I’ll be honest, Z Nation has a lot of rough edges. But as I’ve watched it over those months, I’ve come to appreciate it just the same. In fact, maybe those rough edges are a big part of its appeal.
Too much of our entertainment now is too easy, too slick, too smooth. Z Nation never makes it easy or smooth for you. In fact it takes some vicious glee in assaulting the viewer with the absurd or uncomfortable or yanking the rug out from under you without warning.
This is, after all, a show that killed its ostensible lead twice before reaching the halfway point of the first season. So I’m more and more willing to put up with some bad acting from an extra or less than stellar special effects for the chance to be surprised.
Tonight’s episode starts with Citizen Z doing a radio broadcast from the NSA’s Arctic Northern Light listening post warning people about the giant “Zunami” of zombies that’s rampaging through the Midwest.
Then we see him checking equipment around the base. He notes one prominent gauge. How does one man single-handedly maintain an entire military base that held hundreds of people? That’s a good question.
Especially when, as the next scene shows, he spends his time doing things like playing golf and handball in the hanger and hanging out with his dog. We see Citizen Z hit one golf ball that’s he drawn a smiley face on.
At his computer Citizen Z gets a notice that someone’s trying to hack his system. Another alarm goes off while he’s dealing with that, which makes him angry. He knocks it off the ceiling with a broom and focuses on the hack but his vision gets blurry. On his monitor he sees a fireball nearly hit the base. It’s a space capsule, which lands nearby. It’s hard to tell if this stuff is really happening, his dog sleeps through it. A scan of the capsule says “no life forms detected” but her runs out without noticing.
In Nebraska our survivors are dying of thirst. 10K is squeezing sweat of of his clothes to drink. Cassandra hallucinates a can of soda, but it turns out to be an empty rusty tin can. Doc is trying to pee in a bottle to drink his own urine, but says “All I’m pissin’ is dust.”
The only person not dying is Murphy, who is very perky and is becoming even more zombie-like thanks to the zombie virus antibodies in his blood. When Warren asks him why he says “Maybe it’s because I conserve my precious bodily fluids,” which is a reference to Dr. Strangelove and a masturbation joke.
The see the Zunami bearing down on them. It looks like a dust storm filled with zombies. They’re so dehydrated Murphy has to almost force them to run. They hide in an old mortuary. Two men try to join them, but one doesn’t make it and Warren mercy kills him by shooting him in the head as Zs drag him down.
Citizen Z is in a tunnel that leads to the exterior of Northern Light, where he sees wet footprints on the floor. Suddenly he sees a Russian cosmonaut standing in front of him in a spacesuit. The guy’s helmet anachronistically says CCCP, more evidence that Citizen Z is losing it. He pulls a gun on the cosmonaut.
“Go ahead, make my apocalypse,” Citizen Z says.
The cosmonaut assures him “I am friend” and they shake hands. He tells the cosmonaut the air is safe. The cosmonaut disagrees, but after some persuasion he reluctantly removes his helmet, then laughs.
In the mortuary office Murphy berates the others for dying. It’s been three days without water.
The new survivor who has joined our group in the mortuary, Otis, explains that the Zumani is the Z’s migrating south for the winter because they don’t like the cold. A big portion of the Zs are from a refugee camp in Alberta where there were a million people. They all turned in a week. The herd is miles wide, he says, and keeps growing as it sucks up every settlement it devours.
The Zs start to press their way into the mortuary office, so the group makes a run to the morgue. One of the Zs is, to make the Alberta connection hilariously obvious, a Mountie in a full dress uniform. The survivors close the doors to the morgue as dozens of Zs break in the mortuary and press against it. No way out.
Citizen Z is sharing tea with the cosmonaut. He explains he’s been on the International Space System but the food supplies ran out and the systems shut down so he escaped in a Soyuz capsule. He says there was no other crew but himself.
“No crew, only Yuri. Your crew?” he says.
“No crew, only Citizen Z,” Citizen Z says. He breaks out some mini-bottles of vodka and they make a toast “to surviving.” Citizen Z’s dog is still suspiciously sleeping.
Murphy is starting to become more curious about the zombies. He wonders where they’re all going and says the others should be glad they don’t have a leader.
In the morgue the survivors hear scratching come from inside the morgue drawers. They open them one by one to find the Z inside to pike it. It nearly gets Doc, but Warren shoots it. The Zs start breaking down even the morgue doors, so Warren pulls out one of the drawers and tells the others they have no choice.
“Well, this is going to be fun,” Doc says sarcastically.
At Northern Light Citizen Z is showing Yuri his operation and how he watches the entire world. Instead of being impressed Yuri feels pity and calls it a “terrible burden” that one man shouldn’t carry alone. Yuri is interested in how Citizen Z controls all the functions of the base from his console.
The dog is still sleeping. When Yuri asks about it Citizen gets suspicious and says “You sure do ask a lot of questions, comrade.”
He then make his big revelation to Yuri, that he thinks they can find out the reason for the zombie apocalypse from his data, but that others are trying to hack his system to find out what he knows.
The group slides into the morgue drawers one by one. They have to carefully check to make sure there are no Zs inside. Otis is claustrophobic and Warren has to force him in. Warren finds the drawer she set aside for herself already occupied by a Z, so Murphy lays out a body bag for her.
Citizen Z takes Yuri out to his “driving range” in the hanger. Yuri suggests it might be a bad idea to hit machine they hit golf balls and ride golf carts. They play games. They drink. They have a male buddy bonding movie montage.
