Z Nation “The Murphy” Review (Season 2 Premiere)

Z Nation is a show that works in extremes. Really, it’s just the one extreme, one that involves veering towards whatever situation will provide the most bug-nuts insane storyline each week. The first season saw the show figuring that comfort zone out rather quickly, right up to its bombastic ending that literally saw things go nuclear. With a second season that clearly came as a surprise to everyone involved, “The Murphy” brought the show right back to the sort of madcap insanity that helped it stand apart from the other big zombie show on television.

When I say that the renewal came as a surprise, I’m making a bit of an assumption. However, looking at how the first season finale and this premiere were structured certainly suggests an unexpected return. Last year ended with the team scattered, all hope seemingly lost as bombs descended from the sky to cleanse the entire cast in nuclear fire. It was a decidedly nihilistic downer of an ending, but it fit the growing hopelessness that pervaded the back half of the season. It was also an ending with just the smallest of threads left dangling should the show somehow pick up a renewal.

And renewed it was, which left the season premiere as a workhorse of an episode, one dedicated to forcing the group back together as quickly and coincidentally as possible. Again, improbability and ludicrousness are sewn into the show’s DNA, but man, what a series of unlikely events we got tonight. Though the show paid lip service to the week or so it had been since everyone managed to outrun a nuclear blast – which in itself was a ridiculous way to go – it only took around thirty minutes of screen time for everyone to meet back up at Murphy’s zombie strip club. Heck, even the presumed dead/missing Mack and Addy wandered back into the fray.

And it might seem like I’m complaining, but really, it’s hard to fault the creators. The first season was betting on cancellation, and it would be a tall order for any show to come back from that ending smoothly. So, given that the show’s never been one to linger on any particular story thread, the showrunners decided to just force the plot along as quickly as possible, choosing to move on to the real meat of this season, the hunt for Murphy, instead of spending several weeks with the team scattered.

So let’s get on to man himself, as this episode was really all about just how far gone Murphy is at this point. From his new-found respect for – and control of – the undead, to his creepy interactions with the addled Cassandra, to his undying selfishness in the face of the apocalypse, it’s hard to see the guy as anything other than a full-blown villain at this point. Truth is, though, it suits the character, who followed a progressively darker path last year. Now, he can just be gleefully self-indulgent while also giving the show a much-needed antagonist to drive the narrative. It also provides the show an excuse to introduce more and more crazy characters as the hunt for The Murphy begins in earnest next week.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!