Welcome to the Newpocalypse: Review for Z Nation 501 by A. Zombie
Don’t rush ahead without looking for spoilers, first. They’re sneaky like that.
Z NATION — “Welcome to the Newpocalypse” Episode 501 — Pictured: Keith Allen as Murphy — (Photo by: Oliver Irwin/The Global Asylum/SYFY)
What’s probably the most noticeable thing about season five thus far is how drastically different the tone is right out the gate. They haven’t taken us all the way back to a season one vibe, that just wouldn’t work with a scattered, three-part story. However, going into this season it feels more . . . natural. Perhaps once they dropped the technology-driven story line, it allowed the plot to follow where the characters want to go on when acting on their own accord. And for quite some time the group had a few solid goals: reach Newmerica, and to run away somewhere less complicated. Operation Bitemark didn’t reach both goals as a unit, but everyone goes where they need/want to and it does wonders at making our old friends more recognizable. The entire Murphy and Bob walk at the end is peak Murphy. He’s never been so at ease with himself. We need more of this.
Doc leads the Newmerica-bound group with his heart, not so much his head. Which is how the show managed to make me crack part of my jaw off . . . then the scene plays out and Doc’s ruse is revealed. Round of applause to you guys for giving a dead person a heart attack. His makeup choices aside, Doc is doing an admirable job of getting not only his people to the new promised land, but also anyone they stumble across along the way. The ragtag group is mostly composed of folks who suffer side effects from the black rain. Yes, yet again our heroes are the source of some horrific ailment unleashed upon the dwindling human population. And as usual, there’s a twist. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Have you ever purchased an item online thinking it was assembled, only to receive an itty bitty box for what’s supposed to be a six-foot bookcase? That’s pretty much what Newmerica turns out to be. All that radio chatter made it sound like there is an actual established civilization up north, one just shy of building its first fast food place, at that. Someone up there must have worked in advertising before the Z hit the fan because they really sold the place well. What’s really waiting way up north for the gang? A dozen or so settlements caught in a political battle over a constitution in order to properly call the territory Newmerica. Guess it’s better than finding out Skeezy and Sketchy are running a new con. But can these people help when they can’t even agree on basic laws of the land yet?
If one overlooks the obvious appeal of the Z biscuits George hands out, this would-be leader still has the charisma it takes to unite people in a common cause. She’s empathetic. Calm. Approaches every scenario with a level head, even though the other party involved probably just wants to eat her brain. And unlike other leader-types the team has encountered, George freely offers information, aid, and shelter to all. Even the still-talking dead in the group.
Remember those side-effects? A major one is the fact that once the afflicted perish, they don’t stop doing what they were doing in the first place; they just continue existing, but with a craving for brains. Much like Murphy, actually. Where they differ is the black rain victims will turn full Z if their hunger is not addressed. Someone out there has the time and created possibly brain-laced crackers for this new variety of undead, Talkers. It’d be grand if the group found the Z wizard and made friends. You know, so they’ll never be without food for their dead pals. Nothing ruins a friendship faster than being snapped at.
But what about Warren and that huge cliffhanger from season four? Like a cat, Warren lives to fight another day, despite this being her closest call yet. Well . . . if we overlook the nuclear incident. And the gut shot. Okay, the apocalypse hasn’t been kind to Roberta. Things are looking up for her during this episode, though. After miraculously walking away from the crash with major, but not fatal wounds, Warren finds a farm with a lone occupant, Cooper. Wouldn’t you know it? This is the exact kind of place she looked for during those moments when the mission became too much for her. It’s quiet. There’s work to be done, and it rarely involves dealing with the dead. To cap it off, Cooper turns out to be a balm for the holes in her heart. A happy, smiling Roberta is someone we haven’t seen in years. Even if she’s only happy for this one moment, I’m glad the show let her just live for an episode. Even heroes need a day off.
Her time away from the group dwindles, though she doesn’t know it. There’s a hard decision coming for Roberta. Can she step away from the promise of a future in this new land with the people she’s come to love as family at her side? George won over the others in a couple minutes, maybe her magic will coax Roberta to the north, as well. Whichever way Warren goes, I think the main goal will be to finally settle and build a place to call home.
Chivalry is Dead: Review for iZombie 408 by A. Zombie
Dost thou not proceed with caution? Verily, there be spoilers lurking below.
