Left in the Dark

Left in the Dark
by R.C. Murphy

Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.

I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.

Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.

Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.

For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.

Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.


Gearing Up for More Z Nation

Gearing Up for More Z Nation
by R.C. Murphy

First of all, we will not have to wait until October to visit with our zombie-slaying pals. The show will begin in September, possibly near the beginning of the month. However, Syfy has not announced a firm date yet, so keep your eyes out for an official announcement from them sometime soon.

Season four will have thirteen episodes. Episode four has a surprise guest director. Well, not much of a surprise because Keith Allan was still pretty wound up from his time in the director’s chair. Allan said of the acting/directing combo, “It was profound and exhausting.” Unfortunately, there’s no downtime in the end days and the gang was headed straight back to Spokane for work on episode five after the convention. The script for an upcoming episode scandalized Russel Hodgkinson, he admitted during one interview. Guess Doc talking to Elvis and sharing Z-weed with a zombie won’t be the craziest thing we see from everyone’s favorite character. D.J. Qualls was in attendance, much to fans’ relief. Citizen Z will return for the new season, and he’s got a huge weight on his shoulders. Family changes a guy, after all. Qualls said his character’s main focus is to make the world safe for their child. And maybe a change in wardrobe. Warren’s forthcoming story line should be interesting. Kellita Smith said, “This journey Warren is on this season scares and excites me.” If Smith is scared, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

So what’s going on? The cast were pretty tight-lipped about specifics. We did learn that season four takes place two years after the season three finale. Why? The production team wanted the chance to hit the reset button for everyone—from the main crew, to the group in Zona, and beyond. They’re not going to ignore that timeframe; all the story gaps will eventually be filled in. The only thing we’ll be completely clueless about is Roberta’s new mission. While it will dominate the plot, the gang says nothing is actually revealed until episode thirteen. Not sure how they’ll keep the audience out of the loop that long, but color me intrigued.

After the cast spoke at their panel, the production announced the new guys brought in for season four—Henry Rollins, Tara Holt, Grace Phipps, and Michael Berryman. We also learned that Lucy will be a significant part of the season. And no, things are not any better between father and daughter. Murphy still has a lot to learn when it comes to fatherhood. Luckily he’s got the team by his side again to help with that.


Gear Up for Z Nation Season 4

Gear Up for Z Nation Season 4
by R.C. Murphy

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.


Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 4

Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 4
by R.C. Murphy

If one thought other shows were out for main cast blood, while compiling this series, I discovered it has the highest main character death rate, and the secondary characters who’ve bitten the dust likewise captured the audience’s heartstrings. Rarely is a death on this show a “good riddance they’re gone” moment. It just so happens that the adventure-of-the-week storytelling style lends wonderfully to writing many, many deaths because next week, the main cast will find someone else to help them or hunt them. Not to get caught in a pattern, the show’s writers also aren’t afraid to tap side characters to make a comeback, like Sketchy and Skeezy. Unfortunately for those we’re revisiting now, that is not an option.

While, yes the turnover rate for main characters is high, the number of guest stars to shuffle off the mortal coil in Z Nation is only rivaled by those killed off in huge battle scenes on shows like Spartacus or Game of Thrones. Over three season, this show has delivered weekly doses of laughs, plus the chance to see actors in the apocalypse who normally wouldn’t be associated with the genre. These temporary characters are always fun. Some of them would’ve made great additions to Operation Bitemark.

Except, maybe, Gideon Gould. When we met Gould, he was trapped in a hotel where his team building seminar became survival of the fittest. As a published psychologist, he felt it necessary to micromanage the microcosm inside the barricaded hotel. But by the time Roberta and gang paid a visit, the perpetual team building had already done significant damage to the relationships within Gould’s group. Basically, he really sucked at what he did and only continued because it made him feel good. A talking stick upside the dome doesn’t have the same sort of satisfaction for Gould, but at least he can move on to a better, cleaner place.

