Z Nation: Everybody Dies in the End – Fully Loaded and Shocking (Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

Z Nation always manages to pull off season finales that leave the viewers sitting stunned with jaws moving to the floor.  “Everybody Dies in the End” was no exception. Watching the final moments left no doubt that things in the Z Nation verse were going to be changed forever.

After being convinced that Roberta Warren was going to meet her maker at the hands of The Man, only to see her “mortally” wounded by him after Murphy interceded on her behalf was a complete and total “wow” moment.

As Warren herself says, before heading into the mountain to save Lucy from The Man and Zona (or as the hovering craft reads on its side “Zone A”), about going in “fully loaded” the ending was a fully shocking conclusion to this season.

This finale kept to the main theme of grimly comic and the last moments of Doc, Murphy, Warren, Sun Mei, Red and Tomas were pretty damned dire.  Addy, who climbs to the top of the mountain in the nick of time, takes The Man over the edge of the cliff with her. Lucy screams Addy’s name and jumps after the pair and 5K, only recently returned from the dead, leaps after all of them with his feathered arms outstretched.

Duel” was always going to be a hard episode to follow.  But “Everybody Dies in the End” manages to meet the challenge spectacularly.  A lot is inferred and in some ways Murphy’s line of “This could all be a dream [sic]” may be spot on.

Or not…

In season two it appeared that Murphy and Warren were heading toward a sort of grudging mutual respect. It actually got to a point where Roberta seemed to be warming to the awkward savior of humanity.  The final season three throwdown between Murphy, The Man and Roberta Warren ended with Lucy’s father and the lieutenant sharing more than a bullet; Roberta is now infected with Murphy’s blood.

The two have, at last, become a sort of couple. A mother and father for Lucy, now played by Kelly Washington, to replace her all too brief childhood imaginings of storybook parents.  Another startling revelation had to do with Murphy actually being dead throughout the entire three season’s of Z Nation.

Z Nation - Season 3
Sun Mei, 10K, Red

This information was used to bring back 10K, who was dying of a nasty infection. Murphy offers to bite him again but Sun Mei, after telling Murphy that he has been dead all along, explains that they must kill 10K, bite him and then inject him with the original virus.

After a nail biting amount of time, the dead 10K returns, but only after everyone in the audience wail and gnash their teeth.  The sniper with the dual identity (Tomas) comes back and proves that even with two names he has more lives than a cat.

Addy continued her legendary bad-arsery by climbing to the top of the mountain and after a slow motion start takes out her opponent from the previous episode. Sure, the bald baddy may survive the fall, but there is no doubt that Addison Carver will survive it “better.”

Doc continued his awesome character arc in this final episode as well. Only he could double team with a Z (Grandpa) to take out a Zona troop with ease.

(Sidenote: Question for Z fans and fans of Doug Jones: Does anyone else think that the Grandpa zombie was in fact Jones?  He is not listed and despite the actor who played him having dialogue (“Lucy!”) he cannot be found on any sites. Answers on a postcard or failing that, in the comment section below.)

While not everyone dies, not on camera at least as the mounted machine gun on the aircraft only starts firing at the end, it is clear that if Warren does die she will return as a sort of Murphy blend.  There cannot be many who did not scream out “no” when that slo-mo “Matrix” bullet ploughed through Murphy to land in Warren’s abdomen.  Her shocked face easily matched at least one viewer’s countenance during this unforgettable scene.

Z Nation - Season 3
Holden Goyette as 5K

By the end of the episode, Warren and Murphy are down.  Doc, 10K, Sun Mei and Red are in the line of fire.  Addy, Lucy, The Man and 5K have gone off the side of the mountain and it does indeed look like “Everybody Dies in the End.”

The highlight of this episode, for at least one serio-comic moment was the reuniting of Lucy and her father.  His rejoinder to her accusations of abandonment, “You were only a month old a year ago,” as they then hug and make up was all too brief.  We have been waiting all season to see these two come together and while the sequence was short it was oddly satisfying.

