This Z Nation review contains spoilers.
Z Nation Season 3 Episode 14
After a long, complicated, uneven and, at times, backwards season, Syfy’s Z Nation finished up its third outing this week. Although the ending tied up a lot of loose ends, it’d be a lie to say that it didn’t raise more questions than it answered.
If there was a main theme of Z Nation Season 3, it would be “faction-building.” Between the Red Hand, Zona, Sun Mei’s people from Asia, Blends, Enders, Operation Bite Mark, Citizen Z and, of course, the zombies, at times there were entirely too many cooks in the kitchen. Admittedly, the most recent episodes did a lot to consolidate those groups, but it wasn’t enough to allow anything but the zombies to take center stage for this finale.
When last we left our intrepid heroes, all of them had reunited except for Addy and Doc, who were hot on the trail of The Man and his captive Lucy. Murphy enlisted the help of Warren to go on a rescue mission, and they all met in a semi-climactic showdown in a fortress atop a mountain. If that sounds awesome to you, prepare to lower your expectations immensely.
The first half of the episode’s real estate is devoted to showing Doc and Addy being led by a zombie that can say “Lucy.” Sure, this breaks a few rules, but it was less cliche than “brains,” and I’m willing to dish out compliments where they fit at this point. Just when it felt like it was dragging, it gave us an insight in the finale’s big bad, the faction that exists in Zona (probably Zone A, but that’s tbd). It became clear that, as the high-tech, wealthy safe haven begins to lose the immunity it once had, it’s starting to fragment. There are hostiles on either side of the conflict and it’s made obvious that some among the Zona contingent are ready to revolt rather than go Z.
Overall, this finale can be separated into two storylines, the first was the show finally figuring out what in the hell it wanted to do with 10K after putting him through the ringer this season. The kid has been jabbed with every vaccine and experimental injection that the zombie universe can conceivably create. I’ve felt, for a while, that this was a misstep as 10K was one of the most solid characters in the show. I’m all for giving him more to do, but changing his character completely into a vacant blend this year was a fast way to ensure the things fans loved about him were not allowed to be portrayed on screen. I honestly can’t remember the last time we got an accurate update on his infamous zombie kill count. Is it still under 10,000? Is it on us to go back and rewatch to count? Does he even care as much as us anymore?
Fortunately, Z Nation found a somewhat elegant retcon for this plot by recreating the experiment that made Murphy the zombie hybrid that he is. 10K returned from the dead, declared that Murphy is not his savior and appeared to be back in action. However, if they really recreated the experiment that Murphy underwent in episode 1, it’s possible he’ll gain powers in Season 4. Hopefully his skin doesn’t turn blue like Lucy’s because… Frankly, it’s distracting. For some reason the makeup worked on Murphy actor Keith Allen, but I think we all need to acknowledge that he’s the exception, not the rule.
Speaking of Season 4, I’m curious if the showrunners knew they’d get a fourth season when they wrote the Season 3 ending. Some of our heroes, in fact, appear to be dead or dying. Warren and Murphy take a bullet to the abs, Addy tackles the man off a cliff, 5K and Lucy give chase, a giant futuristic plane from Area 51 is targeting all the remaining survivors with, what appears to be, a pretty scary laser and Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite. That last one is a joke, but you get the idea – the good guys lost. It’s worth theorizing what would have happened if the show was canceled. Can you imagine leaving Operation Bite Mark in this state after four long years of adventures?
Fortunately, that’s not the case as all of this will be addressed, presumably, in the Season 4 opener. So, here we are, at the end of our rope wondering if Z Nation went wrong, and if so, where? I’d have to say that, for a show that’s in its third season, it’s gone more off the rails than I knew possible. Between nukes, Mexican drug cartels, factions upon factions and alien technology, Z Nation has found a new way to jump the Sharknado every year. Perhaps that’s its metric for success, though. To constantly reinvent how crazy a storyline can get before everyone joins hands and embraces the madness is as worthwhile a goal as ratings. If you’ve gone this far with the show, you’ve swallowed so much plot magic at this point that there’s really no turning back.
So, for those of us who are going to continue on to the syndication season, this is our break. Dust yourself off and let’s prepare for a lot more insanity next year. 2016 may not have been the best, but the apocalypse lets up for no one.