Z Nation's 'The Unknowns'

Navigating the zombie fun house of death on this week's Z Nation

Contributed by
Mar 26, 2021, 12:00 PM EDT (Updated)

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Z Nation's “The Unknowns,” because hey … it's a TV Recap.

Occasionally, Z Nation does its own take on popular cult movies, and “The Unknowns” delves into Cube-esque territory ... a bunch of people suddenly find themselves in a hostile environment being held captive by unknowns, and they must puzzle out how to survive a maze of rooms and hope they can somehow escape before getting murdered.

Why does the apocalypse always have to be so hot?” - Murphy

“The Unknowns” opens with the gang walking down a lonely highway on a hot day. They come upon a truck, which somehow they don't seem to see until they are near it. There doesn't seem to be anyone around, and items have been discarded in front of the truck. Warren cautiously approaches the truck's cab, but it's empty.

Murphy is thrilled they might have a ride, but Warren thinks it's a trap and they begin walking back the way they came. Then the truck starts up and starts to follow them. With no one in sight, the gang is appropriately on guard. And then, a big, nasty noise lets loose, and the gang doubles over in pain until they pass out.

I think we've been kidnapped and enslaved for evil purposes ... again. God, I hate when this happens.” - Doc

Warren wakes up in the dark. She turns on a flashlight that's in her hand, only to find out she's in a crate. Somehow she was unconscious and standing in the crate and holding a flashlight. Okay.

Z Nation's 'The Unknowns'

She calls out but doesn't get an answer. After some noise and movement, the door of the crate opens and she sees a woman attack a man from another crate because there was “only one crowbar.” She tells Warren to get a key off the floor, which she does.

They're in some sort of mazelike windowless building with flashing lights. Warren learns that the woman has been wherever they are for about a month, and that “they” want them to do specific tasks, like clearing Zs from different areas. “Just do what they want ... You can't fight the sound.” The woman doesn't know why or who is doing this.

They travel down a hallway toward an elevator. The woman tells Warren “they” want them to clear the elevator, and tells her to use the key to call the elevator. But the doors don't open and the woman has to pry the doors with the crowbar. From inside the elevator, two Zs attack her and she goes down. While the woman is getting eaten, Warren gets in the elevator and hits the button. After the doors shut the big, bad noise knocks her out again.

Warren wakes up. Doc calls to her and tells her he's also in a crate. Doc tells her he was on a suicide mission with two guys who had to clear a stairwell, but they were killed. Then his crate gets dragged away.

I thought you were all dead ... again.” - Murphy

Doc's crate opens and he finds a wrench, a gas mask, duct tape, and 10K. But they don't have time for a reunion. They both smell something nasty. They figure that “they” must want them to stop the gas leaks. As Doc and 10K attempt to fix the leaks, they trade off using the gas mask. But when Zs start attacking them, the process slows down, and Doc passes out. 10K tries to revive him, but between the gas and the Zs, it takes a while before Doc finally wakes up, just as the big, bad noise strikes, and they pass out.

Warren's still in her crate, but she discovers Murphy, Lucy, and Sgt. Lily are nearby in their own crates. Warren starts to have a panic attack, but Sgt. Lily talks her down. Murphy's disturbing habit of eating bits of his old bite injury continue. Meanwhile, Lucy connects with a Z named Carson and gets him to open her crate. Lucy sees that there are lots of crates, just as the big, bad noise hits, and they all pass out.

Z Nation's 'The Unknowns'

Lily wakes up to find a man in a room with her. He is not a nice guy and obviously has other things on his mind besides doing whatever “they” want. As she's trying to get away from him, a Z attacks the man and Lily runs away. She finds her way into a stairwell, but bangs her head on the railing and knocks herself out.

If we get out of here, and that's a big if, we're going to have to have a Come To Zombie Jesus Moment with Warren.” - Murphy

Doc and Murphy travel down a corridor with Murphy complaining that “This whole thing would be a lot more efficient if they just told us what they wanted.” In a funny scene as Doc and the Murph talk, they are regularly attacked by Zs, which they whack away with mallets and don't miss a beat on the dialogue. Luckily for the gang, the unkillable Zombies don't seem to be a problem.

Elsewhere, Warren and a new man get out of their crates, and she puts him in a choke hold and questions him as to whether this is part of “The Reset,” and why Zona is doing this. He tells her, “Zona doesn't have anything to do with this.” He tells her he's seen plenty of Zona guards trapped as well.

Lily wakes up on the staircase and sees a bird and sunlight. But then the big, bad noise hits again, and she's knocked unconscious.

What fresh hell is this?” - Murphy

The gang is trapped in a big cage with Zs milling around them. The Zona info guy and another man are with them. They discover it's feeding time and a bunch of puppy chow dry food is poured through a chute into the center of the cage. Doc and 10K are thrilled. They love puppy chow.

Z Nation's 'The Unknowns'

Lily tells them about the bird and the sunlight, and they start to compare notes. Using the extra dog food as a canvas, they draw a map and agree to try to get to the stairwell and what might be an exit to escape from on their next trips out.

Later, with Murphy and Warren out of their crates, they make it to the stairwell and find the others waiting for them, except Lucy. They head up the stairs and open a door, which leads to bright sunlight and an enormous field with only the underground building's exit visible. Well, that and crates waiting for each of them. The big, bad sound strikes again.

I just know something bad is coming and I'm supposed to stop it.” - Warren

They wake up in their crates again. While they're depressed at the thought that they may never escape whatever “they” have in store for them, Warren tells them that she believes they will, because she has to go east to stop the bad thing that's coming.

Just then, Lucy's zombie friend, Carson, with Lucy's help, cracks open Warren's crate, and then the crates of the others. They book it to the stairwell and the exit again, but they're stopped by a woman and the Zona info guy, who has a gun. His task is to stop them from leaving, which he somehow knows. Why they aren't just hit with the big, bad noise? There's no explanation. The noise got to Lily before in the same location. And why don't Zona info guy and the woman go with them with their gun? Again, there's no explanation.

Then a Z hits, and there's a struggle. Zona info guy and the woman are killed and the gang escapes out the door. There aren't any crates waiting this time as they run away from the Zombie Fun House of Death. However, Murphy falls down. He's been bitten, and since he's not immune anymore, things don't look good for him. Warren manages to get him up and moving, and they end up back on the road, facing the truck. Their stuff is on the ground with the stuff of others that have been kidnapped. There's even a conveniently abandoned car. The gang grab their stuff and hit the road just before the big, bad noise hits again. Luckily, they get away.

Down the road, Murphy is suffering from whatever the bite is doing to him. And while the others try to get Warren's attention, she's engrossed in another black rainbow, fiery sky, apocalyptic vision.

As per usual, Z Nation has fun with the material, with Murphy and Doc getting the best lines. So it's entertaining, and it looks like Murphy's going to morph again in some way. Still, we don't get any answers. The group ends up where they started off for the most part, without expanding the mythology at all. And we've got a new mystery involving the who and why of the “unknowns” that will likely never have an answer.