Sunday, October 25, 2015

Z Nation Season Two, Episode Seven: Down the Mississippi

Two men walk together down the roads and behind them a truck approaches.  The men turn and pull out their guns but over the speaker system, a voice begins to speak about dental health of all things. Rollie and Cornelius get of the truck and ask the men when the last time they had their teeth cleaned was.  Rollie says that they accept donations and smiles in exchange for their work. Rollie escorts the men to the back of the truck where two dental chairs are perched.  The men are given gas as Rollie goes on about the benefits of dental care.  The men succumb to the drugs and Rollie flicks a lever which causes the chairs to rise up and tosses the men in the back of the truck.  Rollie and Cornelius get into the truck and drive away.

The group walks through a swampy area with 10K pulling up the rear and Murphy using his peripheral vision to shoot 10K death glares.  They come to the banks of the Mississippi and find a boat filled with zombies.  Warren suggests that they can move faster on water than on land. This makes sense because people have used the Mississippi this way for a very long time. Murphy hangs back while the group approaches the boat and slaughters the zombies. In the boat they find the operator and when they tell him they are taking the boat, he asks to negotiate, claiming that he knows the river and that the boat isn't easy to operate. Warren asks that the group be taken south to Memphis. The operator tries to start the boat and it's stalled. When 10K checks the motor, they find a zombie hanging off it, which Addy promptly dispatches.

The group are making their way down the river when they run into Skeetchy and Skeezy.  Doc asks the operator to slow down. Skeetchy and Skeezy are making their way along the river in a paddle boat of all things.  Skeezy looks like he has been tared and feathered. Skeetchy and Skeezy are invited to join the group but are upset about having to leave some of their possessions behind. These two always have an angle that they are working. It seems that Skeetchy and Skeezy went to Graceland and cleaned the place out.  Skeezy and Skeetchy talk about the problems that they got into as a jaded Warren and Addy listen.  It seems that Skeezy and Skeetchy invoke the Murphy and have created this fantastic tale about what the Murphy supposedly looks like and can do.  Murphy is not impressed listening to the lies they are telling.  Vasquez gets to his feet threatening to throw Skeezy and Skeetchy overboard and Doc is quick to speak up.  Skeetchy warns that there are zombies jams on the river and it would mean death for them.  Everyone is convinced that Skeetchy and Skeezy are lying until they run into the zombie jam themselves.  The zombies start pulling on the boat trying to get at the group.  Warren gives the order to bail out when the zombies actually make it onto the boat.

10K makes his way out of the river and finds himself alone. 10K calls out for the group but gets no answer.  In the water, Vasquez's bandanna floats.  10K comes across Skeetchy, who says that he saw Skeezy go down. 10K asks about his friends and is informed that the group was swimming west. 10K then asks about Murphy and is told that Murphy sunk to the bottom.  Skeetchy suggests that he and 10K stick together because guys like him in these parts get taken advantage of.  When they hear a scream, 10K and Skeezy run in the direction of the sound only to find Skeetchy.  At first they believe that Skeetchy has lost his bottom half and think about giving him mercy but Skeetchy calls out that his body is stuck in a hole.  Once Skeetchy is free, 10K starts to leave but Skeetchy and Skeezy convince him to join them to avoid the human traffickers.

The group crawls out of the water and Doc immediately starts screaming for 10K.  Doc announces that he is going to cross the river looking for 10K.  Murphy however thinks that this is a fools mission.  Vasquez points out that the other side of the river is east and that they are heading west.  Doc is astounded that the group is thinking of leaving 10K behind.   Addy suggests that 10K floated down the stream.  Warren agrees to stay on the rivers edge looking for 10K and agrees to give the search 24 hours.

Skeetchy, Skeezy and 10K come across a group of men.  Sketchy claims that he is going to offer the men ever lasting life.  Skeetchy  brings up The Murphy and pulls up a wanted sketch of the Murphy which looks like Skeevy.  The men demand that Skeezy levitate to prove that he is the Murphy. Skeevy claims that he cannot do this on an empty stomach.  Skeetchy then tells the men that if they want to be immortal, Skeezy has to bite them.  Skeezy takes a big bite out of one of the men as an incredulous 10K looks on.  The man who was bitten announces that he is cured.  One by one the armed men line up to be bitten and in exchange, they give Skeetchy bullets and guns.

