The Unknowns: Review for Z Nation 405 By A. Zombie
Guess we’ve kinda figured out why people randomly go missing. Someone or something uses a mind-crippling noise to abduct survivors—in the first incident, the seemingly sentient truck broadcasts the noise, from then on it’s used to curb everyone’s attempts to plan an escape. Whether or not all the missing people are shipped to the same facility, we’re given no indication. The current group finds each other eventually, but Sun Mei, Red, and the others are still MIA by the episode’s conclusion. That means more awkward, longing sighs from 10k every time Red is mentioned. Oh goodie.
What do these mystery beings want with the people they’ve abducted? Hard labor in dangerous conditions—a.k.a. this is a slavery ring with the crop being zombies who must be cleared from certain locations in an industrial building for a plan none of the enslaved understand. Roberta and a stranger fix the elevator situation. 10k and Doc nearly asphyxiate shutting off a toxic gas leak. There’s several other small tasks for the crew, as well. Sometimes they work together. Other times they are paired with a stranger. Sarge pulls the short straw, so she gets the random guy who is more interested in raping her than the task at hand. Writers, try harder. Find another way to scare new female characters.
Roberta thinks she’s lassoed the golden goose when their unseen captors paired her with a man in a Zona uniform. Surely if there’s a high-tech mass kidnapping scheme, it’s based with the filthy rich jerks on the doomed island, right? Nope. At least according to the guard. These invisible baddies aren’t picking on one team or another. They’re snatching anyone they can get their hands on in order to find something hidden in the building. Our gang never learns that secret. They’re too preoccupied with surviving the regular Zs, mega-Zs, and desperate prisoners who think Puppy Chow time is the best time of the day.
Despite the countless boxes in the warehouse, we only see a small handful of the captives. None of those make it out the front door when our gang makes a zombie-assisted break for it. I get the time crunch and all, but not one of the crew stops to think for a second to check the other boxes for their missing friends and loved ones. It feels wrong for them to ignore an entire warehouse of people, at least a couple hundred souls, in favor of this vague trip toward the east. Especially when it comes to 10k. For a guy who’s completely distracted by the loss of his love, he sure didn’t seem desperate to find her when he’s smack dab in the middle of a place giving the first indication that she may have also been kidnapped.
Continuity issues aside, there’s a far larger problem on their plates now. During the final rush to escape, Lucy attempts to save her new zombie friend from a fight. Murphy steps in and is bitten. He’s seemingly cured after the stay in Zona, yet recently resumed eating flesh in the form of self-cannibalism. So what’s going to happen when a fresh dose of the Z virus makes its way into his blood stream? Things aren’t looking good for the formally blue guy. We may have to say goodbye to Murphy as we currently know him.
Warren’s Dream Review for Z Nation 401 By R.C. Murphy
We left our intrepid heroes at a grim place. Roberta and Murphy were injured with the same bullet. Zona forcefully collected a bunch of scientists. Addy, Lucy, and 5k went for a flight off a cliff, but forgot their wings. 10k and came back. A Zona ship hovered over the rest of the gang and seemed to aim their weapons straight at them just as the episode faded to black.
Two years later, things aren’t much better for the crew. Except Murphy. Like always, he’s adapted to his situation and flourished in ways no one alive could ever manage. Yes, alive. As in cured. No more blue dude or the suave white-haired devil, Murphy’s embraced his natural hair color . . . and sweater vests. He’s also secured a pretty plush life as Zona’s savior, a life which spreads to Roberta the instant she wakes from a two-year coma. It wasn’t a nice nap. Oh no. She’s plagued by a nightmarish, smoldering landscape dominated by an ominous black arch. These visions are nutso, folks. Intense, come out of nowhere, and sometimes contain things which make no sense now, but will probably be some brilliant epiphany down the road. Because that’s just how the show works sometimes. The visions also trigger a ripple-effect of small disasters plaguing Roberta. We haven’t seen the last of those flames, that’s for sure.
