No Mercy Review for Z Nation season 3 premiere By A. Zombie
Once the story smooths out, it’s more than obvious when in their history we’ve landed. Unfortunately, that time frame didn’t give us another chance to see Mack, but we get ample time with Zmurphed Cassandra and newborn Lucy—a pair who shouldn’t be left together, honestly; it leads to weird story beats and makes Cassandra a babysitter instead of any part of the team. Which may explain why, not long after this additional story takes place, 10k has to put her down for good. They couldn’t contain the rabid dog once she completely changed personalities. There’s only so much to do with a primarily non-vocal predator to make her interesting.
Z NATION — “No Mercy” Episode 301-302 — Pictured: Joseph Gatt as The Man — (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z/Syfy)
Since hearing about this flashback I’ve wondered, why take them so far back in the time line? What is so important, it has to be said now? It’s far easier to strip an unused script and redistribute the information throughout the upcoming story than to cut together a movie explaining vital information about the incoming probably-bad guys. Except it seems The Man and his mysterious handler—possibly top-ranked Zona personnel—are vital to upcoming events. The unseen man has the markers for Zona leadership, judging from what Dr. Merch told Murphy before he double-crossed her in the season 2 finale. Two-hours of The Man ramming through a small settlement like a tank is a tad overkill. Entertaining, but overkill. The inevitable outcome was set in stone, leaving much to be desired from The Man—like his bald head on a platter.
The story is one we’ve seen before. The gang rolls past a settlement, desperately low on supplies and devolved to bickering nonstop. Unbeknownst to Operation Bitemark, the poor survivors inside are being harassed, threatened by someone far more powerful than them. After a crow-raised boy is abducted, the settlers call on the gang to help, since they’re so ferocious and all. The rest really is just various stages of planning and executing the plan, with some close-calls, another abduction, and mass murder.
Oh, did I mention the glowing, exposed-brain zombies locked in a contaminated laboratory? They’re kinda important. Dr. Howard Teller is the only reason The Man is interested in the settlement to begin with. To The Man, Harold is just another name on a list he’s tasked with gathering. For Harold, there’s so much more at risk. His wife, Sarah, is one of the not-quite-zombies locked in the lab. The reason the fungus-infected lab team aren’t dead is because Harold is the only soul brave enough to feed them. It’s not until Murphy translates their plaintive cries that Harold understands she’s been begging him to give them mercy for four years. Murphy’s interaction with these poor souls is heartbreaking. Kudos to Keith Allan for an incredible performance.
The opening sequence is tense and beautifully shot. People overlook this show often when searching for simply beautiful footage when they shouldn’t. The team behind the camera is brilliant.
On the flip-side, the writing team needs their ability to write puns stripped for a little while. If I took a shot for every crow joke said at the kid’s expense, I’d have no brain or skull left.
I wanted to be irritated over the flashback, but in the end, saw the necessity. It’s still not cool to leave us hanging with 10k’s fate. We want to catch up with the others, too. I mean, Citizen Z finally met another living being without fur! Plus, Warren and her team have a new ally in Hector . . . except he’s also cornered on the beach by Chinese soldiers. Murphy and Vasquez are the only ones with the freedom to do what they want. Will they return to save their former travel companions? Guess we’ll have to tune in on the 23rd to find out.
First up, don’t miss Fear the Walking Dead‘s return for the latter half of season two starting Sunday August 21st at 9/8c. We’ve been promised crazier dead-obsessed folks. Madison is on a quest to save Nick. Plus Alicia becomes a badass, and there’s a father/son road trip which will likely crash and burn. Oh and a hotel that apparently rains corpses.
Z Nation will be the next to hit the airwaves with their recently announced September 16th . . . or was that the 23rd for the premiere? To clear up confusion, David Michael Latt, the show’s producer, became a one-man FAQ. He filled in fans via Twitter, saying the two-hour episode airing on the 16th is what he called a, “lost episode,” which will feature returning characters. This episode/movie begins at 8/7c and sets up the action for the third season, which begins the following week. Latt said there may be a ZN marathon before the new season begins. He also said season three is “nuts,” and shared a link to pirated footage for a teaser premiered at SDCC. After watching said footage, I agree. Season three looks downright bonkers.
Hope you’re ready to get groovy, baby. Ash vs Evil Dead is back on Starz on October 2. Be prepared for bloodier FX, funnier jokes, and Lee Friggen Majors as Ash’s papa. I mean, what more do I need to say about this show? They’ve done what they intended and gave Evil Dead fans something to salivate over—or in most cases, vomit from the gore. We’ve been promised some “Holy crap” tie-ins to the previous films. They’ve already confirmed some special guests, like Ted Raimi and Joel Tobek coming in to play this season’s big bad, Baal. In this season, we’ll learn about Ash’s past while the gang cleans up the mess he and Ruby made last season.
