Last week’s Z Nation, despite being an extended reference to The Asylum and Syfy’s most ridiculous movie, Sharknado, was actually the show’s most serious and least ridiculous episode so far. Will this episode also go for drama, or is it a return to absurd form?
The episode begins with Citizen Z recapping theories of where the zombie virus came from, over a montage of pics and video of the early outbreak. The concept of Zoroastrian concept of the final purification of the universe Frashokereti, “Amazon brain rot,” passing through the tail of a comet (Night of the Comet reference) and a defense department weaponized virus are mentioned.
But my favorite theory is that public fascination with zombies just hit such a fever pitch it became a self-fulfilling prophecy that willed it into existence. I could see that.
Citizen Z recounts how religions seized upon the zombies and “the apocalypse business was booming” until, of course, there weren’t enough people left to boom. He says it reminds him of “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, and quotes its most famous line
“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be to be born?”
“What rough beast indeed?” Citizen Z says ruefully.
The scene shifts to a church in Hannibal, Missouri, where a priest, Jacob, is giving bizarre sermon that involves Zs. These ain’t your run of the mill congregation, though, the fact that the priest is wearing an upside down crucifix over his robe gives it away. The priest refers to some Zs seated in the front pew as the “resurrected” and addresses three still living members as “the anointed.”
They place necklaces upside down crucifixes over the anointed’s necks and then ring the church bell to draw more “resurrected” to “join our flock.” The priest sends a Brother Eli and Brother Matthew to greet the Zs that respond to the bell, carrying catch poles with loops at the ends to capture them by their necks.
In a field not far away, Murphy is taking a leak. The others are waiting by the truck. Most of the group is quite sensibly worried about Murphy’s deteriorating, more-and-more zombie-like condition. Only Addy, the queen of bad judgment, defends Murphy and says the apocalypse is like “one long bad hair day.”
It takes Murphy forever to pee. While he’s doing so they talk about what will happen if he turns full zombie. Warren calls dibs on piking him, but Garnett says that’s the least of their problems if he turns.
Murphy knows they’re talking about him. He returns to the truck saying “I have a ginormous bladder. Sue me.” Doc mentions he wants some Kansas City ribs and Murphy uses that as an excuse to make fun of Cassandra’s former life as a cannibal, saying “you’re a big rib eater, aren’t you?”
Turns out the gang hasn’t eaten in two days. Warren says Garnett looks pretty happy anyway and he optimistically says it could be worse. She says that his glass half full attitude is “what I love about you,” with affection that shows maybe a real relationship is developing there. She’s calling him by his first name, Charlie, in this episode.
The survivors are heading toward Province Town to resupply, with the hope that they might meet one of Lt. Hammond’s contacts there, Maj. Joe Williams, and get some help from the military. Remember Lt. Hammond, he got eaten by a baby. I’ll never stop bringing that up.
On the drive they pass a Z holding a severed head by the road. 10K snipes the severed head, then the Z, bringing his zombies killed count to 1,554.
Province Town shows the limitations of The Asylum passing off Washington State locations as Midwest locales like Missouri. It’s not quite right, guys. Province Town has a roadblock that requires all who enter to surrender all weapons. Some people with guns come out and try to turn the survivors away, but Garnett asks for Williams, who is an old friend.
Maj. Williams greets Garnett by reminiscing about how Garnett once saved his life by pulling him out of a ditch full Zs, and tells his gun-toters to stand down. Garnett explains the mission and asks for help so Williams lets them in, sans weapons. Abby gives up the Z-Whacker with reluctance and there’s a funny scene that shows that 10K has knives, chains and guns stashed all over his body.
Before the group can get in the three anointed from before come up to the fence and say they are sorry for leaving and want back in. They say they were wrong, that Jacob turned out to be a crazy cult leader. Williams lets them back in.
Province Town is a militarized camp protected by a fence and hunters that patrol outside looking for Zs. There’s a big cage inside for Zs, but it’s empty.
Williams explains that the compound started a no guns except for guards rule after a guy shot his wife’s boyfriend within the compound and the boyfriend turned and killed five people. Then a trading group took a gun off a guard and seven people died. So the current rule is no weapons inside, period.
Garnett says being in a place without guns gives him hope. Murphy asks what happens if someone dies of natural causes, which Williams kind of brushes off. He says all the doors and gates close automatically and can’t be opened by Zs. Murphy is skeptical so Williams tells him he can wait outside if he wants.
The compound is as good as it gets in the apocalypse, Williams says as he leads them to the compound cafeteria to eat. They grow their own fruits and vegetables and recycle their waste for electricity.
