Z Nation ‘Full Metal Zombie’ Recap

by on 10/04/2014

So far Z Nation has been a roller coaster switching abruptly from the very dark to the very absurd. For every harrowing element there’s an equally ridiculous one.

Genuine emotion? Zombie baby. Crippling loneliness and isolation? Zombie literally wrapped around a truck’s wheel. And an abusive cannibal cult that keeps their victims alive and amputates and eats parts of their bodies? How about the Liberty Bell bouncing down the street, hitting a zombie, and leaving its legs sticking up?

But these contrasts are what keeps me coming back. Z Nation might be low budget and sometimes sloppily acted, but it’s never slow and dull.

Tonight’s episode starts in Pennsylvania Amish country. The cast is standing around the truck, taking a break from their mission to transport Murphy and his zombie virus antibodies to a CDC facility in California.

10K takes out two Amish zombies with his slingshot. Addy might as well be breaking the fourth wall and commenting on the show’s constant attempts to outweird itself when she says “Amish Zombies. Really? Really?”

It turns out the Amish tried to quarantine themselves to keep the virus from spreading, but they learned that the Day Z universe is a universe where everyone’s infected and you turn no matter how you died. Mack explains this by saying Romero had it right, reminding us that unlike The Walking Dead the Z Nation characters are well aware of zombie pop culture.

“Night of the Living Dead. Great movie. Sucky reality,” Addy says.

The cast debates the origin of the “Zs” for a bit and how everyone got infected if not by zombie bites. Garnett says his best guess is that it piggybacked on the bird flu (maybe a reference to 2006’s The Zombie Diaries), but Murphy shuts him down and says “nobody knows nothin'” about the origins of the zombies.

Turns out the truck had stopped for bathroom breaks. There’s a quick, funny scene that shows toilet paper rationing in the apocalypse. Addy gives Murphy two whole squares and he insists on more, so he ends up with three.

More zombie debates between Doc, Cassandra and 10K in the back of the truck. Doc says they have no thoughts and no soul, but Cassandra says they want brains, and you can’t want something if you don’t have a soul.

This prompts 10K to tell about how his “Pa” was wounded and asked him to tie him up before he turned. He says he couldn’t keep a promise right away to his Pa to show him mercy, so he stared into his eyes looking for a sign he was still there. Nothing, so he “killed it.” That was his first zombie kill, and he says he wishes there was some way his dad could know he kept his promise.

Back on the road the truck is followed by a Volkswagen Beetle with some Mad Max-style customizations. The gang tries to drive away but are stopped by a gaggle of Zs blocking the highway.

When they get out to pike them they notice that the Zs are actually chain to concrete blocks in the road. It’s an ambush, with some humans with guns disguised to look like Zs mixed in with the chained Zs, and the Beetle pulling up behind to cut off escape. The bandits they want our group’s truck and there’s a tense guns drawn standoff.

Which ends with Garnett giving it up to avoid casualties. The bandits take the tuck and leave the Beetle, which is literally falling apart.

At Northern Light in the arctic Citizen Z goes over personnel files from Delta Force, the elite unit that nonetheless sometimes has members get eaten by zombie babies. The baby chow himself, Murphy’s original guardian Hammond comes up on the screen and we get a flashback to the that time one time, where he got ate by a baby.

What horrible crime would you think Murphy committed to get himself “volunteered” for zombie vaccine human testing? Murder? Rape? Arson? Nope, it was postal fraud, as Citizen Z reveals when he reads Murphy’s file.

We also see Garnett’s National Guard file and Citizen Z listening to an audio recording he made of Addy’s call for help and we get a sense of how little Citizen Z knows of the people he’s helping. Citizen Z has “Level 9” access to the NSA’s snooping archives, which includes Addy’s whole archived social media presence, even her Friendster! Her pre-apocalypse pics are cute and an appreciative Citizen Z says “What a tomato!”