On October 23rd at 9/8c, The Walking Dead returns to AMC for its seventh season. Talking Dead aired a special on August 14th to tease everyone about the upcoming premiere. Basically it was forty minutes of awkward conversations dodging actually saying something about the season. Every recorded video from the actors simply repeated the tired, “This episode will gut you,” rhetoric. There was a spicy exchange by Melissa McBride and Lennie James, singing each other’s praises. Their characters head off to The Kingdom and they’ve spent a lot of time together while shooting. Scott Gimple sent along a message for Chris Hardwick to read. For the most part, it confirmed that the show is aligning more with the comics, but they will still put their unique spin to whatever comes. The big reveal came when they aired a forty second clip featuring Dwight cleaning up a bunch of blown up walkers. Yeah, not much of a tease.
Last up, iZombie. Seeing as this is a mid-season show, it doesn’t have an airdate just yet. What do we know? The CW’s president recently gave props to the show-runners, stating that iZ would have a place on the network as long as it continues to perform well. He also confirmed a thirteen episode season three. Team Zombie is hard at work on set. “Hard” seems like the wrong word after scrolling past photos of their behind-the-scenes antics, but I trust they’re also getting some work done.
We do get to see the crew walking—yes, they killed every last El Camino they stole—through sunny and thoroughly destroyed southern California. Anaheim, more precisely. Yes, they do indeed tromp through Disneyland’s ruins. No, there are no Mickey Mouse zombies. Yes, I’m slightly disappointed. Lest viewers think this episode accomplishes nothing for the plot, the crew does indeed finally arrive at the coordinates Citizen Z gave to them. It’s not quite what they were expecting, though—a ramshackle dive bar with an older tea-slinging woman behind the bar. While the team scout the bar, Citizen Z discovers a hacker’s fingerprints on his system. After some tracking, he discovers whoever broke into his laptop accessed files for Operation Bitemark. Is the op compromised?
And now, a peek at the crew as they were before the apocalypse changed them for better or worse.
First up, Citizen Z, a.k.a. Simon Cruller. Our favorite computer wizard wasn’t always on the NSA payroll, it seems. Nor does he look good in an orange jumpsuit. Simon’s hacking skills landed him in federal lockup with impending espionage charges. He won’t plead guilty. Which is good because NSA needs him to join them on their next greatest mission, one so secret, Simon can’t even tell his lawyer what it is—zombies. Obviously the intrigue offered by the NSA worked. Simon signed on with them, went to their north-most outpost, and has been a one-man tech team keeping Operation Bitemark alive.
We flashback to Roberta while she’s struggling to keep tabs on deployment orders for her unit and the other units at the same National Guard base. Her stress levels bounce off the ceiling several times, but her compatriots aren’t bothered by any of it as they catch a game on TV before moving out. Everything is pretty SOP, until there’s a crash outside. An ambulance rammed into the building. The driver is MIA. The patient strapped in the back is still very much present, and very much undead. Roberta tries to help the patient, under the impression he’s panicked and injured. Yeah, no. She heads inside to call for another ambulance. The phones are dead. Ditto for her unit, unfortunately. They attack her and she’s forced to put a bullet in their heads. Quick on the uptake, Roberta figures out they’re zombies without anyone spelling it out for her. Her fast-thinking may be why she’s the one leading the team. Or, you know, not being a martyr.
Turns out Doc wasn’t always high as a kite. His five-year sober streak ends with the apocalypse, though. It’s just another day in the office for the kindly therapist. His patient is likewise dealing with addiction and they have a pretty relaxed dialog—anything else in Doc’s presence is unheard of, to be honest. There’s another therapist in the office, who can’t quite handle her manic patient. Doc has to save the day, strong-arming the guy and talking sense to him. While the therapists work, the outside world devolves into chaos. That chaos finds its way indoors. Zombies eat the other therapist, her client, and Doc’s patient. Doc eats an OxyContin tablet to brace himself for what’s outside before escaping into the fray. Right after we came back from his flashback, Doc finds a Z-weed joint and lights up. Not much has changed since Doc saw his first zombie.
You guys ready for the surprise guest? Mack returns for Addy’s turn in the way-back machine. He’s on the ice, being ferocious during a hockey game. Addy is just as fierce in the stands cheering on Mack’s opponents. Just when the game gets good—Mack and the star player from the other team drop their gloves to duke it out—a zombie runs through the stands and smacks into the Plexiglas. From there it’s pure chaos. Mack and his sparring partner leave the ice together. The other guy doesn’t make it far. Addy manages to dodge the crowds, ducking around the worst of it until she runs into Mack, who can’t quite kill the zombie snapping at his throat. Addy lends a hand and the two team up. Mack has a chance to return the favor, braining a zombie pinning Addy against the wall. They make a pact to stick together. Which means Mack is tagging along when Addy realizes she has to get to her mother and brother at the house. Tagging along, in the end, is what lead to Mack’s demise. Was it Addy’s pretty eyes or an overly large sense of duty to help others? I’d say a dash of both, honestly. He stayed with her in the beginning because they both needed help. They remained together later because he just could not let her go and the mission became much more important after Murphy nuked half the USA.
We saw the most emotional part to 10k’s apocalypse beginning a while back. What we didn’t see was bright-eyed 10k, then simply Tommy, encountering his first zombie. He’s out on a camping trip with his dad, enjoying an afternoon fishing alone. A forest ranger, undead of course, shambles his way with three arrows in her chest. Quickly more zombies join them—hunters and rangers who were likely attempting to kill the zombies in the forest, only to die in the process. Tommy drops his fish and runs. He’s nearly z-lunch when his dad catches up, clearing the zombies with precision shooting. Now we know where 10k learned his skills from. Skills he puts to use daily. His dad must be proud.
