Did I miss it or did we not catch so much as a glimpse of the undead during last night’s show, the fourth in a season of just six episodes? We did get a sweet scene of a junkie injecting morphine between his toes, which is what I always look for in really quality zombie fare.
There’s no point continuing to grumble about the acting. It is what it is. Apart from Ruben Blades, the Jennifer Love Hewitt lookalike daughter, and the “Gilbert Grape” era Johnny Depp lookalike junkie son, it’s going to be thin gruel from here on out. So let’s grumble about this instead: They couldn’t think of anything more inventive to do with a military occupation of suburbia than turn the troops into the same cartoon jackholes that soldiers always seem to become in this genre? Maybe that’s unavoidable. The unwritten moral of nearly all zombie stories is that the living are more dangerous than the dead. When the cavalry shows up, that’s when you’re really in trouble. (A notable exception to that rule is “Shaun of the Dead,” which was played more for laughs than tedious Romero-esque lessons about human nature.) Even so, I nearly changed the channel in protest of terrible writing when they had the uncaring military commander, Moyers, actually driving golf balls to signal his complete indifference to the horrors happening around him. All that was missing was a cigar and some ominous barking at the local civvies that “you’re living under my rules now” or whatever. And the funny thing is, when it came time to show just how sinister the soldiers were, their big crime was … carting off the junkie, who was a threat to those around him given his willingness to steal and do lord know what else to get his fix. Clearly the military are the bad guys. They just … haven’t done anything really bad yet. Good call devoting an entire 60 minutes to that point.
No, wait, that’s not fair. It’s strongly implied that they have done something truly terrible. When Madison comes back after sneaking outside the wire, she tells Salazar that some of the people shot dead in the streets of the new DMZ didn’t look zombified. The suggestion, made more clear by the closing shot of gunfire inside the home in the distance that was sending mirrored signals through the window, is that the military is mowing down whomever they encounter on the streets, living or dead. Why they’re doing that in the DMZ — and why they’re not doing it in Travis’s neighborhood — is unknown so far. I suppose there’s a quarantine rationale behind it. You can’t tell at a glance who’s infected and who’s not, so if you want to stamp out the virus in an area quickly, you need to cull everyone. It’s the human equivalent of Mad Cow. Except … you can tell if they’re infected and headed downhill by checking them for bite marks, which doesn’t take long, and if they’re already zombified, a visual inspection within, say, 30 feet is typically enough to tell. So why kill everyone? That seems like an especially terrible strategy knowing that some citizens will inevitably have guns and will start to open fire on the military once they realize they’ll be killed if they submit. The military’s path of least resistance is to reassure survivors that they’re there to help. Also, what sort of timeframe are we looking at in all this? At one point Madison says that the military’s been there only nine days; my sense is that the outbreak only began a few weeks before that. And yet, in that short period, the military’s managed to clear a six-mile perimeter around Travis’s neighborhood of all things living or dead, as Moyers once says? That seems like an unusually small amount of time for a small viral outbreak to gain such momentum that the Marines are needed to keep order, and then to have those Marines decide that their wisest move is to go on a rampage in some neighborhoods against everyone they meet. Civilizations collapse quickly, but not that quickly. It could be, I guess, that the number of zombies on the outside is much greater than everyone except the military realizes (despite Travis’s hopeful “it’ll all be all right” chirping), but in that case why is Moyers so chill about what’s happening? Soldiers are people too. Watching the world end would bother them enough not to practice their golf game during it, no?
Exit question: When are one of these stiffs in the main cast going to be put out of their misery already?