Careful. There’s spoilers in the following review.
Happiness is fleeting in the apocalypse. That’s the message written all over this episode. Oh, everything starts out puppies and kittens, but by the time the credits roll, everyone’s newfound happiness has been shattered one way or another. Maybe you should go re-watch episode 501 to balance things out a little.
As always, Roberta is the first to face heartbreak in what should have been the perfect place for her to settle. At least until her mind finally catches up with all the miles her body has traveled in the name of saving humanity, that is. The decision is more or less made for her by Cooper, unfortunately. His loneliness is a weakness neither of them can overcome. So when Murphy’s impeccable tracking skills lead him straight to the farm, that very same fear of isolation puts Murphy in danger. If there’s one thing you don’t do when faced with the exhausted leader of a survivor group, it’s break their trust. Warren’s loyalty will always fall with those who fought by her side, no matter how perfect a lover may be. For probably not the last time, Roberta saves a bound/gagged Murphy and off they go to reunite Operation Bitemark in the northern communities.
With the Newmerica vote hanging in the air, Doc, 10k, and Sarge are shuffled into what seems to be the most populated and organized settlement, Altura, so they can partake in the actual rebirth of democracy. It’s not as simple as “Pass Go, Collect $200.” In order to make sure every citizen receives the aid and support they need, everyone must go through a health screening to determine who’s alive and who’s a Talker. 10k’s unique state of being is nearly discovered, but the examiner finds a pulse after some intensive searching. The others in the party who died before arriving aren’t handling the process as well. On top of the struggle to fit in, there’s also whispers that the bizkits are running low. Is this paradise too good to be true already?
The team might want to give them another chance to come through on all these grandiose promises. Turns out George was one of the first people Warren saved when the apocalypse kicked off, and George is using the strength she saw in her savior to fashion a safe haven for everyone. Normally we’re not treated to flashbacks on this show, and honestly they tend to detract from the plot, but this particular flashback speaks volumes about Warren’s power to lead before she ever dreamed of leading her own group. Not to mention it gives us a source for the phrase, “Puppiez and kittenz,” which has become a mantra for Roberta when they’re in need of bravery. Beyond the Easter eggs hidden in George’s history, the easy friendship between Warren and the would-be world leader reminds us that Warren hasn’t had a real one-on-one conversation with another woman in quite some time. Their conversations are some of the better parts of the episode.
Not everyone thinks George is a brilliant leader. The dissidents range from angry, lonely humans who lash out from fear, to the Talkers who embrace the idea that their undead condition somehow makes them better. Of the latter, Pandora seems to be the head of the snake. Unfortunately, the character herself is a two-dimensional sexpot who causes mischief. I can toss out a handful of rice and hit an identical character from literally every TV show currently airing. It’s somewhat annoying to watch the show make great strides to represent women better, only to then lean back on a character prototype that really needs to find its way to the trash heap of history. We get it. Pandora is a bad guy. Now can you write her like an actual person instead of walking sexual organs?
This is an episode of reunions. Remember Red? Red vanished mysteriously quite some time ago, leaving 10k distraught and self-destructive. Her reintroduction is a study in how men muck up their own lives by failing to confront their emotions. 10k spends the entire episode driving himself up a wall because he’s too afraid to show how much he misses Red after hearing rumors she may be involved with someone else. A former traveling companion who wasn’t quite as missed, at least not by Murphy, is Dr. Sun Mei. Just like Red, Sun vanished without a trace way back when they originally planned to venture to Newmerica. She’s used her time away from the group well, becoming a scientist for Altura and running a whole new study on the Talkers. In a stunning turn, Citizen Z shows up shooting live footage of the upcoming vote for his viewers. The gang are all present and accounted for at last, with one notable exception. In a lesser way, we’re also reintroduced to Zona via Roman Estes, the CEO of Altura, who says he left Zona after disagreeing with their plans, a.k.a. the whole Black Rainbow business.