That night by the river Vasquez, Warren and Doc sit up looking for signs of 10K.  Doc believes he saw a signal light down the river but none of the group saw the signal.  Vasquez says that they have waited long enough for 10K and that they are jeopardizing the mission.  Doc is not impressed and demands to know who Vasquez is.  Vasquez says that he is escorting Murphy to California and is not putting him in danger unless there is a good reason.  Warren interrupts to declare that nothing is happening tonight and promises to reevaluate tomorrow.  Warren tells Doc that they push on and survive because that's all they can do.  Doc says that he's tired of pushing on and Warren acknowledges this but tells him to get some sleep.

We get a shot of 10K and it turns out that Doc was right. 10K was at the river holding a flare in the hopes of getting the attention of the group.

In the morning, 10K Skeezy and Skeetchy come across the dental truck.  They hop in and get excited to find keys in the truck.  They drive until they come to a town and find themselves happily waved in. Skeetchy and Skeezy claim to be the dentist who catch zombies for the town.  The zombies are loaded off the truck and Tyler Burr introduces himself claiming that they are in his town - Burrtown. Skeetchy introduces himself 10K and Skeezy giving fake names.  They follow Burr as he goes on about how everything fell apart after the war of northern aggression.  Bur explains that the town has a distillery, electricity and a community which keeps an eye on each other.  It seems that in Burrtown, they turn zombies into a workforce.  10K makes eye contact with a woman for quite some time as Burr encourages Skeezy and Skeetchy to enjoy the town and women.  10K says that they are leaving but Skeetchy and Skeezy announce their plan to spend the night.

Doc finds a canoe at the river side and plans to go looking for 10K. Doc tells the group to do what they need to do but he has to find 10K.  Murphy points out that anything is justifiable in service of the mission.  Doc says that they take care of each other and that this is how they got this far; however, Murphy brings up Cassandra and how she was viewed as disposable. Doc is adamant that 10K did what he had to do but Murphy counters and says that 10K is a child with a gun who kills anything he doesn't understand. Murphy then tells the group that they are all expendable and that he is the only one who is important.  Doc however has not changed his mind and gets in the boat.  Warren promises that they will south as far as the bridge and that if Doc and 10K make it there, they will regroup, if not this is the end.  Doc paddles off by himself in search of 10K.

Skeetcy and Skeezy are drunk and 10K once again makes eye contact with the woman.  When she walks off in disgust, 10K follows only to have a gun pointed at the back of his head. The woman accuses 10K of luring all of those men into a truck and turning them into zombie workers.  10K immediately comes clean saying that he had no part of what he was accused of.  10K explains that they stole the truck and didn't know what was in the back.  10K then explains that he was part of a group escorting The Murphy to California and hardly knows the men he is travelling with now.  The woman says that her husband is now one of the zombies lashed to the wheel to provide energy for the town.  It seems that her goal is to give her husband mercy.  10K relates, given what he went through with Cassandra.

Unfortunately for 10K, Skeezy and Skeevy, Cornelius and Rollie arrive revealing to the townsfolk that they were lying.  10K, Skeezy and Skeevy are taken into custody. Escorpion shows up to preside over their case.  Escorpion is not pleased to be there, claiming that they stole from Burr and his own time. Skeetchy stands and pleads guilty with an explanation.  Skeetchy invokes Dred Scott and Terri Bradshaw. Skeetchy claims that what his accusers are doing is underhanded.  10K looks back nervously at the woman, as Skeetchy continues on with his patriotic rambling.

The group has made their way to the bridge and Addy walks out to the middle calling for Doc.

Skeetchy has rambled a huge pile of bullshit and the people of Burr are eating it up.  Skeetchy even has a few people in tears and they applaud him when he is finished.  Unfortunately for them, the men they convinced to be bitten by Skeezy show up.  Escorpion calls Skeetchy's speech beautiful but sentences them to death by hanging.

