After Prelude filled in some storytelling gaps, Black Summer’s next episode, Card Game, looks to do something the Netflix series has struggled to accomplish. That is, Card Game promises to give us some narrative momentum. Finally, the zombie series looks to give us some extended time with previously established characters. To date, Rose and her daughter, Anna, have been the closest thing to an emotional thread across the series. Now as Card Game continues to bring us up to speed with where things opened in The Cold, we may get a chance to form a connection with at least a couple of characters.
As the story continues from Prelude, Rose and Anna get inside ‘The Manor’. But they find themselves in an equally chilling environment amongst several disparate groups of survivors. Freddy’s mother talks about children and what it feels like to have a baby. Tensions are high as supplies dwindle and mistrust slowly brews. An older woman and her two sons, Sonny and Freddy (The Cold), press the other survivors on the mystery plane.
Somewhere in the manor a mystery man is hiding unbeknownst to the others.
With few answers about the plane from Rhonda and Mark – the two survivors who seem to know the most – Sonny becomes increasingly erratic. Finally, Mark relents and agree to take a snowmobile out to find boxes of supplies dropped out in the woods by the plane. Though Sonny insists Rose go with Mark, she refuses to leave Anna alone. After evading a zombie, Mark races off into the woods before night falls. And one other interesting tidbit from this segment pops up when Anna goes up to use a washroom. Somewhere in the manor a mystery man is hiding unbeknownst to the others.
Up a Tree
Tensions continue to flare in Card Game’s next segment, Up a Tree. While Anna and Rose play cards, a paranoid Sonny pressures Rhonda to break the rules with the mystery plane and try to initiate contact over a radio. Oh, and he also threatens an older woman sitting in a corner knitting. Both Sonny and his mother complain about the division of limited rations while trying to sow seeds of doubt about Mark’s return. Rhonda doesn’t get a response from their mystery benefactors, but notices her axe has gone missing.
With nightfall arriving the temperature dropping. Sonny and Freddy’s mother tries to coerce Anna go outside for firewood. Not surprisingly, a standoff ensues between Rose and the mother, which Freddy ends by agreeing to do it himself. But when Freddy drops the logs he attracts the attention of a zombie. Since he’s a complete asshole, Sonny won’t let Freddy back inside without the firewood. This leaves Freddy with no other option but to climb a tree for refuge.
In Card Game’s next segment, Feedback Loop, tensions finally come to a head. Almost completely unhinged, Sonny confronts Rhonda by the radio when he thinks he heard her talking to someone. When she reaches for a pistol, Sonny is just a tad faster and shoots her with a shotgun. In frustration, he smashes the group’s only means of communicating with their mystery plane. Unfortunately, Sonny also shot Rhonda in the stomach so she quickly re-animates. After a frenzied fight on the manor’s main floor, Rose finally intervenes killing both Rhonda and the older knitting woman who was bitten in all the confusion.
Now the manor is left with two opposing groups – Rose and Anna alongside Sonny and his mother. Though Rose and Anna continue their card game, Rose hints to her daughter that things aren’t going to end well. Unable to help herself, Sonny’s mother once again begins accusing Rose of some double-crossing. Finally, Rose and Anna shoot mother and son at once, putting an end to the standoff. In Card Game’s closing segment, The Axe, we finally learn where Rhonda’s missing axe went. While Rose and Anna sleep in a bed, our mystery man from the opening segment emerges from hiding, carrying the axe with him.
Card Game Slows Things Down For Black Summer’s Best Episode
Not only does Card Game deliver this season’s best episode, it arguably gave us Black Summer’s best episode to date. Yes, there’s little zombie action outside of In the Tree’s brief chase. And Black Summer treads familiar ground with its ‘people are the real villains’ theme. That’s been The Walking Dead’s schtick for several seasons. Still Card Game is a consistent tense 40 minutes of television that doesn’t lean on cheap gimmicks. Most importantly, Black Summer finally begins to offer something of sustained storytelling. In addition to the recurring mystery plane and focusing on a single setting, Card Game subtly fleshes out Rose and Anna.