By guest writer Zack Walsh
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That beautiful weekend each July where the SyFy channel premiers its latest Sharknado movie! While I personally have an immense love of SyFy’s original movies and join in with the internet’s annual obsession over tornadoes full of sharks, I do understand that there are several people around our country who every year feel left out of our festivities, and don’t manage to watch the latest installment in the Sharknado saga. If you are one of the unfortunate few who have yet to see a Sharknado for whatever reason but still wish to enjoy the new film when it comes on this Sunday evening, you’re in luck! I have spent the last several hours of my week carefully watching through the original trilogy (now available to stream on Netflix) and taking detailed notes, so as to properly catch you all up with the plot developments of the series thus far. After reading this recap, you’ll be fully informed and ready for when Sharknado: The 4th Awakens premiers this Sunday night at 8pm on SyFy!
The film opens on a small boat, where a crooked fisherman is trying to strike a million dollar deal over black market shark fins. Unfortunately for those on board, their deal goes south, and they are all eaten by a tornado full of sharks, or sharknado, if you will.
The film then moves to the beaches of California, where we meet our hero, Fin Shepard, the owner of a popular beachside bar, and his surfing buddy, Baz. Suddenly, catastrophe strikes, as the ocean fills with sharks! Baz manages to rescue Fin and bring him back to shore, narrowly escaping with only a bite on his leg. The weather report warns of an oncoming hurricane, and considerate hero that he is, Fin calls his ex-wife, April, to make sure that she’ll be okay in the storm. April on the other hand resents her former spouse and informs him that her new boyfriend will protect the family. Knowing that his ex-wife and daughter live very close to the ocean, Fin insists on going over to their house to make sure they’re safe. Unfortunately, shortly after evacuating his bar, the beach is entirely destroyed by a sharknado, leaving Fin’s bar and his waitress Nova’s house in ruins. Now sticking together out of necessity and friendship, Fin, Baz, and Nova head out to rescue Fin’s family.
When they finally arrive, April is not at all pleased to see Fin and his friends suddenly at her doorstep. Sharing April’s hostilities are Claudia, Fin’s estranged daughter who’s still mad at him for leaving, and Collin, April’s new boyfriend who’s just a total douche. Luckily for all involved, Collin is immediately eaten by sharks. Having saved April and Claudia, the whole crew rush back to the car and drive off to rescue Matt, Fin’s estranged son, from his flight academy several miles away.
Once there, they team up with Matt, who leads the others in gathering weapons to fight off the flying sharks. He explains that while it would be risky to fly the school’s helicopter in this condition, dropping a bomb from that height into the center of the tornado might create enough heat to even out the temperature and stop it. Nova insists on going up in the helicopter with Matt, as everyone else builds bombs and fights off the sharknado.
In a somber moment Nova finally opens up about the mysterious scar down her leg that she had previously sworn to never talk about. She explains to Matt that her scar is, in fact, from a shark bite years ago. Sharks killed her grandfather and the whole crew of the boat they were on, thus her hatred for sharks. She has since taken on the name Nova as a sort of self-defense to make herself feel stronger.
The helicopter takes off, and Matt and Nova manage to neutralize two of the three sharknadoes. Unfortunately the third one is too big for their tiny bombs to handle. In the midst of the chaos, both the remaining flight school students and Baz get eaten by sharks. Fin defends himself with a chainsaw. Nova falls out of the helicopter and into a shark’s mouth, as Matt crash-lands the helicopter. With the whole plan gone to hell, Fin takes it upon himself to drive Baz’s truck, now strapped with bombs and NOS, into the storm.
The climax of the film sees Fin ignite the bomb, hit the NOS, and throw himself out of the car. The bomb explodes and destroys sharknado 3. Fin fights off the flaming sharks falling from the sky, diving chainsaw first into the mouth of the one that ate Nova, and out the other side with her body in his arms. As Matt resuscitates Nova, she finally opens up to him fully, revealing that her true name is “Jenny Lynn.”
