Monday, December 8, 2014

Z Nation, Season One, Episode Thirteen: Doctor of the Dead

This episode begins with a flashback to before the zombie apocalypse in New York city.  Dr.Kurian meets up with Johnny on a street corner and they head to a flop house, where Bill lies passed out on the ground due to drugs.  Dr. Kurian pays off Johnny and Kurian asks Bill when his last meal was, if he has an increased sensitivity light, numbness in his extremities, and if he is cold.  Bill says yes to all of these things and Kurian injects him with what appears to be blood and Bill starts to convulse.  Kurian then places a large syringe up Bills nose and takes a sample before leaving.  Kurian walks past Johnny, who is now lying on the floor outside of the room.

In present day, somewhere west of the Rockies, Warren tells Citizen Z that she is not sure how long they can hold it together and that Cassandra is not looking good. Citizen Z asks about Murphy and is told that he is acting weirder than usual.  Citizen Z says that he has picked up a message from Dr. Merch, the same woman who injected Murphy and their new destination is Fort Collins.  Citizen Z adds that Colorado, is the new California.

10K comforts Cassandra, who is puking her brains out by the road side as Murphy watches.  Doc informs Warren that not only are they low on gas, they are low on ammo as well.  Murphy finds the keys to the van and hops in the drivers seat but before he can drive off, Warren knocks on the window and informs Murphy that Dr. Merch is waiting for him. Murphy is extremely angry with Dr.Merch and Warren points out that Merch is the reason Murphy is still alive. 

The group drives off together with Doc behind the wheel.  Doc tells Murphy that he is going to miss him and after all of the miles they have traveled together, it's starting to feel like a real family.  Murphy tells Doc that he almost considers him a friend.  Doc however tells Murphy that he does not envy him because once he is dropped off, he is going to have tons of needles stuck in him. When Murphy tries to deny this, Doc again asserts that Murphy is going to have a tube in every orifice. Warren stops the conversation by asking how much further they have to go.  10K says that after this is over he might head north because the Z's don't like the cold.  Warren says that her plans are to head to west because she has never been to California. Doc plans on buying a boat and sailing around the world.

They make it to the location and Warren puts handcuffs on Murphy, saying that they are looking for a group of civilians transporting a prisoner and she does not want Murphy being confused as a zombie.  Murphy calls bullshit, saying that Warren does not trust him.  Murphy heads straight to the door which is surrounded by zombies, forcing the team to hop back into their van.  10K reports that he has two bullets and Doc only has one.  Roberta calls out to Murphy and he snarks about the group needing his help.  Murphy opens the van door and tells the group to follow him.  They each wrap themselves around Murphy and the zombies surround them but do not attack.

Once inside, Murphy snarks about having the same effect on the ladies.  When they head into the lab, Warren says that it does not look operational.  Murphy believes that something inside the lab is attracting the zombies like a magnet.  The team make their way through the installation to find all of the doctors dead and rotting. 

In a U.N. Ebola quarantine camp in western Liberia three years before the apocalypse a group of doctors dressed in hazmat suits look over a young boy.  Kurian shows up, dismisses the doctors and takes a sample of brain fluid through the nostrils of the sick child.

In the present, Warren offers to take off Murphy's handcuffs but he has already removed them.  The group is forced to hide when they hear zombies.  The team uses their last three bullets but 10k misses one of his shots, forcing him to take a hammer to the Z's brain.  They hear what sounds to be a phone and when Doc checks the message, it's a breakdown of what happened to the doctors.  Doc then finds a message from Citizen Z, saying that he has found files the team should be aware of.  Citizen Z tells them to find a working computer and gives them a pass code and the file name they are supposed to find.  Murphy sits at a computer and it shows monkeys who look ill.  Murphy checks the date and it's a year before the apocalypse, causing him to question how they knew to work on a vaccine before anyone was infected.  Murphy sees a picture of Dr. Merch.

