Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Z Nation, Season 5, Episode 3: Escape from Altura

After the bomb last episode, there is obviously the painful aftermath. The injured need treating, the Talkers need to be given Biscuits so they don’t go on a rampage and the dead and newly risen need Biscuiting as well. There’s also a whole bunch of zombies from somewhere which need killing

It’s messy - but the gang (all of which survive uninjured) are on it. George, again, really steps up and shows what an inspirational hero she is (and I have to give props to the show for just how well they’ve done this). The zombie attack is suspicious as well as the bombing as they don’t normally get large numbers of zombies around Altura

Warren rightly thinks this is an assassination attempt - either aimed at the delegates for the election, Estes or George (she continues to fail to see how important she is). But Estes steps in and reveals he has received information that a Talker was involved. He also moves to confiscate Citizen Z’s recording (which suggests Dante was in the area) so he can examine it. Not to stop anyone else from seeing it, honest. He also discovers a hole where the fence has been sabotaged

Estes is formerly from Zona and already had suspicious bodger written all over him. He’s also in an illicit relationship with Pandora the creeper Talker in the creepy mask who has Creepy views about humans - I think she’s using him because it’s blatantly obvious. She also has an ominous silent follower just in case we’d missed the fact that evil lady is evil.

Estes quickly rallies everyone to hunt down Dante - and quarantine all Talkers which is a bit of a leap which George finds especially off given that the election results were a landslide and very much in favour of Talker rights

I get that George is positive and inspiring but I think they need to be careful about making this excellent character naive. She still goes through Altura managing to calm violence with her presence but it’s clear hatred against Talkers is growing

The Talkers are rounded up and put in “quarantine”, large cages and Altura is put into lockdown. Sun Mei is outraged that one of her chief assistants, a Talker, is dragged into quarantine. (Which at least stops them messing with someone’s brain for science because ew ew ew ew). And in quaratine they’re not giving them Biscuits so they’re reverting to zombieness

Murphy is duly paranoid being the red guy who looks like Satan and he is out of there as soon as the alarms go off, knocking a guard out who demands to check his pulse to see whether to put him in quarantine. He then jumps in a truck with Dante and leaves, charging through the gates

Murphy splits company with Dante and wanders off alone - only to be followed by a Shadowy Figure… revealed to be Weston. He was one of the Blends of Murphyville back when Murphy was setting up his own little empire. He and his fellow blends have been keeping things going - and invite Murphy to their settlement: Limbo as their great leader.

Warren reads the writing on the wall and thinks it’s time they all leave - sending 10k and Lilley to get Sun Mei and Red while Doc and Citizen Z take George to Pacifica. A patrol is sent out after them but they easily lure them into a trap and strip them naked leaving them behind. Which sounds funny and silly but in zombie haunted world is probably not too far from a death sentence

They keep driving and find a gibbet with several brutally tortured and murdered people - though one is still alive. Unable to talk he can barely communicate they were attacked… but not by people from Altura. Whoever attacked them tortured them for information… a new faction? Or Murphy’s Blends? Or Zona?

All of this horror begins to dent George’s happy, positive outlook but Warren is there to give her a stirring speech and faith in her vision for the future

Back in Altura, 10k and Red have a moment, reconciling, kissing and basically being “on” again - though Red is concerned about his relationship with Lilley which 10k says is platonic - but Red isn’t sure Lilley sees it that way

10k, Red, Sun Mei and Lilley manage to get emergency Biscuit stashes to the captured Talkers and free them - though that looks like freeing a zombie horde at this point. Sun Mei is reluctant to leave - her work with the Talkers is too important to be without a lab. That leaves 10k, Lilley and Red to run… but there’s a horde of zombies (the Talkers they released?)

10k attacks and… is overwhelmed. And bitten on the arm. Yes 10k was bitten, it’s a bit of a heart stopping moment to have a major member of the cast affected like that (though, honestly, with the appearance of Talkers et al it doesn’t have quite the same shock. Especially since 10k is ALREADY all mutated and odd so who knows if he can even be infected?). Lilley and Red charge in to the rescue - and Red cuts off 10ks arm

This is far more shocking to me than him being bitten. After all, we know 10k is a mush of science experiments so the bite can be handwaved. But losing an arm? I think they’ll have to push to justify him regrowing it… while at the same time 10k is the combat monster of the group, by far and away the most dangerous of them. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue that with him one handed… or whether they find him a new role in the group from here

Of course, this being Z Nation he’ll probably end up with an Evil Dead style chainsaw hand.

Less handwavy is Lilley who throws herself at the zombies to save them - and dies.

And hmm… thinky thoughts

From a long term narrative standpoint I can see the point of killing her. The group reached Altura and the core cast regained Sun Mei (albeit with her staying behind) and Red and gained George. The party is now… unwieldy. Lilley is also the character without any real connection with the group having sort of joined last season and hung around with them because there was no-one else left of her group. She has no special role in the group beyond extra soldier, no real relationships and, honestly, this is actually preferable than us running with a we-don’t-want love triangle storyline. When you have a cast that is growing slightly unwieldy, especially in a zombie apocalypse, it’s time for one of the cast to be eaten

I also acknowledge that this doesn’t drastically change the gender dynamic of the group because, unlike many shows and dystopians especially, there’s a lot of dynamic female characters - more than men in fact (not only in pure numbers but also in prominence and value to the plot). It’s sadly rare for a show to be able to kill off a prominent female character and not have it decimate the female representation.

My negatives of this is that they HAVEN’T really established her as a character so we’re in the slightly uncomfortable position of having more emotional impact from 10k losing his arm than Lilley losing her life… which… feels… wrong. Especially since in 2 episodes they’ve turned George into such a real character

The other is the love triangle… honestly there was no need for Red to say to 10k that she’s basically worried about Lilley being competition and then 10 minutes later Lilley is dead. The framing kind of made it feel like Lilley had to be killed off to avoid this storyline… because there was no other way to avoid the love triangle?