Elsewhere in the world, Doc’s become a seriously competent zombie slayer. With grace he’s never expressed before, Doc performs a hammer dance with a few undead’s skulls. His shining moment lasts about two minutes, then 10k whacks him upside the head in a case of mistaken identity. This new 10k, or Tommy as Red calls him, is a lot chiller than before. Almost too chill. He’s kind of an emotional zombie at times and it’s coming across awkwardly. The trio are heading to a pick-up spot for what’s promised to be a new start for humans up north where it’s too cold for zombies to survive. This could possibly be Citizen Z and Kaya’s new thing? There’s no confirmation of who’s in charge, only that there seems to be actual military involved at the camp. Oh and Sun Mei.
Z NATION — Season:4 — Pictured: (l-r) Tara Holt as Lucy, Anastasia Baranova as Addy — (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z 4/Syfy)
They’re not the only ones banking on the hope promised in this safe haven. Addy and Lucy are road-tripping to a better life. Along the way, Addy stops frequently to play hero. It also gives Lucy a way to work on her powers. The two don’t see eye to eye on some things. Especially if Lucy is on Addy’s right side, what with the missing eye and all. But their disagreements don’t stop Lucy from helping Addy help humanity even though the mission is long over. Which is how they’re caught by someone who may or may not be Zona goons.
Zona is . . . freaky. It’s obviously some man’s idea of heaven, all 1950’s middle-American city, complete with aimless afternoons playing leisure sports and women in skintight dresses. Murphy introduces Roberta to The Founder, an extreme survivalist who supposedly saw the zombie outbreak coming and set up a refuge for his wealthy pals where they could wait it out. No doubt the place will only get weirder as the season progresses.
Starring Wesley Snipes, Kevin Howarth, Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix, and Sinona Roman
Oh, oh dear. Today I learned why my gut kept me away from this film for five years. If you want to see what happens when an idea completely misses the mark, here’s your study guide. On paper, if explained somewhat coherently, this is a decent concept. The reality of what they captured does not sell the idea at all, and it’s nearly incomprehensible to boot. Don’t even get me going on these names.
Aman is born to a woman who joins a convent tasked with safeguarding the passage between our world and the underworld where the damned dwell. At puberty, he’s given the boot because he’s a man, and eventually finds shelter with a butcher and her daughter, Sueno. Years pass. The youngsters fall in love. One afternoon he leaves to escort the butcher on a trip; his lover stays at home alone. Men break in and force themselves on Sueno. She hides the horrible truth until nature gives her no choice but to tell Aman. He Flips. His. Lid. Hunts down Kansa and his gang, cornering them in a jail and killing everyone inside—except Kansa’s guilt-ridden son who hung himself. Something goes wrong, Aman is killed. His grief-stricken mother literally talks the Devil into bringing Aman back, but the catch is everyone he murdered comes back a zombie. Oh and she’s gonna die. The rest of the film is Aman chasing the zombie gang around while Kansa frantically searches for a way to revive his son—not to mention constantly harvesting new skins because theirs rotted off. There’s even a plucky young sidekick for Aman, Fabulos. Did I mention this is all set in a vaguely wild west setting?
If only the plot were even that coherent in practice. The story comes out in disjointed flashes between several locations and time periods. About halfway through we finally figure out where the hell the zombie thing came from. The language used for some characters is unpleasant and sounds forced. The action suddenly flashes to the rape scene far too many times; because surely we need everyone’s POV. Not really. It’s hard to keep track of who is where and when. The zombie lore is even a bit sketchy because there doesn’t seem to be a uniform rule for how they’ll come back. Some return as revenants, just hungry and lunging at whatever they see. The rest pretty much maintain their wits, but it’s suggested they lose their humanity, and skin, each time Aman kills them but doesn’t decapitate them.
The makeup is pretty neat. I’m fascinated by the lizard zombie. Kudos to whoever came up with that idea. When it finally clicked in my mind what’s going on with the guy’s head, I had to pause and laugh. Visually, the film is pretty neat. None of the FX makeup is so lacking it pulls you from the movie, save one or two moments where they try something hard to do with practical effects, and you can tell. It happens. The costumes are covetable. Honestly, about half an hour in it really just feels like someone wants to play cowboy, so let’s doll up—and why not toss in some zombies? But the zombies have to talk because otherwise viewers really wouldn’t have a clue about the actual plot.