The video shows Merch talking to Brandon Doyle, who set off the decontamination alarm.  Doyle is insistent that he followed protocol and that the alarm went off without cause.  Murphy simply says that things didn't go well for Doyle. Doc suggests that they leave but Murphy is adamant that no one is going anywhere, adding that they came here to find Merch and that is what they are going to do.  Warren agrees, adding that Merch is their only chance at a vaccine.

In an abandoned bio weapons lab in Semipalatinsk Kazakhstan, before the apocalypse Kurian walks through with a gas mask.  There are dead bodies lying on the ground and Kurian is not at all pleased saying that the man is off no use to him dead.  Kurian then cuts the mask off his guide and drops a vile which causes the man to bleed violently from his mouth.  Kurian then takes a sample

Citizen contacts Doc on the phone and ascertains that they are all together.  Citizen Z tells Doc that they are going to have to go through decontamination and adds that it is important that they decontaminate again before going back to the surface because the lab is equipped with DEFCON 1 quarantine assurance. Apparently, in the event of a breach of the quarantine system, the lab is targeted to be obliterated by a tactical nuclear weapon. Citizen Z adds that they have to do the decontamination process naked.

The team starts to undress and Warren makes it clear that the men are to keep their eyes to themselves.  Warren notices that Murphy's scars look like they are spreading.  After decontamination, Cassandra collapses to the ground saying that she doesn't think she can go much further.  10K volunteers to carry Cassandra and the team gets moving.  They head into a quarantine area and find what looks to be medical experiments.  10K finds a chamber which is empty and the team speculates on where experiment went.  They start to hear zombies and  Doc sends Murphy to talk to the Z's but the mutant zombie attacks Murphy and then the team.  Murphy manages to rip the heads off of the zombies and Warren questions what Murphy is going to do when he catches up to Merch.

In Port Au Prince Haiti, one year before the apocalypse, Kurian goes to see a man who responds to commands but has no will of his own.  Apparently, the man has been nicknamed the zombie.  The doctor leaves when she gets paged and Kurian uses the time to collect yet another sample.

In the present, the team makes its way through the facility and Cassandra says that she cannot go on and that she will get them all killed.  10K lays Cassandra on the ground and she starts to pass out.  10K then carries Cassandra into what looks like a storage area with a stretcher.  Warren promises to come back and get Cassandra on the way out but hands her a gun loaded with one bullet just in case.  Doc tells Cassandra to hang in there and that they will find her some antibiotics.  10K hugs Cassandra and she thanks him, calling him by his real name - Tommy.  Murphy rushes back to the team to say that he has found something and realises that Cassandra is not with them.  Warren tells Murphy that he might want to say goodbye.

Murphy enters the room with Cassandra and strokes her face before leaving.  Murphy then heads outside and leads the team to a trail of gore, which leads to a bio contaminate room.  They find Doyle wasting away on a table.  He is little more than a pile mush but is still sentient.  Doyle tells them that he wants them to watch something.

It's a video of Merch injecting Doyle with the same medicine she has been giving the monkeys, even though he begs.  Merch tells Doyle that he has been infected and that they cannot take any chances because the virus has jumped to humans.  Merch admits that she doesn't know what is going to happen to Doyle.  After the injection, Doyle starts to convulse and doctors turn off the camera.

Doc snarks that the vaccine must have worked because it stopped Doyle from turning into a zombie but Warren points out that it won't let him die.  Murphy questions Doyle about whether or not Merch did this to him and Doyle nods.  Doyle then says, "kill me," repeatedly.  Citizen Z appears on the computer screen and announces that it looks like Dr. Merch and two soldiers are headed their way.

Kurian enters with two soldiers and says that Dr. Merch didn't make it, introducing himself as Kertch. Citizen Z looks up Kertch and realises that Kurian is not who he says he is, as in the lab Kurian tells Murphy that his journey ends here.  Warren asks what is going to happen to Murphy and Kurian says that they will take Murphy to the lab in California and sequence his genes to get the anitbodies.  Citizen Z finds out Kurian's real identity and then decodes the redacted files. Murphy questions what happens if he doesn't want to be Kurian's guinea pig and Kurian tells Murphy that he will eventually end up like Doyle - patient 0.  Kurian suggests that someone give Doyle mercy and Murphy volunteers.  Murpjy leans over Doyle saying that he is sorry and squeezing his hand with tears in his hand.  Doyle just manages to get out the words, "don't trust him" and Murphy gives him mercy.

