This week on Zoo, a mysterious French intelligence agent zips between storylines, bringing most of the characters together to form a team that’ll investigate the worsening animal attacks. We also learn more about Jackson’s maybe not-so-crackpot father, and meet a rather feral death row inmate.
Before we get any deeper, here’s what happened last week in “Fight or Flight,” since we biffed it. (Blame Comic-Con, which did yield an interview with the show’s producers; pilot episode recap right this way.) In Africa, Jackson gets out of jail, Abraham gets out of the hospital, and they set off for Tokyo to find the rest of Jackson’s late, disgraced, obsessed-with-the-impending-animal-uprising father. Jackson’s mother, the safari-camp doctor, gives her blessing after realizing her son’s new belief in his father’s crazy theories might just be true; turns out all those lions changed their kill style in unison, opting to give their human victims “slow, painful deaths.” For fun!
In Paris, we learn that Chloe is a member of the French Secret Service, and still traumatized by both the lion attack and her broken engagement... which we get a little more insight into, once we learn her hubby-to-be was cheating with Chloe’s own sister. But the lion attack is the more pressing concern, especially when a mysterious man informs Chloe “the fate of the world” hinges on a new Secret Service operation to investigate the animal attacks.
In Slovenia, the English parents hoping to adopt a son take their young charge to the circus, where a long tease involving close proximity to tigers yields no bloodshed. Nope, that comes later, when the chuffed new dad chases down a small dog that’s snatched the child’s stuffed animal. It ends in a dark alley, full of dead, maimed human bodies... and a pack of snarling canines. Uh-oh.
And in Los Angeles, Jamie (who admits she’s got a personal vendetta against Reiden Global, which she still suspects of causing the violent animal behavior) and Mitch enlist a flirty zookeeper to let them run some tests on a lion cub (d’aawwwwwww!) When the sedated animal unexpectedly stirs awake, Mitch notes its brain is “spiking in hyper-gamma frequencies,” which it should not be doing, and the zookeeper reports that all the zoo’s big cats are also acting strangely. Having already demonstrated their desire to communicate with humans by leaving Abe alive, draped in a tree, in Africa (“They wanted someone to spread their message. They’re no longer afraid of us!”, per Jackson), the lions are also now capable of “long-distance” communication, per Mitch. Uh-oh again.
Also, fun fact: a group of cats is called a “clowder.”
Okay, on to this week, “The Silence of the Cicadas.” At Comic-Con, the producers promised we’d see the show’s most insane stuff yet starting in episode three. We’re definitely heading in that direction, though this episode still contains a fair amount of set-up.
Chloe’s reluctantly joined French intelligence agent Alves (Henri Lubatti) in his investigation, though she’s still suffering lion-attack PTSD and would rather not be poking around hideous animal attacks, thanks very much. Still, she lends her expertise (she also speaks five languages, understands “virtually every culture on earth,” etc.), heading to Slovenia to check out the dog attacks we saw last week. All the victims were tourists, their bodies stashed for weeks at a time without discovery. The dogs did this deliberately, you see. They’re honing their skills. Becoming more efficient killers. Oh boy.
In Los Angeles, Jamie convinces Mitch to travel with her to New Orleans, lying that the paper (which fired her) is funding a trip to share their lion-communication findings with the local senator, who’s been battling Reiden Global for years. But the senator is dismissive of Mitch’s “smoking gun” evidence that Reiden’s chemicals are turning lions into a hive-minded superorganism. One, he’s skeptical, but mostly two, he’s tired of fighting a company that has enough big bucks to quash any lawsuits against it. Though Mitch is growing impatient with Jamie’s tin-foil hat tendencies, he’s sympathetic when she reveals her fight against Reiden is personal; the company was responsible for the cancer cluster that killed her mother years before. And he’s snarky enough to lob off a joke about the dismissive senator’s penis size as it pertains to the enormous moose head he has mounted on his office wall. (“My condolences to your wife” is the punchline. Ba-dum-cha!)
Way over in Tokyo with Abraham, Jackson meets his father’s second wife, Minako, who reveals Dr. Robert Oz had a secret research facility on an island so close to Fukushima the radiation levels make it dangerous to visit for long. They head there via a small plane, which crashes when a swarm of bats engulfs them. Bat frenzy! Minako and the pilot die, but Jackson and Abraham soldier on, finding Robert’s makeshift laboratory. It appears to be the only thing on the island besides a pair of horses who’ve had their eyes removed; we later see those eyes bobbing in jars, and see the horses, still unblinded, going apeshit crazy in an old video. Jackson realizes the “defiant pupil” mutation affects the way animals see the world; creatures that they once perceived as friendly, or simply ignored (i.e., humans), are now a red-alert threat that MUST BE ATTACKED NOW.
Alves, who’s kind of the Nick Fury of Zoo, shows up in New Orleans to whisk a despondent Jamie and an over-it Mitch to Tokyo, where Jackson and Abe have also been taken (having been rescued in the nick of time from the radiation-poisoned island Robert referred to as “the Ghost of Christmas Future”). Chloe appears and is introduced as the agent in charge, and everyone learns about more attacks around the globe: bears pouncing on children at a playground; rhinos flipping a vehicle and waiting for its occupants to emerge before trampling them to death. We know the mutation is causing the behavior. But we don’t know what’s causing the mutation, and that’s what this team is going to find out.
And in the show’s most intriguing (also most high-drama, over-the-top, operatic, etc.) development, we meet Evan Lee (Marcus Hester), a Charles Manson look-alike on Death Row in Biloxi. He’s given to pronouncements like “I’m beyond mercy,” and he has the defiant pupil. So this is a dude we need to pay attention to. He’s in the middle of informing the warden that he’ll never apologize to his victim’s widow when he spots a wolf lurking outside the prison... and he changes his mind. When the widow arrives, we learn more about Evan Lee’s crime: he murdered a man on a hunting trip. And cut out his heart. And was planning on killing as many hunters as possible.
The widow beats a hasty retreat, but sinister Dr. Doolittle/Beastmaster/whatever Evan Lee’s not done yet. With hours to go before his execution, he prowls the prison yard. The warden is the first victim of the wolf pack that lopes onto the prison grounds, with guards next (and a few prisoners, too) as the animals invade the gates and go on a kill-crazy rampage. Aroooo!
How does a human have the defiant pupil? Is Evan Lee controlling the animals, or are they controlling him? With a supersquad of sorts now assembled to study the “awakening of the animals,” as Minako called it, we’ll no doubt learn more next week, as Zoo continues to turn into the absolutely insane show it has all the potential to be.