Grab your tissues, Vasquez’s flashback hits a few emotional triggers. Guilt-ridden over the deaths of his family because of his job, Vasquez tortures himself mentally. He’s keeping watch over his wife and daughter’s caskets in an unlit funeral home. The funeral director doesn’t even know he’s in there until he accidentally walks in, then gives the mourning man time alone. Vasquez kneels to pray. Scratch, scratch. He calls to the funeral director to ask if they have rodents in the building. No answer. The scratching continues. Finally the director comes back . . . or at least his reanimated body does. There’s a fight. Vasquez empties his gun into the zombie’s chest. No good. He ends up bludgeoning the thing to death. Good timing, too. He’s just in time to watch his undead wife and child crawl from their caskets. His gun is empty. He has no backup. Vasquez realizes he will have to beat his family like the funeral director. We don’t see the kill. We just hear Vasquez’s anguished scream as he realizes what he has to do. Killing his family for the second time hardened the man beyond what was necessary to do his job. Wandering the apocalypse alone turned that into a ruthlessness and stubborn moral code no one can break. Not even Roberta.
Last stop on the flashback train—Murphy. As expected, he’s in jail.
Unexpectedly, Murphy doesn’t look a thing like himself because I am so used to seeing him blue and covered in scars. But when he opens his mouth, it’s pretty much the same smart aleck the crew has dragged from New York to California. He’s hosting a poker game in the prison yard—where he’s doing time for postal fraud. As sometimes happens, a prisoner is stabbed in the yard. Yeah, you guessed it, the guy turns zombie. Everyone panics when the guards start turning as well. Murphy saves his own hide, running through an open gate and closing it before his poker pals can join him. It’s always been Murphy First in his book. Then the vaccine made him actually care about the well-being of the zombies. Feelings are uncomfortable. I get it. Being The Guy to end the apocalypse? It’s too much to bear. Murphy tells himself, “I don’t want to be the savior of the human race. I don’t want to be the zombie messiah.” He doesn’t want to be accountable for his actions anymore. If he screws up, like he did to land in prison, that’s it for humanity. That’s an awful weight on his shoulders. When he breaks down, Roberta gives it to him straight, “There isn’t a happy ending for any of us, but you, you are the one person who can change that.” How long can she keep him together? At this point, it’s like fixing a shatter vase with bubble gum. It’s holding, but ain’t pretty.
There’s one episode left in season two, with a season three already ordered for later this year. How much chaos can they cram into this finale? It’s hard to top nuking the country.
The gang somehow finds themselves carless and hopelessly surrounded by zombies at the United States/Mexico border. Murphy’s near-death experience means he’s more a sack for them to heft around than useful for keeping his kind at bay. They’re cornered. No chance to fight their way out with maybe four bullets amongst them. All hope is lost. The mission is over!
Wait, is that Escorpion peeking from a basement door? Follow him, guys.
Down they go into what I can only assume is a power plant of some sort. The Zeroes found a way to make the zombies work for them—without chaining them to a giant wheel like the ill-fated survivors in Burrtown—by cramming them in a tank and letting them decompose. The compost’s heat runs the turbines for the Zeroes’ power plant. It’s ingenious, really. We may have found the one group with high enough IQs to recreate society if the zombie outbreak is ever controlled.
That’s exactly what their leader, La Reina, plans to do. She needs a little help, first. Which is why Escoprion keeps popping up in the crew’s way. The only surefire way to end the outbreak is to make a cure. For that, they need Mr. Murphy. La Reina is freakishly possessive of Murphy. He and Roberta are treated like heroes. But not even heroes get to keep their weapons in the queen’s presence. The gang is disarmed before they’re allowed to venture beyond the lush gardens within the Zeroes secure compound.
Inside, they’re taken to the lab where La Reina has recruited a scientist capable of taking Murphy’s blood and delivering the cure her entire plan for the future hinges upon. One guess who lurks in the tiny, bloody lab . . . . Yup, Dr. Kurian. Roberta nearly kills the guy then and there. She hesitates, a weakness La Reina catches immediately. Why won’t Roberta kill Kurian? He may be the only PHD left on the planet capable of synthesizing a cure. Which he can’t. But she doesn’t know the truth.
Only Murphy understands why they’re all about to be up Feces Creek. Kurian has a plan, though. One which will put Murphy firmly atop the food chain from here on out. While the others are off receiving their reward from La Reina, Murphy hangs back in the lab to snarl at the man who ditched him back with the phytozombies. Kurian talks Murphy down, then wins him over when he produces batch one of the Murphy-zombie serum. It’s not perfect, but effective. Murphy has full control of the unfortunate Zero goon Kurian turns. The scene is thrilling. *wink wink*
What about this reward La Reina promises the crew? Well, they can either take a lifetime supply of whatever they wish, or become cartel members. Vasquez spots the trap. The Zeroes never give options. Either they join the cartel or die. But there’s a catch—they have to pass the examination. Ambushed, the crew is dropped into an improvised gladiator arena. The examination is simple, whoever survives both rounds in the arena becomes cartel members. Round one is a cakewalk. Addy puts the lone zombie down without blinking. Round two is trickier. In the dark, the gang must dispatch about a dozen zombies. For our crew, it’s no problem. They’ve faced worse since leaving New York.
