Z Nation: Philly Feast (1×03)

Synopsis: If you’re in Philadelphia when the zombie apocalypse breaks out, you’re going to be dinner in one way or another.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Z Nation really doesn’t let the big questions linger long – this episode answers all of our Cassandra/Sunshine questions that were brought up last episode. A flashback shows Cassandra in a trailer, the acting and the dialogue is hilariously terrible, and she fails to properly tase the guy in the trailer with her. Two more guys break into the trailer to subdue him. After he’s properly incapacitated, Cassandra herself gets tased as punishment for her hesitation.

In the present, the caravan is driving through Philadelphia and they randomly come across the Liberty Bell on a truck because of course they do. What’s the first thing you want to do when the zombie apocalypse strikes? Steal national treasures of course! Nic Cage is probably on your zombie apocalypse team, isn’t he? The truck has gas, so they’re taking it – Liberty Bell and all – but that only lasts a few streets before they’re almost in a car accident. Of all the streets in Philly, they have to run into one more car. Swerving, the Liberty Bell goes flying and bounces down the street, taking out zombies as it goes. And easy come, easy go, the truck’s axel is now broken…

That same man that tased Cassandra in the flashback is sitting at a table with other people, discussing family and lamenting the loss of Sunshine. They’re obviously doing alright for themselves, with full plates of food, but it’s still a cult. QUESTION EVERYTHING.

Garnett’s group is feasting on Twinkies (because Zombieland) before they split up to search for supplies and a way to get back in contact with Citizen Z. Addy and Mack find a police car that they think they can rig up to contact him and she’s left to try it out while Mack goes to kill some nearby zombies.

I wasn't exaggerating, they really do drive the Liberty Bell around for a while. (source)
I wasn’t exaggerating, they really do drive the Liberty Bell around for a while. (source)

While Doc and 10K are trying to rip down a satellite dish in an effort to keep in contact with Citizen Z, Cassandra is spotted by two men with guns. She manages to run away from them, though they’re obviously part of the family, referring to her as Sunshine. After she gives them the slip, they notice Addy in the police car and call her “another opportunity.”

Distracted by her ability to get through to Citizen Z momentarily, the two guys who were chasing Cassandra manage to take her hostage. While Z is frantically trying to pinpoint her location and figure out what happened to her, Mack comes back and panics when he can’t find her. He gets Citizen Z on the police radio, who tells him he thinks something happened to Addy because he heard a scuffle.

After Addy’s camera recorded her capture – they still have working iPads to play video, don’t think too hard on that one three years into the apocalypse – they confront Cassandra about the bikers that were with Travis, her “friend.” She tells them about how she can’t go back and that Tobias and the family are worse than zombies. There’s a big, sad monologue about how you don’t pick who you survive with and she says whatever they do is worse than rape or murder. But ultimately, they convince her to show them where it is so that they can rescue Addy.

Unfortunately, Addy’s been taken to their weird family compound and is formally introduced to Tobias, the leader and “father.” There’s a whole super-villany speech about everyone contributing and benefitting and survival. He tries to give her some steak, which she rejects, and then Moonshade and Stormy take her off to help her get acclimated. When she emerges from a trailer, Addy deems her new attire “post-apocalyptic stripper” and they tell her it’s more like bait.

The family, complete with comatose Mama, around the table preparing to feast. (source)
The family, complete with comatose Mama, around the table preparing to feast. (source)

While exploring the compound, Addy finds what happens to be worse than rape or murder. She finds people, alive, and carved up, realizing that this is the meat that they’ve been eating for who knows how long. Yep, Z Nation went right into cannibalism with both feet. Literally. When we cut back to the rest of the group, Murphy is in the middle of a great three-legged pig joke. Taking away any mystery to the zombie virus, Garnett helpfully reminds everyone that if you die, you come back a zombie so how the hell are they eating this meat? And… well, we know how… everyone kind of catches onto that too.

At the compound, Tobias is carving up some fresh thigh skin for Addy, who is crying at the table, but before they have the chance to force feed it to her, Garnett is at the gates. He wants Addy and 10K straight up snipers a guy with a headshot to prove they’re serious. Cassandra ends up trading herself for Addy before things get too tense and the caravan leaves, intending to leave Sunshine and the family to whatever crazy things they’re going to continue to do. But Addy and Warren band together in a “chick thing” and refuse to leave without her.

A ridiculous plan is hatched. Somehow, they hook up a sound system and have Citizen Z blast some music for them on an AM frequency. Meanwhile, Doc is pretending to be one of the family’s victims to get Cassandra on board with their plan. They make a lot of hilarious fake sex sounds before Tobias and his help burst into the trailer, killing the man and tasing Tobias. They escape the trailer in time to see the truck burst through the front gates, blasting music and bringing the zombies with it – culminating in their escape and leaving the family to an assumed ruin as they get the hell out of Philadelphia.

Cassandra and Addy bonding over their mutual traumatizing moments. Aww, apocalypse! (source)
Cassandra and Addy bonding over their mutual traumatizing moments. Aww, apocalypse! (source)

And that, folks, is Z Nation – an in-your-face apocalypse adventure that I’m loving more and more each episode. There are no apologies for just throwing out there ‘oh, yeah, we’re all infected and if you don’t die of a headshot, you’re coming back’ or the unabashed way they show ruthless cannibalism. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun and we get to feel like we’re winning every week. I love it.


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