Estes’ new haven may not run as smooth as he hopes. At the episode’s end when George is set to read the results of the long-awaited vote for a new constitution, the podium blows up. Lt. Dante acts like Pandora is to blame, slinking off to check on the woman’s activities after she leaves the meeting hall just before George’s speech. We have no clue who all survives the blast, but I’ll be quite vexed if we’re forced to say goodbye to George already. The death rate on this show should teach me to never pick a favorite character from the newbies, but here I am, already hoping my new favorite isn’t a notch on Z Nation‘s executioner’s ax.
A New Beginning: Review for The Walking Dead 901 by R.C. Murphy
You know the drill. There’s a ton of spoilers in this review, so proceed accordingly.
Despite the show being back on the air during its normal time frame, it feels like we were away from Rick and the gang for way too long. Or maybe it’s just that 2018 feels like 10 years packed in a single year’s box, held together with cheap packing tape. The Walking Dead gives fans a good way to vanish from the real world for a little while, as it always has. But did the production team manage to grab the waning attention of fans burnt out by the exhausting All Out War story line?
I’m honestly not sure this premiere is strong enough on its own to do that, and it’s a little worrying considering what all we know for sure is coming down the pipeline as far as actor departures from the show.
The bulk of this episode deals with an idea the producers introduced at SDCC this summer: Reclaiming old technology in order to ensure a future for their communities. In the opening montage, it’s clear that Sanctuary’s corn crop failed. The factory’s dirt is sour. All they can do with the produce is turn it into biofuel, and the yield isn’t nearly enough to keep everyone driving out to source supplies to fully replenish Negan’s former home sweet home nearly 2 years after the war ended. To speed up the process of healing the ground, they need a better, faster way to plow. There’s also a few other things they need, so everyone’s off to Washington D.C. to raid the Smithsonian. Makes perfect sense. How many scouting teams would’ve had the time or energy to take things like covered wagons before now? Aside from some minor walker damage, everything in the museum is intact.
The plan to get it all out, not so much.
This episode, like so many before it, is plagued with basic logic errors so great, one cannot help but yell at the television. There’s a vast difference in writing a tense scene in which a beloved character has a close call, and writing a series of foolish calls that are obviously wrong while still (still!) presenting the person giving the orders as the best possible leader for these people. This problem continues into the next set of problems while getting their loot home. How on earth did they create this relay network, yet when it comes to actually planning and executing what should be a moderately easy mission, they do things like fail to make sure all the bridges are secure? The latter oversight cost Ken his life. Always know your exits. It’s a basic lesson all women, police, and military learn.
Perhaps it’s because of all the bad calls that the power struggle is more pronounced this season. The first problem comes from everyone’s need to put an outside in charge of Sanctuary to keep the dissidents in line. Daryl wants out. Being in the building triggers his PTSD, but he stops just shy of admitting as much to Rick. Carol, however, hears and understands why Daryl needs to get away from there. Not sure she’s going to have much better luck, not with guys like Justin lurking on the fringes with his passive aggressive quips, and the constant reminders that someone in the community actively wants Negan back. The second problem comes to light curtesy of the unchecked, crumbling bridge. Turns out Hilltop has it good. Really good. They’re flush with people, produce, and ideas. And for this entire time, they’ve been loaning out supplies right and left to keep everyone afloat. Yet everyone defers to Rick. He gets the praise. Maggie, in a moment I wish to frame and mount on a wall, point-blank tells Rick that the power dynamic will change because she knows her worth, and that of the people under her care. Rick, to his credit, acknowledges it and doesn’t seem all that torn up to have a little pushback. The third problem is proof that Maggie needs the spine of steel we saw in her conversation with Rick because someone’s out for her head. I’ll give you one guess who it is. Gregory was never going to let the election results stand, and Maggie should have known he’d take a funeral as a chance to plot against her. In another show of power, Maggie hangs Gregory in the middle of town using one of the most painful methods ever. It’d take a brave fool to go toe to toe with her anytime soon.
A quick note to wrap up . . . . Can we have a spin-off romantic comedy with Carol and Ezekiel? Seriously, all I want is to see these two happily joking with each other until the end of time. No cameos. No walkers. Just a blissful couple in an empty world being adorable. It’s been a rough year. We deserve this one nice thing.
Welcome to the Newpocalypse: Review for Z Nation 501 by A. Zombie
Don’t rush ahead without looking for spoilers, first. They’re sneaky like that.
