Black Summer is the prequel series to the now-canceled Syfy zombie series Z Nation. However, unlike Z Nation, which added lots of comedy, this series is deadly and serious, and an interesting departure from its predecessor.
Black Summer starts with empty neighborhoods and barking dogs while an emergency siren goes off. It seems similar to the start of Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake — but the aftermath.
— NX (@NXOnNetflix) April 11, 2019
Up first is Rose (Jaime King), who is sitting alone in her house when her husband Patrick (Ty Olsson) comes in to tell her that he thinks “it” stopped. She grabs her stuff and starts to head out, telling a young girl named Anna (Zoe Marlett) that it is time. They gather up toys and head out.
There is a megaphone in the background speaking inaudibly and the three head down the street with others leaving their houses and running in the same direction. They pass a sign that says looters will be shot. The camera pans up and there are a ton of people running, with helicopters heard flying overhead.
Everyone is running.
They end up facing military units and the man with the megaphone said anyone who doesn’t listen will be turned away.
They tell Anna to go first. The soldiers are conducting an eye check and skin test on everyone. Anna gets on the truck and the men asks for IDs. They are asked some questions. Patrick is asked if he is armed but no one believes him. It turns out that Patrick is hurt, and the military tells him to open his jacket and open his shirt.
The military guys are jerks and they threaten to open fire on anyone who doesn’t listen to them. They see that Patrick is hurt, and they hit him in the stomach, opening a bloody wound. The military drives off in the truck, taking Anna away from her parents, leaving them behind and then jets fly over and start bombing the neighborhood while the military opens fire on everyone left.
Rose asks how she could do that, leaving her daughter all alone. She said she will get Patrick some antibiotics and then go and try to find their daughter. He tells her that he can’t go because they won’t let her through if he is with her. He said they don’t know what is going on and there is no plan or safety for them anymore.
When she asks if he wants to leave their daughter out there, he said he wants her to go alone to find their daughter because they won’t let her through with him. She tells him that she loves him and will get them there.
Rose goes to get him some water and hears a thud. She grabs a knife for her protection. She goes to a bedroom in the house and finds an old woman sitting along on a bed. When she goes in to find Patrick, she sees blood all over the floor and then locks herself in the bathroom when something growling and angry tries to attack and starts trying to break down the door.
The old woman screams and that causes the attacking thing to go after her instead, which allows Rose to escape the house. Patrick — now a zombie — and someone else runs out and gives chase. These are fast-moving zombies!
A soldier shows up with a gun and saves Rose, shooting zombie Patrick dead. As the birds chirp, Rose walks up and hugs the soldier. She tells him that she lost her daughter and needs to get to the stadium. She asks him for help getting there.
While everyone is running around panicking, a young man named Ryan (Mustafa Alabssi) is walking calmly down the street. He is deaf, which is likely why he isn’t as panicky as everyone else since he can’t hear the gunfire, screams and jets flying overhead.
To show this, anything from his point-of-view has the sound cut out.
He glances over and sees a woman lying in the street while someone is kneeling over her. The person kneeling runs off and Ryan heads over to see if the is ok. She is bloody and in pain. He then watches her for a short time before a young Korean woman (Christine Lee) grabs him and tells him they need to run.
The jets start dropping the bombs and Ryan reacts to the boy’s panic and fear since he has no idea what is happening. They find a house and try to get help but see a man with a gun and three people tied up and on their knees in front of him. He tells them to get out and they run. There was even a dude walking down the street whistling.
* Fun trivia: The main female character in Night of the Living Dead — the first zombie movie of this type — was named Barbara.
A van is driving, and Barbara (Gwynyth Walsh) is lost, trying to get to the stadium.
A man knocks on her window and seems to want help. The man said that he and his family need a ride to the stadium and said he will trade food. She is scared and he tries to convince her he is a good person with kids and needs help and she is not safe by herself.
