After last week’s rat-pocalypse, the team gets back to facing enemies of a more human sort: the villainous puppet masters at Reiden Global and the vengeful FBI. But this wouldn’t be Zoo without some animal insanity, and the episode’s title, “Murmuration,” offers a big ol’ hint to keep watching the skies.
As you’ll recall from last week, just as Mitch was about to swap the Mother Cell for a disease-curing helping of medicine for his darlin’ Clementine, he spotted Team Zoo’s mysterious boss, Delavane, at Reiden Global’s headquarters. We pick up at exactly that moment. His first instinct is to grab both the cell and the pills and flee, but a corporation as secretive and sinister as Reiden is robustly equipped to prevent fleeing. Right? Nope. Because nebbish Mitch, who later admits he “doesn’t speak spy,” proves remarkably adept at evading what’s presumably the best high-tech security biotech billions can buy. A broken window, some elevator subterfuge, and a hop over a fence later, and he’s free! Whee!
In another dimly-lit office, Agent Shafer’s as-yet-unnamed boss, working for an as-yet-unnamed organization (pretty obviously rhymes with “F.B.I.” though), is studying photos of Shafer’s killer (a.k.a. Jamie) when an underling, Agent Singer, bursts in. Shafer was in Biloxi on his own time when he died, Singer reveals. The Boss already knew that, but there’s more: Shafer had exchanged several calls with a certain Chloe Tousignant, on leave from her job working for French intelligence (“French intelligence? Oxymoron,” mutters The Boss). This is the same Chloe, they realize, who’s been globe-trotting with Jamie. These dudes are starting to unravel the identities of Team Zoo. And that’s not a good thing for our fun bunch.
...Who, by the way, ain’t so fun now that they’re hearing from Mitch about his near-miss with the Mother Cell. Even Jamie, who’s the only person on the team who actually likes Mitch a little bit, is pissed as hell. He admits he (almost) did a shitty thing. But he tries to steer their anger toward a more pressing issue: Delavane’s presence at Reiden, which was not due to “Bring Your Shadowy Interpol Agent to the Office Day.” He works there, guys! He’s on the payroll! He brings cupcakes on birthdays! He’s on the company softball team!
As Abraham wonders why Reiden would assemble a group to uncover the truth about ... Reiden, Chloe’s phone jingles; it’s her co-worker back in Paris, letting her know she’s got an FBI warrant on her head. (So does Jamie.) No shock there.
While this non-revelation sinks in, the rest of the team grills Mitch about the possibility of reversing the animal attacks using the Mother Cell, which they still have in their possession (for now). Theoretically, it can happen, but they’ll need to rustle up a very special kind of animal: one who has mutated but has not been exposed to the Mother Cell. Finding said animal, Mitch admits, will be like “finding a needle in a stack of needles.” Chloe lets them know about the FBI warrants, and insists “Let’s go!” But with the FBI after them, and Delavane confirmed to be in cahoots with Big Evil Pharma, where can they go?
Chloe gives them a crash course in Fugitive 101: only use burner phones, only pay for stuff in cash, don’t contact family or friends. But Jackson points out that they can’t hide from these new developments forever, because dammit, “We’ve got to save our own asses, and we’ve got to save the world!”
At Casa Clementine, Henry the dog has gotten the all-clear from the vet after being hit by a car. But all is not well in the rest of the animal world; the birds out front are acting mighty screechy and Hitchcock-y. OOH FORESHADOWING!
As Abraham and Mitch prepare to deliver the medicine to Clem, Jamie contacts a journalist friend, arranging a meeting in the hopes that he’ll help blow the lid off Reiden. Delavane, who we learn is Reiden’s head of global security, is mad as hell that he wasn’t in the loop about the Mother Cell. Evil Reiden Guy Who Mitch Was Trying to Blackmail spits back: “The point is that the team that was put together to protect us now possesses the very thing that can destroy us!” Seething, Delavane heads home to his mansion, where he finds unexpected visitors: Chloe and Jackson.
He chuckles when they demand that he come clean about Reiden’s involvement in the global animal attacks. Yeahhhhh ... that’s not gonna happen. Imagine the lawsuits! Jackson points out that the company is in a great position to help solve the crisis that its Mother Cell caused. That might help ease some of the impending PR disaster, too, once the world learns who’s behind all the attacks. But Delavane has his own “solution:” if they hand over the Mother Cell, he’ll see what he can do about the team not receiving extended prison sentences. Uh-uh. Again, not gonna happen. Chloe and Jackson flounce out, but a hint of a worried look crosses Delavane’s face. Will he crack and leave the dark side?
While we ponder this, Chloe and Jackson meet Jamie to strategize before meeting with her newspaper pal. Jackson, ever-focused on the core of the mission, ponders where they can find that Patient Zero animal they’ll need to find a cure. It will have to come from a part of the world where Reiden products aren’t used, and there aren’t too many of those (it is Reiden Global, after all).
While they doodle on a map (which Chloe pay $100 for, after Jackson rips it off a bar wall) to triangulate possibilities—and Jackson gives Chloe, who’s starting to feel like all the non-animal peril is her fault, a much-needed pep talk—the FBI finds Jamie’s discarded cell phone. Fun fact: a baseball hat and sunglasses aren’t enough disguise to fool the government’s facial-recognition software. Next time, try a ski mask. Or a rubber clown mask. Jamie’s still able to meet with her colleague to bark out some key facts of the story, the supreme importance of which is underlined when the FBI crashes the meet-up. Threats are exchanged, and a minor gun battle ensues.
And then ... Zoo reminds us what this show is really all about:
Yup, that’s a rage-filled murmuration, dive-bombing a woman with a baby carriage as Clem and her mother cower beneath a play structure and watch in horror. Mitch and Abraham, nearby on their medicine-delivering jaunt, rush to help, and arriving with fire-department hoses just in time to save everyone (uh, except that lady above ... she’s toast) from feathery ruin.
Oh yeah. And remember how the media was going to save everyone’s ass? Reiden’s legal department puts a swift stop to that. Or do they? As the team watches the TV news, they realize the fatal bird attacks are the top story. The animals are getting more aggressive! But then, so is law enforcement, as a heavily armed SWAT team rolls up to Clementine’s house ... juuuust as the team is figuring out their “needle” is probably located in Zambia, where leopard attacks are frequent but Reiden chemicals are never used. Fortunately, Zoo’s editors are sneaky, and the big guns bust in after everyone’s already left.
As the race to Zambia begins, Jackson and co. notice that the weird bird “language” they’ve been noticing around town sounds the same from every species. Could the birds be communicating? At Reiden, the big boss tells Delavane the team won’t live long enough to carry out their little save-the-world plan. Oooh, he bad.
Three episodes to go. What animal will go cuckoo next week? I’m still holding out hope for bloodthirsty zebras!