Wednesday, December 3, 2014

As finale approaches, follow Z Nation's blood trail through Spokane

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 2:40 PM

click to enlarge Survivors roll through Spokane, one of many local sites featured in Z Nation, as characters cross the country during a zombie apocalypse. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Survivors roll through Spokane, one of many local sites featured in Z Nation, as characters cross the country during a zombie apocalypse.

Zombie apocalypse roadtrip Z Nation, the first TV series based out of Spokane, finishes up its first 13-episode season this Friday with probably more of the horror, gore and cheesy dialogue it has served up all fall. Throughout the show, the Inland Northwest has stood in for the entire country as a colorful group of survivors has traveled from New York across the midwest toward a laboratory in California.

While the show has secured a second season already, it seemed like a good time to take a look at how the Spokane area has been used to represent the U.S. Most of us at the Inlander got together to watch the pilot episode back in September, but few have followed along with the series.

But I have. Born and raised in Spokane, my favorite part has been keeping a sharp eye for local landmarks and chuckling at the absurdity of some of the settings. So for those who missed out, here’s a selection of Northwest sightings in Season One.

Nothing obvious pops up in Episode 1, so fleeing quickly to …

click to enlarge Survivors cross the blue bridge in Riverfront Park. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Survivors cross the blue bridge in Riverfront Park.

EPISODE 2: Fracking Zombies

As the crew of zombie survivors flees New York, a wide establishing shot depicts the massive Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, but quickly shifts to up-close footage of survivors smashing through a group of zombies on the blue Riverfront Park bridge. The group eventually stops after jamming the truck’s wheel wells with body parts.

click to enlarge Hauling the Liberty Bell down First Avenue. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Hauling the Liberty Bell down First Avenue.

EPISODE 3: Philly Feast

Spokane really gets to shine in the third episode, in which the city stands in for Philadelphia and even includes multiple deaths by Liberty Bell. The survivors spend most of the show cruising back and forth down First Avenue, passing the Otis Hotel, KHQ and ducking into nearby Railroad Alley.

See photos from the filming, which shutdown traffic several days and repeatedly trapped one of our writers in her apartment. Characters also patrol down Riverside Avenue and encounter a hungry horde of zombies in what seems to be the alley behind Scratch.

click to enlarge Interrupting a zombie feast behind Scratch. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Interrupting a zombie feast behind Scratch.

click to enlarge Survivors flee "Philadelphia" (with digitally added buildings). - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Survivors flee "Philadelphia" (with digitally added buildings).

Spokane seems to fall off the radar for several episodes, but maybe I just missed a few. Skip to ...

click to enlarge sprague.png

EPISODE 8: Zunami

As the characters cross country, a “zunami” or zombie tsunami, traps them in a small Nebraska town. They spend much of the day holed up in a mortuary, but as they emerge dozens of the dead can be seen walking downtown Sprague, a rural grain town about 45 minutes west of Spokane. It's a tiny town I know well because my grandparents lived there and I used to buy penny candy at Kathy’s Family Foods, long before the zombies took over the place.

click to enlarge Water treatment plant goes radioactive. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • Water treatment plant goes radioactive.

EPISODE 10: Going Nuclear

For one of my favorite replacements, the Spokane Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility gets recast as a nuclear reactor site that has turned zombies radioactive. The bulbous treatment domes tower over characters in hazmat suits and the river even gets to make an appearance.

Downtown Medical Lake also makes a brief appearance during a walk-and-talk about the dangers of nuclear undead.

click to enlarge SYFY
  • SyFy

click to enlarge A walk through Medical Lake. - SYFY
  • SyFy
  • A walk through Medical Lake.

Surely, I have missed a few recognizable locations. Several unique historic buildings pop up and a few scenes feature some of the region's distinctive basalt rock. You can catch up with full episodes here. Feel free to let us know about other Spokane locations if you’ve been able to pick them out.

Here’s a quick preview of Friday’s finale, titled “Doctor of the Dead,” which apparently takes us back to the Otis Hotel. It alludes to an explanation for the outbreak, but who knows what’s in store? Either way, I’ll be looking for more familiar places in Season Two.

And here's some of those places mapped.


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