Sunday, November 15, 2015

Z Nation, Season Two, Episode Ten: We Were Nowhere Near the Grand Canyon

This episode begins with Warren and Vasquez shooting up zombies in an enclosed place and once out of bullets, they continue the battle with swords.  They have a moment of sexual tension before the kissing starts. Please let this be a dream.  Warren suddenly becomes aware of the environment and Vasquez turns Z.

Yep, it was a dream. When Warren wakes up, she is drooling on Vasquez's shoulder.  Doc reports that they are getting near the Grand Canyon.  In the distance, Warren notes a dust cloud.  Addy and 10K get the radio going trying to get a hold of Citizen Z.  Murphy suggests that Citizen Z is no longer alive because they haven't spoken to him in a long time.

In the arctic, Citizen Z is fighting off a zombie when he hears Addy's message.  Citizen Z is shocked that Addy is still alive and gets on the radio.  Citizen Z asks about the package and Murphy pipes up that he hates being called that.  Citizen Z apologises for setting the whole world on Murphy.  Addy asks for the co-ordinates and he promises to send them when he finds them but warns them about a z horde which is miles wide heading in their direction.  Citizen Z says that they should be making visual contact with the horde at any time. Warren looks through a scope and declares that they are facing the end of the world.

The camper breaks down and so the team resorts to gassing up the ATVS.  Doc and 10K agree to high tail it on foot to higher ground while Vasquez and Warren travel together and Addy and Murphy travel together.  It's not long before they are stopped by a  group of Natives, because they are about to enter tribal land.  Warren gets off the ATV and hands the man the scope to look at the oncoming z horde, saying that he has a few hours or less.  The man tells Warren to come with him.

10K and Doc struggle to climb a rock face and when they make it to the top. they find that they are right next to the Grand Canyon.  The two men are quickly knocked out by an Indigenous man on a horse.

Warren is lead into a defunct casino to meet Chief Danny Firecloud. Murphy snarks about Danny not being a good Indian name and when the two start to bicker, Warren is quick to cut them off.  Warren says that the horde is miles deep but Danny is certain that their defenses will protect them.  Warren asks about the safety of 10K and Doc and is told that if they reach higher ground, they will be fine as long as they don't run into his son.

Being lead through the woods. 10K and Doc are told that they will be treated exactly like how they deserve to be treated. 10K and Doc are informed that they both carry Zendigo - the White man's disease.  They are informed by Red Hawk that Whites infected his tribe before and that Zendigo nearly destroyed his people and so they vowed never to allow that to happen again. 10K is beaten and asked what he is doing on tribal land and Doc protests that they didn't know that they were on sacred ground.  10K argues that they were trying to get away from a zombie mega horde which is headed this way. Unfortunately, Red Hawk believes that Doc and 10K's trespassing is the only thing that will lead zombies to them.  Red Hawk is certain that the zombies aren't interested in Indigenous people. Ayalla intervenes and tells Red Hawk to give the Zendigo thing a rest. Red Hawk is told that if their mother was still alive, she would smack him in the head.  Ayalla decides to take Doc and 10K to the infirmary.

Kuruk, treats Doc and he is quick to ask about something for the pain.  10K thanks Ayalla for her help and says that her brother is just trying to protect their people.  It seems that Red Hawk was a professor with the Native American department in a university pre-zombie.  Red Hawk believes that if they can avoid contact with the outside world that the zombies will die off or someone will synthesize a cure.  Ayalla reveals that Red Hawk and their father don't see eye to eye.  10K asks about Zendigo and she explains that it's when a person takes without regard to the needs of others.

Addy is working on the ham radio to try and get into contact with Citizen Z.  The first thing they pick up is morose code which says CZ repeatedly.  Addy asks to send a message and her helper taps one out which Citizen Z picks up in the arctic.  Citizen Z responds with a set numbers for the location of the secret lab.