In the end, I’m judging this one purely on what it looks like. If one tries to think too hard about the story they tried to tell, it ends in a headache. Edited together differently, it might be salvageable. As-is, this is a pretty mess. I’m giving it one and a half punctured lungs out of five.
Rated: Not Rated (contains intense gore, adult language, and violence)
Starring: Benjamin Engell, Troels Lyby, Mille Dinesen, Ella Solgaard, and Marie Hammer Boda
Dino and Pernille Johansson live with their small family in an idyllic town, Sorgenfri, where it’s so peaceful, the teens are bored to death by the end of summer vacation. That doesn’t last long. Shortly after the new girl, Sonja, moves in across the street, things start to get weird in Denmark. The news features public service announcements on proper hygiene in hopes of staving off a virus sweeping the countryside. It doesn’t work. Sorgenfri is quarantined. The Johansson family are trapped inside, stealing glimpses through the black tarps covering their home as the military takes over once-quiet streets. One by one, the townsfolk are removed from their homes and carted off in semi-trucks. Others are forcibly stopped by the military. Gustav, the Johansson’s son, gets curious and breaks out of the house to snoop on the armed men, and perhaps check in with Sonja as well. Of course, he makes matters worse.
Let’s be frank, this film isn’t anything we haven’t seen on-screen before. I’ve seen versions of similar trapped-house horror plots for decades. What We Become takes the zombie genre back to its simplistic roots in an era where we’ve been given blockbuster after blockbuster, and even the TV shows are approached like they’re feature films cut into chunks to air each week. What you see is what you get with this film. There’s one main location. A tiny cast. Most of the action is through stolen glimpses outside, the news, or during one of the few seriously ill-thought outings to confront what’s really going on in Sorgenfri. It’s NotLD in Danish. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a predictable thing, which will be what keeps genre fans from calling this film one of their top-whatever. Simple films can be well done, though. This is a perfect example.
Because most of the tension is based on how the family interacts and reacts to an unknown threat, the zombies are saved for the final act in the film. We’re given a quick look at the undead chaos at one point, but the full-frontal shambling dead came in the last fifteen minutes or so. From that point on, it’s all snarls and gnashing teeth. The makeup takes a soft approach to the newly turned zombies. Some hero zombies are pretty gruesome; one of the first we see clearly is pretty torn up. To go from the restrained first acts in the film where the zombie action was off-screen to the undead taking over the town in minutes is jarring, tampered by the makeup on the newly turned, especially those who turn inside the house. They almost look like vampires up until the feeding begins.
The final zombie action is undercut perfectly with one last bout of family drama. What happens when one of their own is ready to turn? It’s a wonderful final moment for the actors. This cast is pretty solid and did what they could with the script. Unfortunately, that script leads most characters down a path which ends with several attempts to fix their circumstances by attempting to leave the quarantine area or interact with the military on their turf. It goes about as well as you’re thinking.
What We Become is a pretty solid toe-dip into zombie storytelling. Yes, it has predictable parts. However, the cast saves the film from being tiresome. Come for the high-tension acting, stay for the comfortable feeling of watching just another zombie movie. Sometimes we all need to unwind and watch cannibalistic monsters terrorize a family, along with a few select neighbors. I’m giving this film three and a half severed arms out of five.
Rated: TV-MA (extreme violence, strong language) Language: Korean
Starring: Gong Yoo, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Soo-an Kim, Woo-shik Choi, So-hee Ahn, and Eui-sung Kim
Occasionally Netflix doesn’t fail the genre completely. Recently they added Train to Busan to their streaming service, which is probably the best thing they’ve done in the last year. It’s hard to believe this film didn’t catch my attention before now, seeing as it was a huge hit across the Pacific. Let’s be honest, the American film media is horrible about giving props to genre flicks not set on their home turf. Pair that with the fact that it’s best watched in the original Korean and film media push it aside for yet another poorly produced American movie which is just a clone of fifty similar films and television shows. This film is a breath of fresh air. It’ll also keep you so far on the edge of your seat, you may fall off by the time the final scene plays out.