Murphy turns and announces that he is not going, asking why he should believe anything Kurian has to say.  Kurian tells Murphy that he has no choice and points his weapon at him.  Citizen Z finds out that Kurian is wanted by interpol for selling bio technology weaponry to North Korea and Iraq.  Citizen Z realises that Kurian is the one who created the vaccine and desperately tries to contact the team.  Citizen holds up a sign saying, "kill the zombie".

There is a banging on the door and when it opens, Cassandra makes her way in.  Cassandra has a bite mark on her face and she says that she is not dead. The team turns and looks at Murphy, as he orders her to kill Kurian.  Cassandra manages to take out the soldiers but Kurian escapes injury, as Murphy makes a run for it.  Doc is shot in the cross fire, as Kurian leaves to chase after Murphy. Warren rushes over to Doc.

Murphy continues to rush through the facility and Citizen manages to get his attention.  Murphy accuses citizen Z of setting this all up and Citizen Z protests that he had no idea this was going to happen.  Murphy does not believe Citizen Z.  Citizen Z tries to get Murphy to go through decontamination in order not to set off the fail safe but Murphy does not care.  Citizen Z warns Murphy that if he goes outside, he will kill everyone, including Doc, Warren and the others.  Murphy bursts through the door,  with Kurian hot on his heels, as Citizen Z begs him to listen.

In the facility, a warning goes off, as Warren tries giving Doc CPR.  One of the dead soldiers rises. Murphy continues to head outside and in the elevator, he stars to peel away his skin.   Cassandra manages to fight off the zombies, screaming for the rest of the team to get out of there. With five minutes to detonation,  10K, and Warren struggle to drag Doc.

Citizen Z then notices that the missiles have been launched, including third strike weapons on a dead man switch.

Murphy has now made his way outside with four minutes to detonation.

Citizen looks at the radar and realises that a missile is headed right for him.

Warren and 10K struggle with Doc, as outside, Murphy hops into the van and drives away.  They come across Murphy's skin and realise that he shed it.  Murphy drives erratically down the road, as the team makes its way outside.  10K and Warren pop Doc in the back of an SUV and take off driving, when they see a missile headed their way.

At the compound, Mack and Addy see the missile fly overhead.

Citizen Z rushes towards the outside where he watches as a missile is headed right for him. 

Wow that was an intense finale.  I am glad that Z Nation got around to giving us some idea of how the apocalypse started, even if the premise wasn't exactly original. We also learned that both Mack and Addy are still alive.  I suppose we will see more of them in season two, though I have to say, I didn't miss Mack at all.

I liked the fact that the season ended on such a huge cliffhanger because a nuclear bomb would be a legitimate threat in a zombie apocalypse.  Through much of Z Nation, we got a lot of camp stuff like the liberty bell, the defacement of Mr. Rushmore and the viagara zombies but it was also interlaced with some very serious issues with the nuclear threat being the latest.  I still think Z Nation is very confused about what it wants to be.  I am certain that it wants to separate itself from the wildly popular Walking Dead but has not yet decided how to do so.

I do like the fact that unlike The Walking Dead, Z Nation has a strong WOC in a leading position though at this point, I am pretty sure we are meant to read Murphy as the protagonist of this story.  People follow Warren's lead without question and though a lot of people have died this season and the group is now significantly smaller, Warren's presence is still strong.  I like the fact that on Z Nation I never got the feeling that there was a cast member who simply was too important to die and that in and of itself makes it really stand out.

As many good points as Z Nation has in terms of race and gender it is yet another show in this genre without a GLBT character.  Why do writers and producers insist on this erasure?  Are GLBT people extra tasty to zombies? It makes no sense particularly because Z Nation was filmed in some pretty major cities along the journey.  This is something I hope that they remedy in the next season.