Z NATION — “Welcome to the Newpocalypse” Episode 501 — Pictured: Keith Allen as Murphy — (Photo by: Oliver Irwin/The Global Asylum/SYFY)
What’s probably the most noticeable thing about season five thus far is how drastically different the tone is right out the gate. They haven’t taken us all the way back to a season one vibe, that just wouldn’t work with a scattered, three-part story. However, going into this season it feels more . . . natural. Perhaps once they dropped the technology-driven story line, it allowed the plot to follow where the characters want to go on when acting on their own accord. And for quite some time the group had a few solid goals: reach Newmerica, and to run away somewhere less complicated. Operation Bitemark didn’t reach both goals as a unit, but everyone goes where they need/want to and it does wonders at making our old friends more recognizable. The entire Murphy and Bob walk at the end is peak Murphy. He’s never been so at ease with himself. We need more of this.
Doc leads the Newmerica-bound group with his heart, not so much his head. Which is how the show managed to make me crack part of my jaw off . . . then the scene plays out and Doc’s ruse is revealed. Round of applause to you guys for giving a dead person a heart attack. His makeup choices aside, Doc is doing an admirable job of getting not only his people to the new promised land, but also anyone they stumble across along the way. The ragtag group is mostly composed of folks who suffer side effects from the black rain. Yes, yet again our heroes are the source of some horrific ailment unleashed upon the dwindling human population. And as usual, there’s a twist. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Have you ever purchased an item online thinking it was assembled, only to receive an itty bitty box for what’s supposed to be a six-foot bookcase? That’s pretty much what Newmerica turns out to be. All that radio chatter made it sound like there is an actual established civilization up north, one just shy of building its first fast food place, at that. Someone up there must have worked in advertising before the Z hit the fan because they really sold the place well. What’s really waiting way up north for the gang? A dozen or so settlements caught in a political battle over a constitution in order to properly call the territory Newmerica. Guess it’s better than finding out Skeezy and Sketchy are running a new con. But can these people help when they can’t even agree on basic laws of the land yet?
If one overlooks the obvious appeal of the Z biscuits George hands out, this would-be leader still has the charisma it takes to unite people in a common cause. She’s empathetic. Calm. Approaches every scenario with a level head, even though the other party involved probably just wants to eat her brain. And unlike other leader-types the team has encountered, George freely offers information, aid, and shelter to all. Even the still-talking dead in the group.
Remember those side-effects? A major one is the fact that once the afflicted perish, they don’t stop doing what they were doing in the first place; they just continue existing, but with a craving for brains. Much like Murphy, actually. Where they differ is the black rain victims will turn full Z if their hunger is not addressed. Someone out there has the time and created possibly brain-laced crackers for this new variety of undead, Talkers. It’d be grand if the group found the Z wizard and made friends. You know, so they’ll never be without food for their dead pals. Nothing ruins a friendship faster than being snapped at.
But what about Warren and that huge cliffhanger from season four? Like a cat, Warren lives to fight another day, despite this being her closest call yet. Well . . . if we overlook the nuclear incident. And the gut shot. Okay, the apocalypse hasn’t been kind to Roberta. Things are looking up for her during this episode, though. After miraculously walking away from the crash with major, but not fatal wounds, Warren finds a farm with a lone occupant, Cooper. Wouldn’t you know it? This is the exact kind of place she looked for during those moments when the mission became too much for her. It’s quiet. There’s work to be done, and it rarely involves dealing with the dead. To cap it off, Cooper turns out to be a balm for the holes in her heart. A happy, smiling Roberta is someone we haven’t seen in years. Even if she’s only happy for this one moment, I’m glad the show let her just live for an episode. Even heroes need a day off.
Her time away from the group dwindles, though she doesn’t know it. There’s a hard decision coming for Roberta. Can she step away from the promise of a future in this new land with the people she’s come to love as family at her side? George won over the others in a couple minutes, maybe her magic will coax Roberta to the north, as well. Whichever way Warren goes, I think the main goal will be to finally settle and build a place to call home.
