After last week’s emotionally heavy episode, Syfy’s cult zombie hit “Z Nation” brought back the levity in Friday's episode 7, “Down the Mississippi.” With the characters still carrying the weight of their latest death, everyone’s priorities were put to the test while trying to boat their way downriver.
The episode opens with one of the strangest survivor cons the show has seen yet. As previously teased, two people are driving a makeshift mobile dentist office around the area. They nab two unsuspecting survivors by promising they’ll give them a much-needed teeth cleaning for free. However, once the survivors are loopy on laughing gas, they’re heaved into the back of the truck in a good old-fashioned kidnapping.
With some strange con artists in town rounding up survivors, the occasion was perfect for the return of Season 1 characters Sketchy (Mark Carr) and Skeezy (Doug Dawson). Previously, these two proved to be rather adept at looting, conning people into not killing them and always having the right item to trade at the right time. After the death of Cassandra (Pisay Pao), Operation Bite Mark is walking in uncomfortable silence just hoping to get Murphy (Keith Allan) to California that much faster. To help with that, Warren (Kellita Smith) spots a ferryboat on the coast of the Mississippi River. They clear the zombies and start to move downriver.
While traveling, they find Sketchy and Skeezy doing their best to get upriver in a paddleboat. The two board the ferry and start swapping stories about looting Graceland, but they’re stopped by a collection of waterlogged zombies that are essentially blockading the river. Warren orders everyone to bail as the undead start to climb on board, and they all dive west, except for 10K (Nat Zang), who finds himself on the opposite side, separated from his team.
Luckily he’s not alone, as the two con men dove east as well, and they quickly convince him to stick with them because there’s strength in numbers. Meanwhile, Doc (Russell Hodgkinson) is having way too much trouble convincing the group, particularly Vasquez (Matt Cedeño), that it’s worth it to sidetrack the California mission to find 10K. He is their coolest team member, after all. They agree to walk the river for a day in the hopes they’ll get a signal.
Meanwhile, 10K, Sketchy and Skeezy are making their way back when they encounter a group of dim-witted but well-armed survivors, who attempt to shake them down for their possessions. Unfortunately, since the ferry incident, they don’t have any. It looks like they’re about to be shot when Sketchy starts to do what Sketchy does best -- con them all.
He pulls a con called “The Murphy,” in which he convinces them that Skeezy is the infamous person who holds the cure and that one bite from him will make them immune to the zombie virus, which fans of the show (and general logic) know is not at all how it works. Still, the robbers aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, and they agree to be bitten, even paying the trio in food and bullets for their efforts.
Ready to escape with their heads intact, the three run away and steal the first working car they find, a giant friendly-looking dentist truck with no drivers anywhere to be found. They take the road to a community that recognizes the truck. Luckily for our wannabe bandit heroes, the locals don’t realize they’re not the original drivers. It turns out, the people living in this trailer park have found a way to use the zombies for slave labor by corralling them into turning a big wheel to generate electricity. In order to expand their workforce, they’ve been sending their “dentists” to collect able-bodied survivors to turn into Zs.
With booze flowing and girls all around, 10K, Sketchy and Skeezy decide to keep the lie going a little longer and party. 10K immediately does what he does best -- he meets a girl. He learns she has infiltrated the park because she doesn’t like the way they acquire their workforce -- and her husband is one of the zombies on the big wheel. They’re about to launch an escape scheme when the real dentist truck drivers make their way back to the community and rat them all out.
The girl runs off to find Doc and the others, but 10K, Sketchy and Skeezy find themselves in worse trouble than they thought. The community holds a trial to determine if they should be executed, with none other than Escorpion (Emilio Rivera), the head of the Zeros cartel that seems to be controlling every haven remaining, acting as judge. Escorpion allows Sketchy to plead his case, which is all he needs to launch into his greatest speech yet. His defense relies heavily on being a Johnny Six-Pack all-American boy, and he manages to win over both the crowd and the usually levelheaded Escorpion.
It looks like his words have, once again, saved their lucky behinds, when a dose of bad timing spoils everything. The robbers they conned before show up at the exact wrong moment and tell Escorpion what they did. The cartel leader says he was impressed with the speech, but the three were undoubtedly guilty. He sentences them to death by hanging.
Meanwhile, Operation Bite Mark is forced to make the tough call to abandon the search for 10K in favor of continuing on to California. As Doc says a tearful goodbye, the unnamed girl 10K met at the community finds them. Just like that, Operation Bite Mark is off to rescue their friends from the gallows. The element of surprise works in their favor as they rush into the community with guns blazing to help their friends escape. Meanwhile, Murphy uses his zombie mind control powers to hold the wheel at bay while the girl finally gives her husband mercy.
With the community burning behind them and Operation Bite Mark’s numbers back to normal, the group makes it back to their car with a pack of zombies behind them. For fear of joining the mission full time, Sketchy and Skeezy with their giant bag of guns agree to stay back and hold off the Zs to cover the group's escape. The episode ends with the highly confident duo going all Butch and Sundance against the horde of zombies. Although they’re grossly outnumbered, odds are good this won’t be the last fans will see of “Z Nation’s” luckiest men alive.
Odds And Ends
- Seriously, where is Citizen Z (DJ Qualls)?
- Murphy makes it clear pretty early on that he wants 10K dead for what he did to Cassandra.
- Almost everyone got a wardrobe change somehow, which is nice.
- Anyone else surprised how ripped Doc is?
- Why is Escorpion everywhere? Who trusts this man?
- “If you’re ever traveling down a river with a group, make sure you all know which side to dive off of in case of an emergency” -- A PSA brought to you by “Z Nation”
- Lastly, there should be nothing going on in your world other than the fervor to see a Sketchy and Skeezy spinoff series.