It’s always a pleasure to catch Anthony Michael Hall at work in a comedic setting. He made Gould hysterically sanctimonious during an episode where it wasn’t clear if our heroes would make it free alive. Post ZN, he’s joined the drama Murder in the First for season where he plays Paul Barnes, father to hard-living pop star Alicia Barnes. Hall joined Elle Fanning and Brendan Gleeson in the film Live by Night, directed by Ben Affleck. In The Lears Hall stars in the family comedy alongside iZombie‘s Aly Michalka and Sean Astin. At the end of the month, keep an eye out for War Machine, an absurdly-told war story starring Hall, Brad Pitt and Anthony Hayes.

That alien episode was fun, right? Weird as they were, ultimately Dan Scully’s antics will forever live on in ZN fans’ minds. Scully toyed with Operation Bitemark when they reached Roswell. First, presenting himself as a skeptic saving them from the local so-called alien expert. Later, when Scully needed to steal a high tech plane, he fashioned himself, and several zombies, into aliens in order to confound anyone who may stop him from returning to Zona.

It takes a true weirdo to bring a man like Dan Scully to life. Good thing we live in the era of Doug Jones and his outstanding creature work. Bonus, Doug’s face is pretty good on-screen to, so it’s a treat to see him sans-makeup during the first part of the episode. For the most part, Jones has gone on to do what he does best, scaring the pants off everyone in spectacular costumes. Jones was in head-to-toe creature makeup for FX’s The Strain as The Ancient. On Halloween, Jones’ version of Count Orlok will finally be unleashed on the world in the upcoming reimagining of the classic film Nosferatu. Jones filmed a truckload of movies in a short amount of time, including The Midnight Man, We’ve Forgotten More Than We Ever Know, Beneath the Leaves, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and he is the titular character in the horror flick The Bye Bye Man. CBS recently announced a new addition to the Star Trek franchise with the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery, in which Jones will portray Lt. Saru. In December, don’t miss the chance to see Jones working alongside long-time collaborator Guillermo del Toro in the Cold War era fantasy The Shape of Water.

Beside every badass in this show is an equally dangerous woman. When Escorpion picked his second-in-command, he didn’t mess around. Corinne took guff from no one, loyally serving her commander until his conscience took him on another path. She was what Roberta will have to become in the upcoming season, fierce and deadly with no time wasted on sympathy.

Z Nation was the oddball jumping-off point Nidhi Ghildayal needed to kick her TV career in gear. Since shedding her Zeroes facepaint, Ghildayal has filmed two episodes of the popular soap opera Days of Our Lives. She guest starred on the CBS crime drama NCIS: New Orleans, along with Pure Genius and she appears in the second season premiere of Hidden America with Jonah Ray.


Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 3

Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 3
by R.C. Murphy

Too many to count have found their way to the great zombie-free haven in the sky. If one thought other shows were out for main cast blood, while compiling this series, I discovered it has the highest main character death rate, and the secondary characters who’ve bitten the dust likewise captured the audience’s heartstrings. Rarely is a death on this show a “good riddance they’re gone” moment. It just so happens that the adventure-of-the-week storytelling style lends wonderfully to writing many, many deaths because next week, the main cast will find someone else to help them or hunt them. Not to get caught in a pattern, the show’s writers also aren’t afraid to tap side characters to make a comeback, like Sketchy and Skeezy. Unfortunately for those we’re revisiting now, that is not an option.

Move aside, gentlemen. This week we’re catching up with three women who are unforgettable additions to the Z Nation family.

Dr. Merilyn Merch was, for the longest time, the shadowy boogeyman on the show. Murphy’s angst centered on finding the woman who made him the monster he is today. Her moments were few, mere glimpses to keep her relevant until the big reunion on the submarine. Whereas fans were robbed of Cassandra’s personality and uniqueness post-bite, Merch fought off Murphy’s control and regained her sense of self. Boy did she give the big guy a run for his money. Before he caught on to her bid to liberate all enslaved blends, Merch was well on her way to creating an entirely new breed of people who may, in the end, be the only ones who survive the apocalypse. Her strength was admirable.

It takes an equally strong actress to bring a character like Merch to life. Lisa Coronado used her time away from ZN before returning as a series regular in season three to work on Grimm and the crime comedy film Worst Laid Plans, along with a couple short films. Since hanging up her lab coat, she’s worked on a new show’s pilot and appeared in Dead West. When she’s not filming, Coronado is an adiv gamer. In April, she participated in a charity gaming marathon benefitting The Halo Foundation. But the huge news coming from Coronado this year is her involvement in the highly anticipated revival of Showtime’s Twin Peaks, helmed once again by David Lynch (Mullholland Drive). Twin Peaks returns to television May 21st at 9PM.

