Can Zoo make a trio of armoured bears rampaging through Paris exciting, or is it un-bear-able?
Let’s bitch it out…
First off, big thanks to Cinephilactic for covering last week’s episode, where we saw some flailing attempts at character building, and our main human baddy was unceremoniously killed off.
This week’s episode begins in Washington: Jamie (Kristen Connolly) receives a new identity, a necessity since she killed “Agent” Schaffer (Geoff Stults) last week. It’s still up in the air whether Schaffer was a phony FBI agent or a legitimate agent on the take. Either way, it’s implied that something larger is shadowing the team so it will be interesting to see where this goes.
After getting Jamie’s ID sorted, the team heads to Paris to investigate the disappearance of a pack (also called a “sleuth”) of bears. Mitch (Billy Burke) finds his “bloody knife” linking the Mother Cell with the changes in animal’s behaviour. A DNA analysis of one of the bears reveals significant changes in the animal’s genetic code along with the presence of the Mother Cell. Mitch believes the Mother Cell accelerates genetic mutations in these animals: bats flying higher than normal, lions capable of some sort of extrasensory communication, and the Paris bears growing an endoskeleton (armour) while hibernating. Okaaaaay. And Mitch, I don’t blame you, I blame your writers. The bad science isn’t your fault.
Chloe (Nora Arnezeder), Abraham (Nonso Anozie), and Jackson (James Wolk) track the bears down, where there’s some general growling, roaring and swiping. The net result is all the bears are tranquilized, and Chloe’s ex-fiance, Jean-Michel (Simon Kassianides – more on him later) gets mildly injured. The stakes are not super high right now, guys. Once back together, the team proposes that the Mother Cell may not just accelerate genetic changes, it may also slow down or even reverse them too. Yay!
Annnnnd that’s it for the animal stuff. Everything else in the episode is used to move some character development forward. There’s (another) low-stakes heist to prove that Agent Schaffer was a dirty cop, and, as mentioned, we meet Chloe’s ex-fiance (remember he cheated on her with her sister?). There’s a bit of back and forth about their relationship, and Chloe seems ready to move on. I doubt we’ll ever see him again; he didn’t really add much to the story, or Chloe’s character development. I think his main purpose was to be mauled by a bear. Poor guy – we bear-ly knew him!
One of the main pieces of exposition this episode is Abraham sharing his childhood story with Jamie. When he was 13 he and his two brothers were captured by rebels, as a form of initiation, Abraham had to choose which of his brothers would live. Instead of allowing one to die and the other to grow up into a killer, he refused to choose and they were both shot. Abraham eventually escaped and now views Jackson – and by extension the Zoo team – as his family. I think there was supposed to be a real crescendo of emotion here, but the whole thing – despite being delivered competently by Anozie – just falls flat, like so much of Zoo. Even Jamie’s face in the final shot displays confusion.
The big reveal this episode, aside from the sketchy science, is that Mitch is willing to turn over their sample of the Mother Cell to Reiden in return for a cure for his daughter’s terminal illness. I was excited to finally see something like this; this feels like real character development. Mitch’s actions reveal some of his motives (save his daughter, perhaps redeem himself in the eyes of his wife?), but also complicates others (can he remain loyal to the team after this?). No clunky info dump from one character to another, just real actions that push the story and the character forward. More of this please!
- There is definitely a theme of change/ metamorphosis underpinning this episode. Jamie becomes “Nancy Armstrong” with her new ID, Abdullah becomes “Abraham” after escaping the rebels who killed his brothers, Mitch potentially changes into a potential threat to the team, and even the bears change into something new (hello endoskeletons!).
- I know Zoo is filmed in Louisiana. Is the fort where they track the bears the same location from the final episode of True Detectives? Anyone else notice the similarities?
- Reiden bad guy Clayton Burke (Steven Culp) is apparently an evil Kennedy descendant.
Mitch <to Jamie>: Look at you, getting all science-y!
Zoo airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on CBS