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Z Nation “Fracking Zombies” 

Photo Credit: Oliver Irwin/SyFy
Photo Credit: Oliver Irwin/Syfy

At the end of last week’s premiere and with Lt. Mark Hammond (Harold Perrineau) now dead, Charles Garnett (Tom Everett Scott) and Co. decide to step up and make their contribution to saving humanity by agreeing to escort the sole survivor Murphy (Keith Allan) to the viral lab in California. Of course, with their being in New York, obviously one of the biggest problems with this plan is going to be finding enough gas to get them all the way across the country, which turned out to be the focus of this episode.

If you read my review of the premiere, you’ll know that I liked it, with one of its biggest strengths being the fast-paced, kick-butt zombie action sequences. The writers for Z Nation certainly heard the complaints of The Walking Dead as of late, with how slow it has become and how the storylines have been dragging because one thing that you can say for sure is there was never a dull moment in that pilot. However, as the old saying goes, everything has a price. If you make an episode all action, then there really isn’t any time left for much else, including character development. As I was reading some of the fans’ feedback from last week’s premiere, the one negative comment that I kept seeing over and over again was the fact that by the time you got to the end, you really didn’t know who the characters were. Upon thinking about it, that is actually true, with perhaps the only exception being Citizen Z (DJ Qualls). If you want the audience to get behind the characters and support what they are doing, there needs to be some depth and a sense of who they are. Well, fortunately, this issue seems to have been addressed going into the second episode because we got quite a bit of info for at least a couple of characters and in a very short period of time.

Within Garnett’s little group of zombie apocalypse misfit survivors, the spotlight this week is on Cassandra (Pisay Pao), which is understandable because of everyone on the team, we know the least about her. All we know thus far is that she was found locked in a cage and that she supposedly locked herself in for protection (even though she said she lost the key. How can you lose a key if you locked yourself inside in the first place?). After Garnett’s truck runs out of gas, the team sees two bikers drive by, who Cassandra seems to recognize and tries to avoid by looking away.

Her connection with these guys is confirmed when one of them, Travis, shows up at an abandoned shopping mall where the group is scouring the parking lot and looking for gas in any of the cars that were left behind. This Travis claims that they can find plenty of fuel at a nearby refinery that had been overrun and offers to help in return for a ride. Garnett agrees over the objections of Cassandra who is not very happy about the new turn of events.

Once they get to the refinery, they find that it is full of zombies and Cassandra and Travis are paired up to help clear a path for Garnett and Warren to be able to get to the gas tankers. It is here that we get a glimpse of Cassandra and Travis’ history and whatever it is, it doesn’t appear to be good. From what we can tell, Cassandra had been a member of this group of survivors Travis calls a “family,” with a guy by the name of Tobias being the leader. And this Tobias doesn’t seem to take too kindly with people leaving the family, because he sent Travis to bring Cassandra back, even if that means taking her by force. Unfortunately for Travis, Cassandra has no intention of going back, has gotten used to his abusive antics and gets the upper hand on him, pushing him to his death at the top of the catwalk at the refinery.

Photo Credit: SyFy
Photo Credit: Syfy

So, now the question is who is this Cassandra and what in the world did she get herself into? We don’t know for sure, but the episode certainly dropped a lot of hints. She talked about “Black Summer” in Philly where there was a huge shortage of food, scores of people starved to death, but she survived because “she did what she had to do.” Travis’ threat of revealing to the group *what* Cassandra was I also found to be interesting. All of this put together, my guess is this “family” is actually some sort of cult. We talked to executive producer and showrunner, Karl Schaefer, last week about the series and one of the things he mentioned was an upcoming storyline about a cannibalistic cult. If this turns out to be true, then the “what” about Cassandra may turn out to equate to cannibal (and with The Walking Dead returning in just a few weeks and the show’s Terminus likely to be a refuge for cannibals, that would mean two zombies series playing out cannibal cult arcs at the very same time. That should be interesting and way cool!)

The other character that was highlighted this week was Citizen Z. Last week’s episode ended with a sense of hope (and humor!) with Citizen Z bellowing out a tune from his record player, even though he was in dire straits himself being alone and isolated at the North Pole. In this episode, he gets some much-needed company…well, sort of. His outpost is approached by a sled with the driver frozen stiff, but with two of the dogs still alive. One of the dogs is fine, but the other has been infected with the zombie virus. So, Citizen Z’s mission is to kill the turned Z-Dog, not necessarily to protect himself, but the other dog who is his only hope for a companion.

      I am not going to let you kill the only living thing I’ve seen in over a year! — Citizen Z

I don’t think anyone ever thought Citizen Z was in any danger and this was more of a comment on the character’s mental state and how after being alone for so long, even what appeared to be the strongest character on the show was starting to break.

So, the episode ended in much the same way the pilot ended — with the all the characters in yet another sucky situation. Garnett’s group went through all of that trouble to try and get gasoline at the refinery only to have Mr. Congeniality screw the entire thing up. And we also learn that the lab in California has been overrun, a detail which Citizen Z conveniently keeps from Garnett.

But, they are all still alive. And for any zombie series, that is something.

Z Nation  airs on Fridays at 10/9c on SyFy.

Most memorable quotes

  • Delta Xray Delta, do you copy? Does anybody copy? Operation Bite Mark. This is Citizen Z at Northern Light, broadcasting on all known frequencies. If you have any way to communicate, broadband, lowband, xband, two cups and a string, smoke signals, anything, I’ve got a satellite, I’ll see it — Citizen Z
  • That’s not a refinery, that’s a zombie factory! – Murphy (LOL Gotta love this guy’s one-liners!)
  • Tobias and the rest of the family is never going to let you leave, sunshine – Travis to Cassandra
  • My name isn’t Sunshine anymore.  I outgrew that name a long time ago – Cassandra
  • To us it’s the apocalypse, to her it’s the memories – Murphy
  • First time I’ve ever seen anybody cheat at Go Fish – Doc to Murphy
  • Take that, Cujo.  That’s what I’m talking about – Citizen Z

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