Mt. Weather/The Black Rainbow: Review for Z Nation episodes 412 & 413 By A. Zombie
Remember Mt. Weather? Talk about a callback to the original mission. Mt. Weather went silent back in season one, triggering the move west for Murphy and his escorts. The gang is tasked once again with infiltrating the government stronghold, only this time it’s not to deliver Murphy over to be poked and prodded. They need the president’s thumb and the last place to deliver any official government orders is none other than Operation Bitemark’s original destination.
Things don’t look promising upon arrival. The President’s motorcade sits outside the security gate, doors ajar. Inside the lead car, the President’s husband rots after being eaten by his Secret Service detail. How will they get inside? Hacking things off the dead is old hat for the gang. Doc’s first idea is to scoop out the FGotUS’ mummified eye to get past the retina lock system—Murphy’s first idea is that they’ve all lost their mind at this point, but he’s proven wrong when the gag-inducing plan works.
For a facility claiming to house the entire remaining government, Mt. Weather is a ghost town. Everyone they encounter is dead, lending credit to the notion that everyone really did die back when Citizen Z first lost contact. Roberta leads them within yards of the New Oval Office’s door before they catch sight of anyone with a pulse. Not that Johnson and Johnson are stellar examples of humanity after eight years living in a bunker playing Secret Service to an audience of one. Yes, after all that careful planning on the government’s behalf, not even their most secure base protected them. Within the first weeks, most succumbed to the virus and remain locked in the facility’s lowest level. Luckily, the President lives. At least the current one. Unfortunately Roberta and crew are not the first to ask for her help. The previous visitor ensured no one else could use the loophole in Black Rainbow’s launch procedure, cutting off both of the President’s thumbs. If only he were more patient and listened to the before mutilating her. The thumbprints to operate Black Rainbow actually belong to the sitting PotUS during the outbreak. And he just so happens to be downstairs, somewhere amongst the growling horde.
With all hands on deck, they descend in the lone functioning elevator. Leading the charge, 10k and Sarge ram through the undead clogging the hallway until everyone is forced to duck into an office for cover. Except Roberta. She’s cut off, retreats to the elevator to regroup, and winds up zipping down to the Omega floor, which isn’t listed on the control panel. While the gang and the President systematically check each individual zombie for the former PotUS, Roberta follows music to a broadcasting room for the Press Secretary of the United States where the teleprompter clearly has a speech ready for the PotUS. The man himself sits backstage, apparently duct taped to a chair moments before he turned. This part is far, far too easy. One wants to call bull. Then the other shoe drops
The sitting President is on Zona’s side. In the argument, she talks Sarge into following the oath she took upon entering military service and they take everyone else captive. Is St. Lilley seriously down with genocide? No. No, no, no. Once she realizes the President intends to let Black Rainbow run as Zona intends, Sarge defies her orders and kills her superior. The others sort out Johnson and Johnson, leaving behind three wicked pissed mad-Zs to chase them out of the facility. Roberta uses the adrenaline from re-killing the President to spark her dream for the next set of orders. Though vague, the vision tells her to find the Washington Monument and the underground facility at the edge of its vast shadow.
Much like Mt. Weather, the Strike Facility below Washington D.C. is inhabited by the dead and nothing more. The gang is focused on the task and clearing the zombies in their path, though there’s a quick joke about Murphy being responsible for the Third Strike as they pass the office where it normally would’ve been launched. For the most part the second episode is pretty somber. Not even Doc’s punchlines sell well when balanced with the revelations finally pouring in about how Roberta came to possess so much knowledge about Black Rainbow.
Turns out Roberta woke twice from the coma. The first time, Teller wakes her to ask for her help thwarting Zona’s plan to launch Black Rainbow. He gives her everything she needs via VR simulations—all the codes, hidden keys, and secret locations are run through the simulation over and over in order to burn it in her subconscious. The lynchpin to trigger the instructions, which will repress during her return to the coma, is the vision of her own flesh burning away under a black rainbow. Things take a turn moments before she’s to sleep again. Zona’s founder comes in to thank her for serving The Reset in such a monumental way. At some point, Teller is compromised and never tells Roberta until it’s too late. She’s not delivering an airborne zombie cure as originally promised. She is The Reset. Now either Teller is still legit, lying to The Founder, and the canisters in her possession contain the cure, or they’ve actually been racing to see which Zona faction can release Black Rainbow first for the entire season.
