Before reading this you might want to check out my review of season one.
I’ve said this before but, take all my bitching and complaints with a grain of salt.
As cheap and as goofy as the show is, it’s fun. It’s an over-the-top romp that neither tears at the heartstrings nor fails to entertain. So leave your brains at the door, grab a beer and enjoy
Z Nation season 2.
Season 2 continues the great road trip across the continental US. This time focussing more on the midwest and southwest. As such, we get a answers to some of the most obvious questions most of us would ask: Left unchecked are there giant herds of zombies roaming the plains? Where are the native Americans and farm communities like the mennonites? What happened to the religious extremists out west? What ever happened to Area 51 and what’s happening along the border with all those bad ass Mexican gangs?
It’s a great ride and there’s plenty of fun along the way.
- Just like in season one, there are tons of pop culture references.
The evil Kurian jumping into an old school refrigerator and getting thrown around in the nuclear blast was a clear nod to Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull’s highly unpopular opening. Seeing the door blow off and Kurian burning played to the fans very well.
My particular favorite was a nod to the X-Files in an episode dealing with aliens, (yes really,) which even included a character name Scully. There’s also a great Steve Urkle reference when Muphy mimics his voice saying “Did I do thaaat?”
Out of the whole season though the coup de grace had to be the episode titled “The Collector,” in which Murphy is captured by a guy who’s totally out of his mind trying to create a zombie museum of sorts. He has posters and memorabilia related to zombies and zombie movies and they start talking about some of the old school classic zombie flicks like White Zombie the very first zombie movie. And there he is, a celebrity zombie in the form of George R. R. Martin. The night’s watch would be proud.
- Not being afraid to play around and try some crazy ideas when it comes to zombies is a definite plus. The show doesn’t have the effects team or budget like other shows so they need to get creative with their zombies. This really means they are basically just making monsters half the time, not really zombies, but it’s fun none the less.
Blasters: Zombies who were people killed by the nuclear blast at the end of season one. Now incredibly powerful powder-white nasties. Why? Why not.
Phytozombies: Zombie / plant hybrids. (Ridiculous but fun.)
Mennonite zombies: They’re really just regular zombies that happen to be Mennonites . . . and explode with anthrax spores.
Baby zombie (AKA Lucy): Ten times better than the baby in season one, Lucy is the daughter of Murphy and his girlfriend from season one.
Goat zombie: So apparently animals can be zombies too?
Aliens: Sure, they aren’t really aliens but that’s a good thing. If they were, the show would have gone into even campier territory tipping the scales to the totally ridiculous and not just the very ridiculous. These Zs are just humans in pilot uniforms.
Where have I seen this before? Doctor Who? Star Trek? I’m sure I’ve seen this somewhere. But where? The X-Files? Help!
Blends: One of Muphy’s newfound powers is the ability to make people who aren’t exactly zombies but aren’t exactly alive. It was his bite that turned Casandra into what she became and as the season progresses we see him getting more adept at turning people.
- The HUGE cliffhanger ending of season one left me thinking that the show might actually not be coming back for a second season. However the way those cliffhanger events were rapidly solved seemed a little too easy. The tension of that cliffhanger just evaporated in seconds. But then so did half the US.
The nuclear bombs that went off at the end of season one apparently killed millions more people according to Warren who confronts Murphy about it in the season opener. Millions? Really? The numbers seem a bit high for the number of survivors out there. That being said, millions of people being killed off in a heartbeat just doesn’t seem to cary any weight at all on this show even though it should be horrifying.
- Anthrax zombies.
Some mennonite zombies started bursting white powder all over the place when killed and there’s a lot wrong with this scenario. First of all it’s unlikely that the Mennonites were just standing around in a field waiting for someone to save them. Mennonites are farmers, hard working, manual laborers. These aren’t meek people. These are people who birth horses, bale hay, till crops and live off the land. The idea that they are weak as we see them portrayed on the show is laughable.
