A New Mission Review for Z Nation 302 By A. Zombie
Ditching some of the played-out character story lines may be wise rolling into season three. They’ve brought in another surviving “super-power” with the Chinese. They number only two-hundred-thousand total, but they’ve at least got functional technology—sign me up for one of those laser-guided zombie grenades. Murphy and the unknown hacker did their parts to kill the communication network which would have eventually allowed the scattered American survivors to band together. What Dr. Sun Mei, Lt. Mong, and their people don’t have, and what their tech cannot give them, is a cure. Their mission is simple: Capture Murphy and fashion a cure from his blood. It’s the same thing tried by so many. There is no cure just sitting in his blood. But they’ll try to synthesize one anyway or die trying. Hope is a powerful tool.
Roberta isn’t the only one making new friends. Citizen Z is out of the blizzard, and into some strange woman’s bed. In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to get the resident geek character laid at last, we’re introduced to Kaya. She’s the one who dragged Citizen Z and Dog through the storm. She also shared body heat to keep the scrawny dude alive. Not to make it awkward while he’s wandering around naked, but her family lives with her; they don’t speak and have the personality of furniture. So, like before, Citizen Z’s story line is filler to toss the ridiculous jokes they couldn’t cram in Murphy or Doc’s dialog. But at least he speaks to more than a dog now.
We’re introduced to a new class of human—Enders. These lunatics want to kill and end everyone’s suffering, undead and alive alike. These Enders see an opportunity to get ahead in the world just a little after Dr. Sun orders her air support to drop her supplies. The delivery has everything, even a vehicle, whatever’s necessary to launch another Great Murphy Hunt. Catch is, that’s the last of their gear. If someone else claims it, the Chinese and anyone who’d benefit from Dr. Sun’s possible cure are good as dead.
The episode is a really drawn out race to the gear, with the main conflict lasting only a blink once everyone finally makes it to the warehouse where the supplies landed. Things progress predictably. The casualties are many, but only one person of any importance keels over.
The episode sets up the three new missions ruling the season’s plot. First mission: Roberta, Addy, Doc, Hector, and Dr. Sun will obtain enough of Murphy’s blood to make a working cure. Mission two: Murphy will take Dr. Sun’s equipment and create a way to spread his blended human/zombie genes in order to stop humanity from devolving, and the undead from devouring each other. Lastly, The Man and his Zona handlers have a mission of their own: Bring in Murphy and use him as their personal fountain of youth.
Why are you gnashing your teeth, readers? I covered everything important. Oh, 10k! Well, about him . . . .
Wonder if he’ll see the irony after a few days enthralled by the big blue guy. I also called this huge character change at the end of his first scene in the episode, though they held off exposing the bite mark until the very end. It shows Murphy has a soft spot for the kid, but also his ability to use anyone and everyone to see his will done.
You all ready for the Murphy World Order? It’s coming. He’s ruthless enough to see his plan through. With his hybrids at his back, not even The Man can touch him. Bring on our blue overlord.
Unfortunately, the reality during an apocalyptic scenario is that most people will not make it far with their families intact—these solo folks tend to fall to the wayside on the show quite often. There were some pretty stellar actors brought in to populate Woodbury, and some managed to survive long enough to see season four. Unfortunately since we’re talking about them here, the buck stopped for them all by the season’s conclusion.
Karen started as a voice in the crowd who’d occasionally butt heads with The Governor and his commanders, demanding, at the very least, some transparency from their leader. She was one of few left alive to join the prison community after a failed mutiny. Even rarer, she found a place in their ranks and formed strong bonds with several characters, including Tyreese. It took a mysterious, mass-panic-inducing illness to snatch Karen from her new, safer home. Cruelest of all, her death at Carol’s hand is shown repeatedly in flashbacks into the fifth season.
Fans of Melissa Ponzio knew it wouldn’t be long before she hit the airwaves again. After all, Ponzio has been a regular cast member on MTV’s Teen Wolf since day one, playing mother to the show’s leading werewolf. Teen Wolf returns to the small screen for its sixth and final season on November 15th. Ponzio also had a recurring role on Chicago Fire after departing TWD. She attends fan conventions as her schedule allows with fellow TWD and TW cast members.
Every dictator needs strong men to keep things in order. Martinez filled the role nicely. He wanted to believe The Governor could provide the leadership necessary to ensure they’d survive in Woodbury, no matter if their enemy was alive or dead. When Philip failed them all, Martinez made his own camp to protect. It wasn’t until he had people to call his that we see the caretaker side to the character. And then Phillip threw him in a pit of walkers.