Kudos to all the youngsters playing Lucy “through the ages.” Kelly Washington managed to take over the latest version with an admirable ease. Well done.

Z Nation - Season 3
Lucy and Murphy together at last…

This was a splendid end to the season. Mad props to Keith Allen with his brilliant character arc, making Murphy almost noble in the end.  Kellita Smith making her character so much more than the sum of all her parts. Anastasia Baranova continuing her role of “Super Addy” and Russell Hodgkinson keeping Doc’s journey as the most changed character in the show on track.

Kaya’s plaintive cry to the missing Simon was also a nice touch. Writer and director Abram Cox has pulled out all the stops to make this one memorable end for our heroes.

Not since the first season’s nuclear end has Z Nation managed to so thoroughly doom its main characters. While we believe wholeheartedly that Warren and Murphy will survive, albeit much changed, it will be a long wait to see who lives to fight another day.

Well done Z Nation, well done.

CAST:

Fresh Off the Boat: Where Are the Giggles? (Review)

IAN CHEN, RAY WISE

Fresh Off the Boat “Where Are the Giggles?” manages to pay homage to three different Christmas themed stories in one episode. The holiday based segment takes a loving look at Home Alone, Jingle All the Way and A Christmas Carol. The Parks’ take on Christmas is a winner and the only real loser is their neighbor Deirdre.

The Park family are eagerly getting ready for Christmas. Jessica gets six movie tickets from a satisfied customer to see “Jingle All the Way.” They get ready to leave and get good seats.  Not everyone makes it to the cinema, Evan is left at home, alone.

Louis calls Marv who tells his friend to stay at the theatre and watch the film, it is, says Marv, worth it.  Jessica asks him to go over and look in on Evan. He agrees and ends up getting hurt by a boobytrap  set by the youngest Huang.

The Parks return home and find Marv on the floor with a back injury. Evan is wildly disappointed in his mother and she offers to get him any new toy he wants. Evan asks for a “Tickle Me Elmo.”

Just like the plot line of “Jingle All the Way,” Evan has asked for a toy that is nearly impossible to find anywhere.  Jessica hunts down the Elmo while Louis learns that Marv has sued them for his back injury.

Honey gives her husband muscle relaxants that he takes with beer. Louis has already told his friend how he feels about being sued. Marv’s guilt and his mixing of the tablets and alcohol cause him to have “A Christmas Carol” type dreams.

Emery, Grandma Huang and Eddie all show up as Christmas ghosts and they convince him to drop the  lawsuit. On top of these themed storylines, Eddie tells Emery that he is celebrating a  little known African alternative to Christmas; Kwanzaa.

Amusingly, in Marv’s “dream” Eddie turns up as a ghost of Christmas Present dressed in African ethnic clothing. He tells Marv that he is not the ghost of Christmas but of “Kwanzaa” present.

As Marv has his Scrooge-like visions, Jessica works to get her favorite son his Tickle Me Elmo. She dresses up as the Chinese Santa, a female in charge of all the Santas, to deliver the Tickle Me Elmo to Deirdre’s daughter. Her outfit terrifies the children at the girl’s party and Deirdre refuses to part with the other one.

Deirdre’s husband offers up the other toy and Jessica gives it to Evan. He reveals, on the day, that he does not really like new toys but he feigns excitement to please his mother.

Ray Wise knocked it out of the park on the festive themed episode. Constance Wu was hysterical as the Chinese Santa “Lao Ban Santa” the “boss of all the Santa’s.”

This was a fun episode on so many levels. Lucille Soong managed to come awfully close to stealing the show with her Christmas future and the kids on the show, Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen all managed to hold their own against the adult actors.

(The interaction between Wheeler and Yang regarding the Kwanzaa holiday was very funny.)

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC. If you missed this brilliant episode, it can be watched either on demand or via Hulu.