Seok-woo is a work-obsessed absentee father dealing with the fallout from a tense divorce. On the eve of his daughter Soo-an’s birthday, he screws up royally. To make it up to her, he relents to her demands to see her mother in Busan. Leaving town isn’t ideal. There’s something going on with one of the funds he manages and his coworker Kim is increasingly concerned about the reports he’s receiving. But a promise is a promise, so off they go. Seconds before the train departs for Busan, an injured woman jumps aboard. She’s infected with something none of them have seen before. When a train worker comes to her aid, the infected woman attacks and chaos erupts. By the time the initial attack is done, there’s only one train car worth of people left. The rest turn zombie and are locked in the middle train cars. News coming in via overhead televisions isn’t any better. Entire cities are overrun with the undead. Several are quarantined. When the train stops at last, it’s only to discover that the military couldn’t hold the quarantine and the dead have taken over. They opt to move on, pushed by an unhinged COO, Yon-suk. Throughout the last half of the movie it’s hard to tell who the real enemy is, the zombies or the paranoid humans trapped on the train.
This isn’t just another action movie with zombies. There’s a message or forty in the way the living interact with each other. We have an intense father/daughter plot which will drive anyone with a heart to tears by the third act. The film’s writer leaned heavily on the notion of ingrained human selfishness and the heinous damage it does to the masses during a crisis. Many of those who perish in the final act only die due to selfishness and their willingness to turn a blind eye to hatred if it means they’ll live to see another day. Panic becomes a new cast member at the end, unseen yet pushing one survivor group against the other with no sound reason. We’ve seen tension like that before, TWD uses it near-weekly, but here it’s so in-your-face wrong that I couldn’t help but yell at the television. That’s the kind of writing I miss, the scripts which make one forget they’re not one of the characters for a couple hours. It’s hard to watch the human cruelty, but even harder to look away.
Those zombies, guys. I haven’t seen character movement like that in ages unless it was in one of countless demonic possession films. These zombies are twitchy, bendy, snappish, and flat out cool. They’re scary solo, and pants-pissing terrifying in a mob. Kudos to the extras who worked on this film. They left everything on the set every day of production. The pay-off created probably some of my favorite mass zombie scenes to date—the train station attack on the stairs and the sequence where Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, and Yong-guk fight from car nine to car thirteen to rescue a group separated from the other survivors. Because there are so many undead, the makeup for them is simplistic. And you know what? I don’t care. They could have slapped white grease paint on them and let them loose and it wouldn’t have done a thing to lessen the performances from the extras and hero zombies.
Train to Busan is the action-packed zombie film we’ve been waiting for since World War Z tried and just didn’t quite hit the mark. There’s some issues, yes, but the writing and action are so solid, the issues get a free pass. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again, something I never do with zombie films outside Romero’s contributions to the genre. Train to Busan gets five severed heads out of five. Now what are you waiting for? Go watch it!
Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.
I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.
Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.
Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.
For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.
Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.
First of all, we will not have to wait until October to visit with our zombie-slaying pals. The show will begin in September, possibly near the beginning of the month. However, Syfy has not announced a firm date yet, so keep your eyes out for an official announcement from them sometime soon.
Season four will have thirteen episodes. Episode four has a surprise guest director. Well, not much of a surprise because Keith Allan was still pretty wound up from his time in the director’s chair. Allan said of the acting/directing combo, “It was profound and exhausting.” Unfortunately, there’s no downtime in the end days and the gang was headed straight back to Spokane for work on episode five after the convention. The script for an upcoming episode scandalized Russel Hodgkinson, he admitted during one interview. Guess Doc talking to Elvis and sharing Z-weed with a zombie won’t be the craziest thing we see from everyone’s favorite character. D.J. Qualls was in attendance, much to fans’ relief. Citizen Z will return for the new season, and he’s got a huge weight on his shoulders. Family changes a guy, after all. Qualls said his character’s main focus is to make the world safe for their child. And maybe a change in wardrobe. Warren’s forthcoming story line should be interesting. Kellita Smith said, “This journey Warren is on this season scares and excites me.” If Smith is scared, we’re in for one heck of a ride.
