The Dead Lands, a Shudder Original series, is a supernatural Māori adventure that consistently surprises me. A co-production with New Zealand’s TVNZ, the series has become my favorite thing that Shudder has been behind – yes, I’m putting it ahead of the Creepshow revival. Over the course of the last four episodes, we’ve seen Waka (Te Kohe Tuhaka) and Mehe (Darneen Christian) grow closer while still moving within areas of mistrust with each other’s decisions. Additionally, each of them has had their own dynamic developments. Waka has been confronting his guilt while Mehe has been growing in strength and learning to trust her power and not be scared by it.
Now, in episode five, “Generational Warfare,” Mehe and Waka push forward. Now that they know the name of the person who broke the world, Waka’s father, they’re on to the next step in their hero’s journey as they both return to Mehe’s tribe to tell them the truth. They have to confront the deeds of the generations before them in addition to fighting the Dead that have found their way into the cave complex. The unique thing The Dead Lands has done is using common trappings of fantasy and action but doing so on a foundation of indigenous mythology.
From the exorcisms to envisioning the Dead, it’s clear that the production has created a world of fantasy by using versions of Māori rituals that have been reimagined for the show. In “Generational Warfare,” we see even more. More specifically, we get a look at Māori mythological cosmology. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, mythological cosmology, also referred to as religious cosmology, refers to how cultures and religions define the origin, the history, and the evolution of the cosmos or universe. These cosmologies usually include an act or process of creation, and here, we learn their creation story.
“Generational Warfare” does an amazing job of immersing the audience even deeper into the world of The Dead Lands. Yes, this is the same thing I say each review, but the series drops you deeper and deeper into the fantasy as each episode pushes forward. Additionally, the costuming and make-up this episode are executed extremely well.
The emotional moments of this episode hit as you see Waka and Mehe overcoming what came before them. The throughline of the series is clear in this episode: the generations before us have ruined things. Specifically, they broke the world. Now, we have to fight back and actively work to fix it. If this isn’t a potent theme for a time where the Doomsday Clock has moved closer to midnight, I don’t know what it is.
With each episode, The Dead Lands carves out its place as a must-watch series. It’s fantastical, dark, and packed to the brim with action. Additionally, as an indigenous production, it’s one of a kind.
New episodes of The Dead Lands drop every Thursday exclusively on Shudder in the U.S.
'The Dead Lands,' Episode 5 - Generational Warfare
“Generational Warfare” does an amazing job of immersing the audience even deeper into the world of The Dead Lands..With each episode, The Dead Lands carves out its space as a must-watch series. It’s fantastical, dark, and packed to the brim with action. Additionally, as an indigenous production, it’s one of a kind.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.