Z-Nation’s Season 5, Episode 1 Review: ‘Welcome to Newmerica’

If everyone is honest, Season Four of Z-Nation was a bit of a hot mess. Personally, it was my least favorite season by far. The SyFy program isn’t usually known for it’s attention to explaining all the details, viewers sorta need to go with the flow. However, that season had the most unexplained outright odd storyline that lost me throughout the entire thing.

But don’t fear fellow zombie fans, Z-Nation‘s Season Five premiere was out-of-this-world mental. Firstly, I have to start with how the show’s Twitter account teased the opening scenes. They really tried to play dirty by releasing an unseen short clip in which Doc appears to be zombified. By just skimming through the replies to the tweet it was clear that fans didn’t truly fall for the trick, most claimed this had to just be another ‘acid dream’ sequence.

With no proof as to if Doc was human or now among the Zs, yet knowing that this show is not The Walking Dead who would quickly kill off a beloved main characters for no reason, zombie fans dove into the Season Five premiere. It opens with Warren surviving a plane crash and walking aimlessly through the middle of nowhere. Her platinum blonde hair suddenly changes back to its former dark brown and she faints in a field, only to be rescued by a handsome farmer named Cooper.

From the start I was suspicious of Cooper, living alone in the middle of nowhere can drive a person insane. But he proves to be helpful in stitching Warren up and getting her back on her feet.

Flash to the next scene (the clip teased on Twitter) where a seemingly zombified Doc is accompanied by two other Zs and is chasing a young girl to the edge of a cliff. Incredible scenery shots of the ocean appear on screen and it’s obvious that SyFy has been getting better with their camera skills as this show has progressed. At the last moment before the girl decides to shoot herself in the head rather than be attacked by these three zombies, Doc yells for her to stop and pulls out his iconic double hammers and kills the other two Zs that were walking with him.

Again, Z-Nation is known for its hectic and scattered storyline, where things just happen without explanation or for a real reason. So the reason as to why Doc is disguised as a zombie and chasing a girl, instead of helping her from the beginning is left a mystery. Additionally, there is no valid reason as to why the two zombies following him do not start to attack him as he is still alive.

Overlooking those (minor) plot holes, the premiere moves on to show 10K, Sgt Lilly and the iconic Murphy appearing from behind a bush with a large group of survivors. Now that the ‘Black Rain’ has settled the entire group is on the way to Newmerica.

Back on the farm, we are finally clued in that something is different about the zombies as a result of the ‘Black Rain.’ When Cooper goes to shoot a Z the creature puts its hands in the air, the universal sign for “DON’T SHOOT!” Once he lowers the gun, the Z lunges for him, only to have a gun back in its face, the undead creature put its hands back in the air. Minutes prior, back with the other group of survivors, Murphy goes to shoot an incoming Z and swears that he hears the man yell “No!”

This addition to the storyline of Z-Nation has got to be one of my favorite things about the series. I think it’s genius to do something as wild as make these zombies talk. The whole idea of zombies before was that, yes they still psychically look like the person that they once were, but they didn’t have a soul anymore. Arguably, these undead creatures were just surviving on the feeling of hunger and their primal instinct. However, now that these creatures can talk and hold their hands up in fear of being shot, or asking for someone not to hurt them with their own voice, this is groundbreaking for zombie visual culture. I predict that I’ll be writing an entire article about how talking and conscious zombies changes the entire zombie folklore and landscape.

The next horrific discovery for Murphy’s group is that one of their members is suddenly eating brains from a corpse off the side of the road. While eating them, she acknowledges that she has no idea why she is craving the brains. Finally the group makes it to the sign post for Newmerica, where a fight breaks out and leads to them meeting George.

From the moment she walked on the screen I knew that George was going to be one of my favorite characters. She’s incredibly badass and equally kind, breaking up the fight and dropping a bombshell on the group…three of their ‘survivors’ are actually dead. George produces a ‘Z-biscuit’ made out of nobody knows what but probably traces of brains, to feed to the newly deceased. She explains that it helps keep them ‘human,’ which is a bit confusing since their bodies are dead but their soul still remains. Begging the question…are they still human? In my mind, it also poses the bigger question, if their bodies are dead, surely decomposition would set in at some point, therefore, unless they found a way to preserve their flesh logically they would continue to wither away while the soul is still conscious.

But as usual, I’m almost positive that these bigger questions will be ignored by Z-Nation‘s storyline. This is perfectly represented in the last couple minutes of the season premiere. After the newly dead members of the group find out that they are no longer technically alive, the older woman makes a joke that even if she’s dead, she is still allowed to vote in Newmerica.

I find this extremely humorous, making a joke about one’s own mortality after finding that you’ve died without even know it. Most shows would make the moment dramatic, with tears and denial of the fact that ‘how could I be dead if I’m still conscious and talking?’ But good ole’ Z-Nation only gives it a seconds thought, like ‘huh isn’t that odd’ and then it’s old news.

Season Five’s premiere was one for the books, so many incredible moments and shocks around every turn. I’m happy the show is back and can’t wait to see what other pieces of logic Z-Nation throws out the window.

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