Well, this brain is pretty much the DnD brain, but without the witty break where Team Zombie sits down to play out a game. Liv drops so much ol-timey language, only renaissance faire actors can decipher everything she says after chowing down on the brain from avid LARPer, Garrett. I’d like to go on to say there’s a world of variety in this case-of-the-week, but it boils down to yet another domestic dispute which relies heavily on lack on communication in a relationship to push a rather weak plot. Okay, sure, it’s sometimes fun to have a case reflect the lives of those involved, but it’s four seasons in and the domestic dispute cases, primarily ones where the woman is the partner who steps out, are the vast majority of what we see on-screen. The case outcomes are becoming increasingly predictable in order to push all the other story lines. How does one go from a dead guy in armor, to a zombie Thunderdome, to undead LARPers, yet decide in the end to make a woman’s sex life the sole reason for murder? Find another scapegoat, writers. Women are allowed to do what they want, when they want, with their bodies. This constant commentary on how women behave without any solutions in this mythical reality is akin to duct taping a cracked window in the middle of a category 5 hurricane. Fiction gives us a way to work through these problems, yet again and again this writing team barely scratches the surface on social commentary. For a show aimed at millennials, they don’t seem to understand how they think and process messages presented via entertainment.
This is where I have to come back to Angus’ story line. The concerning thing is, even after being called out for harboring a known harasser, this team still uses takes/dialog for Angus which lean toward highly inappropriate. In this episode, Angus orders his flock to savor their high-class meal. The tone and language he uses? It could very easily be used to explain a certain sex act, right down to his command that they swallow. Blaine even makes a subtle joke to back up the entendre. What are we supposed to do with this in-your-face disregard to a known problem? Not only are we forced to endure constant poor-taste dialog from Angus, but he’s also a vital part of Blaine’s sub plot. Every time I think they can finally write him out, he’s back, being useful in ways other characters could also be, so why Angus? Why not write in someone else with the manpower to do what needs to be done and leave Angus in the well?
Blaine’s problems don’t end with his father. Boss is back in town, ready to cash in on a pay day he’s waited for since one of his guys turned state’s evidence to rat him out. Casper is the only one who knows where Boss’ remaining cash is . . . or is he, now? Peyton, also after a quick buck in order to actually help the Underground Railroad, gets to Casper first. Which our bad guys don’t realize until far, far too late. In order to get his hands on the cash, Boss needs to snag Casper during his transfer to a minimum security prison—as promised in his deal with Peyton. Blaine doesn’t keep that kind of manpower handy anymore. Boss’ associates are all dead, in jail, or just done with him. This is where Angus’ flock comes in handy. They tip the bus, eat the prisoners, and hand over Casper for Blaine to enjoy. While I am not keen on Angus’ part in the plot, the moment where Boss, Blaine, Don E., and new goon Crybaby Carl watch/commentate on the mayhem is some of the purest comedy this show’s had in a while. There’s no gore on-screen. Just the guys’ reactions. And it’s hilarious.
Infiltrating the brain-smuggling group is pretty easy for Major since he’s great at manipulating people, then failing to follow his own moral code when it matters. For the most part, all he has to do is show up, get drunk, and make sure Russ doesn’t catch wind of his true purpose. Considering Russ is always inebriated or brain-wasted, it’s stupidly easy. Great for Major since he foolishly talks to Liv in public at the Thunderdome. After he passes whatever “test” Russ has, Major gets to tag along on a rough-up job for the brain thieves. The one thing showing promise for Major despite his deep ties to Fillmore-Graves? He lies to keep the scared zombies alive, though Russ really wants to kill them.
On the Renegade side of life, Liv’s having a hard time maintaining the separation between work, home, and illegal activities. First, Peyton catches her and wants to join the good fight. Then Isobel, one of the women being smuggled, calls in a panic while Liv’s at work. Liv’s old-timey brain antics actually scare Isobel a little, not a good thing considering these people are trusting her with their lives. Yet Liv never clarifies why she’s acting so weird, leaving Isobel to worry right up until the moment they meet at the end of the episode . . . and Liv’s scratch doesn’t cure her. So while, yes, they finally have the money to proceed at full-steam ahead, either Liv can’t make new zombies, or they’ve just found the terminally-ill key to reversing the zombie condition bottled up in a frightened young lady. Honestly? This is the kind of plot development they should spend more time on. The sub-plots are usually good, but this season some of it feels like stretching just to keep up the male-oriented story lines active. Let it go, writers. Let it go. You’ve got something good with the Renegade plot. Just focus on that, please.
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.
