[This is a review for season 3 episode 14 of Z Nation. There will be SPOILERS.]
All season, if not, all series long, Z Nation had been building towards a specific climax: Get Murphy (Keith Allan) to California so the CDC can use his blood to develop a cure to the H1Z1 virus. As we saw at the end of season 2, that was all a ruse by the rich people living in the supposed utopia known as Zona. With the Murphy mission in shambles, Warren (Kellita Smith) and her crew had given up the burden of saving the world - until they met Dr. Sun Mei (Sydney Viengluang), who tasks them with once again finding Murphy for his alleged life-saving blood. Because the Z Nation showrunners are constantly looking to give their characters a purpose and narrative beyond that of simply existing.
To that end, Murphy decided to become the Messiah of the zombies by using Dr. Merch's (Lisa Coronado) serum to produce his own army of "blends" for his New World Order. He's got 10K (Nat Zang) under his mind control and a stronghold complete with a zombie moat in Spokane, WA. Meanwhile Warren, Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) and Addy (Anastasia Baranova) team up with Hector (Emilio Riveria), soon encountering the deadly vigilante group known as The Red Hand. As if that wasn't enough, both groups now have to contend with the relentless pursuit of The Man (Joseph Gatt), a tenacious headhunter tasked by Zona to bring in Murphy for testing - no matter the cost.
In regards to writing and directing, it's been an up and down season for Z Nation, with "Escorpion and the Red Hand" being one of the strongest episodes of the season in terms of overall production value. Still, standalone story episodes such as "Doc's Angels" and "Election Day" helped to give the main story arc a chance to breathe and fully develop over the course of all 14 episodes. This is the first season Z Nation has used a split narrative, choosing to divide its characters into several groups, each tasked with their own mission or goal. Warren and Dr. Mei are attempting to get the Red Hand to help storm Murphytown, while Doc and Addy are trying to get Lucy (Bea Corley/Caitlin Carmichael) back from The Man - who has kidnapped her and is taking her to the members of Zona.
"Everybody Dies in the End" was written and directed by Abram Cox (who directed the season opener, "No Mercy", and he attacks the story with the same zeal as he did 13 episodes ago - and that's a good thing. The last couple of episodes left several loose ends and Cox does a rather nice job of wrapping those up fairly well. The Man and an ever-aging Lucy are quickly headed to meet Zona at a new rendezvous location, with Doc and Addy hot on their trail - but they're travelling blind. Lucy, thinking on her feet, uses her telepathic zombie ability to leave a trail of zombie bread crumbs in the form of "Grandpa", a zombie that simply points in the direction of Lucy - or as Doc calls it, an "apocalyptic GPS."
Meanwhile, Warren has agreed to help Murphy rescue his daughter, so she, Dr. Mei and a very sick 10K are racing to intercept The Man before he can hand her over. Even though Citizen Z (DJ Qualls) is no where to be found, Kaya in the Sky-a (Ramona Young) is giving the group new coordinates via radio. With The Man and Lucy held up in a mountain bunker, Doc and Addy try to figure out a way inside. Despite his protests, Addy leaves Doc and Grandpa in an attempt to climb the mountain and gain access from the top - it's a shaky plan at best. The Hippie/Zombie duo are ambushed by Zona soldiers who have luminescent white eyes. They're apparently immune to the H1Z1 virus, but that immunity is beginning to wear off.
After mistakenly mercying Grandpa, Warren and the gang - which now includes Red (Natalie Jongjaroenlarp) and 5K (Holden Goyette) - make their way inside the bunker but 10K has become critically ill and Dr. Mei fears he is dying. She has a bold plan to save him - he has to die. Based on Dr. Merch's notes from Murphy's initial experiments that left him immune to the virus, she has determined the only way to save 10K's life is to kill him. In a move that is sure to stop the hearts of every teenage girl watching Z Nation, they come up with a four-step plan: Choke. Die. Bite. Inject. So Warren chokes 10K to death. He dies. Murphy bites him. Dr. Mei injects him with the experimental serum. At first it seemed like Cox was actually taking a bold move by letting a fan-favorite character bite the dust (something that should be considered in season 4), but a few minutes later he comes back to life.
Meanwhile, Addy is doing her best mountain goat impression by climbing the sheer face of the rocky mountain but manages to drop her ever-trusty pike-bat in the process. Eventually, Warren, Doc and Murphy confront The Man at the top, which ends when Murphy shoots but doesn't kill him. During a hand-to-hand combat scene (which shows that Murphy has some impressive strength), The Man manages to shoot both Murphy and Warren with the same bullet. With them injured on the ground, The Man snatches Lucy, jumps over the edge of the cliff, as Addy and 5K follow after him into the unknown abyss. About that time, an aircraft from Zona shows up and begins charging a powerful blaster weapon, taking aim at Warren, Murphy, Doc and Red - leaving everyone's fates completely unknown.
When all is said and done, "Everybody Dies in the End" is a bit of a misleading title, since the only people dying in this episode were the Zona soldiers and Grandpa (one of our new favorite zombies from this season). Still, Cox did a great job of wrapping up the story points which had been building for most of the season, while laying the groundwork for what's sure to be an exciting and interesting season 4. That's not to say the season wasn't without its shortcomings. Citizen Z continues to be underdeveloped (even though he now has a girlfriend with a child on the way), and the series felt like it took a slight departure from the oft-humorous and sly tone that made the show so enjoyable.
During the course of the season, Warren's gung-ho attitude was replaced with an "at all costs" demeanor. This changed her from a fearless leader into someone to be feared - the difference was rather alarming. In many ways, she's exactly like Murphy, not that she would admit it, choosing to do whatever it takes to get his blood - her mission became more important than her humanity. Doc was left a bit in the Z-weeds for most of the season, though his solo episode, "Doc's Angels", gave him a much-needed showcase. Addy's maternal instincts are kicking in with Lucy, and watching her pure determination to rescue her from The Man has been a very enjoyable experience.
While Red and 5K have found a warm place in the hearts of most fans, without a doubt, the best addition to Z Nation this season has been that of The Man. Gatt has brought a cold charisma to the character, which makes you both love and hate him - which is exactly what the series needs at the moment. He gave a face to Zona, and made what could have been a cookie-cutter character into an interesting and easy to understand antagonist that all fans will be eagerly awaiting to see again next season.
What are your thoughts on the finale of Z Nation and season 3 overall? Let us know in the comment section.