Not long after leaving a show where they hunted down zombies, Jose Pablo Cantillo found himself on Constantine, where they hunted . . . just about everything which would snatch you from bed in the middle of the night. Later, Cantillo joined Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackson, and Sigourney Weaver in the Sci-Fi/Thriller Chappie. He also appeared in Solace with Anthony Hopkins, and recent TWD addition Jeffrey Dean Morgan. His next project will be the Taken television adaptation with Clive Standen. Breaking into other forms of entertainment, Cantillo helped create Free Me, a social-media inspired card game.
Like most secondary child characters, Meghan Chambler existed to perish and push a lead male character to make a horrible decision about the future of their people. Which sucks. The younger generation of survivors deserve a chance. We never got much from Meg, save she really wanted to learn how to beat “Brian” at chess.
Meyrick Murphy is a name to keep an eye on. She’s moved on from being a plot pawn on TWD to starring in several Nickelodeon shows—Legendary Dudas, 100 Things to Do Before High School, School of Rock. Murphy also provided the voice for Mari in the critically acclaimed film Kubo and the Two Strings. It’s still in theaters. Don’t miss your chance to see it on the big screen.
Philip Blake. There’s a world to say about the man who more or less ran the show for nearly two seasons. He was deadly in his practicality and desire to safeguard the haven he carved from the apocalypse-ruined land. There may have been a screw or ten loose in Philip’s head, which we never fully realized until he’s abandoned by his people and he’s forced to rely on his own charm to get by. Like many men determined to make a name for himself, the quiet life Philip created—under the name Brian—wasn’t enough to satisfy his needs. After staging an attack on the prison, complete with a tank, Philip’s single-minded need to destroy Rick cost him everything when Michonne snuck up and stabbed him.
As much as I love David Morrissey, it was a blessing for The Governor to skip on to zombie-less, cloudy fields. Post-TWD, Morrissey landed on CBS’ Extant as Tobias Shepherd. In May 2016, the film The Ones Below was released, starring Morrissey, Clémence Poésy, and Stephen Campbell Moore. The Missing will return to Starz for a second season, featuring a new case and Morrissey as Sam, father of a missing, then miraculously found child. He is also working on Britannia, a 10-part drama set during the Roman invasion of the British isles in 43 A.D.. The miniseries is a joint effort between Sky and Amazon—Sky 1 airing Britannia in the UK and Amazon streaming it in the USA in 2017.
Team Zombie rolled into San Diego for Comic-Con 2016, looking quite sharp, I might add. Wardrobe aside, the gang was down a man. Robert Buckley couldn’t make it. However, newly-christened series regular Aly Michalka joined the cast, along with show creators Rob Thomas and Diane Russiero-Wright. They were in good spirits, despite the usual chaos at the con. For a good reason, they began filming for season three this week. Matter of fact, I think I saw Rose McIver post a video from the set on Wednesday with Buckley in tow. The zombie ball is rolling. But how are they going to deal with the fallout from the season two finale?
We said goodbye to our main Big Bad. His company was taken over by Vivian Stoll and her undead army. Rob Thomas said Stoll comes into the show in a unique position. “I’m not sure I file her under Big Bad” Going into season three, Stoll is a reactionary presence to the impending zombie problems once the public finds out. Only, instead of having a standing army to defend humans, this army is made from the undead to carve out a place in the world for them once the truth flies. Power like that can be corrupted. It’ll be interesting to see which side of the fence Stoll lands on, or if she can carefully navigate the line between and remain lawful neutral. Adding so many new zombies to the mix poses some ethical questions for Liv. An example given later in the panel pits Liv’s shocking white hair and pale skin against Stoll’s brood who strive to always blend in, covering the very thing which makes Liv unique.
Team Z will regroup stronger than ever. Liv is determined to keep everyone on the same page. No secrets. Out the gate, they dig into Stoll’s company. Some B-stories aren’t following through right away. The Boss story line will take a back-burner to establish new characters and dynamics. Major will search for Natalie and fulfil his promise to her. Not sure if that’s a solo mission or not. I’d assume not since they finally have everyone on the same page. We’re not done cleaning up the Chaos Killer mess, either. There’s one more Popsicle to defrost. Robert Knepper will return as Angus DeBeers in episode one this season. I’m thrilled. The DeBeers family reunions are a things of beauty.
The creators promise a shift in the story style. Season three will play out more like episodes of Law and Order, where Liv and Clive catch the bad guys, Peyton prosecutes. It looks like more of the crimes will tie into the zombie thing, at least from the way Thomas phrased the style rundown.
Other random tidbits dropped during the panel include a promise from the creators to McIver that they will not kill Liv’s next romantic interest, even if it is Major. This isn’t Supernatural. The hot lead actor can’t keep dying and coming back via some miracle.
Yes, there’s a love triangle with Ravi, Peyton, and Blaine. No, none of them know where it’s going. Though the cast joked about making it an open relationship, including Clive, and dragging Liv along as the fifth wheel.