Doc is now high on Peyote and Kuruk says that she is a medicine woman in the way that Doc is a real doctor.  Kuruk says that the drug is used to direct them spiritually. A hallucinating Doc sees a 3 foot tall raven next to Kuruk and says that he is feeling no pain.  Kuruk takes Doc to see carvings in the stone which Doc believes are talking to him. Doc says that he understands every word that the carvings are saying and apologises for the way his ancestors treated Kuruk's people. Kuruk however absolves Doc of guilt and says that all they have is right here and now.

Citizen Z takes out yet another zombie and marks off his kills, pulling a 10K.  He then climbs out of his little barrier leaving the dog behind.

The horse is moving forward and Warren says that the first of the barricades is complete. Murphy wants to abandon ship but Warren points out that they don't have enough gas to get away. Danny adds that the walls are steel reinforced concrete and is adamant that his people are not going to leave their home.

Doc goes to see 10K and tells him that he has to go and talk to the ancestors.  Red Hawk intervenes and says that 10K and Doc have to go because their presence puts everyone in danger.  10K and Doc start to back up but find themselves caught in nets. Red Hawk tells the two men that they are going to be their early alarm.  Red Hawk believes that if the men are let go, they will return and attack the tribe.  Red Hawk says it doesn't matter if he is wrong because they are all going to die anyway.  Doc is still tripping in the net and claims that he is at peace. 10K wants to try and get free before he passes out but Doc responds that he is already free and is creating his own reality.  10K notices a Z headed their way but Doc is not concerned.  The Z moves towards them with a hatchet in its back.  A zen Doc closes his eyes and has visions of himself in red face killing the zombie.  When 10K regains consciousness, Doc claims that he killed the zombie using astro projection.  Another zombie approaches but Doc cannot get into the same state because apparently, the Peyote is wearing off. This time they are saved by Ayalla, who shoots an arrow into the zombie's head.

Citizen Z makes his way through the facility and is forced to run from a zombie.

Ayalla says that her people at the casino are just as stubborn as Red Hawk, but that they might believe the danger if Doc and 10K tell them.  The three of them head off on horseback.

At the casino, Addy manages to get a hold of Citizen Z. Citizen Z wants to know how to fire a rocket launcher and Warren talks him through it.  Citizen Z reports that the launcher didn't fire and Warren informs him that the battery is just cold. To warm the battery, Citizen Z puts the battery down his pants.

Ayalla,10K and Doc arrive at the casino.  Danny brings the group inside.

Citizen Z checks how hot the battery has to be and then places it back in his pants.  He is forced to run from the zombies but trips and falls.  He gets to his feet and fires when he sees the Z, knocking out communication with the group temporarily.  Citizen tells the group that the zombie is down. The celebration is cut short when Murphy says that the zombies are coming. Warren and Vasquez asks the people to come with them to the cliffs.  Citizen Z tells the group that they need to find cover now because the first of the fast zombies are approaching.   When everyone looks out the window, they see an immense herd heading their way and Danny finally gives the order to evacuate.

Outside, Ayalla says that it is time for Danny to lead them out of there. Danny however refuses to leave, believing the place to be sacred and stronger than a million zombies. Ayalla begs his father not to do this but Danny tells his people that it has been an honour to serve as their chief.  Danny asks the tribe to listen to Ayalla because she holds a wisdom that is beyond her years.  Father and daughter embrace and Ayalla prepares to leave with everyone else.  Ayalla says that they are going to the sacred cliffs and will take the vehicles as far as they can before going on foot.   Danny goes behind the barricade.

Citizen scratches off another zombie from his board.

Ayalla leads the people on horseback and watches from a distance as the zombies approach the casino.  Danny plays a slot machine and wins.  The zombies surround the building causing it to collapse and Ayalla turns her back.

Ayalla returns to the sacred cliff with everyone in tow.  Ayalla tells Red Hawk that the casino was demolished by zombies and that their father wouldn't leave.  Red Hawk calls Danny stubborn and she punches him and says, just like you.  Ayalla tells Danny that he cannot be stubborn anymore. Red Hawk decides to welcome the crew and his people. Red Hawk adds that they blocked the only narrow passage in and that zombies cannot climb. Red hawk shakes hands with Doc apologizing.  Suddenly, a zombie crawls up the narrow passage and is shot.  Murphy says that in a few hours the entire zombie horde is going to push over the cliff.

