Sunday, November 1, 2015

Z Nation, Season Two, Episode Eight: The Collector

The crew stop to take stock of their supplies.  They are extremely short on ammunition food and gas. Warren assures the group that they will find a way to get Murphy to California.  Murphy is asleep in the back of the car and he dreams of seeing Doc and the brains that lie under Doc's skull.  Doc wakes Murphy from his dreams to help him find some edible food.  In the woods, Doc tries munching on a tree bark but ends up spitting it out. When the Doc hears the car horn, he tells Murphy it's time to go. Murphy doesn't follow because he is captivated by a brain just hanging from a tree. Murphy reaches for the brains and falls into a trap. His hat on the ground is the only indicator of where he has gone.

The crew decides to head into the woods and look for Murphy. Warren is not impressed that Doc lost Murphy.  In his little trap, Murphy regains consciousness and finds himself facing a zombie who is munching on brains.  The zombie offers Murphy a bite of his brains and Murphy sticks his finger in the brain matter before putting his finger in his mouth. Wow, it looks like Murphy is turning more and more into a zombie. Murphy stands and calls out for help.

The group are angry about the missing Murphy as Doc leads them to where he believes is the last place he saw Murphy is.  Murphy kills sometime interacting with the zombie. The collector charges in and hog ties Murphy. The angry zombie tries to come to Murphy's rescue but the collector is wearing protective body armor and promptly kills the zombie.  The collector then cuts off the zombie's head as Murphy watches.

The group has made their way back to the car and still no Murphy. Vasquez says that Murphy is going to spend the rest of his days in shackles if he has anything to say about it.

Murphy regains consciousness and finds himself strapped to a cold metal table.  The collector is now whistling and he notices that Murphy's eyes are following him.  Murphy watches as the collector opens up the zombie's head and pulls out the brain.  The collector says that he wishes he were a doctor. He adds that the quacks at the CDC should have listened to him. The collector then begins his examination of Murphy and comments on how mellow Murphy is.  When Murphy speaks, the collector takes a note.  The collector says that he is going to have to remove Murphy's brain to see if it matches the brains of the typical zombies. Murphy then asks for water and is given the nickname bright eyes.  Yep a nice little reference to Planet of the Apes. The collector lifts Murphy's head and gives him some water. The collector is ecstatic to find his first talking zombie. The collector says that Murphy's skin is deteriorating but he is conscious. Murphy tries to explain that he accidentally stumbled into the trap.

The collector then plays the recording from Citizen Z, informing the population of Murphy.  The collector the pronounces Murphy half man/ half zombie. The collector opens Murphy's shirt and looks at the bites to confirm Murphy's identity.

Murphy is now off the lab table and the collector continues to take notes on the things he notices about Murphy. Murphy is wearing a shock collar because the collector believes that Murphy is dangerous. Murphy warns that his friends are going to be looking for him but the collector says that they are taking Murphy to the idiots at the CDC lab.  The collector shows Murphy all of the unopened letters he sent to the CDC and warns Murphy to stay away from the CDC. Murphy concedes that his interactions with the CDC have left him less than impressed.  The collector tells Murphy to relax because he doesn't want the bounty and only wants to know what it is to be Murphy.

The collector gives Murphy a tour of the zombie museum that he is creating as he continues to rant about the CDC.  The collector  shows Murphy his collection of zombie movie posters.  When Murphy is slightly critical of Dawn of the Dead, he gets an electric shock for his trouble. The collector says that Murphy is to be revered and that people will travel great distances to be in his presence.  Murphy talks about how filthy the apocalypse is and the collector offers Murphy a hot shower.  This is a rare find in the apocalypse.

The crew are still looking for Murphy and can find no sign of him. Warren says that without Murphy, there is no mission.

Murphy gets out of the shower and puts on clean clothes.  While Murphy has been showering, the collector has wrangled up another zombie.  Murphy bashes the man in the head and tries to escape but he is shot with a tranquilizer gun.  The collector screams that if anyone wants to see Murphy, they are going to have to come to him.