Don’t get your hopes up for a working cure. Thomas said if Ravi creates a cure, the show is over. He also enjoys writing Blaine’s memory loss too much to give up cure 2.0’s side-effects and move on to 3.0 just yet.
We learned that McIver got to veto one potential brain for season three. From a list of about fifty. Then the night before the SDCC panel, they informed her she would get to play dominatrix this season. Guess that one isn’t up for negotiation. It better be the most integral part of the story this season or I’m going to roll my eyes at yet another excuse to dress Liv down in any way.
The new zombie blood will shake things up for the show, along with a new story format. If they keep the momentum from the finale rolling through the first couple episodes, it should be a fun ride. iZombie returns to CW in October.
Major’s game of freeze tag is over. The FBI push hard on the Chaos Killer case, landing the newly re-zombied trainer in jail. Without food. Yes, this is a rehash from when Liv was arrested. Yes, crisis is averted just in time, yet again—even after Major is arrested a second time for the Meat Cute incident. Blaine, of all people, is the one to smuggle brains from Don E.’s stash after the tight-belted businessman wanted Liv to pay for a brain she plans to use to keep Major from turning the city’s jail into ground zero for the apocalypse. While she handles the food problem, Ravi and Major use video game metaphors to hatch a plan—retrieve a zombie from the freezer, defrost, show as proof Major didn’t kill anyone, release from jail. Simple. Easy. A cake walk.
Max Rager stole the bodies. DuClark also set out hits on Major and Liv as a gift to celebrate selling the company to a military contractor. Ravi gets caught in the crossfire, killing Janko when the mercenary drugs and attempts to abduct Liv. She’s fine. He’s shaken. The dead guy on the floor gives Liv the perfect chance to peek behind enemy lines. Later, she has a vision starring Major’s zombcicles, all nicely defrosted.
In order to get Major out of jail in time without a victim to hand over, Liv finally clues Clive in about Team Zombie. Okay, it takes stabbing herself in the gut to convince him, but he gets the idea and Major is a free man shortly after. I hope Liv bought Clive a new knife. Clive uses a loophole in the case against Major to secure his release. Bozzio is, understandably, livid. His hands are tied. He couldn’t knowingly leave Major in jail to start another zombie outbreak.
During the zombie antics, Boss sends his guys to clean house. The case against him is gone. He should be sitting pretty, save for his competition hitting the streets again. Chief takes a bullet to the brainpan. Don E. talks his way into a gut shot instead of a headshot. Poor hapless Blaine ends up exposed to Boss’ guys and has a hit put on his head. They use Peyton to lure Blaine into a trap. It gets a tad buddy-cop when Ravi and Blaine team up, armed quite impressively, to rescue her. Which is a joke, really. Blaine wiped out the men holding Peyton before Ravi made it in the door. Major joins Liv on Janko brain. They plan to infiltrate Max Rager during their big bash to celebrate the sale properly. To access the secret lab’s elevator, they’ll just take Janko’s hand along for a walk like it’s Thing. Clive disavows any knowledge of said plan—which lasts as long as it takes him to realize the zombies aren’t going to make the rendezvous time. The party scenes are chaos even before a group of idiots turns themselves into zombies with tainted Utopium. The party’s theme? A lockdown. They’re trapped. Just about everyone dies or is turned.
There’s a new savior in town. Vivian Stoll—the woman from the military contractor—saves Team Zombie when they’re trapped during the outbreak. Liv and Major are fine. Clive has a target on his chest being the sole human left on their feet. Stoll’s people clear the building. She gives them free passage to the secret lab.
In the lab, Rita and her father wait to make things just that much worse for the team. She’s ready to promise her front teeth in order to get free or get a cure. He’s hell-bent on winning at least one battle. The gang is separated in the zombie containment area. Drake, unfortunately, is no longer a coherent zombie. The test cures MR forced on them turned him Romero. Man, dating Liv is a curse. More so when VDC forces Liv to choose between saving Clive or Drake. She shoots her boyfriend. There’s really no choice. Drake was doomed to die the day they introduced him. VDC tries twice to gas everyone. Both times fail, with the final attempt ending after Major breaks a glass wall, following VDC into the elevator, and leaving the bad guy trapped in there with ravenous zombies. Upstairs, they open the elevator to find Rita chowing down on Dad brains.
Major takes the kill shot on his ex. Sense a trend? Stoll’s people take over the situation while she snacks on Rob Thomas. Surprise! The military contractors are zombies hell bent on making Seattle their new homeland.
I’ll admit, it’s one hell of a surprise. Unfortunately, I sense this may devolve into a Buffy situation—everything blamed on a mysterious government body who answers to no one, really, and does convenient bad things to make tension for the show. We’ve seen this trope a lot on genre shows. While this new plot twist did bring a lot of dead bodies, it could be foretelling a rather predictable season three.
