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.
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.
During 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.
There’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 by A. Zombie
When 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.
Outside, 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.
It’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.
Doc’s Angels: Review for Z Nation 311 by A. Zombie
To speak the word, one must first follow it. Sounds really deep, huh? Really, it just means Doc uses a busted old radio to follow the signal coming from this absolutely stunning little mini-castle smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. The woman on-air spends her days reading poetry and old stories. Before we see her, we know she’s an odd duck. Foretelling goes a long way on this show. Even knowing Doc’s walking into danger, it’s still fun to tag along to watch him become horribly uncomfortable with the situation he’s bumbled into.
Because, let’s face it, everything that’s happened to Doc since the Zs rose has been a case of him stumbling into the wrong place at the worst possible time. Yet he’s only gotten blown up once, so we’ll just say Fate is on his side. For now.
The impassioned poet doesn’t live alone. Camilla bunks with Linda and Sara, the latter of whom has a keen eye for style and an industrial Bedazzler. I’ll tell you what, the bedecked zombies are some of the oddest I’ve seen onscreen to date, and I’ve seen the Return of the Living Dead series more times than I care to admit. A few zombies escape Sara’s glittery wrath, but for the most part these Zs have every inch of exposed flesh covered in rhinestones. They look like some weird wraith tasked with protecting a pharaoh’s afterlife treasures.
The zombies aren’t the oddest thing at the ladies’ castle.
But we can’t let ourselves get distracted by bejeweled dead guys and gorgeous, yet odd women. Oh, no. There’s a mission to complete, and complete it Doc will before he tends to his . . . uh . . . basic needs. The homemade radio station is Camilla’s haven, powered by the same solar panels keeping the women comfortable despite the dead taking over the world. The minute Doc fails to connect to Citizen Z, we know he’s found yet another trap. And this time he’s all alone. No Addy to save the day or Roberta to snag him from death’s door.
Cheers to whichever sicko in the writer’s room gave the women an Ed Gein twist to their self-sustaining lifestyle. The truth lingers at Doc’s periphery during the in-between scenes where Linda, or Camilla, or Sara, attempt to seduce him. They never give him enough time to focus on what’s really in the house, and he doesn’t much care at first. He’s just glad for warm meals, a bed, and time not spent hiking across the countryside chasing what probably feels like a hopeless endeavor by this point.
The consent lines are awfully blurred in this episode. No one would be okay with this story line if Addy were the one trapped in a house of killers, plied with booze and weed, and found three aggressive people in her bed looking for sex after she clearly secured her safety for the night. But because it’s Doc, and because he’s our clown, this story is supposed to come across funny. It honestly stops being funny the minute the women are in his bed and he’s resigned to sleeping with them. Someone, somewhere along the line should have thrown a flag on this play and called for writing to tweak it. Make it less rapey—something I thought I’d never have to say about this show.
Aside from the clear failure to understand that consent doesn’t require a gender, the episode works in conjunction with the previous as a pallet cleanser. Killing two leading men in just as many minutes was a huge leap for a show which, until now, has protected the main cast with an iron fist. Each death has been carefully calculated and spread apart enough to not bring down the zany antics. Losing Hector and Vasquez, then prepping for war against Murphy and possibly The Man? There’s some tense action on the horizon. This stuff, Doc’s misadventures and the campy conception fairy tale they told Lucy in ep. 310, is vital to keeping the show’s tone as-is. Otherwise it becomes that other show, where everyone is always miserable and downtrodden. There’s no joy in watching abused people get kicked repeatedly. And what everyone needs right now is a little joy in their life, given the state of the news, not endless reminders of how bad things can get.
Bright side, Doc does get a message to Citizen Z and Kaya. He also escapes with his skin intact, scoring a bonus fluffy pink robe on his way out and liberating a bicycle from a zombie who obviously won’t need it anymore. With Doc’s message in-hand, Kaya makes quick work tracking The Man. Looks like the plan is back on track just in time to start a war.