So what’s going on? The cast were pretty tight-lipped about specifics. We did learn that season four takes place two years after the season three finale. Why? The production team wanted the chance to hit the reset button for everyone—from the main crew, to the group in Zona, and beyond. They’re not going to ignore that timeframe; all the story gaps will eventually be filled in. The only thing we’ll be completely clueless about is Roberta’s new mission. While it will dominate the plot, the gang says nothing is actually revealed until episode thirteen. Not sure how they’ll keep the audience out of the loop that long, but color me intrigued.
After the cast spoke at their panel, the production announced the new guys brought in for season four—Henry Rollins, Tara Holt, Grace Phipps, and Michael Berryman. We also learned that Lucy will be a significant part of the season. And no, things are not any better between father and daughter. Murphy still has a lot to learn when it comes to fatherhood. Luckily he’s got the team by his side again to help with that.
But the show is still here. They rolled out a two-hour season three opener on June 4th, garnering 4.7 million viewers. That’s a smidge better from how they wrapped season two, with just over 3 million viewers hanging in ’til the end. So I guess that means there’s still fans for FtWD, but the numbers are still nowhere near TWD’s season openers. Some fans admit they’re hooked after That Shocking Moment at the beginning of episode 302. Others are frustrated because it’s not meaningful to end a story line once it’s obviously run its course—or as I’ve said since the get-go, that particular one never stood a chance. Yes, I’m being vague. No season three spoilers here, folks.
If you, like me, took some time off from the show, here’s a run-down of what happened after the guts hit the fan and the family separated during the season two mid-season finale. Warning, Season Two Spoilers Below!
Nick makes it to Mexico the hard way, via water. He starts his trip strong, but eventually loses all his gear, food, and water. Basically, he’s playing the game on Hardcore Survival Mode, going so far as to drink his own urine and ingest raw dog meat. Nick is saved from an infection in his leg, and eventual death by exposure, by Luciana. She lives in La Colonia, a walled survivor camp, and takes Nick to get his leg treated. The colony believes death is natural, and the zombies are an extension of that. The sick/injured are given to the dead before they turn inside the walls. This group also has a trade deal with local thugs, drugs for basic supplies. It takes Nick a heartbeat to take over the drug portion of the trade, putting Colonia’s leadership on edge. It also takes him almost as long to seduce Luciana. With the drug trade their only means to obtain water and other vital needs, it’s vital the chain remain unbroken . . . then it’s broken. Nick and Luciana are pitted against Colonia’s increasingly crazed leader. He demands faith, they know faith won’t convince Marco and his people to share. Nick attempts to make another trade, but Marco reveals he’s found a new drug supplier who’ll help him take over La Colonia. When Nick takes the warning back to his new friends, they refuse to leave. The leader is bitten by an infected citizen, and his lie about supposed immunity is outed. Despite learning the truth and the upcoming raid, Luciana won’t leave her people when Nick demands they run. It isn’t until he returns the next day with news of a helicopter landing near the border that La Colonia’s people realize they must flee. Their leader stays behind, using his flagging energy to open a gap in the fence so the infected can attack Marco and his goons. The fleeing survivors make it to the border. And no further. Most are gunned down on the spot. Luciana is injured. She and Nick are separated at the season’s end and taken hostage.
Madison, Alicia, Ofelia, and Strand chase after Nick, but fail to find him. They also fail to secure the yacht and it’s stolen by the Mexican military. With nothing left, they end up hiding in a hotel. When the undead spread, a group was trapped in the hotel during a wedding. After Madison and Strand nearly kill everyone by getting drunk and having a party, they eventually work out a deal with the current occupants. There’s a catch. They have to shun Elena, a woman who came to Alicia’s rescue after the drunken fiasco. There’s tense history between Elena and the hotel leaders, Oscar and Ilene—so much so they’ve kidnapped her son, Hector. Regardless of who can stay or go, Madison pushes forward with clearing the undead from the hotel. There’s too many, but Alicia finds a riptide under the neighboring pier. The combined groups work out a plan to lure the infected to the riptide with Madison as the final bait. Ten days of cooperation later, all looks good. Except the lingering resentment from Ilene, who blames Elena for killing her daughter, and stabs Strand instead of her nemesis. Forced into action, lest Strand die from lack of care, Elena tells Madison about a gang-operated drug trade nearby where her other son lives. Yes, it’s also the same place Nick trades Oxy for water. Madison overhears just enough inside the store before they get their med supplies to know her son lives, and to make life difficult for the Colonia family Marco questions. They’re given their marching orders and return to the hotel to tend to Strand. Madison opts to use the generator to run the hotel sign, for Nick. Travis finds it instead. And he’s alone.