BETA TEST, Sara Coates, 2016. © Mirror Images LTD.

The person who will probably leave behind the biggest legacy, despite only appearing in five episodes—including a wild fantasy sequence after her on-screen death—is Serena. Her pursuit of Murphy gave us the future for mankind. Maybe. Probably. It’s truly unfortunate Serena didn’t get to see what a hellcat her daughter has grown to become. She’d be the proudest momma in the apocalypse.

A woman like Serena takes an equally willful and zany person to transform her from a running joke in a script to a character who quickly captured fan’s hearts, and funny bones. Sara Coates is just that person. Last year, she joined the casts of Her Story, Dreamland, and Beta Test, also starring Manu Bennett and Larenz Tate. Resident Evil: Biohazard released in January, with Coates providing the voice for Marguerite Baker. Keep an eye out for Coates in Lane 1974 opposite Katherine Moennig, Newly Single with Jennifer Kim and Molly C. Quinn, and she’ll appear as one of many baggage-heavy teachers at an ESL school in the upcoming web series Language Academy.

I’m not sure we’ve seen a villain as grandiose yet terrifying as La Reina on television before. She was the very definition of over-the-top personality. Which made it so easy to believe she could’ve swayed so many to join her Zeroes. No matter how badly we wanted Operation Bitemark to make it to their destination, the mere three episodes with La Reina lured us into wishing, alongside Murphy, that they could stay in Mexico at her compound.

Fortunately, Gina Gershon is never idle and there’s no shortage of films and television appearances to keep fans thoroughly entertained. Gershon is a regular on the ’80s throwback series Red Oaks, playing fabulously dressed Fay Getty. She has also appeared on Empire, Crashing, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Gershon joined Sean Astin and Sammi Hanratty for Bad Kids of Crestview Academy, based on the graphic novel Bad Kids Go 2 Hell. Want a laugh? Gershon, Sean Young, Ralph Macchio, and Jeff Kobler star in Lost Cat Corona, pitting a man against the wild outdoors—okay, his neighborhood—to find his wife’s missing cat in a city of seriously weird people. Coming up this year, Gershon will appear in a modern take on The Little Mermaid. She stars alongside Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway in the upcoming drama Inconceivable. On August 25th, Gershon, along with Charlie Sheen and Whoopie Goldberg, will star in 9/11. The film is based on the tragic event and follows a small group as they attempt to escape the World Trade Center’s North Tower.


Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 2

Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 2
by R.C. Murphy

Too many to count have found their way to the great zombie-free haven in the sky. If one thought other shows were out for main cast blood, while compiling this series, I discovered it has the highest main character death rate, and the secondary characters who’ve bitten the dust likewise captured the audience’s heartstrings. Rarely is a death on this show a “good riddance they’re gone” moment. It just so happens that the adventure-of-the-week storytelling style lends wonderfully to writing many, many deaths because next week, the main cast will find someone else to help them or hunt them. Not to get caught in a pattern, the show’s writers also aren’t afraid to tap side characters to make a comeback, like Sketchy and Skeezy. Unfortunately for those we’re revisiting now, that is not an option.

This week, we’re saying one last goodbye to three men who kept Operation Bitemark safe, despite their rough edges.

On paper, Mack wasn’t an ideal hero. A hockey player—fresh off the ice, encumbered by pads and skates—with a gentle heart surely wouldn’t make it that far when the zombie apocalypse kicked off, right? Well, this one made it longer than most of humanity. Mack’s survival was thanks in part to finding and helping Addy early in the outbreak. Keeping her safe kept him safe as well. It wasn’t until they split emotionally that Mack’s time started to run out. He got reckless, stopped caring for his survival since it wasn’t tied to hers. The writers weren’t that obvious, but looking back, Addy’s nightmare episode was the beginning of Mack’s end. He said his last goodbye to her, so at least he didn’t die alone without a friend to offer mercy.

