Z Nation: Duel – The Long Day of Addison Carver (Review) [Update]

Addy vs The Man in Duel

[Update] IMDb lists Dan Merchant as the director and writer for this episode. Twitter begs to differ as it lists Jennifer Derwingson, aka @Jenider (Who actually resembles Anastasia Baranova a bit…hmmm.) Mike’s Film Talk would like to apologize for any confusion caused by IMDb getting their facts wrong.

Z Nation‘s penultimate episode was edge of the seat viewing. “Duel” pitted Addison Carver against The Man as they both battled for control of Lucy. Once again the show manages to show just how tough its female warriors really are and even The Man could not make Addy stop.

“Duel” was a real mixed bag with the main focus being the battle between Baranova’s Addy and Gatt’s The Man.  There were some comic moments that had nothing to do with either character. Doc seeing himself and 10K, aka Thomas, arriving in a DeLorean a’la “Back to the Future” was just priceless.

The Man proved once again that he may be the toughest errand boy around but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to dealing with Lucy. The kid rapidly grows up a number of years to become a chocolate craving teen who starts her menses at the wrong time.

Zona’s errand boy still has not made the connection of stress equalling change in Murphy’s offspring.

“Duel” is a real “mano a mano” fight right to the bitter end. Addy, like a Timex, takes a kicking and keeps on ticking. Even going so far as to slam her dislocated shoulder into a tree to pop it back into place.  Going full-on Martin Riggs is impressive, as is the woman’s single minded determination to save Lucy from Zona.

Addy Carver’s longest day begins at the shipyard where the 10 year old Lucy is throwing flaming matches at pools of petrol. She is surrounded by her Z friends and The Man is nowhere to be seen. This quickly changes and the two adults do battle over the child.

Lucy runs off and the Z’s take after both combatants. Addy ends up trapped on a burning boat and The Man winds up with Lucy. This cycle is repeated, although at one time it is Addy who retains temporary custody of Murphy’s daughter.

The title of this episode has a double meaning.  It is not just the battle between The Man and Addy, but it also refers to the fight between Lucy, both ages, and her temporary “keepers.” There is less straightforward comedy in this segment.

Dan Merchant who wrote and directed this episode allows Doc to have the full on comic moment while allowing the situation of a steadily adapting Lucy take on the less obvious amusing moments.

10 year old Lucy storming out of the clothes shop when Addy’s version of events concerning her mother angers the little blue girl and later The Man trying to awkwardly explain that Lucy is not dying despite all that blue blood ends badly for him. (Another sly gag written in here, Lucy is, after all royalty therefore her blood would be blue…)

There can be little doubt that as The Man continues to stress Lucy out, she will soon leave teen-dom and enter adulthood.  This penultimate episode seems to be headed that way. With a season finale titled “Everybody Dies in the End” it sounds like very few people will be standing when the Z dust settles.

A running theme through this bloody and painful battle of wills and people is the revelation that the Z’s think.   Addy believes, mistakenly, that Lucy is making up names and giving the Z’s a backstory.

While Addy does not observe it, Lucy gets advice from a Z while trying to steal The Man’s wheels. Clearly the zombies do have thoughts and can communicate with the special girl.  Like her father, Lucy can control the Z’s.

Unlike Murphy, however, she can read their minds. Murphy can communicate a bit with the zombies but not nearly as well as his daughter can.

“Duel” follows Addy, who follows The Man and Lucy, and Doc follows them both. At the end of the episode, after Carver takes the woman’s car, She meets up with Doc.  The Man has headed east and as Doc was biking west the two were bound to meet up.

Anastasia Baranova totally kicks arse in this episode. The actress proves that she is not afraid to “ugly-up” for her art and by the end of this segment, Addy looks like 10 miles of bad road.  The Man has not pulled his punches and neither has Baranova’s character.

Despite her resolve and innate toughness however, Addy is scarred. She is not beaten despite her wounds and now that she and Doc have reunited, they may well rescue Lucy from The Man.

