Monday, November 24, 2014

Z Nation, Season One, Episode Eleven: Sisters of Mercy

Addy and Mack make their way through a tunnel Mack claims Citizen Z directed them to.  Addy takes great pleasure in killing zombies, as she goes on about being Cinderella.  Mack suggests that she could have just given them mercy.  When Addy and Mack hear a sound, they decide to follow it and find themselves face to face with Warren and the rest of the group.  It's time for hugs and kisses and the group reunites.  Apparently, Citizen Z told them that there was food in the tunnel along with someone to help them out.  Cassandra is limping from being hurt by a piece of barbed wire.

The group finds Chester, the man they were sent to meet and Addy absolutely savages his remains, causing Murphy to snark that someone got up on the wrong side of the apocalypse.  Warren pulls Mack aside to question what happened to Addy and he simply says that Addy is working through some issues. They hear Citizen Z trying to make contact and enter the next room, to see him on a computer screen.  Citizen Z gets to see Murphy for the first time and is shocked.  Citizen Z then informs them that California is back on track and that he is looking forward to meeting up with the team.   Citizen Z is ecstatic to see and talk to people again.  He is then informed by Mack that Chester is dead.

The group has a new vehicle and is back on the road.  As they drive towards Salt Lake City, they keep coming across little zombie children.  Addy finally gets Warren to stop when she sees yet another child zombie and hops out of the car.  Addy stands with her bat ready to give mercy and pauses, when she gets a flashback to the little boy lying on the floor the day she had to kill her mother. Worried, Mack calls out to Addy and 10K takes out the zombie.  Warren rushes to Addy to check on her and Addt says that she is fine and storms back into the car.

Back on the road, they see yet another child zombie.  This time it's Warren who gets out of the car.  It turns out that the boy is actually alive.  Warren checks on him and he asks for water.  The kid introduces himself as Sam and says that he is going to Salt Lake City to see his dad.  Warren tries to warn Sam that it is not safe and that the city has been overrun with zombies.  Sam does not believe her and starts walking, so Warren catches up with Sam and agrees that he is old enough to meet his father. Warren tries a new tactic, claiming to be out of food and Sam agrees to help them.  Warren guides Sam to the truck.

They team arrives at Monticello, Utah by following Sam's directions.  They are cautious because the place looks deserted and has a no trespassing sign.  Mack gets out of the truck to check on the area and finds himself surrounded from by a group  of women who have the high ground.  Mack is ordered back into the truck and is told that the group is not welcome there.  Mack holds up his hands, trying to say that he is friendly but a woman fires a shot at his feet.  Warren hops out of the car saying that they have Sam. An order is given for the gate to be open.

Mrs. Helen greats the group and Sam explains that the group just needs food.  Helen sends Sam inside to find his mother and Mrs. Helen thanks the group for bringing Sam back.  Helen notices the wound on Cassandra's leg and Cassandra explains that the wound could be infected.  Helen offers to help and when Murphy snarks, Helen tells Murphy that he doesn't have to stay there.  It seems that the place is a woman and children only residence.  The group is told that the women and children may enter but the men have to stay outside.  Helen offers to let the group stay for 24 hours.

Behind the gate, it's absolutely beautiful.   Helen explains to Warren that they grow their own vegetables and have their chickens, cows and even penicillin.  Yes, this all seems to good to be true. Addy finds herself playing paddy cake with a little girl, as everyone sits down to share a meal.  Warren tells Helen that whoever built this place must have seen the apocalypse coming.  Helen says that this was all her husband's idea, and he insisted that they get self sufficient and off the grid.  Warren asks about Helen's husband and is told that he is gone, just like all of the others.  Helen explains that the group is made up of sister wives and that the other women weren't safe until they were found and saved.  Warren excuses herself to check in on Cassandra, as Helen looks suspiciously at Addy.

Cassandra has her legged bandaged and reminds Warren where Sam said he was going when they met up with him.  Cassandra points out that Amy, the woman who helped her, has a son a little older than Sam, who is also not here.  It seems that he also went to Salt Lake City.  The girls get to stay but all the boys leave when they turn 13.  Warren says that nice people always scare her and suggests that as soon Cassandra is better they leave.

Outside, the men set up a form of shelter and Murphy complains that the women are giving him the creeps.  Mack wonders what happened to all of their men.  A woman walks towards them offering them blueberry pie and apparently, she is there to see Murphy, who has just crawled into a tent.   The woman climbs into Murphy's tent giggling and when she starts to undress him, Murphy stops her.  The woman manages to get Murphy's shirt open and when she sees the zombie bites, she likes them and kisses them.  Murphy says that part of him wants her to stop but part of him really needs this, as she climbs on top of him.