Now everyone is Team Zeroes. They just need to look the part. Before the gang parties, they take a trip through the Zeroes’ Day Spa for makeovers. 10k doesn’t know how to react to his pedicure and Doc’s beard will never be the same after. Even their weapons get a makeover—cleaned, sharpened, and loaded before Escorpion returns them to the crew as part of their cartel induction.
Vasquez is going to blow it for everyone. He realizes Escoprion was the masked man who killed his wife and child. Despite Roberta imploring him to be patient, wait until they create a plan to escape Mexico, Vasquez still attempts to shoot Escorpion in the middle of the shindig. Desperate to avoid being killed, Roberta thwarts the attempt. Vasquez is taken into custody for questioning because everyone thinks a Reina is his target. But if she’s the target, surely he’s working for someone. Yet again, Zona is brought up, with the addition that it’s populated by “rich bastards.” A trussed-up Vasquez bobs and weaves around Escorpion’s questions like Julio César Chávez in the ring. The interrogation ends when Kurian requests a meeting with La Reina.
The cure is finished! Not really, but the Zeroes don’t know there is no chance of making a cure from Murphy’s blood. Kurian’s verbose bragging does nothing to convince La Reina the cure works. She wants proof. Vasquez becomes the volunteer for the inaugural dosage.
The episode ends with a needle at Vasquez’s throat. Yes, I yelled at the television. No, I have no patience to wait for a week. The show’s producers are evil for okaying the To Be Continued ending.
The episode’s opener is downright beautiful, some of the best cinematography on TV this fall. But once the episode’s plot rolls on, it’s pretty clear there’s nothing grounding the action in the overall story line for the season. Forty minutes for what’s essentially a pit stop to grab supplies.
The gang is caught in a forest fire, along with enough zombies to make traveling by foot dangerous. They fight their way through the smoke to a seemingly abandoned hotel. Knowing the show’s history, it’s seriously unlikely the place is empty, but any port in a firestorm. Inside, a group of frightened business people bicker over whether or not to let the strangers inside. One man, Iggy, takes initiative to be a decent human being and unlocks the door.
That’s about the time I realized one of the businessmen is none other than Anthony Michael Hall. A shame they couldn’t do more within the episode while working with such a strong actor as guest star. Hall plays Gideon Gould, a professional hot air blower. Not really, but that may as well be his job. Instead the guy tells business people how to best B.S. each other by talking in circles. He carries a “talking stick” and an ego almost as big as Murphy’s.
Gideon and his gal pal Dana somewhat take over, forcing Roberta and her group to participate in ridiculous trust-building exercises. He goes through the group giving his first impressions. Yes, they’re on the nose, but he ends up planting the seeds for everyone to distrust 10k later in the episode. Dana, Gideon, Addy, and Roberta sit to talk terms to sharing resources. A couple of the guys go with Iggy to check out the kitchen. Vasquez mother hens Murphy while he attempts to nap. Using his psychic zombie weirdness, Murphy distracts Vasquez to wander around the hotel. Addy leaves the meeting with Dana to salvage parts from the satellites on the roof and flirt. A gunshot brings everyone together again.
Murphy has a hole in his chest. Did he have that before? Didn’t think so. Another unlucky sap, Greg, is likewise leaking blood. Vasquez, using his Sherlock-worthy skills determines they were injured by the same bullet. It passed through Murphy and into Greg’s heart. Murphy’s blood is the only reason the guy isn’t a zombie yet. Working on that theory, Doc doses Greg with a hearty helping of Murphy’s blood. Waste not, want not. Murphy won’t miss what’s already outside of his body, right?
Gideon calls yet another group meeting to determine who shot the men. Automatically, they blame 10k. Addy steps up to defend him, but she’s nowhere near as convincing as the man himself. Vasquez, so not on board with Gideon’s methods, returns to the party with a duffle bag overflowing with food which the hotel survivors thought long gone, not squirreled away in a personal stash. Murphy and Greg were nearly killed for candy bars. The hotel survivors turn on Iggy, who by far the sanest, kindest person in residence. They’d assumed he took the food since he has one of two keys and Gideon is beyond reproach. Iggy is unceremoniously flung out into the smoke and encroaching zombies with only a small sledgehammer. Washington is given the pantry key and ordered to lock it down. Shortly after, Gideon finally gets around to offering Roberta food for her people. They hit the kitchen. Zombie Washington hits them. He also kills Sheila before they’re both given Mercy. The remaining food is gone.
Someone shoots at Doc. Everyone arms up and gives chase. Dana gives the shooter a free pass while Addy isn’t looking. The women wind up trapped in a closet—quit snickering—where Dana begs Addy to take her with them when they leave. Nearby zombies hear them. Roberta and Vasquez save their bacon before resuming the search for the shooter. The follow them, but come up empty-handed. While everyone scurries around for mysterious shooters and missing food, Murphy dreams about the zombies outside, subconsciously calling them to the hotel. They break out of the quarantined sections in the hotel. The fire zombies the gang fought through join the fray, eventually breaking the glass on the hotel doors. Everyone holes up in the makeshift sickbay.
