Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy.


Z Nation Recap – White Light

Well, I didn’t need my heart. Now that it’s busted to pieces, I guess I’ll let Craig Engler & Karl Schaefer the show runners of Z Nation, keep it as a souvenir. Cause they BROKE it in this episode. I think Roberta Warren sums up my feelings nicely.

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There was so much awesomeness in this episode that it was rather breathtaking. It was pretty much a non-stop action piece and ALL of our heroes were in serious danger at various times in the episode. SyFy warned in their previews that one of the group would die in this episode. It was clear from the get-go that it was going to be a nail biter to find out who was going to survive.

The white light of the title alludes to the transition from life to death and nearly every one of our heroes had a moment when a white light appeared. Several also saw flashbacks to earlier, happier parts of their life. I saw from some comments these confused some viewers, but if you’ve read about near death experiences you probably got it. The only two characters to not experience the white light were Murphy and Cassandra. But they’re our zombie hybrids, so maybe they weren’t as close to death as the others, or maybe death is just different for them.  I stand corrected. A fan on the Z Cast Fan Facebook page pointed out that Murphy did have a flashback to smoking pot with a blond girl. I totally missed that in my notes.

So here are my highlights of the show last night.

1. Citizen Z is finally learning how to fight real zombies. He’s had a few tussles in the past, but he mostly killed zombies in his video games.  In Season 1, Citizen Z was pretty immune to the struggles of the group: fighting zombies, searching for food, trying to find water, etc. Now that his base has been blown to bits and the zombies on the plane thawed out, he’s learning what it means to fight to survive. I’m not sure how the show is going to continue to use him, but his storyline has an interesting arc so far this year. (AND THE DOG BETTER REMAIN ALIVE!)

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 2.  The sheer chaos of all the bounty hunters descending on Cheyenne to try to capture Murphy was pretty intense. The entire energy of the show was cranked up in this episode and I loved every moment. The group was constantly on the run throughout the episode and danger was EVERYWHERE.

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3. Newcomer, Vasquez (who has yet to be named in the show yet), did not hesitate to open fire on a black SUV and its inhabitants when he saw it. If anything, he treated it as much more dangerous than the zombies. And evidently for good reason. This dapper Mexican-American stepped out….with a bazooka.

ZNation_gallery_202Recap_034. Which leads me to this…In this epsiode our heroes got the crap knocked out of them. 10K ended up deafened by the bazooka impact. Addy got a nasty bullet graze on her cheek. Doc was pretty badly beaten up and nearly choked to death. Murphy and Cassandra were both shot. Roberta was knocked out by one of the bounty hunters. And Mack….*sniffles* 

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5. Now to talk about the really hard stuff. Addy left the group and Mack in Season 1 when her PTSD had reached the point where she felt she just couldn’t deal with the world anymore. Having found a safe haven with the all female cult, she left the mission. Though she loved Mack, she did not want to see him die. It was too much to endure. It was easier to leave and not know his fate. Of course, in the beginning of this season, Addy’s safe haven was destroyed, Mack brought her back onto the road, and they rejoined the group.  In this episode, Addy’s horrible fear was realized. Mack was trapped behind a locked door and attacked by zombies. He fought bravely, but in the end he was bitten. This is where we finally see the comfort of the white light. In the end of Mack’s life, he sees a beautiful light as he is being eaten alive and he is comforted by what he sees. Addy, meanwhile, does everything she can to break open the door and save him. Of course, in the end, she was forced to give him mercy. Mack didn’t want Addy see him turn and Addy didn’t want to see him die. And they both experienced what they both feared. (Thanks, Z Nation writers, for destroying my heart)

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6. I love ANY interaction between Murphy and Warren. They’re on opposite sides of The Murphy equation. Warren wants to get Murphy to California and save the world. Murphy just cares about saving himself. (Perfect example: while Doc fought for his life, Murphy hid in the closet.) Last week’s episode showed that Murphy was loving being the Zombie Messiah. He had built up a kingdom for himself and was having a ton of fun with his abilities. Then the group and bounty hunters found him and destroyed his kingdom. I loved how the zombies’ attraction to Murphy worked against him in this episode. He was easy to track because the zombies were constantly after him. His increasing frustration over this was amusing, but by the end of the episode it was clear that Murphy was pretty sick of the whole situation. When it was evident that Roberta really didn’t care about how he felt about being The Murphy, he leaped off the top of the hotel roof. Now, since Murphy loves himself way too much to die, I knew there had to be a catch. Was he jumping into a pool of water? No, in true Z Nation style, he leaped into a pool of ZOMBIES!

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7. Murphy is so good at being elusive, I was worried the group was going to lose him. But, it was Addy, fresh from seeing Mack die and giving him mercy, that found Murphy. I loved her raw anger as she beat the hell out of Murphy. It’s his fault Mack is dead. It’s his fault the group is in danger. Murphy putting himself first above all others has brought her to this point and she lets him have it.

ZNation_gallery_202Recap_218. Now, I have had naysayers of the show mock the acting and I won’t have it. I just won’t. I have always felt the actors on Z Nation did a great job with their characters and story arcs. They feel like real people, and that says a lot for the actors. But the actors took it to the next level when the group reassembles and one of their own is missing.

12022336_10156014939970403_1683897864363731735_oAnastasia Baranova nails it with Addy’s response. It was the perfect response for someone with PTSD. I know that when I’m at my most emotional, when I’m completely overwhelmed, that is when I go silent. Her silence was perfect. Her expression was perfect. It was a powerful moment for Addy. As the group realizes what her silence and Mack’s absence means, it was clear how hard his death was hitting them all. Even Murphy fell silent and allowed himself to be tied up and put in the van.

Our final image opens up a brand new mystery with our finely dressed Mexican-American man…what does the Z mean?

ZNation_gallery_202Recap_23One last note. All of our heroes were saved by other people from certain death (except for Mack.). 10K was saved by the group, Roberta was saved by Vasquez (who joined the group), Murphy was saved by Cassandra, and Addy was saved by Mack. Doc, meanwhile, had to save himself because the other member of the group who should have come to his assistance was Murphy. I felt this really drove home how important the group dynamics are. Without each other, death is close at hand. Mack found this out when he was separated from Addy.

Frankly, I think this is the best Z Nation episode yet. It was pretty amazing.

What are your thoughts on the show?

Next week’s episode is Zombie Road. See you then!

All images from the Z Nation website and Facebook page.