Inside the Strike Facility, Roberta pretty much checks out as her ingrained directive surfaces. She leads everyone to the control panel where the former President’s thumbprint will start the launch. Before that, she must install the canisters on the drone. Alone. That’s if she can beat Zona’s Mr. Sunshine to the punch. Which of course she does, but not before the red canisters get mixed up. Roberta installs what she thinks are the correct canisters in the drone and is hit with the end of her memories, the moment when Teller and The Founder explain about The Reset before returning her to the coma to finish healing. It spurs her to swap canisters. But before she gets to them, Murphy rushes to save her from an ambush by Mr. Sunshine and is exposed to whatever is in the red canister Teller had Roberta retrieve. In the rush to change humanity’s fate, Roberta winds up locked in the drone after swapping red canisters.
The gang can’t save her this time. Launching without problem, the drone takes her high above D.C. and dumps thousands of mini drones into the air. Her drone, having done the job, crashes in the mountains. Roberta’s last words are “Have mercy!” Are we to believe she mercied herself? Doubtful, but that’d be one hell of a way to wrap up the season. Roberta’s not the only one in danger. The others watch helplessly from the launch bay as the drones spread whatever chemicals made it aboard. Murphy is scarlet from the gas exposure. Doc’s happy-go-lucky nature takes a hike. In a fun last-minute twist, the underlying thing between Sarge and 10k is finally addressed. She opts to spend her final moments kissing the guy whose prowess with weapons kept her titillated since they met.
Like always, the writing team soundly wrote themselves into a corner to round out things for the season. Unlike last season, we’re back to massive-scale global destruction as The Thing To Overcome going forward instead of the fans simply having to worry if a handful of lead characters make it. It’s going to take fancy footwork to make it through alluding to the lead character’s death and maybe poisoning the entire world. I’ve got faith. While this show has an issue keeping the pace, it has no problems making weird, improbable things make sense in the end. Good news is there will be a season five. Syfy renewed Z Nation just before the holidays, making it one heck of a gift for the show’s fans.
Return to Mercy Labs: Review for Z Nation 411 By A. Zombie
Free from Chicago’s toxic foam, the team heads south for days. No one knows why, or where, or when this new side mission will end. Some weird sense of duty leads most of them along Roberta’s hazy path. 10k’s plan is a tad more complicated, but he knows deep down that the only way for his future to end happily is to follow the woman who kept him alive this far. It’s a little weird and slightly culty thinking, but 10k has a history of blind loyalty which fate happens to reward, though he’s got to be running out of universal brownie point by now. Everyone’s patience pays off when they reach a familiar building complex: Mercy Labs. Makes sense. During the original episode there was ample background building for Teller and his wife, seems a waste of effort not to bring it all back at some point.
This episode suffers from a little gratuitous time-killing in the form of flashbacks to the fight against The Man and his armored zombies, plus side trips to remember 5k and Red. There’s also too much filler when Roberta’s dream-walking through the lab, plus flashbacks to fill in information about Teller and Sarah’s son Andrew, and all that time the crew up north spends digging through files to find the Black Rainbow information. Getting to the meaty parts takes a bit, but once we’re there, it’s solid on the writing and acting front. Not to mention we finally, finally have the mission details in-hand.
Tracking down what they need means splitting up yet again. Roberta wanders, with 10k chasing behind after he takes a moment to mourn his losses alone. The dream takes her to an industrial refrigerator with about a dozen chains and just as many combination locks. A fungus-zombie interrupts the process. In order for Roberta to dream up the last combination, 10k has to hit her. Which, oh man, he does not want to do. If their lives depend on him ever selling that they’re arguing, they’re doomed. She goads him into getting the job done. Surprise, the fridge has a canister to match the one she’s already got. They join the others in Teller’s lab.
Sarge thinks she can reroute the solar powered batteries to work their radio for a few minutes. Doc and Murphy take her to the lab to find the power source. They find more than they bargained for after clearing a blockaded doorway at the back of the lab. During their first visit, Sarah worried about her son’s fate, begged Murphy to figure out what happened. Turns out Teller lied to his wife. Andrew naps in a suspended animation chamber powered by the solar panels atop the lab. Sarge faces a dilemma: Steal the kid’s saving grace or get the radio online? Opting for a middle ground only gets them so far. They barely make contact with Kaya and Citizen Z before the power cuts out, leaving the vital parts of Kaya’s message unheard. Roberta and Sarge have their first real heart to heart moment debating their next move. The fate of the many outweigh the fate of one, and Roberta spares Sage from pulling the plug on Andrew.
