Z Nation – Episode 8 “Zunami”

Z Nation (Photo: Syfy)

 Z Nation has become the Breaking Bad of the zombie apocalypse with the best episode so far in the series. All hail, Murphy, the new King of the Zombies.

Recap

Mack and Generic McPlainwrap are MIA since splitting from the group in the last episode of Z Nation.

Radar 2.0 has his own less-awesome version of Fight Club this week.

Murphy becomes the hero/villain we need.

Nailed it

Holy cow, Z Nation just turned it up to 11.

Murphy has always been a bit of a loose cannon, but this week, he has become the Walter White of the zombie apocalypse. Before you have a rage stroke over me putting Walter White anywhere near Syfy, hear me out:

The znuami floods the town that our gang is in1. Weak from dehydration, the gang is only able to run to the nearest refuge: a mortuary. The zombies follow them in, breaking down every barricade the gang is able to throw up. As a last resort, each person climbs into an empty body refrigerator whileWarren hides in a body bag and Murphy stands in the open2. Murphy is now the gang’s last hope: if he does not free them all once the coast is clear, they will suffocate. Warren reminds Murphy of this and that she has to get him to California as he is zipping her into the body bag, to which he replies, “You got me as far as you could.” With that, he leaves as the zombies break down the door and swarm in.

Murphy wanders the town until a flash in a window gets his attention. He walks to the building and encounters a zombie in a red jacket outside the building’s entrance. He passes the zombie and enters the building. Murphy finds a woman and her child, cowering in a corner of a room they have turned into a makeshift home. The woman begs Murphy for help and asks him if she’s seen her husband, who is wearing a red jacket. All Murphy does, though, is steal their food and water, even as the woman begs him to leave only enough water for her daughter. Murphy growls at the woman like a zombie to get her to back off and leaves with his pilfered supplies. He exits the building and stops. He stares at the zombie in the red jacket in front of him, opens the door to the building, and tells the zombie to go inside, which it does.

Murphy is headed out of town when he reconsiders, returns to the mortuary, and frees the rest of the gang. He shares his food and water with them. The gang sits around a table, singing Murphy’s praises and telling him that he has truly become their friend today. When Warren asks where Murphy found the supplies, he says he got them “from a dead family.”

That is total Walter White behavior! Both Walt and Murphy have always and will always be looking out for number one, despite anything they may espouse to themselves or others. That being said, both men will protect people when it serves their best interests, especially if sentiment is involved. While it took Walt a few seasons to embrace the monster he always had within him, Murphy seems to be moving toward that acceptance more quickly but with more fear. Characters who are neither all bad nor all good – and especially characters whose intentions are not 100% clear – are the most interesting to follow. Z Nation has created one of the most complex characters in post-apolcayptic storytelling with Murphy, and I again cannot believe that I’m saying The Walking Dead could learn a thing or two from Z Nation3.

So close

Radar 2.0 had the potential for an interesting story arc this episode, but alas, his storyline was predictable from the start4. At the beginning of the episode, the smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector at Radar 2.0’s base starts blaring, but he just kills it with a broom. The camera then lets us know his vision is getting fuzzy thanks to the cameraman playing with the focus. Way to give the twist away immediately.

Throughout the rest of the episode, Radar 2.0 befriends a cosmonaut who just happens into the secure base in the middle of the tundra.  Slowly, things become amiss between the two until the cosmonaut tries to kill Radar 2.0.  That’s when Radar figures out that the cosmonaut is a hallucination and that there’s no oxygen inside the building. Radar drags his unconscious dog with him to the bay doors and opens them. Immediately, Radar and his dog are a-okay once some fresh clean air blows into the building.

Throughout the episode, it is repeatedly remarked upon how Radar 2.0’s dog is “asleep” and never moving. The fact that this entire episode went down with zero consequences is a copout. I know this sounds completely heartless and terrible, but Radar 2.0’s dog should not have survived – and not just because realistically the dog would have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Radar 2.0 destroying the blaring smoke/carbon monoxide detector and then continuing on as though nothing were amiss would have laid a world of guilt on his shoulders if his dog had died. This dog is his one last thread that’s tethering him to sanity. If that thread snapped by the dog’s death, especially if that death were Radar 2.0’s fault, Radar would go into the stratosphere of crazy. The writers are raising the stakes with Murphy, why can’t they raise the stakes with Radar 2.0? If the dog died, maybe Radar 2.0 would become a foe rather than ally to the gang5. This plot line had such potential to be a game changer for this character, but in the end, basically had zero effect on the character or the story.

I love you, Syfy

Murphy is basically King of the Zombies now. One zombie hung around in the morgue where the gang is hiding after the rest cleared out. Murphy walks in just as the zombie realizes Warren is bagged on the table like a living Hot Pocket. As the zombie moves for Warren, Murphy yells at the zombie. The zombie stops, stares at Murphy, and slightly bows before leaving. I don’t know if they intended for the zombie’s movements to so closely mimic a bow, but that’s definitely what happened. Oh, Syfy, please keep giving us nuggets of gold like this. Unintentional laughter after a disturbing scene6 is the best.

Prediction

The zunami will continue migrating South until it ends up in Florida where the zombies will merge with a survivor camp made up of Jimmy Buffett fans, who are just as spaced out as the zombies.

  1. They’ve been without water for 3 days and are so weak, they are passing out in the street  
  2. the zombies don’t recognize him as human any more thanks the virus, remember?  
  3. I’m about to have a “David After Dentist” moment if Z Nation keeps making me give it points over TWD. “Is this real life?”  
  4. to be fair, the writers absolutely nailed their A story with Murphy so I’m cool with them slacking off on the B story  
  5. maybe he would direct them into a herd of zombies instead of away from them?  
  6. where Murphy killed an innocent family by sending in the zombie dad  

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About Becca Marshall 36 Articles
Becca has been writing about film and television since convincing her junior high English teacher that comparing and contrasting the film and stage versions of Romero and Juliet was a good idea for a term research paper. After getting her BA in English and film studies, she doubled down on liberal arts and got an MA in television, radio, and film from Syracuse University. Becca is incredibly proud to be an Aggie and entertains her non-Texan friends with Southern colloquialisms. Her hobbies include watching Golden Girls and her interests include all things zombies - she's simple, not basic. Email: becca@whatelseison.tv