When the group sees the returned anointed, Williams explains about Jacob, a preacher who decided the Zs were the second coming and started a cult to save the Zs instead of kill them. Province Town kicked them out. It seems like the three anointed are the first cult members to return. Can you see the horrible mistake Williams is making kids? I thought you could.
As the group eats Williams tells Garnett that they’ll never make it to California, that the Zs are swarming there in the millions as mega-herds. He tries to talk them into staying, but Garnett wants to stick with the mission to take Murphy to California so the zombie vaccine antibodies in his blood can be used to create a zombie cure. Williams offers them a place to rest, anyway, and says they’ll talk more tomorrow.
10K watches a girl from the returning anointed get up from the table and leave suspiciously. He follows.
Warren informs the rest that Williams has offered a room for two or three and a communal bunk. Murphy unsuccessfully tries to call dibs on the room, but Doc says they should give it to Garnett and Warren. Addy laughs as Garnett tries to deny they’re getting romantic, but Warren says “If we’re going to do the time, we may as well do the crime” and leads him away.
10K follows the girl and sees she went through an exit, which she has propped open with a board to keep it from closing.
Garnett and Warren’s room is tiny, but she thinks it’ perfect and lights some candles. He’s reluctant but they start making out. Garnett says they have no condoms but Warren says she went to Catholic School, they’ll improvise. She blocks the door with a chair.
Outside Jacob and his followers gather for an attack. They do have guns. Jacob reads some verses about unbelievers and opening their eyes.
Another returned anointed approaches the checkpoint where they keep the weapons. He tells the guard he left some meds in his ammo bag to distract him, then pulls out his upside down cross.
10K watches the girl drop her crucifix, then fall in front of the main gate.
Inside the cafeteria the third anointed jumps up on a cafeteria table and starts preaching about Jacob and how everyone will get a second chance to join. Then he pulls out his crucifix, which conceals a knife inside, and cuts his own throat. All the gang reflexively draw for guns that aren’t there.
The anointed turns and becomes a fast Z, who starts biting people. Outside a guard turns the anointed girl over and finds she’s sliced her guts open. She turns too and attacks. The anointed that was asking about the guns has also killed himself and turns.
Unfortunately Garnet and Warren’s sexy time is interrupted by a banging at the door. They dress and get into combat mode. When the door opens a Z bursts in and Garnett kills it by bashing its head against the wall.
And now there are fresh fast Zs overrunning the whole compound. Our group tries to get away, but it’s hard when they have to use forks and spoons for weapons.
“I’d give my left nut for that Z-Whacker right now!” Addy yells.
The anointed Z from the cafeteria chases everyone into the kitchen. They get it down and Addy gorily scrambles its face with an electric mixer. Murphy, as usual, freaked out in the chaos and got separated.
Warren and Garnett are stalking the halls with large books for weapons. Warren notices the door that was left open to get around the compound’s security and a Z burst through. The pair show why they’ve survived so long by beating and stomping it to death, then look around for better weapons.
Williams enters, shell-shocked by how Jacob has torn his enclave apart.
“Everything we worked for is gone,” he says. The rest of the group, sans 10K and Murphy, catch up at this time.
Williams says that the armory is overrun with Zs, but the group can get out through an emergency exit. He’s going to stay and try and save as many of his people as he can.
Murphy is in the bathroom. A female compound member is hiding in there as well and surprises them. She wants to team up but a Z attacks right at that moment. Murphy, being a coward, doesn’t help, but more suspiciously the Z runs right by him to get to her.
She kills it with a stick and begins threatening Murphy, thinking he’s a part of the attack. Then about eight more Zs overrun her, also ignoring Murphy. As she screams “Don’t leave me!” he runs away.
Jacob’s people, who do have guns, are capturing Zs and taking over the compound. He wants “the blasphemers” caught alive.
The emergency exit is down an extremely narrow hallway. Our gang gets to it first and finds Jacob’s group blocked it with a large crucifix. Then a bunch of survivors from the compound run screaming down the hall and there’s a crush around the door. In this vulnerable position, Zs start running toward the mass of humanity and even Warren admits to Garnett she’s scared.
The Zs snack on the closest people, who of course also turn into Zs. Addy has one of her inconvenient flashbacks and nearly faints. Just before our group is eaten 10K unlocks the door and lets our guys out. Just our guys, everyone else has turned. They block the door again and are immediately taken captive by cult members with guns. 10K and Cassandra successfully make a run for it, though.
The cultists have rounded up the Zs into the big cage. They’ve got our gang on their knees, hands tied, in front of Jacob. A cultist tells Jacob that all of the “resurrected” have been secured.