“Duel” was a brilliant episode. There were elements of Cool Hand Luke in the battle between The Man and Addy but the cleverest bit of the episode had to be Lucy biting the Z arm and “turning” it. The limb shows both Addy and Doc which direction to follow.

The other clever bit has The Man being “run down” by Lucy only to emerge from beneath the vehicle when she stops for Addy.

For Addy and Doc, it all boils down to Delta-X-Ray-Delta and completing the mission.  The season finale may find the band back together again for the last battle between Murphy, Zona and Warren’s team.

Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy.  Tune in and get ready for the season three finale, which will premiere 15 December.

CAST:

Guest starring Caitlin Carmichael as 14 year old Lucy and  Beatrice Corley as 10 year old Lucy.

Z Nation: Doc’s Angels – The One That Got Away (Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

The latter part of Z Nation has been concentrating on Doc. “Doc’s Angels” sees him being threatened by a menace much worse than Z’s. He stumbles into a nest of what seems to be devil worshiping women who list doc as “The One Who Got Away,” after he desperately outsmarts them.

This episode felt like “The Witches of Eastwick” meets The Devil’s Rejects meets Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It was certainly an interesting journey for Doc and beat his “Cuckoo Nest” adventure in episode six.

Addy is still, presumably, chasing after The Man and an older Lucy, roughly around five years old now, and Doc is trying to contact Citizen Z to help out Warren.   The three women he encounters after following their radio transmission are all creepy and damned scary in turns.

Each one competes with the other and they all end up in Doc’s bed at one point.  After the impromptu orgy, Doc tries to escape in a feather lined robe and a pair of cowboy boots. The trio chase him down and even when Doc sends their trained Z’s to slow the women down, they continue their pursuit.

Doc does eventually outwit the women and he gets in touch with Simon, aka Citizen Z, aka “C Z.”  The women believe that Doc is trapped at the top of their ham radio transmission tower but he kicks a line loose and falls outside the fence of their compound.

“Doc’s Angels” is easily one of the strangest episodes in the third season.  With so much weirdness in every scene, this could become a highlight in this year’s offering.

The guest stars, made the most of their “sister act” and Hodgkinson was beyond brilliant. This episode showed just how much Doc has evolved since the series began. Although he does fall prey to his own weaknesses, smoking the “home-grown” weed and becoming stoned enough to “go with the flow.”

Warren and her shrinking team are still on the way to Murphytown and it looks like there will be a final confrontation very soon. Doc’s escape sees him without a weapon, still wearing those boots and that feathered robe. He does steal a bike from a trapped Z but it looks like he will be on his own for a while yet.

This episode, for all its innate oddness, was another change from the very grim appearance of this season’s Z Nation. Last week’s “They Grow Up So Quickly” also put Doc in peril, as well as Addy, but this marks his third time of being in a life or death situation this year.

The show’s makers seem to be hinting at his possible demise. Hopefully Doc survives, and the rest of the team as well. It would be too hard to have another Michael Welch type death this year.

Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in and catch this marvelous alternative to TWD.

CAST:

Guest starring Debra Wilson as Linda, Annette Toutonghi as Sarah and Nadine Velazquez as Camilla

Z Nation: They Grow Up So Quickly – Lucy (Recap/Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

In Z Nation “They Grow Up So Quickly” Addy and Doc meet a surprisingly big Lucy and her “keepers” and 10K gets  a name change. We learn  why Lucy has gotten bigger in such a short period of time and Doc tells Murphy’s daughter a fairytale version of her birth.

At Murphytown 10K undergoes a sort of brainwashing exercise with Murphy. He has his named changed to Thomas and has to play the “life game” with Murphy controlling him.

After the game, which leaves him with numerous cuts on his fingers. Murphy wraps 10K’s hand and then gives him an vaccine injector that can return him to  normal.  10K cannot use it, most likely because Murphy is controlling him, and “Thomas” then gets a special assignment.

