Z Nation: Die Zombie, Die…Again

Z Nation quiets down for some eerie atmosphere. Here is our review.

I think we’ve all known from the beginning that Addy’s upsetting and repressed memory of the past had something to do with her family. Since this is a show about life after the so-called zombie apocalypse, I also think assuming that whatever Addy’s blocking includes killing someone near and dear to her is a safe bet. At the end of this week’s episode, when we finally learn that truth (and I think I’ve been spoilery enough in that regard), the facts that aren’t revealed are the least interesting thing about the episode. The journey getting us there though? That’s one hell of a ride.

When Addy and Mack splintered off from the rest of the gang I became vaguely concerned that we would never see them again. This worry was quickly replaced with eye-rolling on my part when this week’s episode moves forward with a joyous, technicolor montage of their Natural Born Killers-style assault on all zombie-kind, pausing to bone each other merrily along the way. We’re only seconds past this montage when Addy undermines everything we know about the couple by asking a fundamental question: What is their future, and do they even know each other that well?

The episode takes a serious tone, but it doesn’t turn into a romantic drama. It stays true to its exuberant core of gore commingled with self-examination as the world falls down around the few people left inhabiting it. This week’s installment was Z Nation’s answer to Breaking Bad’s ‘Fly’ episode — and yes, it was that good. While not categorically the definition of a bottle episode, it certainly felt that way. We spent the entire episode with Mack and Addy and as a result, I came away not just feeling like I know them better, but like I care about them more than even before. That’s not to say that I’d written either character off, but with their separation from the group I did wonder if we weren’t witnessing a writer’s gambit to shrink the cast and focus the narrative. Clearly, this wasn’t the case and this delights me.

It’s rare too to find a moment of quiet respite in the midst of zombie mayhem — that was carved out here, and the effect was impressive. We know the show can do loud well, to see them try for eerie and emotionally raw and succeed? That’s a nice surprise. The device the script used — an Edge of Tomorrow slash Groundhog Day repeated dream-within-a-dream sequence — could have been cheesy, but it wasn’t, thanks in large part to the canny and focused performance of Matt Welsh. The couple starts the episode on the verge of something big breaking or coming together in their relationship. The episode ends with them coming together as Addy falls apart and the unexpected weight of the final moment was a homerun.

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5 out of 5