Zombie Knows Best: Review for iZombie 302 by A. Zombie
Not only has the production finally given Clive a history, but said history is heart-wrenching and explains so much about the character in so few moments. This non-cop Clive is probably my favorite character on the show to date. So why did it take so long to delve into what makes the man tick? Too stuck on brain gimmicks to undermine Liv? Who knows. Let’s just keep up with the gold they’ve given us. Why start the review with something so random? Because Clive’s mental state directly effects how the time line for the episode unfolds. We start at the end, with Cavanaugh overhearing someone shouting. It’s Clive. He has zero chill, so it’s obviously the perfect time to grill him about maybe having a relationship with Anna, mother to Wally. The woman in the shooting last week. At first, he plays it off like they were just neighbors. By the episode’s end, there’s a new ‘ship in the Fan Sea . . . at the bottom because we already know how the story ends. Clive does get the short end of the romantic stick lately. Though, not nearly as traumatically as Liv seeing as, technically, everyone she’s called boyfriend since the show began has died.
The flashback to Clive’s mustache isn’t the only barbed wire thread the writers wove in this week. Hang on to your hats. They’re preparing an avalanche of moral and social issues with the push to protect zombies. The implication of Wally’s family facing execution because some wingnut on a web-board doxed their dangerously paranoid neighbor is a huge red cape waved at a notoriously jumpy bull. It’ll be interesting to see how they unravel the message board mess. I guarantee Clive won’t keep his cool once they have names and faces to go with the malicious people hunting zombies in the city.
Alright, on to the crime for the episode. Cindy and Stanley Chen are at each other’s throats over something which will seemingly ruin the teen girl’s social life. A vehicle rams their stopped car, neither survive the accident. Liv whips up chili, two batches. For giggles, Major gets the moody teenager brain—keep in mind, Liv still has a turn as a dominatrix for the season and I’m struggling to see the gender balance when it comes to the extremes asked from the actors. It takes no time at all for Major to bounce around the morgue, singing along to whatever is hip right now. Meanwhile, Liv is so supportive of everyone she sets eyes on, it’s annoying sixty seconds into her new persona. Major has a body image meltdown and triggers a vision—Cindy holding up her cell phone to show her father an image she thought was disgusting, but when he says they have to tell the police, she won’t betray her friend Winslow’s trust. Turns out, once Liv gets the other half of the vision, Winslow has been in a relationship with her step-father. Okay, now my skin is crawling. So basically, a white family kills an Asian family over their own weird sex spat, lies about it without shedding a tear, and they’re all eventually rounded up by the police for their part in the murders.
While Clive solves the Chen case and broods about Wally and Anna’s murders, the remaining Team Zombie members deal with other fires in their lives. Ravi fixates on Peyton’s sex life in a really unhealthy way. The writers need to get over it already. Using jealousy to propel a love story undermines the integrity of the relationship. Major has a phone number Natalie gave Janko, but no clue where it leads to. And Liv is faced with the possibility that Vivian Stoll will put her zombie commando team on the offensive sooner rather than later after the anti-zombie message board comes to light. The same team Major is training for, but he can’t focus while on whacky brains to help Liv solve crime. This is where they butt heads. Liv feeds for a noble purpose to subdue her guilt over cannibalism. Major sees brains as fuel for his muscles and mind, so why not use the Fillmore-Graves approved brain mash to get what his body needs without the distracting visions and mood swings? He’s too teen-brained to really hash out the problem, but rest assured they’ll come back to it when he’s more himself.
Coming up, daddy drama with Blaine. It’s going to be brutal. I can’t wait.
Heaven Just Got a Little Bit Smoother: Review for iZombie 301 by A. Zombie
There’s not much of a time gap from the finale to the season opener. A whopping two minutes, actually. That’s so we can continue to watch Stoll wield her impressive skills. Within moments of hundreds dying in an attack, she’s spun a story, added input from Liv, and ordered her people to blow the building to destroy evidence. Wow. I can’t even walk and chew gum without really focusing—decaying brain and all. The new boss in town butts heads with Team Z at a follow-up meeting the next day. But not everyone thinks she’s a tad paranoid to fear D-Day—Discovery Day, when humans learn zombies exist. Major’s turn with zombie hunting left him with a unique perspective on how the average person would handle the news. Considering his path, everyone is doomed. They may as well tell the zombies to invest in those weird cavern homes. Stoll’s plan for the city means there won’t be an army of Majors running around. How far do her preparation plans reach? Well, she’s obtained the only enhancement drug for the undead, has a slew of armed soldiers, and it only takes one second to “breed” a new zombie fighter, compared to the traditional eighteen or so years it takes to make a human soldier. I’d say she’s off to a good start, and knows it. Clive is so not on board with anything he hears in this meeting. He’s still trying to mentally hurdle the Big Z news, let alone the notion that his city is in a turf war, where one side will eat the other side if given too much freedom by their leadership. It’s not all doom for him this day. He sees Wally, a kid who used to live in his building, who just happens to be a zombie. The peeks at Clive without his copface are so quick, one almost misses the chance to see what’s really behind the badge. We may get more of these glimpses, seeing as the zombie haven plans may be what cost Wally’s family their lives later in the episode.
