Z Nation: Down The Mississippi Review

Z Nation pays homage to the American Western in what may be its finest episode yet.

This Z Nation review contains spoilers.

Z Nation: Season 2, Episode 7

It’s been one and a half seasons, so this might (probably will) change with time, but as of right now, it doesn’t feel hyperbolic of me to say that this week’s installment of Z Nation was the strongest episode the show has aired to date. It was a smart mixture of its usual urgency, camp flair, strong ensemble bond, gore, and dad-like wit. These elements are often in play where the show is concerned.

But this week’s episode packaged those familiar qualities differently than ever before. In the process, they allowed us to connect with the main characters on a deeper level. Yeah that’s right: We’re basically exclusive now. It’s a big deal. Somebody update our Facebook status. We’ve gone from “It’s Complicated” to a resounding “In A Relationship.” More Facebook jokes. Social media. Etc.

The episode was a nod to the American Western. There were the more modern references (shades of Django and the remake of True Grit with the murdery dental truck. Also strangely, an homage to Dracula with the naming of Mr. Renfield) as well as some classics. The final moments of the episode were lifted straight from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and shared the same exuberant spirit of that film without turning into eye-rolling cliche. That’s a pretty impressive feat.

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Equally impressive, Murphy’s single-mindedness when it comes to the mission. His insistence on leaving 10K behind and continuing on to California is completely in line what we’ve learned about him so far. But whereas in the past this take would read as selfish whining, in light of the decision he made to leave his daughter behind, it takes on a new weight. It’s like Murphy has finally accepted the weight of his responsibility as potentially the only one with the cure to the affliction. Is he still holding on to 10K’s murder of Cassandra? Most definitely. But it seems like in a sad resolute way — not in a vindictive one, if that makes sense.

The stars of this week were Skeezy and Sketchy, returning guest characters from season one. They usher 10K along with them when all hope seems lost, and do their damnedest to talk their way in and out of any number of hijinks. They were responsible for most of the chuckles this week, which made for a great respite. It also freed up Murphy to do the heavy emotional lifting necessary. Hell, it even made it easy for to accept Doc as a somber protagonist, all uttering pronouncements on bridges and what have you.

They all reunited at the end of the episode thanks to some tricky sharpshooting courtesy of Doc and Addie and they are back on the road. As for Skeezy and Sketchy? They have big dreams, ones that they hope will lead them to Australia. When we left them they were attacking a veritable army of zombies. We hope they make it, but we expect nothing. 


5 out of 5