Well, that was different.
Z Nation Season 4 Episode 7 starts in a decidedly somber mood, showing the immediate aftermath of Lucy's tragic death. From there it goes totally off the rails, hearkening back to the show's gonzo beginnings.
What we ended up with was a mixed bag: the sad stuff was very sad, the funny bits were not as funny as they could have been for a general audience, and Murphy got to work through his grief and rage, so there's that.
The episode begins immediately after the end of Z Nation Season 4 Episode 6, with the crew giving their heartfelt eulogies to everyone's favorite blue girl.
Burning Lucy on a funeral pyre was a heartbreaking sight, but it provided a suitable ending to her story arc.
On the road again, the crew hears screaming and Murphy, deep in his feels, wants to become a force for justice.
The crazy woman tied to the Ferris wheel screams of a trap. Warren and Sarge urge restraint, but Murphy, Doc, and 10K are too grief-stricken, and run headlong into danger.
What follows is a batshit crazy carnival ride, but this ride has more to do with crazy humans, not wacky Zs.
The bulk of the episode is a snarky take on the scene that surrounds the real-life rap duo Insane Clown Posse, or ICP for short.
There are dozens of references to the group and their fans in the episode, so if you're unfamiliar with them, most of the gags will soar right over your head.
If you've never heard of them, here's a little primer for you.
Going by the names Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, ICP was founded in Detroit in 1989.
Yes, they wear clown makeup, and their act is a sub-genre of hip hop known as horrorcore, containing over the top, violent lyrics with a supernatural bent, centering on a theme called the Dark Carnival.
They gleefully call themselves "The Most Hated Band in the World," and they have a devoted following of fans who call themselves Juggalos, after one of the ICP songs.
Long on the fringes of the music business, they have a business model more in line with The Grateful Dead, centering on catering to their fans rather than courting mainstream success.
They have a yearly music festival called "Gathering of the Juggalos," and even staged a march on Washington, DC in September of 2017, as a reaction to the FBI's designation of the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang."
The Juggalos consider themselves one big family of misfits, outcasts, and those who have been bullied and marginalized throughout their lives.
Whoop! Whoop! is their preferred greeting, Faygo (a bargain basement soda sold in the Midwest) is the go-to soft drink, and partying is their credo.
Got it? Good.
Murphy, Doc, and 10K didn't quite know what to make of the clown dudes having fun with a Z buried up to her neck, either.
Despite Warren's pleas, Murphy and the gang mercilessly murdered two humans, with almost no evidence as to their wrongdoing.
Murphy, I get: he's enraged and guilt-ridden about Lucy. But I was shocked to see Doc and 10K go along on the murder spree.
And, of course, it gets them all captured, except Sarge and Mother, the woman trapped on the Ferris wheel.
Mother provides the exposition and the first ICP references:
Once inside the carnival, we are witness to an insane collection of carnival games, all designed with the expressed intent of torturing our heroes.
Doc getting bopped on the noggin with pool balls had a very 3 Stooges vibe, and Russell Hodgkinson milked it for all it was worth.
He is consistently the top comedic performer, firing off hilarious one-liners in rapid-fire succession.
Murphy spent almost the entire episode getting nasty electric shocks, which he probably took as penance for the way he treated Lucy.
The drinking game was a choice, and who knew Warren had such an encyclopedic knowledge of ICP trivia?
If she knew that winning meant she was going to be the Zuggalo Queen, she might have let the King win.
The wedding scene was just plain bizarre, but it was fun to see Doc and 10K in full clown makeup.
Weddings on TV never seem to go as planned, and this one sure went to hell pretty quickly.
Mother and King Clown having a knockdown, drag-out fight while Daddy Z watched was sure something to see, wasn't it?
The whole point of that was, of course, an excuse to let Murphy give his Big Speech at the end, venting about his guilt and rage regarding Lucy.
Once the crew escapes, Warren apologizes to Murphy, saying the whole Lucy debacle was her fault. I don't get that, frankly. The all agreed to follow her east, knowing the risks.
Agreeing to give up her quest for the black rainbow and allowing the crew to go to Newmerica is more of an olive branch than anything else.
Warren is programmed to go east and deal with whatever the Zona scientists have implanted in her, so it's just a matter of time before she is compelled to go east again.
- I sound like a broken record, but still no word on Citizen Z, Sun, Red, or 5K.
- Pruno, the gnarly concoction Warren and King Clown were swilling is also known as Prison Wine. It's made from whatever you can get your hands on, is fermented in an old sock, and is described as tasting like "bile flavored wine cooler." Yum!
And the sick rap game of Warren provides us with the "Line of the Night":
More of a palate cleanser from last week's tragic story than anything else, I thought this episode fell a bit short.
While I appreciated the funny take on the whole ICP scene, those who aren't familiar with it probably found it a lot less amusing than I did.
Tell me what you thought. If you didn't know about ICP previously, was it still fun for you? Let me know in the comments section.
If you weren't familiar with ICP before, but now you are based on this review, I'd suggest you watch Z Nation online on TV Fanatic again. The gags will make more sense, and you will appreciate it more. Whoop! Whoop!