Cassandra has a flashback of the cannibals and she tells Helen what happened to her.  Helen is quick to sympathize, adding that men cannot help themselves because the animal instinct takes over.  Helen feels that men, kill, destroy and rape, adding that testosterone is the most toxic virus on earth.  Addy calls herself lucky for meeting Mack on the first night but Helen calls Mack the lucky one.  Helen grabs Addy's necklace, asking about it but Addy says that she cannot talk about it and starts crying.  Helen encourages Addy to tell her story so Addy admits that it's about having to give her mother and brother mercy, crying as Helen holds her.  Addy cries on Helen's shoulder and Helen assures Addy that she doesn't have to go through that again because this place is protected from all of that.  Helen adds that they can use a woman like Addy, who is not like the others and is special.  They are interrupted by the sound of a car honking and Helen goes out to check the new arrivals.

A woman named Tessa arrives and cries in Helen's arms. Helen assures Tessa that no one can hurt her there.  Helen declares that they provide a place that is safe from the violence of men and bring the perpetrators to justice.  The group responds that this is their purpose.  Another group of women bring in a man, who calls Helen a bitch.  Helen tells the man that it is time he learn about justice and orders him taken away.  Helen tells Addy that she should see this.

Helen says you harm a woman you die.  Tessa uses a cattle prod to force the man into a barn containing a zombie bear.  They close the barn door and the man screams, as the bear tears him apart.

Later, Warren checks on Addy.  They are interrupted by Helen, who reports that Tessa said that there are two sisters still out there, adding that they could use Addy's help to free them. Addy immediately says yes, and Warren questions if she is up to doing this.  Addy argues that any one of them could be those sisters.  Warren volunteers to go and Helen is quick to tell Warren that she doesn't have to but Warren says that she always has her sisters back.

Doc, tells the men that they have to go.  It seems that they saw what happened with the zombie bear.  The women drive right past them and Mack is shocked to see Addy go somewhere without him.

Addy sits next to side the road with a broken down vehicle.  Men on motorcycles pull up with women tied to the side cars.  Helen's women quickly surround the men and order them to drop their guns. The leader tries to make a deal and Helen questions if the women are with him voluntarily.  Helen has the women freed, as the leader tries to barter with the drugs he has amassed.  Helen calls for Addy to join them and hands Addy a gun, saying that it is time for some justice.  Helen tells Addy to shoot him anywhere but the head.  The man begins to plead and Warren rushes over, telling Addy not to commit a murder.  The man begs, saying he was just along for the ride and Helen brings up the cannibals triggering Addy's trauma.  Addy shoots the man and he falls to the ground.  Helen takes the gun back calling Addy a good girl, saying that it is time to go.  The women ride off with the motorcycles, leaving the men chained together.  The man Addy killed turns into a zombie and eats the others.

The women arrive back and Warren hops out of the truck to meet with the men and Addy continues on to the compound.  Warren tells the men that they have to go and Doc reveals that he saw the zombie bear. Warren however warns that it is worse than that. Mack is insistent on seeing Addy but Warren says that Addy is in a weird place and may have a choice to make.

Back inside the compound, Helen explains that it was hard for her to free herself from her husband.  Helen adds that they were raised to believe that men were good and true and that she almost died after her fifth child.  Helen says that she didn't want anymore children or him and that didn't square with the rules.  It seems that Helen was beaten, having her nose, arms, and ribs broken, adding that women in here have worse stories.

Warren rushes to pack her things and Cassandra gets ready to go, assuring Warren that she will be fine.  The two women head outside.

Helen continues to work on Addy, who says that she doesn't know what she is supposed to do anymore, adding that she cannot unsee any of it. Helen tells Addy that what she needs is rest and peace and asks her to stay and join the family.  Addy says that she cannot leave Mack because she loves him.  Helen however suggests that it will hurt Addy even more, when she has to watch Mack die because everyone dies. Addy says yes and asks how to tell Mack, so  Helen offers to tell Addy what to say.

