The question I have after this week’s installment of Z Nation is a simple one and not so simple, all at once: If the show could make an episode like this one the entire time they’ve been on the air why the hell haven’t they? Sure, the easy answer here is that any television show worth its salt is all about the slow build to the quietly spectacular. That’s where this question becomes not-so-simple. Because I’ve had my doubts about whether or not this was a television ‘worth its salt’. The dialogue has been haphazard, the tone discordant at times (to say the least), and while the show gleefully revels in its gore, it can back away from its own biggest secret strength — its insight into the moral ramifications and complications of living in a post-zombie apocalypse world as a human being.
In fact, if I’m honest, this week’s episode was so good that I feel the show did itself a disservice by not making it clear from go all that it was capable of! I also feel like maybe I want to make out with Keith Allan now? And that’s weird, because he’s slowly turning into a zombie….on the show, anyway. If this is happening to him in life, that would be a strange and horrifying paradox. To my knowledge though, this is not the case. So what spurred my feelings of smooch-passion? Murphy being SUBTLE. Typically, loud, brash, and irritating, Murphy reined it this week. His slow transformation to zombie is also, ironically, allowing him to reveal himself to be more human than ever before. It would be easy to see his interaction with the mother and daughter he meets as being cruel beyond measure. But in fact, it was more complex than that. Sure, his survival instinct kicked in, but in a perverse way, ushering the zombie-dad into the house where his family was waiting was an evolved kindness — he reunited a family, albeit in death. Then, he returns to his friends. That’s a big deal for him! God, I loved it.
Other thing that I loved: The bottle episode that was Citizen Z and Yuri the Russian Cosmonaut he hallucinated into being. As a viewer we were cued fairly early on that something wasn’t right with Yuri. Unfortunately, the actor’s Russian accent was poor enough that it wasn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility that Yuri was some sort of pretender. In a way, he was, having been spawned from Z’s own panicked mind as a means of helping him figure out that the oxygen was down in the listening station. It was a neat trick, to be sure, but not as neat as the exploration of Z’s cabin fever which was well-overdue and gladly received.