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SYFY WIRE Day of the Dead

Recap: Day of the Dead's gruesome transformation makes us wonder if we can solve the zombie problem without violence

For survivors of the zombie apocalypse, how to deal with zombies is a no-brainer: kill them, before they make you the no-brainer. 

By Seth Garben
Day of the Dead 106 PRESS

For survivors of the zombie apocalypse, how to deal with zombies is a no-brainer: kill them, before they make you the no-brainer. 

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That plan of action might seem logical on the surface (i.e. self-defense, kill-or-be-killed, etc.), but when you really start to look at it in more depth, doesn’t it reek a bit of, shall we say, genocide? 

Day of the Dead enters a deep, and carnage-filled meditation on this very question, and, amidst the sounds of gnashing teeth and guttural growls, seeks to posit some alternative approaches to containing the zombie element.   

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Day of the Dead Season 1, Episode 6, "The Lady Birders of Nepa."**     

The hearse carrying the remains of the wedding party has pulled a U-turn, and is en route to the encampment at Paymart. Just as they’re making good time, two hikers come scrambling out of the woods, one of them with a tree branch lodged in her abdomen (a strange place for it to be). They had been evading a zombie in the woods when one of them tripped and fell    

When a mess of zombies show up, the hikers, desperate for immediate medical attention, commandeer the hearse, leaving Jai (Dejan Loyola), Herb, Amy (Kristy Dawn Dinsmore), and Lauren (Natalie Malaika) — roadkill in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, townie Bobby Hart (Matty Finochio) shows up with his tow truck and shotgun, the first of which he uses to give the hitchers a ride, the second to blast away the zombies following them. Onward to Paymart!    

At Paymart, there’s a different kind of fight going down: a fight over the fate of Mawinhaken’s soul. Pops Parker, Mayor Bowman’s (Miranda Frigon) political (and ideological) nemesis, has taken up the stump, hoping to discourage the refugees from massacring the zombie hordes without thinking first. After all, these monsters were once people just like them. Should they not first try to avoid mob violence, and instead find more humane ways of sequestering the zombies until a more permanent solution presents itself? 

His argument might seem naive considering the magnitude of the ongoing carnage, but it starts making more sense when we put faces and names to the zombies Mayor Bowman would have her constituents indiscriminately murder. Take McDermott (Mike Dopud) for instance. He’s stuck in a cage at the Cleargenix black site, undergoing a horrible transformation into zombiehood while Dr. Logan (Lucia Walters) performs ever more invasive scientific tests on him. Would Bowman just have us shoot McDermott on sight, without waiting for some kind of cure? 

Maybe at first, but perhaps she’d change her mind once she realizes that McDermott can still remember his pre-zombie life: He lights up when Dr. Logan shows him his lighter, his badge, and a video of Cameron (Keenan Tracey) on his phone. McDermott’s still in there. He’s alive!   

Jai and company have made it to Paymart, where an ad hoc infirmary has already been set up. While making the rounds, Jai and Herb see the two hikers who had hijacked their vehicle. The one with the branch through her gut is in critical condition, and Jai, contrary to Herb’s advice, dislodges the branch in an effort to save his patient’s life. Unfortunately, the wound was too deep, and she doesn’t make it through the operation. Lauren stows the corpse in a closet, while Jai regains his composure. 

By the front entrance of the Paymart, Pops has gathered with a group of refugees he’s converted to his pacifist approach. They’re going to try catching the zombies with nets rather than outright killing them. The plan meets its first test when Jai’s undead patient mysteriously reappears, green, mean, and looking really hungry.      

Immediately she lunges at Pops Parker, salivating over what must look to her like particularly juicy jowls. Pops, in a seemingly self-contradictory move, cries for help, and help arrives in the form of Trey (Christopher Russell) swinging a shovel at the zombie’s head. But his swipes are not sufficient, and after Pops makes it out of the scrum, the zombie makes mincemeat of Trey. 

In an attempt to save her husband, Bowman opens fire on the flesh-eater but is too late: Trey’s a goner. In the light of such ghastly events, it would appear that Pops’ calls for more peaceful handling of the crisis were premature and overly optimistic. But the truth is much more complex, for in a flashback we learn that Mayor Bowman intentionally released the zombie girl from the utility closet as part of her fear-mongering campaign. 

Will the town now rally behind the gun-toting, Second Amendment-quoting, power-hungry candidate who just set her own husband up to die, just as she intended them to? Stranger things have happened.