Doc now stands on the bridge and Vasquez calls out that it's time to go and that they've waited long enough.  Addy approaches Doc and says that if 10K is out there, 10K knows that Doc looked out for him.  Addy says that they have to go now and that it's not for Murphy but her because she needs Doc. A sad Doc says his goodbyes to 10K.  Murphy is still not sympathetic and says that 10K knew what he was getting into.

Doc turns to get into the car they found when a woman comes rushing across a bridge. Yes, it's that woman

Back in Burrtown, Escoprion says that the law is the law.  A rope is placed around the necks of 10K, Skeezy and Skeetchy.  Burr says a prayer for the condemned men and Escoprion tells God to spread the word that if anyone steals one of his trucks that they are in for a long nap. They are asked if they have last words and Skeetchy starts talking to stall for time.  Escorpion calls a halt saying that it's hanging time.  Escoprion pulls the lever and the men fall through the trap door, only to have Doc and Addy shoot out the ropes.  It's the woman who rushes forward and releases 10K.  It seems that the group has also let the zombie workers free, so the people of the town are in a panic.  Doc reunites with 10K and the group hops into the dental truck. The woman comes across her zombis husband feasting and shoots him in the head.

The group makes it to the bridge with a horde of zombies on their trail.  They leave the truck as a barrier and climb over to the other side.  Skeetchy and Skeezy refuse to leave because they are not willing to leave behind the guns they picked up in in Burrstown. 10K thanks the two men, climbs over the truck and rejoins the group.  Warren drives off in the escape vehicle while Skeezy and Skeetchy are surrounded by zombies.  Skeezy and Skeetchy load their weapons to prepare to take out the zombies.

It seems clear that for this episode at least, Z Nation has decided to return to camp nonsense. I knew that this would be the case the moment that Skeetchy and Skeezy showed up.  I really cannot stand these two characters and even though they are meant to be comic relief, I find them incredibly annoying. I was actually happy when Skeetchy and Skeezy were sentenced to hanging because I never want to see their characters again.

I am quite used to Z Nation just randomly inserting weird things but this week, I was absolutely offended by the appropriation of Dred Scott.  What the hell does a man suing for his freedom have anything to do with this ridiculous story?  It's as though slavery for the writers is something funny and unimportant now that a zombie apocalypse has happened. In fact, juxtaposing Dred Scott with Terry Bradshaw further served to imply a false equivalency. I expect bullshit when I watch this show, I don't expect them to be so caviler with something so important.

This week, I suppose the big question was who in the group was disposable.  Naturally, according to Murphy, he is the only one of importance.  Warren was clearly conflicted about the situation but still prioritized the mission over 10K.  Only Doc was determined to chase 10K down.  I suppose it plays into the idea that everyone can die on Z Nation, except of course for the Murphy.  We've already had two big character deaths this season and it's only episode seven.  Who else isn't going to make it to the season finale?

I do like that Doc finally started asking questions about Vasquez. Yes, Warren learned a little bit about him the week before but the rest of the group remains ignorant.  Vasquez is clearly in on this mission for the potential reward and that means he doesn't really care about anyone. The problem is that to get to California, they all have to look out for each other.  It makes me wonder how much more there is to know about Vasquez because simply looking for revenge doesn't even scratch the surface.

Okay, from a class perspective we have to talk about the treatment of the Burrstown people. Yes, it pissed me off that Burr invoked the civil war but there are people today who still won't admit that the south lost.  I think it's telling that Z Nation took place in Mississippi, and that all of the people looked run down.  The director was clearly channeling Deliverance with some of the extras this week.  I think that there's this impression that southerners are ignorant, poor, and dirty and Z Nation did nothing to challenge that this week.  In fact, what Z Nation did was take the stereotype and run with it. Yes, this is absolutely a problem.  Southerners aren't just a group of dumb hicks who can be easily swayed by patriotic rambling while being told that they are salt of the earth people.  I think this sticks in my craw so much because in some ways it suggests that the Northerners were advanced, anti-slavery, and progressive while the south is backward.  The truth of the matter is that both sides are guilty of prejudice and ignorance.  There's so much to unpack with everything Z Nation did this week, I just don't have the energy.