Seeing as the party and ensuing riot were pretty massive, there was bound to be a few slip-ups when cleaning evidence and making sure any survivors were on the right team. There’s two notable mistakes haunting the gang so far—a dead body with brains in the stomach, and the cowardly front gate guard, Billy Cook. The guard finds his way to nutjob talkshow host Chuck Burd’s radio booth. Unfortunately, Clive and Liv are too late to stop him from dropping the z-bomb on live air. Burd has enough proof to become a serious pain in the backside to the zombie-protection movement. He’s one of those who love to incite violence just to have something else to yell about. The second problem for the gang rolls into the morgue, accompanied by Ravi’s old boss, Katty Kupps from the CDC. Talk about tension; none of it sexual. Ravi and Kupps snip at each other pretty much nonstop until he and Liv get the call about Wally’s family. The fighting could get tiresome. Or we could simply enjoy Christina Cox while she’s on the show and hope her character morphs to something more than just Ravi’s antagonist.
There’s turmoil at the mortuary. Don E. is done playing punching bag to people more powerful than him. He’s also one-hundred-percent convinced Blaine is faking amnesia as a power play. With a terse conversation, the band splits. Blaine may not know who he is, but he knows he doesn’t have to take abuse from someone who accidentally admits he’s lied about the business arrangement between them. In a last petulant effort to rob Blaine, Don E. searches the basement. He says one last goodbye to Chief, and checks his pockets for the missing cash. That’s when Don E. strikes gold—Angus DeBeers’ frozen body. Cha-ching. It’s not a couple grand in small, non-sequential bills, but if he can convince Angus to work together, the income will flow like the Mississippi. Judging from their first business meeting, it’s going to be hell for anyone standing in their way.
A missing father may be the last thing on Blaine’s mind. Actually, he’s not on his mind at all since he doesn’t remember having a father, let alone freezing the surly jerk. Nor is he concerned about Stoll, whose husband he blackmailed and she thinks had murdered. No, Blaine’s mind is all about helping Peyton. And boy does she need help. Boss is on the run, tucked in a country which won’t ship him back home for her to punch in the nose. With that major worry taken care of, she should’ve been able to relax. Only, now someone’s harassing her via Twitter. Why not call on Ravi for help? He’s wigging after finding out she slept with Blaine. Because that’s how well-adjusted men earn the trust of their dearest once again.
Damn. My eye rolled under the desk.
The gang is still recovering from the Max Rager party. It won’t be a quick fix, especially since the brain keeping Liv from mourning Drake wore off. Settle in for some head-in-sand determination from Liv as she flails around, coping in her own headache-inducing way. Oh, and next week, Major turns into a teenage girl. So can’t wait for him to, like, finally get some chill, or whatever. I can’t believe I wrote that sentence. Anyway, I wonder how his new boss will take to the weird brain shenanigans from the morgue crew. Stoll doesn’t seem like one to suffer fools lightly.
Look at that, it’s time for another round of torture the zombie. I know. Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth. I could be lying on the cold ground with a machete in my skull, yada, yada, yada . . . . But could the ZSC gift horse stop dredging up SyFy films for me to review? Obviously they didn’t learn their lesson after I reviewed 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. As a matter of fact, the plots for the two films were so similar, I stopped to make sure I hadn’t watched the first one again by mistake. So, what is Rise of the Zombies about?
Starring:Mariel Hemingway, Chad Lindberg, LeVar Burton, Heather Hemmens, and Danny Trejo. Rated: TV-14 (Violence, gore)
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, a ragtag group of people finds save haven in Alcatraz, until the undead manage to swim to the island and put them all in danger. Driven from the prison, the survivors of the attack hunt down a scientist who is working on a vaccine for the zombie virus. He may be their only hope to survive in a zombie-filled San Francisco.
