Trust is hard to earn, especially in the apocalypse. But Roberta Warren has earned the trust of the group—even when her decisions seem to make no damn sense.
“A New Mission: Keep Moving” is a callback to the same theme from the beginning of season three, when our heroes realized the dream of the original mission had died. At the time, the plan was much more concrete: Stop Murphy from his foolhardy goal of creating a race of hybrids. Now, things are much more nebulous; keep moving, yes, but in what direction? The episode starts in much the same place it ends—with the group casting aside its more pragmatic impulses in order to follow Warren’s inexplicable hunch—so for all intents and purposes, the episode is little more than table setting. Luckily, the way the show continues to tease out larger mysteries and character arcs remains compelling, so even a minor entry like this stays engaging throughout.
And hell, the series is even learning how to integrate the funny without sacrificing the darker and more nuanced tone, rather than the uneven balance of wacky camp and ambitious sci-fi that couldn’t be sustained last season. Instead of a constant drumbeat of Doc one-liners and the introduction of over-the-top situations and/or characters, Z Nation is getting some solid humor from character development and interactions between the core team, in a way that feels unforced and easy rather than hokey. 10k, for example, is getting to have a personality again, his identity back from the circumstances that didn’t permit last year, and it’s adding a lot to the group dynamics. He may still be too pissed at Murphy to bring himself to care about Lucy’s dad, but he’s not above some sarcastic banter in the meantime: “What are you scared of? You’ve got a cane.”
Murphy, meanwhile, continues to generate the most pathos of anyone, thanks to his fractured relationship with his daughter. When he tries to bond with her early on, she spurns him, in large part thanks to his having been cured of his former condition. “My dad could feel me from across the country!” Lucy spits, and her turbulent adolescent rage hits him harder than it should. He feels the guilt of her childhood without him, and it weighs heavily—so much so, it drives him to a new tactic. It seems pretty clear that Murphy is messing with his wound, and eating his own flesh, in an attempt to regain that lost connection, to again feel the relationship with his progeny on a physical level. He saves her life, and they even share a much-needed hug after the explosion with the booby-trapped Z, but Lucy immediately returns to Warren. Murphy wants that kind of bond. The fact the show is naturally progressing this story, rather than rushing it, makes it feel real and human.
The other big issue this episode addresses is Warren’s visions, which she finally lays out to the rest of the team, albeit in a way that raises more questions than answers. The intervention forces Warren to acknowledge that there’s nothing outside of a gut drive, provided by her abstract visions, pushing her to continue east. In the middle of 200 square miles of abandoned cars, she confesses to what’s been happening in her mind, to the best of her ability. And Murphy, of all people, delivers the sensitive but firm retort, “That’s not enough”—which everyone else, even Warren, agrees is the case. She goes against her judgment in hopes of cohesion, but after the antennae tower that she saw in her dream appears in the real world, she realizes she can’t ignore this strange compulsion to continue away from NewMerica, for reasons unknown. And now, the rest of the group is with her explicitly. They’ve weighed the options, they know there’s no good reason to follow with her down this path. And yet: Trust.
And that tower climb revealed the most intriguing clue yet from Warren’s dreamworld. When she’s holding on for dear life, the Zs crowding underfoot, Warren holds out her hand, and we see it flash—all by itself, no surrounding vision needed—into a white glove, that looks for all the world like some detailed technological innovation. Weirdly, this means our theory from two weeks ago (Warren has pierced the veil separating this reality from another, equally menacing one) might still be possible: The only difference may lie in just what powers Zona holds on the other side, and what technology may exist to shape it.
But in the meantime, the group has Mad Zs to deal with. As opposed to the normal Zs, it looks like everyone’s worst fears were right, and this is a more or less unkillable strain of Z that need to literally have the entire head demolished in order to be stopped. The details are still vague, even from Lucy, but it’s enough to cause concern. As is the new evolution of the Enders, incidentally: They can set traps, surround the team, and even rob them of precious supplies. We’re going East, but not without food and weapons. Warren, the clock is officially ticking on getting to the bottom of your visions.
- Murphy: “Hope they’re not all gonna be that hard to kill.” Sorry, pal. On the plus side, your cane’s hidden sword seemed to do the trick admirably, later on.
- At long last, we learn that Kaya-in-the-sky-a is still alive and on the airwaves, hunting for Simon.
- 10k dropping down from the roof of the auto in the middle of the intervention was great, as were his quips. Glad to see the character getting a defined personality after last season’s muddle, and Nat Zang is playing the hell out of it.
- Isn’t Doc always working on his inner monologue?
- Enders with rat puppets was a great way to avoid the otherwise hammy-seeming tactic of introducing what were basically going to be ROUS this episode. Kudos, Z Nation.