Spoilers ahead for Z Nation's “Back From the Undead,” because hey … it's a TV Recap.
On rare occasions, Z Nation takes a left turn and gets serious. “Back From the Undead” has plenty of funny one-liners and Z Nation weirdness, but at the end it does indeed get deadly serious as we say goodbye to one of our heroes.
It's a strange episode for sure, which involves Warren's visions, Murphy's zombie bite, and a lab filled with gross zombified body parts. But it's also the best episode of the season so far.
“We've got a ticking man. He might turn any minute.” - Sgt. Lily
“Back From the Undead” picks up where last week's episode left off. Warren is driving the group down a highway, speeding like a bat out of hell. And Murphy is busy dying in the back from a zombie bite, with Lucy and the others trying to figure out how to help him. The gang tries to get Warren to slow down and stop, so they can take care of Murphy, but she's in Visionland, driving down an apocalyptic highway.
Warren doesn't appear to hear them. But when her vision signals that she should make a turn, she slows down just enough to turn, and then speeds up, heading toward a facility called Bio-Mod, stopping just before crashing. They all get out, and Murphy is in rough shape. They help him into the building, where he collapses.
While 10K and Doc stand ready to mercy Murphy if he turns Z, he tells them, “I'm not dead yet.” 10K and Sgt. Lily head off to take care of some of the Zs that have been drawn to their noisy arrival. Lucy is horrified at the thought of losing her dad. She bites him twice and he seems to get better.
A driven Warren heads off on her own, and it isn't long before she discovers dead bodies and more. She finds a square key she somehow knew existed, and travels down corridors that she seems to know. Her vision quest gives her the code of a couple of keypads.
The facility seems to be some sort of lab, and a freaky one at that. She runs across jars and weirdness involving zombie body parts.
“Lucy, I'm your father, and that means your life is more important than mine.” - Murphy
Back with Murphy, he seems to be doing better, but Lucy has aged. Doc thinks it's because she bit Murphy. The former blue one is upset, and he tells her not to bite him again, but Lucy isn't making that promise. “Why won't you let someone save you for once, Mr. Savior of All Mankind?” she asks.
Lucy going through an age jump at this point was a surprise. She has not been my favorite person pretty much since they brought her on to the show as a creepy blue baby, but it is an interesting development. Of course, she didn't have age jumps because she bit anyone before, so it's not clear why she has one at this point.
10K and Sgt. Lily return, but then Lucy's spidey senses kick up that Warren is not okay. They head off to see if she needs help, while Doc stays behind with Lucy and Murphy, who seems stable. But when Doc hears a loud noise, he joins the Warren rescue party, leaving Lucy and Murphy alone.
“She's on another one of her walkabouts.” - Doc
Warren, obviously driven to get somewhere with her visions, eventually finds herself in a lab looking at a canister she knows she has to retrieve. When she pulls the canister away from the wall, air releases, and she's exposed to something. Almost instantly she sees a syringe on the wall, grabs it, and injects herself with it just as she passes out.
When Warren wakes up, she finds the desk of Dr. Edgar Caligari, who has books and drawings of people with extra body parts. It's not hard to guess that this guy has something to do with the bizarre experiments in the lab.
Meanwhile, 10K and Lily go through the disgusting-body-parts lab looking for Warren.
And back with Murphy and Lucy, Murphy realizes how much Lucy looks like her mother. When Lucy asks about how he met her mother, he tells her the truth mostly. That he didn't love her mother, but he loved that she protected Lucy with her life. As Murphy gets worse, he begs her to not bite him again.
“Can't unsee that.” - Doc
In the disgusting-body-parts lab, it's Doc's turn to get the tour. Doc has a lot of great lines and goes to town. “Uh, great. More scientific shenanigans. Give a guy a lab coat, he'll screw things up every time.”
As Doc passes freaky zombie hands and jars of fingers, he goes on a rant. “What in the zombie hell were these people up to? Why's it always got to be some crazy evil s***? Can't we for once just find a bakery? Maybe a working donut shop? … Is that too much to ask?”