They Grow Up So Quickly: Review for Z Nation 310 by A. Zombie
Ma and Pa take their sacred duty seriously. There’s no B.S. on that farm when it comes to Lucy’s safety. It’s not completely clear how much control the child has on her adoptive parents, though she’s got enough of her birth father’s mental mojo to speak through Pa and make it almost convincing. One thing we learn for certain, her bond with zombies is far deeper than Murphy’s. He sees them as tools. To Lucy, everyone is a friend, alive or dead. She prefers the dead. They listen far better than her new friends, who are awfully distracted by the idea of leaving the picturesque farm. No one is going anywhere until the lady of the hour is ready. She isn’t. They have to play, first. That’s if her usual playmates—a small zombie horde dressed as pirates, clowns, dolls, and there’s even her very own pink-clad princess complete with pointy, veiled hat. Lucy hosts a rollicking tea party, then they break for a good ol’ game of hide-n-seek. Doc’s it. They all survive mostly intact. One zombie-doll steps out of line, forcing Doc to give it mercy before it ate his face. This is where we see the flaw in Murphy’s cloistering plan—for all her powers, Lucy doesn’t understand death or how far her control over it reaches. This may be something biting everyone’s backside once they get her to Spokane.
If they get her to Spokane. The z-doll’s final death sends Lucy bolting into the woods. Why is it always the woods? In said trope moment, Lucy’s cornered by an Ender. So accustomed to foul looking/smelling people listening to her, it’s almost lights out for the girl before Addy steps in to chase off the Ender. The fight is fast, ending with Addy pulling a dominance move to frighten the Ender. That growl made me laugh, but it’s to show Addy’s further decent into a killing machine post-Mack. With the direction they’ve taken Addy lately, it wouldn’t be surprising for Roberta to be written out or her role minimalized to follow Addy’s one-woman zombie extinction team.
One near-miss isn’t enough when dealing with Murphy’s kid. Oh no. Just like her father, everyone wants to grab Lucy and use her blood. Someone else lurks on the farm, waiting for the right moment. The Man got the information he needed when he infiltrated Murphyville, and saw his threats through. Just when Lucy finally allows Doc and Addy to take her, plus Ma and Pa, to Washington, The Man K.O.s Addy, stabs Ma and Pa, and takes the conveniently fully-stocked vehicle, with Lucy in the backseat.
Murphy is going to be so pissed.
He’s got a lot on his plate. 10k’s continuing behavior problems. Incoming blends to wrangle. A child to recover. Adapting what meager technology they have into something more coherent. Murphy’s due to hit another breaking point from the stress, but it’s not in this episode. The action we see in Spokane centers on mental control. We’ve reached an impasse in 10k’s imprisonment. Murphy can either break 10k, or dispose of him and use the resources to bring in someone malleable to his plans. He’ll never admit it, but Murphy has a soft spot for the kid. Which is why he bulldozes into 10k’s brain, forces him to play a knife game, and pushes a new name/mission into the mental oatmeal that’s left after so much abuse. Thomas—10k—is off, with a freshly bandaged hand, at the episode’s end. To where? Not where Murphy truly needs him, which he figures out too late as Lucy’s tortured screams invade her father’s mind. Their bond is strong, only muted by their distance. If they were together, it’d be hard to tell where one ended and the other began. Murphy can’t get his hands on Lucy or he’ll up their power base exponentially. But he can’t allow The Man to kidnap her, either. Maybe Doc and Addy will recover Lucy first.
Heart of Darkness: Review for Z Nation 309 by A. Zombie
Keep It Simple, Stupid—a good thing to keep in mind when resources are sparse and backup doesn’t exist. Hector and Roberta’s Plan A leaves a lot to be desired. First, they observe Murphyville, clocking the routines to find a weakness. The sole weakness is a gap in the zombie moat when Murphy heads toward his personal outhouse. Alrighty then, just cut the fence, sneak in, and have a nice chat with Mr. Murphy. Not so easy. The zombies in the moat follow Roberta, trapping her in the ordinary people’s outhouse. She escapes, but her presence is discovered. Murphy’s on alert. They blew their chance at surprise. Time for a new plan.
