DC Animated Universe

"The Next Gen" is the fifth episode of the first season of The Zeta Project. It first aired on February 24, 2001. When Zee intercepts a transmission intended for "IU7," another infiltration unit, he and Ro go to a Caribbean Island to stop the synthoid from killing its target. Their plan gets complicated when Bucky shows up, eager to keep IU7 for himself.


Act One[]

It's a peaceful day at the Sorben Institute, when suddenly one of the labs explode. The new head of affairs drags Bucky by the shirt collar out of the lab, reprimanding him for the 5th similar accident within the span of a month. Noting the differences between herself and her predecessor, the new head assures Bucky that he won't get away with this behavior under her watch, before grounding him to his room and restricting him from 'net usage. Unbeknownst to her, Bucky has a backup net-connection in the form of a set of goggles. Scanning his favorite sites, Bucky sees an ad for Gizmo Shack and the new CMCU 5000 before finally landing on the NSA database, where he stumbles upon specs for Infiltration Unit 7.

At a non-descript Ground Wire, Zeta and Ro continue to search for information on Dr. Selig, but while scanning the NSA mainframe, Zee's hologram disrupts as he recieves contact code "Iota Upsilon Seven". Downloading the attached dossier, Zeta is transformed into Roland De Fleures, raising the suspicion of the cyber cafe's other patrons. As the two exit the facility, Ro tries to figure out what's going on, and is shocked when told that her friend just received orders meant for another infiltration unit. Now aware of another Infiltration Unit's orders, the thought of another Synthoid continuing the work Zeta left behind doesn't sit well with his conscious. Resolved, Zeta decides he has to step in.

At the airport, confused as to why they're traveling to San Palago to save an arms dealer known by the moniker "The Merchant of Death", Ro runs through the details of their objective with Zee. Zeta explains to her that he doesn't care if De Fleueres is innocent or guilty, and that he views the way the government is handling the situation is wrong. Ro suggests that if they're going, Zeta should at least try to blend in for the trip, and so he adjusts his appearance to match the wardrobe of another traveler he passes in the airport. Approaching the desk for J Ayr, the duo tries to confirm their flight, but the woman working the desk can't find their information. As she attempts to help, she begins to experience technical difficulties with her computer, and ultimately it ends up shutting down entirely. Just then, Bucky speaks up from around the corner, holding his inductance controller. Insisting he's not here to mess with Zee, but only to take control of IU7 for himself, the child scientist attempts to talk the duo into letting him travel with them as the airline doesn't allow for unaccompanied minors. Not seeing any other choice, Zee accepts his conditions.

Arriving in San Palago, Zeta thanks their flight attendant as they deboard. Planning to distract Bucky, Ro insults his Inductance controller, putting him off guard log enough for her to grab it. Zee insists that it's for the child's own good, and melts Bucky's shoes to the dock before leaving him behind.

Unsure of how they'll track down Roland De Fleures, Zeta resorts to asking the locals if they know anything about his whereabouts. Unbeknownst to Zeta, this local happened to be a small part in De Fleures larger operation, and he quickly informed a group of De Fleures' nearby men of the stranger's inquiries.

Act Two[]

De Fleures' men Defeated

Roland De Fleures' men under a pile of bananas.

Approaching Zeta with weapons, the gang of men attempted to kill the disguised synthoid and his partner, but ultimately the fight is resolved when Zee drops crates full of bananas on their heads.

Having pried himself free from the dock with a crowbar, Bucky stumbles onto the scene, one broken board still suck to his right shoe, and tells Zee and Ro that by cross checking the net for big-ticket deliveries to San Palago, he was able to track De Fleures down to a huge compound on the south end of the island called "Casa Primera". Zeta compliments Bucky on his work and removes the board from his shoe before the trio head towards the compound.

Upon arrival, Zeta uses his recon prowess to find the complex is fortified by a laser armed gate, surrounded by seven guards and four bomb sniffing drones, and encased in a high voltage perimeter shield. Inside, the phone rings. De Fleures picks it up to find Lorrie on the line, calling to report their failure. Displeased, the arms dealer demands his men track the two down, but just moments after the call end, Infiltration Unit 7 bursts out of a crate. Chasing down the cowering Lorrie, the infiltration unit demands to know where he can find De Fleures.

Back at the compound, Zee is still trying to work out how to get in to warn De Fleures. Just then, the arm dealer's daughter, Dominique, attempts to make her way past the guards. One of them asks if her father knows she's leaving Casa Primera, but Dominique suggests maybe her father doesn't need to know everything. Planting a kiss on the guards cheek, De Fleures daughter is granted passage. Witnessing the exchange, Zeta takes the form of Dominique to make his entrance. Though, not fully understanding the relationship dynamics between the strangers, the Synthoid plants a kiss on the other guard, causing a bit of an upset. Once out of siter, Zeta holomorphs into another guard working the premises, and makes his way into the house.