Unfortunately, Doc knocks over a jar of zombie fingers and is completely creeped out, because he hates fingers. He really, really hates them. He takes a hammer to them, but one of them flies up into his clothes and finds a hole in his stomach to wiggle into. 10K and Sgt. Lily arrive and try to help. But the finger is wiggling under Doc's skin and moving too fast for 10K to cut it out. Doc finally corrals it, and 10K cuts it out. Sgt. Lily tosses it down to kill it and shouts, “Die, mother finger! Die!” It's a hilariously funny scene, with Doc at his best and Lily and 10K providing able support.
“Looks like we've got ourselves a freak ... Maybe a super freak.” - Sgt. Lily
Just as 10K, Sgt. Lily, and Doc are about to continue their search for Warren, they realize they're not alone. Something's watching them, and it turns out to be some kind of huge Frankenzombie with extra arms and heads on his torso. Unfortunately, it's standing between them and where they think Warren is. 10K attacks it, and it grabs him by the neck. Then Sgt. Lily attacks, and it grabs her by the neck. Then Doc hits it in the head with his hammer, and it lets the other two go but grabs Doc.
As the battle rages, they shoot at him, but the Z puts a clip in a machine gun and shoots back. “That ain't no regular Z,” says Doc. Indeed. The Frankenzombie gets Sgt. Lily in a headlock and starts to choke her, brushing off attacks from 10K and Doc. As Lily starts to fade, Warren arrives. She gently asks the Z if he is Charlie Baker, and he lets Lily go. He knows his name.
“Some things are worth dying for.” - Murphy
Murphy begins hallucinating that Lucy is her mother. He's dying. Eventually his heart stops, and Lucy tries to give him CPR. But nothing is working.
Murphy wakes up later. He's feeling great. But he looks at Lucy and she's become an old woman. She's bitten him several times. Murphy is devastated. But Lucy tells him, “It's all right, Daddy. It's okay. I can feel you again.”
Back in the disgusting lab, Warren asks the Franken Z where Dr. Caligari is, and she finds him ... on the back of the Franken Z, glasses and all. Warren asks Caligari if he knows her. He tells her he doesn't. He also doesn't know what's in the canister that she was driven to find and take.
“For the love of brains.” - Doc
Dr. Caligari admits, “My knowledge exceeded my wisdom.” He was working on a way to graft zombie tissue onto humans to pass on their superior genetic qualities, like not dying. Unfortunately, a Z bit him and his buddy Charlie, a security guard. Dr. C cut off his own infected arm and mercied Charlie. But then he decided to graft one of Charlie's arms on his stump. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the zombie tissue took over and grew a new Charlie, overwhelming the not-so-good doctor's body until all that was left after five years was his head and glasses on Franken-Charlie's back.
With Warren unable to get any answers that will help her figure out what's driving her visions, or why the canister is important, she agrees to mercy Franken-Charlie and Dr. Caligari.
“You tell Addy I tried.” - Lucy
As Warren and the gang return to Murphy, he's holding Lucy in his arms. She's dead. Murphy is inconsolable, and the others are in shock at the loss. It was a normal adventure. It wasn't supposed to end with Lucy dead.
Murphy takes her outside to bury her, and Warren cries.
So much for hoping for a happy ending to this episode. While Lucy's teen brat behavior was often annoying, even I was sad when she died. But once she age-jumped into her 30s, it seemed unlikely they'd keep her around, even though I expected a Lucy/Addy reunion when Addy returned to the show. The big question is: How do they get past something this big, that's going to devastate Murphy and Warren and the rest, and still maintain their goofball view of the zombie apocalypse? It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. And it will be fun to see what happens to Murphy now that he just may turn blue again.
One note. Sgt. Lily fits in perfectly with the group and is starting to get a lot of her own funny lines. She might just be a keeper.
The other important thing is that we may just have been given a clue regarding Warren's visions. Rather than the visions being some mystical, prophetic thing, it's looking like Warren was programmed with a mission to get items or do things that some mysterious person, likely a Zona-inspired person, wants. They just might be feeding her the vision quest breadcrumbs so she can complete Zona-important missions. Warren was in Zona's hands for two years in a coma, after all. But if Warren is being used for nefarious purposes instead of fluffy, happy, save-the-world purposes, I pity the fool who's behind the programming.