Right on time, half-zombie Greg wakes. Doc asks him to identify the shooter. He points to . . . no, not Gideon, as much as we want him to suffer for being obnoxious. Travis is the shooter; Dana his lover. All they want is to get out of the hotel and away from Gideon. There’s a shootout. Greg dies again. So does Travis.
Victorious against the zombies outside, Iggy returns to the hotel. Truly apologetic, Gideon welcomes him back to the fold and offers the sacred talking stick. As thanks, Iggy whacks Gideon with the dang stick. Murphy wakes, confused and suffering the mother of all headaches.
The hotel group thanks Roberta’s crew for their part in overthrowing Gideon’s ridiculous stranglehold on their future by giving them a van and supplies. Will it be sufficient to see them through to the California lab? Do I need to ask? Of course it won’t. Murphy’s Law rules everything which happens to the crew—if it can go wrong, it will. My bet is the van will spontaneously combust when they all go on a pee break or something equally ridiculous.
10k and Doc are all aboard the alien theory train. It just gets worse when the crew rolls into Roswell, New Mexico in a Thing—no, not the orange rock-looking guy; it’s a car. On the way into town, they encounter a strange aircraft. It kills the Thing’s electrical system, garbles the radio, and slap-chops a zombie down the road with a light beam, ensuring they travel safely.
In town, there’s people gathered at a UFO-themed restaurant. Roy, the gentleman organizing the orientation, says they’re waiting for Bernadette to relay a message from the aliens: It’s time to hop onboard and take to the stars. According to her, it’ll be six days until the exodus. How does she know so much about alien plans? They talk to her, of course. The aliens picked Bernadette to be their voice to the masses after saving her from a zombie one evening. Since then they’ve been thick as thieves, planning how best to save the human race. They were just waiting for one key element—Murphy. Yeah, it’s not enough to save mankind, but he’s also the emissary for the human race, as chosen by the aliens.
Not everyone is on her side. Dan Scully—yes, they went there—swears Bernadette has it all wrong. The aliens aren’t coming to Earth, they’re already here. He goes on to warn the crew not to listen to Bernadette; she’ll get them all killed. Dan is my favorite part of the episode. He’s played by veteran creature actor Doug Jones, who frankly does not get enough credit in the genre. It’s great to see him playing human for once.
Roberta asks Bernadette—who has an uncanny ability to simply appear in the conversation—to take them to the nearby air force base. Maybe they can score a ride on that UFO or a forgotten plane. At the very least, they can salvage supplies to stock the Thing for the last push to California. The base itself isn’t impressive and has been picked clean by scavengers or military personnel before they packed it in and ran from the zombies. 10k calls Bernadette out; she knows more about the base than she’s letting on.
Now things get weirder. She takes them to an office and practically demands Doc take a pack of gum from the vending machine. Hey, why is she putting on a seatbelt? Moments later, the room lurches and they descend to a hidden facility deep under the base. Underground, they encounter their first alien. Only, something’s not right about this guy. It attacks. The crew puts it down and nearly dies themselves when the creature’s flight suit self-destructs. Well, that’s a first. At least zombie aliens can be killed the same as the others.
They search the facility. Addy spends some quality time with a high-tech computer. There’s hundreds of files on Murphy and their travels since Colorado. Weird. Not as weird as Bernadette, though. While Addy attempts to use the computer to contact Citizen Z, the others split off to find the aliens. They finally find a living alien. It approaches cautiously, but the moment is broken when an alien zombie interrupts. 10k takes out the alien-z—zalien? The living alien abducts Bernadette, dragging her upstairs. Roberta, Vasquez, and 10k give chase. They find Bernadette caught in the UFO’s light beam. Murphy joins them and the alien’s focus shifts to him. Desperate to save him from abduction, Roberta grabs a future-tech gun 10k found and shoots down the UFO.
Turns out, aliens still aren’t a thing. Dan planned the entire thing. His job was initially to salvage the aircraft for the government. Then he saw Bernadette and wanted to take her with him. I’m not sure how fancying a woman turns into making an alien invasion plot to convince her to go somewhere safer makes sense, but there it is. Poor Dan doesn’t make it. Bernadette gives him Mercy after he turns zombie. What about the other aliens? Test pilots who turned in their suits. Nothing freaky at all. Well, freakier than zombies existing.
The crew rolls out of town without any more incidents. Bernadette returns to her people . . . and lies to their faces. She can’t bring herself to dash their hopes for salvation, so she simply says they have to wait, the aliens don’t feel they’re ready yet.
This episode is a fun diversion to alleviate the mid-season doldrums. Which means the next episode will probably return to the high-tension action from the season’s premiere. I can’t wait.
Doc spots a gigantic cheese wheel and takes a bite. Then Roberta and Addy push the sucker downhill, letting gravity take care of the undead parade. Vasquez helpfully suggests they head to a Mennonite community not far away. He’d been by there six months prior and saw survivors. Considering Serena can’t waddle five feet without projectile puking, it’s a good thing the community isn’t across the state. There’s a long, drawn out sequence covering Serena’s attempt to win gold in the Vomiting Olympics. Give the woman a medal and let’s move on, already. My lunch is trying to crawl up my throat. Note to self: leave the finger sandwiches for after the show.