Riding in and on the broken-down Beetle, the group comes upon their truck stopped in the road and a big group of people standing near it. The bandits appear to be robbing a family with a father, mother and two little kids. They’re in a standoff with the father, who has an assault rifle. Now our group has the advantage, and tell the bandits to drop their weapons.

They do, but it runs out the family was actually robbing the bandits. The whole family, including the little kids, pull out guns and shoot the bandits in the road, plus some they had hostage by the side of the road. The family of robbers then take the truck and speed away.

With eight people weighing it down on its hood, roof, and interior, the Beetle is struggling to move. The group catches up to the family of robbers, who are being eaten by Zs. Kids too, it’s a disturbing image.

“We gotta get off this road,” Garnett says.

Citizen Z is watching world camera feeds at Northern Light, which he says, in a mock radio announcer’s voice, is “the same desperation, the same devastation everywhere you look.” And someone still posting funny cat videos.

He’s interrupted by a video signal. It’s from Garnett. He’s broadcasting on Clowny the French Fry Guy, a drivethrough camera rigged to broadcast through a satellite dish by Addy, who is apparently an amazing technical genius. Citizen Z awkwardly tries to flirt with her.

The group asks if they can get a plane, and Citizen Z directs them to the Emergency Headquarters for Infection Control in McLean, Virginia, where there’s a General McCandles, someone sending a mysterious garbled broadcast, and a functioning chopper on the roof.

When they arrive the headquarters is crammed with corpses and Zs. A soldier aims a gun at them and tells them to leave, but the possibility of a zombie cure changes his mind. He asks for a “tribute,” saying the camp needs drugs. Fortunately, Doc, a drug enthusiast, has a whole bag of drugs. The soldier, who is tweaking like a meth head, is a lot more interested in the painkillers than the antibiotics and such. All of Doc’s Oxycontin is enough to satisfy him and let them talk to the general on an intercom.

The general seems around the bend, too, and tries to turn the group away. But when he hears Doc’s name mentioned he invites Doc alone in to treat a wounded man.

“Son of a bitch, I was saving that Oxy for a party when we got to Cali,” Doc mutters in the elevator ride on the way up.

At the top of the elevator McCandles greets Doc with a machine gun. The wounded man is the general himself, he has a horrifyingly gangrenous leg. Doc is honest and says there’s no saving him, all he can do is show him mercy when the time comes.

“That’s what the last guy said,” McCandles said, and hits Doc and tosses him down an airshaft. Doc gets stuck painfully halfway down in tangle of cables, next to “the last guy,” who is now a Z. They’re both suspended in the shaft, close together.

At Northern Light Citizen Z receives a friend request from “Addy.” Actually, it’s from himself. He’s logged in to both Addy and his own social media accounts and by switching keyboards is carrying on both sides of a “chat” where “Addy” comforts and flatters him.

10K is sniping military zombies outside the base and Addy is Z-Whackering some with her signature spiked baseball bat. They hear Doc screaming in the airshaft and Garnett forces the soldier to let them in. Garnett leaves 10K outside for cover.

The only reason the Z in the airshaft isn’t eating Doc is because its head is held by a cable that’s holding it up like a noose and its arms are also entangled. Doc tries to calm himself by meditating, but you try achieving oneness with the universe when a zombie is trying to eat you. Giving up on the mysticism he pulls out and lights a joint. He tries to blow some smoke in the Zs face but it doesn’t get any more mellow.

In the elevator, the soldier tells the group the general is on the top floor. Murphy has another panic attack. The lights go out.

Outside 10K shoots another military zombie and takes a drag off a cigarette. That leads to a flashback of him giving his dad his last drag. He’s tied his dad up and his dad is making him promise to give him mercy when he turns.

His dad says some tearful goodbyes, says he’s proud of 10K, and takes another puff. We cut back to the present and 10K takes a drag and snipes another zombie.

In the airshaft Doc offers the Z the last hit of his joint, but it tries to bite his fingers off.

