This week, we got a double-wide episode ahead of next week’s season finale, and between all the gunshots and torture and maulings, it was easily the goriest Zoo entry yet.
“Eats, Shoots, and Leaves/Wild Things” begins as Agent Harrington is zooming down the highway, telling the captured Chloe that he’s looking forward to crushing the Zoo team, who he refers to as “scumbums.” Tee-hee. But he doesn’t get a chance to do ... anything, because a car pulls up alongside and he’s soon full of many, many bullets. The car’s occupants jump out and grab Chloe, who now has a new and even nastier jailer in charge of her fate: Gaspard Alves, her countryman, who recruited her to head up the Zoo team (so, presumably he works for Reiden Global). He wants to know where the hell the rest of the group escaped to, and he’s willing to use whatever method of persuasion he can to get information ... including torturing Chloe’s sister, Nathalie, who’s back in France. Yeah, the one who stole Chloe’s fiance away. Interesting.
In Zambia, everyone who didn’t fall off the plane as it was taking off heads to meet animal rights zealot/unconventional transportation provider Ray’s “man with a plan,” only to find that Ray’s guy, and all of his associates, are dead. Clawed to death by leopards, which happen to be just the animals the Zoo crew has come to Africa to find. On the road, they encounter a fleeing farmer who reports that leopards attacked his farm; piecing together other incidents, they realize the animals have adopted a “random on purpose”sort of battle plan. “Are you telling me the leopards are using military strategy?” Ray scoffs. Moments later, armed with only a tranquilizer gun, the gang drives up to a tree artfully draped with human corpses, presumably left there by the angry-yet-highly-organized big-cat brigade.
The posse settles in for the night, camping in a wilderness infested with rampaging leopards (sure, why not). When a chorus of growls circles the group under cover of night, Ray takes the point, prowling the underbrush. “There’s nothing there,” he scoffs. Ray is big in scoffing ... or he was, because quicker than you can say “Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea,” a leopard leaps out of the side of the frame and tackles his animal-defending ass. Adios, Ray. It’s been real, uh ... honestly, nobody, least of all that leopard, liked the guy. The group piles into the Jeep to track the cat, armed with homemade knockout drops crafted from a recipe that “the locals use to get drunk,” according to Abe. (Hearing that, Mitch samples the goods: “Hmm. Tingles,” he reports.) When they find the den, empty of adult leopards, Reckless Jackson creeps inside. BEHOLD THE TEENY LEOPARD KITTY!!
The two storylines converge when Chloe’s cell phone, abandoned in Mitch’s man-purse, tootles. When Jackson, who’s already worried about his bae’s safety, answers, he learns from her DGSE colleague that the FBI agent that arrested her is dead ... and she’s missing. We know, of course, that at this very moment she’s telling lies to her kidnappers, trying to save her sister by assuring them that the group is in India tracking leopards. It doesn’t work, and things are looking mighty grim for Nathalie’s appendages ... until Delavane bursts in. He’s a good guy now? Yes! He kills Alves, puts an end to Nathalie’s torture, and frees Chloe, and they set out to save everyone by convincing the US government to get behind their cause. But first, she must tell a room full of sneering skeptics that the escalating animal attacks are caused by a mutation, not a virus.
Though they’re concerned about Chloe’s safety, the African travelers have slightly bigger problems at the moment: a heavily armed group of gangsters has ambushed them in the countryside. In the ensuing melee, in which Jamie almost gets snatched, Mitch pokes the kitten, and its mewling distress cry summons the leopards from the bush. They escape, but Jackson is shot in the scuffle. The nearest hospital is miles away in Zimbabwe, and when they arrive, they realize it’s overrun with alligators, leopards, and lions. (Don’t you hate it when that happens?)
As the last surviving surgeon in the danger-infested facility tends to Jackson’s wound, Mitch and Jamie head to the hematology lab with the kitten to start working on the cure, while Abe heads out to find a non-wild animal that can serve as a test subject. Fortunately, he finds the only pet dog in Harare that hasn’t been shot by its fearful owner. But when Mitch injects the cure, or what he hopes is the cure, into the cranky German Shepherd’s flank, it doesn’t work. Was his theory full of crap, or will introducing the cure orally do the trick? It better, because the Mother Cell was destroyed when he and Jamie were fleeing a leopard that rudely interrupted their experiment.
And...IT DOES! The dog goes from Stage Five Cujo to wagging its tail and acting cute. YES! Now, all they gotta do is get the hell out of the Leopard City, a prospect that’s looking grim until a squad of elite American soldiers suddenly materializes to help them out.
Bu-what? See, though the scientists at the government hearing laughed Chloe out of the room, one steely-eyed woman heard her story, and she summoned Chloe and Delavane to her subterranean headquarters to tell them she wants to help. “I believe you ... and so do the people who matter!” Screw those snooty science people! The US government was aware of the animal problem all along! And the team are no longer fugitives ... they are heroes! Jamie and Mitch share a smooch! Everything is GREAT, and back to American they go!
Hah, but there’s still one episode left, and this airplane full of victory-celebrating, cure-carrying puny humans isn’t going to get off that easy. Not with all the strangely-behaving birds in the air! If the show ends with a dramatic plane crash that kills the characters and dooms the human race, it’ll be a lot more awesome than we ever thought possible. (Prediction: it won’t.)