Murphy wakes up and finds that the collector is taking a blood sample.  The collector decides to record an interview with Murphy and when Murphy doesn't answer, he is shocked for his failure to comply.  Murphy decides to play along.  The collector takes a swab of Murphy's mouth and prepares to take a bone marrow sample to discover if Murphy is more human than zombie.  The collector jams the eight inch needle in Murphy's leg and Murphy screams.

Outside, the group continues their search.

The collector asks Murphy to describe the circumstances of how he became infected.  Murphy explains that he volunteered for a secret government research program and is shocked.  Murphy admits that he was in prison and that scientists used the prisoners as guinea pigs. Murphy says that most of the batches didn't work but his did.  The lab was overrun by zombies and he was attacked and bitten but didn't die. Murphy promises that he will hunt down the doctor who abandoned him and eat his brains.  The collector asks what brains taste like and Murphy lies and says that he has never eaten them. The collector puts a brain on the table and then shocks Murphy to get his mouth open, before shoving brains into Murphy's mouth.  Murphy pauses for a moment before burying his face in the bowl of brains.

Outside, the group continue with their search.

The colleector questions what it's like to be a zombie whisperer.  Murphy denies that he has that ability but the collector does not believe him.  The collector then asks what happens when Murphy bites a human. Murphy has a vision of Cassandra but says that the human dies. The collector asks if Murphy is connected to the zombies and he says that he feels like a father.  The collector then asks if Murphy is a father and Murphy admits to having a daughter.  The collector leaves to take his latest collection off to the freezer.  Murphy has a vision of his baby girl.

A zombie shuffels in and Murphy starts to control him.  What Murphy didn't realise is that it was yet another trick. The collector returns and says that he knew Murphy controlled the zombie in the pit.

The group keeps looking and Warren suggests that they fan out in order to find Murphy by night fall. Doc is not happy to split up.

The collector then takes Murphy to see his collection of zombies.  The collector says that the CDC should be putting this kind of effort into capturing zombies.  Murphy tells the collector that he cannot keep live zombies like this but the collector is adamant that it's perfectly safe.  The collector then takes Murphy to see his only celebrity zombie - George R R Martin.  The collector places a book in front of the zombie George R R Martin and the dead author scribbles on the page.  The collector asks Murphy to do his mind trick and help George R R Martin finish his next book.  Murphy grabs the book and slaps the collector across the face with it before taking off running.

Murphy rushes upstairs as the collector quickly follows with a tranquilizer gun.  Murphy frantically looks for the exit as the collector offers to cut Murphy in on the profits from his exhibit.  Murphy gets to the door only to find it locked. The collector catches up with Murphy and Murphy demands that the door be unlocked.  The collector pretends to open the door and when Murphy touches it, he gets shocked. The collector talks to an unconscous Murphy about his feelings of betrayal.  The collector wants to collect Murphy's blood and freeze it. Murphy says that it will kill the antibodies but the collector doesn't care.  A zombie starts to bang on the door and gets shocked for his trouble.  10 K kills the zombie and when the collector sees him, he orders Murphy to be quiet.  Murphy complies because he is being shocked.  The collector makes his way to the door and tells 10K that he hasn't seen anybody.

10K walks away and the collector stops electrocuting Murphy. The collector tells Murphy that he almost made him kill his friend.  What neither of them know is that 10K was suspicious and so doubled back to check out the building.  10K walks through the building with his gun pointed, calling out for Murphy.  10K finds the zombie collection and Murphy strapped to the throne that the collector created for him.  Unfortunately for 10K, the collector sneaks up on him from behind and shocks him.  The collector says that he wants to see what happens when Murphy bites a human. 10K begs Murphy not to do this and says that he doesn't want to be turned into one of  those things. When Murphy says that he doesn't know what 10K is talking about, he is shocked for his trouble.  The collector fires his gun into the air and demands that Murphy bite 10K now.

Outside, the group hears the shot and starts to follow the sound. They find 10K's weapons.

