Zoo’s animal shenanigans finally go global in tonight’s episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
Three episodes in and Zoo finally goes global. Bat attacks in Japan, bear maulings in Germany, rhino tramplings in Jakarta, not to mention a wolf jailbreak in Biloxi (more on this later). In short: shit is about to get real. Real silly.
Tonight’s episode jumps around the globe, with our main cast pairing up and pursuing the answer to Zoo’s burning question: why is the world turning into a giant episode of When Animals Attack? We pick up with Chloe Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder ) and the mysterious French G-Man Gaspard (Henri Lubatti) investigating last week’s “massacre by dogs” in Slovenia. Seeing the bodies in the morgue prompts Chloe to experience flashbacks to her lion attacks, but it’s not all bad; it turns out last week’s Nicholas Bradshaw (Billy Slaughter), one half of the worst pair of English accents spoken on television television, had his throat chewed off. Score one for the good guys! Anyways, G-Man insists that Chloe is the right person for the job (she speaks five languages!) and that the world needs her help.
Meanwhile in Japan, Jackson Oz (James Wolk) pursues his late father, Robert’s lost video diaries with the help of his friend Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie). In Tokyo they meet Robert’s second wife, Minako (Tamlyn Tomita), who reveals that after being fired from Harvard, Oz senior took his research to an island off the coast from Fukushima. Unfortunately on the way to the island, they have a real ‘bat’ day when their plane is downed by a bat attack just as Minako is about to reveal what’s up with Robert’s research. How convenient.
Like most of the action in this show the plane crash occurs off-screen. The result is the world’s tidiest crash-site on the island, and Jackson and Abraham perform the laziest CPR I’ve ever seen on Minako. Seriously, 18 chest compressions. I counted. Remind me never to have a heart attack around these two. RIP Minako, we hardly knew ye.
On the island, our dynamic duo discover a bunch of horses with no eyes, Robert’s (Ken Olin) cabin full of ‘coded’ notes, and a projector that has been playing nonstop for two years. Apparently radioactivity speeds up the ‘change’ in the animal’s behaviour: “the way the animals see the world is now changing,” and the “deviant pupil” indicates that change in perception. Robert’s research indicates that if your horse is attacking you, remove it’s eyes and it will go back to normal. Confused? Don’t worry, where we’re going we don’t need logic.
After realizing their radiation dosimeter isn’t working (way to pay attention guys), they are picked up by a conveniently timed deus ex helicopter containing our good friend, Gaspard.
In North America, Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly) and Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke) travel to Jamie’s hometown of New Orleans to provide her senator with evidence of corporate involvement in the animal attacks. There’s a couple of clunky scenes to provide background: at the airport Jamie’s credit card is declined and she reveals that she’s been fired by the paper, and at the grave of her late mother we learn more about Jamie’s past, and why she’s going all Erin Brockovich on big Biotech. Ultimately, Jamie and Mitch are rebuked by the senator and they retreat to a local dive bar to wallow. But guess who’s there? Gaspard! This guy gets around.
It turns out Gaspard has been assembling a crack team of barely one-dimensional TV tropes to crack the case of When Animals Attack. There’s the maverick journalist (Jamie), the anti-social scientist (Mitch), the rugged Indiana Jones-type with the family secret (Jackson), the back from the dead ‘magic negro’ (Abraham), and the emotionally damaged love interest (Chloe). It’s like a comic book superhero squad but with less depth.
Episode three also introduces a potential series villain: Evan Lee Hartley (Marcus Hester), an inmate in Biloxi on death row for murdering hunters. Evan Lee has his very own deviant pupil, and on the day of Hartley’s execution, wolves attack the prison. They maul the creepy warden (yet another trope), and somehow gain access to the entire prison. The staff response to a wolf attack is to hit a button that opens all the maximum security doors, and the wolves rampage through the prison. Stupidest. Set. Piece. Ever. The idea that a pack of wolves – even smart ones – can somehow infiltrate a prison is laughable. Was the Littlest Hobo opening all the doors for them? Why don’t the guards shoot the wolves?
While episode three expands the scope of Zoo – something I called for last week – it’s still hampered by bland and uninteresting single-dimension characters, clunky dialogue, and some truly dismal acting (a prime example from this episode is when Nicole Barré’s Lucy Blanchard confronts Evan Lee). This episode even attempts to construct a subtle theme of redemption: Jamie is fighting for her mom’s legacy, Jackson is resurrection his father’s work, and Evan Lee confesses to Lucy. It’s unfortunately half-baked and hampered by the fact that the characters are so poorly written that we just don’t care. I guess we’re all here to see the animals attack.
The show does a decent job at moving everything forward at a good clip, and there’s definitely more action in episode three. It is in the show’s best interest to keep everything moving quickly past all of the plot holes and goofy plot devices. It’s similar to going on one of those “animal safaris” where you drive around a sad zoo in your car with the windows up. Stay in any one place too long and you’ll have monkeys ripping off your antenna and crapping on your roof.
Roll the windows up folks and let’s keep this safari moving.
- Some of the CGI this episode is really, really, bad. (e.g., the fire in the prison windows, the rescue helicopter)
- The scene where we learn that Jamie’s credit cards are at their limit is excessively long. Do we really need all of that to explain that she got fired? Also, who cuts up credit cards anymore? Do they still do that?
- This is starting to feel a lot like a Roland Emmerich film: a scientist/expert recognizes something in their field that no one else can see. Then a cast of disparate and geographically diverse characters ultimately come together to make the authorities accept their info. (Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow, 2012, etc.)
- Points for the pretty decent Great Expectations reference (Miss Haversham). Definitely the peak of the writing so far.
- Creepy prison warden: “Damn shame to go and get murdered when you got that fine thing waiting at home.” <Gets mauled by wolf>
- Jamie (to Mitch): “This is the kind of stuff that leads to tenures… and chairmanships.”
- Mitch (to senator with giant moose head trophy on his wall): “Senator? I did my grad school thesis on the inverse proportionality of taxidermy wall mounts to their owners’ penis size. My condolences to your wife.”
Your turn: Is Zoo working for you? Do you find the characters as flat as I do? Was the wolf prison break as silly to you? Sound off below.
Zoo airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on CBS