I had to write that synopsis myself. SyFy assumed the fans didn’t need to know what the film was about beyond “zombie” being in the title. Because in their world, there is only one zombie film. They just rotate out locations and actors. Gotta say, the casting for Rise of the Zombies caught me by surprise. In a good way. If the cast hadn’t been so wonderful, the awful cheesy dialog would’ve been completely unbearable. How many times did they honestly need to shout, “There’s another zombie!” Yes, we see the zombies. They aren’t exactly ninjas. And there were a lot of them. Over an hour of the film was pure zombie attack scenes with little or no dialog. Which may be why, by the end of the film, I had no clue who the characters were. They had no history. No back story. We catch up with them at the prison and as far as viewers are concerned, every single character had been born there from two rocks rubbing together vigorously.
The blood and gore for the zombies themselves was pretty good, aside from a few understated background zombies who got too close to the camera and looked like Cousin Joey who happened to be in town that day and sneaked onto the movie set. Again, SyFy abused the hell out of computer-generated blood splatter. Why does anyone go that route for easy-to-rig FX gags? CG blood looks cheap and only really works as filler. Not the entire effect. Then it looks like someone handed a kid frames of the film on MS Paint and let them use the spray paint brush on it willy-nilly. All of the FX makeup budget went on to the zombies. The gags rigged for humans were seriously lacking, downright laughable at points. Apparently they were an afterthought.
SyFy tried to make Rise of the Zombies edgy. They even ripped off some of the philosophical issues brought up on The Walking Dead —Suicide, children born in the apocalypse, and what God thought about them killing zombies. The problem is, the script sucks. So while the writers thought they were being deep, the actors had nothing to deliver other than a hazy conviction that they were right. We get no emotional attachment to the characters. When they die, oh well. What’s the point of watching a post-apocalyptic film when you’re watching the clock so you can move on to something else? The film is not engaging for fans.
I’m going to give Rise of the Zombies two ruptured eyeballs out of five. Like all SyFy original movies, this is best viewed while surrounded by friends and a keg of beer. Maybe two kegs.
Sushi Girl Starring: Tony Todd, Noah Hathaway, James Duval, Andy Mackenzie, Mark Hamill, and Cortney Palm. Rated: R (strong bloody violence, torture, language, nudity, and drug use)
My guardian angel came in the middle of the night and dropped off a stack of films to review. Sitting on top was Sushi Girl, starring Zombie Survival Crew First Lieutenant Tony Todd. While it isn’t one of the usual zombie flicks the ZSC asks me to review, I gladly took the opportunity to support one of our own.
Fish has spent six years in jail. Six years alone. Six years keeping his mouth shut about the robbery, about the other men involved. The night he is released, the four men he protected with silence celebrate his freedom with a congratulatory dinner. The meal is a lavish array of sushi, served off the naked body of a beautiful young woman. The sushi girl seems catatonic, trained to ignore everything in the room, even if things become dangerous. Sure enough, the four unwieldy thieves can’t help but open old wounds in an attempt to find their missing loot.
Sushi Girl kicks off slowly, easing into a noir vibe — complete with flashbacks, intrigue, and mood-building soundtrack. In typical noir fashion, the film takes a few twists and turns, at one point hitting levels of gore on par with Japanese horror movies. The detail in the FX makeup is unsettling at times, giving viewers an eyeball-full of blood that’s sure to linger for a while. But the gore isn’t gratuitous. It is there to make the viewers uncomfortable, to drive home the idea that these characters will do anything to discover the truth about their missing loot.
The true beauty of the film comes from the cast, including a couple great cameos during one of the flashbacks. Tony Todd reigns as head badass in the motley crew of thieves. It’s a role we’re used to seeing Todd portray, but he does it so well, it is difficult to consider anyone else filling the slimy shoes of his character, Duke. Mark Hamill is completely unrecognizable in the role of the sociopath, Fish—with a few hat tips here and there to his great voice acting work as The Joker. His performance is the hardest to stomach, witnessing how far he delves into the joys of torturing a man.
The sushi laid out on the living platter didn’t seem quite as appetizing after watching the guys play their torture games. I felt like Rudolph, left to sit and watch the fun.
I’m going to give Sushi Girl 3 ¾ severed fingers out of 5. The story is well-written, with plenty of twists in what appears to be a straight-forward plot. Watch this one through to the end. You do not want to miss the final ten minutes and Cortney Palm’s moment to shine.