Losing Michael Welch on the show was rough on fans. The Addy/Mack dynamic was a rock in the turmoil around Operation Bitemark, with Welch providing a huge chuck of the heart for the show through their romance. After Welch hung up his zombie-stomping boots, he hit the ground running. He’s been on Fox’s Lucifer at the end of its first season, played Franklin D. Roosevelt for Comedy Central’s Another Period, and filmed an episode for ABC’s The Catch. Welch joined Erick Avari and Mary-Margaret Humes in the internet crime drama Chasing Eagle Rock. Where else can fans catch Welch in action? Keep an eye out for M.F.A. also starring Francesca Eastwood and Clifton Collins Jr., A Killer Walks Amongst Us, and The Grounds. Welch, Jack Campbell, and Catherine Kresge joined forces for the film Asomatous, which released earlier this month. There’s a few other projects on Welch’s plate to look forward to, as well.

Vasquez came in later than most of the cast, but nevertheless became an integral reason why the mission to reach California wasn’t a complete failure. Ultimately, Vasquez’s pre-Z past left too many scars on his mind. When his personal losses were too much to handle, he shut down emotionally. When the losses to humanity reached the critical point, Vasquez went a little nutty and left the gang to do his own thing. Paying homage to his fellow traveler’s dark side, Vasquez/Escorpion fashioned himself into the only law enforcement in the death-ravaged land. Take what’s not yours? His Red Hand will make an example of you. But straight-up carnage disguised as justice wasn’t enough to keep the guy from taking a much-desired dirt nap.

Matt Cedeño not only brought another dose of badass to the team, but provided more tension for the show which, without such strong characters, would become a colossal joke. Not an intentional one, either. Cedeño was Z Nation‘s straightman in a way no one else has managed before or sense, giving zanier plots and characters someone to balance against. After saying goodbye to the ZN gang not once, but twice, Cedeño stalked the original vampire family during the third season of The CW’s The Originals. Most recently, Cedeño was made a series regular on Starz’s Power as Cristobal.

What do you do with a problem like Escorpion? He came onto the stage ready to break up the band and take over the world alongside La Reina. Then, like the Grinch, his heart grew while watching a group of misfits come together in order to save humanity, and he threw off the shackles of badguydom. At Roberta’s side, the newly reformed Hector saved the day. A lot. Dude gave it all he had to keep the mission moving, to keep Roberta moving. Losing Hector and Vasquez in the same episode was perhaps one of the cruelest things these writers have done to date.

I swear Emilio Rivera doesn’t sleep. He was busy not only making ZN, but with a few other projects during his tenure on the show. Turning in his tough guy leather, Rivera’s next television roles were both law enforcement. First, Rivera joined Amazon’s Hand of God as Sergeant Kessler. Then on Saints & Sinners, he played Officer Francisco Cooper in the first two episodes of the show’s second season. Rivera’s upcoming projects are numerous, including Loca with Danny Trejo and Danay Garcia, and Badsville starring Robert Knepper and Tamara Duarte. Also keep an eye out for Rivera in Smartass, Time in Between, and he’ll appear alongside Juaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, and Rooney Mara in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.


Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 1

Catch You on the Z-Side: Vol. 1
by R.C. Murphy

Too many to count have found their way to the great zombie-free haven in the sky. If one thought other shows were out for main cast blood, while compiling this series, I discovered it has the highest main character death rate, and the secondary characters who’ve bitten the dust likewise captured the audience’s heartstrings. Rarely is a death on this show a “good riddance they’re gone” moment. It just so happens that the adventure-of-the-week storytelling style lends wonderfully to writing many, many deaths because next week, the main cast will find someone else to help them or hunt them. Not to get caught in a pattern, the show’s writers also aren’t afraid to tap side characters to make a comeback, like Sketchy and Skeezy. Unfortunately for those we’re revisiting now, that is not an option.

The cuts to what fans assumed would be the main cast came fast and hard in the first season. One episode in, we lost the commander for the troop trusted—kinda—with the task of saving humanity via Murphy’s inoculated blood. Lt. Mark Hammond didn’t have any surviving Delta Force members at his back, but he required the same discipline from the ragtag group he conscripted for the operation. They weren’t quite prepared for such a daunting task, and when Hammond stepped in to take care of a super-speedy zombie baby, he was caught off-guard and eaten. At least he left humanity’s hope in mostly capable hands.