“Well fine, I’ll bogart it myself then,” he says. He blows more smoke into the Z’s face, then tosses the lit joint down its throat. Now it actually does seem a bit stoned and maybe even responding to Doc’s voice as he reads its name, Dr. Morgan Henley, Obstetrician, off an ID badge still tied to it. Doc tells the Z a  tearful story about a kid he had and abandoned when he was 19, and when the zombie responds only with growls starts screaming pitifully for help.

We can see McCandles is crazy as an outhouse rat. He’s yelling military orders into a radio, but I’m pretty sure that not one is listening.

The elevator restarts. Turns out the top floor was a trap. It’s loaded with soldiers-turned Zs. But they pull out the sneaky soldier instead of our crew. Unfortunately Murphy freaks out and runs out of the elevator, too.

So now they have to look for Murphy. Garnett and Warren go. Mack, Addy and Cassandra stay in the elevator. Immediately, however,  a Z bursts in the elevator and there’s a brutal, bloody fight, so they abandon it.

Back in the airshaft Doc tries to climb the cables. He doesn’t make it, but he finds a piece of metal to kill the Z with.

“I think it’s time go home now,” he tells the Z, but again there seems to be some intelligence in its eyes. It follows Doc’s gaze. Finally he decides its creeping him out and gives it mercy by spearing its brain.

From his hiding place, Murphy hears Doc screaming and beating on the airshaft walls.

“Someone will come help you. Just, not me,” Murphy says and runs.

There are army zombies everywhere on the floor the group is on. Warren and Murphy empty their guns into the Zs, which include the soldier who betrayed them a few minutes ago. Everyone regroups and Murphy says he knows where Doc is, but they’re all startled by the the sound of the elevator opening and turn to look. Wrong direction, because they hear something huge, with thudding footsteps, behind them.

It’s an enormous, bald soldier Z, dressed in full combat gear.

Mack shoots it in the head with a small pistol but its skull is too thick. Garnett goes to work with hammer to no effect. Addy hits it with the Z-Whacker and it only pushes it back. So Garnett pulls the pin on a grenade the Z has on its chest and they shove it into an airshaft where it will harmlessly go boom. Oh, no, wait, that’s the airshaft Doc was in, which Murphy sadly, finally lets them know.

McCandles has corpses arranged at  a table for a staff meeting and is arguing with The President on his non-functioning radio. As we found out in the first episode, the President is dead. When the group sneaks up on them he pulls a shoulder-mounted missile and tries to fire, but it malfunctions.

“What do you people want anyway?” McCandles asked, resigned.

Garnett explains the mission and asks for the helicopter.

“Well hell, why didn’t you say so sooner? I’ll fly you there myself,” McCandles says.

Unfortunately the helicopter is bombed out. Garnett says they’ll find alternate transportation.

“You think I’m insane, don’t you? Well maybe I am,” the general says. There’s been too much death and zombies for him.

At this point two Zs jump out of the helicopter and attack him. McCandles goes down fighting, firing at the Zs with twin pistols as the push him off the roof in one of the worst  and cheesiest “falling from a roof” special effects I’ve ever seen.

Dejected and minus Doc, the gang heads back to the truck. 10K is sad to hear the news. Then we see Doc stumbling out of the building, covered in gore. Warren says she’ll do the “mercy” but misses on her first shot.

“What the hell Warren, you trying to kill me?” Doc shouts.

Yeah, he’s alive and everyone is happy. Even Murphy, who is starting to see Doc as a friend.

Back at Northern Light Citizen Z is still carrying on his conversation with “Addy.” He has her call him “sweet prince” and calls her “fair lady.” Then closes the chat and puts a romantic song on the radio, dedicated to Addy.

At the truck Mack hears the dedication on the radio and laughs.

“I talked to the guy twice. C’mon,” Addy says.

Doc has wiped the gore away. Most of it wasn’t from him. He comforts 10K, telling him his dad knows what he did for him and that he kept his promise.

Of course this is our cue for a flashback of 10k keeping his promise.

“I’m sorry poppa. Love you,” 10K says, and drives a knife through his dad’s brain. Promise kept.

Back to the present, the truck drives away from the base and past some soldier zombies 10K shot. End of episode.

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