Z Nation is an Asylum production, but they outdid themselves with the Z Nation TV movie, titled “No Mercy”. While “No Mercy” does not follow-up where the season two finale left of, it does give us a closer look at our favorite characters, introduce us to new characters who might be in the next season, and give us more introspection into the heart of the show.
With that being said, Z Nation still gives us the favorite parts of the show; we get witty one lines, a different kind of Z creature, and the beauty of seeing the Z Nation gang kicking ass together. “No Mercy” pits Warren, Doc, 10K, Murphy, Cassandra, and Addy against the new villain, one simply called “The Man”. You heard that right – we get to see more of Cassandra in this movie, as well as a bit more of Lucy. Personally, I wanted to see more of Murphy taking care of his child, as I felt we did not see enough of her in the last season.
10K runs across a small kid who was raised by crows at the start of the apocalypse. The Man kidnapped the child after a group of survivors refused to hand Dr. Keller over to this mysterious and terrifying villain. As it turns out, The Man works for someone else who has given him a list of men and women to track down. Rumor has it that the people on this list are somehow connected to what started the Z virus. Unfortunately, rumor also has it that once The Man finds the people on his list, they are never heard from again.
Once the kid escapes The Man and runs into Murphy and his merry band of soldiers, the debate begins on what to do. Murphy stands by his decision to stick to the mission and nothing else. However, they are out of supplies and there may supplies that they can use in order to make it another day. They decide to follow the kid and his sister, who goes by the name of Red, to the survivors’ camp.
During their stay at the camp, 10K grows close to the Red and her brother. Eventually the kid starts to look up to 10K and earns the name of 5K from Doc. I thought it was endearing, as the child reminded me of the way 10K used was before he found the group. If there was anyone who could understand little 5K, it would be the youngest member of our group. 10K teaches him how to aim with a slingshot and he becomes quite proficient with it, even proving himself useful later on in the movie.
Dr. Teller originally tells the group that he does not know why he would be wanted by The Man. Before the apocalypse, he was only working on painkillers that were based on fungi. However, it doesn’t take long for Murphy to start noticing that something weird is going on at the cap. It would not be strange for one to speculate that perhaps Murphy’s constant pessimism is really just realism. It is the zombie apocalypse, after all. Murphy starts hearing strange Z voices and eventually finds the source in Dr. Teller’s lab. Never letting the fans down, Z Nation presents us with zombies that aren’t really zombies As it turns out, one of the creatures that Murphy finds is Dr. Teller’s wife.
They were working on a cure for the Z virus when the outbreak got really bad. Given that there work is based on fungi, the basis for their version of a cure was also in the same field. When a horde of zombies attacked the lab, the cure they were working on spread to others. Although it protected the affected people from turning into mindless zombies, it still transformed them into something that was not human. There must still be traces of the Z virus in this airborne cure, as Murphy was still able to communicate with the infected. They were begging for the mercy that Dr. Keller never had the heart to grant.
Murphy has always been sensitive when it came to his zombie brethren. He can feel their pain and he carries a piece of them with him. When he sees zombies mistreated he becomes passionate about it. He didn’t want stay there anymore The way Murphy saw it, none of this was going to work out for anyone and they needed to get away so they can continue with their mission. Warren, who always has a way of getting Murphy to listen to what she had to say, manages to convince him to stay in order to help the survivors fight.
Things never go as planned though, do they? Warren does come up with a plan and everyone sounds confident enough, but there’s always a few things that go wrong. This time, The Man kidnaps Warren and it’s up to the rest of the group to handle things while she is gone. We find out just how strong everyone is, as they are still able to follow the plan and stand their ground even without their leader. Doc was able to step up to the plate, rallying Murphy and keeping him in line despite the fact that he wanted to leave more than ever with Warren gone.
The Man’s plan may have worked, but 5K rescued Warren. When The Man showed up with plans to make everyone stand down or risk the life of Warren, those plans are crushed when Doc finds out that she is alive and on her way back with 10K and 5K. They fight off a wave of zombies and things looked pretty good for our heroes until The Man throws them for a curve ball with zombies that seemingly can’t be taken down; since they are wearing metal helmets, it is next to impossible to get in a headshot. 10K and 5K are separated from the rest of the group during this fight and must fight their own battle while everyone else retreats to the lab where Dr. Keller, Murphy, and Cassandra are waiting.
During the big fight, the fungi creatures finally get their mercy and The Man takes Dr. Keller. Once everyone makes out of the lab, we learn that the only survivors in the battle at the lab were the group and Red. 10K makes out of the horde of zombies too, but alone. After successfully keeping 5K alive multiple times, he just couldn’t keep the kid from running off and fighting alone. He was overwhelmed by zombies and 10K could not save him.
This is the most heartbreaking realization of the film. I was okay with everyone else dying, but 5K was the one character that I cared about, that I wanted to see live. The ending is tragic, with Red falling apart. She runs into the horde of zombies that killed her brother, fighting until the end. 10K tried to chase after her, but oddly enough, Cassandra held him back. This was a touching scene, reminding me of the bond that 10K had with Cassandra.
Murphy was ultimately right. No one survived, and all of the efforts meant nothing in the end. After all, this is the apocalypse. Not everyone will live to see the day, and the ones who have it the hardest are the ones who survive. The group has seen so many people die despite their attempts to save them that Murphy’s outlook starts to make more sense. Are you going to waste your time trying to save those who can’t be saved when you are on a mission to save the entire world? Do you sacrifice the few, keep your head down, and stay on the mission when you know that once you get there, you can stop all of this from happening?
The fact that the events of “No Mercy” take place in the past help us understand the attitude that our characters later adopt. Every decision they make is going to be hard. Sometimes the hard decision is the right decision, even if it doesn’t seem like the right decision at the time. Murphy may not be completely wrong, though he does have a bad way of expressing it. The death of the endearing 10K and Red was a slap in the face, a reminder that it is the apocalypse; not everyone can be saved.
The final scenes show the group of doctors that were collected being brought to the headquarters of The Man’s boss. They seem to be in a location untouched by the Z virus. Women in bikinis are sunbathing and swimming while someone we can assume is the boss drinks a martini. Who is this person and what is he doing with these people? Whoever they are, they are not finished collecting more doctors. The Man was given yet another list. Who is on this new list?
There is no doubt that this will show up in season three. Were these doctors taken to Zona and if so, is it possible that The Man will be after Murphy and his daughter? “No Mercy” may have been a TV movie taking place in the past, but it still manages is to set us up for the new season. It was a fresh dose of what the fans needed. Our favorite characters and more questions that we can’t wait to have answered.