Chris wandered off from the group with a head full of crazy and not much else. His father only followed to keep him safe. After they make a grab and dash supply stop, the men Chris accidentally saved track them down and extend an invitation to join them. Brandon, Dereck, and James are heavily armed, dangerous, the opposite of what Travis wants for Chris, but the kid is already mentally with the new guys before they’ve been together long enough to know each other’s middle names. The newly-formed group spots a farm to ransack. Slight problem there; the farm owner is still alive and very protective of his chickens. James pushes his luck and is shot. Chris returns fire, killing the farmer. And he’s not sorry about it at all. Chris sees kindred souls in Brandon’s crew. He also sees a future, which he’d given up on just before leaving the yacht. James’ injury prevents the crew from moving on. Chris’ new friends get anxious, sure James will turn and they want to do him in before then. In a rather obvious double-cross, Chris holds Travis back while James is put down. Father and son part ways, Chris joining Brandon on the road, Travis heading on foot to find the ocean, and eventually the lit hotel sign.
That sign brings every survivor to the hotel door. Including, eventually, Brandon and Derek. The hotel dwellers reluctantly bring everyone into the parking garage to check them over and provide shelter. Chris’ companions, without him in tow, are typically American and rude. They also have news. Chris totaled their vehicle and perished in the crash. Madison and Strand agree now is not the time to tell Travis. Slight problem with the plan, when the duo are pulled aside to fix one’s dislocated shoulder, the other newcomers riot. Travis joins them to calm everyone down. From there, it’s a train wreck. Travis learns about Chris, but the stories don’t mesh. He gets the men alone, manhandling the truth from them—Chris survived the wreck, but they shot him over an injured leg. Snap. Travis beats the men to death, also accidentally injuring Oscar. The injury requires surgery, but due to the lack of, well, anything Oscar dies mid-procedure. A lynch mob rushes for Travis’ room. The family fights them off. Strand helps Madison and Alicia get Travis away from the hotel, but stays behind. From there, Madison finally falls into Nick’s footsteps and tracks him to La Colonia. There’s no Nick, but Alejandro, Colonia’s leader, gives them just enough information to send them in the right direction before he succumbs to the infection.
Will you tune in to see where the family winds up, or have you moved on to greener entertainment pastures? Personally, I’m using my free time to watch Wynonna Earp and a couple other SyFy shows.
Return of the Dead Guy: Review for iZombie 310 by A. Zombie
There’s only one reason to keep throwing back to Roxanne Greer’s death after her brain gimmick left a bad taste in fans’ mouths, it’s the one thing which will finally expose the puppet behind several deadly incidents in the city. We knew Greer’s death wasn’t cut and dry, not with Weckler being so ready to confess, and his subsequent staged suicide. The motive, however, remained elusive. With only one person alive with a connection to the man, Clive and Liv hunt down his daughter, who said some cryptic things about why Ms. Greer met her end during her final call with her father. They catch up with her at a friend’s house. The girl is wary to say too much in public. Or maybe her problem’s with Clive and Liv. There’s a surprise twist, tying Fillmore-Graves to the Weckler family. Was this their way of shoring up Baracus’ public image? If so, maybe the sniper at the reception wasn’t a crazed bigot, but someone trained not to shoot the mayor in the head. I know a certain company with loads of loyal men who’d pull the trigger in the name of the undead greater good. Could be a red herring, though. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Major and Shawna spend some time in Fort Lust. Yes, it’s as sickeningly sweet as it sounds. No, Liv won’t tolerate Major’s new attention diversion, as evident in her rat-feeding rant. Hilarious since she spends the entire episode apologizing to Drake for killing him, and he’s not really there. Drake even gets between Liv and Justin the first time they hop in bed together. But the minute Major is obviously happy, Liv is in a snit. She’s had ample time to deal with her feelings for the guy. They never see eye to eye for long and spend all their time saving each other from their own stubborn nature. But sure, writers, let’s make Liv the jealous ex yet again because you can’t figure out that adults can move on to new relationships without napalming the bridge with their ex. See Ravi and Peyton for another prime example. They do give Liv a moment to acknowledge her insane behavior—the brain-hopping to escape her violent farewell with Drake. The couple even get another chance to say goodbye. At last, Liv is free to move on. If we’re willing to forget her pettiness over Major’s current lover.