Getting the word out to Roberta isn’t as easy as digging through some files. Kaya’s having a little trouble readjusting to having her full family under one roof again; it’s distracting to want Simon, give him time to bond with JZ, but also figure out why ZONA was all up in their systems in order to maybe, probably, save the world. Plus there’s that mad-Z they never dealt with who almost chews Simon’s face off. Saving everyone’s day, Kaya pulls it together and what she discovers is . . . pretty much what they’ve been alluding to this entire season. So why this whole mystery thing? I don’t know.
Black Rainbow is a biological weapon meant to destroy whoever’s left after a catastrophic event. This is ZONA’s Reset. They plan to unleash Black Rainbow, hide on the island until all’s clear, then claim whatever’s left of the world as their own. The launch system is locked. But Kaya finds one loophole—they can cancel the launch at the base, so long as they have the thumbprint for the President of the United States of America.
Grab your good camera, gang. We’re going sightseeing at the nation’s capitol next week!
Something’s foamy in Chicago. With all the damage done to Mother Earth in the name of eradicating the zombie problem, she’s finally fighting back. A thick, toxic foam spreads from Lake Michigan across the city. Some sections are easily ten feet deep. On the outskirts, scant few buildings peek through the foam, blessed oases to recover from exposure to toxins. If only Doc and Murphy stumbled into one of those places, with 10k and Sarge following later. Instead, they’re reunited with Trouble One and Trouble Two, plus an odd yet competent barber who may have a few things to hide. Could it be the Tiny, the silent and heavily armed man upstairs? Or perhaps the carefully placed zombie pit under the barber’s chair? The list of what’s wrong with Sal the barber is long. Which is why Sketchy and Skeezy opt to swindle everyone instead of explaining how dead they all are once Sal hatches his great plan.
Nefarious duos are the honored guests in the episode. There’s our old friends, Sal and Tiny, then in stumbles two dudes who were nowhere near the radar for a surprise comeback, Dale and Roy—you’ll remember them as the saps who let Skeezy bite them during their “The Murphy” scam. Dale and Roy get the drop on everyone by pure chance, stumbling in from the foam shortly after a vomit-slick brawl. If there’s one thing to love about the Sketchy and Skeezy episodes, it’s the insane fight sequences. This one takes the prize for best so far, in my opinion. Cornered by the new pair, the mentally agile hucksters spring their plan. Skeezy’s been bitten by a mummified tanning bed zombie—or so he says. Obviously he can’t stay, so everyone votes, with the new pair breaking the tie. Sketchy opens up about his feelings for his friend before Skeezy is tossed into the foam to fend for himself. Dale and Roy move on with their own scheme, and with a little coaching from Skeezy opt to lock everyone in the basement. With the zombies they don’t know about. In no time at all, the bad guys are taken care of. Skeezy rejoins them, alive and well, and ready to take over the barber shop. The guys are finally settling down to earn a respectable living ripping people off from their own building. Good for them.
Where’s their fearless leader who should’ve kept them out of the mess? Lost in the foam, chasing phantoms and whacking Zs. Roberta can’t make heads or tails of Chicago’s crowded streets. Where there’s not foam, there’s zombies or abandoned vehicles blocking the way, further confusing the woman who’s been discombobulated since waking in Zona. At last she finds someone wearing a hazmat suit. They spot her and run, away from her or toward somewhere safe? Roberta plays chase with the speedy stranger until her body shuts down from exposure to the foam. Somehow she still makes it outside the toxic zone. The stranger? Doubtful he helped much. Turns out it’s Harold Teller, the man who set her on this path. Uh, one problem, he’s dead-dead, not undead. Whatever drives Roberta’s subconscious right now is powerful enough to create a fully-fleshed phantom, but is it compelling enough for fans to see this nameless mission through to season’s end? I don’t know. This seemingly aimless quest for something existing only in her mind isn’t occupying screen time nearly as much as the interpersonal problems in the main group, yet neither are pushing the plot forward with any urgency anymore.
