Final Space has got comedy, it’s got science fiction, and it’s got Lovecraftian horror, but it’s never really tried to do an episode that was straight up horror before and that’s why “The Dead Speak” is such a treat and a risk for the show. The animation style doesn’t really lend itself to terror, the humor of the show doesn’t really lean into horror and, yet, “The Dead Speak” is an incredible effective and, at times, chilling story.
Galaxy Two escapes from the new Titan-ized Lord Commander only to find itself swarmed by an army of Gary zombies sent by Invictus. With no way to lightfold to safety, the Team Squad must fight an army of the dead to survive.
Final Space really has created a television environment where no character feels safe, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the glory days of Game of Thrones. This uncertainty, coming on the literal heels of watching another beloved longtime character get murdered in the most disturbing way, is probably what makes the horror element of “The Dead Speak” work so well. I could honestly see any member of the crew bite the big one at any time this, coupled with the claustrophobic interiors of the darkened ship, the disturbing state of the Gary zombies, and the overall tension of of the episode, made “The Dead Speak” genuinely scary. One of my favorite scary movies is the original version of Poltergeist, and I’ve always maintained that the reason it is so scary is because the movie makes you genuinely love the family before it terrorizes them. “The Dead Speak” operates the same way but, in some ways, even more merciless because of the show’s willingness to kill off its cast. I don’t want anything to happen to Quinn or Little Catto or Ash or Cheryl and I was genuinely scared something would.
Beyond the horror elements, the episode employs the typical humor we’ve grown to love and doles it out in the appropriate amounts. Never does the humor feel forced, nor does it overpower the horror elements making them less effective. The balance is actually quite extraordinary.
“The Dead Speak” also allows proper and realistic character growth. Showing Avacato’s growing bitterness towards Quinn and Quinn’s subsequence decision at the end of the epsiode felt real and earned. Once you understand where Avacato’s anger is coming from, you can understand and sympathize. When Quinn realizes that she’s the reason everyone is at risk, especially after the scene with Zombie Gary, you can understand her decision as well.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Zombie Gary scene which was not only a banger of a scene, but also demonstrated how Final Space can go from comedy to horror to drama so darned effortlessly. Final Space is, in every sense of the word, the closest thing we’ve gotten to a genuine space odyssey in years and has a better understanding of what it means to be an epic more than Star Trek, Star Wars, The Expanse, and any other science fiction series of the last few decades.
What’s more remarkable is that Final Space makes it look so easy.