Warning, the following contains show spoilers and a strong opinion.
I’m a die-hard fangirl. When a show gets my attention, I hang on to the bitter end—anyone who saw my reaction to True Blood‘s final season know what happens when a show lets me down like a frayed guide rope while climbing Half Dome. At least that show started pretty strong. This show never really found its footing. Every time I thought they’d stepped up to the plate, wanted to be good horror, they failed to follow through. In the two episodes before the mid-season break, they lean toward the macabre. First with Celia’s guests in the cellar. Then they opened the mid-season finale with Ofelia’s face peeling off, only for it to be a dream. The cellar bit? We saw the same plot on TWD when they found the walkers in the Greene’s barn, put there because Hershel believed they weren’t lost causes. Celia saw it as evolution, driven by divine intervention in the form of zombies. Both think the undead are worth our love and care. No part of me was surprised to discover Celia ran a freaky suicide/mercenary side business. Nor did the religious slant surprise me. When they steered the Doomed Ship Lollipop toward Baja, I knew they’d use the culture this heavily. Why not? It gives them the perfect scapegoat to rehash the tiresome but-they’re-family plot. On Z Nation the Zeroes, based just south of the border, worship death. I guess FtWD thought they could do something similar and have it work as anything but somewhat insulting to an entire culture’s intelligence just because they’re constantly portrayed as chill with Death.
The effects gags just aren’t worth the effort to pay attention to the story-telling anymore. In the season opener, I called them out for using the boat propeller in the face gag. Since, it’s been more of the same bland infected action. Why? They set the first half of the season on a boat. Their human bad guys were as interesting as watching leg hair grow. So where does that leave us on the tension front? Bickering and nagging, occasionally silenced by an actor in zombie makeup limply shaking his arms at the lead actresses while they flail a fishing pole at it. Some shows are salvaged by the action when the story goes bad. But when nothing happens in the story or the action? What’s the point? Then it’s just people making bad decisions, living on a yacht, and yelling at each other.
“So we’ll make one of them insane!” Nice try, guys. I’d totally buy it . . . if Chris had any actual reasons not to trust Madison and her family. At what point have they left him behind or put him second? Madison and Travis drove into a riot to save him. They made a deal with perfect strangers in order to secure safe haven until the riot passed. Nick jumped off the yacht thinking Chris wanted to swim away or drown himself. They staged a funeral so he’d have a chance to deal with his mother’s death. So why he’d snap, threaten Madison and Alicia, and run away to hold a family hostage is beyond my reasoning. Nick is a more likely choice, seeing as they laid the groundwork for it with his rampant drug use. He does some batty things, like willingly walk around covered in walker goo on numerous occasions—so much so, the original scene from TWD in “Guts” has lost its impact entirely. Now he’s fearless and buying into Celia’s bull about life eternal. Also so apparently broken, Madison—mother of the decade—asks Strand to sort her crap out while he’s digging his lover’s grave.
If I even start on how they’ve written Madison, I’ll break my keyboard. She’s by far the nosiest, indecisive, and nagging character ever to survive to season two in a show. Seeing as she’s the universal mother figure, I hate to hear what the people at the writing table say about their mothers. Somebody in that writing room needed a hug as a child.
The characters have no backgrounds. They’re all blank until they need convenient problems—Chris’ insecurity and psychosis, Daniel’s PTSD and hallucinations, Nick’s trip down sociopath lane. Alicia led the group to their first real bad guys in the season and we still know nothing about her except she’s impatient and bravery makes her do rash things. Travis has the personality of a jellyfish, only finding a backbone to salvage the weird Chris-Is-Crazypants story. Strand actually has this decent backstory, except it came too late in the game to salvage the damage done before Tom was introduced, and then swiftly killed off to avoid that whole messy gay character issue. Leaving Strand the outcast yet again, essentially a blank slate so he can resume being a prick. Instead of writing a world and characters living in it, they’re writing caricatures to manipulate how viewers see the world and what happens in it. It’s not good storytelling. There’s no consistency. Narrators, the characters driving the story, must be consistent. Someone suddenly sporting a raging case of PTSD leading him to burn a building at the behest of his dead wife just means the writers wanted to blow something up for the mid-season finale. It works for Z Nation because explosions are a part of parodying the genre. It does not work for FtWD in episode 207 when it’s painfully obvious the only reason any of this took place was to burn things on camera. Again, this entire story was lifted from TWD season two, right down to the main survivor group disbanding at the end.