Murphy gets out of his throne and tells 10K that there's nothing to fear. 10K however is not afraid of Murphy and says that he hates him. 10K adds that if Murphy is the key to mankinds survival then they can all just go to hell.  Both men are shocked by the collector as Murphy tries to assure 10k that it won't be that bad.  10k says that whatever he did to Cassandra is worse than death. 10K collapses to the ground after being shocked again and Murphy gets into position to bite 10K on the face. The collector says that 10K is to be bitten on his chest so that he can match Murphy. Murphy agrees and tells 10k that it will all be over in a second. What the collector does not realise is that the zombie are sneaking up on him. Murphy asks the collector if this is what he wants and the collector asks to find out what it is like to be a zombie.  The zombies then surround the collector and start snacking on him.  Murphy orders the collector to look at him and he tells the collector now he knows what it's like to be him. The collector begs Murphy to bite him but Murphy says that there's no mercy in his world.

Murphy collapses into a chair and tells 10K that he is glad that 10K found him.  Murphy passes out just as the zombies lose interest in the collector and start looking at 10K. The zombies make their way towards 10K. The crew hears 10K begging Murphy to wake up and rush in just as 10K is slowly backing away.  The crew doesn't have many bullets left and Abby uses her two but only manages to take out 2.  Vasques uses his last bullets to take out the remaining zombies.

On the way back to the car, Doc tells 10K that it's okay if he doesn't want to talk about it as they carry the bags of Murphy's blood.  Vasquez works on the electric collar  but says that he really wants to leave it on. Murphy regains consciousness and Doc hooks him to the IV so that he can get back his six pints of blood.  Warren tells Murphy that he should be feeling better soon. Murphy asks why Warren cares and tells her to take the bags of blood. Warren tells Murphy not to run off again because they are counting on him to stay alive. Murphy asks Warren to promise that she won't leave him all alone when they get to California and Warren promises.

The Collector was yet another episode of cheap gimmicks married to far more serious ideas.  I think at this point that Z Nation isn't going to chose between the two and that this is the permanent form this show is going to take.  For me however it only really becomes a problem with the gimmicks overshadow everything else.

The main theme seemed to be to question what exactly Murphy is now.  Is Murphy a man or is he in actuality more zombie? The fact is however that no matter where he falls, he is absolutely unique. This episode was the first time that we actually saw Murphy not only eat brains but enjoy them.  Unlike the zombies he is sentient and has control.  He does however have an affinity for the zombies and doesn't want to see anything happen to him.  I think it would be simple to have Murphy hate the zombies because they are in part responsible for what he is and the complex exploration of the show serves to make it more interesting.  It causes one to keep questioning not only what Murphy is but where his real loyalties lie.

It's easy to be disgusted with Murphy but every once and awhile he shows a shard of decency.  It was this shard that caused him to save Cassandra in the first place even if what he did with her in the aftermath was absolutely horrendous.  It was this shard that forced him to find a home for his daughter.  At the end of the day, Murphy is a victim, perhaps more so than anyone else.  He was experimented on against his will because the government deemed his life worthless because he was an inmate.  It's not the first time when marginalized people have been subjected to medical experiments.  I am really glad that the show went back to this because it's something that's easy to forget.

Murphy despite being with a group is isolated and alone in the world.  The only person who is like him - his daughter - is miles away.  The team are equally disgusted by him and often don't see that he has any kind of humanity.  Everywhere he turns, someone wants something from him.  He didn't ask to be this.  He didn't volunteer and yet he is caught up in forces beyond his control.  Then there's the question of the endgame.  The group wants to get him to California but given that he is in this situation because he was violated, what are the chances that his personhood will be respected? Humanity is desperate for a cure and there's nothing to stop the government from ripping Murphy apart to get it.  When he asked Warren not to leave him, we saw Murphy's vulnerable side.  The world may not be safe for humanity but it's not safe for Murphy either.

On a less serious note was anyone else thinking why did George R R Martin choose to do a cameo when he should have been writing? Yeah, I know he's not our bitch but come on. I did however have to laugh when Murphy pointed out that he had already written 800 pages and wasn't even close to finished yet.