"...And Jesus Brought a Casserole"
Original airdate: May 22 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Things Worth Living and Dying For

"...And Jesus Brought a Casserole" Plot Summary:

As Max leaps at Lydecker and is subdued by his men, Madame X orders his arrest for Sandoval's murder. Lydecker takes out her guards and orders his men to protect himself and Max while he flees with her to a hotel. There, he gets drunk and croons that Max is special so he won't let anything happen to her. Max responds with predictable anger to his nostalgia, but when he points out that she and the other X5s could take down Manticore and destroy Madame X, she decides to take him with her when she flees.

Madame X tells Brin that Lydecker was responsible for Tinga's death and sends the South African team to search for "X5-452." But Lydecker has already warned Max that she is being tracked via the implant in her head. Max meets up with Logan, Zack, and a pair of X5s she hasn't seen since her escape from Manticore; she tells them she believes Lydecker is sincere in his desire to stop Madame X, though none of them trust his protestations of sincerity about wanting to help "his kids." Their tormentor-turned-ally helps Max put the South African spies out of commission and suggests that the X5s blow up Manticore's DNA lab, which will stop his superiors from making new generations of soldiers.

Because he no longer has security clearance, Lydecker goes with Max to follow a former colleague, whose eyeball he tears out so the X5s can get through a retina scan. In the car he confesses that Max was inspired by the only person he ever loved, and gazes fondly at her. Max warns him never to look at her like that again. Back at the warehouse where the group plots tactics, a crow caws overhead, reminding the X5s of a hunt in the woods from their years at Manticore. Lydecker blames the new director, Renfro, for Tinga's death. He also admits to Logan that he's excited about the prospect of seeing his kids in action, and realizes that Logan is in love with Max. Lydecker encourages the X5s to understand that Brin is dead -- she'll kill them all on sight -- but Max says she's going to save her sister if she can.

Before the group departs, Max takes Logan to the Space Needle and promises him things will be different after the assault on Manticore. When they enter the compound, the X5s must overcome painful memories to break into the labs and set the charges. Madame X is in the midst of interrogating the agent whose eyeball Lydecker stole when she learns that his retina was scanned at the lab; she tells Brin to unleash the X7s and disable the explosives. Seeing the young soldiers on Logan's surveillance cameras, Lydecker orders the X5s to withdraw. Max won't leave without getting Brin clear. Once she does, Logan tells Lydecker to detonate the charges and pulls a gun when the colonel hesitates. The lab explodes as Max, Zack and the others flee into the woods.

But their younger selves are waiting -- or, rather, stronger clones of themselves. Max is shot by the X7 made from her own genetic material, a dead ringer for herself in her Manticore days. As she falls, she imagines introducing Zack and the others to the Jam Pony crowd, getting Lydecker to stop drinking, making love with Logan. But the shadow of a black bird falls across her vision. She loses consciousness in Logan's arms before she can tell him she loves him. Logan wants to take Max inside Manticore to see if they can treat her, but Lydecker insists that he let her go, knocking Logan out when he won't.

Meanwhile, Zack is trapped by the X7s. Both injured X5s are taken into Manticore's medical facility, where after several attempts at resuscitation, the doctors tell Madame X that they can't save Max. When Madame X orders her prepped for harvest, Zack breaks free and briefly threatens to make her a potential heart donor, but when Madame X says Max must receive a heart from another X5, Zack shoots himself instead. Waking inside Manticore, Max tells Madame X that she will never be "one of them" again, but the sound of Zack's heart beating in her own chest demoralizes her. Some time later, Logan sits on the Space Needle, wanting to believe Max isn't gone.


So the ultimate Manticore soldier, Lydecker's prize creation, chooses to die for love. Despite the character development for Max, Logan and particularly Lydecker, "...And Jesus Brought a Casserole" is Zack's episode. No matter what sort of brainwashing Madame X uses on Max, they will both remember Zack and understand the impossibility of breeding out the emotional weaknesses Lydecker tried to eradicate in his kids because he couldn't do it in himself. Zack's heart will go on, and I suspect so will his legacy.

Then again, it's hard to know whether Madame X shares Lydecker's concern with making a psychologically impervious soldier. She goes out of her way to keep Brin's loyalty, not because Lydecker has any real hold over the X5 at this point but because she seems to believe that Brin's personal allegiance will serve Manticore better than rote devotion. She doesn't share Lydecker's warped paternal sense towards the X5s, but she's not the emotionless bitch he accuses her of being -- or if she is, her understanding of and ability to manipulate human emotions seems that much more impressive, for she truly seems near tears when she points out to Max how much Zack must have loved her. "You've both come home to me," she croons with a possessiveness that's even creepier than Lydecker's. It's hard to reconcile with what she did to Tinga -- even Lydecker truly seemed horrified when he saw her lifeless body and understood what his boss had done, though it's hard to know the extent to which his anger is purely selfish, feeding a belief that if he can't control "his kids," nobody can.

Max fears "Deck" may confess to being her father, which he dismisses with the comment that he wouldn't presume to pollute the gene pool. Yet the truth -- that he cultivated her to remind him of a lost love -- is almost worse. At Manticore, DNA is just raw material to be manipulated; even if Lydecker had contributed to Max, his genes would have been spliced and diced to create a stronger, smarter, tougher brand of human. Instead he made a personal imprint on her through an emotional connection. Moments after gazing soulfully into her eyes, he tears out the eyeball of a former colleague. He doesn't treat all people like meat all the time, but he's capable of turning at any moment, walking away without a backward glance after knocking Logan out over Max's body. When he's drunk, Lydecker has sick romantic notions of dying with Max; when he's sober, he remembers that there will be other Max clones.

And now he knows that Logan is Eyes Only. He doesn't say so, but he figured out weeks before that Eyes Only had a relationship with Max and warned Eyes Only about the impossibility of housebreaking her. Right now it's not clear how Lydecker might exploit that knowledge, but once he starts putting the pieces together and realizes the scope of Logan's influence, who know what he'll try? Even if he's decided to protect "his kids" and their autonomy, this is a man with fundamentally autocratic politics, a belief in rule by the strong. He tries to be sympathetic to Logan, calling him "son," but the wheels must be turning already about how to exploit this new resource.

Max's visions before she dies give an uncluttered view of what she wants out of life -- good friends, true love, comfortable yet simple surroundings, and the sort of peace one only achieves when one manages to put one's demons firmly in the past. Hence even Lydecker gets to join in the fun at the bar, even though she makes him sit alone and drink ice water. Zack might be disappointed to learn he factors in only as a brother, giving his approval for his little sister to consummate her relationship with the man she really wants. Given what we've seen of Max's sexuality while she's in heat, she's surprisingly subdued with Logan in her own fantasies, which have an excessive romantic glow even taking into account the astounding number of candles in the bedroom. Her demands for happily-ever-after aren't excessive, yet in the world into which she's been born, they seem unlikely ever to reach fruition.

The episode ends with a role reversal, Logan letting the viewer inside his thoughts as he sits in Max's customary place on the Space Needle wondering whether she was all a dream. Given all he's seen and all she's taught him, what will he fight for now?

Dark Angel Reviews
Get Critical