“Zombie Jesus, I need a miracle”
Do you remember that crazy presidential election, where that guy promised to build a wall to keep zombies out? Or remember when the blue guy ate a scientist’s brains and got smarter? Remember the time when Doc met Elvis in a post-apocalyptic asylum? Remember the four-way cannibal orgy? If you’ve seen the third season of Syfy’s post-apocalyptic zombie dramedy Z Nation, then you know the moments I’m talking about. Z Nation is a show completely committed to having some post-apocalyptic fun. It may not be the best show on TV, but it’s still fresh, alive, and ready to sink your teeth into.
For the uninitiated, Z Nation is a zombie show by The Asylum. Yes, The Asylum. The visionary filmmakers behind Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, and Sharknado 3. It’s set years after zombies have already ruined the world. It’s dark, absurd, and often hilarious. The show centers around a man named Murphy (Keith Allan), the only known survivor of a zombie bite, and a group of survivors tasked with transporting him across the country in the hope of making a vaccine from his blood. Unfortunately, he’s also an ex-felon out for himself, with little interest in saving humanity, now with some dangerous undead powers. He can control zombies with his mind, and people through his bite. Also, he’s slowly turning blue (and later, white). It’s as crazy as it sounds.
“You’re gonna die. They’re gonna eat you.”
Season 3 picks up right where Season 2 left off. Our band of survivors finally achieve their mission. They delivered Murphy across the country, only to lose him again. The TV movie that aired as the first unofficial episode of Season 3 has little impact on the plot, other than adding a love interest for 10K (Nat Zang). I won’t be mentioning it much here, except to say that it’s basically just another episode. After losing Murphy and 10K, Warren (Kellita Smith) leads the rest of her group to make sure the vaccine still gets made. Murphy, meanwhile, takes his remaining converts and builds himself a kingdom, offering the cure to anyone willing to give up their free will.
“I’m a princess–a magic princess”
This season of Z Nation is probably the most plot-heavy of the three so far. Seasons 1 & 2 are about everyone getting across the country and having zany adventures along the way. Season 3’s split focus on two separate groups means less silly diversions, but higher stakes for the main cast. The increased focus on drama over comedy is one of the weaker elements of the season, but whenever the laughs die, the plot still pushes forward. It’s a very different vibe from what we had before, but there’s still fun to be had.
“Big strong man like you afraid of some little bitty zombies”
Standout Season 3 episodes include “Doc Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Election Day”, “Doc’s Angel’s”, and “Duel”. While “Doc’s Angels” delivers on its absurd premise (three women seducing an old man), it’s ultimately an uneven letdown. “Election Day”, however, is a tour de force spoof of the U.S. presidential election. It’s filled with tiny hands, blond hairpieces, and strippers (everything a post-apocalyptic democracy needs). It’s on par with this year’s SNL, and better than this year’s South Park. The penultimate episode of the season, “Duel”, also happens to be the best. It’s a pitch-perfect combination of action and comedy, and undoubtedly one of the most thrilling episodes of the entire series.
“Chocolate, idiot. I need Chocolate”
Doc (Russell Hodgkinson), is the primary comedic focus this season. Apart from the lackluster “Doc’s Angels”, he’s the most consistently entertaining character throughout. 10K, meanwhile, the young sharpshooting heartthrob, is diminished to zombie mind-control captive for most of the season. His storyline is as lifeless as he is, which is a shame for such a fan-favourite character. As for Citizen Z (DJ Qualls), he manages to find allies, and love, after leaving his Northern Light base. And while Addy (Anastasia Baranova), the spiked-bat badass, spends most of the season in the background, she truly earns her keep in “Duel”, going up against this season’s big bad, The Man.
“Maybe it’s got something to do with her being the saviour of humanity?”
The rest of the season, and the rest of the supporting cast, bear little mention. This isn’t a show about great performance or writing, but zany ideas taken to illogical extremes. Like the idea of The Man for instance, this season’s de facto villain, a muscular hairless dude in formal wear and flip flops. He wears vests without a shirt, ’cause he’s The Man. Looks like a baby seal on steroids, ’cause he’s The Man. Eats a human brain to prove a point, ’cause he’s The Man! This kind of strange doesn’t need explanation. Just a canvas, and Z Nation is that glorious, gory canvas.
“Won’t that mess up the space-time continuum?”
Finally, any discussion about Z Nation can’t go for too long without mentioning the undead elephant in the room, The Walking Dead. Z Nation is not as good as The Walking Dead. But it is far more inviting, and doesn’t take itself as seriously. Where The Walking Dead is dour and lifeless, Z Nation is bright and fun. Surprisingly, as Season 7 of The Walking Dead took a turn to more outlandish B-movie carnage, the biggest drawback of Z Nation Season 3 has been a flair for dramatics. These are two zombie programs that are better the less they have in common. But while The Walking Dead could use some laughs, Z Nation has no need whatsoever for drama. Here’s hoping they switch gears in Season 4.
“Great, I have a teenager now”
All of the accompanying quotes in this review are from the same Season 3 episode. I’ve included them as the best example of just how ridiculous even a single episode of Z Nation can be. Season 3 continues the plot to the slight detriment of the silly humour we’ve come to expect, but still gives us plenty to love. This is bad TV done extremely well. The perfect show to shut off your brain – just like any good citizen of Z Nation should do.
My Rating: 6.5/10