Warren’s Dream Review for Z Nation 401 By R.C. Murphy
We left our intrepid heroes at a grim place. Roberta and Murphy were injured with the same bullet. Zona forcefully collected a bunch of scientists. Addy, Lucy, and 5k went for a flight off a cliff, but forgot their wings. 10k and came back. A Zona ship hovered over the rest of the gang and seemed to aim their weapons straight at them just as the episode faded to black.
Two years later, things aren’t much better for the crew. Except Murphy. Like always, he’s adapted to his situation and flourished in ways no one alive could ever manage. Yes, alive. As in cured. No more blue dude or the suave white-haired devil, Murphy’s embraced his natural hair color . . . and sweater vests. He’s also secured a pretty plush life as Zona’s savior, a life which spreads to Roberta the instant she wakes from a two-year coma. It wasn’t a nice nap. Oh no. She’s plagued by a nightmarish, smoldering landscape dominated by an ominous black arch. These visions are nutso, folks. Intense, come out of nowhere, and sometimes contain things which make no sense now, but will probably be some brilliant epiphany down the road. Because that’s just how the show works sometimes. The visions also trigger a ripple-effect of small disasters plaguing Roberta. We haven’t seen the last of those flames, that’s for sure.
Elsewhere in the world, Doc’s become a seriously competent zombie slayer. With grace he’s never expressed before, Doc performs a hammer dance with a few undead’s skulls. His shining moment lasts about two minutes, then 10k whacks him upside the head in a case of mistaken identity. This new 10k, or Tommy as Red calls him, is a lot chiller than before. Almost too chill. He’s kind of an emotional zombie at times and it’s coming across awkwardly. The trio are heading to a pick-up spot for what’s promised to be a new start for humans up north where it’s too cold for zombies to survive. This could possibly be Citizen Z and Kaya’s new thing? There’s no confirmation of who’s in charge, only that there seems to be actual military involved at the camp. Oh and Sun Mei.
Z NATION — Season:4 — Pictured: (l-r) Tara Holt as Lucy, Anastasia Baranova as Addy — (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z 4/Syfy)
They’re not the only ones banking on the hope promised in this safe haven. Addy and Lucy are road-tripping to a better life. Along the way, Addy stops frequently to play hero. It also gives Lucy a way to work on her powers. The two don’t see eye to eye on some things. Especially if Lucy is on Addy’s right side, what with the missing eye and all. But their disagreements don’t stop Lucy from helping Addy help humanity even though the mission is long over. Which is how they’re caught by someone who may or may not be Zona goons.
Zona is . . . freaky. It’s obviously some man’s idea of heaven, all 1950’s middle-American city, complete with aimless afternoons playing leisure sports and women in skintight dresses. Murphy introduces Roberta to The Founder, an extreme survivalist who supposedly saw the zombie outbreak coming and set up a refuge for his wealthy pals where they could wait it out. No doubt the place will only get weirder as the season progresses.
Thankfully, Syfy has continuously saved Z Nation from the dust bin, no matter how wacky the show’s season finale. I mean, they did nuke a large portion of the USA at the end of season one yet still managed to make a coherent second season happen around a nuclear wasteland. The third season saw Operation Bitemark disband as Murphy sought to regain agency over his future, and his bid to control what happens to mankind in a zombie world. One would argue that splitting the crew was a good/bad choice, since it took away the key to making the outlandish personalities on the show work—Murphy needs Roberta’s practicality to stay out of the deep end. Without her as his conscious, he does things like enslave his friends. And that’s just not cool.
Luckily for us, during an interview this March David Michael Latt, one of the show’s producers, told Cartermatt.com that the gang would indeed come together again. The last two seasons were huge, monstrous things with plot lines racing in every direction, and the characters wound up chasing them in smaller and smaller groups in order to make the overall story work. Latt says that won’t happen in season four. “The good news, or it could be good news depending on how you read this, is that we’re going back to the season 1 definitive objective, the group being together, and the dynamics that make the series so good. The bad news is that it’s really out-there crazy.” As for getting any in-depth plot clues, or even a premiere date, his lips are sealed. The production seems to be on schedule. Barring any huge problems, it’s safe to expect the show to return in early September. But in the end, that’s Syfy’s call to make.