Harold Perrineau played a brief, but vitally important part of Z Nation. In no time at all, Perrineau hit the small screen again, ditching the fatigues for wings and a tense friendship with DC Comic’s surly demonologist on the woefully short-lived Fox show Constantine. After the disappointment at Fox, Perrineau went on to appear on The Mysteries of Laura, Golaith, and Criminal Minds. Currently, he’s set to appear on the TNT dramedy Claws which stars Niecy Nash (Reno 911!) and premieres in June. Fans can also catch him in Without Ward, out later this summer, and I’m Not Here, also starring J.K. Simmons, Sebastian Stan, and Mandy Moore.

Losing a leader so early kept fans on their toes, waiting for the ax to fall again. Sure enough, six episodes down the road, they knee-capped the audience with feels and sacrificed Charles Garnett to the greater good. Garnett proved to have the compassion necessary to lead the mission without sacrificing an ounce of bravery. He got them far, but not far enough. In the end, Garnett’s commitment to saving mankind was greater than his selfish desire to love again during the world’s demise. He took a bullet meant for Murphy, and for his generosity, Roberta gave Garnett mercy so he could find peace in death.

Bringing the fallen leader to life was Tom Everett Scott. Since waving goodbye to the Zs, he’s appeared on How to Get Away with Murder, Criminal Minds, Elementary, and most recently Scott appears on the breakout Netflix show 13 Reasons Why portraying Mr. Down. As Queen Elizabeth’s advisor William Cecil, Scott first appeared in the latter half of Reign‘s second season and made regular appearances throughout the third season. Scott was also a regular on MTV’s Scream: The TV Series. On the big screen, fans can find him in La La Land, Sister Cities,and The Last Word, as well as in the upcoming flicks Collusions, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, and Danger One.

STARZ presents the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Ash Vs Evil Dead’ – Arrivals
Featuring: Pisay Pao
Where: Los Angeles, California, United States
When: 29 Oct 2015
Credit: Charlie Steffens/WENN.com

 

Hope as I might, Cassandra didn’t last terribly long on the show, and the latter half of her time was spent enthralled to Murphy, therefore stripping her of pretty much everything which made her such a wonderful character. Someone had to be the example of how Murphy’s bite worked, she drew the short straw by nearly dying from an infection and found herself the recipient of one of Murphy’s rare altruistic moments. His bite saved her, yet doomed her to a mindless life. When her feral behavior became too much, when the group couldn’t control her without Murphy’s interference, 10k stepped in and gave Cassandra mercy.

Post Z Nation has been pretty chill for Pisay Pao. She’s traveled the country making appearances at conventions, meeting fans, and reuniting with the Operation Bitemark gang. When not on the road, she’s working and auditioning.


Everybody Dies in the End: Review for Z Nation 314

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Everybody Dies in the End:
Review for Z Nation 314
by A. Zombie

zn-314-grandpazThe 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.

zn-314-kill10ktosavehimAll 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.

zn-314-theshotIt’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.


Duel: Review for Z Nation 313

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Duel:
Review for Z Nation 313
by A. Zombie

Z NATION -- "Duel" Episode 314 -- Pictured: Caitlin Carmichael as Lucy -- (Photo by: Go2 Z/Syfy)

Z NATION — “Duel” Episode 313 — Pictured: Caitlin Carmichael as Lucy — (Photo by: Go2 Z/Syfy)

Addy tracks The Man and Lucy to a boatyard. The girl plays with new zombie friends, and has no clue where her captor went. Great. Convenient. Time to run. By the way, anytime in the episode you think Addy and Lucy will get away, they make it no more than half a mile before they’re caught again. It’s beyond frustrating. Not just as a fan, but as someone who really does not enjoy watching the hero get their backside handed to them at all turns, especially when there’s someone more than capable of helping standing ten feet away flapping their hands. I fail to grasp how The Murphy’s daughter, raised on tales with her father’s heroic feats to save humanity, would allow the woman she calls an aunt to be beaten within an inch of her life. It makes no sense that she’d stand up to The Man when they’re alone, but the minute Addy steps on stage, Lucy is an infant needing rescue.