After the worst of Serena’s morning sickness is over, the group is fired at, destroying the SUV they stole from the Zeroes. Vasquez takes a long-range radio as a souvenir. Serena saves the day, opening fire with an automatic rifle and cursing so much a sailor would be jealous. Hate to admit it, but as gross and annoying as she can be, I’d want her at my side during the apocalypse. If, you know, I still played for Team Living Folk.
Faced with yet another car problem, they simply steal the truck from the woman Serena killed and roll down to the Mennonite community. Vasquez and 10k scout ahead. 10k takes out a few zombies covered in what’s later revealed to be anthrax. Not exactly the fun kind of white powder. Vasquez takes a minute to steal food and listen to the stolen radio. Roberta makes the call to take a chance and enter the community to ask for help. Good thing, too. Not long after they make contact with the Mennonite leader, Jacob, 10k succumbs to anthrax poisoning and Serena’s water breaks. The baby is on the way. No one is prepared, least of all Murphy.
10k is shuffled off to a bunkhouse with other anthrax patients. There’s not enough Cipro, an antibiotic made for animals but still okay for human use, to cure the sick Mennonites and 10k. All they can do with their current supply is stave off death for a little longer. Addy and Vasquez take Jacob to a small town nearby in hopes of finding more antibiotics in the pharmacy. One problem, though; they aren’t the first to reach the pharmacy. Inside they find a junkie who has literally taken everything behind the counter in an attempt to kill himself. Obviously it didn’t work. The junkie asks them to kill him. When Addy declines, he desperately attacks Vasquez, who shoots him in the head. Jacob judges their actions harshly after Addy explains it’s just the way they have to do things now.
Back at the community, Serena and Murphy are flat-out ridiculous while dealing with her labor pains. Doc has no clue what to do between a sick 10k and the mother-to-be’s screaming. At one point Doc arms himself with a meat cleaver after witnessing the baby pushing through Serena’s stomach to say hello to her father. Murphy isn’t fazed. After Addy and Vasquez return, she succumbs to the anthrax, as well. Roberta is pushed into a corner. She can let two of her people die, jeopardizing the safety of Murphy and the baby who both carry the cure, or she can rob some very nice people and doom their sick to death. The latter option wins. There’s simply too much at stake—which she conveys to Jacob as they steal what little Cipro is left.
Back on baby watch, it’s time for the blessed event. This is one determined newborn. The little girl not only pulls herself from Serena’s womb—without injuring her mother—but she also chews through her umbilical cord. The crew aren’t the only ones to witness the birth. Zombies from everywhere flock to the barn, including three people leading a camel.
Yes, they snuck in a Jesus joke. You may applaud them for their audacity.
The zombies are riled up once Murphy holds his daughter. He can’t control the undead, they’re too focused on his daughter. Serena sacrifices herself, attacking the zombies so Murphy and the others can flee. Roberta stops to give her mercy after she turns. It’s unclear how, exactly, everyone makes it out of the barn unscathed considering 10k and Addy were too sick to move at the moment of the birth. Television magic, I guess.
Father and daughter have a nice bonding moment before Roberta orders everyone back into the truck so they can continue to dodge the nuclear fallout and head toward California. Murphy takes a second to give his little girl a proper name, Lucy, named after his mother.
And the moment is over when the camera cuts to the giant cheese wheel still mowing down everything in its path.
How fast can the group travel with a newborn on board? Hard to tell. Plus, there’s now the problem of feeding a baby without a mother or supplies. What does Lucy eat? We’ll probably find out soon. I’m going to guess baby doesn’t crave momma’s milk.
The catch? It’s not as simple as going in, grabbing a few leaves, and dosing the infected. Oh no. Some brain trust used zombie to fertilize the plants in the greenhouse. Not only does the added nutrients add a kick to the Z-Weed, it also allows the greenhouse to create its own zombie breed—Phytozombies.
Essentially the greenhouse is one gigantic organism connected by vines, with Batch 47 as the brain. Did I mention Batch 47 is the supposed zombie cure? Or that it seriously doesn’t like anyone? The thing is so ferocious, Odengard—the man who found the greenhouse and its Z-Weed surprise—suckers hopeful survivors into braving the phytos and fetching seed pods from 47. Needless to say, a few phytos are made in the effort.
Impatient as always, Murphy strolls into Odengard’s lab, introduces himself, and takes over the harvesting mission. By the time he’s done convincing Odengard by leading him safely to 47 to grab a test seed pod, Roberta and the others catch up. They’re so busy plotting how to snag Murphy, they don’t realize they’ve become part of his plan to dodge endless needles by going to holistic route. Any port in a storm, right? They agree to help, spurred by a sick girl who doesn’t want to turn zombie after she dies from an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection. Who can say no to a dying girl? Not these suckers.
Into the vines they go. Murphy leads the way, keeping everyone safe. I know, don’t die of shock. They reach 47 with little excitement. Things hit the fan once they start pulling leaves and pods from the plant. 47 uses its buddies to scare the group. Murphy steps up to control the phytos. 47 isn’t having any of it and fights back. The combined strength of the phytos is too much. The group takes what they gathered and leaves—after Murphy ditches them.