Surprisingly, Plan B is even flimsier than the first. The gang leaves their camp outside Spokane, opting to wander the surrounding areas in search of backup. Who, exactly, are they looking for? The Red Hand and Escorpion. There’s not exactly an address for the group. All they can do is follow the corpses and the writing on the wall until they find a fresh kill. Hector is on record as firmly against the plan from the get-go. He’s perpetuated that level of violence, understands how unhinged this new Escorpion must be in order to keep going as long as he has, and wants nothing to do with it. Yes, people change, but sometimes the change is for the worse. A lesson every fan learns by the time Plan C unfolds.
At the scene of the latest Red Hand slaughter, they’re attacked by zombies. Dr. Sun is astoundingly incapable of handling herself in this fight, though she does fine later in the episode. Her distress gives a chance to introduce Hopper, drug dealer to the Red Hand and rather chatty Cathy. Sure, he can take them to Escorpion. Hope no one’s claustrophobic. The leader’s base is hidden in the Seattle underground, along with a collection of freaky, scurrying zombie hands. Hopper plays with their heads. Constantly makes uncomfortable sexual advances. He even kills three men and unleashes the resulting zombies on them—a test to see if they deserve to meet Escorpion.
The biggest not-surprise of the season came when Vasquez walks out calling himself Escorpion. What is a twist, his mind is so warped by grief and trauma, he doesn’t remember anything before taking on the Escorpion mantle. He knew so much about Hector, his mind absorbed it and made that narrative his life’s story, not the horrific tale he actually lived through before joining Operation Bitemark. Roberta’s reaction is perfect. She’s devastated that this man, who she got so close to, doesn’t know her from the next thief he’ll murder. There’s nothing she won’t do in order to make him remember her, going so far as to touch the healed scar on his stomach and delivering one hell of a kiss. It’s not good enough to break the delusion. Nothing is enough to make Vasquez see himself.
Hector’s seeing too much of himself in this imposter. The rage, self-loathing, and guilt driving Vasquez in his new endeavor pushed Hector to do vile things for La Reina and the Zeroes. There’s no bottom to that well. Hector has a rope to climb, the slim sliver of hope Operation Bitemark and Roberta provide. Vasquez has nothing. He gave it up, opting to run from anything positive he could have found in order to bathe in “guilty” blood across the West Coast. When Hector and Roberta are locked in a cell together, he sees it as his chance to repay her for the hand up from his personal hell . . . by knocking her out and escaping to settle the matter himself. Except, he doesn’t have enough time to get to Escorpion before she’s found and revived. Damn.
Helpless doesn’t suit Roberta and she sure as hell isn’t one to stand by playing fragile woman why the men in her life fight, but there’s a moment when they allow her to be overwhelmed. It’s been a treacherous road. These men provide some of the very few shining moments in the gloom and losing either for good is an idea she’s unable to comprehend. But she must. Vasquez is completely insane. Hector beat himself mentally by reliving the moment he killed Vasquez’s family before he was given a weapon to fight physically. The fight between the men is tense, short, and heartbreaking.
Plan C flies in under the radar at the last possible moment.
With Hector bleeding from multiple stab wounds, Roberta puts her final plan into action. Killing Vasquez may have stolen the last drops of humanity in her heart. We’ll see. It sure didn’t help when he spends his dying moments finally calling her by name and asking for mercy. Roberta sends him on his way with a, “Yeah. Go home to your family,” and fans everywhere grab Kleenex. Then a puke bucket because they keep Vasquez’s decapitated head on-screen for a seriously long time as Plan C finishes playing out.
Every cult needs a head crazy. Roberta just elected herself to that position. Hopper leads the Red Hand in reverence to their newly-crowned leader. Everyone bows. No one argues. At last, Roberta has her army. But will the power corrupt her as it did the men who stood in her place before?
The bad-news pair catch up with Doc and Addy near Wall Drug Store—which is apparently a battleground territory for the budding post-z political system. As expected, they’re riding in style, complete with an armed and gorgeous escort. President Sketchy—yes, you read that right—liberated the limousine from the President Bill Clinton collection at a museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sketchy proves he’s a people’s president, giving Addy and Doc a ride after their likewise-liberated Murphymobile overheats and keels over on the roadside. Must mean they’re really good friends. Doc and Addy might feel differently, but they’re stuck now as the presidential motorcade rolls into Wall Drug Store for the next stop on the campaign trail.