In terms of controlling, the bigger than normal Lucy, controls Z’s easily.  At the farmhouse where Murphy left baby Lucy, she has a yard full of Z’s to play with. She can also control her “parents” aka Ma and Pa Kettle. Murphy turned the couple in season two.

The Kettle’s want to kill Doc and Addy after Doc gets the password wrong, it was not Smurf. Although to give Doc credit that was a good guess. Lucy, who has been controlling the questioning, wants to play with her new friends so their lives are spared.

It is discovered that whenever Lucy gets excited she suddenly grows older. Later, when playing “hide and seek” with Doc being “it” she is attacked by an Ender. Addy leaps to Lucy’s defense and beats back the savage woman.

This is the first time Lucy has seen an Ender.

Before the attack, Doc, who Lucy made “it” for her game, is attacked by a Raggedy Ann Z and is almost bitten. He manages to kill the Z with a rock and Lucy is upset. She has never seen a dead Z. She runs off and is then almost attacked by the Ender.

After the game, Lucy wants to learn all about how her mother and father met. Doc spins a yarn that starts with the blueberry pie that Lucy’s mother brought to Murphy.

In short order and with a lot of glistening over of the facts, Doc regales Lucy with a love story of epic proportions.  Lucy also asks how mommy’s and Daddy’s make babies. Doc’s answer is that it is just like baking a pie, a blueberry pie.

Lucy then believes that is why she is blue.

The tale ends, after Doc turns up in a court jester’s outfit, with the events of Zombaby! except in Doc’s version Selena goes off to rest in a “faraway land” instead of what really happened.

As Doc and Addy load up the car with Lucy in the backseat, they realize that the Kettle’s are not ready. Doc goes to find the couple. They have been  stabbed and tied to some chairs. After Doc releases them, the angry pair chase him back to the car.

Doc finds Addy laying on the ground with a head wound and The Man in the car with Lucy. The Man drives off with Murphy’s daughter in the backseat.

The Kettles arrive just as Doc is assessing Addy’s condition.  Doc manages to dispatch Pa Kettle with one of the most creative deaths on Z Nation. He shoves a lit road flare into the blend’s head.

Ma Kettle then leaps on Doc and Addy gets creative kill number two when she takes out the enraged Ma with a garden gnome.  Meanwhile The Man is learning that Lucy is a handful.

Doing her best impression of the Looney Tunes mouse Sniffles (he could talk nonstop) Lucy talks nonstop and The Man shoots her with a taser. Lucy loves it and demands to have it done again.

She wants to see Addy and The Man tells her she is dead. Lucy starts screaming and they echo in Murphy who wakes up screaming as well.  When The Man puts a bag over Lucy’s head, Murphy begins gasping for breath.

After the bag is removed, Lucy has suddenly aged another five years and she tells The Man that when her father finds out what has happened The Man will be in trouble.

A very angry Addy is following Lucy and The Man and Thomas, aka 10K leaves on his mission for Murphy.

This episode brought back some of the more fanciful and comic moments of Z Nation. There was a lot more of the quirky humor that the show became known for in the first two seasons.

Some of the funnier moments were very brief. For example, Addy not understanding Pig Latin and Lucy’s reaction to being tased. (That was such a “Dinosaurs” moment, as in the Baby Dinosaur “Not the momma” Again…)

There was no sign of Roberta and her downsized crew. Citizen Z and Kaya were also silent although Doc is going to attempt contact so presumably in the next episode, Simon will make an appearance.

As amusing as this episode was, it was heartbreaking to see 10K turn into Thomas. On the flip side, The Man may have met have met his match in , not so, little Lucy.

Z Nation airs Fridays on SyFy and is a brilliant alternative to TWD. Tune in and trip out with this post apocalyptic party.

CAST:

Guest starring  D.C. Douglas as Pa Kettle,  Kim Little as Ma Kettle, Sara Coates as Serena,  Madelyn Grace as five year old Lucy and Bea Corley as 10 year old Lucy.

