Saturday, November 12, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Eight: Election Day

This episode made me want throw my hand in the air with disgust.  Z Nation has always been a show which has difficulty deciding whether it's going to be serious or simply wallow in cheese. After moving the meta along slowly for seven episodes, Z Nation has once again returned to a parody episode.  Unfortunately, it's far from amusing.  I am however going to acknowledge that I watched this in the wake of the election of the talking orange shag carpet and therefore might have felt differently about it if I'd seen it before America had a giant temper tantrum in front of the world. 

When we last left off, Addie and Doc had separated from Warren in Co, on a mission to find Lucy.  At this point, they can hear Kiera's broadcasts but cannot communicate with her.  They make it as far as the South Dakota badlands before the truck they're using breaks down.  They don't have to think about what to do for long because a presidential motorcade arrives.  It seems that once again, Sketchy and Skeezy are the middle of yet another con.  This time, Sketchy has taken on the role of the POTUS and to back up his claim. the duo broke into the Clinton president library and stole his limo.  I hope that they wiped that shit down with antibacterial wipes before they sat in the seats.  Since Sketchy and Skeezy are headed in the same direction, they offer to travel with Doc and Addie.

Once they all arrive in Wall Drug a supply store which is acting as housing to a group of people, Sketchy and Skeezy immediately start their con.  Sketchy takes on the identity of Thurston Howell IV. Yes, that's right, Gilligan's Island.  How completely fitting. Sketchy claims to be president by virtue of being the 137th in line of succession.  His big plan is to build a wall separating the humans from the zombies and to get this done, he needs donations from the populace. Addie and Doc are shocked to see the small group of people eating out of Sketchy's hands.

Sketchy and Skeezy don't get to seal the deal because an opponent shows ups with a different plan. John J Lannister shows up wearing a cheap Trump wig with a plan of his own.  Lannister suggests that they need to dig holes and then drop criminals into the holes to encourage the zombies to jump in and feast on them.  According to Lannister, his plan is a winner because it presents a two prong solution to the ills of apocalypse society. Lannister and Sketchy trade barbs back and forth quoting familiar lines from past politicians, sounding more and more ridiculous with each passing moment but the fact is, people at this point are desperate and need something to be hopeful about. It's a ridiculous mockery.  Because there's no agreement between Lannister and Sketchy as to whose plan is best or who has the right to call themselves president, it's decided that an election is needed and that comes with a debate.  Addie is chosen to act as the debate moderator because she's supposedly neutral. Yes, Z Nation went there.

While all of this political nonsense has being going on the other side plot in Election Day has been steadily pushing along.  The people of Wall Drug are getting sick and dying.  Symptoms include fainting and changing of the pupil to a gross zombie yellow/green.  Doc sees it as his duty to do what he can to elevate the struggle and starts to investigate even though Addie questions the sense of this plan when they could end up contaminated.

It turns out that the water supply of Wall Drug has been contaminated by a zombie head making everyone who drinks the water sick.  Doc cures the mayor of Wall Drug by giving her some charcoal to eat.  When he presents his findings at the debate, unsurprisingly both candidates deny the veracity of his claims and suggest that Doc doesn't have any real proof of his assertions.  Yes, the candidates go into science denying mode.

Addie tries to appeal to some deeply buried moral sense inside Sketchy but he's too fixated on getting away with his loot to think of the people he is sentencing to die by his failure to promote Doc's solution to the sickness.  

It all comes to a head when the residents of another town that Skeetchy and Skeezy have ripped off show up wanting their pound of flesh.  This touches off a gun battle that turns deadly when the zombies who've been contaminated by the dirty water show up.  Doc and Addie look around and decide that the Mayor has everything under control, and so steal the presidential limo and take off. Sketchy, Skeezy and Lannister rush outside to see their escape vehicle driving away and end up rolling around in the mud together.

Later, things have settled down and the mayor hands out charcoal to the people.  It's decided that since they no longer have a clean source of water that they are going to move on and look for somewhere else to live. 

What the fuck was the point of this episode?  I get that it's been cool to try your hand a political humor for awhile now. John Stewart, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert have all made a career out of skewering politicians.  SNL is must see TV around election time to see it's send up of the candidates. At times, this comedy can be hilariously funny, even as it informs the viewers about the issues at stake.  At times, this kind of comedy is driven to attack the entire process, even as it encourages people to participate in it. At it's best, it offers a small view of the thoughts of the electorate and where the country stands.  What Z Nation did with Election Day accomplished none of this. Yes, we saw a contest between two candidates who cannot be trusted mirroring the thoughts of many on Trump and Clinton but they weren't presented as people with the flaws who are human, they were presented as walking caricatures which really helps no one. 

There's also the invocation of Cheeto Jesus's plan to build a wall. Skeetchy suggests that his wall is to keep humans safe from zombies.  In this case, we all know that the zombies are meant to represent undocumented workers.  The plan of course will not work just as the Orange Shit Stain's wall will not work.  At issue here is that Z Nation's walls plays upon a racist and uneducated segment of society's fears about undocumented workers, even as it places undocumented workers side by side with flesh eating zombies.  I could not be more disgusted. 

Even if I could let go of the ridiculous debate and mock election, there's the issue of the poisoned water to deal with. Sure, on Z Nation the water wasn't contaminated because of the contempt and disregard of the government, but Z Nation still showed a government that simply doesn't give a damn which given the fact that the water in Flint is still contaminated suggests that this is the case.  The problem is that contaminated water in the real world isn't funny, it's not something to play with because it is making people sick. I think that the public needs to be reminded of the problems with water in Flint, particularly with Obama showing up a few months ago and drinking the water but this mockery was not the way to go about it. 

On every level that I can think of, Z Nation shit the bed with this episode and whatever hope that I had that they would return to the interesting show of season one is now officially dead.