Z Nation fans living around Spokane, WA will have the ability to get a peek at the show’s production this summer. The show is turning the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture into a behind-the-scenes exhibit and functional film studio. The summertime exhibition, Z Nation: Behind the Camera, will include programs focused on local talent brought in by The Asylum who not only work on-screen as zombies and human extras, but also behind the camera. They’re opening up the filming to public viewing, as well, to give everyone a working idea about how much effort it takes to create the mayhem we see every week on-screen. Karl Schaefer, another producer for the show, says this is their way to give back to the Spokane community, a thanks for the support since season one. “The exhibit is kind of aimed at the 15-year-old kid who wants to know how to get into the movie business but thinks, ‘Oh, there’s no way I can do that in Spokane,’ ” Schaefer said. “But we just want to show people they can.” Keep an eye on the museum’s social media pages for the up-to-date program schedule. The exhibit opened with a zombie-filled party on June 10th.
Locals had the chance to audition for remaining background roles this last weekend. Sets have gone up in the museum, with a green screen stage built in the parking garage for effects shots. ZN stars have arrived, ready to tackle whatever weirdness the writers came up with during the hiatus. Keith Allan took a minute to post a zelfie when he rolled into town, saying he was, “About to step back into the apocalypse.” Russell Hodgkinson made a similar tweet on June 9th. We can’t wait to see where the cast takes their characters during the upcoming season.
Everybody Dies in the End: Review for Z Nation 314 by A. Zombie
The episode rolls onto the screen, following The Man and the hounds on his tail, Addy and Doc. The worst babysitters ever get some help from Grandpa, the zombie Lucy sent off on an unknown mission in the last episode. He’s kinda sweet. Too bad the nice guys always bite the big one in the end on this show. Grandpa does a pretty good job of leading Addy and Doc to the Zona base hidden in Mt. Casey. Only one problem: Their backup was last headed toward Puget Sound. They have no clue if and when help will arrive, so Addy makes an executive decision—she’ll climb the mountain without any gear or training; Doc babysits Grandpa. She seriously spends most of the episode uselessly scaling a mountain when the rest just walk in the front door not long after.
Dr. Sun and Roberta cobble together a communication rig and contact Kaya to get an update on The Man’s location. Thank goodness someone is at Northern Lights manning the computers. Citizen Z and Kaya’s uncle have been missing for twelve hours, and there’s not much hope left for their survival. Updated on the change in pick-up locations, the rescue team shifts gear and heads off. They end up stopping again long before reaching the mountain.
All the drugs in 10k’s system were bound to gunk up his system. The serums constantly battle the infection hidden in Murphy’s bite. In a blink, 10k goes from fully functional to each breath coming out a death rattle. By the time Roberta’s team pushes ahead to Mt. Casey, he’s pretty much toast. Only a Hail Mary can pull him from the drug-induced full-body shutdown. Do they really have time to try an experimental procedure on 10k? Not really. Roberta clearly states that Lucy is the priority, but somehow they all wind up playing doctor instead. How do you save a problem like 10k? Same way Dr. Merch accidentally saved Murphy—kill him. Dr. Sun drops the death bomb on Murphy’s reality with no preamble. When the zombies attacked during the original vaccine procedure, Murphy’s heart stopped. He’s been dead for four years and somehow looks better than some people after a week at the spa. Suddenly his brand of living doesn’t seem so bad, so long as one isn’t squeamish about eating brains.
Yet again we almost lose 10k. The doctor’s plan works, thankfully, snatching him from Death’s greedy paws once more. What will the long-term effects be? No clue. We’re not even sure 10k is technically the same kind of undead as Murphy. There’s no clue what balance of vaccines are in his system. If Dr. Sun doesn’t take the opportunity to study him, as well as Murphy and Lucy, she’s insane.
Curing the world will have to wait a little longer.
Roberta, Doc, and Murphy race from 10k’s newly-revived side to intercept The Man and Lucy before their transport arrives on the mountaintop. Being somewhat sane again, and the rational shot-caller since Murphy’s too emotionally compromised to effectively lead the rescue, Roberta attempts to talk The Man down from his plan. Why break up a family which never had a chance to bond? Why torment a child? It takes no time at all for civil debate to end and the bullets to fly. Murphy uses Roberta to distract The Man, shooting him so Lucy can race to his side.
It’s not the reunion anyone anticipated. Yes, Lucy readily embraces her father. Then she hits him. Several times. There’s also quite a bit of yelling about abandonment and her mother. Yada, yada, yada. There’s no time for personal problems with The Man still fully functional. Murphy and Roberta take him on, but he slips their grasp yet again. The Man hits Murphy and Roberta with the same bullet, in that order. If they survive, Roberta’s life will be incredibly different. As will their personal dynamic. There’s always been an almost loving respect from the pair, which strengthened greatly around the time they passed the Grand Canyon. How much will it deepen when they’re mentally connected? Then again, Roberta may buck against the change like 10k has, which resulted in his death and magical resurrection. Murphy or Roberta may die from the gunshot. We don’t know! The episode ends with the Zona aircraft—actually a United States Airforce vehicle from Zone A—firing a weird weapon at everyone on the mountaintop.