Z Nation: Corporate Retreat – Simply Sublime (Review)

Z Nation opens with what could be a homage to the Supremacy MMA trailer from a few years back, or a sly nod to Tony Scott’s violence filled moment between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance, but regardless of which, Corporate Retreat;

Z Nation - Season 2Z Nation opens with what could be a homage to the Supremacy MMA trailer from a few years back, or a sly nod to Tony Scott’s violence filled moment between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in True Romance, but regardless of which, Corporate Retreat; episode 211 starts off with a dream like nightmarish quality that would have made NBC’s creative team on  Hannibal proud.

In fact, the entire episode could be a sort of twisted take on the Hannibal Lector character with Anthony Michael Hall as the corporate retreat facilitator – Gideon Gould –  who has similar traits to Lector. In other words, he can psychoanalyze people with a scary ease, which he does to the Murphy group when they join the white collar crowd trapped in a hotel.

Although there are more themes going on here than a nod to the verse of Hannibal Lector. There is a sort of Lord of the Rings feel, with the “talking stick” the ostracizing of one of the corporate group which runs parallel to the whole “I’m okay, you’re okay, lets have a meeting and facilitate some change” philosophy. There could even be a touch of Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17; with the zombies as Nazis….

Of course the real punchline is that Hall’s character is so strong willed that he keeps the group captive and nothing really changes because the facilitator system does not allow for change. (The biggest change being that members of the retreat kept voting to leave the hotel and losing.)

The storyline has Murphy being shot and the bullet traveling through his body and “creating” a male version of Cassandra, Addy’s Sapphic side is explored once again as corporate retreat member Dana (Jana Lee Hamblin) puts the moves on Anastasia Baranova‘s character and the bat wielding heroine responds.

Murphy goes into a “comatose” state where his dreams influence the zombie horde surrounding the retreat and by the end of the episode the group leave the hotel and release the trapped members who were under Gideon’s control.

It is interesting to re-watch the violence, and zombie, filled slow motion sequence at the start of the episode. All the group are mixing it up with a large amount of zombies in a forest that appears to be on fire. (With the exception of Murphy.)  Each character has a moment that clarifies who they are in a nutshell.

Addy, after killing a Z, shouts for Warren (her Sapphic side coming to the fore) and Warren, after killing a Z with her machete, is saved by Vasquez. The latter scene speaks volumes about the chemistry between the mercenary and Roberta.

As Vasquez levels his pistol at Warren, her eyes register dismay.  After he fires and kills the Z behind her, Roberta’s expression changes, becomes warm and (as shown in the previous episode) she is clearly becoming attracted to Vasquez.

Doc is surrounded by Z’s and 10K (Nat Zangleaps onto a mound of rocks and starts sniping the creatures down until one is left. The zombie is heading for Doc as the bullet goes through its brain and ricochets off of a medallion on Doc’s chest.

The new trajectory of the bullet  kills another zombie and Doc excitedly holds up four fingers to indicate the amount of kills for his young friend. The ties between these two have strengthened even further as this interaction shows.

After the slo-mo introductory scene, the episode continues the group dynamic theme as Hall’s character, corporate retreat facilitator Gould,  does a spot on analysis of the “Save Murphy” gang.

Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) has some splendid moments with his “mad scientist” type tests; using Murphy’s blood to treat the new “Cassandra.” There are also great moments with the white collar crowd back-biting one another and the general “office” worker discord between the survivors and their “guru” Gideon.

Hall is great as the facilitator who took charge of the corporate retreat group and ultimately became a sort of benevolent dictator.  There are four episodes left in this SyFy series but the good news is that Z Nation will be back next year.

Until the end of season two, viewers need to watch, and re-watch the episodes on offer and enjoy the simply sublime offerings of show creators Craig Engler and Karl Shaefer.  This episode’s opening sequence, courtesy of director Jodi Binstock and writer Micho Rutare, shows why this series just keeps getting better and better.

Forget The Walking Dead, at least till Sunday, and enjoy Z Nation, a great alternative to increasingly faux gravitas…Tune in and see which members of the Murphy gang make it into season three.

