Warning: Spoilers Ahead
I’m sure all Z Nation fans out there have their favorite moments of the series. For me, the one scene that kicked the show up to a whole new level of insanity was the Pie-Girl/Murphy hook-up from last season. After witnessing THAT, I honestly couldn’t see how the writers could possibly top themselves in the new season. Well, it just goes to show you that I know sh*t because it took only a single episode in for them to be able to pull it off. I mean, we’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and what does Murphy do? He spends his days finding the perfect pimp wardrobe and putting together the first ever Z-porn video. Yep, that definitely topped the Murphy/Pie-Girl make-out session, and is certainly something that you won’t be able to un-see!
And, with tomorrow being just the 2nd episode of the 15-episode season two, no telling what’s going to happen next. Fortunately, I was able to chat recently with Executive Producer Craig Engler to get all the deets on what to expect for the rest of the season and some hints on just how crazy things might get. Check out what he had to say.
TV GEEK TALK: A few days ago right before the season 2 premiere, it was announced that George R.R. Martin would be making a cameo this season on Z Nation as a zombie, which I personally think is hilarious. Can you talk a little about that?
Craig Engler: “One of our writers is Michael Cassutt, who also happens to be a writing partner of George’s. Michael and George are friends, and I’m also friends with them as well. George also watches the show and got very interested in it, and Michael told him, ‘Hey, you should come up and be a zombie.’ It just so happened that George was going to be in Spokane while we were shooting the show, and so, Michael asked him if he wanted to be a zombie. And, not only is [George] a zombie but also his 2 assistants. They spent a 1/2 day with us and had just the most fun ever. George loved it, his assistants loved it, we loved it, it was hilarious.”
TV GEEK TALK: And, when will we get to see this?
Craig Engler: “I think it’s episode 8. The idea is there’s a collector of zombies, who collects celebrity zombies. We mocked up the book that hasn’t come out yet, and the idea is if you show George a book, he’ll just automatically sign it. But, you know it is a time commitment. It takes several hours to get made up as a zombie. Of course, George is a very busy guy, and it was really nice of him to take time out of his day and go out in the middle of nowhere. We shoot at crazy locations, and he just hung out and was a zombie. [Laughs]”
TV GEEK TALK: Also, fantastic season 2 premiere. I screened it a couple of days before it aired, and I haven’t stopped laughing yet. Just a really great episode. Can you talk a little bit about that episode, and in your own words, give the fans a few teasers as to what to expect — not just in the premiere but in the first few episodes of the season?
Craig Engler: “Well, what I tell everybody is we resolve the cliffhanger from season 1, because that’s the number 1 question we get. The good news is you find out what happens, which may not be what you think is going to happen. I think number 1 is we pick up quite literally where we left off, and then, in season 2, there’s a big shift in the dynamics of the group. The team has been split up, Murphy has taken matters into his own hands. He’s gone off on his own, and so, the team is trying to get back to him. And, of course, everyone is trying to survive a nuclear explosion too. So, I think season 2 is both much different from season 1, but also something you’d expect. It’s not one of those seasons where you’d say, ‘What are they doing? How come they changed the show?’ There are some changes for the better and ones that make total sense. Another thing I will say is season 2 will be even crazier than season 1. [Laughs]We have zombies that no one has ever seen before, we have crazy things going on. I think the viewers aren’t going to expect what we bring them, but they will love it.”
TV GEEK TALK: Season 1 was about getting Murphy to the lab in California in order to try and create a vaccine. But, in the season finale, serious doubts were raised as to whether such a lab even exists anymore. I know that’s still the focus in the season 2 premiere, but will that still be the main theme for the remainder of the season?
Craig Engler: “The focus is still going to be on Murphy. I mean, he literally is the most important human alive in the apocalypse, and I think the difference that you’re going to see is that it’s going to go from a small band of 5-7 people to lots of people chasing after Murphy. At the same time, Murphy is no longer content to just be the baggage on the journey to California. I mean, they’re dragging him across the country largely against his will, and he’s like, ‘I don’t want to be with these people anymore. I have my own plan.’ So, not only is Murphy changing as a character, but everybody around Murphy is also changing as they become aware of him. So, again, it’s sort of the natural progression but still unexpected.”
TV GEEK TALK: Now, what about Cassandra? We saw in the premiere that she is now immune and also, travelling with Murphy as kind of a pair. What is her path? Is she also going to be an object since she’s immune to the disease?
Craig Engler: “She doesn’t become the focus of the world because she doesn’t have the same antibodies as Murphy that would make it desperate to get her to the lab in the California. Basically, Murphy and Cassandra now have an alliance together, and in some ways, she’s able to better control Murphy. Before, we saw her on what we called “the human team” who was helping to get Murphy to California, but now, she’s helping Murphy with whatever he’s doing.”
TV GEEK TALK: In season 1, you had several very interesting storylines. Tobias and his family of cannibals. The Sisters of Mercy cult. The guys over at the FU-Bar. Can you tease some of the new storylines we might see going into season 2?
Craig Engler: “There are tons, and I really can’t say too much because the real fun is in learning. But, I can say that not only do we go even more bizarre on our ongoing journey but you’ll also see some really well-defined groups that will eventually become more major players. I also can tell you that you’ll see some things that you’d never expect to see in a zombie show. There’s a couple that go so weird that you’ll think, ‘I can’t even believe they’re going there,’ but again, it’s really cool.”
