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.
A couple years ago director Yeon Sang-ho made a name for himself within the horror genre with his unexpected hit Train to Busan (2016). It’s a well-earned spot. Busan had the potential to be just another locked “house” style zombie film. Instead it took the genre and gave it a fantastic, brutal twist. This is the kind of film you watch alone first to get the shouting out of your system, then show it to friends while watching their reaction. Despite how odd it feels to call a movie with so much blood refreshing, Busan is so different from the zombie media released in the last few years, it really does put a little pep in my step just knowing there’s still new ways to tell the age-old apocalypse story.
In the beginning of August, several reports appeared stating that Sang-ho has begun early pre-production for a sequel to his zombie masterpiece. When I say early, I mean really early. Contracts are still being drafted. There is a script, and the vague filming date of sometime early in 2019. Oh, and a name: Bando (Peninsula).
Sang-ho has clarified a few things about the upcoming film. Keep in mind, this is a second-hand translation, so some details may be off. “It is an extension of Train to Busan, after the virus has spread throughout Korea, but the characters are not the same. It shares the same world view and is a zombie action film that deals with the aftermath on the peninsula of what happened in Train To Busan.”
Fans of the original knew that the old cast probably wouldn’t make a return, but hope springs eternal for some reporters, it seems. Hopefully whoever they do bring onboard to star in Bando has a similar magnetic energy as Busan‘s Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, and Jung Yu-mi.
We’ll keep you updated if this movie does indeed begin production next year. Want to watch Train to Busan? It is currently available to stream via Netflix.
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!
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.
Eat a Knievel: Review for iZombie 308 by A. Zombie
Didn’t anyone on the iZ team look at the optics of a jealous white guy burning a black man alive for impregnating his white girlfriend during an ill-considered prank? We’re not above the race talk in a zombie setting. We’re certainly not allowed to forget that unconscionable crimes are perpetuated against people of color all over the United States thanks to the vitriol coming from the sitting president’s supporters. Yet again I’m left to wonder if this show’s production staff is horrifically isolated from the world or if they’re willfully ignoring the negative messages laced throughout this last season in particular. They have a whole sub story about chasing down men committing zombie hate crimes, then stage a murder where a young black man is burned alive for defiling another man’s “property.” In a world with infinite possibilities, countless ways to murder, and the ability to combine any color of people in a situation, these writers opted for too many instances of white men killing people of color. Let’s not forget, the Travelers are primarily white Republican types and their first known victims were a black family.
It’s not okay for the writers to make a buck on killing people of color. It’d be great if they quit preaching that women who step out of line will lose their lives or suffer great personal loss. Just knock it off already. It’s not entertaining. You’re attacking your target demographic! There’s no rational reason to target women and people of color so often. None. If that is truly all these writers can come up with, it’s time to put iZombie to pasture and give the money to creatives who’ll bring some actual representation to women-led shows and not trot them out like a freakshow.
The gimmick of the week: Liv eats an immolated professional prankster, tries to staple a guy’s tongue, and channels her destructive nature into a weird “same brain” date with Justin—which includes impalement by lawn dart.
Fillmore-Graves is left scrambling when someone, likely Travelers, blows up the corporate helicopter with Vivian Stoll and her advisors on board. This happens moments after Stoll privately outs Major as human and demands answers, along with a sit-down with Ravi. Major gets another chance to die for zombie kind, hooray. The new commanders seem far tenser than Stoll. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first act of outright zombie/human war comes from Fillmore-Graves. That bunch has itchy trigger fingers.
Blaine hatches a plan. Boy does it work well. There’s just one catch. He had to turn zombie again in order to put everything into motion. Once Blaine is back on his feet, he wipes out all of Angus’ goons. It’s rather impressive to watch Blaine now compared to Blaine pre-human. It’s the same man. Same memories. But this Blaine is flat-out done. He’s either going to rule the city or bite a bullet. So far, everything going in his favor. Good ol’ pops isn’t as lucky. Well, I hope he can hold his breath. The upside to another hostile deBeers takeover is Don E. and Blaine teaming up again to expand on the base Angus founded with The Scratching Post and all those back office meetings.
The episode wrapped with Liv leaving Ravi alone to infiltrate the anti-zombie hate group. Yeah. Like that’s going to end well. None of this will end well. War is knocking on the door.