So why should I keep watching? If this show refuses to stick to their characters, follow a coherent story, or just rob content from the mothership, it really isn’t worth my time. I watched in the hopes that someone would bring another quality genre show into viewers’ living rooms since TWD is bogged down by expectations. What I got was essentially the discarded ideas from the main show, stretched beyond believability, and crammed into a glitzy, Hollywood setting. The grand settings are an attempt to mask everything the show lacks. All it did was tie their hands trying to make zombies work on water. I mean, there are ways, but it requires thinking outside the box. AMC didn’t buy outside-the-box. They wanted TWD, but with a longer name. What they can’t buy is my time.
This is the last review I’ll scribble for FtWD. There’s no salvaging the mess they’ve made. I’m jumping ship before it gets worse.
Call me crazy—most people do, anyway—but I was under the impression most television shows currently on the air wanted viewers to connect with and actually like the main character. If Bailey Barker’s brain is as close to pre-z Liv, it’s a wonder they based a show around her at all.
At her core, the Liv we find somewhat plucky and charming at times should be interesting beyond her profession. I have no doubt if allowed to live her life, Liv would’ve gone on to become an extremely competent doctor. She’d probably stick to the ER though because her bedside manner is like being comforted by a decade–old dead guy. I could never imagine hyper-focused Liv with a private practice. Yes, they dragged out the “She’s missing Drake,” tidbit yet again to drive home the idea that she can’t cope as a functional kinda-human without her beau by her side. But while she’s at it, can she come over to clean the command center?
With Ravi in on the truth behind the Chaos Killer’s identity—thanks to sleuthing far better than the pros, by the way—he’s on board to help Major figure out how to stay alive. There may never be full trust between any of these people when all these secrets hit the fan. So what’s one more? Major insists Liv remain on the outside. At least until their mad scheme is complete. The guys need to figure out how to cure the memory side effect from Cure 2.0. Unfortunately the lab rats can’t talk. In a streak of utter brilliance, Major offers up the pain in his backside to play guinea pig. The Chaos Killer has one last victim on his list. Vaughn Du Clark is slated to become a zombie, then get cured, memory wiped, and cured from the side effect. For a hair-brained plan, it’s not half bad. Too bad Major is an idiot who must secretly hate dogs. The pet groomer he conned a few episodes back leads Bozzio straight to Major as he’s in the middle of nabbing VDC. I’ve seen karma work wonders on television before, but Major’s circled back tenfold to kick him in the junk while he’s down.
What does this mean for Blaine? The guy still has no clue what’s going on. Don E. and Chief set themselves up to run the Lucky U and brain businesses, leaving the funeral home for Blaine to run. He knows there’s something not right, though. Blaine takes a trip to the police station to find Ravi in the morgue since he’s the only doctor he knows. Clive and Bozzio don’t buy the memory act. Neither does Peyton when she confronts him about killing her case against Boss. There’s some astounding acting during the scene where Ravi lays it all out for Blaine, all the grim details he has about the guy’s past. Bonus laugh, Major is so zen on coffee shop owner brains, he has the clarity to pity Blaine instead of just trying to kill him for ruining their lives.
I was hesitant to see if they could pull all the plot threads together for the season finale. There are some things which just slip past—Liv’s MIA family, Ravi’s ability to forgive so quickly, Peyton showing up just to nag or use people, etc.—and we take them just to get to the point. I’m way more invested in Blaine’s story line than Liv’s with Drake. Even Major’s story line is more entertaining, though it should have resolved before now to make it believable that these people managed to miss his involvement with the whackadoo company owner. The random dirty cop story line with Benedetto featured in the episode even begins to make sense in the grand scheme—one of the detective’s great catches is a Lucky U dealer who won’t talk because he, “works for zombies.”
Another LU dealer is the murderer in the episode. He’s killed by Chief, undoubtedly leaving evidence which will lead back to the funeral home. I would applaud the writing skill it took to get this all to work, but I can’t until Liv gets an actual personality. Gotta have standards.
Warning: This article contains episode spoilers and a strong opinion.
How on earth does the show’s producers expect anyone to give half a damn about this show? I don’t get it. Since day one there’s been nothing personally at stake for the main family. The only deaths are fringe losses, people who weren’t even fully fleshed out with a personality, let alone on screen long enough for the viewers to care about their fate. Liza kicked the bucket, so what? Travis’ reaction and Chris’ weird corpse cuddling pretty much made her death a circus side show. Daniel lost his wife, who was only on screen to be the religious figure and when she became problematic for the writers, she died. Even in this episode when we should have genuine concerns about Travis’ survival, it’s not there. Not even remotely. My biggest concern was making it to a commercial to get more coffee before I fell asleep from all that excitement. We got one infected man on screen. He kills people we don’t know. Yawn. Snooze. Wake me when it gets interesting.