Funny, I don’t remember sexy dance routines as part of the typical political process. Then again, after the last year, anything is possible.
After coaxing the skittish locals from their hiding places with his sweet moves, President Sketchy wins over the crowd with half-truths, and a promise to build a giant wall around the north-west quarter of the USA. All the people have to do is donate to the cause. People who have so little, they don’t even have a clean water source within walking distance, and a serious number of them are falling ill by the minute.
Before Doc and Addy force Sketchy to do anything about the more immediate problem, another claimant to the deserted USA throne waltzes into Wall Drug Store. John L. Lannister and Sketchy are probably the worse candidates for the job. They’re full of hot air, empty promises, and so much ego it’s a wonder they fit it inside a limo. This is the moment in the show where they really unleash the full potential of the political-frustration-turned-humor brewing in the writer’s room. Hell, there’s even a jab at TWD when Sketchy and Skeezy argue about the newcomer, revealing they thought Lannister died— no one could’ve survived being surrounded by zombies near a dumpster! Yeah, but it only got that TWD character a little further down the road before he became a splat on the dirt. Lannister’s odds aren’t in his favor.
In the name of democracy, the presidential hopefuls agree to hold a debate, followed by a vote for the first post-z POTUS. Addy asks a load of hard-hitting questions, which the candidates dodge with Neo-like ability. They’re as skilled with words as they are at hand-to-hand combat—which is to say, they can’t even give each other a black eye, let alone convince anyone to follow their ideals for a renewed nation. The debate ends abruptly when a man from Rosebud, the town where Wall Drug Store gets their water, rushes in to tell them the entire town turned Z. The messenger does the same, leading the candidates to race to kill his reanimated corpse first. Neither succeed. Addy saves them.
In Rosebud, it’s bad. The entire population is undead, or committed suicide. Here’s a handy lesson for survivalists: Filters do no good if a zombie head is crammed in the system. Not only is Rosebud a ghost town, but the tainted water is what’s killing the WDS citizens, as well. Good thing they have a doctor on-hand. Kinda. What Doc lacks in in-depth medical knowledge, he makes up with the sheer ability to pay attention. Doc is a sponge, absorbing helpful tidbits here and there. Sure, those helpful tips get lost in the z-weed haze occasionally, but Doc’s always able to make things happen for the better. In this case, he realizes the simplest path is the best and treats the zombie remnants in the water like poison. All it takes is some activated charcoal down the hatch to counteract the urge to chomp on someone.
The people are healing, no thanks to either presidential candidate. There’s still the vote to handle. Or they could focus on the water issue and do something constructive with the attention they’ve grabbed . . . . Nope. Sketchy and Lannister opt to use Doc’s news about the tainted water as another barb to jab each other with while doing nothing to enact any change. The people do as bid and begin the voting process, anyway. What can they do? Their government has spoken.
Angry townspeople from a nearby city speak louder, though. They expose the hucksters and their nation-wide scam to rob impoverished people of their meager supplies while doing no actual work to fulfill their promises. The argument devolves into a fight, which morphs into a zombie attack. Sensing no winner in the situation, Addy and Doc steal the limo and run after ensuring the WDS Mayor has the zombies handled. That leaves Sketchy, Skeezy, and Lannister to flail and mudsling over their joint loss. Literally. They’re left wallowing in mud while Addy and Doc ride off in style. Fitting style, at that. The people at Wall Drug Store unanimously wrote-in Doc as the new President of the United States. I’m all aboard with that plan, man.