Then Citizen Z looks around while they’re golfing and Yuri is not there. He finds him nearby staring at a reading on one of the machines. The smiley face ball is on the ground next to it. Citizen Z insists they go back to the game because it’s tied and in sudden death.
“Sudden death does not sound like fun game, Simon,” Yuri says, using Citizen Z’s real name, which he hasn’t told Yuri yet.
Murphy seals Warren into the body bag. She tries to make him promise not to leave, telling him she’s got to get him to California so the scientists there can use his antibodies to make a cure.
“You’ve got me as far as you could,” he said, and zips it up.
The Zs break in. They don’t attack Murphy and they aren’t smart enough to open the drawers. Murphy walks out the door.
At Northern Light Yuri is playing Dead Rising 3 on Xbox One. Citizen Z, talking about the game, tells him he has to destroy the brain if he wants to kill the zombies.
This starts a conversation where Yuri says humans are stronger than zombies because there is “not one way but many ways to die.”
Citizen Z goes to the bathroom. He takes his iPad Air with him and looks up a story that says the International Space Station ran out of oxygen and burned up in low earth orbit either before the ZA or in its early stages.
“Judas monkey sauce,” Citizen Z says.
Yuri comes into the bathroom and jokingly asks if Citizen Z fell in. Citizen Z pulls the gun he has strapped to his leg and goes back out into the base, where he finds Yuri, in his CCCP outfit and helmet looking at the panel again.
He confronts Yuri and tries to force him to tell him who he really is.
“You ask the wrong question?” Yuri says.
Citizen Z ask’s why he’s wearing the spacesuit again.
“That is better question,” Yuri says.
Yuri attacks Citizen Z and there’s a struggle over the gun, but Citizen Z gets him down on the floor with the gun to his head.
Murphy wanders unmolested through the dusty Zs from the Zunami. At least some of them seem fascinated with him.
“Great, I’m the one eyed king in the land of the blind,” Murphy says. He notices someone using a mirror to signal from a high window.
Citizen Z has Yuri tied to a chair, has removed his helmet, and is trying to interrogate him, but Yuri just says “What is wrong with dog? Dog is sleepy, no?”
The dog is still sleeping.
Yuri calmly tells Citizen Z to ask himself what is wrong with the dog, but he just gets paranoid and assumes Yuri poisoned it.
Murphy goes to check out the mirror signal. One Z in a red jacket briefly stops him and checks him out almost like a groupie. Upstairs he finds a woman and a child. The child points out that Murphy is “not daddy.”
We get a look at the game hiding in the mortuary and hear their thoughts. Warren if fantasizing about ordering a nice dinner. Cassandra is simply freaking out and repeatedly thinking “I don’t want to die.” 10K is sleeping like a baby. Doc is thinking of his favorite rock bands and artists.
Otis gets overpowered by claustrophobia. Doc tries to talk him down but he busts out of his drawer, where he’s immediately eaten. Doc goes back to thinking about rock bands.
Citizen Z looks terrible. He’s screaming at Yuri about poisoning his dog and threatening to kill him. Yuri say he can’t be killed and “Simon, you need to listen.” He explains he knows his real name because he is a “close friend” and tries to make him think about what he knows is wrong with the dog.
For a second Yuri disappears from the chair. Then he pops up, grabs Citizen Z by the throat, takes his gun and puts him in the chair. Now he’s interrogating Citizen Z.
Yuri has his helmet on and roughs up Citizen Z.
“What is different about today?” and “What is wrong with dog?” are the main thrust of his questioning, but Citizen Z is defiant. So he grabs Citizen Z by the throat and starts strangling him to death, repeating the questions.
“You must fight for life,” he insists, even as he chokes Citizen Z to death.
The woman in the upstairs room ask Murphy for help. He just takes her water and supplies and growls at her when she objects. She begs him to leave water for her little girl but he doesn’t. She asks him that if he sees a man in a red jacket to tell him they’re still alive.
“At least do that,” she says tearfully.
Murphy leaves. Before he goes he calls out “Hey!” to the Z in the red jacket and gets it attention. He holds the door open and lets him into the building to return to his family.
Yuri is brutalizing and choking Citizen Z. He chokes out “I can’t breathe” and Yuri asks “Why?”
Citizen Z painfully spits out the obvious, that Yuri strangling him. Yuri presses him to be more specific and he finally gets it.
“There is no oxygen,” he says, and the revelation makes Yuri fade away.
Citizen Z snaps back to reality and sees the carbon monoxide alarm he knocked off the roof. He wraps his dog in a bundle and struggles to the tunnel where he met the cosmonaut. He opens the door to the outside and as air rushes in both he and the dog revive.
So, the answer to how he could maintain the place is, “Not very well.” He tells his dog “It’s time to go.”
Murphy very nearly walks right past the mortuary, but he stops. Inside a lone Z has found the bag with Warren in it. Murphy says “Hey” and gets its attention, then stares it down and it leaves.
Warren is grateful that Murphy has returned, especially with water. He tells her he “took it from a dead family.”
Citizen Z fixes the machine that he broke with his errant golf ball. He goes back to playing Dead Rising 3 with only his dog for company. Then there’s a scene of him looking out the door to the outside with the dog.
“It looks like it’s just you and me again, pup,” he says.
The gang is happily eating the food and drinking the water that Murphy brought. 10K gives him a high five. Warren gives him a toast. Murphy seems pleased with the praise, but he catches a glimpse of his zombie-like visage in a mirror and his mood changes.
He suddenly is in a hurry to go and repeatedly asks the gang to go. He gets up and makes for the door.
“I need to go,” he says. We get a closeup of his eyes, which are undergoing a strange transformation into something alien and zombie-like. End of episode.
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