Spoilers ahead for Z Nation's “Return to Mercy Labs,” because hey … it's a TV Recap.
After spending most of the season NOT dealing with the elephant in the room, aka NOT answering any of the questions set up in the first few episodes, we finally learn at least a couple important tidbits of info. Warren makes a startling Star Trek-ish decision, and Citizen Z and Junior Z have possibly the cutest father/son moment on television ever. And, while it's one of the most serious Z Nation episodes of the season, Citizen Z/JZ aside, at least we got a couple freakin' answers.
“Apocalyptic tripping, hell yeah.” - Doc
“Return to Mercy Labs” opens up with the gang tramping through a field as Murphy complains about them all following Warren blindly, as she blindly heads South away from Newmerica based on her apocalyptic visions. “Seems like we're going a hell of a long way based on two words... Black Rainbow, whatever that is. It sounds like some kind of acid from the 60s,” he bitches. Doc, of course, has something to say about that.
Our heroes soon find themselves facing a not-so-pleasant blast from the past as they learn they're back at Mercy Labs. The episode involving Mercy Labs introduced us to Doctor Teller, Red, and 5K and a bunch of other red clad people who mostly ended up dying. When Sarge asks what happened to cause the dead bodies littering their way to the lab, 10K tells her, “We tried to help some people. It didn't work out.” For a dead guy, Doctor Teller storylines sure seems to be popping up a lot.
The gang suits up in red contamination suits and head inside Mercy Labs, which was the site where the scientists cured the zompocalypse, but at a terrible cost to Teller and the scientists who were exposed to the “cure.” Teller's wife was exposed and ended up transforming into something that made her look like a toxic plant creature. They soon run into her deformed corpse, along with some other dead folk and a couple living dead folk who'd like some brains.
“It was a different world. The only thing we had to worry about were neighborhood bullies and the occasional serial killer.” - Simon
Meanwhile, back at Camp Northern Lights, Kaya is hell bent on learning what The Man With The Plan was after during his recent raid on the base, while Simon (aka Citizen Z) is thrilled to be playing with his incredibly cute son, JZ (aka Junior Z). Mom soon kicks them out to get some vitamin D via sunlight.
The duo stretches out on lawn chairs in front of a big picture window while Simon chats away and JZ mimics daddy's every move. Unfortunately, the Mad Z with the pipe in his stomach who followed Simon back to the base, pops up to eat him and little JZ. Simon tells JZ to go to mommy and battles the Z. He manages to rip off Pipe Zs arm and even pull out the pipe, but Simon ends up under the snapping Z.
Double meanwhile, Kaya is learning some major stuff regarding The Man's recent visit. He wasn't just hacking around with Black Rainbow, “he also cracked his way into NORAD looking for nuclear codes or something worse,” she says to herself, aka she says to us. She finds a NSA document and exclaims, “Launch codes for what?”
Back with Simon, he's losing his battle with the former Pipe Z when he shoves his arm through the Zs chest and rips out the Mad Zs heart. And then luckily Mommy arrives and manages to get the Z in a body bag and zip it up. Simon is saved! Yay! It would have been really annoying if little JZ had lost his daddy just when he's getting to know him.
Mom and Dad realize that JZ is not with either of them and rush to find Nana holding a shot gun with JZ behind her. All is right with Camp Northern Lights, at least for the moment.
“Zompocalypse is bad enough without having memorabilia.” - Doc
While 10K's dealing with his memories about the missing Red and 5K, Warren charges the others with finding a power source. They head toward Teller's office and suddenly Warren is in visionland. She robots it through the building away from the others, except for 10K who follows her.
Warren ends up at a door which is blocked off with a file cabinet. 10K isn't able to get her to answer him regarding where she's going, so he helps her move the cabinet and is surprised when she knows the code to get into the room. Inside is a vault with a lot of chains around it, with each chain padlocked. One by one she begins to unlock them somehow knowing the secret code. 10K is shocked and isn't sure unlocking the vault of a facility that they needed to enter with containment suits is a good idea. Of course, Warren isn't listening.
Elsewhere, Murphy, Sarge and Doc are on the hunt for power to charge their battery so they can get the radio working when they realize that Warren and 10K aren't with them. “I wish we'd stick together. Some creepy, creepy stuff is going on around here. I mean really, it's creepy,” says Doc.