We Interrupt This Program: Review for Z Nation 409 By A. Zombie
Interwoven through their quest to communicate are glimpses of Z-Day. Day Zero. The Day the Feces Hit the Fan. Whatever you want to call it, the writers took us back to the fateful day and gave a glimpse at how the media handled the situation. It also gives a startling clue as to how quickly the undead spread across the country. In a matter of moments, the news station goes from reporting a downed airplane to zombies eating the face of an Emmy Award winning anchor. One can only hope they weren’t still on-air when the carnage kicked into high gear. The action follows Carly McFadden, weather forecaster turned anchor who is first tapped to break the news about the crash. It’s weird to have hope that someone will survive day one again, but for a little bit that excitement is back. Will she make it? Can the chopper land safely? But we already know the answer. Hope, liar that it is, makes us forget for a second that the chopper is strewn across the road when the gang walks through town.
Back in the here and now, Roberta and Sarge strike out on the satellite front. The connection is severed somewhere. In order to make their call, they’ll have to plug straight into a dish up on the roof. Everyone else wanders the studio. Murphy makes himself at home behind the anchors’ desk. If not for the whole lack of TV and all, he’d be a shoo-in for that local news Emmy. The staff who were trapped inside shuffle toward the noise. They’re regular Zs and no match for the gang, who’ve been dealing with primarily mad-Zs since Red and the others disappeared. Up on the roof, they find Carly and give her mercy. Sarge gets the radio to make the call to Kaya. But by the time they do, her fight’s already over.
Hiding in the panic room will only work if no one finds Kaya, Nana, and little JZ. Considering Zona has all sorts of tricks up their sleeve, Kaya is extra vigilant. She sets up security cameras. Takes a peek around to see if she can figure out why they’re so far away from home. But it’s hard to stalk someone without risking them following her, so she retreats to put out another distress call. She’s followed anyway. The guy stands no chance. Kaya whacks him good. And then has to apologize to Simon. Together at last, the couple waste no time going back out to assess the threat. Unfortunately, they also have to cram in a lesson about mad-Zs since one follows Citizen Z around like a rabid puppy. The dead do more to take out the Zona guards than the living. In the end, Kaya and Simon fail to stop the man with a plan from snatching information about Black Rainbow and erasing the discs. At least we now know Black Rainbow isn’t a complete figment of Roberta’s imagination. My gut says there’s no silver lining to this Zona situation.
Crisis of Faith: Review for Z Nation 408 By A. Zombie
There’s a hitch in their giddy-up. The zombies never stop coming. A horde from the north is swiftly heading toward a collision with undead coming up from the south. Guess who’s smack in the middle? Our heroes. They take refuge in a church. This one isn’t unoccupied. Dead nuns go after the gang, but are taken care of without too much drama—except the bit where Roberta totally saves Murphy’s bacon and he can barely muster a thanks to her. They have ample time to work things out. There’s no escaping through the church’s doors. Some crack under the weight of so many zombies trying to get in.
Now’s the perfect time to stop and meditate. It seems odd, but though surrounded by zombies, the gang still wants to figure out what’s going on in Roberta’s head. Without Lucy’s connection to her, she’s go no one monitoring her mental health and empathizing with her situation. That’s a lonely place. Murphy’s newly inoculated self can try to do the same, with a little focus. When Roberta finally shows him what she feels day in and day out, Murphy’s entire perception of her changes quicker than one can blink. He’s more careful with her, too, checking on her throughout the rest of the episode.
The gang’s not the only living souls in the church; despite sweeping for more dead nuns, they miss the random guy hiding in the basement. Not sure what it says about our heroes, but their gut says this newcomer is a grave robber, what with all the religious paraphernalia hanging off his coat and all. Things aren’t that cut and dry, but they don’t get a chance to get into it because the zombies are nearly through the doors. Louis, the maybe grave robber, has another way out, but it’s via the crypt.
But first, a pit stop, maybe?
Louis seeks a rare religious artifact, a reliquary holding the finger bone of a saint reputed to heal the sick. The circumstances of the saint’s death, and that of another whose story Louis shares, touches Murphy’s heart. While attempting to raid the grave of a bishop in possession of the reliquary, Murphy opens up a little, shares what’s weighing down his heart. Does this mean he won’t devolve into a jerk again? There’s no guarantees with Murphy, but he’s far more in touch with his emotions and that of his team now that he’s vented some of what’s drowning him.
The uber-Zs have a new trick up their ratty sleeves. This particular strand of zombie spreads through the air. In this case, reanimating the long-dead bishop just as they pop the seal on his tomb. Just great. They desperately needed another uncontrollable problem on their plates.