Eat, Pray, Liv: Review for iZombie 303 by A. Zombie
Ravi tells Major he’s got a few weeks left before he must take the cure or die. By the episode’s end, I’m certain that time frame is far, far shorter. This guillotine over Major’s memories is held by a single strand on a frayed rope. He knows it. The painful truth is right there in his eyes while watching Liv play that ridiculous dancing game with his new work pal, Justin. One might mistake it as a nudge toward a rekindled relationship. It just so happens that happy friends are one thing Major has lacked since the zombie thing started, and if he’s going out soon, he might as well do as Liv’s brain-influenced babbling suggests—live in the moment. In the moment doesn’t include bland, bagged brain mush. He and Justin break the feeding protocol to imbibe in the real thing. I’m digging this happier Major. How long until he’s forced to take the cure? What if the memory serum doesn’t work—we’ll talk testing ethics later—and he’s rebooted while serving in a zombie mercenary squad? There’s no real good outcome unless Ravi’s serum does indeed reverse the memory snafu, but that opens a whole new world of problems for Major’s future.
The thing with Ravi and Peyton? The plot went to the place it never should have. Why? So Peyton could say some deep, insightful things and be all grr-arg, woman power! And then they turn around and have Ravi learn absolutely nothing from forcing Peyton into a corner where she had to defend not only her right to make decisions for herself, but her right to have sex at all with anyone who isn’t Ravi. The cap on the entire ridiculous story is after Ravi is a sex-paranoid nutjob in front of Team Zombie while professing his love, Peyton goes to him and appears to at least somewhat forgive him with a kiss. But wait, he’s already slept with the woman he swears he hates more than snails hate salt. Why even trot out this moral lesson? All men will see is that Ravi still has sex with an attractive woman, so what’s the problem with how he treated Peyton? You don’t get to berate someone in front of their friends about who they sleep with, mortify them, and win a prize. To assume Ravi can have whoever he wants, whenever he wants because he said he’s sorry is precisely how this show continues to perpetuate unhealthy romantic expectations. It’s obvious in the weird sub plot stating Liv can’t be happy in bed because she’s secretly unhappy and guilt-ridden over her brain-eating. It’s the way Peyton has been used as a fire hydrant in a dog park since the get-go, men marking their territory right and left. It’s Major caring more about women he barely knows, but the two closest to him are constantly in danger, sometimes through his own doing. It’s the writers assuming every non-STEM employed woman Liv eats is secretly a slut, crazy, or too caught up in “being a woman” to have a career. For a show with a woman on all the advertising, it does a crap job at representing them. I know not one woman who would’ve kissed a man after what Ravi said when he emotionally blackmailed Blaine into taking the memory cure. Not. One. A few certainly would’ve punched him, instead. With a fist, not lips. Got that, iZ writers?
Let’s get to the case for the week. Topher is a mindfulness teacher, focused on helping others look past negative thoughts, to live in the moment without fear. During his solo meditation, someone introduces his personal Shambhala to a Buddha statue. Clive and Liv dig up a far different past for the Zen guy. Once upon a time, he was a venture capitalist with partners Mitch and Devon. Things went sideways, someone turned to drugs for start-up money, and Mitch spent years in jail while the other two moved on to become legitimate businessmen and mindfulness coaches. It doesn’t take a genius to solve the crime once they look past the red herring a “random” homeless guy tosses in their way. Topher’s brain is one of the better personalities foisted on Liv, honestly. His case just isn’t that intriguing.
While Liv and Clive seize Mitch’s future moments to pay for his newest crime, Blaine is having one hell of a week. The last problem on his list is the potentially harmful serum Ravi bullied him into testing. The first problem, really the only real problem Blaine should worry about if he were his old self, is Angus. The old man wastes no time letting Blaine know he’s back from the deep freeze, in part as a test, but mostly to see the fear of God in his son’s eyes. Disappointing day for Angus; Blaine only fears the man he used to be, the horrible person he’s forced to face every time someone coughs up a story he can’t remember. After getting his money back from Blaine, Angus sinks it all into a restaurant. His new business will eclipse the under-the-table brain biz Blaine’s running in the mortuary’s basement. We’re talking top of the line service. For the right price, Angus’ new associate, Dino, will secure any brain their customers desire. Don E. is way out of his element, and seriously missing Blaine, but tries to be clever enough not to get dead. That may require more work than he thought. Angus won’t wait for word-of-mouth advertising. Nope. Don E. will make customers to fill Angus’ demands. If everyone thought Stoll had a bad idea for zombies taking over Seattle, DeBeers is about to make it a thousand times worse.
