Z Nation Season 4 Episode 6 dealt the audience a horrifying gut punch in what was, IMO, the single best episode in the history of the series.
Lucy, despite the fractured relationship with her dad Murphy, committed the ultimate sacrifice, saving his life at the cost of her own.
Death in zombie shows is nothing new, with most of them occurring to the monsters in video game style. The hook is in how imaginative the writers can make the kills.
Z Nation is particularly good at giving us wacky Zs, and equally crazy ways to dispatch them.
The deaths of actual humans happen far less often.
Z Nation stands in stark relief to the big kahuna of zombie shows, The Walking Dead.
While main character deaths on Z Nation are pretty rare, deaths of characters on TWD are basically the "coin of the realm."
It's no secret that TWD has declined, both creatively and ratings-wise, fairly rapidly in the past few seasons.
Yes, it's still a very popular show, but the primary problem I have creatively with the show is that the deaths of core character are treated as either a ratings stunt or simply a device to advance the plot.
So many side plots and extraneous groups have been added that it clogs the storyline and the show's ability to tell a coherent, compelling story, so the only way to grab the audience's attention is to kill off another character people are supposed to care about.
Z Nation is diametrically opposite: the Zs are the primary threat, while the human lives still matter.
That's why Lucy's tragic death packs such a wallop: her contentious love/hate relationship with papa Murphy has been explored in depth all season, and just when they are getting to a better place, her love for him is put to the test.
Murphy has grown substantially as a character lately, with his love for Lucy being the catalyst for this change.
Murphy has always been about looking out for number 1, but when Lucy came along his paternal instincts finally kicked in.
Warren, who has a strong, psychic connection with Lucy, warned her about the cost of helping Murphy:
Lucy: We have to save him!
Warren: I know what you're thinking, but-
Lucy: I have to try!
The scenes between Murphy and Lucy were simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Keith Allan gives the audience all he's got in a gut-wrenching performance.
Murphy: Does this have something to do with you aging?
Doc: Now Lucy, be honest!
Lucy: What difference does it make? You're alive, Aren't you?
Murphy: It's killing you -- you can't do that again. Promise me.
Lucy: You are NOT the boss of ME!
Despite his protests, Lucy puts her father's safety ahead of her own, saving him in a truly heroic act of love.
How Murphy deals with this going forward will be very interesting.
Most TV characters, in reaction to the death of a loved one, usually default to the trope of the angry, self-destructive, revenge seeking monster, only to be brought back from the edge by cooler heads.
My guess is Murphy will retreat to the self-centered ass he always was, but time will tell.
Not to be forgotten, the b-side story advances the Warren journey by leaps and bounds.
My theory that the Zona scientists really messed with Warren while she was in her coma is getting more reinforcement, right from the first scenes.
While everyone else is worried about Murphy, Warren is in full black rainbow mode, with one key exception: overlaying the black rainbow is a visual GPS readout that looks a lot like one a robot would see, a la The Terminator, complete with a glowing red dot signifying where she needs to go and arrows alerting her when to turn the vehicle they're in.
The lab she ends up in is called "Bio Mod," with the tagline "Building a Better You." Coincidence? Hmmm.
Once inside, she knows which keys to use, what keypad codes to punch in, and somehow knows to take a mysterious cylinder from a sealed compartment.
The man who ran Bio Mod is Dr. Caligari, a delicious reference to the influential 1919 silent German art film character, an evil hypnotist who programmed his minion Cesare to commit horrible crimes.
The inference is clear: has Warren been programmed by Caligari, or someone else, to be on this mission?
Caligari denies ever meeting her, but time will tell if he's telling the truth.
This little exchange, however, does bring the situation more into focus:
Warren: How did I get this?
Caligari: That was locked up in my office.
Warren: Yes, and somehow I knew the combination, but I don't know what this is.
Caligari: If you knew what I know, you would be a VERY dangerous woman.
Her stop at Bio Mod seems to be the beginning of a scavenger hunt of sorts.
Does this mean Warren will be moving from place to place, gathering things she needs to complete her mission to stop the black rainbow?
Amid all the heavy drama, Z Nation did manage to deliver some of the truly gonzo moments we've come to expect.
Die, mother finger, die!Sarge
Doc getting "fingered" was priceless, as was the whole Franken Zombie battle.
In yet another cinematic reference, Dr. Caligari being part of the Franken Zombie was right out of the original Total Recall movie, bringing to mind the parasitic twin mastermind Kuato. Good stuff.
Z Nation is really coming into its own, both from a storytelling and an emotional standpoint.
At the beginning, it was a funny, crazy alternative to the much more serious TWD, but over the past couple of seasons, the two shows have been going in opposite directions.
While TWD has become a bloated, unimaginative hot mess, Z Nation has added depth, and dare I say, nuance to an already winning formula. Oh, and it's actually FUN.
As I said earlier this was, IMO, the finest episode yet in the entire series. Judging from the arc so far this season I only see it getting better.
For a show to actually improve creatively over time is rare indeed.
- Still no sign of Citizen Z, Sun, Red, Addy, or 5K.
- Very cool callback to the great NBC show Eerie, Indiana from 1991.
- The haunting song at the end is called "Goodbye July" by Misty Boyce.
And Doc delivers the "Line of the Night"
Why does it always have to be some crazy, evil shit? Can't we for once just find a bakery? Maybe a working donut shop? A fully stocked dispensary-is that too much to ask?Doc
There's not much else to say: they totally knocked it out of the park this week. Give me your take. How will Murphy deal with Lucy's death? Is Warren really a robot/human/Z hybrid? Why is the cylinder important? Tell me your theories in the comments section.
And, as always, you can watch Z Nation online anytime, right here on TV Fanatic!