Sunday, October 16, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Four: Escorpion and the Red Hand

This is the week I guess the writers decided they had to explain Escorpion taking over for Vazquez on Z Nation. I say taking over because they so clearly replaced a Latino character with another just as they exchanged an Asian character for another. Yep, there's a train running on Z Nation. Unfortunately, the explanation really didn't go well because it didn't make much sense.  Part of the problem with this season is that Murphy is off building his new Blend Empire while the rest of the cast seems to be just twisting in the wind. Yeah, their big plan is to get Murphy back but they're nowhere near doing that and it feels like Roberta and company are wandering randomly about the place.

This week, the group comes across an over pass with zombies hanging from it.  On the wall is the word thieves in red and a painted red hand. Can you guess what this means? Yep, another faction is about to raise its ugly head.  To me this is a sign of just how confused Z Nation is this season. The supposed thieves cut down the zombies intent on burying them but in the process drop them around the Warren and Co, who take them out as an act of self preservation.  It's then that Warren and Co learn that the zombies were strung up by the Red Hand which is led by someone calling themselves Escorpion.  Well, given that Hector gave up his bad ways when he saved Warren, we know that he's not off leading some new faction.

Learning that his identity has been stolen leads to Hector spending the episode complaining about how he cannot get away from his bad acts and how people close to him always die. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't his redemption train just start a New York minute ago? What's the deal with him thinking that announcing that he's good suddenly makes him good?  After a big showdown with the Red Hand which ends with the two thieves dead, Warren explains that she wants to work with Hector because he is a killer.  Warren feels that Hector can use his skills to help them get the cure and this puts him in a unique position.  I suppose it works as an explanation for now but the implication that Warren can trust Hector when he has yet to earn it beyond saving them does not work for me. People survive better in groups in a zombie apocalypse and so by taking Hector in, Warren and company are doing him the favor.

At some point in the melee, Addy, Doc and Sun get separated from Warren and Hector. Addy isn't doing well because she has an infected tooth and the infection is spreading.  The only way for Addy to survive is to get the tooth pulled but she resists because losing teeth somehow symbolizes the end. Yeah, losing teeth when you don't have access regularly to a tooth brush (can you imagine the halitosis in a zombie apocalypse) toothpaste, or mouth wash is a sign of bad dental hygiene and nothing else.

Sun and Doc are reduced to wrestling with Addy in order to pull her tooth but Addy puts up a good fight.  In frustration, Sun chokes Addy out, thus allowing Sun the opportunity to use a vice grip to pull out Addy's tooth. Doc, like the audience, is shocked by this because up until this point, Sun has pretty much not been a woman of action.  It's nice to see that Sun has skills but she needs to get herself a specialized weapon like the rest of the crew.

Okay, onto the Murphy, who provided the only advancement of the meta this week.  Murphy has collected a group of blends and humans but because he is having so much of his blood drawn by Merch to create a vaccine to turn everyone into Blends, he's too weak to save a young woman on deaths door.  When Murphy comments that he's not feeling like himself, Merch gives him a booster shoot of the original vaccine which works to keep Murphy in limbo between zombie and human.

Murphy is pretty sure of his position as supreme ruler but unbeknownst to him, Merch has been working on a plan.  Merch has created yet a new chemical to break Murphy's hold over her but it also means that she's no longer uninteresting to zombies.  Merch's big plan is to escape and to do so, she needs 10k's help.  Once injected 10K is all over getting away from Murphy and gaining his freedom. 10K is able to escape though he is chased by Murphy's men but Merch isn't so lucky. Merch is forced to give out the vaccine to the group of people Murphy has collected after being bitten on the other cheek to secure her loyalty to Murphy.  With few options left to her, Merch walks to what Murphy calls the zombie moat and stabs herself which is essentially the same as ringing the dinner bell to the zombies, who make a meal of her.

For much of 10K's escape and Merch's suicide Z Nation was clearly exploring the value of life and freedom.  Sure Merch and 10K could both have survived as part of Murphy's inner circle but it wasn't enough for them.  Both 10K and Merch needed their freedom and that is why they took the risks that they did. 10K chose to risk death and Merch actually chose death over living as one of Murphy's Blends.  I think that this was Z Nation's attempt to show the difference between living and surviving. Even in the worst of times, there will always be those who are willing to die rather than live in captivity and that is human nature.

Now that 10K has escaped, I hope that he quickly reunites with Warren and Co, so that we can get this season moving.  Having the group separated and introducing factions just makes it all feel so scattered and directionless.  They've already set up a number of antagonists for the group to run from and just need to get the story moving.  Z Nation has always seemed to fly by the seat of its pants and while it's amusing at times, it also get tiring.  Sure, doing a completely serious zombie show in the era of The Walking Dead might not be the ticket but neither is meandering all over the place with no clear direction or goal in sight.

On a final note cause it irritated the hell out of me, someone needs to explain why the red head suddenly stopped attacking after the blew up the zombie. They had no way of knowing whether the two supposed thieves were dead or not.  It's the little things like this which makes Z Nation irritating.