Previously on Z Nation, ‘Down the Mississippi’
Starring: Kellita Smith, DJ Qualls, Keith Allan, Anastasia Baranova, Russell Hodgkinson, Nat Zang, Pisay Pao, Matt Cedeno | Director: Dan Merchant
BITES & MORSELS
Low on supplies and ammo, the crew intended to make a supply run before Murphy is suddenly MIA. Caught in a trap, Patient Zero is wrangled, poked and prodded by an overzealous zombie fan/pseudo-scientist. After asserting his authority through rather sadistic means, the psycho nerd proposed to appoint Murph as the prize jewel of his collection.
ZOMBIE ROLL CALL
“The Collector” turned back the clock a little bit, granting Murph a trip down memory lane with appearances by a Blaster, Phyto Zombie and a Toxic Zombie. Only things missing were an Anthrax Mennonite Zombie and a few critters. Then the set would have been complete!
In an eerily cute moment early in the episode, Murphy took a little time to play slapsies with his undead cellmate. If only they had more hair so they could take turns braiding one another.
THAT’S SO META
One of the lighter moments in “The Collector” occurred when Murphy’s host gave him a grand tour of the National Zombie Museum, complete with a number of displays and posters of various zombie films. It was a fun history lesson that reacquainted genre enthusiasts with the long-standing love for the undead in cinema.
As if “The Collector” wasn’t oozing with enough sentimentality and jollification for zombie-dom, in comes Papa Bear himself, George R.R. Martin in all his decomposing glory. Alas, he didn’t make it through the Sharknado… Thanks to thousands of hours of book signings, Martin’s muscle memory remains acute (although his signature has a gone off to the wayside since turning). The hilarious scene gave some playful jabs to the other zombie show and Martin himself, who can’t quite finish up his own dang series. hmm. I wonder what a zombie dragon would look like…
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Now let’s get to this asshole over here.
Dean, Dean, Dean… what can be written about this guy? Beyond question the Zombie Apocalypse took him over the edge; Dean avoids human survivors altogether, preferring the monosyllabic responses and regional varieties of undead he encounters.
His sense of self-importance is as prodigious as his childish tantrums. Dean has trapped and amassed a huge collection of specimens and undead variants not in the hopes of finding a cure, but to generate an impressive box office. Vehemently disdainful of the CDC, Dean implies he knew what was going down in the early days of the apocalypse, however exhibits a lack of competence due to his haphazard practices and “autopsies”. Let’s also not forget about his horrible behavior towards Murphy, who received more than his share of shocks when he refused to comply with Dean’s demands.
If one were to delve further – weaving social commentary into “The Collector” itself like Dean mentioned about Night of the Living Dead – there was plenty going on between him (the Super Fan) and Murphy (the Idol). By the end credits, very few have any sympathy for Dean, who is disturbingly relatable to any of us that have frequented cons or exposed to trolls that live to harass on social media. Just as the world continues to change within Z Nation, our cultural landscape is altering in most circles for the better. Huge strides have been made across all media to engage in diverse storytelling and representation. Given Dean’s objections to camaraderie and comic conventions with their inclusive atmospheres, the character seems to have a whole other purpose aside from run-of-the-mill antagonist.
Let us posit that Dean represents the old guard of fandom: insular, violently agitated to change and rigid in their outlook of the world. Dean was initially ecstatic in getting to know his new plaything; Murphy is put through the wringer under the meaningless guise of collecting data. He even remarks matter-of-factly that “Pain is a useful teacher” and rushes thousands of volts to Murphy’s collar (leading to an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch, by the way). Now with his agency taken away and Dean dismissing any form of consent, Murph can do nothing but play nice for fear of additional peril.
Dean’s mania for zombies combined with (willful?) isolation reinforces his delusion that his way is best, and anything – or anyone – is a threat to his fragile supremacy. Any change to his world must be subdued or eliminated.
Eventually those abused, harassed and forced to accept the Dean’s entitled, possessive attitude rose up and he’s (literally) consumed by his obsession. I don’t know… Perhaps this reviewer is reading too much into “The Collector” and panning for nuggets of meta gold like a wide-eyed prospector. Intentional layered allegory or not, the episode effectively humanized our dear ol’ Murph under the superb scribing and direction of Dan Merchant.
NOTES OF THE LIVING DEAD
- Although he was a despicable human being, Dean wouldn’t have been Dean if it wasn’t for the talents of Tom Beyer. Give the man his due, people!
- “Remember fresh breath” or Doc will remind you what tree bark smells like up close and personal.
- COSPLAY IS NOT REAL?! Ohhhh man. Z Nation, I love you… but don’t sign checks your ass can’t cash to all of SDCC.
- *Murph, skimming through GRRM’s manuscript* “‘Summer is Here’. It’s already 800 pages, how long does it need to be?” The laughs.
- Murphy’s craving for brains was a sudden (re)development. Is he further devolving or perhaps his hankering for grey matter is what fuels his powers?
The gang cruises their way through New Mexico and experience some close encounters next Friday in “RoZwell” at 10/9c on SyFy!
Z Nation S2E8
At roughly the halfway point of season two, “The Collector” pays homage to the genre it holds dear while playing on the derisive attitudes that pervade respective subcultures. The cameo by George R.R. Martin was ridiculously fun and a great play on the rampant fans that demand the next chapters of his series. With California fast approaching, Warren and the rest of the squad are teetering on the edge of survival. Although this was a Murphy-centric episode, the importance of the group was paramount to his motivations for escape. Once a roving band of strangers dead set on simply completing the mission, they are more of a family than most of them care to admit. It will very interesting to see how the dynamic will continue to change once the CDC is over the horizon.
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