Outside, the men are packing, as Addy makes her way out.  Addy ask to talk to Mack alone and he quickly agrees. Alone, Mack asks what the compound is like and Addy explains that it is beautiful adding that she wishes Mack could see it.  Addy explains that she feels safe there and has not felt that in a long time. Mack says that he is glad, adding that it will be hard to leave.  Addy reveals that this is what she is here to talk about.  Addy says that she cannot do it anymore and Mack points out that he cannot stay with her.  Addy says that she needs to rest and Mack is insistent that he cannot do this without her, declaring his love.  Addy tells Mack that she loves him as well but cannot go back out there and watch Mack die.  When Mack says that he is not going to die, Addy is insistent that he will and that she cannot kill someone she loves ever again.  Addy stands to leave, so in desperation, Mack brings up Murphy, pointing out that Addy said she would rather die believing in something, than live believing in nothing.  Addy tries to leave and so Mack brings up her mother, promising that she will get through this.  Mack says that Addy is a strong good person and does not need Helen and some stupid cult.  Addy tells Mack that she is sorry and tries to leave again but Mack holds her and won't let go.  Addy screams that Mack is hurting her, so he lets go and she takes off running.  Mack follows and bangs on the gates of the compound.

Warren and Cassandra rush to Addy, who has locked herself in a room.  Helen offers to help but Warren says that she has had enough of their help.  Helen knocks on the door and Addy opens the door.

The zombie that the women left behind is making it's way down the road, now that it has eaten its fellow captors. Outside the compound, the men are still packing up and 10K asks about Murphy to be told by Doc, that Murphy is still in the tent with the woman.  Doc heads over to the tent to find Murphy smoking a cigarette and sends the woman away.  The ecstatic woman makes her way back to the compound but is grabbed by the man that Helen tried to murder earlier.

Addy tells Cassandra and Warren that she is staying.  Helen is informed that there is trouble at the gate and leaves.  Cassandra tells Addy that though this place feels safe it isn't.  Warren tells Addy that she got sucked in and did something bad but they all do bad things.  Warren is insistent that it is time for them all to go.  Addy tells the women that she is home now and that they don't need to worry, kissing Cassandra and Warren good bye.

Helen looks down on the man with the captive woman.  He demands that Helen open the gate and come outside.  Helen orders the man shot but he pulls out his own gun, saying that his hostage will be dead before he hits the ground.  Mack sneaks up and shoots the man in the back of the head, as the women watch.  The gate is opened and Warren and Cassandra are pushed out.  Addy makes her way slowly out and Mack again begs Addy to come with him. Mack says that they don't leave each other but Addy says goodbye and goes back into the compound.  When Mack tries to follow, Mack is shot. Warren rushes over to Mack and Helen calls the wound a warning.  Warren gets Mack loaded into the truck and they drive away quickly.

Mack asks for the truck to be stopped and when they refuse, Mack bails out of the truck with a gun in his hand.  Warren tries to stop Mack and so finally, he pulls a gun on Warren, saying that he cannot.  Mack rushes back towards the compound, as the women fire at him.  Doc continues to drive away, as Warren bangs her head against the back of the truck.

Back at the compound a little girl sings, as the team continues to drive away.  The woman who Murphy slept with rubs her stomach.  Ben is on the road by himself headed to Salt Lake City.

This was a compelling episode of Z Nation.  Even before a zombie apocalypse, women were vulnerable to gender based violence.  In a dystopian world, the rule of law that forestalled some of this is no longer a threat and women can become prey.  Both Cassandra and Addy have already found themselves in that situation and clearly, so have the women at the compound.  It makes sense to me that they would want to band together and find security in each other.

A chance to heal and rest is a valuable thing and it makes sense to me why Addy decided to stay.  It was understood by the group as Addy losing touch with reality and falling sway to Helen but I saw it as Addy truly making an decision in her best interest.  It's an act of self care to recognize when one has reached their limit of endurance and just stop.  Addy simply wasn't willing to sacrifice anymore of herself.

Mack sees this as a cult and I really think that this is his male privilege talking.  He cannot hope to really understand what any of these women have gone through.  It's not as simple as not liking men; it's about not become a victim again.  I do think it's worth pointing out however that casting off their boys is horrible and ironic given that pre dystopia, closed communities often discard young boys in order to avoid them being competition for young women.  The reason behind discarding of the boys was different but it is still the same unjustifiable act.

Alongside the serious of gender based violence,  Z Nation decided to give Murphy a sex scene.  I really don't see why they thought that this was necessary?  Though this woman clearly came for her own satisfaction, after the sex act, Murphy being Murphy saw her as disposable.  This is a far different thing than the kind of violence Helen was talking about.  We also can infer that Murphy may have spawned a zombie child.  How or if this will come back at the group I don't know.