Black Summer is a new Netflix post-apocalyptic series that’s getting mixed reviews. Some people absolutely love the series and others aren’t so sure. The series explores what happens to a small group of people after a zombie outbreak, in a similar vein to The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. But what many people don’t realize is that the universe of the show has already been established. Black Summer is actually an in-universe prequel to Z Nation, which Syfy recently canceled. So if you have questions about how the zombies in Black Summer are killed or how the zombie virus began, all you have to do is look to Z Nation for answers.
If you haven’t seen Z Nation, we have the answers below. But warning: There will be some spoilers for Z Nation in the explanation.
First, let’s clear something up right away. Despite what you may have heard, Black Summer is DEFINITELY part of the Z Nation universe. We explain it pretty in-depth in our previous story here. So we’re just going to skip over that part and go straight to the mythology and lore that you need to get caught up on.
Just to clear up the relationship between Z Nation and Black Summer: Same Apocalypse, different story. It’s a prequel in that it is earlier in the same Apocalypse. Things haven’t got weird yet. #BlackSummerNetflix
— Karl Schaefer (@UnrealKarl) April 13, 2019
Black Summer in Z Nation May Have Referenced a Time Later than When Black Summer Takes Place on Netflix
Black Summer is a term known widely in the Z Nation mythology. Essentially, everyone in the Z Nation universe knows that Black Summer refers to the time when the most humans died after the zombie outbreak. The general idea is that as long as the weather was cold, the outbreak didn’t spread too far. But as soon as the weather got warmer, the zombies spread and quickly became out of control. But there’s actually a bit of a mixup between how the term is used in Z Nation and how it’s used in the new series. The series Black Summer starts six weeks into the zombie apocalypse. (In contrast, Z Nation began three years into the apocalypse.) Black Summer is a darker series than Z Nation because every Z Nation reference clearly states that this was a horrific time when no one knew how to kill the zombies and people turned feral, hurting one another.
But the timing doesn’t match up perfectly. One episode in Z Nation that talks a lot about the Black Summer is in Season 1 Episode 3, called Mother. She became catatonic after her husband Tobia suffered a mental breakdown that led to cannibalism during the Black Summer. In Z Nation, it’s understood that the Black Summer referenced the year 2018 (the first infection was 2016), when there was an extreme drought and resources became scarce. In fact. Black Summer was originally going to be a comic series, not a Netflix show. It was going to be set in the second year of the apocalypse when a drought overtakes the U.S. and the last of the canned food ran out. But the Black Summer that we’re watching on Netflix supposedly took place six weeks into the zombie apocalypse. So there’s a bit of confusion in all of that. (If you have an idea how to clear that up, let us know in the comments below.)
The Zombie Virus in Black Summer Was Created by a Scientist Trying To Make a Bio Weapon
The virus that caused the outbreak is called the ZN1 virus and it can infect both humans and animals (that’s a big difference from some other zombie series.) It was created by Dr. Walter Kurian at Fort Collins, CO under the code name “Red Death.” He was collecting samples from Ebola camps, krokodil addicts, abandoned bio weapons in Kazakhstan, and brain matter from a man from Haiti. His goal was to create a virus for bio-warfare. The virus jumped to humans accidentally in a lab when Brandon Doyle, a lab tech, was infected. The very first infection happened in 2016. The show Z Nation hints that the virus went airborne and ultimately infected everyone.
A character from Z Nation (Murphy) is one of three inmates who were part of a government experiment testing zombie vaccines. He was the only one to survive and he also survived multiple zombie bites. So in the series Z Nation, he’s the only human with zombie antibodies, but he’s mutating at the same time.
In Z Nation, we see a lot of different types of zombies from mutated versions of the ZN1 virus, whereas in Black Summer those mutations haven’t happened yet. The different mutations include blasters (created by a nuclear blast), phytos (a half plant/half human zombie created when humans were working on a vaccine), radioactive zombies, Mad Zs (a mutated form of ZN1 where the zombies are tougher to kill), Franken Z (a very intelligent singular zombie created by a doctor), and Talkers. Talkers are a fascinating zombie from Season 5 that resemble living, sick people. Talkers were created by a black rain, and it’s possible that more people who die will turn into a talker rather than an original zombie. (This only happens in Z Nation and is not the case at the time of Black Summer.)
Zombies Are Killed By Destroying the Brain
Similar to The Walking Dead, everyone in the Black Summer universe is somehow infected. When you die, you will turn into a zombie unless your brain is essentially destroyed. A zombie bite doesn’t cause you to turn into a zombie when you die, but it does make you die very quickly. This is also similar to how the virus works in TWD: everyone is infected, everyone will turn when they die, and a bite is fatal.
The big difference between TWD and Black Summer is that the zombies in Black Summer (and in Z Nation) are crazy strong and smarter than what we’re used to from TWD. This was a pattern that was also carried over into Z Nation.
But just like TWD, zombies in Black Summer are killed by destroying the brain. The problem is that in this universe, it took people a while before they figured that out. That’s why in the show you’re seeing people shoot at random parts of a zombie. They don’t know yet where the kill shot is (and with zombies moving so fast, you’d have to be a really great aim to get the kill shot.)
Post Apocalyptic Media has been writing about Z Nation since it premiered. If you want to look back a bit in history, check out our story about a woman who was an extra during the first season. If you haven’t seen Z Nation, you can watch it on Amazon here.
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