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Recap / The Outer Limits 1995 S 6 E 19 Zig Zag

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The Control Voice: As we surrender more authority to our ever more capable technology, what will happen when that technology goes awry?

In a futuristic society, a terrorist threatens to destroy a set of supercomputers with a bomb.

The Control Voice: In the end, it may be our certainty that we are infallible which will prove our downfall.

Zig Tropes:

  • Anachronic Order: This episode is presented almost entirely in reverse chronological order, moving hours, days and eventually four years back from the events of The Teaser. The final scene flashes forward to the present.
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  • Back to Front: This episode starts In Medias Res in the middle of an armed standoff between a group of cyber-terrorists threatening to blow up a Mega-Corp and the police, then goes backwards chronologically to explain how they got in this situation before jumping back to the present for the climax.
  • Exact Words: Zig Zag has rigged a bunch of servers to explode through power overload. He warns the leader of the taskforce chasing him that the detonator is in his hand. Said leader is holding a physical detonator, so he drops it, then uses the microchip in his hand to try and reset the programming Zig Zag installed. Guess what "in his hand" actually meant.
  • Faking the Dead: The cyberterrorist Zig Fowler, who is opposed to the personal information technology regime, faked his death by removing his chip and burning down the warehouse where he had been hiding. He then assumed the identity of Cliff Unger, a staunch advocate of the regime. He is despised by the Syndrome, the resistance movement which practically worships Zig. As Cliff, he manages to gain the trust of the regime, which ultimately allows him to defeat it.
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  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Department of Information Technology.
  • Precision F-Strike: This is one of five episodes that features the word "fuck".
  • La Résistance: The Syndrome is a resistance movement / cyberterrorist group fighting against the regime of personal information technology. Under this regime, people have chips in their right hands through which they essentially live their entire lives as possessing a chip is the only way of accessing computers, proving your identity, gaining employment or paying for goods and services. The Syndrome believes that personal information technology is oppressive and destructive to society.
  • Tuckerization: Roy Chance, Dell Tinker, Peter 'Yas' Yastrzemski and Stottlemeyer are named after the Major League Baseball players Bob Chance and/or Dean Chance, Joe Tinker, Carl Yastrzemski and Mel Stottlemyre and his sons Mel, Jr. and Todd.
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  • Xanatos Gambit: The eponymous Cyber terrorist Zig Zag lives in a world where everything is controlled by about eight super servers. People are identified by DNA-reading chips implanted in their hands. Zig Zag fakes his death and reprograms his chip to set himself up as a pro establishment guy working for the company that maintains the servers, even working under the very guy that was trying to catch him. Four years later it reverts to the proper setting, and the opportunity is used to steal Zig Zag's files. Zig Zag rejoins the movement (no one had ever seen his real face) and holds the building hostage, threatening to blow it up. At the end, it looks as if he's foiled. His explosives are disarmed, his boss takes the detonator, and he's surrounded by armed men. He reveals that by downloading his chip data into the servers, they will overload and explode, blowing up the city, as soon as his former boss uses the detonator "in his hand." Naturally the boss swipes his DNA chip to prevent this. Turns out Zig Zag was being a bit more literal than they thought. His chip is the detonator. Cue Oh, Crap! moment.

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