This Z Nation review contains spoilers.
Z Nation Season 3 Episode 7
Just in time for the 2016 presidential election, Syfy did its civic and patriotic duty by reminding people just how important it is to vote for someone who isn’t a madman. It did this by way of a strange post-apocalyptic presidential debate set in the fantastically cartoonish world of Z Nation.
Last week’s episode set the stage with a lot of drama and main plot building, but things took a detour this week for one of the series’ patented one-off parody episodes. This one focused entirely on who should get to run America in the post-apocalypse, with a Donald Trump impersonator and an infectious disease thrown into the mix as well.
After it was decided that Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) and Addy (Anastasia Baranova) would go off on their own side adventure, because I swear this show is written like it’s an awesome video game, the episode picks up with them stranded on the side of the road with their car having broken down. This was a bummer for them, but it opened the door for the return of Z Nation’s most rag-tag of recurring characters, Sketchy (Mark Carr) and Skeezy (Doug Dawson). Devotees will remember these two con artists as the people who gave Addy her famous spiked baseball bat, returned as gun show owners, riverboat thieves and, now, president.
Admittedly, that last one is a bit of a leap. Even Addy remarks that running into them was the dumbest of dumb luck. The duo pick up our heroes in Bill Clinton’s presidential limo, which they stole in Richmond, VA. It turns out that their newest zombie apocalypse con is to convince desperate survivors that Sketchy is the 192nd person in the line of succession for presidency of the United States. His plan is to get people to donate to his massive effort to build a giant wall through the U.S. that would protect survivors.
If this sounds a little bit familiar, I suggest you purchase a helmet, relinquish the keys to your car and only exist in padded rooms for the remainder of your life because this is so not subtle that it should sound VERY familiar. Yes, Z Nation took the opportunity, like so many others in 2016, to go after Donald Trump. Things didn’t stop there either.
When the team stumbles upon a town full of people that are suffering a mysterious illness, Sketchy’s plan is challenged by another person running the same con – a man with a name, but who cares what that name is because he’s dolled up to look like a dead ringer for the current real-life Republican presidential nominee. He’s even got a fake hairpiece.
This isn’t the first time that Z Nation has decided to take a piece of pop culture and adapted it to its own strange mythos. Last season fans were treated to a Mad Max: Fury Road parody that was actually pretty action packed. One could even make the case that the zombie genre in general is a larger parody of pop culture and consumer society. I have no real problem with the episodes that hang a lantern on this… normally.
This time around, perhaps it’s the charged political atmosphere we all exist in, the vitriolic hatred some have toward the real life candidate being mocked or some other psychological factor, but the jokes in this satirical episode just felt hack. It’s like the writers knew they wanted keywords in there, but didn’t know how to connect them seamlessly to the dialogue. As a result, the episode bent over backward with odd lines like “Binders full of zombies,” “I did not have con artist relations with that man” and “the zombies are gonna build the wall!”
Perhaps it’s not a good idea to blame the show for this. It could just be the very nature of political humor. It strives to be recognizable and the comedy is more of an afterthought. The parts of the episode that weren’t taking an odd stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue were actually pretty good. Addy got some much-needed screen time, but it still seems like the show doesn’t quite know what to do with her in a world without Mack (Michael Welch). She’s clearly over his death, even exploring a charged lesbian tryst last season, but in terms of what role she brings to the group, “backup Warren (Kellita Smith)” seems to be her active place, and that’s a shame.
Additionally, Doc got another chance to shine. After being the main hero two weeks ago, he went on a side adventure to his side adventure to discover that the town’s water supply had been contaminated by a zombie’s severed head. This action prompts the townspeople that Sketchy and low-budget Donald Trump were hoping to get votes from to pencil in Doc instead. This, in the most technical of senses, makes my favorite character the new acting president of the United States – and for that I gladly salute the office.
I guess all that we can do now is hope that we’re able to salute our next real-life president with the same confidence we give to the zombie apocalypse’s resident weed-smoking, zombie killing badass. God Bless America and Z Nation!