Cast:

Guest starring Rachel Cannon Deirdre and Robert Paul Taylor as Ronaldo.

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.

Fresh Off the Boat: The Taming of the Dads – Tamagotchi (Review)

HUDSON YANG, ISABELLA ALEXANDER

There cannot be many who do not remember the Tamagotchi craze of the 1990’s. Fresh Off the Boat “The Taming of Two Dads” may have focused upon Jessica’s jury duty and Louis’ Shakespearean Bromance, but the “Tale of Two Brothers” and their electronic pet was the funniest section of the show.

It was a close call this week. Louis’ bonding with Alison’s dad over a mutual love of all things Shakespeare was amusing. All the more so because of Eddie’s clear discomfort at his father crashing his and Alison’s anniversary date.

The eldest Huang son was uncomfortable sitting through “Romeo and Juliet” anyway, and to have Gary and Louis eating the young couple’s Goobers and talking loudly about the film pretty much ruined the date.

Jessica is mistakenly tapped for jury duty and loses out being the jury foreman; something that annoys her no end. Instead of concentrating on the trial she is part of, Jessica works to become the foreman.  (At one point she gives her fellow jurors notes and an orange as a bribe to allow her to be in charge.)

When Jessica finally becomes the foreman she causes a mistrial by announcing she thought the alleged arsonist was guilty from day one. As she talks about his dodgy haircut, the judge declares a mistrial.

Later Honey reveals that as Jessica is not a citizen she could not legally serve on the jury.

Evan and Emery get a tamagotchi (an electronic pet) from their cousin in Taiwan. He sends the pet with a note saying he hopes they have better luck with their tamagotchi than he had with his.

The two younger Huang boys work well together initially but as the pet becomes more demanding their teamwork becomes frayed at the edges.  Even with the increased workload they both take pride in their pet and beam like proud parents when the neighbor’s take notice of their tamagotchi.

Meanwhile, Eddie’s girlfriend Alison decides they need a break after seeing how well Louis and her father get along. She tells Eddie that they have become too complacent and Eddie panics.

He gets advice from his father who then tells Gary that they can no longer be friends. He explains that their happiness has placed Eddie and Alison’s relationship in a Montague and Capulet situation. Sadly Alison’s father agrees.

Eddie decides to become more spontaneous and he invites Alison to see the Leonardo DiCaprio version of “Romeo and Juliet” again, this time without the two dads.

Emery and Evan end up killing the tamagotchi.  At the funeral, they bury the electronic pet in the front garden as Honey explains to Jessica about the jury duty mistake. At the very end, the tamagotchi beeps from underneath the dirt and both lads decide that they did not hear anything.

While Jessica’s hubris almost steals the show, it really was Emery and Evan and their temperamental tamagotchi that provided the most amusing storyline of the three on offer this week.

Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen were spot on as the excited “parents” who end up being ruled by their new pet. Constance Wu, as usual, continues to make Jessica Huang the center of the show.

Fresh Off the Boat airs Tuesdays on ABC.

Cast:

Guest starring Isabella Alexander as Alison and Cory Blevins as Gary Olsen (Alison’s dad.).

Z Nation: The Siege of Murphytown – Collateral Damage (Review)

Z Nation - Season 3

This penultimate episode of Z Nation gives us the long awaited confrontation between Murphy and Roberta Warren. It is, however, quite brief as events are rapidly coming to a head. Doc is left to his own devices in this episode and Addy only makes sporadic appearances in her quest to retrieve Lucy.

“The Siege of Murphytown” sees a number of game changing moves. The actual siege itself is short lived, despite the Red Hand gang shutting down the power with a well placed group of Z’s.

After last week’s more surreal, and in many ways quite comic, episode featuring Doc’s escape from the angels three, this episode heads right into ironic drama and a touch of pathos.  Roberta has taken off the gloves and is ready, willing and able to cause the maximum amount of collateral damage possible in her pursuit of Murphy’s blood.