Walking Dead Stars to Visit PaleyFest NY by R. C. Murphy
With the TWD premiere fast approaching, the cast and production team is in full promotional mode. The icing on the cake before this year’s season 9 premiere on Sunday, October 7th on AMC has to be TWD’s place amongst the handful of shows chosen to feature in this year’s two week celebration of the television format at PaleyFest NY.
On October 6th at 3 PM, The Walking Dead will hit the festival stage with stars Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and showrunner Angela Kang. Other guests may still be added to the lineup for the panel portion of the festivities. The panel will be moderated by EW‘s Dalton Ross. Fans in attendance will also be treated to an early premiere of the first episode from season 9.
As of this moment, the main theater for this TWD event is sold out. Don’t despair if you’re still planning to attend. PaleyFest does offer a significantly cheaper ticket to watch panels in an overflow theater with a video feed of the event.
This year’s PaleyFest NY lineup includes: Outlander, Drunk History, David Tennant, Documentary Now!, Sunday Morning, Murphy Brown, Shark Tank, The Good Fight, The Conners, and Top Chef. There is also a four-hour workshop on October 13th for festival attendees who wish to learn more and want to eventually work in television.
Named for William S. Paley, founder of CBS and The Paley Center for Media, PaleyFest is a must-see pop cultural event produced by the Paley Center that brings fans together with the stars and creators of their favorite shows for panel discussions with audience Q&A. PaleyFest takes place both in LA & NY. The next PaleyFest LA takes place spring 2019.
PaleyFest NY 2018 runs from October 5th through the 18th.
Ash vs Evil Dead Gets a Complete Series Blu-ray Set by R.C. Murphy
Seems like our Ghost Beater friends aren’t willing to drop into cancelled TV oblivion just yet. On the heels of the huge news that there’s a unspecified type of game in the works featuring the characters from Ash vs Evil Dead, Starz/Anchor Bay announced that they’ve created a Blu-ray set for the complete series. Guess we know what some of you will be doing for Halloween this year. Make sure to take a few stretch breaks and stay properly hydrated during your marathon, okay?
The set is scheduled to drop this October 16th. If you’re impatient, it is available for preorder from several retailers including Amazon and Best Buy. For just under $50, you can bring Ash, Kelly, Pablo, and Ruby home to make sure their blood-spattered legacy lives on.
Each season in the Blu-ray set comes with its own features including audio commentaries, trailers, and quite a few behind-the-scenes featurettes. Here’s a full list:
Season 1 Special Features:
“Inside the World of Ash” Featurette
“How to Kill a Deadite” Featurette
“Best of Ash” Featurette
Season 2 Special Features:
“Season 2 First Look” Featurette
“Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead” Featurette
“Up Your Ash” Featurette
“Women Who Kick Ash” Featurette
“Puppets Are Cute” Featurette
“Dawn of the Spawn” Featurette
“Bringing Henrietta Back” Featurette
“The Delta” Featurette
“How to Kill a Deadite” Featurette
“Fatality Mash-Up” Featurette
Season 3 Special Features:
“Season Overview” Featurette
“Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead” Featurette
About Ash vs Evil Dead:
30 years after a horrific accident leading to the supernatural deaths of his friends, girlfriend, and sister, Ash Williams hasn’t learned much from his stint saving the world from deadites. Thinking he’s hung up his boom stick for good, Ash one day finds himself scrambling to escape not only his monotonous life as a retail clerk, but also the evil that’s come back to finish what it started all those years before. This time around, Ash can’t do it alone. Coworkers Pablo and Kelly bond with Ash during the bloodiest, worst moments in their lives and vow to help. The trio venture forth, Necronomicon in hand, determined to stop the deadites and the great evil leading them.
Well, Syfy did it again. They withheld information about the starting date for Z Nation until a month before the premiere. Which is a tad annoying, given how supportive the fanbase has been since day one. You’d think they would be eager to share the good news with us, like in the past when the schedule was usually sorted around July. However, over the last few years, there’s been less and less press for the show from any official sources which aren’t the producers’ Twitter pages or behind-the-scenes selfies from the cast. Matter of fact, so few outlets have snagged this news, the only way to verify beyond social media that Z Nation does indeed return on October 5th was to find the little note on the show’s website banner.