The white powder anthrax also shows a serious lack of thought. White powder containing anthrax was mailed to a number of public officials as a form of terrorist attack. But anthrax doesn’t just exist out in the world as a white powder.
“Anthrax is spread by contact with the spores of the bacteria, which are often from infectious animal products. Contact is by breathing, eating, or through an area of broken skin. It does not typically spread directly between people. Risk factors include people who work with animals or animal products, travelers, postal workers, and military personnel. Diagnosis can be confirmed based on finding antibodies or the toxin in the blood or by culture of a sample from the infected site.”
I’m not a stickler about science in TV shows or movies most of the time. But when it’s this blatantly horrible it’s hard to ignore.
- The effects …
… aren’t so bad this season but one thing that stands out is the way zombie characters suddenly stand stock still or pause their action as they are moving so that effects can be slotted in around them. The effects just seem much more amateurish when these sorts of odd pauses for the shot occur.
One effect in particular that throws me off is the constant use of filters. I don’t particularly like them on photographs and like them even less in movies and TV shows. It makes the imagery more consistent if you’re shooting at different times and locations and want to maintain that look and feel when the images are cut together but it also makes everything look less realistic and more forced if it’s not done very carefully. Not a plus in this case.
Although the zombies are fun, the look and feel of them is pretty uninteresting. Occasionally we get a great effects shot like a Z getting crushed or churned up in a truck’s wheels but for the most part they all just look like people with makeup on their faces which makes the other effects shots stand out even more as effects. The Zs are all basically at the same level of rot regardless of when and where they died during the apocalypse.
When Serena shows up heavily pregnant with Murphy’s love? child I don’t think anyone knew where it was going to go. Was it a Z? Was it a normal baby? Was it going to kill it’s mom? What a creepy character in every way. And it looks like she’s growing up . . . scary.
Look at those smiles! I love these guys.
- The worlds largest cheese wheel. Wow. Just wow.
If anything symbolizes the silly, cartoony nature of the fun on the show it’s definitely this. This is also where my cynicism breaks down. These guys are having fun, making an entertaining show that gets a few laughs and isn’t too hard to watch. In fact when it comes up they make it a point to reference the Liberty Bell scene from season one where they unleashed the bell at a group of zombies to great effect.
- Zeros This season dealt a lot with the gangs along the boarder towns of Mexico but in Z Nation they take it up a notch with the Zeros being lead by a queen whose minion are often made up to look like sugar skulls.The Zeros are total badasses but also tend to fall for the typical TV bad guy clashes. There’s an evil doctor or mad scientist working for them, (Kurian,) They to do monologue all the time and they have an endless supply of minions protecting their incredible evil lair.
Some notable deaths:
Mack’s death at the start of the season was a kick in the pants. The strong love affair he had with Annie was a nice bit of hope running through season one.
Casandra’s death seemed like a smart idea for the actress Pisay Pao. The character had been reduced from a complex interesting contribution to the show to a trashy chick that grunted all the time. The entire season up to the point she was killed I just thought I wouldn’t want that if I were the actor.
Serena . . . I just loved this character and this actress. She’s strong, ballsy, fun and I got the feeling she was really fun to have on set. Her energy just came through and she stole the show in her episodes. I was sorry to see her go.
I’m not sure Kurian is really dead but he’s close enough.
After developing a serum the zeros think is a cure for zombies but which will actually just make it possible for Murphy to control people, Kurian finds himself beheaded.
But having also been injected with the syrup he can’t die and so his severed head lives on in a box. Sheesh.
So the season ends with the group getting to the CDC lab and after a few tense moments they get inside and all seems well. Until it doesn’t, because the happy ending you may have been hoping for just isn’t. Things aren’t all what they seem and the CDC isn’t what it used to be.
Citizen Z catches on to this when he realizes his system has been hacked and seems out to walk south. Unable to warn anyone with his systems down it means the team walks right in to the CDC trap and the shit hits the fan.
All in all this season was just as much fun as the first season, maybe even more and I’m totally looking forward to season 3!