When Z Nation started, I expected nothing but camp. But I’ve been surprised with how often it deals in drama with only a few antics from Murphy to lighten the mood. Tonight’s episode “Sisters of Mercy” is, without a doubt, the most serious thing I’ve ever seen that also involves a zombie bear.
The episode starts with Mack and Addy exploring a facility at the direction of Citizen Z.
Addy is angry and acting out after her recent realization she killed her zombified mom and brother and repressed the memory. They find a dead man sitting in a chair with a hood over his face, and then a room full of Zs. Addy dispatches the Zs recklessly with the Z-Whacker, singing a cute counting song. Mack asks if she couldn’t just give them mercy.
“What fun would that be?” she asks.
They hear a noise and investigate. Addy and Mack are finally reunited with the rest of the group, including a very Z-ified-looking Murphy. Cassandra has injured her leg on barbed wire and it’s infected, making her limp.
They’re supposed to meet a man named Chester there for supplies, but they find him dead. Addy makes sure he doesn’t turn by furiously breaking his skull with her Z-Whacker.
“Somebody got up on the wrong side of apocalypse,” Murphy says.
Over a loudspeaker Citizen Z calls them into a small room where he fills them in on where they can get supplies, says the California facility where they are supposed to take Murphy to try to save the world with his zombie antibody blood is back online, and hits on Addy. Mack shuts him down a bit on the last one.
He also explains, when Mack asks, that the facility that they’re in is a CIA black site. Explains the guy in the hood.
Next we see the group resupplied, crowded into a new truck and way across Utah to California. Murphy is up front greedily eating pork brains in gravy, which freaks everyone out for obvious reasons.
The keep passing zombified kids on the road. On the second one Addy makes them stop so she can give it mercy, but it looks almost exactly like her dead brother from her recurring crippling flashbacks and she almost lets it bite her. She comes to her senses just in time to Z-Whacker it.
Shortly after they come upon another kid in the road, but this one is alive. His name is Sam and he says he’s walking the 250 mile to Salt Lake City to see his dad. He says his two friends are already there, but we have a good idea where they actually are. Warren can’t talk him out of going to a city she’s quite sure is populated only by the undead, so she pretends that they need his help to find food.
Sam says a woman named Helen can help and leads them there. They come to a door to a settlement. It’s in a small canyon, and the canyon ridges are well defended on all sides by women with guns.
Mack was dumb enough to get out first, so the women fire warning shots at him and the others until Warren comes out and says they have Sam. At that Helen opens the gate and welcomes Sam back.
She notices that Cassandra’s leg is infected and says they can help her. She says their place is called “The Sisters of Mercy.”
Helen says it’s “women and children only.” They’ll take the women in for 24 hours, but the men have to stay outside.
Inside the walls the camp is beautiful and green. They take Cassandra to the infirmary. Addy bonds with a little girl who shows her their vegetable gardens.
Helen tells Warren the women grow their own food and even make their own penicillin.
At dinner, Helen tells Warren the compound was started by her husband, who believed in being completely self-sufficient and off the grid. Some of the women there are her former sister wives, but her polygamist husband is gone like the others, she says. Suspicious. Other women have been taken in by the group.
Warren gets up from the table and goes to visit Cassandra, who has been filled in on the situation. There are no adult men, and the boys leave the community when they’re 13, sent to “Salt Lake City.” Warren says nice people always scare her, and she makes plans to bug out.
Outside the boys have set up tents and a canopy on the truck, but they are still sweltering under the heat and the glare of the women. A blonde woman brings a pie, which she won’t share with the others and says is just for Murphy. She goes past 10K who is standing guard an into Murphy’s tent.
“Beat it kid,” Murphy tells 10K.
The woman starts seducing Murphy. She doesn’t seem turned off by his zombie scars, in fact she seems turned on by them. They start to have sex.
Addy tells Helen about her experience being kidnapped by cannibal cult that was getting around the lack of refrigeration by keeping a living larder of people they slowly dismembered. Helen starts talking about how men can’t control themselves and it always leads to violence.
“Testosterone is the most toxic chemical on this Earth,” Helen says.
Helen asks Addy about her mom’s butterfly necklace, which makes Addy break down in tears. After some coaxing Addy begins crying and telling the story about killing her mom and brother. Helen comforts her.
“You don’t ever have to go through that again,” she says, and tells Addy “we can use a woman like you.”
A “new sister” arrives. Her name is Tessa and she’s all beat up. Helen tells her she’s safe there and uses the opportunity to the assembled Sisters about how they provide a place safe from the violent, destructive world of men.
“That is our purpose,” they all chant at once.
They’ve also got the longhaired dude who beat Tessa, whom they have handcuffed. They take him away for “justice” and all the women in the community gather in front of a barn.
“If you harm a woman you die, that’s our rule,” Helen says.
They encourage Tessa to use a cattle prod to force the man into the barn. Inside the barn? Zombie bear.
They close the door and he starts screaming. The little girl explains it matter-of-factly to Addy.
“He was a bad man,” she says.
Doc, doing some recon from a hilltop, sees what happens.
Addy is sitting and thinking over what she’s seen. Warren asks her if she’s all right. Helen comes to them and says there are two sisters out there that need rescuing. Addy is eager to go along and help and Warren reluctantly agrees.