That side thought took wings and flew. Unlike this episode.

zn-313-shoppingtripDuring one of their half-mile trips, the ladies stop to replace Lucy’s too-small clothes. Just what every horror fan wants, ten minutes trapped in a department store with a moody tween and her zombie pals. Lucy has no interest in clothes fit for survival. She has no grasp of danger because the undead, the main threat in the apocalypse, treat her like a princess. So why bother grabbing heavy clothes to protect her skin? Addy does manage to find suitable clothes for Lucy; a leather jacket for protection, as well.

While Lucy laments their so-boring task, she pries Addy for information about her parents, particularly her mother. They have similar conversations throughout the episode, with Addy dancing a jog around the truth for as long as possible. Who wants to be the person to tell a child their father is an egocentric jerk with a messiah complex? On top of that, no one needs to be the person to detail how a child’s mother died. But this is TV, and Lucy harps on her unstable identity because she was raised an orphan. The only way Addy sees to work toward peace of mind for the girl is to stop telling fairy tales. Gone is the king and his pie-baking queen. Lucy knows now that her mother killed a lot of zombies to keep her safe—zombies Lucy sees as innocent since no one knew they just wanted to be near the baby, not kill her.

Lucy’s interactions with the zombies take a bizarre twist in this episode. With her sudden maturity, she’s more in tune with how the undead think instead of just ordering them around like self-propelling dolls. For her, the undead are intelligent companions. Addy believes it’s the girl’s wild imagination at work, failing to understand Lucy isn’t drawing names and life stories from thin air. The girl’s powers are pretty heavy-hitting. Though, whoever decided a glass-shattering scream would be her main method to summon zombies needs to sit in a room listening to nothing but Nickleback turned up to eleven for twenty-four hours. Surely there was another power gimmick which wouldn’t result in a migraine for every viewer. Let’s hope with Lucy’s newest growth spurt taking her to a teenager that the screaming fits will fall to the wayside. She does seem far more like her parents—calm but dangerous when cornered—toward the episode’s end.

zn-313-watersidefightThere’s a couple decent fight scenes between Addy and The Man. As I said before, the episode is one long fight with breaks to teach Lucy how to human. For the most part, Addy hold her own, delivering quite a bit of hurt during their clashes. She even gets the chance to almost kill him, though a bulletproof vest saves his life. But when each fight inevitably ends the same way, with Addy knocked down/out and The Man dragging Lucy away, it’s no longer fun to hop from brawl to brawl. It becomes a chore to watch The Man go from fighting to torturing Addy. There’s a line between incapacitating a powerful character enough to believe they couldn’t mount a rescue at the last minute and beating a woman within an inch of death—dislocating her shoulder and drowning her because it looks cool to nearly kill a lead character. But it gets the point across: No matter what Addy does, she can’t save Lucy alone.

Well, I didn’t think the finale would revolve around Lucy’s abduction, but here we are. I’d anticipated the clash in Murphytown to be what swings us into the fourth season. It just makes sense to send off with a civil war. However, if Zona is finally stepping onstage as a real danger, shifting the plot from Operation Bitemark infighting to joining forces against a new big bad makes sense. But is Zona really enough of a threat if they’ve only got one mercenary at their disposal and Murphy’s built an army? The Man is good; not that good, though.


The Siege of Murphytown: Review for Z Nation 312

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The Siege of Murphytown:
Review for Z Nation 312
by A. Zombie

zn-312-robertasnewlookWhen we catch up with Roberta, it’s much like I anticipated. She’s hyper-aggressive. Everything Roberta does or commands reflects only her mission to obtain Murphy’s blood. The soft-spoken way she handled Dr. Sun is replaced by hard, cold truths spoken with venom when they butt heads about whether the Red Hand should be ordered to avoid shooting civilians. To Roberta, if any person in Spokane will even think to stop her, they’re the enemy, and if they’re at his side then they’ve accepted the risk. It’s not like such battles haven’t taken place worldwide in the apocalypse—the Red Hand held a similar invasion on the toy factory. But I don’t think Dr. Sun has seen as much action as everyone assumes, leaving her often shocked at the lengths these American survivors will go to secure their place in the new world order. She’s seen nothing yet. Roberta is all-in on this game, nothing left to lose. That desperation mixed with grief will be her downfall.

