After months of agonizing anticipation, Syfy’s most baffling hit, “Z Nation,” returned for the kickoff of Season 2, and pulled no punches getting right back into the swing of things. Although the Season 1 finale left a lot of people puzzled, the premiere got the metaphorical engines revved up again in no time.
Before any of the action could really be explored, the show had to deal with the unfathomably grim cliffhanger that ended Season 1. Without rehashing events entirely, let's just say that humanity’s last hope for a cure to the zombie virus, Murphy (Keith Allan), had run off on his own. In doing so he triggered trouble for both Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) in his remote National Security Agency outpost in the Arctic and what remains of Operation Bite Mark in Colorado, putting them right in the path of some nuclear missiles.
For our intrepid heroes in Colorado, the solution to this problem was simple: They just drove away from the blast zone. It was a little anticlimactic, yes, but as far as explanations for surviving a nuke go, it wasn't the worst. After all, they did end up having to deal with the realistic radioactive nuclear fallout and sudden blast wave that ensued. With Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) wounded, Warren (Kellita Smith) and 10K (Nat Zang) found themselves in dire straits walking through a nuclear wasteland.
Meanwhile, the missile intended for Citizen Z’s remote outpost was intercepted by some anti-air defenses from a plane ... apparently. Whatever, he’s alive, the nuke didn’t kill him, but now he’s got a new problem: The plane crashed as a result of the explosion and it was full of soldiers, now turned zombie. He does his best to snipe them, but he’s no warrior and misses a handful of them. He engages a few at close range and narrowly escapes back to his hideout. He barricades himself in and posts what might be his final message to all survivors on all channels.
He tells anyone who might be listening who Murphy is, what makes him so important and to find him and get him to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site in California at all costs. Just for good measure, he even hinted that the government would reward the person to bring Murphy in and would place him or her at the top of the line should any cure be developed. Whether that’s true or not remained to be seen.
It’s not long before Citizen Z’s broadcast effects Murphy, who has run off to an abandoned clothing store to shop for new apocalypse threads. It was revealed in Season 1 that whatever happened to him gave him the power to control zombies with his mind, so he’s using that power to make a few of the undead his pack mules while he picks an outfit. As he’s doing so, a mercenary who heard Citizen Z’s broadcast charges in and mows down his zombie helpers. He’s about to capture and torture Murphy when Cassandra (Pisay Pao), who survived the nuclear blast by just crawling out of it unscathed when it was over, kills the mercenary and rescues Murphy.
In the final minutes of Season 1, Cassandra was about to die when Murphy used his mind control and somehow turned her into a well-trained assassin. In any case, she’s with Murphy now and she’s caught somewhere between her humanity and her zombie mind control. Reveling in his new powers, he takes Cassandra to the strip club that he’s apparently previously made his home. While there, he shows her what he’s been training the zombies to do and, frankly, it gets a little weird.
Meanwhile, Warren has split off from Doc and 10K in order to find help. She’s about to call it quits and give herself mercy when she hears a little girl screaming. She deals with a pack of the undead that were about to kill the child and is rewarded with a big meal and supplies from her family. She goes off in search of her comrades only to find that they’d already been picked up and helped by Mack (Michael Welch) and Addy (Anastasia Baranova). In the penultimate episode of Season 1, Addy decided to stay with a compound of women riding out the apocalypse, and Mack refused to leave her alone. The nukes set off a chain of events that, mixed with some rage from one of their former members, ended the compound in a pile of ash. Together, they along with the newly healed Doc and 10K find Warren on the road and Operation Bite Mark is back in full swing -- only without Murphy.
They eventually track him to his weird zombie sideshow strip club in Wyoming and are less than happy to see the man that almost got them killed by shooting nukes at them. They’re about to take him to California by force when a new player bursts into the joint and holds them at gunpoint. He doesn’t reveal his name but he tells them that he’s going to take Murphy to the highest bidder, not necessarily the CDC. Fed up with the games, Murphy releases the mental block he had keeping all the zombies in the area dormant and escapes while Operation Bite Mark and this new mercenary have to fight the ensuing horde.
The group escapes, and with a nuclear wasteland that’s riddled with zombies in front of them, Warren vows to find Murphy, make a vaccine and kill any zombie or mercenary that gets in her way in the process. Just like that, we’re fully submerged in the bloody, crazy awesomeness that is “Z Nation” Season 2.
The episode ends on probably the most bizarre moment yet, which is saying a lot for a show that had zombie strippers. The woman from Addy’s compound with whom Murphy slept in Season 1 is revealed to still be alive and out looking for her baby’s daddy with the help of, wait for it, her baby. That’s right, it’s got a psychic connection to daddy, it’s literally pointing her in the right direction, things couldn’t be stranger and episode 2 airs next Friday at 10 p.m. EDT on Syfy.
ODDS AND ENDS:
- So, Dr. Kurian (Donald Corren) is either dead, a zombie or alive and burned pretty bad. No one should ever hide from a nuke in a refrigerator.
- Is anyone else happy that zombie bear is OK?
- 10K’s last announced kill count is 3,099 - although he killed more zombies since then.
- Warren’s slow motion zombie massacre was television poetry.
- Cheyenne, Wyoming, takes a real beating in this episode.
- Murphy says he’s completely done with humanity and just wants to be the zombie king now.
- Warren and the new guy are totally making love eyes at each other … just before he leaves her for dead.
- Award for best zombie kill goes to 10K for blowing one up by injecting it with a fire extinguisher.