Fin holds April, Matt holds Nova, and Claudia is also there as they happily look out at the thoroughly destroyed California horizon.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
The aptly titled second film in the Sharknado series shifts the action from California to New York City, both to show us how great New York is, and to write out all but two of the characters from the first one. The film opens on an airplane filled with celebrity cameos, product placement, and a clearly higher budget than the last movie. Fin and April, now back together as a couple, are on their way to a book signing in Manhattan to promote April’s new memoir about her surviving a sharknado. Fin, on the other hand, is still uncomfortable with his newfound fame, especially considering everyone who died to bring it to him. He is also nervous to meet up with his estranged sister Ellen, and her family, who are spending the day in the city before meeting them at the book signing.
Fin’s anxieties reach a new high as sharks start to land on the wing of the plane. They’re about to fly right into a sharknado, Fin can sense it. The sharks rip through the plane, killing the pilots and sending it crashing to the ground. April is nearly thrown out of the plane, but manages to hold on to her seatbelt with one hand. Her other is eaten by a shark. Fin assumes control of the plane and crash-lands it at JFK, saving as many passengers as he can.
Then the title comes up.
That was just the first ten minutes.
This movie is insane.
April is recovering in the hospital. Her doctor tells Fin that she’ll take months to recover. Fin then sees a weather report about the tornadoes ravaging the east coast. He knows what’s coming. He calls his sister and warns her to leave Liberty Island and get back to the hotel, but it’s too late. A sharknado begins to destroy the Statue of Liberty as the four women escape on a ferry.
Fin hails a cab to the Mets stadium just as a combination sharknado-snowstorm touches down there too. Fin manages to get his sister's husband Martin and her son Vaughn (and Fin's former girlfriend Skye) all on a subway train back to the city.
After fighting many, many sharks on the train, the gang makes it to Vinnie’s Pizzeria, another connection Fin has in the city. Planning to construct another bomb to drop into the tornadoes, Fin gets a propane tank from Vinnie. Fin’s crew fights their way through a flooded street filled with sharks to eventually make it back to their hotel.
The actual cast of the Today Show then warn us that sharks are falling 2 inches per minute, and that the first sharknado and the snow-sharknado are both now moving straight towards the center of New York, where they’ll collide and form a Super Sharknado.
Meanwhile, Fin's sister Ellen and her daughter Mora, the only two survivors of the ill-fated Statue of Liberty trip, furiously pedal citibikes back to the hotel where they finally meet with the rest of the family. Seeing as these sharknadoes are bigger than the ones in California, Fin and Skye strap four bombs together and successfully destroy the cyclone sending flaming sharks falling from the sky.
In a somber moment between the two of them, Fin confesses to Skye that he’s uncomfortable with the fame of being a hero, while Skye admits she still has feelings for Fin. The two reach a new understanding.
The weather report announces that the snow-sharknado is growing and heading toward the Empire State Building. Skye holds a wire running from the tip of the building to the edge of Fin’s chainsaw and all the way down to the Freon tank downstairs. Unfortunately, the wire isn’t long enough, and Skye sacrifices herself to hold it in place around the tank. Meanwhile, Vaughn gives April (who's suddenly escaped from the hospital) a new Buzzsaw hand that she uses to aid in the fight. Ultimately, the plan works. Lightning strikes the wire and the Freon freezes and eliminates the tornado. Fin is blasted into the air, chainsawing as many sharks as he can, and riding one back down to earth. Inside that shark’s mouth, he finds April’s hand still intact. He removes her wedding ring off the dead hand, and re-proposes. With everyone happily together again, and another city entirely destroyed, the movie ends.
Sharknado 3: Aw Hell No (2015)
The third film opens with our favorite shark-slayer Fin sprinting through the streets of DC, on his way to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Martin is there to help Fin handle the press. He’s the only family member who was available to come see Fin’s ceremony, since the others are at home helping out the now pregnant April. The mayor of New York is here though, and he awards Fin the prestigious Golden Chainsaw as a thank you for saving his city.
Unfortunately for everyone in attendance, a sharknado soon arrives and begins ripping up my dear home town. As a local, I personally take great pride in seeing our city get sharknadoed. Fin teams up with the President, and Martin with the Vice, as they defeat the sharknado ripping up the White House. Fin and the president then impale a shark with the American Flag.