Doc runs up to the other guys to tell them about what he’s seen.
“We’ve got to burn this joint boys. Time to motor,” Doc says. When asked what the problem is he just says “zombie bear.”
They see Warren and Addy drive by in a jeep. Mack is surprised, saying Addy doesn’t go anywhere without her.
The Sisters plan is to pretend their jeep broke down with a couple of vulnerable-looking sisters as bait. When some biker dudes stop to “help” hidden Sisters surround them and liberate their female captives.
They tie the men in the road. Helen gives Addy a gun and tells her to shoot one of the men so he’ll turn and turn on the others. She gets in Addy’s head by making her remember her experience being tormented at the cannibal camp. As she whispers, Addy flashes back to that incident and eventually she fires a shot.
“Good girl. It’s time to go,” Helen says.
As they leave the dead man turns and starts chomping on his friends.
Warren goes to the men and tells them they’ve got to go. She warns Mack that Addy might not be coming.
“I’ll do my best to get her out. But you may have a choice to make,” Warren says.
Helen is washing Addy’s hands and consoling her, telling it was also hard when she freed herself from her husband. She says after she almost died after her fifth child she didn’t want more children, which didn’t square with their religious rules so he beat her. She says her story is not the worst of the women in there.
Warren gathers Cassandra and says they’ll find Addy on the way out.
Addy admits to Helen she doesn’t know what to do any more, that she “can’t unsee any of it.”
Helen encourages her to stay.
“I can’t leave Mack. I love him,” she says.
Helen just points out that will make it hurt more when Mack eventually dies and she has to give him mercy, which convinces Addy to stay. Helen says she’ll tell Addy how to explain it to Mack.
Addy returns to where Mack and the men have set up outside the compound and asks him to talk in private. By some fallen trees she tells him it’s beautiful in there and that she wishes he could see it.
“I wish I could, too,” Mack says.
She says she feels safe there. The upshot is she’s not leaving.
“It’s too much. I can’t do it any more Mack,” she says.
Mack says he can’t do it without her. He begs her to go, he says he loves her.
“I cannot go back out there and watch you die,” she says. She says she can’t kill someone she loves ever again.
Mack calls back to how she believed in Murphy and the mission and would rather die believing in something than live without hope but it doesn’t work. He keeps encouraging her, saying she doesn’t need Helen and some stupid cult. He grabs her and physically tries to hold her back.
“You’re hurting me,” she says and runs away. She runs inside the compounds gates and they close behind her, leaving Mack outside yelling her name.
Inside Warren and Cassandra see Addy running and try to stop her, but she locks them out of her room and won’t talk to her.
Helen offers her help, which Warren says she very much does not want. But Addy lets Helen in the room and she goes to comfort her.
The Z that was chained to his buddies is walking down the road, dragging some pieces behind him on a chain.
Doc unzips the tent that Murphy and the blonde lady were in. Did Murphy turn and eat her. Nope, they’re just sitting there in post-coital glow. Murphy is smoking.
“Where’d you get a cigarette?” Doc asks.
“Whatever Daddy needs, Daddy gets,” the woman says.
She heads off.
“Thanks man. Thought she’d never leave,” Murphy says, lazily.
As the blonde woman heads back the leader of the bikers, who has survived being chained to his buddies, grabs her from behind. He must be one tough bastard.
Addy announces to Warren and Cassandra she’s staying. Cassandra tells he she knows how she’s feeling, that’s the happiness of belonging to a cult that she felt from being with Tobias. Warren just gets serious and gets in her face and says it’s time to go now.
“You don’t have to worry. I’m home now,” Addy says, and with kisses and hugs for Cassandra and Warren she goes away.
The biker is holding the blonde woman as a hostage, and Helen and the other women have gathered on the canyon ridges. The biker says he wants to trade the blonde woman for Helen and puts a gun to her head. Helen seems very unlikely to take that deal, in fact she seems willing to shoot them both before bargaining.
The biker starts counting down from five to shoot the blonde woman, but then a gun comes into the frame and blows his brains out. Mack took him out.
“One,” Mack finishes for him.
“She’s coming, right?” Mack asks Helen.
Instead of Addy they roughly kick Warren and Cassandra out.
“I will always love you Mack,” Addy says, but she won’t leave.
When he won’t take that for an answer one of the women shoots Mack, just a flesh wound for a warning shot. Helen tells them to leave before it gets worse and they do, peeling out in their truck.
Mack wants them to stop but they won’t, so he bails out the truck while it’s moving. Warren tries to stop him, but he pulls a gun on her.
“I can’t, ” Mack says and runs back to the compound. We hear gunshots.
The women shoot at Warren so she has to get back in the truck and they leave Mack behind.
We see a scene of the little girl holding Addy’s necklace. Like Addy at the start, she’s singing a counting song, albeit a different one. It’s about butterflies and ends with “it flew away and then they were gone.” This scene is intercut with scenes of the group sadly driving away and the blonde woman rubbing her belly, blatantly suggesting she’ll give birth to a new zombie human hybrid baby.
In the last scene we see Sam on the road again, walking to his death in his futile quest to get to Salt Lake City. End of episode.
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