EZMM 2020 Day 8.1: Zomboat Episodes 1.04-1.06

It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Here there be spoilers.

Well, I’m not gonna lie. Zomboat kind of plateaus after Episode 3, but the good news is that it maintains a high level of quality all the way through to the end. This is a show that doesn’t really waste a lot of time on inessential elements, focusing on the central storyline and the development of the characters. And while they’re not the most three-dimensional characters, they’re a far cry from what I was expecting. Actually, the character development in Zomboat kind of reminds me of the way the first season of Misfits played out, where you had a small ensemble, each with particular strong character traits that identifies them, but then as the series went on, the actors and the stories allowed real distinctions and development to occur.

I guess I’m trying to say that this isn’t just a throwaway comedy. There’s an emphasis on the comedy, but it develops out of the situations. The jokes are important, but they don’t come at the expense of character or plot. It really does have a lot more in common with Shaun of the Dead than I would have been willing to suggest at the start. I also appreciate the fact that they don’t force any romantic element. There’s definitely some romantic tension between Kat (Leah Brotherhead) and Sunny (Hamza Jeetooa), and that awkwardness is allowed to play out a bit, but it doesn’t force itself to the forefront of the narrative.

But before we get to that, we get to Episode 4, where the gang decides to risk a supply run and we get an opportunity to see the worldbuilding that creators Adam Miller and William Hartley are attempting. It’s not a surprise or anything that we shouldn’t expect, but with this episode we get an opportunity to see an ordinary person, Chloe (Amy Booth-Steel), dealing with the zombie apocalypse. Or maybe she’s not so ordinary? I’m not sure, but she has a good handle on things until introduced to the chaos that Kat and Jo (Cara Theobold) bring into her life.

Chloe has been trapped in the grocery store where she worked, after the manager blew the fuses and screwed the doors. They only open when the outside sensor is triggered, so she’s been stuck. Until Jo and Amar (Ryan McKen) show up, that is. But then they’re all stuck. And therein lies the comedy!

Oh yeah. Amar needs to take a shit and gets blocked at every turn. It’s actually pretty funny.

Anyway, as luck would have it, Jo used to work at this store and Chloe admires her for the fact that she got out after winning some sort of competition (the details weren’t clear to me). But later, when Kat shows up, wondering where they’ve been (and they all get trapped again), it is revealed that Jo cheated to win the contest and its trip overseas. This trip has been a point of obsession for Chloe, who thinks that if she had won her whole life would have changed for the better. And after seeing the hostility that comes out when she gets the opportunity to kill her undead manager, we can see where this is heading.

She traps everyone in the grocery store with zombies about to kill everyone, because of that inner hostility that she kept clamped down inside. This character, who seemed pretty normal on the outside, went full-on psychotic when given the opportunity to take revenge on people she felt wronged her. And granted, Jo did wrong her, but murder seems to be an extreme response.

I fully expect to see Chloe again if we get a Season Two.

Episode Five begins with our heroes feeling the effects of too much tequila, and it appears that Kat and Sunny had a bit of a snogging session. Awkward! Anyway, that doesn’t really amount to much as the focus of this episode is on how Jo and Amar wouldn’t be terribly upset if they could run off and get away from their annoying partners, and after finding a second boat, it turns into a real possibility.

But as all of this is going on, Miller and guest-co-writer Liz Doran have another development that they slip into the storyline. For five episodes now, leading the charge of the zombies that have been following them through the locks of Birmingham, has been Zombie Jude (Callum Kerr). I haven’t mentioned him yet, because he seemed to be more of a running gag than an actual plot point – he was the first zombie we saw back in Episode One, waking up dead in Jo’s bed. Since then he’s been Jo’s Zombie Stalker and the butt of many jokes.

This time out, though, he starts exhibiting new symptoms. He’s faster and seemingly stronger than the other zombies, and he is definitely fixated on Jo. It takes a combination of shotgun blasts and a boat explosion to actually re-kill the bastard. It’s weird and Kat notes it, but it isn’t until the season finale that we get some insight into just what’s going on with Jude.

The finale finds our heroes reaching a military sanctuary at the edge of Birmingham, which Kat immediately distrusts because, well, we’ve all seen the movies and know not to trust the military in situations like the zombie apocalypse. In this case, though, it’s not necessarily because of any nefarious reasons, it’s just that the military and the politicians still scrambling for control are refusing to accept the reality of the situation, to the extent of not calling the infected zombies for fear of offending someone.

Needless to say, the compound is overrun and our heroes have to make their escape. But the most important thing to happen is the return of Rob (Rory Fleck Byrne).

I haven’t mentioned Rob before because he wasn’t really important until now. But Rob is the owner of the canal boat that Kat and Jo stole in the first episode. He reappears here and we get a moment to revisit Jo and Kat’s murder of Rob’s zombie girlfriend, but luckily he knew she was undead and just didn’t have the heart to re-kill her himself. So there’s some awkwardness sidestepped. Whew!

Instead of that awkwardness, we instead learn that Jo’s Zombie Stalker, Jude may be Patient Zero in the outbreak and without him a potential cure may be impossible to discover.

There’s that awkwardness again!

With zombies overrunning the compound, our heroes scramble back to the boat, but along the way we discover that Jude wasn’t Patient Zero. He wasn’t the only on participating in the clinical flu vaccine trials the night the apocalypse began; so was Jo. That’s where she met him before bringing him home for a wild night. And the pub where a fellow kissed Jo without her permission, inspiring Jude to punch the fellow, and inspiring Jo to take him home, is the sourcepoint for the zombie outbreak.

Yes, much to her satisfaction, everything that’s going on is all about Jo. She is Patient Zero.

Which means that everyone she kisses or beds will die and be reborn as a super zombie. Guess who else she kissed? Poor Rob. He never really had a chance.

On the plus side, if we get a second season of Zomboat, Jo’s got a new Zombie Stalker and our heroes have miles and miles of locks to get through before they reach London.

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