At this rate only a miracle can save them. The exit Louis sees on his blueprints is blocked by two walls. There’s no other way out. Are those church bells? Turns out there may be a deity watching after the gang after all. Some zombies tangle themselves in the bell cords, drawing the other dead to the racket. Everyone makes it out unscathed, and hey, Roberta happens to find the reliquary on the way out the door. It’s not such a bad day after all. Unless you’re Louis. He parts from the group to continue collecting religious artifacts for the true believers to possess after the apocalypse, and is promptly flattened by a flying nun. Good thing Murphy pocketed the blessed finger bone. What? Didn’t notice that? Watch again, he swipes it from the reliquary just as he turns it over to offer back to Louis palm-down so he doesn’t notice. It’s a smooth bit of slight-of-hand. Maybe that’ll come in useful. Or maybe Murphy wanted a tangible something to hold on to that reminds him of Lucy.
The plan for Newmerica may be changing again. Louis gifts the group a battery and Sarge uses it to check in on Kaya. Things up north aren’t that great. Kaya, Nana, and the kid are under attack by Zona forces with no help in sight. They’re barricaded in a panic room, but that’s only good for so long as they have supplies and power to run the distress calls. Will Roberta chose saving Kaya, following the visions, or Newmerica? It’s not clear where they’re headed, but it’s certainly not into Canada at that particular border corssing.
Warren’s Wedding: Review for Z Nation 407 By A. Zombie
The episode begins with a lovely funeral for Lucy. They burn her body in a gigantic pyre, attracting every zombie in the area. At least she’s not making that final journey solo? The tension between Roberta and Murphy during this scene is practically a new character. They spend a lot of their travel time after the ceremony awkwardly avoiding each other, Murphy taking it so far he’s barely sitting in the rickety truck’s bed as they tootle down the road. This tension skews every decision the two make throughout the episode, down to Roberta’s shocking final order when the week’s fun and games wrap. Murphy’s coldness, his reticence to emotionally engage with Roberta in a way which may help her deal with the hallucinations adds a whole new dimension to their problems. Would they have been able to keep Roberta in their reality if Murphy did more back in Zona for her? At the northern-bound camp, she admitted what’s going on in her mind, yet they’re all so uncomfortable with her truth, they’d rather just follow her into this string of ill-considered trips eastward.
Internalizing his angst isn’t doing great things for Murphy’s decision-making skills. He insists they abandon the mission to help a woman zip-tied to a Ferris wheel. Rescuing her wasn’t enough, he volunteers to go inside a run-down house/sideshow to get her son, as well. No more families will be separated on Murphy’s watch. Or 10k’s. Or Doc’s. The guys play liberation squad. Roberta ends up following, probably just so they don’t get dead without her at least trying to save them from themselves. Sarge waits out the second rescue to watch the woman they saved.
Never thought I’d see the day when a show’s plot would center around Juggalos, but here we are. In this case, they’ve renamed themselves Zuggalos, because zombies and all that jazz. These fine, clown-painted folks turned a small carnival into their home. There’s all the recycled drugs one can snort. I wonder if it smells like pee, but really don’t want to know the answer. The Zuggalos also have home brewed drinks and some entertaining ways to pass the long days during the apocalypse. All of which our heroes are treated to when their rescue turns into captivity, and then a . . . rap battle?
The menfolk are all placed in peril—on a spinning wheel, in a whack-the-dolt cutout, and chained to an electrocution platform. Zuggalos keep them entertained while their King and Roberta get to know each other a little better. Little known secret is the mating ritual of the Zuggalo and here we’ve been given a rare glimpse into the magnificent spectacle. The King and Roberta start with music trivia. Things get hot under the collar and they move on to finishing lyrics. One thing after another and they’re so into it, there’s a full-blown rap battle to see if Roberta is good enough to become Zuggalo Queen. And how tawdry, there’s spectators. Of course our girl wins the battle, but will she follow through with the I-dos?