Once inside, Zee makes his way upstairs, where Roland De Fleures is just finishing a deal. Taken by surprise, the arms dealer pulls a gun from beneath his table and fires a restraint at Zeta, pinning him to a wall, before reaching into a desk drawer for a more lethal weapon. Zeta tries to warn the arms dealer about Infiltration Unit 7's impending approach, but De Fleures doesn't believe him until the synthoid reveals his true form.

Outside, Lorrie panickily approaches the outer gates of Casa Primera, demanding that he sees the boss. As the guards lower the gate, they ask if De Fleures is expecting him. Responding by opening the tip of his finger and spraying the guard with knock out gas, Lorrie reveals himself to be none other than Infiltration Unit 7 in disguise. Taking the place of Mendes, the guard he just incapacitated, the infiltration unit makes his way onto the compound grounds. Making quick work of the rest of the guards, IU7 rushes the compound as his target and Zeta watch the rampage from a live security feed.

Taking the place of the arms dealer, Zeta distracts Infiltration Unit 7 as he runs across the second-floor balcony and jumps through a window. Making chase, IU7 launches rockets at his supposed target. Missing Zeta, the rockets make impact with a nearby wall and the rubble buries the Synthoid, disrupting his disguise as De Fleures. Realizing their friend is at risk, Ro and Bucky make their way down the mountain pass, but Infiltration Unit 7, who missed the disruption, beats them to their friend.

Act Three[]

Zeta manages to free himself from the rubble but finds himself subdued by IU7 once again. Enacting his wrist mounted buzzsaw, Infiltration Unit 7 attempts to make quick work of his target but is shocked when Zeta's hologram finally drops for good, revealing another synthoid. In the surprise, Zee is able to overpower the other infiltration unit, and sends him flying through a wall into the high voltage perimeter shield. Caught off guard, the robotic menace is deactivated by the sudden surge of electricity.

With the battle finally over, Ro and Bucky safely make their way to their friend. While Zeta is wounded, it's luckily not too severe, and he's able to quickly patch himself up. Having watched the action from afar, Roland De Fleures approaches and asks Zeta how much it would cost to buy an infiltration unit like him. Zee assures the arms dealer that this will continue happening unless he turns himself in, but De Fleures is unrepentant. With everyone else distracted, Bucky finally sees an opening to recover his Inductance controller from Ro's backpack and make an attempt at IU7. As Bucky inspects the downed synthoid, IU7's override program goes into effect. Reactivating, the infiltration unit locks his sites on De Fleures once again.

As the chase makes its way back to the San Palago docks, Roland De Fleures is cut off from escape when IU7 destroys his boat. Zeta tries using override code "Alpha Omicron 4", but IU7 is able to overpower the maneuver. Concerned for her friend, Ro turns to Bucky for help. Using the Inductance controller, the kid genius takes control of a nearby crane, and makes quick work of the infiltration unit. However, IU7 is able to unbolt his leg and frees himself. Thinking quickly, Bucky takes control of another piece of equipment and pushes the synthoid into a warehouse filled with the arms dealers' stockpiles of weaponry, causing a massive explosion. As De Fleures laments that his clients are going to kill him, Zeta reiterates his suggestion to turn himself in.

Terget Zeta

"Target identified. Target Zeta."

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.


Background information[]

Home video releases[]


Bucky's Room

A visible nod to California Institute of the Arts classroom A113 in Bucky Buenaventura's bedroom at the Sorben Institute.

  • This episode, as well as "Remote Control," both display their titles on adjacent parts of the same background art of the Sorben Institute.
  • There is an A113 easter egg in Bucky's bedroom.
  • In the airport terminal, an attendant can be heard on the overhead speaker calling for "Passenger L. Ritmanis", a reference to series composer Lolita Ritmanis.
  • A reused Rudy Jones character model can be seen during the scene set at Ground Wire.
  • This is the first episode to not feature a Ground Wire gag.


Actor Role
Zeta / Zee Diedrich Bader
Rosalie "Ro" Rowan Julie Nathanson
Bucky Buenaventura Ulysses Cuadra
Roland De Fleures Stacy Keach
Dominique Grey DeLisle
Dr. Greer Conchata Ferrell
Mendes Javier Grajeda
Stevedore Pepe Serna
Lorrie Marcelo Tubert


Ro: Admit it. Between you and me. You bought that thing at Gizmo Shack.
Bucky: What?! This is ground-breaking technology! A new paradigm in electro-mechanics! But you probably can't grasp that...
Ro: Oh, I can grasp it. [grabs the Controller, holding it out of his reach]
Bucky: Hey!
Ro: (to Zee) Still thinks he's so smart...