Zoo’s final episode is unlike any that came before, but does it make for a compelling and satisfying closure of the series?
Let’s bitch it out…
The end is nigh! Episode thirteen is the end of Zoo’s inaugural season and things are looking grim, both for the show itself as it hasn’t yet been renewed for a second season (as of this writing), and for our Zoo crew who are running out of options for curing the epidemic. And while this episode feels a little out of place in comparison to the rest of the season, it’s an enjoyable 45 minutes of TV, even if it doesn’t answer any of the questions that have been building up over the season.
The show opens with a set of events that would make Jason Bourne feel nostalgic. Jamie (Kristen Connolly) is plucked out of the Atlantic after the the plane she, Jackson (James Wolk), Abraham (Nonso Anozie), and Mitch (Billy Burke) were travelling back to DC on crashed. Her saviour is a foreign fisherman who treats her wounds and cares for her in his isolated cabin. Seeing a locked fence and fearing his motives, Jamie attempts to escape only to realize that the fence is there to keep aggressive animals out rather than her in.
Meanwhile we catch up with the rest of the survivors who are all dealing with their loss of Jamie, the Mother Cell, and the leopard cub, not to mention their general failure to produce a cure, in different ways. Chloe (Nora Arnezeder) has thrown herself into her work at the government to find another way stop the epidemic; Jackson has begun ranting and rambling onto tape like his father, stumbling and yearning to find a cure; Mitch drowns his sorrows in booze at a local dive bar; and Abe works for an outfit that escorts VIPs from point to point, protecting them from animal attacks. In exchange for immunity for the crimes committed during their hunt for a cure the team is forced into silence and none of them are speaking to each other either, each dealing with their new reality in their own way. As Abe says, they just remind each other of their failures.
In the few months since the plane crash the animal attacks have worsened, causing a sort of low-level apocalypse. Packs of animals rule the streets attacking (and eating) humans on sight, no one eats meat anymore for fears of contracting the virus, and cat lovers are forced into secret societies for the appreciation of our old feline friends. On top of this, basically every avenue for a cure has been exhausted: spreading a cure through the atmosphere won’t work, and a team dispatched to Zambia to secure another leopard sample discovers that all of the spotted creatures have been contaminated and can’t be used. The government is only left with the option of killing every animal on earth and then using Reiden DNA techniques to repopulate the planet with uncontaminated stocks. The logic of this is hilariously stupid, even in the Zoo universe; aside from the implausibility of killing every animal on earth, as told by Mitch it’s established that the government knows it was Reiden’s mother cell all along that caused the epidemic. Why on earth would they get they trust the same company to do it all over again?
Jackson, while dodging baboon attacks on a beer run, realizes that mosquitos are the perfect vector for introducing a cure. D’uh! Luckily, in a big ta-da moment, the crew learns that not only is Jamie still alive, she actually has the uncontaminated leopard cub (all grown up)! The series ends with the team heading out in Abe’s hummer to retrieve Jamie and save the world. The only thing that stands between them is hundreds of charging animals, and as the charge and roars build to a crescendo, we cut to black.
The final hour certainly packs a lot more punch than the average Zoo episode; it had action, mystery, characters dealing with complex (for Zoo) internal struggles, and that “race against time” tension that the series desperately lacked for the entire season. I feel disappointed that so many of the different plot points touched on in earlier episodes never explored further (why was Evan Lee Hartley so instrumental earlier in the season? Why did Reiden form the team in the first place? How was Gaspard recruited by Reiden? What ever happened with Clementine’s uncontaminated dog, Henry?), but I can’t say I’m surprised. If Zoo isn’t renewed for a second season, the end of the series isn’t a horrible one. We can all use our imagination to figure out that the team will get to Jamie and get the cure, etc – it is strongly implied that Jackson’s mosquito trick will work, so that’s fair.
The ratings for Zoo were decent this summer, so I can’t say what the odds of a renewal are like, but people clearly didn’t mind suspending disbelief for twelve weeks and watching the Zoo crew bumble around. I can’t say I’ll miss it if doesn’t make it back – I just never bought into it, I suppose. I don’t mind goofy fun, but I do want my entertainment to be at least internally consistent. I would absolutely support a second season if it was more like this final episode: a bit darker and grimmer, more post-apocalyptic world building, more self-doubt with our protagonists, and that ever-nagging race against time nipping at our heels would go a long way. The writers have definitely set things up to go either way, so it’s all up to the big dogs at CBS now.
- I’m assuming that the genetic mutation affects sea creatures? The show missed some cool possibilities with sharks in this episode.
- Jamie shows remarkable vitality by kneeing her saviour/captor and running away considering she had just had a shard of airplane pulled from her thigh.
- Speaking of which, the time period between the plane crash and Jamie calling Mitch with the satellite phone is a little muddled. I think it’s a few months, but it’s not really very clear.
- If the guy who rescues Jamie has a satellite phone, why did he not use it to call someone earlier? Like I don’t know… a doctor maybe?
- “Project Noah” is the dumbest thing ever. Maybe this is a brilliant satire of the government, but it’s so silly it doesn’t even make sense in the Zoo universe.
- I thought the idea of underground steakhouses is a neat idea. This is the kind of world building I’d love to see more of in season two (if there is one).
- Who were the assholes in suits who came into the bar and threatened to shoot that awesome pug? I’m going to assume they were bankers.
- During Jackson’s street escapades, we clearly see dogs and cats working together…that really is a sign of the apocalypse.
- Abe: “Even before this all began, people who loved cats should have kept themselves hidden.”
Your turn: what did you think of the final episode? Did you appreciate the darker, grimmer world introduced in the finale? Are you disappointed that none of the dangling plot threads were resolved? Do you think Project Noah is a brilliant satire or weak writing? Would you watch a second season of Zoo? Sound off below.
Zoo has now finished its run. CBS has not yet picked the series up for a second season.