Considering her entire team is in danger, you bet your backside she’s going to play along. While Roberta’s getting ready for her big moment, Sarge finally loses her patience, mostly with Janice the ousted Zuggalo. When the action in the house suddenly goes quiet, Janice’s Mom Sense tingles. Trusting the new woman’s gut, Sarge heads into the house to make sure her team’s okay. But once Janice realizes her baby boy’s trying to wed without her approval, things flip on their head. Janice and the King go after each other. 10k and Doc manage to free themselves just in time to join the fray. There’s no end in sight until Murphy swaps spots with the arguing family and electrocutes them into submission. The peace is fleeting. Janice and her son don’t have even an ounce of the love and respect between Murphy and Lucy, much to his disgust and frustration. Talking from his heart didn’t help them, so he fries the pair.
Murphy’s reaction to the squabbling family puts everything into focus. Roberta comes to grips with her part in Lucy’s death—by following the hallucination she wasn’t there to stop Lucy, neither was anyone else because their focus landed on Roberta’s welfare. When they leave the blood-drenched house, Roberta breaks it down for Murphy, everything she’s going through. Then comes the kicker, they’re heading to Newmerica. Following the visions will only cost them more people they love.
The mission has changed yet again. Here’s hoping we actually make it to Newmerica. Maybe Addy will be there. But, oh man, that’s not going to be a fun first conversation.
Back From the Undead: Review for Z Nation 406 By A. Zombie
When the group realizes Murphy won’t make it without medical aid, they try to get through Roberta’s semi-permanent hallucination in order to beg her to pull over somewhere. Since she’s now either part robot or having one hell of a trip, Roberta’s already ahead of the game. Her internal navigation system leads her straight toward Bio-Mod, an abandoned lab somewhere near Eerie, Indiana. Now what? None of them possess nearly enough medical training to treat Murphy’s wound and the infection spreading up his arm. That’s assuming there’s even anything functional left in the building to treat him with.
They don’t get a chance to find anything useful. By the time 10k and Sarge clear the zombies on their tails, Murphy’s already crashed. He’s well beyond Doc’s skills. Roberta isn’t really in the room with them. Before she totally checks out from reality, her sole input is suggesting Lucy bite Murphy. Well, it works. For a little while. Lucy’s particular strand of virus isn’t as strong as these uber-zombies they’ve encountered throughout the season. This new virus takes a lot of energy for Lucy to fight. Too much energy.For what’s probably the last time they can pull it off without beating a dead flying shark, the wonderful Sara Coates rejoins the cast, this time to bring middle-aged Lucy to life. For a while, it’s a little hazy if they did indeed pull the mother/daughter switch because the blue makeup completely changes Coates’ face and she’s just so good at embodying Lucy that it doesn’t feel like another actress—as odd as that sounds. The episode takes a turn for the teary at this point. Murphy’s condition worsens, despite Lucy’s sacrifice. Everyone is assured this is the moment they finally lose the big guy. 10k and Doc are ready to give him mercy. Lucy isn’t ready to give up, though. After everyone leaves to save Roberta from herself, Lucy goes against everyone’s warnings and continues to bite Murphy until he pulls through the fever baking his brain. As expected, Lucy ages far beyond her actual years. The price of saving her father is her life, and it’s one she gladly pays. Once again, Murphy is left adrift in the world without family. Even his chosen companions are cut off from his affections once they carry Lucy out at the episode’s end.
While Lucy fights to save her father, Roberta’s freaky mind-thing leads her through the labyrinthine warehouse. Everything necessary for her mission is easily accessible because somehow she already knows where it is. But what is she looking for is she’s never been there before? A mysterious canister catches her eye. She takes it, and the antidote for whatever’s in there, then has a little nap while the drugs do their thing in her blood stream. I’m not enjoying the Roboberta thing. It’s not meshing with the story at all, something I feared back during the SDCC interviews when they said her mission would remain a secret until the end. This seemingly pointless wandering and constantly endangering her companions has a payout, but the promise is not quite compelling enough to watch a character we’ve loved for certain traits turn her back on everything which made her wonderful. Roberta has been a shining feminine light in the zombie genre. How many other shows would’ve lasted four seasons with a WOC at the helm? Everyone sees this as Murphy’s show, but it’s always been Roberta’s ambition pushing the plot, pushing Murphy into action. Take away Roberta, the real Roberta, and the show just doesn’t have the same heart to it—even with the spectacular performances during Lucy’s story line in this episode.
