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'Zoo' recap: 'Emotional Contagion'

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Cook Allender /CBS

Zoo

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
2
performer:
James Wolk, Nonso Anozie, Billy Burke, Nora Arnezeder
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Drama, Thriller

I’ve been wondering when this show about homicidal animals with a propensity for plotting and wreaking havoc on indoor spaces was going to go full-CrazyTown-ludicrous—and it looks like the writers have deemed episode 10 to be that turning point. This episode had it all: flash forwards, that thing where you use a tiny toaster for stem cell research, old acquaintances who equal nothing but bad news, dissent in the ranks, and most importantly, a good ol’ fashion zebra tipping zoo break-in.

What it doesn’t have is any animal attacks (not including a few disgruntled travelers who kind of deserve to be annoyed after being removed from their home and forced to listen to Chloe and Mitch assure each other that none of this is their fault). And when there’s not a specific animal story line to follow—say, the meet-cute between a wealthy, uptight housewife and the brown bear that shows her how to let loose as they learn to laugh and love together—that means the focus is all on the Animal Avengers and just exactly how far the logic hole they’ve gone in their quest to save the world… and, therefore, just how far down the logic hole we’ve been asked to go with them.

Is it logical that every idea off the top of Mitch’s head that’s “just a theory” ends up being the exact right theory the group needs? No. Is it logical—as many commenters pointed out last week—that Mitch would give his daughter medicine from the same company, likely made with the same cell, that’s about to cause her adorable yellow lab to eat her mom (just a theory). Surely not. Is it logical that just because they have access to a cargo plane, and just because Abe knows how to fly one, that they can fly right out of the country. DEFINITELY not.

But that completely illogical escape provides the completely shocking scene where, in an effort to not have another FBI agent’s murder on her hands, Chloe gets separated from the group. And not, like, “you guys take the plane, I’ll take the cherry red Suburban, we’ll meet in Zambia”—no, that woman flings herself off a plane, away from the loving arms of Jackson and into FBI custody. And that is a twist worth defying logic for.

The episode starts with a flash-forward to the Avengers and a few other people in stupid ornate animal masks breaking into a zoo (that this episode wasn’t titled “We Stole a Zoo” was a complete missed opportunity) and yelling at someone named “Ray.” We soon find out that Ray is simultaneously Jackson’s proposed solution to their problems: He makes secret trips to Africa and since they need to get to Africa, but their faces just so happened to be splashed all over the news as wanted by the FBI, they need to get themselves to the leopards in Zambia on the down-low.

We also find out that Abe effin’ hates Ray. You see, Ray has a propensity for getting himself—and Jackson, and by proxy, Abe—into trouble. And not the fun kind of trouble, as evidenced by him getting roughed up on the docks of Clearwater, Florida when we meet him. He’s an animal rights activist who seems a lot more interested in making a statement than protecting animals, hence the plan to break into a zoo and “save” the animals with his organization, F.A.R.M. Ray tells Jackson that he’ll take them to Zambia if they help him with the break-in, and even though Abe tells, like, six anecdotes about how Ray is trouble (trouble, trouble), he agrees.

NEXT: Zoo-capades[pagebreak]​

I’m going to shoot you straight… I spent a lot of the next scenes actively trying to ignore all of Ray’s super obnoxious F.A.R.M. cohorts. Man—if you though Jamie was a lot to love, wait until you get ahold of Anissa. Cody is more tolerable but less centered upon, and that’s because he’s not long for this animal-stealing world. Even though all of the Avengers know it’s a terrible idea, they agree to help with the zoo break-in because not only do they need a plane ride, but also because Mitch has surmised that they’ll also need an electroporator to combine the Reiden-free cells of the Zambian leopards with the Mother Cell for their cure, and they should be able to find that at the zoo. So, because I was already annoyed with this plotline, and I was never sure what Jamie was doing with her little map of cell phones, I’m not totally sure who shot whom, but I know that Ray’s team opened fire on the zoo police (we’ll go with there being zoo police because surely zoo security guards wouldn’t have guns), the zoo police shot back, and Cody was killed, and Ray was shot.

The crew loads Ray into the truck where they’ve already loaded a number of animals, including zebras and camels, and head back to their shady warehouse for Mitch to play operation—these people would seriously just stand in a circle and make big eyes at each other if Mitch wasn’t there to do everything. Jackson and Chloe are tending to the animals and make a weird discovery: a little warthog gets loose and freely roams into a serval cat’s—normally a predator of warthogs—cage, but the serval seems to be totally fine with having a new roommate. But when Jackson and Chloe approach, all of the animals start freaking out and making some truly terrible noises. It seems that the animals are all fine with each other because “they’ve found a common enemy: us.”

Mitch says it’s possible—just a theory—that it’s an “emotional contagent.” It’s like yawning, where it passes from one person to the next, though we don’t quite know why; whatever’s happening with the animals is spreading from one to the next, from serval, to warthog, to camel, to zebra. So even though Ray is now bulletless but not yet conscious, the Avengers decide it’s time to scram. Not only do they need to not be with these infected animals, but it’s becoming even more imperative that they find those leopards and find a cure.

Anissa was already taking Abe to the cargo plane, so the rest go to meet him. But, of course, this Ray guy is a real rascal (haven’t you heard?), so he wakes up and takes them by surprise from behind, and tells them that they will be taking the animals to that plane to take them back to Africa… at gunpoint. What a pal!

During all of this, Agent Ronnie “Dogstick” Brannigan is still tracking the team and somehow figures out by hearing that an electroporator was stolen from the Clearwater zoo (presumably because Evan Lee Hartley was also looking for one at the optometrist’s office in Mobile) that that’s where he’ll find the Animal Avengers. And that’s how we find everyone converging at once—Avengers, Ray and Anissa, animals in the back of the truck (who just had to suffer through Chloe and Jackson’s first kiss and rightly did not enjoy the show)—on the runway where Ray’s plane is. The Avengers are just ahead of the FBI and somehow manage to evade them on foot, boarding the plane where Abe is waiting to fly them out of there.

But that darn Anissa… when Agent Brannigan catches up, he aims his weapon up at the still open cargo hold of the plane, so Anissa pulls her gun and nearly shoots him, but Chloe lunges for her. They tumble out of the plane and right in front of Brannigan’s feet just as the plane is taking off and Jackson looks on at Chloe with his big, sad (for the moment, not crazed) eyes, and Chloe looks back at him with her big, angry/terrified/defiant eyes… and with that, Brannigan has one avernger. Four more to go.

So what’s Chloe’s angle? Will she go with the truth and try telling Brannigan how they’re just trying to save the world, sorry about all the murder and destruction? Or will she clam up until someone can come back and get her out of this? Let’s be honest… it will probably have to be Mitch, hopefully after he’s come up with the cure to save the world.

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