Z Nation: We Were Nowhere Near the Grand Canyon (Review)

Murphy and Warren...

Z Nation: We Were Nowhere Near the Grand Canyon starts with a dream, Kellita Smith, as Roberta Warren, has a suggestive dream about Vasquez (Matt Cedeño). The two are fighting a horde of Z’s and after they clean them out, the two get into a clench, Warren on top of the mercenary, and he turns into a zombie. The clear allusion to her romantic involvement, and its tragic conclusion, with Garnett (Tom Everett Scott) in season one signposts that perhaps Roberta is getting too attached to Vasquez. 

Her comic “scoot” away from Vasquez after waking from her dream and the quick “sleep-drool” check are brilliant.  The episode goes on to reunite the viewer and the team with DJ Qualls‘ character Citizen Z, who has been practicing with his hand gun and becoming quite proficient with that weapon.

Z Nation has been all about homages, westerns and dancing with death on an intimate and disturbing level this season. After previous episodes paying respect to classic and iconic films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Incident at Owl Creek, the show’s creators move solidly into “indian” territory in the genre for this segment.

To be fair, the inclusion of a Native American “setting” was to be expected, the team are traveling through Arizona, near the Grand Canyon and the inference, at the start, of Windtalkers (Roberta speaks to the “locals” in their “native tongue” is clever.

This episode though is not Dances with Wolves or even Cheyenne Autumn (both classic films dealing with Native American issues and their lifestyle) nor is it a rendering of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It is, however, another facet of The Asylum series’ tongue-in-cheek delivery combined with Schaefer’s and Engler’s cleverness in this season’s  running western  theme.

Z Nation this week deals with the looming, and eventual overrunning, threat of a huge Z horde which is stampeding across the countryside  and destroying everything in its path. Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) is the hero this week who uses his peyote enhanced brain to mimic an old tribal buffalo hunting method to save the day.

Standout moment:

This week, the “standout moment” is trifold and is comprised of moments. Casting Native American actress Tonantzin Carmelo as the “medicine woman” who is into pain management,  using all Native American,  bar one,  performers as the main protagonists that the group interact with and the reemergence of Citizen Z, aka Northern Light all make up a monumental moment for the episode. 

*Sidenote*

Tonantzin Carmelo was the voice of Kendra Daniels in the 2008 video game Dead Space, which scared grown men silly and made her a sensation. This gorgeous woman has worked steadily in the industry and her performance as Kuruk shows why.  Eddie Spears also appears in the episode, as Red Hawk, aka Gordon and “Native Canadian” actress Tinsel Korey, who is, apparently surrounded with charges of being a pretend “native.”  It is Korey who counts as the “bar one” in the Native American cast.

Faux tribal charges aside, the episode sees the welcome return of Citizen Z and his hooking back up with the gang and Roberta talking him through using a rocket launcher.  Doc proves that his brain works much better under the influence of peyote and Warren looks to be forming an attachment  to Vasquez…

Hodgkinson continues to make Doc a treat in every episode, whether going out of his mind with worry over 10K or blissfully stoned and reading Indian etchings with Kuruk, Russell makes his “over the hill” stoner a character to adore.  He is like a combination of Tommy Chong and that favorite childhood uncle (not the creepy one) who was great fun to be around.

Kellita Smith, in her speech to Murphy at the end of the episode gets the second stand out moment award. After reminding Murphy that he will have to make a choice, and then tenderly wiping his solitary tear away, she then gets to make the last western genre reference of “Let’s saddle up.”

*Sidenote number two* 

Warren is, thus far, the perfect woman in Z Nation, compassionate, strong, and determined, not to mention damned handy with the growing machete she carries.  Roberta would be the gal to saddle up with in a zombie apocalypse…

Z Nation ends on a slightly hopeful note and Doc get the line of the title, telling Kuruk that “If anyone asks, we were nowhere near the Grand Canyon.” The series airs on SyFy Friday nights, tune in and enjoy the homages, humor  and the Z homicides.