The monster-of-the-week is quite an intriguing beast. Dr. Caligari spent the beginning of the zombie apocalypse trying to make the best of a bad situation. His company wanted to graft zombie limbs onto humans. You know, make the best use out of a new resource. They’re just dead bodies, after all, and harvesting parts from the dead is an age-old tradition in the science community. One of Caligari’s assistants was infected. She attacked the doctor and another man, Charlie. Charlie turned. Caligari amputated his arm in time, but stupidly grafted Charlie’s hand onto his arm. Bing. Bang. Boom. A new Charlie grows from the attached hand, absorbing the doctor until he’s only hands and a face. A smart face, though, and one who knows Roberta’s never been in the lab before. There is a cop-out moment where instead of getting any information about the canister, the good doctor says something vaguely ominous. Before they get anything else out of him, Roberta feels Lucy and Murphy’s distress. Then they give the doctor mercy instead of sparing him to come back to the conversation like sensible people. All to maintain this mystery quest. The convoluted mess makes my brain maggots ache.
The Unknowns: Review for Z Nation 405 By A. Zombie
Guess we’ve kinda figured out why people randomly go missing. Someone or something uses a mind-crippling noise to abduct survivors—in the first incident, the seemingly sentient truck broadcasts the noise, from then on it’s used to curb everyone’s attempts to plan an escape. Whether or not all the missing people are shipped to the same facility, we’re given no indication. The current group finds each other eventually, but Sun Mei, Red, and the others are still MIA by the episode’s conclusion. That means more awkward, longing sighs from 10k every time Red is mentioned. Oh goodie.
What do these mystery beings want with the people they’ve abducted? Hard labor in dangerous conditions—a.k.a. this is a slavery ring with the crop being zombies who must be cleared from certain locations in an industrial building for a plan none of the enslaved understand. Roberta and a stranger fix the elevator situation. 10k and Doc nearly asphyxiate shutting off a toxic gas leak. There’s several other small tasks for the crew, as well. Sometimes they work together. Other times they are paired with a stranger. Sarge pulls the short straw, so she gets the random guy who is more interested in raping her than the task at hand. Writers, try harder. Find another way to scare new female characters.
Roberta thinks she’s lassoed the golden goose when their unseen captors paired her with a man in a Zona uniform. Surely if there’s a high-tech mass kidnapping scheme, it’s based with the filthy rich jerks on the doomed island, right? Nope. At least according to the guard. These invisible baddies aren’t picking on one team or another. They’re snatching anyone they can get their hands on in order to find something hidden in the building. Our gang never learns that secret. They’re too preoccupied with surviving the regular Zs, mega-Zs, and desperate prisoners who think Puppy Chow time is the best time of the day.
Despite the countless boxes in the warehouse, we only see a small handful of the captives. None of those make it out the front door when our gang makes a zombie-assisted break for it. I get the time crunch and all, but not one of the crew stops to think for a second to check the other boxes for their missing friends and loved ones. It feels wrong for them to ignore an entire warehouse of people, at least a couple hundred souls, in favor of this vague trip toward the east. Especially when it comes to 10k. For a guy who’s completely distracted by the loss of his love, he sure didn’t seem desperate to find her when he’s smack dab in the middle of a place giving the first indication that she may have also been kidnapped.
Continuity issues aside, there’s a far larger problem on their plates now. During the final rush to escape, Lucy attempts to save her new zombie friend from a fight. Murphy steps in and is bitten. He’s seemingly cured after the stay in Zona, yet recently resumed eating flesh in the form of self-cannibalism. So what’s going to happen when a fresh dose of the Z virus makes its way into his blood stream? Things aren’t looking good for the formally blue guy. We may have to say goodbye to Murphy as we currently know him.
A New Mission: Keep Moving: Review for Z Nation 404 By A. Zombie
Tensions in the group are high. They’ve lost more people, some to the Zs, others who’re just gone, and those they’ve lost contact with—in Lucy’s mind, she’s also lost her father to the cure. No one is really sure where they’re going or why they’re blindly following Roberta’s visions of a fiery future. After the Pile hits the proverbial fan several times, the group is at each other’s throats and liable to get attacked yet again if they’re not paying attention. Something’s gotta give. That something, everyone decides, is Roberta’s mysterious drive to venture east. Intervention time. She finally opens up to tell everyone what’s pushing her to keep moving all this time. Unfortunately it’s not enough to convince everyone and Newmerica takes top priority again.