Know who’s not on the mountaintop anymore? The Man, because Addy pushes him to get him away from Lucy and the aircraft. Addy herself goes over the edge, too. Then 5k sprints over and jumps after them, wings outstretched like he can actually fly. I don’t even know what’s going on now. If the kid saves Addy, whatever. I’ll buy it. There’s no use over analyzing anything they do on here.
We’ve got the two lead characters bleeding to death. The team’s sniper just died and came back to unlife as a fully functional Blend, or something. They’ve gained a hormonal teenaged girl who can control zombies—except the Zona guards inhabiting the mountain our heroes are trapped atop, who keep turning in droves as their version of the cure fails. Their main fighter fell off a mountain. They did have two new mouths to feed, but now it’s just Red because 5k took a flying leap. Oh, and let’s not forget the impending doom hovering above the crew.
It’s going to be a very, very long wait until season four. I’ve got no clue how they’ll wiggle out of this corner. Though, it’s not as tight as the corner they wrote themselves into when Murphy nuked the entire USA, so it’s doable. Maybe. Hopefully.
Roberta saves Vasquez’s bacon big time. She stops Kurian from injecting the Zmurph serum into her newest crewmember and suggests Kurian take the inaugural dose. Trapped with no way to avoid outing the scheme, Kurian doses himself. He’s not quite dead yet. Matter of fact he’s feeling good enough to go for a walk. A short walk. To a box containing a severed zombie head, which La Reina orders him to stick his hand into as a test for the cure. Amazingly, Kurian doesn’t turn. It’s enough to convince La Reina to dose her entire crew—except Escorpion, a.k.a. Hector, who takes Vasquez off for another round of torture. He’s the lucky one. The serum works as intended, with a slight delay before Murphy is able to make them do a soft shoe to Brittney Spears songs—which he doesn’t do in this episode, but should. Taking control of Kurian, Murphy sets him to work making more serum.
Off in Hector’s torture chamber, Vasquez finally confesses to the attempted murder. As reward for his honesty, Hector has Vasquez strapped into what’s essentially an iron maiden, only with a zombie instead of sharpened spikes on the door, so a zombie maiden. There Vasquez is forced to listen to Hector’s woefully typical, “This bad stuff happened to me as a kid and that’s why I’m a murderer,” speech. I would have preferred to hear just about anything else from the character. He’s called away to a meeting. Thank goodness.
To say Roberta isn’t onboard with the Zmurph plan is a vast understatement. She washes her hands of Murphy’s plan for Kurian and the Zeroes the second she realizes it’s a thing which is really happening as they stand there trapped in what will probably become a nest of ravenous Zmurphs. Leaving Murphy to deal with Kurian, Roberta heads to warn the others that they need to get out ASAP. Before they fully formulate a plan, she’s called to the meeting with Hector and La Reina. Before she goes, the others are tasked with finding Vasquez.
At the meeting, Hector lies so much his pants spontaneously combust. Roberta calls him on the bull, admitting that Vasquez has no interest in killing La Reina, just the man who murdered the former DEA agent’s family. Murphy strolls into the meeting just in time to control La Reina, making the meeting go favorably for their group. Not so much for Hector. Murphy gets a little too eager to flex his power, ordering Roberta to kill Hector. They’re only saving grace is the meeting is amongst other Zmurphs.
Zmurphs Murphy loses control over moments after Roberta leaves with Hector leading the way to the torture room. The time to leave is, like, fifteen minutes ago. Kurian in hand—because he wants more serum even if the doctor is lusting for Murphy blood—Murphy runs to the lab. One can only assume he means to grab whatever supplies they’ll need to make a cure on the road. Roberta ends that plan by decapitating ravenous Kurian.
With Vasquez free and Hector locked in the zombie maiden, there’s nothing stopping them from walking out the same door they came in through. Right? Ha. Ha ha ha. La Reina and the other Zmurphs are on the hunt for their master. She recovers Kurian’s head before leading the Zmurphs through the power plant tunnels. Doc gets an idea to use the zombies trapped in the power plant to fight the Zmurphs, except the doors won’t open. That’s okay, Murphy here to save the day. He uses his powers to agitate the zombies, their weight breaking the doors.
Did anyone else kinda want this fight to suddenly stop and turn into a dance routine from Westside Story? Just me? Okay . . . .
