Thank goodness for that second hour of Zoo tonight, because things were looking pretty dire halfway through the two-part installment. Which isn’t to say things are looking great at the end of the second hour either—if an episode of Zoo ends without eliciting a gasp, has it really ended at all? The Animal Avengers did manage to capture a Zambian leopard, create a cure with the Mother Cell, and get the U.S. government on their side… but there’s also the small detail that four out of five of them might be totally dead. And the remaining member is Chloe, who’s kind of been having a tough go of it lately.
At the end of last week’s episode, it seemed bad enough that Chloe had been separated from the rest of the crew, but tonight we have officially reached new heights on unwanted interference with the mission to save the world from a hostile animal takeover. Combined, these two episodes felt much more like the first few installments of this series, and not just because of all the unidentified ominous growling. No, it was the animals—oh, the animals! Zoo can lose steam when the plot goes too far into the realm of the humans trying to save the world, rather than the animals trying to take those humans down. But all it takes to regain its momentum is arriving at a hospital that’s surrounded by thrashing crocodiles on the ground level, patrolled by majestic roaming lions on the roof, and has a Hematology department fully staffed with homicidal leopards, leaky pupils on every single one of them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a lot to be done before Jackson, Abe, Mitch, and Jamie get to the hospital where they ultimately create the cure that the entire season has been barreling toward. Everyone but Chloe arrives in Zambia with Ray (a.k.a., “this guy’s trouble”) ready to find the mutated leopards that have yet to be exposed to Reiden Global products. They discover that the leopards have been attacking a completely random manner, as though they’re trying to instill fear in the local human population — so even though they only have one tranquilizer gun and no way of knowing how, when, or where the leopards will attack next, Jackson insists that they head out into the bush to track down what they came for: killer leopards.
Much of these two episodes is spent dwelling on Jackson’s often rash and erratic behavior, and though I’m not quite sure what purpose that focus will ultimately serve (really hoping it’s not a “getting Abe killed” purpose), I do appreciate that Jackson has taken on less of the protagonist role than originally seemed planned, which leaves room for other characters to shine. But one character whose light dimmed quickly? Ray, who heads out into the darkness with the tranquilizer gun when they hear some rustling in the bush. We’re told he’s a great shot, but he returns without having to test the—BOOM! A leopard plows Ray down straight out of left field. Everyone grabs a torch and manages to fend off the rest of the prowl of leopards, but poor Ray has caused his last bit of trouble.
They pile back in the jeep, tracking the leopards into the night at Jackson’s insistence, and when they resume in the daylight, they’re able to locate the leopards’ den where one female has been left alone, likely to protect a cub. When she heads out of the den, Abe and Jackson sneak in and, indeed, find a precious little leopard cub: a much more manageable solution to getting the stem cells they need than a full grown leopard, which would be much harder to carry around in a canvas tote for the rest of the episode, as they do with the leopard cub. And that’s because, when they arrive at the bridge they need to take back to wherever they intended to concoct their stem cell smoothie, the ropes have all been chewed straight through…
Which means the team will have to go the long way around, taking them straight through the territory of a notoriously dangerous local army. Indeed, as they’re making their way back toward civilization, two trucks full of gun-toting militia pull them over. As Abe and Jackson unsuccessfully try to convince them that they don’t have anyone who would pay a ransom for them, Mitch, ever the problem-solver, jumps into action. And by action, I mean he pricks the leopard cub with a needle, which doesn’t seem particularly productive, until about five minutes later when the three men have been forced back in the car and Jamie has been forced out of it, and the roving gang of leopards shows back up and takes care of the army themselves. Apparently the thing from the second episode where lions were able to communicate across long distances has made its way to Zambian leopards, and the prowl heard it’s cub’s little howl of pain. But while they’re busy taking down the men with guns, the Animal Avengers get away with the cub once more. In the midst of their giddiness at a narrow escape, they realize two things: Jackson was shot in the stomach during all of the commotion, and they’re not the only ones in trouble.
NEXT: Worst Skype session ever…