She also, quite rightly, works out the man who would be king’s Achille’s heel. His new white hair and beard, along with the steadily disappearing blue hue, have not hidden his newfound desire for brains.

We also learn just what Murphy wrote down on Thomas’s (aka 10K) orders. He is to capture Warren and bring her back to his master. Failing that, plan B includes killing Roberta if she cannot be taken.

There is an interesting moment when Warren gets inside Murphy’s “castle” and is confronted by Chaffin’s wife Hope (Kathryn Brown). Just before Roberta removes the brains of the dying blend, Hope sighs “Murphy loves you.” 

Whether this is a revelation of how the “savior of humanity” really feels about his long term captor and road companion or simply a platitude that Murphy shares with all his blends is not clear. It feels, however, like the former rather than the latter. The two were coming dangerously close to bonding toward the end of season two.

The battle of Murphytown ends with Murphy’s forces taking control. The Red Hand and Hopper start off well enough but the mind controlled blends and Z’s guarding the perimeter easily overpower the invaders.

Bowden (Rosslyn Greer) dies rather messily and 10K almost suffers a similar fate after Warren gives him the original vaccine. 

Miraculously, Little Red and 5K turn up and this time they are not figments of 10k’s fevered imagination. The two save him from the attacking Z’s who are drawn to him after the vaccine removes his immunity.  Red kisses 10K to prove that she is real and it is the boost needed to take the young man out of Murphy’s control.

After getting a morse code message from Kaya, who is manning the microphone while Citizen Z flies to the battle area with Uncle in control of the plane, Roberta and Sun Mei get further information from a fast food ordering kiosk.

Roberta has two confrontations in this episode. She smacks 10K / Thomas about to learn what his mission is. She then gives him the vaccine. Later, she gets the better of Murphy only to lose her advantage when Wessen, Chaffin and reinforcements get the drop on Sun Mei.

This leads to Warren’s takeover bid being halted in its tracks. The arrival of Citizen Z and Uncle, who tries to land their plane “Sully Sullenberger” style interrupts Murphy in mid gloat. The news he brings changes everything.

Lucy, he reveals, has been taken by The Man to Zona. Murphy asks the indefatigable Warren to help him get his daughter back.  The two groups team up and Murphy leaves Chaffin and Wessen in charge of Murphytown.

Z learns that Kaya is pregnant and he vows to return immediately to be with his baby momma.  Warren agrees to help  Murphy get Lucy back and Addy follows a set of “Z” clues left by the blue girl.

The destination for Addy and Warren is Puget Sound.  Citizen Z leaves the battlefield and Murphy lies to Chaffin about Hope.

It was nice to see Warren return to the show after an absence that lasted far too long. Roberta Warren is the backbone of the show and her steely strength and determination make her an instrument of destruction. Her vow to let the collateral chips fall where they may was spot on.

Z Nation has managed to deliver female characters who are as strong, and in many cases stronger than, their male counterparts. Show creators Craig Engler and Karl Schaefer have given us women to admire and shamelessly crush on. 

Warren and Addy, and even the most recent female member of the team Sun Mei, are characters we want to see win. Such is their personal determination and charisma.  10K has been rescued by Little Red, another strong female character and Doc has met nothing but strong women in his solo quest.

Kellita Smith proves yet again that she is the fearless leader and   Anastasia Baranova’s Addy shows that she does not need anyone to make her mission go easier. Both these bad-arse female warriors are taking the show to new heights.

Z Nation has cut back dramatically on the tongue-in-cheek humor this season. The series has really stepped things up and is now becoming a possible threat to the long running AMC drama, TWD.

The news that Z Nation has been greenlit for a fourth season comes as no real surprise. The series airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in for the penultimate episode of season three and the show’s upcoming finale.

CAST:

Guest starring  Dylan Vox as Hopper, Natalie Jongjaroenlarp as Red and Holden Goyette as 5K.