Trial and error got Operation Bitemark to California. It saw them through the demolition of a potential allied army. It’s brought them all the way to Murphy’s front door, and sod it all, Roberta is determined she’ll find a way to poke and prod his defenses until it yields a weak spot. This episode focuses mostly on the trial/error path Roberta, Hector, and Dr. Sun take. Citizen Z and Kaya make an appearance and manage to locate Murphy via his radio signal. He calls, and Citizen Z is debriefed/dismissed by Murphy before the guy gets out three full sentences. 10k is back in Murphyville, tasked with zombie mote cleanup since he’s stubbornly refusing to help Murphy fight Roberta’s plan. Whatever said plan actually is. I’ll guarantee you, Murphy won’t expect what’s coming.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. That’s the fruit from Plan C. Gotta start with Plan A.
Heart of Darkness:
Review for Z Nation 309
by A. Zombie
Keep It Simple, Stupid—a good thing to keep in mind when resources are sparse and backup doesn’t exist. Hector and Roberta’s Plan A leaves a lot to be desired. First, they observe Murphyville, clocking the routines to find a weakness. The sole weakness is a gap in the zombie moat when Murphy heads toward his personal outhouse. Alrighty then, just cut the fence, sneak in, and have a nice chat with Mr. Murphy. Not so easy. The zombies in the moat follow Roberta, trapping her in the ordinary people’s outhouse. She escapes, but her presence is discovered. Murphy’s on alert. They blew their chance at surprise. Time for a new plan.
Surprisingly, Plan B is even flimsier than the first. The gang leaves their camp outside Spokane, opting to wander the surrounding areas in search of backup. Who, exactly, are they looking for? The Red Hand and Escorpion. There’s not exactly an address for the group. All they can do is follow the corpses and the writing on the wall until they find a fresh kill. Hector is on record as firmly against the plan from the get-go. He’s perpetuated that level of violence, understands how unhinged this new Escorpion must be in order to keep going as long as he has, and wants nothing to do with it. Yes, people change, but sometimes the change is for the worse. A lesson every fan learns by the time Plan C unfolds.
At the scene of the latest Red Hand slaughter, they’re attacked by zombies. Dr. Sun is astoundingly incapable of handling herself in this fight, though she does fine later in the episode. Her distress gives a chance to introduce Hopper, drug dealer to the Red Hand and rather chatty Cathy. Sure, he can take them to Escorpion. Hope no one’s claustrophobic. The leader’s base is hidden in the Seattle underground, along with a collection of freaky, scurrying zombie hands. Hopper plays with their heads. Constantly makes uncomfortable sexual advances. He even kills three men and unleashes the resulting zombies on them—a test to see if they deserve to meet Escorpion.
The biggest not-surprise of the season came when Vasquez walks out calling himself Escorpion. What is a twist, his mind is so warped by grief and trauma, he doesn’t remember anything before taking on the Escorpion mantle. He knew so much about Hector, his mind absorbed it and made that narrative his life’s story, not the horrific tale he actually lived through before joining Operation Bitemark. Roberta’s reaction is perfect. She’s devastated that this man, who she got so close to, doesn’t know her from the next thief he’ll murder. There’s nothing she won’t do in order to make him remember her, going so far as to touch the healed scar on his stomach and delivering one hell of a kiss. It’s not good enough to break the delusion. Nothing is enough to make Vasquez see himself.
Hector’s seeing too much of himself in this imposter. The rage, self-loathing, and guilt driving Vasquez in his new endeavor pushed Hector to do vile things for La Reina and the Zeroes. There’s no bottom to that well. Hector has a rope to climb, the slim sliver of hope Operation Bitemark and Roberta provide. Vasquez has nothing. He gave it up, opting to run from anything positive he could have found in order to bathe in “guilty” blood across the West Coast. When Hector and Roberta are locked in a cell together, he sees it as his chance to repay her for the hand up from his personal hell . . . by knocking her out and escaping to settle the matter himself. Except, he doesn’t have enough time to get to Escorpion before she’s found and revived. Damn.
Helpless doesn’t suit Roberta and she sure as hell isn’t one to stand by playing fragile woman why the men in her life fight, but there’s a moment when they allow her to be overwhelmed. It’s been a treacherous road. These men provide some of the very few shining moments in the gloom and losing either for good is an idea she’s unable to comprehend. But she must. Vasquez is completely insane. Hector beat himself mentally by reliving the moment he killed Vasquez’s family before he was given a weapon to fight physically. The fight between the men is tense, short, and heartbreaking.
Plan C flies in under the radar at the last possible moment.
With Hector bleeding from multiple stab wounds, Roberta puts her final plan into action. Killing Vasquez may have stolen the last drops of humanity in her heart. We’ll see. It sure didn’t help when he spends his dying moments finally calling her by name and asking for mercy. Roberta sends him on his way with a, “Yeah. Go home to your family,” and fans everywhere grab Kleenex. Then a puke bucket because they keep Vasquez’s decapitated head on-screen for a seriously long time as Plan C finishes playing out.
Every cult needs a head crazy. Roberta just elected herself to that position. Hopper leads the Red Hand in reverence to their newly-crowned leader. Everyone bows. No one argues. At last, Roberta has her army. But will the power corrupt her as it did the men who stood in her place before?