That’s if Katty Kupps doesn’t expose zombies to humans before they do it themselves. She’s close to connecting the dots. Too close. Seattle is a zombie powder keg. Isn’t it great?
Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Review for Z Nation 306 By A. Zombie
All the usual violent diagnosis patients make an appearance in the supporting cast: Paranoid Delusion, Kleptomania, Dissociative Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, etc. The patients are kept in line by Nurse Ratched, who’s just as cracked as the guy who thinks he’s Elvis. Doc finds himself in a bad spot until Ratched makes an offer he’d be idiotic to refuse—diagnose the patients properly and she’ll not only let him go, but he can help them. Doc’s keen insight, and actual expertise at psychoanalysis, get him out of the most immediate pickle rather easily. Things don’t continue as planned when Ratched introduces Doc to their newest, and wildest, patient.
While the Serenity Falls gang misjudged Doc, they totally got it right when they trussed up their newest patient and locked him in a padded room. 10k may not see Red and 5k anymore, but he’s madder than the Hatter without a clean cup. Coherency is a lost art once 10k opens his mouth. Doc is quick to cover for him, claiming the kid has Ten-Kay Fever and disavowing any knowledge of his new patient. At least one of them is in a position to help. For the most part, 10k is a barely animated potato sack. The vaccine in his system is wearing off. He struggles constantly with thoughts of Murphy loyalty and his need to free himself from control before warning Roberta.
Warning anyone may be a ways off. Ratched is convinced Doc will be their guiding light. However, she still thinks her methods are best when it comes to the more violent patients. Lobotomy is the word of the day. Bob, a depressed man with brain damage, is Ratched’s constant guinea pig for new techniques. There’s more holes in his brain than in a good sourdough loaf. He’s given a new lobotomy to prepare for 10k’s possible emergency surgery. 10k is not responding to treatment and something has to be done before the seizures kill him.
Like, oh, Ratched actually handing out medication instead of snacks during med time. Every single bottle of pills and vial of whatever is blocked by a hallway teeming with zombies. Never fear, Doc and Elvis are ready to take on the Shocker Zombies in Ward Z. Are they quick enough? 10k takes a turn for the worst while they’re grabbing the meds. Liddy, the paranoid patient, and Ratched wheel 10k into the surgical suite.
Bad luck, Doc. The man with OCD, Re-Pete as they call him, is in charge of unlocking the doors in order for Doc to escape incoming zombies and get to his buddy before the nurse turns him into a shambling meatsack like Bob. Winona, the kleptomaniac, ends up being a solid ally during these moments. Actually, she’d make a decent addition to the main team. Her thieving skills are beyond anything the gang’s got in their wheelhouse. But it’s Bob who gets the MVP award for the episode after disposing of Ratched in his gloriously stiff, Frankenstein’s Monster-esque way.
The remaining action in the episode is basically Doc wrangling cats. He wants desperately to save everyone from the zombies slowly ripping through the hasty barricades over the hospital’s exits. They all make it outside in one piece to find the sole vehicle left on the ground, a small bus. Winona wastes no time hot-wiring it after Doc finally turns everyone in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Doc and 10k aren’t on the bus when she drives away from the encroaching zombies. With his wobbly charge in tow, Doc makes a run for it. Where they’re going, no one knows. They’re getting close to Murphy, though. With 10k returned to the fold, though desperate to hide his zmurphed status, it shouldn’t be too hard to trap their prey. Right? Yeah, we all know they’ll foul this up, too. It’s just how the show rolls.
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.
A. Zombie Reviews . . . Dead Set Episodes 1 & 2 By A. Zombie
I’ll tell you right now, two episodes into Dead Set and I still have nothing emotionally invested in the show’s contestants. That’s not to say I haven’t found someone to root for during the end days—Kelly steals every scene she’s in, vastly improving what could have been five episodes of uninspiring reality stars wandering around until they were eaten.
I’d totally cheer if they were all eaten. I might even wave pompoms.