The crew runs for it. Murphy lags behind. Guilt weighs heavy on the poor guy. He’s not okay with zombie on Zmurph violence, but what can they do? The mission is more important. Something he nearly forgot in the rush of having his own people to control. Despite misgivings, he leaves the underground power plant, joining the others on the now-deserted street.
Deserted except for Hector. It looks like the nutjob chewed his way through the zombie maiden. Hector and Vasquez have an honor fight. Roberta makes everyone stand down so the two can pummel each other. The fight ends with Vasquez tossing Hector to the zombies clambering to climb the ladder. That’s it for the Zeroes. Right? Maybe. We know Kurian’s head lives to see another day, but who is the one saving him at the episode’s end?
The gang borrows the Zeroes’ fleet of El Caminos and hits the road in style. They’re not far from the border. If they don’t muck things up, they could reach the lab in a day.
Their mechanic is out of commission—Roberta checked out after giving Charles mercy and isn’t planning to come back anytime soon. The others want to give her space to mourn. Murphy knows if she falls down that rabbit hole, they’re all doomed to follow suit.
“She’s got post-traumatic stress? The whole world’s got post-traumatic stress. Actually there isn’t anything post about it; we all got plain ol’ present-tense all traumatic, all stress, all the time. What makes her so special?”
Roberta is allowed to marinate in her feelings for the majority of the episode. Once 10k patches the radiator hose—and Doc stupidly dumps their entire water supply in the radiator—they find a trading outpost, where Warren proceeds to drink her weight in moonshine. Literally. That’s all she does until the last five minutes or so of the episode. Then when facing off with a zombie bartender, suddenly she’s ready to talk. Not to the living or the bar tender, but her lover, Charles. She blames him for dying and abandoning her to hopelessness, burdening her with a “beautiful lie” about the possibility of a better future with him by her side. In minutes she goes through half the stages of grief, landing on anger. Her anger transforms her into an efficient killer. But has she really moved on from the grief?
Mack is more than ready to move on. After the truck broke down, he and Addy scout ahead, looking for a place to pick up parts or even a mechanic who’ll do more than nap in the broke-down vehicle. Of course, they find nothing. Major Williams warned them, there isn’t much west of where his camp had been. Seizing the opportunity, Mack suggests he and Addy take their mysteriously-located motorcycle and run off together.
“Addy, the only promise we ever made was to each other—stay alive.”
She can’t leave Warren, can’t leave the memory of Garnett and how he saved her from the cannibals. Most importantly, she can’t trust Mack to not decide he’d be better on his own a week or two down the road. Reasonable. He’s willing to cut-and-run on people who’ve kept them alive for weeks. Who risked everything to save Addy when it wasn’t in their best interest. Mack can’t handle turmoil. With the weird flashbacks Addy’s had over the last few episodes, turmoil is all she’s got to offer. She needs the solidity of a large group in case she freaks—it’ll save Mack’s life at the very least. He agrees to go back. Senses there’s something she’s not telling him. It doesn’t matter. By the time they make it back to where they left the others with the truck, everyone is gone. Better yet, there’s a wall of zombies heading their way.
Cars are the number one fatality on this show. The trusty ol’ truck is showing some wear and tear—again. So of course the solution is to enter 10k in a live zombie-shooting contest at the outpost they found on accident. The prize is a .50 caliber rifle, which they plan to trade for a functioning car. The deal-makers are named Sketchy and Skeezy. I’m feeling huge waves of trust from these guys. Doc knows them from back in New York and vouches for their intentions. Spoilers: The plan doesn’t work. Of course. These guys aren’t allowed to have a reliable car, it’d make it too difficult to cause problems for them plot-wise.
Murphy is nervous and getting dumb with panic. He attacks a guy, Forman, to steal his car. During the struggle, he goes rabid, biting Forman’s neck. A little blood. One ticked-off drunk. And now there’s a witch-hunt on for Murphy. That’s when everything goes downhill—and how Roberta ends up chatting with a zombie bartender. Forman and his posse catch up with Murphy during the shooting contest. Doc, who’s been at 10k’s side with Cassandra, hears a ruckus and they dart off to save Murphy’s backside. A few misfired guns take out three or four innocent bystanders—including one poor sap using the outhouse and Forman. They turn zombie instantly. Except Forman. He’s just dead. Murphy inspects the bite mark he left and finds his tooth embedded in the wound. Turns out he is the cure after all. Here I thought they’d go through all this trouble for the cure to fail catastrophically upon arrival in California.
There’s still time for things to go wrong. They have to stay ahead of the zunami, first and foremost.