Interesting doesn’t mean Madison lords over the yacht crew, nagging every single one of them about this, that, or the other. We get it. She’s a mother. She cares about all these people. There are other ways for her to say, “I love you” without nitpicking every decision they make. I’m waiting for the scene where she follows Nick into the bathroom to wipe his backside. Then on top of this become The Madison Knows It All Show, she’s apparently the only able-bodied person on board who can handle any tough task. Strand is conveniently unwell after his swim—I told you he wasn’t shot; FTWD’s social media people tried for days to make viewers react to his possible injury and all I did was laugh. Daniel is looked over once again because he’s not family. Ofelia could wander around nude with a flamingo on her head and no one would notice her. Nick is grounded because mommy is worried about him. Chris can’t handle his own mental mess long enough not to screw up. And Luis? That guy is still around? Just listen to the dulcet tones of a man in the apocalypse whining about money. Pro tip, dude, money means jack-all now. That leaves Madison to play the cavalry and she’s no Agent May (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
But why does Madison have to stage a one-woman rescue? Here’s the quick version of the plot: The yacht crew (read: Madison) decides they won’t head south as planned just yet. Madison cashes in a favor from Strand, buying them half a day to find Travis and Alicia. Daniel manages to get information on the pirates from Reed and leaves Chris to watch their captive. With the information, they find a possible location for Connor’s crew. On the pirate side, Travis is locked up by request of Alex, the woman they left adrift in episode 203. She blames Travis for her plight. In the main cabin, Alicia is treated to a dinner she doesn’t get to eat, cooked by Connor himself. He’s called away and Alicia runs into Jack. Jack teaches her how to track other boats for looting. Eventually they concoct a plan to steal a boat and run after the approaching Abigail because Alicia assumes the boat’s early arrival means her family wasn’t taken to shore as promised. Back on the yacht, the crew is hailed by Connor, who tells Reed—his brother—to bring the Abigail in. Madison replies. They agree to a hostage trade. Just then, Chris shoots Reed. But it’s okay, even at point-blank range, Chris doesn’t destroy Reed’s brain. They truss up and head bag the new infected and Madison takes him to do the trade. Alicia hides from the pirates when they look for her. Travis is taken to the docks. The trade works . . . until the bag comes off Reed’s head. Connor flails and is bitten. Travis fights free from the last pirate on the dock. Madison just stands there. Alicia and Jack have a “How dare you” moment before she slides down the side of the dry-docked boat Connor made his home. Madison, Travis, and Alicia return to the Abigail. Jack watches, looking like a kicked puppy.
Now we’ve got no immediate danger for the family. No tension save the meager and trite “family comes first” bull everyone repeats ad nauseam. And they’ve killed off the only season-arcing baddies. Where to go now? Mexico and the mysterious people who still take cash to cross the border? That’s not interesting. That’s idiotic. Any person with half a brain understands money means nothing. So the guy says no he can’t take them. What’s stopping them from just sailing to the Baja coast and skipping the border crossing altogether? This show continues to fail to have a plot. Every time they get close, everything resolves in favor of the yacht crew. I get more excitement watching my turtle kill snails.
There wasn’t much left at stake personally for Ash at the end. I really wanted him to feel more in this episode, and while he did show huge growth adding his team into negotiations with Ruby at the episode’s end, it’s sugar coating on Styrofoam.
We say goodbye, again, to Amanda. Her deadite counterpart crashes the party inside the cabin after Pablo has that thing latch onto his face. True to form, she is the one to deliver the infamous, “I’m going to swallow your soul,” line during her final fight with Ash. Before DeadAmanda is cut in half, Ruby takes Pablo and the Necronomicon into the basement. Things get freakier from there.
Doomed to his own ill-advised plans, Ash goes into the cellar alone to save Pablo. Okay, Kelly could have probably talked him into a group effort, but the cabin shook Ash into the basement where Ruby gave him a vision of the night he read from the book again to unleash more evil and get laid. This is where it gets a bit clunky. We’re to believe now that the Dark Ones are down to one Dark One who wishes not to unleash evil, but control it to maintain universal balance. All the vital information about Ruby’s scheme is dumped in this daydream. Then she attempts to make a deal with Ash, one we all realize he’ll probably take at some point just to screw things up even more. It ruins the surprise.
I don’t know why Heather was ever present, other than to give them someone other than tiny demons to kill in this episode. She’s meat. Don’t get attached. She sure isn’t attached to any body part by the time the cabin literally chews her up and spits her out in a gush of blood and chunks. The wave knocks Kelly down, honestly just dirt on a turd sandwich at this point. Kelly has been thrown around, had an eye pop on her and Heather, the guy she likes looks like he’s auditioning for a remake of The Mask, she’s locked out of the cabin, and the savior she’s supposed to rely on isn’t a team player. Eventually, she sets the cabin on fire, injuring it enough for it to unlock the doors.
