Syfy’s Z Nation: ‘Doctor of the Dead’ Season Finale review
The Mad Scientist Behind the Z Virus and Patient Zero
Season 1, Ep. 13 – ‘Doctor of the Dead‘ | Aired Dec 05, 2014
by TS Alan
The long journey to get Murphy to a military facility in hopes of extracting a cure from his antibodies took a detour when the group was re-routed by Citizen Z to a lab in Colorado, the place where Dr. Merch was last reported to be. However, a disturbing discovery and a potential tragic episode ending could potentially shift the focus of season two in an all new direction.
It was truly a cliffhanger for the end of Z Nation‘s inaugural season that lead viewers down many roads to ruin, and finally to patient zero and a mad scientist named Dr. Kurian (Donald Corren), who is behind the zombie apocalypse. Syfy’s Z Nation: Doctor of the Dead season finale opened to a flashback three years prior to the SHTF, where a mysterious doctor takes a brain fluid sample from a living patient — not alive after that! Right from the get-go you knew he was the lunatic behind the end of the world, and through a few other flashbacks we discover how truly evil he is.
Through another series of flashbacks we get introduced to patient zero, Brandon Doyle (Richard Sloniker), a technician who worked in the Colorado lab and somehow became infected with the virus despite adhering to all safety protocols. This was a key development not only for giving viewers background on how the virus began, but also character foreshadowing of Murphy, who eventually encounters Doyle in a cognitive but extremely decomposed state. Murphy’s sympathy for Doyle’s condition and his realization that he may be headed in the same direction — considering is own slow decay — makes for a pretty intense and emotional scene.
The group spent most of the episode exploring the Colorado lab while searching for Dr. Merch, and discovering the many horrors contained within, including a living dead woman being eaten by a swarm flies and two escaped mutations that Murphy dispatches by ripping off their heads with his bare hands. All the mutations were the spawn of Dr. Merch’s failed attempts at developing a vaccine for the zombie virus.
Murphy’s search for Dr. Merch came to an end when Dr. Kurian entered the facility and announced she was dead, and then revealed that he was her boss and had come to collect Murphy and take him to a medical facility to map his genes and develop a cure. However, Citizen Z had some suspicion and after running facial recognition on the doctor, he discovers the man is really Dr. Kurtz, an international criminal who’s wanted by Interpol for being a bio-weapons dealer and who had also been working on battlefield hypnotics.
The last five minutes of the episode is fast paced and chaotic. Dr. Kurian shoots doc; almost killing him, we find out Murphy has bit Cassandra in the face to prevent her from succumbing to the Z virus; only to use mind control on her to take out Dr. Kurian’s two soldiers, Murphy flees the facility without decontaminating; triggering a fail safe that causes a launch of a nuclear missile that is targeted for the base, Dr. Kurian pursues Murphy; but viewers are left not knowing if Doctor Evil has made it out, 10K, Warren and wounded Doc flee the lab leaving Cassandra behind, and a secondary fail safe measure trips launching nuclear missiles throughout the US; several aimed toward Northern Light.
In true cliffhanger style the episode ends with nuclear missiles bearing down on everyone, the fate of all the characters is left in question, including Murphy, who is seen speeding away in a vehicle moments after shedding his skin, but not revealing his condition.
With a myriad of plot points and character developments it’s difficult to figure out which way the show will head, providing the group and Citizen Z, don’t succumb to nuclear annihilation. There were three main key developments and a minor one with the episode. The first is the introduction of Dr. Kurian aka Dr. Kurtz. It will be interesting to see if the producers and writers decide to utilize him as a central villain instead of the villain and/or disaster of the week, or will they have him perish at the lab.
The next development was with Cassandra, portrayed by Pisay Pao. Throughout the season, with exception to second episode ‘Fracking Zombies,’ we get very little development, leaving Cassandra rather dull. But being bitten by Murphy and turned into a half-zombie, Cassandra now has the potential for being very interesting and developed into a substantial character, providing they keep her around.
Then there is Murphy. We have seen some interesting developments in his character over the 13-episodes. He has gone for not giving a damn about anyone except himself to starting to develop a sense of family with his companions, though he sometimes swings from being clinging to wanting to dump them and be on his own. This I believe is his uncertainty of where he belongs in the new world and the growing fear of what he is becoming. His fear certainly drove him from the lab, leaving his fellow survivors behind with the knowledge his act would cause the death of them all.
Viewers never get to see Murphy in his altered state after he sheds his skin, so we do not know if he is going through a transformation for the better or one like Doyle. Perhaps his metamorphosis will be the beginning of a new race or the deciding factor that there is no cure to the virus. But Murphy will need to outrun the nuclear detonation if we are to find out.
In a minor plot development, Citizen Z is actually an important part of the episode, which is something that we haven’t seen from the character in many episodes. CZ figures out that Kurian is Kurtz and tries to warn the group. He also attempts to stop Murphy from bypassing decontamination, though he fails.
Curiously absent is Dog, CZ’s canine companion. However, in one of the final scenes we get a momentary glimpse of Mack and Addy looking up at the sky and seeing the ascending missile in the distance. Could it be that they will survive and the rest of the characters will perish, or will a third party stop the detonations? I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to find out.
Z Nation airs Fridays at 10 pm ET/PT on Syfy.