I know that I've complained a lot about Z Nation this season, but I think it's finally made a turn around. Little Red and the Wolfz is much deeper storytelling than I have come to expect from Z Nation. I still think the writers owe me for the first four episodes; however, this is certainly a good down payment on the debt.
Unlike Merch, 10K had managed to escape Murphy's stronghold but unfortunately, Will is fast on his heels. When we first met Will, he was traveling with his wife and daughter who was bitten and he begged Murphy to bite his family. Will is pretty good at keeping close to 10K despite all of the tricks 10K uses to evade capture. Throughout the episode, 10K has visions of Red and 5K, as he runs through the woods desperate to escape. Due to an injury, 10K is losing blood and hallucinating. We met Red and 5K in the season opener flashback episode. As 10K runs through the woods, it's Red who acts as his guide, steering him away from Will, waking him in the rapids so that he doesn't drown and warning him away from the zombie wolfz (zombies dressed in military gear)
When 10K is caught, he tries to explain that the only reason Will wants to return to Murphy is that he's bitten and therefore is not acting of his own free will. Will however makes it clear that he asked Murphy to bite him and that he considers himself free. For Will, freedom means being able to finally move throughout the world unafraid of the zombies, or feeling that death is imminent. 10K argues that this means allowing Murphy to control him; however, Murphy has a very different relationship with 10K than he does with Will. There is no real need for Murphy to actively control Will because Will has actively consented to it all and sees this as a worthy trade whereas; 10K has repeatedly shown his disdain for Murphy and his blends since the beginning.
It's easy to simply take 10k's side, particularly because he's been a character on Z Nation far longer than Will but the fact is, both men are right. Will's truth is a hard truth but a truth nonetheless. Every decision that 10K makes is based on fear of dying, so how free is he really when there's always a compelling reason behind each decision? Will made an informed decision and when we consider that to some degree, all of our behaviour is restricted as part of the social contract. The conflict between these two men is compelling and highlights the space between Murphy and Warren. It all really comes down to what each person believes freedom to be.
10K does manage to escape once again and this time he leaves his jacket behind in a pool of blood causing Will to believe that he has died. Will returns to Murphy and 10K is lead by red to a group of Wolfz whom he believes is killing 5K. 10K goes on the attack but instead of saving 5K (who is already dead), he comes across the young woman who stole his bag of medication. 5K crawls away, injects himself and has another fantasy about being cradled by Red. In his fantasy, Red even tells 10K that she's not real and he acknowledges that he knows but says that he just doesn't care.
Back in the kingdom of Murphy, while Will is busy chasing 10K, Murphy takes time alone with Merch's corpse. With Murch dead, Murphy cannot produce the medication he needs to stave off the zombie virus and his skin has once again begun to peel. Some of the eggplant purple is gone and we can see his real skin underneath. Murphy is in full on existential crises as he tries to understand Merch's death. At first, he wants to believe that she died accidentally but in the end is forced to admit that Merch chose to die rather than live under his control and become like him. For Murphy, this means that despite all of the good will he intends, Merch actively rejected him and he takes it very personally.
Even as Murphy is in the throes of dealing with rejection, he keeps feeling urges to consume Merch's brain. He moves towards actual food but cannot bring himself to eat, such is his temptation to consume Merch's brains. In the end, Murphy eats Merch's brain which allows him to finally understand the formula that she was working on. It gives him the answers he so desperately needs but comes at the cost of the concession of yet more of his humanity. Murphy however is so far gone that he doesn't even acknowledge what eating Merch's brains really means.
This is when Will arrives with the news that he believes 10K to be dead. Will offers Murphy his condolences but Murphy is more concerned about whether or not Will actually saw 10K die. When Will reports that in fact he did not, Murphy tells him to prepare for war. Murphy is certain that not only did 10K survive but that when they next see 10K, he will be with Warren which will mean at least a siege and at worst all out war. Murphy may be losing his humanity but he's bang on on this one.