Virtual Reality Bites – Review of “iZombie” episode 106

Corpse time. Simon Cutler was a grade-A d-bag with a God complex and far too much time to spend on a computer. When Ravi and Liv get the call—while Liv sutures the cuts on Major’s forehead from his fight in the previous episode—to pick up the deceased, they had no clue he’d marinated in his own juices for ten days in his basement.

Yes, Liv made a smoothie from brain matter so decomposed, they probably had to pour it out of the guy’s head. Even I draw the line there. Brain isn’t like steak; aging doesn’t do a thing to improve flavor or texture. Simon’s brain gives Liv a wicked case of agoraphobia, cravings for cheese curls, and mad computer skills. She puts the latter to use, breaking into the dead guy’s computer at Clive’s insistence. A possible lead through a video game falls flat, and eats up screen time which could’ve been spent actually building the plot for the murder case. Honestly, they solve this one by accident. It’s a bittersweet case once everything is on the table. Simon unleashed his anger on a customer service representative, going so far as to put her on the registered sex offender’s list and releasing false nude photos online. After a year dealing with his torture, the poor girl killed herself. Her brother tracked Simon via a Yelp review and took his revenge with no regrets. Unfortunately this story is buried under Liv’s love life and the snail-paced Blaine story arc.

Speaking of, Blaine has to clean house again. His woman-of-the-month, Jackie, loses her temper after a botched brain delivery and eats the delivery boy. It happens to the best of us, Jackie. However, Blaine isn’t as forgiving. One drill bit to the head later, Jackie has eaten her last free meal. Ever. It’s not the last heard from the dead delivery boy. His body is found, leading Clive straight to Blaine’s slaughterhouse/café. He doesn’t get any information from Blaine and nearly gets himself killed. Bravo, Detective. Meanwhile, Major stumbles on footage which places Blaine in the skate park with the guy he thinks is the Candy Man. Ravi sees and takes the problem to Liv. What the heck can she do about it? Major won’t listen if she tells him to drop it. Clive will get dead, or undead, if he comes at Blaine again. Rock, Hard Place, please meet Liv.

A surprisingly easy decision is the choice to give it a shot with Lowell. It’s easy to talk to him, zombie to zombie. Liv only really has Ravi to talk dead things with. Even then, there’s things he just can’t understand. Right now, that’s Lowell’s appeal. He empathizes with her problems. Brings her anxiety pills after Simon’s brain throws her for a loop. Lowell even got out of Dodge when things ramped up in the murder investigation without complaint. He’s too good to be true and that makes for boring television. But they kiss, so someone, somewhere must be pleased.

Resurrection Z – Review of Z Nation episode 106

Something about the zombie apocalypse makes the weirdos come out to play. For once, I’m not talking about the crew of oddballs the show follows, but the cult hanging out in Hannibal, Missouri. With a city name like that, of course there’s a group of loonies thinking the undead are actually the first wave of the rapture—the Resurrected, as they call them. Didn’t we do our time with cults, already? Cassandra’s people demonstrated well enough what can happen when a man is capable of duping the weak because he says exactly what they want to hear. While this cult takes it a lot further down the religious grey waters, it’s essentially the same type of characters all over again. Six episodes in and they’re repeating ideas.

“Just because he’s dead, doesn’t make him a hero.” Murphy calls it again. Why are they following the map of a dead man who wasn’t very pleasant to be around? Lt. Hammond made some questionable decisions during the half a blink he was in charge of the mission. Talking sense doesn’t work for Charles and Roberta. They have a starving crew to provide for.

Off to the mythical resupply post named Province Town, run by Charles’ old friend, Major Williams. The place seems legitimate. They have a strict no weapons rule within the town’s fences. There’s regular patrols to keep zombies back from the compound. Everyone barters for supplies—Williams feeds the crew on his dime for their first meal. There’s not a lot of privacy, but there’s beds, electricity for four hours a day, fresh produce, and plenty of zombie-proofing.

Sounds too good to be true? It is. The cult leader, Jacob, sends three former town members back inside the fences. “. . . was just a crazy cult leader,” one tells Williams. Another says the magic words every survivor loves, “We brought food.” Within thirty minutes, they’ve snaked their way into everyone’s trust again. Not much longer after, the fun begins. The trio reveal concealed blades and kill themselves, turning into the Resurrected. How did the security staff missed the giant crosses under their shirts? The sudden Z outbreak in town puts a cramp in Roberta and Charles’ plans for alone time in one of the few private rooms. This is where the no weapon policy bites Williams in the backside. Everyone is vulnerable. Roberta and Charles fight their way to the others with heavy books.

Addy mashes a zombie’s face into his brain with an egg beater. Then she freaks out. Again. For the last few episodes, something’s gnawed at the girl’s brain. First, when she and Mack find themselves alone back in Illinois, again during the tornado, and a few times during this episode. Each incident is different. There’s no set trigger for her trauma. No explanation for what’s going on, either. She’ll be just fine, then BAM, a total wreck immobilized by fear and visions of violence. If they don’t explain what’s going on soon, these random visions are going to get annoying.

