Sunday, October 22, 2017

Z Nation, Season 4, Episode 3: The Vanishing

Time for a big reunion. Murphy and Warren land from the Zona helicopter and, though Warren has a brief thought about where the other Zona soldiers are going, they both split off from them

They quickly find and rescue Lucy. Which is awkward because Lucy is really not happy with Murphy for leaving, really not happy about him not being blue any more, really not happy that he refers to his lack of blueness as a “cure”. She says she doesn’t feel anything towards him… and I don’t know if this is her saying he’s been away so long that he no longer feels like her father or she literally has no woo-woo sense with him. She does seem to have woo-woo sense for Warren...

She tells them about Newmerica and how Addey told her that is where they need to go - this seems to be how Lucy will act from now on. She’ll stay with the others (or Warren specifically) while she’s in a holding pattern for Addey to return. They all make it to the camp where there’s some nice reunions with Doc and meeting up with Lt Mueller and Sgt Lilley. It’s faintly amusing how they salute each other all the time. Of course Warren is also a Lieutenant and even staring into space for long periods of time she has enough natural authority that Mueller isn’t willing to overrule her when she demands they stay overnight waiting for 10k to return from looking for Red.

All together we have some pretty deep discussions about, well, the future, hope and despair. Murphy has remembered 2 years of utter paradise in Zona and is now back to the apocalypse and really gutted about that. And it’s not just Murphy whining - moving from thinking you’d finally found safety, finally found hope and a future to going back to the apocalypse is reeling for everyone. It also makes both him and Doc wary about Newmerica - how many times have they been told of safety, have they even found safety, only for it always to fall apart. They find a safe place, it turns out to be creepily screwed up in some way and when they leave it’s inevitably with it on fire and covered in zombies.

They’re not wrong

Lt. Mueller points out Newmerica ISN’T a utopia. It isn’t perfect. But it is a safe place they’re building and, pointedly, it’s real. I think this is a distinction. Newmerica isn’t a dream or a utopia or based on some principle or vision or higher ideal or wanting to make a better society: it’s just a place they’re trying to make safe. In Mueller’s words, it’s “real.”

And I have to say I really like Mueller. Sure I mocked him a bit for being lt. Huggy, but he is a man with a lot of military professionalism but who doesn’t just bark orders. He and his soldiers are disciplined, but he is still emotional, he cares, he listens - there’s some layers to him when a simple 2 dimensional barking commandant could have fit the role as well. I appreciate the effort that went into that.

Doc turns to Warren for a pep talk and she delivers one -it’s not one full of hope and promises for the future, but the importance of them standing together. That it is worthy it and they can keep going. I really like it - it’s reassuring and powerful without lying or being full of empty promises

Of course the camp is still empty and every now and then they all hear ominous sounds - they sound more animal than zombie. Tired of waiting and with Warren completely checked out in her visions, Mueller and Lilley head out to try and find 10k so they can start driving north; especially after he acknowledges they’d all be dead to immortal zombie if it weren’t for 10k’s marksmanship

As they go into the woods, they hear more animal noises - and Lilley vanishes. That leaves an on-edge Mueller suddenly facing a zombie - an immortal zombie. No matter how many times he shoots it in the head it keeps getting up.

Back at camp they find Burgess, one of the other refugees, hiding in a cupboard. Whatever he saw when everyone vanished traumatised him so completely he’s in a near catatonic state. He can barely communicate, only by blinking - and even then he can’t tell them anything, going deeper into catatonia the more Warren presses for information. When they’re all distracted by 10ks return (and no Red), he vanishes, again.

Which is more than a little spooky

Mueller is the next to return - as a zombie. And again I appreciate the effort gone into his character when he was only going to last 2 episodes before being killed off. He’s an immortal zombie and all of them pile onto him, hitting him in the head repeatedly, shooting him and he just won’t go down.

It’s only the return of Lilley, still alive and human, and her big gun that changes things. She unloads bullet after bullet into him in a big dramatic scene full of emotional (good emotion acting to have her not say a word but really show how much it hurts her to shoot her Lt) - it’s only when she turns to her shotgun and blows him to pieces that he finally stops moving. It’s messy, very very very messy.

With everyone reunited it’s time for them to move. Lilley gets in the truck preparing to take them north. But Warren has had a lot of burning visions all demand she goes east. Wordlessly she starts off. Lucy, 10k and Doc follow her - they don’t need any discussion, there is no need for her to explain herself. Where she goes, they follow - 10k and Lucy don’t even feel the need to explain that. I think that’s just a perfect statement about Warren, who she is and what she means

Murphy seems to get in the car with Lilley… which is pretty much a statement about him.

This season has me intrigued so far. We have a lot of woo-woo and mystery, but we also have a distinct change of tone. After the random weirdness that so stained the last season, it’s nice to see a more grown up beginning to this one.