"The Kidz Are Aiight"
Original airdate: February 20, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Max Won't Get Fooled Again

"The Kidz Are Aiight" Plot Summary:

At Manticore, Lydecker uses psychoactive drugs on Zack to learn the whereabouts of the other Manticore refugees. Zack hallucinates Max asking where the others are so she can protect them, but he realizes it's a trap. Finally he succumbs to the drugs and is buried under a stone bearing his bar code. But Zack is not dead; he digs his way out of the grave. The doctor who gave him the deadly drugs offers him a ride to freedom as a way of atoning for torturing him. Manticore soldiers follow, shooting the doctor as Zack flees.

Max visits Logan, who is wiggling his toes in the surf and suggests that they have dinner. At the Jam Pony, Original Cindy explains that the Red soldiers killed her building superintendent and she was evicted. Max suggests that Cindy move in with her, since Kendra has moved in with her cop boyfriend. As Max and Logan prepare for the dinner that both deny is a date, Cindy and Bling comment about how things have changed now that -- as Bling says -- Logan's gun is loaded.

Zack calls Max at Logan's to ask for help. Logan fears she won't be able to get past Manticore security; Max insists that she escaped once when she was just a child, and threatens to kick Logan's ass when he suggests Zack could have turned. Sneaking through a checkpoint aboard a car carrier, she hides her cycle in the woods and finds Zack in a cave near the Manticore compound. Zack accuses HER of having turned, but when she kicks HIS ass, he realizes it's really Max, and cries. Zack has made himself forget the names and addresses of the other refugees, using a Manticore technique they were taught to avoid giving up information under torture. When Max asks how he remembered her number, he says, "How could I forget a single thing about you?"

With Max's prompting, Zack recalls that Tinga works in a bar in Portland, Johnny's in San Francisco, Zane's a mechanic in L.A. When Max overhears a discussion between Lydecker's agents, she realizes they are being spied upon and insists on fleeing immediately. Lydecker tracks them south along a stream, but his men find only a bloody transmitter ripped out of Zack's head. Zack now knows Manticore was listening the whole time he was recovering his memories; he has told Lydecker where the others are.

Max goes to Logan, explaining that Lydecker freed Zack to get to the others. Zack is furious with himself, but still doesn't trust Max. It's clear to him she had something to do with Logan's miraculous recovery. Zack had a voice mailbox whose numbers he never gave Max because of her recklessness, where he hopes the others will call. Logan uses a Streaming Freedom alert to warn the refugees that their locations have been compromised. Seeing the broadcast, Lydecker wants to know why Eyes Only wants to help his "kids." He already has a lead on the one in Portland, whom his soldiers are chasing with non-lethal weapons. Back at Logan's, Zack tells Max that Tinga needs help.

The three X5 refugees knock out a Manticore squadron and steal a car, though Zack says he won't even bother to ask Max to come to Canada with himself and Tinga. A superior tells Lydecker that "the committee" has decided that the Manticore refugee situation needs to be resolved, even if that means using deadly force, and the director wants Lydecker to know that if he can't do it, she'll find someone else. Logan and Max prepare to have the dinner they postponed, but Logan's legs suddenly go out from under him as Max gets the salad, and he struggles not to let her see his infirmity as he says he needs a rain check so he can work. After she discovers that Zack's voice mailbox no longer works, Max regrets that both Zack and Max have tried to cover their tracks, to keep her at a distance. She wishes she didn't care.


Well, we all probably guessed there was some larger conspiracy looming over the conspiracy we already knew about. Now we know Lydecker has a boss (and a go-between who's a bit reminiscent of The X-Files' X), and that he's got an order to shoot to kill the Manticore "kids." In his own sick and twisted way, Lydecker likes those kids; he's willing to risk their lives to further his ends, but he hates the idea of losing control of his long-term project. My bet is that he's going to end up, if not becoming a good guy, then at least fighting on their side in the near future. John Savage's creepy charisma is too powerful to waste on a villain who doesn't grow and challenge the protagonists in new ways.

So Zack's gone -- again -- and now Max knows he doesn't trust her, even if he might love her. Maybe it's that he doesn't trust himself around her, but the end result is the same; she's cut off from the other X5s. Zack's chutzpah in shutting her out is pretty remarkable, considering that his feelings for Max are the only reason he can remember where to contact her after wiping his mind. She's also helped him rescue two other Manticore refugees despite her alleged unreliability. Maybe Max will realize that she, too, is safer without them, and perhaps better off if she wants to have a private life.

Naturally Max is lonely for peers. Original Cindy would seem to make a better roommate than Kendra -- hey, she puts up Xena posters! But Max's problems with Logan don't have to do with her super-powers. They have to do with the apparent limitations of the miracles she can work. At the start of this episode, Max and Logan come close to kissing several times; by the conclusion, he can't stand to have her watch as the world literally drops out from under him. She knows what he's going through, but she also knows she can't interfere with the distance he craves when that happens. Whether it's because of the Pulse, the paramilitary escalation that preceded it, the depression that followed it, or the slow evolution of human beings, men are more from Mars and women from Venus in the future American century than they are now.

Despite the lighthearted banter between Bling and Logan about how the workings of Logan's genitals are irrelevant to his relationship with Max, he obviously believes there's a direct and deep relationship between his virility and his masculinity. The fact that she can, as she says, "kick [his] ass" even when he's at his strongest doesn't appear to bother him anywhere near as much as the potential failure of his standard human equipment. Cindy makes generalizations about how lesbians avoid all the dating drama her straight girlfriends put themselves through. Kendra is living with a man who used to harass her regularly. Normal, who dated a transsexual a few weeks ago, calls a cross-dresser on a reality show a "sissy freak." What is normal in Max's world, anyway?

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