The same frustration about the late announcement for the premiere date stretches over to the fact that there’s still no full trailer online, despite there being one floating around in the ether that was shown at SDCC in July. The best we have since then is a teaser attached to the announcement for the season five premiere. It is only available on Twitter from an official source, so that’s the link you get. At least it’s something to get us ready for next month, right?
In the teaser we’re given a glimpse at the latest generation of zombie, Talkers. There’s also a good look at a couple new characters. For most of the teaser, Katy O’Brian, as George St. Clair, gives Operation Bitemark the lowdown on the Talkers. In other clips, a man in a black hat and Warren face off with a zombie, and Murphy and 10k have their first encounter with a Talker. Bet Murphy’s surprised he’s not the only supernatural creature capable of holding a conversation anymore.
We’ll be back with news about Roberta and the gang soon. A. Zombie will bring you reviews for Z Nation after season five begins on October 5th at 9 PM.
A Sons of Anarchy Star is the Newest Addition to TWD by R. C. Murphy
Casting news from the Walking Dead camp comes at a whirlwind pace nowadays. Over the last month or so, we’ve learned that season nine will introduce yet another survivor group, the Whisperers. This crew is straight from the comics, with their reign as Grimes’ adversary coming after All Out War wrapped, just as it is planned on the show currently. What makes the Whisperers different from other foes Rick’s group has faced is their heavy-handed use of undead skins to blend in with the creatures. The show has already announced actors for the Whisperers’ leader Alpha and her daughter Lydia—Samantha Morton and Cassady McClinty.
At the end of August, they announced that another Whisperer has come onboard. Beta, Alpha’s second-in-command, will be brought to life by Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy, Bates Motel). It’s not hard at all to imagine Hurst filling that all-too memorable walker skin mask. Matter of fact, just a day after the announcement, Hurst found himself in the makeup chair with his head covered in goop so the makeup magicians for the show can create said mask.
Fellow cast members wasted no time welcoming Hurst to the fold via social media. Some joked around a bit, possibly alluding to a gruesome plot line from the comics which may or may not happen; it depends on how much tweaking they have to do in order to not only make up for Carl’s absence, but also writing off two community leaders this season. However the Whisperers story line plays out, it’s bound to be incredible based on the casting news alone. There’s no way they’d squander this much talent.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 7th. Catch up on previous seasons via your favorite streaming service, or keep an eye out for one of the many mini-marathons AMC hosts at random.
Horror fans took a rather hefty blow earlier in 2018 when Starz announced that it would not pick up Ash vs Evil Dead for a fourth season. Which, quite frankly, sucks. The show finally found its stride. The addition of Brandy grounded Ash in a way no other plot device managed to ever before. For the first time, Ash found wider appeal within the fandom because he had some depth behind the knee-jerk decisions he made in the name of saving humanity. Not only that, but the new characters introduced within the series are just as interesting and engaging as the main character. There’s been a deadite-sized hole in our hearts the last few months and it hurts.
But maybe we don’t have to live without Ash and the gang for much longer.
In August, the show’s star Bruce Campbell sat down with Bloody Disgusting for an interview. During their talk, Campbell disclosed that he’s still got one more contracted project requiring him to step back into Ash’s brain for a while. It’s not a new show or film, though. Given the Evil Dead franchise’s past, it should be no surprise that there’s another video game in the works. Thankfully, games seem to be the sole exemption to Campbell’s retirement from portraying Ash. “Oh no, no. That’s different,” Campbell said when asked about his retirement affecting the game. “I have previous obligations I have to fulfill. They are doing a video game. A whole immersive kind of dealio. I’ll be Ash for that, because I wouldn’t want someone else’s voice hamming it up.”
There’s no other details for the game itself just yet, only that it’s been contracted and seems to be playing off the TV series, not the films. Confirmation for a show-oriented games comes from a Dread Central interview with Ray Santiago, who played Pablo on AvED. While discussing what future Santiago sees for Pablo, the interview hit on the video game and whether or not the other stars would be involved. “I would say that we stick together in everything that we do. We’re the Ghost Beaters, so I would say yeah! We’re all going to be part of this,” Santiago said. He was mum on further information, falling back on the Hot or Cold game to answer the interviewer’s follow-up question about the AvED game being VR. The answer was really, really warm, folks.