With or without confirmation of Lucy’s location, Roberta will press on with her mission. Using her new army, they cobble a whole plan, not just a half-considered series of actions which may or may not blossom into a plan by the time all’s said and done. At last, we see her potential as a leader. For what it is, the plan has few faults and is pretty simple: Kill the power to the fences, stage a distraction at the front gate, then Roberta and Dr. Sun break in on the opposite side to grab stuff from the lab, not to mention the too-vital blood. And for the most part, the plan works brilliantly. Red Hand members grab a Blend guard, Bowden, from the power station and toss zombies in the water to jam the turbine. Hopper uses Bowden, covered in blood and guts, to fish for the other guards at the front gate. Roberta enters Murphy’s compound without a hitch.

zn-312-murphycontrollshisarmyOutside, it’s a whole ‘nother story. What any of them failed to take into consideration is Murphy’s connection to the Blends, not just the zombies. Naturally, these civilians duck and cover when the Red Hand opens fire. It’s up to Murphy to provide them with courage to return fire. Courage he has in spades, by the way. Murphy comes across a world-class coward, but a coward wouldn’t have fought to retain autonomy of his body after countless attempts to turn him into a lab specimen. A coward would have sighed and given in after the Zona crew pulled the wool over his eyes by dangling Dr. Merch in his path like a quick fix to all his problems. A coward certainly wouldn’t stand in the middle of an invasion to direct his people, then remain in the building. The old Murphy may have run and let his people perish. This Murphy, looking rather dapper with is white hair, actually has morals and they say he must find a way to help everyone live. Even if that means they no longer live as humans.

The physical fighting is pretty boilerplate for an apocalypse show. We say goodbye, and good riddance, to Hopper and several background Red Hands, a few Blends as well—though only one of note dies. Roberta kills Hope Chaffin, but it’s Murphy who lies to her family about her demise. Not a good way to keep your lieutenant’s trust, man.

A mental fight for dominance takes place throughout the episode in several high-tension diplomatic discussions between Roberta and Murphy. The pair spend the entire time one-upping each other. Roberta snags 10k and attempts to break Murphy’s hold. Murphy uses the kid to track her location and offers to turn her into one of his kind. She demands his blood. He shoots off a barb about not being able to trust humans anymore, when she was the only one he trusted back at the Grand Canyon to see how distraught he was after the mass zombie murder. It’s a lot of similar tit for tat emotional battle maneuvers until the final face-off in Lucy’s nursery. In a brilliant move, Roberta uses Murphy’s brain-lust to distract and control him. Great. Awesome. Oh, wait. He’s got a ton of people around him he can summon with just a thought. Roberta goes from on top of the apocalyptic world to sitting at Murphy’s feet in a heartbeat.

Just as quickly, they all forget the war to chase a random airplane.

zn-312-roughlandingIt’s about damn time Citizen Z and Roberta meet face to face. Propelled by the knowledge that they may never make contact through the remaining NSA resources, he flew off with Kaya’s uncle to Spokane. Their landing is perfectly timed, dropping them into the end of the battle with news about something far more pressing than who gets to control Murphy’s future—Lucy’s abduction by The Man. Suddenly it’s all hand on deck. Murphy’s first instinct isn’t to rush off with his people. He asks Roberta to get his girl—it may have something to do with Hope’s final words stating that Murphy loves Roberta—and she agrees to help. With a caveat; they have to work out a deal to make the cure before going to the coordinates Citizen Z has for Lucy’s destination.

No Doc in this episode, sadly. Addy is on The Man’s trail, locating several abandoned vehicles and the zombie road signs Lucy leaves along their route. Kaya is pregnant, so expect her to become even crazier about Simon and Addy’s not-a-thing-ever. Red and 5k aren’t actually dead, or hallucinations, and pop up to save 10k’s sanity once the serum Roberta gave him kicks in. We wrap things up with Murphy and Roberta, plus their assault team, loading into vehicles, ready to fetch Lucy. It’s going to be one heck of a fight when we finally have the four most powerful people in this universe in the same room together.