There’s a lot of smaller, worrying things weighing on everyone’s minds. Warren’s is obvious, the compulsion to follow her vision undermines her loyalty to the group and their overall safety. This leads her away from the group where she discovers a glitch in the system, so to speak. Are they trapped in a computer or is Roberta’s mind still recovering from a two-year coma? Lucy just wants to help everyone, including the undead they find in TGP on her way to reuniting with Addy. Murphy’s got that ol’ craving for flesh again. Guess the cure isn’t a thing after all. Hope is what keeps 10k moving forward, thriving on the thought that Red is somewhere out there waiting for him. Kaya searches for Citizen Z, who never returned from his ill-fated flight. Sarge, though? It’s not entirely clear what’s pushing her to follow a bunch of strangers wherever they wander, no matter how many times they’re attacked thanks to their own poor decisions.
Keith Allan directed this episode. It’s slightly disappointing to see him handed an episode without much real substance. A lot of the character plot is rehashed lines from the previous episode, down to Doc repeating his dislike for the group separating. Even the fights between Murphy and Lucy are tired, without any new information or any new insight from having one character’s actor shape the episode. The entire season hinges on a vague thing Roberta feels and it’s already wearing thin, then they bring in a guest director and hand him a fat load of nothing much to work with like he can magically make last week’s dialog punchier in a giant parking lot. There’s also the small matter of those wonderful Z-rat POV shots during the chase, but when the Z-rat reveal comes at the end, we realize those shots are impossible. Is it just me or does this season feel far less organized than the others? A lot of what’s coming across wrong or tiresome are things which could’ve been stopped during a third editing pass through the script and consulting a solidly formed timeline. If the gang’s going to stop fire from raining on everyone and killing life as we know it, they kinda need to kick things into gear on the writing side.
The Vanishing: Review for Z Nation 403 By A. Zombie
The first reunion doesn’t go as planned, at least on Murphy’s end. A huge part of what kept him alive in Lucy’s heart were their similarities and the psychic link from their condition. Not only did he leave her again only moments after they’re reunited, he also is cured, severing their only means of communication throughout her first years—even if they didn’t speak directly, she at least felt her father somewhere out in the world. That doesn’t mean Lucy’s adrift in stormy, apocalyptic seas by her lonesome. Roberta speaks to her on another level, much like the connection Lucy shares with Addy. That’s an important connection to have as Roberta’s visions drag her mind further and further from reality. However, now it’s Murphy who feels left out—okay, honestly he always has because of the cure, being blue, and finding himself at the center of a global manhunt. He’s really not happy unless everyone’s singing his praises and inviting him to dinner. But can you blame a guy who was nothing more than a lab rat to everyone until the cure worked?
The only one pleased to see Murphy so far is Doc. Sgt. Lilley and Lt. Mueller don’t know what to make of their new arrivals, Roberta most of all. Their reluctance is understandable. When she’s not 100% in charge and giving orders, there’s fear and something they can’t figure out in her eyes. This distrust is what leads them out the gate and into the creeptastic woods to look for 10k. Not everyone returns intact.
It’s not entirely clear what, exactly, makes all that noise in the forest. Is it one of these new megazombies? A herd of them who’re ridiculously good at hide-and-go-seek? Or is this an unseen foe who’s responsible for snatching everyone else? Possibly, probably, all of the above. And isn’t that just terrifying?
The hidden gem in this episode is the personal connection between Lilley and Mueller. We’ve learned never to get attached to new characters because they inevitably kick the bucket in some horrible way or another, yet here the writers go, dragging in this heartbreaking moment at the episode’s end to really endear us to Lilley in particular and her astounding willpower. If there were any doubts that the crew could trust Lilley, they’re all cleared up now. But don’t expect a lot of chit-chat from her.
There’s a fork in the plot road when the episode ends. They can drive north into Canada toward the promised Newmerica and a guaranteed reunion with Addy. Then there’s the crazy path where Roberta just wanders off toward the east because her own voice in her head says it’s the thing to do—this all ties back into the black rainbow and its accompanying fire rain which dominate her every thought. Despite trepidation toward trusting yet another paradise scheme during the apocalypse, Murphy is the most reluctant to turn east and follow the woman who’s protected him for years. He knows nothing good will come of it, but in the end his veiled loyalty to Roberta wins the moral dilemma. If she’s going to march to her certain doom, he’ll be by her side. As will Doc and 10k. Hopefully the others, too, once they figure out what exactly could abduct so many people without a trace or even a cry from the victims. It’d certainly suck for all those characters to just be dead. That’s an awful way to take out characters who’ve been with the main cast for a while.