Only The Asylum and Z Nation co-creator Craig Engler (who wrote Zombie Baby Daddy) can produce an episode that combines some splendid comical moments with a disturbing death. With a flourish of drama (in the case of Lucy, aka Lulu tinged with a foreshadowing of doom for her “new parents” Ma and Pa Kettle) Engler settles the issue of just what Cassandra turned into.
Of course it was almost preordained that Lucy’s story was not going to end well in Zombaby! last week. In this week’s episode, which starts in downtown Springfield, Illinois, the expanded group of seven, counting Lucy, are trapped by a horde of zombies who are all attracted to the newly born infant. That Murphy’s offspring draws the undead like flies when she makes any noise, either crying or just “baby noises” is interesting.
Almost as interesting is the fact that since the Batch 47 phyto zombie episode, Murphy’s ability to control zombies has faded almost to nonexistence. In Zombie Baby Daddy, he briefly holds the encroaching undead at bay, but his control fades quickly and he throws Lucy to Doc.
The start of the episode gives Russell Hodgkinson’s character the best lines. Grabbing little “Lulu” out of the air, Doc hops on a school bus. Locking the door behind him he realizes too late that the vehicle if full of undead Abraham Lincoln lookalikes. The Lincoln zombies stir when Lucy starts crying, but not before Doc utters a pained, “Holy acid flashback man.”
When Addy and Roberta force the bus door open, Doc, with Lucy cradled in his arms, leaves the bus and the little group back away from the yellow vehicle as zombie Lincoln’s exit. Roberta says, “What in God’s name?” Doc, with a sense of relief, answers, “Oh good, you see ’em too.”
The group then dispatch the zombie’s with 10K (Nat Kang) getting the visual punch line by shooting the Abe Lincoln zombie with the giant penny attached to its head. All this before the opening credits roll.
The group are aware, and concerned, that the baby is a zombie magnet. The child does not just attract the human undead. In a hilariously, yet oh so creepy, scene Murphy is trying to calm the crying child when a group of zombie animals come out from behind a bit of machinery that Murphy is setting on. Like many of Z Nation‘s episodes and scenes the event is disturbing as it is funny. A sort of zombie Disney moment, sans the singing critters. (Or varmints as Murphy calls the undead animals.)
The group scatter. Vasquez heads out through the woods and Roberta follows. 10K brings back some fish he caught and Murphy takes Lucy away from the team, leaving Cassandra behind with orders to let no one leave. The mercenary winds up at a Zeroes “hideout” and as Warren watches, the man is captured and she “bails him out,” but not before the two of them are shot.
Back at the camp, 10K, Addy and Doc attempt to leave by splitting up. Addy is positive that Cassandra will not hurt them badly as she still believes that the girl is their friend. The first time the trio split up, Cassandra chases Addy down and almost breaks her arm. Addy’s cries of pain bring Doc and 10K back.
The second attempt to leave ends with Cassandra starting to break 10K’s neck and, in desperation, he stabs her in the head.
Engler’s episode is shocking. The whole storyline of Cassandra, becoming Murphy’s bodyguard, slave and pet, was at times very amusing, as was Pisay Pao’s performance, with the actress channelling her “inner” guard dog.
*Sidenote*Mad props to Pisay Pao with her performance as the increasingly animalistic Cassandra. She managed to keep enough humanity in her character that when she dies the viewer is truly upset. It also has to be mentioned that only Anastasia Baranova can impress so much with a slow-motion short-hair “shampoo advert” toss of the head. (Springfield, Illinois hair toss outside the Lincoln school bus = win.)
The buildup and then the quick sudden death of Cassandra (made all the more disturbing as it was at the hand of 10K who still seemed to have a little crush on her) is indicative of where this zombie alternative to The Walking Dead is headed this season. Like the first season, the humor is still there but Engler and co-creator Karl Schaefer are packing in some serious sucker punches this season.
Season one saw the death of Garnett just as he and Roberta were about to “hook-up” and the only other thing more shocking in the first run of the show was when Addy left Mack for Camp “Sappho.” Season two saw the two reunite only to have Mack die. (Kudos to Michael Welch for his performance in that scene.) Now Z Nation has lost Cassandra and baby Lucy.
One does get the impression that Lucy will show up later, after her crying (Which we know will draw zombies to the little home of the Kettle’s.) exit while her new parents coo over the cot she is in. Cassandra will presumably not return, her resurrection last season by Murphy is not permanent and death by a knife blade in the brain cannot be fixed in a zombie apocalypse.
Murphy’s decision to leave his baby with the couple in the clearing was a little surprising after his obvious infatuation with the infant. Although this move does make sense for a number of reasons. Not least being the problems of having a CG baby as a repeated character.
The other main plot thread in this week’s episode was Warren/Vasquez attraction which resulted in the two “bonding” over stitches. This pair of “type A” personalities have been getting closer even as they continue to argue with one another. Roberta saving the newest member of the Murphy group was a nice touch. So too was her starting to slam a scalpel into Vasquez’ brain just as he “recovers.”
Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy and this second season is darker and a tad more…serious. Tune in for the sly tongue-in-cheek humor, but watch out for those sucker punches, they really hurt.