If you’ve ever wondered whether or not a man could successfully utter the line “I’m not the one who told him to go get eaten by a baby,” Z Nation, the new zombie adventure drama from SyFy is for you.
It’s also for you if you’re totally down for Zombie-based entertainment, but find other offerings like AMC’s The Walking Dead to be fare that is just a trifle too heavy for your liking. The riotous, mission-driven scenario that the Z Nation pilot offers is fun while still being urgent in tone: Probably because a zombie apocalypse kind of makes everything seem much more urgent.
It was hard to say watching the pilot which way the show will go. Which, in and of itself, is interesting rather than off-putting. After the death-by-baby-zombie killing of of his a keeper, a felon injected with the only possible vaccine against the virus is forced across the country by, you guessed it, a band of misfits in a bid to save mankind. It’s a fine enough scenario, but also one that relies entirely upon the characters facets and relationships of said misfits. Verdict is still out on whether or not this will be a winning one, which is only fair given that this is just the pilot we’re talking about.
Visually, the zombies aren’t a whole lot to write home about. Other than their blood-spewing, the makeup and effects seems low-budget — the aforementioned zombie baby? It looks like someone dusted off the dummy they used during Ewan McGregor’s junk dreams in Trainspotting. That said, the suspense is there. The threat of zombies is pervasive and terrible. In fact, the only time you aren’t worried about zombies…is when you are looking at them. I reassured myself that this too can change — just look at the makeup on Buffy from season one versus later on. That’s the beauty of television, it’s a constant work in progress.
Another fascinating thing the series looks to be exploring is what happens to the chain of command when American society starts to crumble. As it stands, we’ve been presented with soldiers who, even without a leader to report to, are obeying orders because, to quote the show “that’s all we know how to do.” If there are moral soldiers left, there are amoral ones.
The question in every zombie show isn’t how bad the zombies will get, it’s how bad the people will get. I’ll be curious to see if the conflict arises from the felon Murphy, or from some tertiary force we’ve yet to meet.