Sunday, September 25, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Two: A New Mission

Last week we had a flashback episode to introduce a new antagonist.  It didn't really feel like a season opener to me at all.  Though this is the second episode of the season, to me it's episode one because we finally caught up with our hardy band of survivors. 

At the end of season two, we were left with a bunch of questions.  What's going to happen to Citizen Z now that he is has left the base?  Did Murphy and 10K get blown up with the submarine.  Finally, what's up with Warren and company? This episode answered all three questions and set about giving us a direction for season three.

Let's begin with Murphy and 10K, who did indeed survive.  After finding out about Zona's mission to save the top 1%, Murphy comes up with a new plan - hybrids.  This works for him because with his power he would be able to control everyone.  Murphy firmly believes that humanity has come to an end and that the world will be populated by those who are part zombie and part human, with him of course as the leader.  There is no visible mark on 10K unlike those who Murphy has taken hostage from the sub but he seems pretty content to do exactly what Murphy wants him to do.  Even when Murphy refuses to go and look for Roberta and company, 10K is along for the ride.

Murphy's big goal is to get out of there as quickly as possible.  Along their travels, they come across a herd of zombies who are attempting to feed on each other because there are not enough humans left. To Murphy this represents the way the world is now and yet another sign that his hybrid plan is the only way to move forward.  Two zombies fall off the pile of rolling zombies and Murphy orders 10K to take them out which he duly does.  This is when Murphy notices that 10K has stopped counting his kills. 

Up North we have Citizen Z, who as aforementioned walked away from the base.  He was saved by an Indigenous woman who takes him back to her home. Once there, because he's almost frozen, she gets naked into bed with him and they sleep.  Citizen Z is actually out for two days.  When he awakes, he finds that Kaya, the woman who saved him is a fan of his show.  Her deadpan delivery is priceless. Citizen Z learns that because the area wasn't extremely populated, the risk of zombies is low.  He sits back with Kaya, her grandfather and grandmother and enjoys the view of the Aurora Borealis.

Warren and the gang are captured by the Chinese.  It seems that the forces of Asia holed up behind the walls of the Imperial City.  Asia was not spared the apocalypse and so they pooled all of their resources to gather a team to collect Murphy's blood.  It's Doc who points out that even when Murphy isn't with them, he's causing them trouble.  Sun takes a sample of the team's blood hoping that even without Murphy they might provide some key to their survival. 

The team quickly becomes impressed with the tools that Sun and her people have brought to the fight.  When a zombie moves to take out Sun, it's Warren and Hector to the rescue.  Sun is touched by the fact that Warren gives the zombie mercy. Warren explains that they do it to retain their humanity and for the sake of the human that the zombie once was.  It's really a touching moment and reminds us that yes, Z Nation can be serious. This is enough for Sun to order the return of Warren and Co's weapons.

The goal is now to get to the supplies that the Chinese dropped but unfortunately, they aren't the only ones anxious to get to the supplies.  After a run in with the Enders, Sun is the only one left.  She's given no choice but to give mercy to a team member that she cared for. Sun is ready to give up on her mission and talks about the fact that she feels that she let her people down.  Warren assures her that they can work together as long as Sun promises that the cure won't only be for the Chinese but for everyone.  The plan now is to team up to get Murphy.

When they get to the supplies, Murphy and his team of Blends has gotten there first.  With zombies approaching, Murphy asks Warren to join him but she's not interested in following his orders.  When the team asks about 10K, Murphy shakes his head no, indicating that 10K has died.  Roberta takes a step towards Murphy and a sniper shoots at her feet, forcing her to step back.  Murphy tries one last time to get Warren and Co to join him and they refuse.  Murphy drives off and the team starts to run to try to outrun the approaching zombies. The sniper takes out the three zombies which are hot on his heels. For Doc, this is proof that 10K is still alive because no one else could have made that shot.

Next, we see Murphy stop in a deserted area and 10K hops in the back of the truck. On the back of 10K's head is one of Murphy's bite marks. That's right, he's made 10K of all people one of his blends.

The final shot of the night is of The Man pulling out a piece of paper and Murphy's name is on the list. 

This for me, this turned out to be one of the better episodes of Z Nation based in the fact that for once it was serious and they kept the silly down.  Even the zombies eating each other which was played a little for comedy represented a serious problem because it shows just how little of humanity is left. There isn't even enough of humanity left to keep the zombies from starving. Ironies upon ironies.

I think it's telling that Murphy pointed out that what Warren is fighting for no longer really exists. Even if they do find a cure, they can never go back to the world the way that it used to be because the majority of the people are gone.  Those that are left have lost their humanity and empathy. The Enders very much symbolise this.  If however Warren gives up on this dream, I don't think she would be herself any longer. 

For the first time, Murphy is in a position of power and he's really feeling himself.  We know that this isn't going to last for the simple fact that The Man is after him.  Murphy may be able to evade him for a few weeks but at the end of the day, he's going to need Roberta if he is going to survive without being captured.  At this point, we still don't know who the The Man is working for and the only thing we know for sure is that he represents yet another power broker. 

Sun adds a new WOC of colour to the team.  Unfortunately, she feels very much like a replacement for Cassandra.  I couldn't help but wonder if Z Nation just engaged in the infamous T Dog chain? I want to give them the benefit of the doubt however because Roberta is clearly ruling the roost.  We will see what happens with Sun's character and how she fits in with the others.

There's also Hector, who we met last season with the Zeros.  He's now a part of the team but he also feels like a T Dog chain addition.  Where the hell is Vasquez? Did I miss something? Did he die last season and I forgot about it?  Either way, slipping in Hector for Vasquez is not at all cool.  

The Man is clearly going to be a central feature to this season.  I hope that he turns out to be less cliche than he was in the first episode. An antagonist quoting cheesy movie lines is not at all interesting to me and it symbolises Z Nation's refusal to simply take itself seriously.  

Finally, Citizen Z.  I'm really glad that they saved this character. DJ Qualls is an excellent actor not that you would know given the work Z Nation has given him to do.  I really want to see something good happen for him and for him to have a chance to show his chops.  At this point, I don't see how he's going to connect with the team in the lower 48 given that he left all of his electronic equipment back at the base but cannot wait to see how they are going to weave him into the story.