Someone has been tracking Murphy. Turns out its dread Dr. Kurian, who didn’t die in the nuclear blast as we thought. He breaks the bad news: Batch 47 won’t work. Matter of fact, Kurian’s stand on Murphy and his not-quite-zombie nature has changed. He thinks Murphy’s kind will rule and he wants in on the ground floor of a new civilization. They don’t get to plot a mad scheme. There’s no time. Kurian’s buddies, the Zeroes cartel, roll onto the scene. He’s not exactly their favorite person.
No one is the Zeroes’ favorite person, least of all Odengard. Escorpion, who we met in the previous episode, is their head bad-ass. He has no time for Odengard’s Batch 47 missions. To prove his point, Escorpion doses Odengard with powdered 47 delivered via a high-powered vape pen. First reaction? Ecstatic energy. Second reaction? Boom! Zombie Odengard. Escorpion gives him mercy, gathers whatever Z-Weed and Batch 47 is harvested, and orders his goons to torch the greenhouse.
Unaware of 47’s epic failure, Murphy attempts to save the plant. 47 untangles itself and chases Murphy through the greenhouse. Just as he’s almost out, the vines snag him. Roberta and Doc attempt to cut him free. Addy and 10k grab a few loose vines and feed them into an industrial fan. Smoothies, anyone? They drag a distraught Murphy to the car. Doc stops to give the dying girl a couple Batch 47 leaves to chew on the off-chance it’ll keep her from turning.
Serena finally finds her baby daddy. The little bundle of joy is just as excited to see Murphy. This is one story line I can’t wait to see through to the end.
The tortoise-pace they’re traveling at frustrates Murphy to no end. He takes it out on Citizen Z, demanding the compu-geek get his tail in gear and locate Dr. Marilyn Merch, the woman who gave him the zombie-virus vaccination back in the prison. Murphy’s anger comes out of left field. The entire drive, he’s been a suitcase, more or less—along for the ride and not doing much to help. Suddenly, he’s itching for revenge against Dr. Merch. It could be his deteriorating condition ramping up his frustration. Without open communication from California, he’s not getting any answers about what’s happening to him or what will happen a week from now, or years down the road. How much of Murphy will be left by the time they reach the lab?
If they reach the lab in California.
Yet again, the brain trust escorting Mankind’s Hope does something stupid and end up without access to their car. In the middle of a zombie-infested golf course. Why did it take all five of them to check a bridge? Roberta could’ve hopped out, jumped on the thing a few times to test it, then hope back in and drive on. But oh no, everyone piles from the SUV and onto the bridge, allowing a small zombie horde to cut them off from the car. Into the clubhouse they go. Except Murphy. He takes advantage of his new natural zombie appeal and snags a few practice swings on the course. Which means he isn’t present for the rescue-slash-meeting with a trio of new survivors. After bailing Roberta, 10k, Doc, and Cassandra out of a bind, the new guys—Frank, Janice, and Henry—invite everyone for a few drinks. One thing leads to a few too many drinks and Murphy spills the beans on his whole savior gig.
Somehow the next round of drinks ends up drugged. No clue how that happened. Murphy is abducted. Everyone else is handcuffed in an uncomfortable conga line with a zombie. Good thing there’s an umbrella handy. Does anyone else have a hard time suspending belief long enough to buy that any of the weapons used on the show would work to puncture a skull?
Fred and his gang drive Murphy into the middle of nowhere—not to be confused with the vast nowhere they’ve driven through for the entire show—and lay out their master plan. Mr. Savior will lead them into a pharmaceutical warehouse where they will load up on OxyContin. Because, as everyone knows, the only currency in the apocalypse is drugs. Only losers barter with food and other items essential to survival.
There’s one catch in the plan—the zombies aren’t the same run-of-the-mill undead they’ve run from since New York. Oh no. Half of the Zs are wired on Ritalin. Others, well, let’s just say the little blue pill doesn’t need a functioning circulatory system in order to affect a man. I’d like to thank the writers for sparing us from actually witnessing undead love-making. The reactions from Roberta and Doc were enough to sell the idea without crossing that line.
Murphy is one step ahead of everyone, concocting his own evil plan. First, he spits in Janice’s water. Then he works on her emotions, reminding her about her husband who died the last time they attempted to snag the drugs. Come to find out, Murphy’s mental mojo doesn’t just work on the undead. He controls Janice like a puppet, making her raise and lower her gun with a thought. Since it works so well, he takes the opportunity to scratch Henry, adding to his puppet army. Moments before he enters the drug company’s gates, Murphy bites Fred—insurance lest his plan go awry at any point.
Which, of course, it does.
Unaware that Murphy has his own escape plan in place, Roberta, Doc, 10k, and Cassandra barrel into the building. The distraction, plus the zombies following shortly after, gives Fred a chance to hold Murphy hostage. He’s the savior, after all. Killing him would put a damper in everyone’s day. Annoyed by being held like a damsel in distress, Murphy orders Fred to kill himself. The zombies take care of Henry and Janice. Everyone piles into a conveniently placed van and they drive off into the Colorado sunset.