After the awesome Sharknado theme song, we transition to Universal Studios in Florida, where April and her mother May are celebrating the 18th birthday of Claudia, who has obviously been replaced by a new actor, or as we’re told “dyed her hair”. May gives New Claudia some money and tells her to go off and have fun in the park with her friend Jess. Fin calls his daughter and tells her that he’ll be late to her birthday celebration at Universal, since all flights out of DC have been grounded. Disappointed, Claudia goes on a rollercoaster with Jess, where they both meet two new boys. Distracted, Claudia leaves her phone behind on the ride.
The crew of the Today show is back, discussing the sharknado in DC and saying it’s the worst we’ve seen. Fin begins his drive to Florida, where after just a couple minutes of driving another sharknado hits, this time in a cloud of fog. Fin is saved, however, by two masked shark killers in a Mad Max style apocalypse RV. It's Nova and her new tech assistant Lucas! Nova’s back! Hooray! She explains that since the events of the first film, she became a sharknado chaser, and rides with Lucas across the country to fight them off. In her research, she’s found that the sharknado sharks can survive in the clouds! And with the East Coast being a low pressure zone, sharknadoes are going to appear all along it! Fin climbs aboard and they all head down to Florida to get to his family before one strikes there too.
Shortly into their journey to Orlando, they encounter a bridge that had been sharknadoed. They can’t get across the way they need too. Luckily, they’re right near an air force base where Fin has yet another connection. The general is a friend of Fin’s son Matt, who we learn is off on a tour as a pilot. The general hooks the crew up with a training plane that Nova can use to fly to Florida, since Matt taught her to fly before he left.
As they’re about to take off, a sharknado attacks. Lucas stays behind to detonate the bombs on their RV, but before he can, sharks eat all his limbs. He smashes his face into the detonator button, and explodes the sharknado as Nova and Fin take off.
After sharknadoing up some NASCAR racing at Daytona, Fin and Nova finally land at Universal, where they sexy slo-mo walk out of the water like in a James Bond movie.
Meanwhile, Claudia is really hitting it off with Billy, the boy from the ride earlier. Unfortunately, sharks begin to attack, killing both of their friends. Claudia has inherited her father’s sharknado fighting skills and defends Billy from the falling sharks. Luckily, the whole family manages to find each other shortly after, and Fin, April, Claudia, May, Nova, and Billy ride out the storm inside the Universal globe. In the carnage, the entire cast of the Today Show are mauled by sharks live on the air.
Nova deduces that the only way to bomb sharknadoes this big would be to drop a bomb from 60 miles above the earth. Fortunately, Fin’s estranged father Gilbert Shepard is with NASA, but never managed to fulfill his dream of going to the moon.
After an uncomfortable reconciliation, Fin and his father team up to convince NASA to let them use a retired, secret military rocket to destroy the sharknado. Unfortunately, on this much of a time crunch, the rocket can’t be properly fueled, making the return very risky.
At the launch site, April confronts Fin. She doesn’t want him to leave on such a dangerous mission right before she gives birth. He promise her this will be the last recklessly heroic act he does. Below them, Nova, Claudia and Billy shoot down the sharks around the rocket. Billy is impaled by a falling shark and dies.
In a crunch for time, April is forced on board the rocket, where she suits up just in time. In space, Gilbert volunteers to get out of his ship and activate the government's space laser, knowing that there’s not enough rocket fuel to come back and save him. The plan works, but not before several of the sharks make their way into space as well and attack the ship. Using his new laser chainsaw, Fin fights off as many as he can, but not enough. April is swallowed by a space shark. Enraged, Fin saws his way into a shark, which he rides out of orbit and onto a beach, where Claudia and Nova meet him. Suddenly, a shark begins to open. It’s April! She’s still alive, and uses her buzzsaw hand to cut herself, and the baby she just gave birth to, out of the shark she was swallowed by.
The cliffhanger ending sees Fin look off to the moon and sigh, little does he know, his father is there, living happily and smiling back. All is well again.
Suddenly, a large chunk of their rocket comes hurdling to earth and seemingly crushes April. We are then instructed to vote on her fate, with either #aprillives or #aprildies.
And that’s what we have so far. I’m excited to see how all these plots are resolved and built upon. What’s amazing is that each Sharknado seems to top the last in terms of its absolute insanity, so 4 has some pretty big shoes to fill. I can’t wait.
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens premieres on Sunday at 8 pm on SyFy.