If you haven’t watched the Z Nation Season 2 finale, which aired last night on Syfy at 10 p.m. Eastern, and intend to do so, stop reading here, as spoilers follow.
The tense season-ending cliffhanger (the quirky zombie apocalypse drama/horror comedy has been renewed for a third season) provides a literal justification for the old saying, “loose lips sink ships” as the group of survivors initially believe their grueling mission is finally accomplished in the episode entitled “All Good Things Must Come to an End.”
While Z Nation (i.e., zombie nation), which is produced by the same studio responsible for the Sharknado franchise, may only have one-tenth the viewership as The Walking Dead, and perhaps one-tenth of the AMC hit’s budget, it often contains ten times the action and a lot of laughs along the way.
Filmed in the Spokane, Washington, area, the premise of Z Nation, which has somewhat of a Mad Max road trip vibe revolves around a core group of survivors attempting to transport Murphy, an opportunistic ex-con slacker, to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control lab in California so researchers there can develop a vaccine for the zombie virus from his blood, thereby saving the world, what’s left of it.
The crew of survivors is led by National Guard officer Roberta Warren (Kellita Smith) assisted by millenial wanderer Addy (Anastasia Baranova), burnt-out hippie Doc (Russell Hodgkinson), Tommy a.k.a. 10K (a sharpshooter whose goal is 10,000 zombie kills, played by Nat Zang), and ex-DEA agent Vasquez (Matt Cedeno). Cast members Mack (Michael Welch) and Cassandra (Pisay Pao) unfortunately were killed off in earlier episodes of Season 2.
In addition to the constant danger posed by zombies as the recurring cast tried to make their way to the west coast, various bounty hunters and other miscreants were intent on getting their hands on Murphy to leverage a cash reward from the scientists.
This is a real life-or-death mission in the context of the series unlike the abandoned mission of getting the fake scientist Eugene to Washington, D.C., which was a plot point for a while in The Walking Dead.
With that in mind, in addition to weird and dangerous human characters that show up in each episode, including cult leaders, outlaws, and drug cartel killers, Z Nation has also featured zombies on Viagra, zombie pole dancers, the iconic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia pulverizing zombies, a giant zombie-killing cheese wheel, the birth of a zombie-human hybrid zombaby, plus characters toking on a “Z-weed” recreational hallucinogenic.
Murphy, a.k.a. The Murphy, masterfully portrayed by Keith Allan, is the only known human in the Z Nation world who has withstood a zombie bite, and with his blue skin almost looks someone who might have ingested too much colloidal silver.
The reluctant/uncooperative savior Murphy has also somehow become a zombie whisperer, with the ability to psychically control the undead, who in Z Nation are generally more peppy and aggressive than in The Walking Dead.
Episode recap [Spoilers]:
As the Season 2 finale unfolded, after a gunfight with some menacing and horny bounty hunters with a faux Murphy in tow in which 10K is wounded, the group finds out that the CDC lab is on board a submarine off the California coast where they have now arrived.
At the bed and breakfast, whose rifle-toting owner “Auntie” has summoned the military from the sub with a flare gun, Murphy is reunited with Dr. Merch who is responsible for the half-human, half-zombie predicament in which he finds himself.
Murphy and 10K go to the vessel with the military escort while the remaining survivors prepare to disband and go their separate ways.
While Murphy is saying his individual, however, heartfelt goodbyes to the crew, everyone else seems to forget that 10K is bleeding out, and needs immediate medical attention on the sub. C’mon!
Shortly thereafter, the Zeros (a drug cartel gang) led by Le Reina show up, and another wild gunfight ensues. The attackers are mostly wiped out, and La Reina’s chief henchman Escorpion (Emilio Rivera), who was last seen two episodes ago getting devoured in a zombie pit, is somehow still alive and kills La Reina (Gina Gershon), but notice not with a brain blow, so who knows?
“Hopefully they figure out a way to bring her back. If Dr. Kurian can survive as just a head, anything is possible,” IGN observed.
While Dr. Merch is prepping Murphy in the sub lab for blood transfusions, she makes a beyond-foolish admission that the first batch of the antidote will go to some fat cats on a zombie-free island called Zona, which is a callback to a prior episode this season.
Compounding matters was the prior revelation from the general (who for reason is wearing a full-dress uniform in close quarters on a sub during a zombie apocalypse) that the U.S. government has become completely dysfunctional — some would say it already is in real-world contemporary America — and that the CDC no longer exists as an entity. Instead, a new world order of some kind is or plans on running things.
Murphy then becomes fundamentally non-compliant. Loose lips, as alluded to above, and info that should have been on a need-to-know basis fed right in to Murphy’s rebellious nature. From the standpoint of Merch & Co., anyway, it might make more sense to lie to Murphy and maintain the fiction that the lab was part of a CDC-sanctioned effort.
“As the survivors from the restaurant, and Escorpion, arrive at the beach, they find that the submarine is on fire. Speeding away from the wreckage is a lifeboat carrying Murphy, Dr. Merch, the general and three soldiers. Each one has a bite mark on his or her cheek indicating that Murphy has infected them and can now control their minds,” the International Business Times explained.
It’s not clear if 10K is on the lifeboat (but let’s face it; he probably is).
If that wasn’t unhinged enough, a squad of armed soldiers who “don’t appear to be affiliated with the United States” arrive on the scene to surround the survivors as the episode concludes.
An additional cliffhanger separately depicts the hacker-turned-soldier Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) and his loyal dog about to freeze to death after ditching their arctic listening post when a stranger, a possible rescuer, shows up.
Was that Murphy’s young zombie/human hybrid daughter (whom he fathered in one-night stand with a now-deceased crazy cult lady) in the epilogue?
It remains to be seen, too, if Escorpion’s claim that he has mended his ways is legit, given that ex-DEA agent Vasquez declined to take final revenge against him.
Hopefully not, and it’s just another lie, because Escorpion is a charismatic villain.
Parenthetically, that the first batch of the antidote would have been distributed in an elite enclave doesn’t necessary mean it would have been withheld from the general population, would it? With that said, do you think that Murphy overreacted by blowing up the submarine?
The second-to-last episode in Season 2 was mainly comprised of flashbacks to what each main character was doing when the zombie outbreak started. While not advancing the plot, it was entertaining nonetheless.
Season 1 ended with a nuclear holocaust, from which the survivors somehow bounced back. Interestingly enough, had Syfy cancelled the series this year, some script adjustments in the final 10 minutes or so of the season finale could have wrapped things up as a series finale on more high note.
Based on past practice, the 15 new episodes of Z Nation in Season 3 will likely commence in September 2016 in its current time slot on Syfy.
Are you a fan of Z Nation and, if so, what is your reaction to the Season 2 finale?
[Photo by Rachel La Corte/AP]