In case anyone worries that the game will get off-track, Santiago went on to add, “Whatever it is, just know that the three of us, or basically everybody on the show, has to approve whatever sort of character they come up with, so it’s gonna be legit!”
Seems like just yesterday we sat down to discuss a new show from The CW that surprisingly brought the zombie genre into the rom-com fold with little fuss and quite a bit of laughter. Fast-forward five seasons, suddenly we’re counting down to the final days of cute brain foods and failed ‘ships for Liv.
Filming for iZombie‘s fifth and final season began the first week of August. Series stars Rahul Kohli and Rose McIver continue their longtime tradition of kinda live-tweeting their onset time together. There’s also the ongoing saga over whether Kohli’s new house is haunted or not, as witnessed by co-star/roommate Malcolm Goodwin. Either they’re working too many hours on the show and hallucinating, or someone didn’t ask for the property’s history before moving in and there’s a poltergeist waiting to yank Kohli into a glowing closet. Let’s hope it is more of the former than the latter.
So far it looks like Ravi will spend his usual amount of time dealing with dead bodies in and out of the morgue. Liv’s more human look is nowhere to be seen for this season so far. McIver’s from-set selfies are very much Classic Liv; the one who embraced her zombie features without apology even when the undead still lived under the radar. Which makes sense, Liv only donned the human disguise to perpetuate the Renegade myth easier. With Major installed as the head of the snake the team and Renegade’s people fought last season, there should be no need to sneak around curing sick people, right? Maybe the world will even grow to embrace the undead and not fear them. Though one can understand their hesitation thanks to the zombie army Fillmore-Graves amassed in Seattle.
Peace will be hard to come by, that we know for sure. To help the political side of the city’s plight play out, the production team is finally bringing the city council into the equation. Playing zombie city council member Zed is legendary NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Zed is one of just two council members who remained in Seattle after Fillmore-Graves triggered the outbreak which prompted a quarantine of the city. The second council member is a human and the differing opinions, plus the murder of the mayor, puts even more pressure on Peyton as she fights for all of Seattle’s residents equally.
It’ll be quite some time before we get an airdate for iZombie‘s final season premiere, but we’ll be here to bring you the news as soon as The CW makes its announcement.
There hasn’t been a wealth of information coming from the Z Nation camp while they film this summer. We got a peek at season five when the cast and producers took a break from the set for their SDCC panel, but as always, they kept the juicy bits close to their vest.
Until now, that is.
Looks like the post-apocalyptic world is expanding yet again. We’re finally getting names and faces for the long-teased NewMerica settlement. First up is someone you may recognize from another popular zombie show, Katy O’Brian. After her short stint on AMC’s The Walking Dead, finding footing in a slightly different version of the apocalypse should be a piece of cake. The big difference is, O’Brian is making the leap from an unnamed Savior character to what’s being billed as the hero of this newly found settlement.
O’Brian’s character Georgia (a.k.a George) St. Clair went from starting her first year of college to leading a group of student and teachers from her school all the way to NewMerica in the eight year span of the zom-poc so far. Using that trust, she’s shifted from survival mode to planning mode and is one of the political heads in the settlement who wants to form a new country. Unfortunately, that also puts her on the frontlines while dealing with the new breed of highly intelligent zombies.
I’m not sure what’s worse, dealing with the politics between Alexandria and the Saviors or being the one everyone looks to in order to fight an enemy with far more deadly potential than anything they’ve faced before.
Given how long both shows have been on the air, it’s only a matter of time before more actors like O’Brian make the jump to the SyFy series in order to expand their genre resume. And, hey, we’ll welcome them with open arms.
That’s about it for Z Nation news, save for a few from-set snapshots the cast posted late in August on Instagram. While there are rumors for a season five premiere date, I’ve found nothing official to confirm it just yet, so don’t believe everything you read when googling. That doesn’t mean you can’t hop on one of many streaming services to watch the previous seasons in a glorious, blood-drenched marathon, though.
We’ll be back with more Z Nation news as soon as they drop the premiere date for season five.