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The kid isn’t alright on a Z Nation stuck telling bedtime stories

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Even though the entire show is predicated on the idea of trying to save the world from the zombie apocalypse, Z Nation really doesn’t spend much time thinking about the future. The reason is simple: When it takes this much effort just to stay alive in the present, it’s hard to give too much consideration to what might happen later. Making it through the night is usually at the top of your priority list in this world. Kids, almost by definition, upset that equation. Even those of us without our own children can be affected by having them around. They’re an implicit reminder that the future is coming, regardless of whether you know what to do about it. But if you do have kids? Well, if Murphy is any indication, the question of what the future looks like becomes a lot more pressing. Especially if you plan to rule it.


As a way of introducing a Lucy old enough to communicate with the team, “They Grow Up So Quickly” is an effective episode, conveying all the information needed to let the audience know this little girl has lived an incredibly sheltered life. As an episode of Z Nation, it’s uneven, though not for lack of trying to provide one bonkers moment after another. It’s easy to see how the writers envisioned revealing the home life of our little half-zombie as an opportunity to indulge in some good-natured silliness: The costumed Zs littering the yard, ready to play at a moment’s notice, are a good visual gag, as is the way Lucy speaks through her caretakers. It’s a classic move for the series: Put our heroes in a situation where the people around them are acting crazy, and let them react. It didn’t work so well in an insane asylum, but here, Lucy’s mental influence justifies the nuttiness, even if it drags a bit, as though the show just assumed dropping Addy and Doc into a wacky scenario was all that needed to be done.

If last week showed the potential to be wrung from separating our main team, this week again reminded us of why they’re stronger together, both as a more effective group and a more entertaining one. Namely, everyone has a useful role to play in the greater whole, and when they’re divided into different parts of the country, that balance is upset, resulting in episodes leaning too hard on one person’s shtick. Doc’s good-natured demeanor has gotten a real workout this season, with Russell Hodgkinson forced to shoulder an inordinate amount of both exposition and wisecracks, a recipe that’s begun providing diminishing returns. If you rely too much on just having Doc go bug-eyed and exclaim, “Aw, damn!” any time something crazy happens, you drain the character of his efficacy and appeal. It’s been fun seeing him step up to the plate responsibility-wise, but he could use some help.

Thankfully, Addy was there to inject the occasional burst of energy. She wasn’t given the best lines this week, and was all but ignored during Doc’s act-long story to Lucy about her parents’ history, but her showdown with the Ender was a great beat, not least because it showed Lucy there were people in the world that couldn’t be controlled. By the time The Man showed up to kidnap Murphy’s daughter, and throw a bag over her head, the little blue manipulator was fully on Team Addy, meaning there will be some conflicting loyalties if and when both Murphy and Addy try to recapture her. (More on that mission later.)

(Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Syfy)

Once more, all the really interesting stuff is happening in Murphytown. His old allegiances are slowly fading, much like the blue from his skin, and Murphy is determined to exert his control on everyone and everything. That focus is what makes his fascination with 10k so significant. Here’s someone who actively hates being a blend, and even though Murphy knows why, he won’t let himself go there mentally or emotionally. Much as he did in “Little Red And The Wolvez,” Murphy has what’s essentially a conversation with himself. He directs 10k to play the knife game, expounding on the need for obedience, as the knife moves faster and faster. It’s tragic to see Murphy close the door on any chance of friendship with his old fellow traveler. The single tear that rolls down 10k’s face—sorry, “Thomas”—isn’t just from the pain of his bleeding fingers. It’s for the loss of his freedom on even the most basic level of motor skills. It’s unclear whether Murphy’s right when he proclaims the transformation complete, or whether 10k is playing the long game with the mind-controlling jerk. Either way, Murphy’s hooks are deep in the young man, and it’s crushing his spirit.

Still, Murphy’s not immune to pain either, as we see when his daughter’s anxiety gets transferred to him. What’s great about that reveal is that it shows how Doc’s bedtime story was grounded in truth, even as it left reality further and further behind. The tale of Serena and Murphy started out essentially truthful, albeit in language that put a happy spin on everything. But as Doc slowly spun it into a tale of dancing, pie-eating, and random interjections, the humor also contained the seeds of Murphy’s love for his daughter. He may be a moron most of the time, but he’s not without his all-too-human love for his daughter. The Man already pissed him off simply by dint of infiltrating his compound, but now that he’s got Lucy? The phrase “Damn the man” has rarely been so applicable.


Stray observations:

  • Nothing this episode made me happier than when the Ender growls at Addy, and Addy growls back. You go, girl.
  • I guess if you’re going to try and guess the password for claiming Murphy’s little blue daughter, you could do worse than “Smurf.”
  • At first, I was convinced 10k’s mission was to rescue Lucy and bring her back, but now I’m not so sure. The “transformation is complete” thing has me worried “Thomas” was ordered to take out Warren and her crew; Murphy’s so far gone, it wouldn’t shock me.
  • Best kill of the week obviously goes to shoving the flare into the guy’s head.
  • Of course Lucy enjoys being tasered.
  • “How much is this baby gonna poop, anyways?” “A lot.” “Gross.”

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