The second season of Syfy’s Z Nation will make you gag, think, and laugh — not necessarily in that order. Season one was totally and unexpectedly compelling, marrying a comedic tone with darker themes like, you know, the end of the world as we know it. It also artfully set the stage for a high-stakes second season. The first episode does not disappoint. Not only do we witness a wide array of unique zombie-slaughtering techniques (stripper zombies make out with each other to death, a heavyset zombie is filled with the contents of a fire extinguisher until he bursts, Warren unleashes Kill Bill-esque mayhem) but the arc of the story is set: The gang has to capture Murphy and convince him to go to California.
If in season one Murphy was the irascible and insufferable, but necessary member of the Z team, season two sets him up as its villain. He strides around Cheyenne, Wyoming, dressed to the nines, using his increasingly massive zombie army as his personal assistants and undead body shields when the moment calls for it. Murphy is the perfect villain, because he’s the closest to evil that we can see on TV right now. He is obsessed with survival, but only as it pertains to himself. He would gladly let the world burn if it meant he got to spend a couple of extra hours playing with the zombie strippers he’s been training.
That was what made Roberta Warren’s reaction to him so baffling. Halfway through the episode we watched as Warren literally pulled herself back from the brink of death to save a child and annihilate a horde of zombies. Yet all she can manage when face-to-face with Murphy and his goofy zombie buddies is an eye-roll and a stern tone? I understand that it’s a tricky situation, but Kellita Smith has created arguably the most badass female protagonist of our time (big words, I’m sticking to them) and watching her held back from action due to writing and lack of foresight is like swallowing glass.
As it stands at the end of episode one, the gang is reunited (all is not well between Mack and Addy, and I can’t wait to see how that relationship pans out) and after Murphy once again. But this time, they aren’t alone. Citizen Z has sent out a distress beacon and now bounty hunters all over the country after Murphy’s blood. It’s like the plot of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World only, you know, with zombies.
Interestingly, I don’t think it will be the fate of humanity that finally sways Murphy in favor of doing the right thing. My money’s on poor, disturbed and destroyed Cassandra who now travels with Murphy and is currently the only soft spot the maniac has demonstrated. Let’s hope Murphy is still capable of decency somewhere at his core. Because as the end of the episode showed, his baby mama is en route, and his creepy zombie baby has already demonstrated strange abilities while still in utero.