Saturday, September 17, 2016

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode One: No Mercy

No Mercy is supposedly a season premier but it seems to exist for no other reason that to introduce a new antagonist - The Man.  It is set up as a flashback and takes place between episodes 5 and 6 of the last season. This means that we have to wait another week to find out the result of last year's cliffhanger ending. Officially, Z Nation sucks. In the flashback Cassandra (who they shouldn't have killed) is alive and is still a tool of Murphy's.  It also means that Murphy is carrying around his daughter in an ice cooler with holes in it.

On orders of his employer, The Man is holding a group of survivors hostage because he wants  Dr. Teller turned over.  The Man kidnaps a little boy who manages to escape and it's the boy who runs into our favourite zombie fighting crew.  The boy asks for help and while everyone considers it, predictably, Murphy reminds them all that they have a mission to complete.  Leave it to Murphy to have his eye on the prize.

They head back to meet the survivors and Teller asks Warren for help, saying that they cannot take on the men alone and Warren and her crew have the skills and the weapons. Teller offers vehicles and fuel in exchange for their aid. While this goes on, 10K gets his flirt on with Red, who claims that she wears red to scare off men.  As Murphy rocks his daughter, he begins to hear voices and so decides to investigate.

The Man returns to dump the body of a guard that he killed and to find out if the boy made it back. The Man asks for the Teller to be turned over to him, saying that he lied about the 24 hour grace period he had originally given them. Thus begins a Spartacus moment (and the first of the bad movie references) with each person stepping forward claiming to be Dr. Teller. The Man however is unimpressed and reminds the people that Spartacus and all who followed him were crucified upside down.  Warren steps forward also claiming to be Dr. Teller and asks The Man to let the people be.  The Man has what I suppose is a change of heart and once again agrees to the 24 hours but promises to kill everyone if they don't hand over Dr. Teller.  Warren has no problem warning The Man not to come back.

When Murphy hears the voice again, he leaves Cassandra in charge of Lucy ordering her to feed Lucy if she gets hungry.  10K and Red take off to look for food and the wild child who now looks like a 10K Mini Me follows them. Warren begins to make plans with Addie, Doc and Teller to protect the community.  Teller explains that the man hasn't acted because his employers want him to show mercy.  Teller however doesn't know what The Man wants to do with him given that pre apocalypse he worked with mold. After giving the citizens some quick lessons in how to shoot, the crew formalizes a plan.

Murphy continues to be drawn towards the whispered voices. He comes across the weirdest looking zombies yet and they beg him to kill them.  They begin to scream and Murphy grabs his ears in pain. He is grabbed by men in Hazmet suits and fortunately for him, Warren in crew show up.  Murphy tells Warren that the zombies are begging for mercy and that he's never felt so much pain.  Outside the building, Warren says the beings they found aren't zombies and have wants and needs. When the apocalypse happened they started working on a fungus based cure.  Zombies took over the lab and there was an explosion which the people were exposed to.  Teller explains that he couldn't let the fungus escape the lab and so he locked the people up.  Teller adds that he has been trying to take care of the people and couldn't bring himself to mercy them.  Murphy realises that if Teller leaves the mold zombies will die.

10K shows the crow boy who has become a mini me how to use a sling shot as Red looks on. Cassandra is freaked out because Lucy has started to cry. She's clearly out of her element and slowly opens the lid.

Doc wants to leave while they still can and Murphy agrees, adding they should let Darwin sort this out. He believes that this is a lost cause and reminds everyone that he has Lucy to take care of. Warren however is certain that if they leave, the people will die tomorrow morning and that they won't be far behind without food or water.  Warren is determined to get everything ready in case The Man decides to come back early tomorrow.

When they head outside they find Cassandra breastfeeding Lucy. Yeah, it's weird but Murphy is nonplussed by it all, chalking it up to the apocalypse. Warren is saved from a snake by Mini Me and he proceeds to eat it. Warren gives 10K orders to find a spot around the perimeter to prepare for the arrival of The Man.  10K takes mini me and Red with him.

Looking through the scope, Warren spots The Man and decides to follow, without alerting anyone as to what she is doing. What could possibly go wrong with this plan right ? When she approaches The Man, it turns out that he has dressed a zombie like him. The Man sneaks up on Warren and knocks her out from behind as his men move to circle her.

The next day, Addie finds Warren's sword.  The Man speaks to his employer and then goes to visit his captives to tell them that it will all be over soon. The Man removes Warren's hood and tells her that she isn't going anywhere.  Warren explains that Teller will go, he just doesn't want to leave his wife who is dying.  This revelation however does not bring any empathy from The Man because he supposedly has a schedule to keep.  The Man removes Warren's bandanna that she keeps tied around her neck and then covers her head with a hood.