The show opens with a typical afternoon leading up to another eviction from the BB house, as dictated by fan votes. The household prepares, some touching up their nails, others banging out their nerves behind closed doors. In the production office, Kelly delivers an endless stream of coffee to the crew. The producer, Patrick, demonstrates what a skuzzball he really is while cutting together highlight reels for the event and barking orders at his frazzled staff. Nothing is amiss until we catch snippets from news reports—strange deaths, attacks on police, etc. The reports grow in severity, leading Patrick to worry his precious eviction episode will be preempted in favor of a news bulletin. God forbid.
Eventually, the chaos reaches the remote location for the BB house and production office. The first zombie to arrive is a company driver—injured and brought to the studio by a production assistant who was sent with him to fetch a guest for the show. From there, the infection spreads through the gathered BB fans. By the time the evicted housemate, Pippa, makes it to the interview room, most of the crowd has turned. It takes mere minutes for the undead to overrun the offices.
The housemates hear the screams and think Pippa is a smash hit with the crowd. They crack open a few bottles, a few drinks to celebrate surviving to see another eviction night.
Little do they know, they’re probably the only ones celebrating in the UK.
The real story isn’t the housemates or their skeezy producer. Kelly provides the heartbeat, and common sense, for the show. While her love life is a feature in the beginning, it’s a non-issue by the time the second episode rolls out. There are a few amazing solo scenes with Kelly doing whatever it takes to survive. It’s not until she takes refuge in the BB house with the remaining cast that we realize she’s the entire braintrust. Where they are keen to believe for as long as possible that the weird things going on are staged, she’s ready to beat anyone to death who so much as looks undead. She’s also the only one with a plan to get medical supplies when a housemate is bitten.
The zombies themselves are minimally made-up, background creatures relying on pale faces, a few wounds, and blood to convey the undead message. We see a few hero zombies with better makeup, mostly in the second episode. There’s great detail in the close-up gore shots, though they’re so shaky, it’s like a toddler was thrown into the fight scenes with a Go Pro strapped to their head. These are also some seriously fast undead. It raises the stakes drastically when the living cannot outrun the dead. Something missing from other shows relying on compelling characters to drive the plot. Who needs to relate to the characters? Just give us zombie action.
While I’m enjoying Kelly’s story, and it’s the only reason I’ll watch the three remaining episodes, this would be much more entertaining with a better-written cast behind her. Patrick is a toad, utterly disgusting and should’ve died in the initial murders. The housemates barely have a brain cell between them. It makes their scenes difficult to endure to get to the actual story. Hopefully with Kelly breaking the barrier between the BB production team and the housemates, it’ll make their scenes bearable.
Oh, the Monroe Family. You gave us hope for sane, rational characters and left way too soon. I honestly feel these actors were given the short straw with characters who were never going to make it out of that particular location. Too many great actors are brought in for one place and left to the wayside when Rick’s movable feast shuffles on to bloodier pastures.
The first to go was Daniel Bonjour’s character Aiden. Boy, he didn’t get a nice, clean death. Skewered and disemboweled. Ouch. Daniel fared far better than his TWD counterpart once he wrapped his two episodes. He’s gone on to film several TV appearances, including an episode of MTV’s Teen Wolf. Taking on the world of video games, he voices several characters in Hitman. Daniel starred alongside Will Arnett in the Netflix original Flaked. Coming up in October, Daniel will star in Frequency on The CW. The show is inspired by the film with the same name. Daniel can be found occasionally at various conventions with the Walking Dead family, meeting and enjoying the company of genre fans/creators.
Reg, like many on TWD, died doing the right thing. Steve Coulter left Alexandria behind and filmed the third installment in the Insidious film series. He also reunited with James Wan and his team to film The Conjuring 2. Not one to sit idle, Steve reprised a recurring role on Banshee recently, as well as appearing in Sick People, Ashby with Mickey Rourke, Extraction alongside action star Bruce Willis, and he has numerous other projects in the works. When he’s not on set, Steve travels the globe to attend conventions with fellow TWD cast members.
A natural leader, Deanna Monroe was the figurehead every fan wants Rick to become. She was also the kind of giving, thoughtful leader Rick can never become. With Deanna’s death, there’s a serious lack of good leadership examples left on the show. Since leaving TWD, Tovah Feldshuh’s hard work on the show has been honored with a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress on a TV Series. She is currently on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as Rachel Bloom’s overbearing mother Naomi. The show is a musical-comedy, putting Tovah far, far away from the land of blood ‘n guts for now. Though she does still occasionally visit the Dark Side while attending horror conventions.