Boss weasels his way into a face-to-face with Blaine. He’s so sure he’s going to walk out of the mortuary the winner. Surprise, Boss! Zombies are a thing. Yes, Blaine brings the guy who’s been gunning for him in on the big secret. The brain supply is in peril without Angus’ firm hand to keep things running. Blaine just doesn’t have the same charm over the phone. He recruits Boss to smuggle brains for the business, after scaring the pee out of him with a little Full Blow Zombie mode, first.
That’s not the only real zombie action. Blaine grrs up again, this time with Liv in tow, to rescue the valiant duo trapped by the torture-happy Truthers. Ravi does his best to keep Don E. comfortable and safe from the groups’ plan to fry him like bacon until he snaps and turns full Romero. He even goes so far as to reach into some dark and mortifying places in order to retrieve Don E.’s burner phone so he can call for help. Rachel drops by, eager to check on the legitimacy of the live feed footage. She’s not on board with the plan Harley Johns and his pals pitch. But other than supporting Ravi as he literally stands in harm’s way, she can’t do much when faced with heavily-armed men hell-bent on hurting someone for fun. But the zombies can. The episode ends with Liv and Blaine Zing up in the car and Ravi’s got a gun to his head.
With three episodes left, things have predictably hit the fan in epic ways. Judging from the preview for next week, it’ll be an uphill battle for Team Zombie if they all want to survive this encounter with the Truthers.
There’s reports flooding our servers detailing instances where folks mistake actors for fictional people who live in a plastic box. I’m not talking one report. There’s many. It’s overwhelming. And if I’m honest, it breaks my heart a little to have so many confused people out there in the world.
Surely you jest, R.C.. There’s no way someone’s eyesight is that bad.
No, voice inside my head, this is not a joke. This is merely a response to yet another string of fandom-based attacks on actors who they worship . . . until the writers take the actor’s character on a darker path.
Where does this turn against the talent begin?
I’ve personally witnessed exchanges where fans downright refuse to call an actor by name, insisting, “They’ll always be [character name] to me,” with a laugh like that forgives the rudeness. No, my dude. By transferring the character’s name to the actor, you’ve dehumanized them. It then gives your conscious leeway to continue with a conversation which often accuses the actor, not character, of vile things, like racism, bigotry, rape, and murder. Sometimes the name confusion thing is an honest mistake; though given the age of the internet, that excuse is thinner and thinner by the minute.
The real problem comes when fans continue to dehumanize actors, stripping them of autonomy and presuming they’re directly responsible for their actions on screen. Worse is when fans demand reasoning from the actor. News flash: Actors work from a script written by a team of other people, they’re given direction from yet more people during the filming process, and even then the action on-screen is further changed in the editing room to adjust the scene’s tone or cut in new dialog because something changed last minute. That character worshipped or hated by millions is actually fifteen badgers in a bag pretending to people. One lucky badger gets to be the face, but there’s so much more under the surface. It isn’t fair to actors when fans refuse to differentiate between who they watch on-screen and the person they meet at a comic-con or happen to pass on the street.