Welcome to Murphytown Review for Z Nation 307 by A. Zombie
There’s a wolf hidden amongst Murphy’s flock. The Man makes his grand comeback, posing as a newcomer to town. That game lasts a heartbeat until Murphy spots the big, bald guy and has him brought in for a private audience. Things don’t progress as predicted, seeing as Murphy is distracted by his stomach. What I thought for sure would be a boot to the backside, turned into a trust exercise, capped off with a grey matter snack for the men. Funny, and disgusting. The chunks TM blows after the scene are, well, chunky. What a waste of a good meal. But he’s passed the test. The Man found his footing in Murphy’s organization less than an hour after entering the gate. Impressive. Also shows a huge, gaping hole in Murphy’s world domination scheme—his ego doesn’t account for his failing grip on humanity and reality. Instead of bringing in a known, trusted team member, he snags the new guy—who helped mow down an entire settlement of peaceful people—and gives him an easy way to manipulate Murphy to his will. After all, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
The action in Spokane becomes a mental dance between The Man and Murphy. If TM gets his way, he’ll have Murphy on the road to Zona before sunset. Murphy just wants someone ruthless and non-judgmental to deliver brains for his meals. The Man makes a serious miscalculation, ending with the men in a tussle. Murphy handcuffs The Man, but it doesn’t last long. TM even takes the time to leave behind a message. It’s not long, but the meaning is crystal clear.
10k and Doc are picked up on the roadside like stray pups left in an abandoned shopping cart. Roberta’s team is whole once again, this time with an ace up their sleeve. If 10k can get over the nightmares and constant urges to express loyalty to Murphy, he should lead them to Spokane in no time. They’re not even that far away. There’s a problem in the plan. Lucy. She also has the potential in her blood to create a cure. Dr. Sun would have an easier time handling a child, as well. But they really do need to stop Murphy from amassing a larger army. Time to divide and conquer. Addy and Doc will get Lucy. Everyone else trudges on to Spokane.
They arrive just in time to witness Murphy’s greatest triumph yet: City-wide electricity. How does one stop a man who continuously delivers on his promises, therefore securing the loyalty of super-powered and desperate people? Roberta has a lot of work on her hands. Hopefully the side mission doesn’t take long. It’ll require all hands on deck to overtake an electrified, well-populated Spokane.
It’d be easier to get everyone back together if the NSA compound were fully functional once more. Citizen Z, Kaya, and her family work to restore power in the facility. The radio even broadcasts a signal strong enough to reach out and touch someone—too bad Addy can’t respond. My problem with dragging the Citizen Z story line along is mostly because Kaya’s jealousy over Addy is seriously off-putting. Can’t they just leave Kaya to be a person and not a stereotypical fanatical female fan?
All hands will also mean Roberta needs to sort out what to do with 10k. She knows about his bite and wants to help, but he’s so paranoid—from the additional cure or Murphy’s degrading sanity leeching through their bond, I don’t know—that his only answer to her offer is to bolt like a frightened rabbit. When we catch up with them again, it’ll be interesting to see how she talks him off this particular ledge.
Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Review for Z Nation 306 By A. Zombie
All the usual violent diagnosis patients make an appearance in the supporting cast: Paranoid Delusion, Kleptomania, Dissociative Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. The patients are kept in line by Nurse Ratched, who’s just as cracked as the guy who thinks he’s Elvis. Doc finds himself in a bad spot until Ratched makes an offer he’d be idiotic to refuse—diagnose the patients properly and she’ll not only let him go, but he can help them. Doc’s keen insight, and actual expertise at psychoanalysis, get him out of the most immediate pickle rather easily. Things don’t continue as planned when Ratched introduces Doc to their newest, and wildest, patient.
While the Serenity Falls gang misjudged Doc, they totally got it right when they trussed up their newest patient and locked him in a padded room. 10k may not see Red and 5k anymore, but he’s madder than the Hatter without a clean cup. Coherency is a lost art once 10k opens his mouth. Doc is quick to cover for him, claiming the kid has Ten-Kay Fever and disavowing any knowledge of his new patient. At least one of them is in a position to help. For the most part, 10k is a barely animated potato sack. The vaccine in his system is wearing off. He struggles constantly with thoughts of Murphy loyalty and his need to free himself from control before warning Roberta.
Warning anyone may be a ways off. Ratched is convinced Doc will be their guiding light. However, she still thinks her methods are best when it comes to the more violent patients. Lobotomy is the word of the day. Bob, a depressed man with brain damage, is Ratched’s constant guinea pig for new techniques. There’s more holes in his brain than in a good sourdough loaf. He’s given a new lobotomy to prepare for 10k’s possible emergency surgery. 10k is not responding to treatment and something has to be done before the seizures kill him.