With the town overrun with undead, Jacob and his people let themselves in through the gate. Systematically, they gather the Resurrected and the living. Of the countless people living in the compound, we’re lead to believe only the crew we’re following survive. 10k and Cassandra find a spot to try to take out the cult. Williams is turned. Murphy is missing . . . until he steps forward in the zombie cage to confront Jacob on his lunacy in order to save Charles. He plays on the cult’s beliefs, exposing his bites, using the zombie’s disinterest in him to portray himself as the Resurrected Messiah. While it made a point, I wouldn’t suggest sticking your fingers in a zombie’s mouth. Ever.

Jacob doesn’t like being proven a liar. He suggests one last test for Murphy—a bullet to the heart. Knowing the risk if Murphy dies, Charles throws himself in the bullet’s path. He dies. The others drag Roberta away while Charles turns zombie. When they’re in a safe place, she forces them to stop so she can give Charles mercy. For good measure, she puts a bullet in Jacob’s heart and leaves him for the zombies running loose in the compound.
Can they make it to California without the backbone of the group? Williams warned them, mega-herds of zombies populate the plains and out west. As far as he knew, there is nothing out there for the living. Then why is this crew so determined to make a maybe-rendezvous? Murphy is slowly turning into something. There’s no telling what’ll happen in the time it takes to fight through the hordes ahead.

Z Nation airs Fridays at 10:00 PM on SyFy.

Home Sweet Zombie – Review of Z Nation Episode 105

Without the helicopter Citizen Z failed to provide them with, the crew continues the trek west on the dim hope there’s still scientists left to take over caring for Murphy. They make a pit stop in Illinois to play at normalcy, taking over an abandoned house which just so happens to have . . . an electric fence? Pretty sure it’s something they rigged, taking advantage of the low chain-link fence around the house to secure it for some rest and relaxation time. How does one relax with zombies banging on the gates?

Addy and Mack frolic in the front yard before vanishing into one of the bedrooms to try and fail to have alone time. Roberta and Charles get cozy in the kitchen, drinking coffee. Murphy and Doc play poker, the stakes including whatever pills Doc has left after miraculously treating the burns he suffered during the fight with McCandless. 10k and Cassandra perfect the art of brooding in the living room, ignoring the poker game. Pretty normal, until someone has to go outside and kill the zombies frying on the fence.

Physics takes another vacation on this episode. The crew uses a blunt broom stick to pierce zombie skulls. Doable? Yes. However, it takes significant force to puncture a skull. Any time someone staked a Z, it never felt like enough force to do the damage shown through the zombie’s sudden demise. Lightning kills whatever system they set up to charge the fence. That’s pretty believable. But when the tornado shows up, stuff gets weird.

“Hang on, am I missing something? You did not drag my ass this far so that mankind’s hope can get sucked up by a tornado, did you?” Murphy sums up the plot problem perfectly, as usual.

They hole up in a nearby city, where Roberta and her husband Antoine lived before she shipped to New York to help with the outbreak. The house is a standard size with a basement she swears will protect them from the storm. Seeing as there’s windows down there, my faith in its protective abilities would’ve been shaken from the get-go. The tornado chases a horde of zombies toward the city. Slower zombies become part of the twister. Yes, there is the required Sharknado joke thrown in when the first Z takes flight.

At one point, they split into groups to find medical supplies to patch up the walking head wound and his girlfriend who’d been hiding in the house before Roberta’s homecoming. The newcomer’s head trauma leads to another round of “Doc isn’t a real doctor” but he goes on to perform a rather invasive procedure to relieve pressure on the guy’s brain. And screws up. Of course. During the same time, 10k and Cassandra think it wise to hide from the tornado in a sedan. I still can’t fathom how these people made it out of New York.

Once they reach Roberta’s home, she loses some of her fight. There’s no clear sign from her husband to tell her if he’s still alive—aside from testimony from the people in her house saying “the fireman” sent them to stay there. During the supply run, she discovers nearly the entire fire department staff locked in the station, all undead. Included in the group is her husband’s best friend. By the time they’re done giving mercy to the department staff, the tornado is on top of the town. She gets Charles to safety, locks him in the basement with the others, and sits in her living room, waiting to die or be saved by Antoine.  Someone—Antoine or another faceless firefighter—covers her when the ceiling collapses, taking all four walls of the house with it. Miraculously, she survives. The basement crew survive. Even 10k and Cassandra’s less-than-bright hiding spot somehow keeps them alive. Suddenly, Roberta is okay with moving on. She talks to Charles as though she didn’t just try to kill herself via tornado. Someone remind the show’s writers that this is not how suicide attempts work, even if it’s death by failing to protect oneself from a natural disaster.

Murphy may have pluck, but his body is slowly giving up the fight with the combination of Z-virus cure and the bites suffered shortly after they pumped him full of it. He’s rotting. It’s the best word for what happens in the episode. Teeth grosser than they should be—they’re on the run, but still capable of brushing teeth—eyes jaundiced, skin mottled, and his hair is falling out.

To stop the others from noticing, he takes the time to shave his head. While a tornado is practically on top of them. Makes total sense. The empathy Murphy shows for the zombie flung through the basement window is striking. It’s one of few times we’ve seen anything other than amused contempt on his face. What does his degeneration mean for the cure overall? Does it work, or does the cure merely push back the symptoms? If so, everything they’ve done, all the bodies they’ve dropped since New York, is for nothing.

Z Nation airs Fridays at 10:00 PM on SyFy.