Back at camp, Addy and Doc talk about what to do now that they know Warren is missing.  Teller has taken Murphy to see his zombie wife Sarah.  It seems that Sarah wants Teller to stay around in case his son returns.  At this point, Teller is confused about what to do.  Doc arrives to say that it's time to get moving and that they are sticking with plan A.  Warren tries to protest but Doc isn't in the mood to hear it.

It's lock and load time. Everyone participates except for Murphy and Cassandra. Teller shows up to vie them hazmet suits saying past the point where he is going, it's contaminated. The man approaches the compound and 10K is in position. The Man tells his crew that the people intent on putting up a fight and wishes that they all meet up again in Zelna.  Is anyone else lost by the Zelna reference? An 18 wheeler is backed up to the gate and then the man approaches the gate slowly, holding Warren's bandanna. The man makes it clear that he isn't interested in Warren and that only Teller is on the list. The Doc demands proof of life before things can go any further, so The Man calls back to his base and orders Warren put on the radio.  He holds up the radio but doesn't know that mini me has taken out his man and has freed Warren. The Man orders the back of the truck opened up, unleashing a storm of zombies on the community.

Warren and mini Me meet up with 10K and Red.  The zombies have made their way into the compound and Doc, Addie and the people try to hold them off.  Red, Warren, 10 K and Mini Me make their way inside but get separated. Warren and Red meet up with Doc and everyone else.Mini Me pulls the horn on the truck and orders the kracken be released.  It's a smaller group of zombies dressed in all black wearing masks and being lashed forward by their handler. Because of the helmets that the zombies are wearing, the head shots that Warren and the crew take get them nowhere. Warren declares that the zombies have been mercy proofed. This forces them to use the makeshift cannon they have created using a garbage bin. Unfortunately it creates an opening which The Man walks through.  And Thanks to the helmets the zombies are wearing, they're down but not out. The Man sets the zombies free, thus forcing Warren and the crew to retreat.

Everyone regroups in the lab.  Sarah hides Teller, Cassandra and Murphy then leaves to help the others. 10K and Mini Me continue to make their way inside the compound and, Mini Me hides in a tube and luckily for him, 10K takes out the zombie.

The Man stands outside of the lab and calls out to Teller that there's still time to stop this madness. When he gets no answer, he addresses Warren but gets no answer. Mini Me uses his sling shot on the man, embedding a piece of metal in his chest and The Man simply pulls it out.  10K grabs Mini Me and the two take off running. The fungus zombies get into the action and attack the regular zombies and The Man's people.

An injured Sarah returns and Teller starts to cry when he sees that she is injured.  Murphy tells Teller that Sarah wants him to end it now.  Teller responds by taking off his protective gear and embracing his wife. He kisses her slime covered face before grabbing a gun and shooting her in the head. The Man shoots through the wall and it seems he's Macgyvered himself a hasmat suit. Teller puts the gun to his head but it's out of bullets. The Man knocks out Teller with the butt of his gun, picks him up and walks out, leaving a stunned Murphy and Cassandra behind.

10K and Mini Me struggle stay ahead of the zombies and quickly find themselves surrounded with nothing but knives to protect them.  Somehow, Mini Me manages to slip away.

Murphy meets up with Warren, Addy and Doc and they decide it's time to get the hell out of dodge. Murphy tells Warren that The Man got Teller.  Despite their efforts the only ones to survive are Red and Warren and crew.  Murphy however takes the opportunity to point out that he was right. When they look up, they see a helicopter flying away with a crate.  Outside of the settlement, The Man watches the crate fly away before opening an envelop which I assume carries his next list. 10K makes his way over to report to Red that Mini Me is dead.  Red goes running towards the zombies with 10K following. Cassandra tackles 10K from behind, as Red runs towards the horde of zombies intent on getting vengeance.

The helicopter has dropped off the crate.  The captured and handcuffed people are lead poolside to The Man's employer.  Their hoods are removed and the employer smiles.

Mini Me lies dead in a field and the crows stand guard over his body.

As a season opener, this well and truly sucked.  Last season ended on a cliff hanger and instead of addressing this, the writers went off and did this nonsensical flashback in order to introduce a new villain.  Surely, there could have been another way to introduce The Man and his employer as antagonists in this season.

I found this episode to be particularly irritating.  Z Nation has always floated between glorious cheese and serious and heart wrenching. They have not always been successful with either.  This episode once again tried to float between serious and funny and instead did neither well. On one hand, we had the pain of Tiller and Sarah and then on the other, The Man and his movie quoting bad assery. Pretty much involving The Man felt over written and forced. The writers and directors need to know that slow motion doesn't solve everything nor does quoting every damn Clint Eastwood movie they could think of.  Not everything Eastwood did was great.

It was all made worse by the length of the episode itself. I found myself desperate for it to end.

This is far from an auspicious start to season three because it showcased what I deem to be the worst of Z Nation.  The meta was not advanced at all and we didn't even get a Liberty Bell like scene to make up for the long drawn out nonsense. Z Nation can do so much better than this and it had better pick up to retain at least my interest.