burying him under rubble (momentarily disengaging his hologram) and preparing to destroy him.
Zeta manages to save his own life, breaking free and flipping IU7 into the field surrounding the house, deactivating it. While grateful, De Fleures is unrepentant, and sees no reason to turn himself in, as Zeta requests. Again, he is quite used to danger. At that moment, while Bucky (who has re-acquired the Inductance controller) is inspecting its body, IU7 reactivates. Bucky finds that IU7 has an override that enables it to resist the Controller. Zeta tries using a voice override code but IU7 is too focused on its mission to comply. After a chase, a final confrontation takes place at the docks. While Zeta is outmatched and Bucky is unable to affect IU7 directly, Bucky makes clever use of the surrounding equipment (citing his extensive experience with construction vehicles; in his own words, he breaks stuff a lot) to fight against the robot, finally knocking it into a building full of De Fleures' wares, which explodes. As De Fleures laments that his clients are going to kill him, Zeta reiterates his suggestion to turn himself in.
Bucky accompanies Zee and Ro on their return flight back to the United States. Claiming to enjoy working with them, he tells them to call him if they're ever in a jam again. Ro can only hope that they'll never be that desperate.
Back on the island, IU7 rises from the debris, determined to resume its mission. Reconstructing its damaged memory, it calls up an image of Zeta, disguised as De Fleures, temporarily reverting to his true appearance.
"Target identified. Target: Zeta."
- With the warmer climate of San Palago, this is the first appearance of Zee's jacket-less appearance.
Home video releases
|Diedrich Bader||Zeta / Zee|
|Julie Nathanson||Rosalie "Ro" Rowan|
|Stacy Keach||Roland De Fleures|
|Conchata Ferrell||Dr. Greer|
Ro: Admit it. Between you and me. You bought that thing at Gizmo Shack.