Second Union

Second Union

Z NATION: A Five-Year Review

Available for streaming on Netflix is a weekly zombie program titled Z NATION, which originally aired over the SyFy Channel from 2014 to 2018. The network wanted a weekly zombie program as a result of the popularity of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD and the program garnered decent praise and review. Most notably for the dark humor applied — in an effort to stand apart from the gritty and grim of THE WALKING DEAD — the producers, cast, and scriptwriters applied some tongue-in-cheek and never took the program seriously.

The series takes place between Year Three and Year Eight following Black Summer, the hot summer months when the zombie virus went rampant and 99 percent of the population fell victim to the disease. A band of courageous misfits gains strength by joining forces on a cross-country trek from New York to California, to deliver a patient who carries the anti-bodies necessary for creating a vaccine against the virus.

Russell Hodgkinson as Doc and Tara Holt as Lucy.

The patient is named Murphy, an unwilling participant in an experiment while serving time at a Naval Prison. Murphy was the only person who survived multiple zombie bites and lives to tell about it. The side effect, however, is not a cure but rather a slower demise as his skin darkness through the months and his craving for brains grows. The supposed “cure” is nothing more than a method of slowing down the transformation from human to zombie.

The CDC feels confident that the cure can be found with Murphy, but as the ragtag group of rebels progresses through the country encountering one foe after another, and Murphy’s uncooperative personality grows on some of the team members, it becomes apparent that a private sector with enough money to hide out on a private island is after Murphy for selfish reasons.

The group includes 10K (whose real name is Tommy) who proves an expert marksman and promises to revert back to Tommy after he kills his 10,000th zombie. And he keeps score through the series. Steven “Doc” Beck is a recovering drug addict who feels smoking pot is more relaxing than killing zombies, provides the comic relief. Addy Carter is the female badass who suffers the most trauma. The leader of the group, Roberta Warren, proves her worth as an ex-National Guard.

The scriptwriters clearly had a love for the material — a number of main characters get killed off when you least expect it, a celebrity guest from time to time adds amusement, and the episode concerning the motivational speakers in the hotel who attempt to solve a murder while a horde of zombies are trying to get it is fantastic.

The program suffers from only two flaws, but those are minor. One, the budget is extremely low. An estimated $700,000 per episode, anyone who chooses to binge-watch the series over a short period of time will recognize quite a number of warehouses, props, buildings, and landmarks reused season after season for various locales — while the majority of the series was filmed in Washington state. Second, the first two seasons is pure enjoyment but when the premise of the series takes a turn for shades of RESIDENT EVIL, the program — and three of the characters — are not the same as when they started out. Whereas the first two seasons consisted of the group encountering new adventures in each episode, the structure changes after season two, and the fifth (final) season is one long story arc. Thankfully, the program has closure and is satisfactory.

For anyone seeking another zombie show and with hopes of avoiding THE WALKING DEAD trap, this tongue-in-cheek program is worth your time.

Related Articles