It’s not the most meaningful episode, save Murphy’s Puppet Master routine and Cassandra’s dwindling health from the infection in her leg. But, hey, they’ve got yet another maybe-reliable car. Citizen Z thinks he’s on the right track to find Dr. Merch. Things might finally go right for Murphy and his escort team just in time for the finale.
Look, the gang’s . . . still not all here. Addy and Mack haven’t returned to the group. That’s okay, because the group isn’t too far behind them. Right? Wrong. More car troubles. If the zombies don’t kill these guys, I’m convinced the vehicles will. They’ve got to be Decepticons, or another sentient creature set to make Murphy’s dwindling escort crew hike across the United States. Otherwise, all these transportations issues have become an incredibly boring, predictable way to cause chaos beyond simple zombie antics.
The truck dies, leaving the crew to walk the forest near The Black Hills, SD. Luck is on their side, for now, and the zunami is far behind them. Unluckily, they’re lost, out of contact with Citizen Z—who’s toying with causing nuclear holocaust in order to destroy the zombies; Dog sets him straight on that matter—and about to stumble into a situation far worse than a broken-down truck. First, they accidentally find Mt. Rushmore. Much like the Liberty Bell, it’s been vandalized. Each President is painted to look like a zombie. Roberta isn’t amused.
While searching for a town to settle in, the crew finds what they think is an empty warehouse. A few glowing zombies later, they realize something isn’t right. Enter Wilbur and Amelia Grady, two-thirds of the remaining survivors in the town down the hill from a failing nuclear reactor. Wilbur worked at the reactor. He’s been trying to get past the zombies to figure out what’s preventing the reactor from cooling itself, but with only his daughter to help, they’ve made it exactly nowhere. The logical solution is to ask a bunch of unprotected civilians to wander into an active nuclear event in order to make a path into the facility. Hey, they’re only exposed to moderate radiation levels for a few minutes. What harm can it do?
Wilbur dies from radiation sickness after they get him inside. The reactor is still in crisis. In two days, it’ll blow, covering the area in radiation. Amelia knows a lot about airplanes and nothing about her father’s vocation. The group’s only hope to stop the meltdown so they can leave South Dakota without glowing like the zombies is to track down Homer Stubbins.
Homer isn’t a fan of people. Or zombies. His property is booby-trapped. Roberta leads the crew in a non-violent takeover. Mostly non-violent. 10k diffuses a stand-off by holding a knife to Homer’s throat. It’s surprisingly easy for them to talk Homer into helping. He even arms the crew from his own stockpile. Before they head inside, Homer asks 10k to be his backup after they bond over a knife which looks similar to the one Homer’s son owned. Sure, one knife makes a kid the logical backup when trapped with radioactive zombies, not the woman who sacrificed her family to be with the National Guard, protecting the masses.
10k gets Homer inside. There’s some technical talk which leads to unveiling a nifty little robot . . . armed with the world’s strongest laser cutter. Robby, the robot, manages to take out a few zombies, but is useless as far as stopping nuclear meltdown. The group reconvenes outside to formulate Plan C.
Plan C puts even more people inside with heavy radiation levels. Cassandra and Doc join Homer and 10k inside the plant, where Homer manually moves the rods preventing the reactor from cooling to safe levels. Roberta stays outside to help Amelia solve a different problem—the plane they’d banked on to get Murphy away from nuclear fallout if the worse happens doesn’t actually have fuel in it. They convert the plane to run on the small lake’s worth of vodka Homer squirreled away. Amelia and Murphy take off, heading toward Wisconsin. But not before Roberta and Murphy say their goodbyes.
Murphy tries to cut the awkward moment off at the pass. “Ah, shit. You’re not going to say goodbye, are you?” Roberta replies, “I was going to say, be grateful for all the sacrifices everyone has made.”
The plane makes it ten miles. Amelia doesn’t survive. Murphy’s alive, kicking, and shouting sarcastic quips at whoever or whatever may be in charge of the universe. Oddly, zombie Amelia emulates Murphy’s every move, even following him the ten miles back to the nuclear reactor.
Inside the reactor, Homer is a hero, dropping the last two rods into the cooling tank. Here’s where the bonding moment comes back for the emotional gut-punch. Homer asks 10k to kill him before he becomes a zombie. 10k killed his father. Obviously he should be able to kill a strange man with only vague fatherly feelings for the kid, right? Wrong. 10k hesitates. Homer takes matters into his own hands and cutting his safety line. Zombie Homer flails around in the cooling pool. We assume 10k does the right thing before leaving.
With no casualties amongst the main crew, it looks like they’re back on the slow road to California. Maybe. Roberta found a battery charger to use on the broke-down truck. It may get them another state closer to the goal. Zombie Amelia isn’t invited along for the ride, though she is left to live out her undead days. Murphy bonded with her during their hike through the woods and defends her right to live by saying, “Maybe it’s time for a different kind of mercy.”
Three episodes left and we still have no clue if there’s anyone waiting in California for Murphy and his miracle cure. A lot can happen between now and the finale. All I’m hoping is they find a car which runs so we’re spared another, “Oops, things happen because we’re forced to find a new ride again.”