Like, oh, Ratched actually handing out medication instead of snacks during med time. Every single bottle of pills and vial of whatever is blocked by a hallway teeming with zombies. Never fear, Doc and Elvis are ready to take on the Shocker Zombies in Ward Z. Are they quick enough? 10k takes a turn for the worst while they’re grabbing the meds. Liddy, the paranoid patient, and Ratched wheel 10k into the surgical suite.
Bad luck, Doc. The man with OCD, Re-Pete as they call him, is in charge of unlocking the doors in order for Doc to escape incoming zombies and get to his buddy before the nurse turns him into a shambling meatsack like Bob. Winona, the kleptomaniac, ends up being a solid ally during these moments. Actually, she’d make a decent addition to the main team. Her thieving skills are beyond anything the gang’s got in their wheelhouse. But it’s Bob who gets the MVP award for the episode after disposing of Ratched in his gloriously stiff, Frankenstein’s Monster-esque way.
The remaining action in the episode is basically Doc wrangling cats. He wants desperately to save everyone from the zombies slowly ripping through the hasty barricades over the hospital’s exits. They all make it outside in one piece to find the sole vehicle left on the ground, a small bus. Winona wastes no time hot-wiring it after Doc finally turns everyone in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Doc and 10k aren’t on the bus when she drives away from the encroaching zombies. With his wobbly charge in tow, Doc makes a run for it. Where they’re going, no one knows. They’re getting close to Murphy, though. With 10k returned to the fold, though desperate to hide his zmurphed status, it shouldn’t be too hard to trap their prey. Right? Yeah, we all know they’ll foul this up, too. It’s just how the show rolls.
Little Red and the Wolfz Review for Z Nation 305 By A. Zombie
Things in 10k’s noggin aren’t one-hundred-percent after Merch dosed him with the original cure and then he jumped into the river. His psychosis takes the form of Red, who we met in the season-opener. She leads him through the unfamiliar forest. Good thing one of them can think—10k pretty much checks out mentally the whole episode—because Will Chaffin is still on his trail. They play chase for a while. Something in the forest hunts them at the same time. We never get a good look at these “wolfz” until they’re all dead. They’re seriously underwhelming for all the build-up. I expected some weird furry zombie. More deformed military men? Really?
The real story is 10k’s inability to handle reality. At first, the Red hallucinations scare him as much as the racket the wolfz make in the distance. Eventually, he seeks her out during fights when he should focus completely on the thing trying to kill/capture him. During the moments he’s too weak to move on, she comforts him and in his mind, she’s protecting him while he heals. Red is the cure, essentially. If 10k were shooting heroine, she’d be the drug. It’s the typical junkie’s story, coupled with severe PTSD from the whole apocalypse thing and his time in Murphy’s thrall. The episode ends with 10k giving in and diving head-first into the fantasy. Weird how when he wants to escape, he lands at a picnic with 5k and Red, not back with the crew, or even reunited with Cassandra.
Murphy’s ego is a Weeble—it wobbles quite often, but never stays down. Merch’s death, and his perceived abandonment without her or 10k at his side, knocks his emotions all over the map. Before he fully snaps, he orders the troops to continue adding to their new home. He really does want to make sure there’s a truly safe place for people on the planet. The way he’s going about it leaves a lot to be desired. As does the overdrawn mental breakdown Murphy endures.
This might be the longest monologue on the show—that’s with Citizen Z living by himself for two seasons. Murphy mopes, rants, raves, and generally goes on like an entitled teenager who isn’t getting the newest gaming system for Christmas. He’s distraught Merch didn’t see his vision and instantly wish to fulfill it without questioning his motives. Worst of all, when he discovers she repeatedly took the original vaccine he realizes, “You’re saying it’s worse being me than being dead.” Uh, people tend to dig freedom in their mind over constant manipulation, dude.
Much like 10k’s side of the story, Murphy’s babbling doesn’t pay off until the end. Turns out, he was just hangry. A little nibble from Merch’s brain shines a whole new light on the darkness he thought loomed on the horizon.
Watch out, mankind. Murphy has what he needs to bring everyone under his sway and there’s no one in his way—for now.