“We’re also changing up the zombies, and you’ll see ones that you’ve never seen in the past. One thing is that the zombie virus itself is mutating just like any other virus, and so, different zombies are affected in different ways by the virus.”
TV GEEK TALK: What about some of the characters from these season 1 arcs? Like Tobias or that blonde pie-girl who Murphy hooked up with. We’ve already seen Pie Girl in the season 2 premiere, but will we see some of the other characters, and besides that, are there any new interesting characters that you can tease about?
Craig Engler: “Absolutely, and actually there will be both. We have a couple new people who join the group, and you’ll see some old favorites. Again, in ways you’re not expecting. Pie-Girl has a whole story arc, some other fan-favorite characters from last season who will make another appearance. You’ll be meeting some new people who join the team and others who work against the team. So, there’s a whole new world that we explore in season 2 that we weren’t able to get to in season 1.”
TV GEEK TALK: I think we actually saw 1 new character at the end of the premiere and one that had been teased for several months, Matt Cedeno. From what we can tell, he’s a bounty hunter. Can you talk a little bit about his character and how he will fit in with the rest of the group?
Craig Engler: “So Matt does, indeed, intersect with the group again later on, although no one I don’t think will quite know which side he’s on. So, I think you’ll see his character join the group as an uneasy alliance, and at the same time, you know Matt is a good-looking guy in a zombie apocalypse, and so, some of our female characters might be attracted to him. [Laughs]”
TV GEEK TALK: Yeah, I think I already noticed that. He gave Warren this look in the premiere, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy. She’s going to get another love interest, and she doesn’t exactly have a good track record with men.’
Craig Engler: “Oh yeah, on Z Nation nothing ever ends well. [Laughs] So, yeah, Matt becomes a love interest but is also an antagonist at the same time.”
TV GEEK TALK: Another one that has been teased, and I’m not sure when he’s supposed to show up, is Emilio Rivera. Can you talk a little about his character? My guess is he’s going to be a bad guy, just from the way he looks.
Craig Engler: “Your guess is, indeed, correct. I mean, I don’t think he thinks he’s a bad guy, But, he does have an awesome character and a very long arc towards the back half of the season. He’s one of a whole group of people that are going to get involved with our group for many episodes, and it’s super-exciting. I have to be circumspect, the show is going to go in this really cool direction you’re not going to see coming. But, when you see it, you’re going to say, ‘This is really cool.’ I really can’t say that enough. I don’t think any audience member out there has any idea of what’s in store for them, and I think they’re going to love it.”
TV GEEK TALK: Now, having seen the premiere, I must say that the one character I’m most concerned about is poor Citizen Z. Granted, yes, he does survive the nukes and is still alive, yay!, and so, I guess we should count our blessings. But, man, he’s in kind of a crappy situation. All those Z’s that were once frozen coming after him, and he’s not exactly the best shot. Any hints of what’s in store for this character?
Craig Engler: “I can say that Citizen Z gets a very interesting arc, and the apocalypse really hits home for him. I mean, for most of the apocalypse, he’s been safe and secure up in the arctic. He’s got food, he’s got electricity, basically everything he needs, and his situation is going to get really desperate. His character is going to have to rise to the occasion and does, both Citizen Z as a character and DJ as an actor. You know, DJ shoots all of his stuff by himself because he’s isolated from the rest of the group, and that’s hard on an actor to not be around the rest of the team all the time. And, I think DJ does an amazing job. His character has a whole interesting arc, and DJ gets about as uncomfortable as you can get in the apocalypse in his situation. All of his security and everything he has ever known is taken away from him, and he’s going to have to battle it out just like any other survivor.”
TV GEEK TALK: Anything else you would like to say about season 2, anything that will get the fans super-excited over what’s to come?
Craig Engler: “You know, I think I would say 2 things. I think if you liked season 1, you’re going to love season 2. I mean, season 2 is kind of like season 1 on steriods. We’ve had a lot of comparisons to some of the other zombie shows like The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, and I think Z Nation has become a completely different show. I always say if you’re a zombie fan, watch all of them, but I think the identity of Z Nation comes into its own in season 2. It’s a much different show than anything that’s out there now or came before it, and so, if you’re a zombie fan, it’s a real treat. It’s really fun to be able to explore facets of the zombie apocalypse that no one has really explored before and in a good, fun, interesting way.”
Episode 2.02 of Z Nation is titled “White Light” and airs Friday at 10/9c on Syfy. Check out the below promo photos and sneak peek. After having screened the episode, there are 2 things I can tell you. First, the entire hour is 100% action. Thanks to Citizen Z’s announcement to the world that there’s a huge bounty on Murphy’s head, everybody is after the poor guy and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way. So, lots of killing, lots of fighting, and lots of bloodshed. This also includes our team of survivors, and unfortunately, one person doesn’t make it out alive. Yes, folks, we get our first major death of the season. After the title of the episode was announced, I had a bad feeling we were heading for some heartbreak, but it still didn’t make it hurt any less. I truly do hate the zombie apocalypse!
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com
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