In the basement it’s quite beautiful. I mean, that’s what everyone says when witnessing the miracle of birth, right? Unless it’s Pablo birthing demons by vomiting huge, wriggling, uterus-looking things. The demons which crawl out are played by children. They are evil. Evil children are evil. Why do people insist on tormenting me by adding demonic children to things I enjoy? Ash fights one child demon, the others flee.
Most of this episode is fight scenes. It keeps the awkward story bits from getting too much attention while highlighting an aspect from the films everyone loves—Bruce Campbell getting hit a lot. The final fight sequences all boil down to one thing: Ash has to make a decision. Either he can kill Ruby and wait to see how the chips fall with Pablo’s possession and the unleashed evil, or he can take the deal and trust Ruby to do as she says. He tries to get the best of both worlds, ensuring safe passage for Team Badass and a little money to help them on the way. It’s not as much cash as he wanted, but they have gas money. Yes, Ash just handed the future of mankind to an evil woman for a couple bucks and a trip to Jacksonville, FL.
Ruby totally reneges on the deal, too. There’s sinkholes popping up all over the area as Team Badass trundle off into the sunset. At least we know there’s still evil to fight in season two.
Surprise! Spoilers! It’s the only surprise we’re discussing this week.
Once we were all done scratching our head over Nick’s game of tag with an infected man, the show ran a course so predictable, I could not make myself focus on the screen. This is insane. Why can’t the show manage to start interesting and stay there? Not only that, but I keep catching their attempts to play games with viewers. “Oh, we teased Jack and the Never-Competent Pirates in 201, we better let them lay low until 204. That’ll really shock the audience!” Yeah, no. The arrival of Jack and the others—who are so inconsequential, they don’t get proper credits online so I cannot confirm their names without rewatching the entire episode and I’m so not mentally prepared to do that, it’s akin to torture—was about as exciting as I’d thought it’d be. They cook up a ruse to get onto the yacht using the pregnant woman’s condition to their advantage. Once Madison sets her eyes on the distressed woman, it’s all over. Strand is the only person to freak out appropriately, but he can’t arm himself because Daniel stripped the magazine from his gun. Now we know why all the paranoia last episode. They needed Daniel to be the one to do the dumb thing and salvage the most boring pirate invasion I’ve seen on television to date.
The pirates climb onboard, point a gun, and have run of the ship. Chris even asks, “Do I shoot them,” at one point, like they haven’t been actively trying to dodge these pirates for three episodes. Did they magically forget the threat which had been on their backside not that long ago? Even a warning shot would have proven the group we’re watching has some chance to make it for the long run. If they can’t? Why the hell are we still following them? Why torment viewers with boring characters if the endgame means they die?
With the pirates onboard and Strand without a weapon, he bails. Takes a raft and scurries like a rat off a sinking ship. He’s shot at, popping the raft. Really, Strand’s escape attempt is to take him from the main story and force flashbacks on the show—like the endless flashbacks on TWD season six weren’t bad enough, now this show’s caught the way-back virus. I’m all for character development, but everything we learn from Strand’s flashbacks could have been handled within the plot timeline. There’s no reason to detail his business plans. We already know he’s shady enough to rob someone. The only new information is his homosexuality, again something they could have included later in the season as an actual surprise. Instead they try to salvage his character from Stereotype Land by info-dumping his background and sexuality in unnecessary flashbacks. While they did attempt to drag out the Big Gay Surprise until the episode’s ends, I knew right away what would happen when Thomas touched Strand’s tie in their first scene together. For those with their head in the sand, it’s a thing. They’re a couple. Men on television do not do casual tie-grabs and hand-holding, let alone kissing. Again, this show can diversify itself to oblivion, but cannot weave these characters into a cohesive story with true depth.
During the pirate raid, Travis farts around pretending he can’t start the yacht. That’s pretty much the plot for the episode. The side plots are Strand’s flashbacks and Alicia negotiating her family’s survival with Jack. Everyone else is tied up and left in the main cabin to bicker or plot escape attempts they never actually see through. There’s no actual action until Connor, the pirate leader, arrives. He sees use in Alicia and Travis, so bags their heads and drags them to his speed boat. Connor isn’t as lame as the other pirate characters. He has morals. But it may be an illusion of a coherent character. He may just be a walking bag of morals. Time will tell.
On shore, Nick’s bizarre game of tag turns into a quest to find a location Strand sent him to. Nick meets with Luis, Thomas’ assistant, who is supposed to lead Strand to the house in Baja. Luis has no clue about the others on the yacht or the plan to take them to Mexico. But because Nick says Strand sent him, Luis grabs a raft and off they go to get the others. They arrive just in time to kill the remaining pirates Connor left. Madison manages to do one thing—stab the man who did all the talking before his boss arrived. The gang is stuck there on the yacht until Luis knows Strand is safe. They’re only getting to Mexico with him. Time to turn around and find the man left for dead. Oh, look, he’s still alive. Hooray. What about Travis and Alicia? They can’t even make a supply run on an empty beach without nearly dying, how are they supposed to attack armed pirates?