Jacob does some preaching and gives the group a choice between being living members of the church or “resurrected” members. His cultists drag out Williams, who is now a Z, as an example.
Inside 10K knocks out a cult member and takes his rifle.
Jacob is preaching about Williams, saying that although he was once a blasphemer now he has chosen to join the resurrected and “blessed is the path before him.”
Jacob says he offers peace and Garnett rejects him.
“Joe Williams, the man you killed gave you peace. This was a good place. This was a safe place,” Garnett says.
Garnett seems to be trying to talk some sense into Jacob by telling him that it’s not too late to abandon the madness and that the resurrected aren’t any closer to God, but he’s just buying time for 10K who is setting up a sniper position inside the compound. Jacob is not so down with being challenged on theology and gets ready to stab Garnett with one of the crucifix knives. His cultists hit Warren when she objects.
10K heads to the roof to get a better shot. Cassandra runs for the truck.
Jacob puts the knife to Garnett’s throats as Garnett begs him to kill him but spare the others.
“I am the new resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die he yet shall he live!” Jacob says, perverting Jesus’s words in John 11:25 as starts to draw the knife across Garnett’s throat.
Murphy interrupts everything by yelling “Stop!” From inside the zombie cage. Yeah, they rounded him up as a Z and he’s chilling with them. He looks almost like one now, even worse than the start of the episode.
“If you think the resurrected are one step closer to heaven. Then prepare to meet your new God,” Murphy says, and takes off his shirt to show his bite wounds.
Jacob nervously tells him to step away from the resurrected, that it’s no place for a mortal human, and asks him to join his flock.
Murphy opens the Z cage from inside and steps out. The other Zs just watch calmly and let him close the door.
Murphy starts talking about how he’s the Messiah. Jacob tries to deny it but Murphy starts preaching about how he was bitten eight times and didn’t turn.
“I’m here to tell you that he is a false prophet, for I am the true incarnation of the resurrected!” Murphy shouts.
Jacob wants his cult to kill the blasphemer, but they’re reluctant. Murphy says he can prove his words are true.
He pulls the Z Williams out of the cage and sticks his hand into his mouth. Williams doesn’t bite.
“The resurrected will not attack me. Because they love and fear me. Behold my flock,” Murphy says. 10K is on the roof but doesn’t have a clear shot.
The cult is shaken, except for Jacob. He proposes a last test, a bullet to the heart to reveal the truth. When he tries to shoot Murphy things go slow-mo and and a lot happens almost at once. Warren tries to knock Jacob aside but fails. Jacob fires at Murphy and Garnett jumps in front of him and takes the bullet, right in the chest.
10K finally gets his shot, a little too late, and wings Jacob then starts on the guards. Cassandra arrives in the truck. Murphy cuts Warrens bonds and she head to Garnett, saying his name “Charlie” over and over.
Murphy frees the rest. All the Zs go nuts and start attacking the cult members. Cassandra uses bolt cutters to open a locked gate so everyone can get to the truck.
Garnett tells Warren to “Go get Murphy,” but Warren won’t leave. Oh, and Addy gets her Z-Whacker back from a dead guard.
Just before he dies, Garnett tells Warren that he loves her. She says she loves him, too.
“Then go. Live,” Warren says, and dies.
Warren is hysterical as the others drag her away. She wants to give Warren mercy but the others say there’s no time. As they leave in the truck you see Garnett’s eyes cloud as he turns.
A safe distance away from the compound the truck stops. Garnett gets 10Ks sniper rifle and sets up a shot. She passes Jacob for a moment, but ultimately she sets the scope on Garnett, whom the remaining cultists are restraining to add to their collection.
“Charles Garnett, I give you mercy, she says,” and pulls off a clean headshot.
She then puts the scope on Jacob and shoots him in the chest so he’ll turn. He starts attacking the remaining cultists.
Sans Garnett, the gang drives away, with a somber voiceover on the radio from Citizen Z saying that maybe someday they’ll find out why the apocalypse happened.
“I wonder if we brought this on ourselves. We had a chance to do this whole planet Earth thing right and we blew it. We got the apocalypse we deserve,” he says.
But he adds a note of hope, saying that if they’re lucky someday it will all be over “And next time, I hope we get it right.” End of episode.
So, uh, nope, not a return to wackiness at all. A downbeat, serious episode that killed off another ostensible main character. It’s kind of like killing off Rick in the first episode of The Walking Dead, replacing him with Shane, and then killing off Shane before the end of the first season. You can’t say it’s not a brave choice, though, we’ll see how it goes from here.
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