This week it’s Zoo times two. Twice the action, twice the leopards, twice the stupid.
Let’s bitch it out…
We’re in the home stretch, folks? Tonight’s Zoo packs a double-whammy with back-to-back episodes for twice the animal mayhem. I’ll give the show credit: it covers a lot of ground in these two hours, so let’s get right to it.
Chloe (Nora Arnezeder), after being apprehended last week, is on a road trip with Brannigan (Xander Berkeley) who refuses to believe that Shaffer was crooked. But since we all know how road trips go down in Zoo (remember how Kristen Connolly’s Jamie’s little excursion with the guy who discovered the Mother Cell went?), pretty soon they’re ambushed by Reiden agents. Brannigan is killed and Chloe is taken to a not-so-safe house where Gaspard (Henri Lubatti) is revealed as the culprit behind her capture. It’s ok if you don’t remember Gaspard, he was the Frenchmanwho initially recruited Chloe in the beginning of the season who hasn’t been seen since.
Gaspard threatens to have Chloe’s sister, Nathalie (Natalie Mejer) tortured unless Chloe reveals the location of the team. He sets up a computer so Chloe can watch it all go down live (there’s an app for that!), but Chloe ends up being more resilient than he expects. She withstands quite a bit before finally cracking and lying to Gaspard about the team’s location, claiming they’ve gone to India instead of Zambia.
Just as Mr. G is about to call her out on her lie, Delavenne (Carl Lumbly) intervenes (har har) and frees Chloe, shooting Gaspard in the process. Chloe is understandably shocked – as is the audience – about Delavenne’s sudden change in allegiance. Honestly, it’s never really explained, so unless we get into it more later I’ll chalk it up to sloppy writers in need of a quick way out.
Chloe is taken to D.C., where she presents her findings at a conference of governmental-type people and academics (it’s never really revealed who they are); of course her findings upset all the fuddy duddy white dudes who storm out.
One power player, Amelia Sage (played by Jayne Atkinson, another House of Cards alumnus) takes Chloe and Delavenne under her wing. It’s never said who exactly she is or who she works for (are you sensing a theme for the night?), but she has the power of the US government to throw around. Sage wipes their criminal charges, and sends special forces to rescue the Zoo team from their predicament in Africa (more on this later). Another classic Zoo fix-all.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team – plus bad-boy Ray (Warren Christie) – touch down at an airstrip in Zambia to discover that the leopards they’re after are already wreaking havoc across the country; they’re acting as a group and hanging bodies from trees.
Thoroughly creeped out, the team sets up camp for the night and everyone is on edge. In a not-so-surprising burst of action the leopards raid the camp, killing poor Ray and giving everyone else quite the start. No one has time (or the inclination) to pine for the ex-Marine though, since Jackson (James Wolk) marks one of the big cats with glow stick goo, which they use to track it back to its den the next day. There they find the world’s most photogenic baby leopard, kidnap it and head to somewhere with a lab.
Unfortunately the leopards have chewed away the tow rope for the only river-crossing, and the team is forced to drive through the territory of some very bad dudes, like the African Hell’s Angels, only with rifles and machetes instead of leather jackets and bikes (this is according to Jackson). Sure enough, they encounter a road block, and just as things are about to get very, very ugly for Jamie, the leopards (who I presume are tracking their lost cub?) bust in and start biting faces off. It’s very entertaining, and surprisingly well done considering Zoo’s less than stellar animal attack track record. In the confusion the team escapes the bad guys scot free…or almost get away. Jackson is shot in the melee and they rush to the nearest hospital to get him looked after.
There they discover that everyone is fleeing the city due to widespread animals attacks; leopards rule the hospital, birds are attacking cars, and crocodiles are eating people in the streets. Pure pandemonium! Abe (Nonso Anozie) convinces one of the hospital’s last remaining doctors to fix up Jackson before he takes off, and during the operation Mitch (Billy Burke) and Jamie find a lab to start on the cure with their leopard cub. Meanwhile Abe heads out to find an animal they can test it on.
A lot happens in Zoo-land in the next few hours: Jackson gets fixed up, Mitch synthesizes the cure and shares some feelings with Jamie, and Abe returns with a dog. Luckily, the cure is a success (of course it is), and just as the hospital descends into chaos, Sage’s team of American special forces rescue the group and get them on a plane to D.C., baby leopard in hand. It’s almost jarring how quickly the whole Africa storyline is wrapped up. USA! USA! USA!
Of course, we have to leave things on a cliffhanger. Just as Mitch and Jamie steal a kiss in the plane’s galley, everything goes wrong as birds attack the engines and the plane begins to crash. Here’s hoping the baby leopard – easily my favourite cast member – makes it to next week!
I’ve got to say… not bad, Zoo, not bad. There is something for everyone these episodes: actual animal attacks (none of this ‘bats attacking solar panels’ crap), a bit of character development and romance, political intrigue, and adorable baby cats. We get some of the global tension that I’ve been looking for since day one with the involvement of the media and the US government. It’s still hampered by giant WTF moments, and the usual Zoo logic problems (synthesizing the cure in a matter of hours, US special forces nearby, Delavenne changing teams, etc.), but at least we get some decent animals attacks (and a baby leopard!).
I know after eleven weeks I’m starting to sound like a broken record, and although this show has gotten better as the season progressed, it is still hampered by its own stupidity. Summer’s coming to an end, and it’s just about time for Zoo to wrap things up, too. Next week: the (series?) finale!
- It just occurred to me: does the mutation effect insects? ‘Cause that would be terrifying
- Characters lost this week: Brannigan, Gaspard, and Ray. RIP two dimensional supporting cast.
- Ray seemed to speak for the audience this week when he asked Mitch questions about how get the cure to every animal on earth. Mitch didn’t have an answer either, which doesn’t bode well for next week’s finale.
- Boy, it sure is handy that Abe speaks every African language, huh? Gosh that guy is handy!
- If birds torpedo the plane you’re in just when you finally steal a kiss from that special someone, maybe it’s a sign. Just sayin’.
- As mentioned above, the animal action in this episode is pretty good! Most of the CGI is well done, and the attacks themselves are all pretty tasteful (i.e., no excessive animal deaths).
- The show makes a point of showing the Mother Cell dissolving (huh?) when Mitch activates the sprinkler system. I’m curious if this hints at something to come or if it’s just to confirm that they only had one shot at the cure.
- For me, this episode’s biggest WTF moment is when Mitch and Jamie synthesize an entire cure for the genetic mutation in a matter of hours. (seemingly just by grinding a leopard tooth and some Mother Cell crystal in a mortar and pestle together). Science!
- Man, that special ops soldier at the end of the episode had the WORST fitting helmet I’ve ever seen. I’m actually starting to wonder if it was on backwards. Maybe he was a member of the “special” special forces?
- Delavenne: “Resources are the enemy of imagination.”
Your turn: for readers fans of Patterson’s novel, how faithful is the show to the book? How do you think the show’s going to deal with the logistics of dispersing the cure to the entire animal population of planet earth? And most importantly… will we get to see the baby leopard again? Sound off below.
Zoo airs its season finale next Tuesday at 9pm EST on CBS.