I don’t know how they expect fans to hang around for two more episodes, let alone stick out the entire fifteen-episode second season and the already-purchased sixteen-episode third season. There’s nothing exciting. Scenes which should hold our interest fizzle into predictable messes or are so incomprehensible, they frustrate viewers. I keep waiting to be wowed. I want to be wowed.
Pretty sure this is going to end in disappointment again.
Surf’s up, and so are the spoilers. Surf at your own risk.
The episode opened with, predictably, the survivors the yacht crew would encounter later in the episode. New characters usually bring in a breath of fresh air, but we already know how this will end. We’ve seen this dance before between Madison and Strand. There is no reason to keep dragging new survivors out if they’re only going to kick the bucket. Save the budget for guest stars and hire a few new writers to call them on rubbish plot management. This episode has no real plot, by the way. It’s a pit stop sponsored by deus ex machina. They needed to buy time for Madison to get good and riled about Strand’s Mexico secret, so the boat broke. Then when they needed to make a quick getaway, suddenly an all-day repair took two minutes. There’s no tension in the plot. The group gets in trouble, finds survivors they’ll leave for death, and magically survive to screw up someone else’s life the following week. The only variation is location.
Madison, Strand, Ofelia, and Travis stayed on the stalled boat during repairs, the kids and Daniel hit the beach to salvage supplies from a plane wreck. While searching, Nick ended up in a pit with not one, but two infected. Chris wanders off from the group and finds the lone survivor from the wreck. The man’s spine is shattered. Chris gives him a brutal mercy killing. Before Travis finishes finding the hand lodged in the water cooling system, the beach crew are greeted with Alex—the woman from the first scene—and a lot of infected. They grab what they found in the wreckage and bail, snagging Alex’s life boat and her injured friend Jake. There’s another predictable fight amongst everyone, with Strand firmly on the “No” side. They reach a compromise; Alex and Jake will be towed after the yacht until San Diego with some food and water. Before they made it a mile, Strand doubled back and cut the life boat free.
Madison is insufferable. I could go on for days about how flat her character is. She only has an opinion to differ Strand’s. The character doesn’t even make sense to Travis, who has been downgraded to an indentured servant’s social level given how little choice Madison gives him while she wants to save the world with nothing but a boat and friggin’ rainbows. Madison becomes the perfect pawn for writer’s to manipulate. Someone’s gotta be nosey and bitchy? Better send Madison. What about Daniel? He’s the Old Wise Man, shouldn’t some of these mental battles be between him and Strand? Hershel and Dale weren’t ones to pass the buck, let alone to a woman, when group tensions rode high. Why is Daniel any different? Oh. Wait. They don’t want to make a minority character “problematic.” Instead they use Madison as women tend to be used in post-apocalyptic fiction, only there to make matters worse. Diversity is the one thing they got right for FtWD. It’s also something they keep toeing around, leaving Madison to be the bothersome one for fear of backlash. Just write people. Come on. You can do that, guys. No more stereotypes, please.
I feel like I’m losing my mind when it comes to the dialog on this show. There were several instances where conversations had no resolution, yet the characters moved on with the plot as though they’d actually said something in the previous scene. When Madison confronts Strand about Mexico, there’s grandstanding about putting family first—probably a red herring about Stand having family—and threats thrown around, but I never felt like they agreed on what to do about the house in Baja. Later in the episode, it’s like they sat there and negotiated a cohabitation plan. The conversation was nothing near that. Then there’s the virtually incoherent conversation with Alicia and Nick on the beach when Nick puts on the captain’s shirt. I was on board with Alicia marveling that her brother is actually with the family, but it took a metaphor turn which didn’t pan out with the performances. Do you know why? It’s a horrible bit of dialog. When dialog doesn’t make sense, actor’s more often than not cannot salvage it for the performance. Instead of the director and writers finding something which fit for Nick and Alicia, they kept the clunky line and killed—yet again—the relationship between brother and sister. The love the writers put on the page is as warm as the crabs crawling from that one infected guy. These people could all be total strangers and it wouldn’t change the relationship dynamics on the yacht one bit.
This is the song that doesn’t end . . . There is nothing unique or original about this show. Finally, I said it. They rehash things done by other shows—even their own mother show—put it near water, and call it new. The episode title fits the entire show so well; a creature eating its own tail, creating an unending cycle. In the show’s case, the cycle is driven by poor writing. They sit at their computers to scribble an episode and pat themselves on the back for being so creative, drowning out any who say their writing isn’t the bee’s knees.
On to next week. I predict more water, more fighting, and clowns juggling chainsaws.