Doc looks at the stone markings and asks if zombies are as dumb as buffalo?  The tribe start to beat the big drum and start a fire.  Working with the tribe, the crew sets multiple fires. Murphy runs towards the zombie saying that he has to save them, screaming that the zombies can feel pain but he is grabbed by Vasquez and Warren.  The zombies turn to avoid the fire and Ayalla gives the order to get to higher ground.  Because of the fire, the zombies find themselves running off the cliff face of the Grand Canyon as the group watches.

Red Hawk and Ayalla make new markings on the cliff wall saying that his people will remember the crew and the fight they shared together.  Red Hawk hands Warren a medicine bag and says that these cliffs are their home and that their people have lived their for thousands of years.  Ayalla hands 10K some beads and asks him to come and visit some time.  Karuk gives Doc some peyote for the road and he says that if anyone asks, they were nowhere near the Grand Canyon.  Addy hands a tribe member what he needs to start work on a new radio.

Warren joins Vasquez at the casino bus and Vasquez reports that Murphy is pretty messed up. Warren boards the bus Murphy tells her that she didn't have to kill the zombies.  Warren however is adamant that its them or the zombies and she chooses humanity.  Warren tells Murphy that the day is coming when he is going to have to decide if he is human or zombie. Warren warns that when the day comes, he needs to remember who is trying to keep him alive and which one wants to eat his brains.

The crew drive off in the casino bus.

Z Nation plays a lot of things for the sake of humor. Yes, the zombies are dangerous and people die but they always try to interject some fun.  Here's the issue with this episode in particular for fun they appropriated Indigenous culture. This was in fact the most obviously racist myopic episode to date. Have Doc in red face so that he can kill a zombie is racist.  There's simply no other way to look at what happened there.  It wasn't funny and it most certainly wasn't cute. The paint Indigenous people use to mark their bodies all have specific meanings and it's not in the least but okay to have a White man play Indian for the sake of shit and giggles.

Then there was the use of peyote which is a sacred herb. Doc did not take the herb the way it was meant to be taken and in fact only wanted it for the sake of a cheap high. Of course they made it all okay by having Kuruk simply offer it up, painting her as just another stoner.  Again, Z Nation stepped way over the line.

We also have the treatment of Red Hawk to deal with.  He was simply painted as a fanatic as though what he was worried about didn't make perfect sense.  Even if Indigenous people had been able to fight the superior technology of the invading White colonizers (note how I didn't say settlers) the diseases which Europeans introduced which they had not immunity to would still have slaughtered millions.  In fact, disease was intentionally introduced with through infected blankets so the very idea that Red Hawk was just being ridiculous is astounding to me.  It was also very much implied that Red Hawk was just playing Indian because he did after all hold a PhD.  This heavily implies that real Indigenous people are not educated people.  Then his rejection of the White name he had been given to instead use Red Hawk as a name by Ayalla was not at all appropriate.  On the other side of the same coin, we Doc questioning Danny about is non Indigenous name.  Exactly how can native people win when their identities are always being questioned?

It further irked me that the regard of the tribe for their land was treated so callously.  Since Europeans landed in North America all they have done is steal land from Indigenous peoples as though they have some natural right to it.  The fight for land continues on to this day.  Is it any wonder why tribes are not willing to give up the little that they have been left with.  To just turn that desire into shortsightedness simply ignores the history to make Warren et al in the right.

I didn't see one redeeming aspect of this episode. Yes, Citizen Z returning was good as well as Murphy's ongoing conflict about what he is but it was all overshadowed by the racism of this episode. None of this was necessary at all to tell this story.  Despite it's interracial cast and Black female leader in Warren, Z Nation got this one very wrong.