Doc, Murphy and Sarge discover their own secret door. Behind it is a boy with a gunshot to the head in some kind of amber suspended animation. They figure out that the boy is Teller's son, which is important mainly if you remember the original Mercy Labs episode.
“Can we put the apocalypse on hold for a while? It will be waiting for us.” - Simon
While Nana is teaching JZ how to play poker, Simon and Kaya are in the file room of the base. They're hunting for anything they can find regarding Black Rainbow thinking that it may give them a lead on what's really going on with The Man With The Plan. They find some microfilm from 1979 and start looking through it, but Simon would rather put the apocalypse on hold for a bit. But then Kaya sees something in the files and exclaims, “What the hell is a fourth strike weapon?” They realize, no, they can't put the apocalypse on hold. Not yet anyway.
At Mercy Labs, Warren is about done unlocking the vault when a Z pops in and nearly gets the better of 10K. Warren is in the middle of her vision quest and doesn't break out of it until she's knocked to the ground. But then Warren's back feeling her kick-ass ways and stomps the Zs head to mush. There's still one chain and lock to go, and Warren doesn't know how to get in, but she knows she has to get at what's inside. So she asks 10K to hit her to trigger a vision, and after a couple sad attempts he does and she returns to visionland. She's able to open the final lock and the vault. Inside is blue goo and robot Warren fishes out three canisters, which likely will go with the other canister she found in the other lab a while back.
Murphy, Sarge and Doc are about to cut the power to Teller's son's amber tank, when Murphy suddenly realizes that the boy somehow is still alive. Even though the kid has a hole in his head, they can't do it.
Doc heads off to find Warren and 10K. As he's traveling through the building alone he says to himself, “This is just about the time that something jumps out at ya.” And, of course, it does as a Z attacks.
“Operation Bitemark has no idea what they're walking into.” - Kaya
Doc reunites with Murphy and Sarge. He hasn't been able to find Warren and 10K, but they suddenly arrive too. But what to do about the battery problem? Warren knows they have to talk to Citizen Z and Kaya. Sarge tells them that she can siphon off a little power from the boy's tank without shutting it down so they'll have a few minutes of radio time.
Just as they get on air they are finally able to connect with Citizen Z and Kaya, who are desperately trying to reach them. But before they can get any real information, the battery fails. They find themselves in a moral dilemma. Should they siphon off the rest of the kid's tank power and kill him or loose precious time in trying to find another power source. Warren makes the call, but everyone is having a tough time with this one. In the end, the truth, Warren says, is that no one is coming to save the kid. He's just in limbo now like a “bug trapped in amber that won't die... Sargent, sometimes in war we have to make hard decisions. The needs of many outweigh the needs of one. Divert the power to the radio. That's an order,” she says. But when Sarge can't do it, Warren gives the kid mercy.
They reconnect with Citizen Z and Kaya and we finally get a couple answers. No, we don't find out what happened to Red and Sun Mei or why they and a bunch of others on their way to Newmerica vanished suddenly. No, we don't learn where Addie is. No, we don't learn who programmed Warren or why, but it's kind of looking like Teller might be the culprit. However, we do learn about Black Rainbow and one other important little tidbit.
Simon tells them, “Black Rainbow is a biological weapon of mass destruction. It's a fourth strike weapon meant to kill anything left after an all out nuclear war.” Then Warren understands one important fact. “The reset. That's what Zona was working on. Killing everything so they could start over.”
Simon and Kaya learned that the weapon is being launched and the only way to stop it is to go to Quantico, Virginia and manually change the launch codes. Well, that and use the President of the United States' thumbprint to change the codes. No problem.
Before they leave Mercy Labs, Murphy and Doc push Mrs. Teller's body next to her son. It looks like Murphy is getting sentimental in his post parental days.
While Simon and Kaya hold each other, knowing they've done what they can to stop the coming Black Rainbow weapon, Warren and the others drive toward Washington to find the President. Sarge is driving and notes that it's a beautiful sunset. But Warren adds, “It's only beautiful if someone's there to watch it.”
It's great to see we're finally getting to the meat of this season's storyline, even though I like my Z Nation a lot more on the fun side. While I miss kick-ass Warren when she's in visionland, which has been far too often this season, I also miss Addie, and I miss the funnier side of Murphy pre dead daughter... the end is near and pretty soon we won't have Z Nation to kick around anymore, at least not for this season. And at least they have a real mission now.