How does confusing a name turn into death threats? I’ve honestly got no answer for you. My brain isn’t wired in a way which allows me to even consider the violent actions some so-called fans have taken. Floods of threats happened several times in the seven years TWD has aired. Lori Holden and Sarah Wayne Callies were constantly under fire during their tenure, blamed for every instance their characters made an ill-advised decision and threatened with sexual violence or death if the character didn’t shape up or get killed off of the show. Children on the show aren’t immune to this bile. When Sam panicked during their escape from walker-ridden Alexandria, fans took to social media to call the young man playing Sam degrading names, accusing him of being mentally handicapped, and even going so far as to write fetish-like theories where a child is mutilated by walkers. Even Yahoo’s TV reviewer chimed in, their article vibrating with indignation that a traumatized child dare act traumatized—uh, what? Brighton Sharbino was the subject of a terrifying online campaign, besieged with death threats after her character Lizzie demonstrated sociopathic tendencies and became a threat to her traveling companions, including an infant.
At comic-cons, actors are often followed on the way to the bathroom, into an elevator up to their to their hotel room, and at one event where the greenroom was on an elevated platform some fans camped out and zoomed in with cameras to watch the actors eat. Norman Reedus was bitten, and while the incident was blown out of proportion, it should have never happened in the first place. Keep your mouths to yourself!
In recent weeks, two TWD actors pulled some or all of their social media accounts. Alanna Masterson took to Instagram a while back to firmly reprimand fandom parasites who felt it their duty to police her postpartum weight. While she did deactivate her account for a bit, it appears she’s active again on the site as of the end of May. I doubt the same will be said about Josh McDermitt. We left McDermitt’s character in a really crappy situation—die like Abraham or work for Negan—and every Eugene fan knew what the choice would be; he’d chose life. But there’s still that unhinged group who launched irate messages at McDermitt, putting Eugene’s betrayal on his head and threatening his life so often, he’s reached a breaking point and will not subject himself to the hate any longer. We honestly don’t deserve McDermitt, guys. In the FB Live video recorded before he closed up social media shop, he ended it by stating he loves his fans. There’s people threatening him daily, but he still acknowledges those who genuinely care about him, the actor.
How can we prevent incidents like this in the future? Well, let’s start by assuring everyone can see the differences between an actor and the character they portray on the big screen, TV screen, or stage.
Photo credit: J Benham from sickpix
This is an unnamed zombie. Their clothing is torn, dirty, bloody, and doesn’t fit properly. What about makeup? Does it suggest they’re going out to coffee with friends? Nope. It screams, “I’m a god damn zombie, bro! Let’s eat some people.” The zombie’s face/arms/etc. are covered in blood/slime/dirt.
This is an actor. Who just so happens to be me, and the same person portraying the zombie above. Note that the clothing is neat-ish. Hair is neatly styled. The actor sits in a natural, friendly position for this headshot. There’s no blood or dirt. There’s no underlying need to devour human flesh. There’s little similarity between the figures in the images other than the eyes.
Given some fan’s theories on how reality works, the fact that I often portray the undead means I should totally be a cannibal, correct? Truth is, I hardly eat meat, let alone desire to take the time to kill a human and process that much flesh for consumption. My hobbies include . . . wait for it . . . using my acting skills to raise money for charity. So tell me again, why would anyone assume an actor in a violent or morally ambiguous role would want to perpetuate the same during their off-time? Acting is emotionally and physically exhausting work. The minute they can drop it and relax, they will. Keep in mind, fake blood is unpleasant at best and a stain-filled, hair-pulling nightmare at worst, and we won’t get into more complicated SFX makeup with its aerospace-quality adhesives and suffocating prosthetic pieces—few actors enjoy the process and certainly wouldn’t endure the extreme discomfort outside of paid gigs. The same can be said for the wardrobe, which is often the same outfit in different stages of disgusting on shows like TWD. Once actors scrape off the makeup and put on their own clothes, that’s it. They’re free elves, no longer controlled by the chaotic chorus—the creative team building their character.
Do yourselves a favor. Make sure you understand the difference between an actor, their character, and the situations in which said actor fully controls the character’s actions—which is rare, despite how many times one hears, “Yeah, he just made that up on set that day.” At the end of the day, the performance the actor delivers isn’t just theirs, but has been manipulated by writers, directors, producers, digital artists, and the editor. Instead of attacking one person over the decisions of many, why don’t you focus your energy on supporting the amazing work they’ve produced? No one, literally no one alive right now needs to endure yet another human being attacking them for situations completely out of their control.