As the characters on Syfy’s “Z Nation” continue their long trip to California in Season 2, episode 11, they’re sidetracked once again by more victims of the zombie apocalypse. This time, they encounter a strange cultlike group led by a very special guest star when a murder mystery sends tensions soaring.
The episode, titled "Corporate Retreat," picks up almost immediately after the gang’s massive zombie trap sent hordes of the undead to their doom last week. Although a majority of the miles-thick zombie horde fell directly into the Grand Canyon, the gang has to outrun the remaining zombies as a dust storm overtakes them. Finding it difficult not to get separated in the low visibility, Operation Bite Mark makes its way to a seemingly abandoned hotel. While they try to pry the door open, it’s revealed that a group of survivors has taken refuge inside and they don’t seem to be too welcoming to strangers. One member of the survivors, Iggy (Justin Shenkarow), decides to abandon the group’s decision to ignore Operation Bite Mark outside their door and lets them in. Once they’re inside, the opposing groups hold each other at gunpoint while the hotel faction’s leader explains everything.
Special guest star Anthony Michael Hall (“Weird Science” and “The Breakfast Club”) plays a man named Gideon. He informs Operation Bite Mark that he was the leader of a corporate seminar on conflict resolution in the workplace. Everyone there was sent by their respective jobs to hear him speak when the zombie outbreak began. They locked down the hotel and have been surviving there ever since. The only way they’ve managed to not kill one another is by following Gideon’s strict rules for conflict resolution, the most important of which being that no one gets to talk unless they’re holding a special stick.
Warren (Kellita Smith) doesn’t exactly like their style, but they’ve got well-rationed food (1,000 calories a day) that they’re willing to share, so she agrees to wait out the storm with them. While some of Gideon’s followers aren’t thrilled with the idea of sharing their limited supplies, everyone agrees. While they wait, Warren sends Addy (Anastasia Baranova) to see if the satellites and communication systems at the hotel are salvageable. She goes with Gideon’s right-hand woman, Dana (Jana Lee Hamblin). The two tell stories, and Addy determines that all of their equipment is garbage. However, the conversation takes a bit of a turn, and it becomes clear that Dana feels a romantic connection to the zombie-killing hero. Addy seems to finally be over her deceased ex-boyfriend Mack (Michael Welch) as she returns the flirtation. Just when it looks like they’re about to kiss, a gunshot rings out in the hotel.
Everyone gathers to one room where Operation Bite Mark’s all-important cargo, Murphy (Keith Allan), has been shot in the shoulder; the ensuing fall knocked him out cold. Another man is lying behind him with a gunshot wound to the heart. Vasquez (Matt Cedeno) uses his police training to determine that there was one shooter and the bullet went through Murphy into the other guy. He should be dead, but because the bullet got Murphy’s blood on it and then hit him, he’s staying alive the same way that Cassandra (Pisay Pao) did. For those that don’t know, Murphy can infect humans with the zombie virus, but they maintain a lot of their original mental faculties.
Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) gets the bright idea to continue feeding the man Murphy’s blood in the hope he’ll heal well enough to reveal who the shooter is. Unfortunately, Warren and Gideon know that they don’t have that kind of time and begin an investigation. It comes to light that someone was stockpiling food in order to escape the hotel. The thief was likely caught by Murphy and the other victim, which is why they got shot.
It turns out that only two people have access to the food, Gideon and Iggy. While Gideon is the group’s leader, Iggy is just the guy who volunteered to work in the kitchen. He’s been caught stealing food before, and that’s all that the hotel group needs to hear in order to sentence him to banishment. Operation Bite Mark doesn’t like the idea of sending a man to his death, but they can’t outgun the entire hotel squad in order to stop it.
Unfortunately, Iggy turns out to be innocent. The man Gideon sent to guard the food is discovered as a zombie with a knife in his heart by 10K (Nat Zang). It becomes clear that someone is desperately trying to gather supplies to leave the horrible hotel and Gideon’s obnoxious rule. Warren splits Operation Bite Mark into pairs, and they go on the hunt. While Addy and Dana are flirting and searching, Dana sees the culprit in the distance but lets him go while Addy isn’t looking. They have another intense, romantically charged moment while hiding in a closet, where Dana reveals that she can’t stand to be with Gideon another second and begs her to take her with them when Operation Bite Mark rolls out again. Before she can answer, trouble comes knocking.
Murphy is still knocked out, but he’s clearly having dreams about saving zombies, which is triggering his mind control powers and attracting numerous Zs to the hotel. Before any of the survivors know what’s going on, the zombies break in and have them cornered in the room where Doc is treating Murphy and the other victim. Fortunately, his plan to wake the victim up works. He points to one of Gideon’s enforcers as the man behind the shooting and he pulls his weapons on the remaining survivors. The man reveals that he’d been working with Dana all along to escape and tries to leave. However, the slightly zombified victim gets ahold of Doc’s gun and shoots his killer dead. With the murderer dead and his zombie victim given mercy, the gang’s only remaining problem is the cavalcade of the undead trying to get inside the room with them. While they prepare for battle, they suddenly hear quiet in the hallway followed by a very human knock on the door.
After a bit of discussion, they agree to open it to find a battle-weary Iggy has returned to save their lives. He immediately turns his sights on Gideon, who tries to apologize for banishing him. Fortunately for everyone, Iggy has had more than enough of Gideon’s annoying corporate conflict resolution stuff and kills the cult leader with his own talking stick. As the dust storm settles, Operation Bite Mark packs up its vehicle to continue on to California, leaving another group of devastated and weird survivors in their wake.
The episode ends on a soft note with Addy forgiving Dana for her deception. After all, it’s not like Addy hasn’t done some pretty unsavory things in the name of survival. Although they never kiss and Addy won’t let her tag along on the mission, they both agree that they’d like to see each other again some day.
Odds and Ends:
Zombie kill of the week goes to 10K for ricocheting a sniper shot off Doc’s necklace and into a Z’s head.
We need to get some hard and fast rules about how Murphy’s infection works, because it’s very confusing at this point.
Who knew Iggy had it in him to take down that many zombies with just a hammer?
Official 10K kill count: 5,075.