The man asks if she is a Christian and that sells her on his goodness. Sadly, he is not a good man and it was a scam. When she agrees, he said that he will drive if she wants and he promises not to screw her over. He then gets into the van and she realizes he has no family. He orders her to get out or he will hurt her.
Then, suddenly, a guy opens the door, pulls him out, and starts beating the hell out of him to save Barbara while she watches from the van.
A guy and a girl are standing in the street and are confused because they are supposed to meet someone and don’t know where they are supposed to be. They are standing in the street and the guy walks off with a map to figure things out when a car flies through the intersection and slams into the girl.
These are the two people Ryan encountered earlier and shows how the girl died.
The dude in the car just takes off and leaves. The boyfriend leaves her there to die and runs off. That is when we see Ryan show up and then also run off, leaving her on the ground. She then dies and turns into the zombie – the first time we have seen a change on the show up close and personal.
A couple of guys see the change and run and then she gets up, roars, and gives chase. It is interesting that she was smashed by a car and when she changed, she could still get up and run full speed without a problem. She tries, and fails, to attack a number of people and seems very frustrated that she can’t get to others.
She finally gets to one and attacks, getting her teeth into him. The second guy — Lance (Kelsey Flower) — escapes.
The final introduction from the Black Summer season premiere told the story of the man that we thought was a soldier in Rose’s story (Justin Chu Cary).
The scene starts off with a man in handcuffs being led away by three soldiers. The two young people that started the Lance chapter walk by and seem to be scared of the military (for good reason, as we saw earlier). They lead the man to a house and beat on the door. They order the family to leave because the area is under mandatory evacuation.
They then head into the house and tell Spears to sit down. They are going to get transport and tell Spears that he will “go for a ride.”
Spears said he isn’t the guy they are looking for, but the soldier doesn’t care. He tells the soldier he just does what he is told even if it isn’t right. He said they are just “settling scores” and flexing their might on the world. He is talking a lot, taunting the soldier, telling him that they are scared, too. He is antagonizing the soldier and said that they have the wrong guy. The soldier said they are going to dump him in the brig.
Spears said that he knows where they are taking him and know what they want him for. He said that he has something that they want. He said that he knows about millions of dollars in cash and he knows where the money is at. He asks if the soldier wants to know where the money is and said that he can show him where it is, some “Bonnie and Clyde s**t.”
Spears gets up and said that he has to go to the bathroom. The soldier tells him to piss in the corner, but he is handcuffed so he can’t unzip. He is allowed to squat and pull his hands upfront to do it. He said that he can’t do it on the floor, so they head to the bathroom.
This is when he attacks the soldier and kills him. He steals the uniform — the soldier is named Spears, so he takes his name.
The final chapter in the Black Summer season premiere ties things together. The people are racing to the checkpoint to escape. We saw this in Rose’s chapter when Anna was taking away and separated from her mom.
Ryan and the Korean woman race to the checkpoint. Lance is also there, but still hasn’t said or done anything yet. Spears and Rose are there and at least Spears has a weapon to protect them from angry survivors.
The problem is that the evacuation is complete and anyone who hasn’t got through is left behind to die. They are under attack and they can’t let anyone else through. The Korean woman gets through and then the gate is knocked open and everyone runs over the soldiers and race through.
The Korean woman gets into Barbara’s car and they race off together.
Spears and Rose are left standing in the streets and she offers Ryan and Lance a chance to come with them and the season premiere of Black Summer ends.
Black Summer is very different than Z Nation, despite being a spinoff. The original series was more of a zombie comedy, with a lot of gore and violence but a bitter humor lying under the engine. With that said, Black Summer is deadly serious.
This is also different enough from The Walking Dead, with fast-moving zombies and at least one scene that showed everything from the point of view of the enraged creature. There is enough here as a setup to what fans saw in Z Nation but this is a more personal story.
The only person met that we care about here is Rose and her desire to find her daughter. That family aspect to the story should be enough to carry this through the first season of eight episodes and both the action and zombie effects made for a very entertaining, if gory and violent, start to the new series.
Black Summer is currently streaming on Netflix.