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'Zoo' recap: 'Pack Mentality'

The newly assembled Animal Avengers head to Biloxi to investigate a deadly wolf attack and an even deadlier missing inmate.

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Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/CBS


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
James Wolk, Nonso Anozie, Billy Burke, Nora Arnezeder
Drama, Thriller

“What are bats doing in Antarctica?”

Excellent question, doomed scientist. They’re definitely not contributing to the marital healing properties apparently attributed to the coldest continent; they’re not attacking tiny Japanese planes anymore; and according to your wife, at this very moment, they’re covering up all of the solar panels, a.k.a., your life source. So, to answer your question: These particular bats seem to have come to Antarctica specifically to murder you.

And with that, welcome back to Zoo! Last week, the mysterious Delavane gathered together all five of our lead characters to create a super team that will hopefully be able to save the world from an imminent animal takeover. And this week, his choices seem to be working out quite well! They’ve even earned themselves a Breakfast Club-style introduction in the series’ pre-apocalyptic opening sequence: “So we were hired — a team of people from different backgrounds with different specialties: an expert in animal behavior, a journalist, safari guide, foreign intelligence agent, and a veterinary pathologist.” Their mission, should they choose to accept the possibility of death by intestine-covered escaped convicts on a daily basis: “To find out what is happening with the animals, why it’s happening, and how to stop it.” No pressure.

To do that, Chloe tells the team that they’re headed from Tokyo to Biloxi, Mississippi where the prison break-in and subsequent fire that we saw last week left no survivors… the prison break-in planned and orchestrated entirely by a pack of wolves. Chloe has quickly embraced her role as Animal Avengers team leader, booking rental cars like a pro and splitting the crew up into new, and interesting pairs: Mitch and Abe are to go trap a wolf for research purposes while Jackson and Jamie head to the prison with Chloe. Their slightly thin cover story for gaining access to the prison is that they’ve come from the French embassy to identify a French national who was incarcerated in the prison. That no one seems to buy this but still lets them wander all over the grounds doesn’t really matter though, because the skepticism mostly seems to be a means to introduce FBI Agent Ben Shaffer, played by the ever so charming Geoff Stults.

While walking through the prison yard Jackson notices that the wolves didn’t leave any scat behind (scat is wolf poop, for those of us whose minds were drifting more in a jazz hands direction). In packs, an alpha wolf usually leaves behind scat for the other wolves to follow, so according to Jackson, “not only do we have an unmotivated wolf attack, but we have a leaderless wolf attack.” But later, when Jackson is peering over FBI agents’ shoulders, really not trying at all to pretend like he’s a French diplomat, he catches some security footage of a wolf approaching Evan Lee Hartley, the mysterious death row inmate from last week. I found the way ELH watched and interacted with the wolves a little unreadable at the end of the last episode, but Jackson recognized the interaction for what it was right away: The wolves were behaving submissively toward ELH… because ELH is their alpha. (Even more thankful for that lack of alpha scat now.)

But on Zoo, for every animal question answered, there’s another animal question raised. The story zooms over to a brand new location in Antarctica where two scientists have apparently been living for almost two years in an attempted experiment to save their marriage. Even though these isolated plots are sometimes a little clunkier than the rest of the episode that surrounds them, I appreciate Zoo’s efforts to give us a more personal look each week at the people’s lives who are truly being affected by this mounting animal pandemic. It’s not all dropping cats and hunting scat around here.

NEXT: Welcome to Antarctica, home of failing marriages and bats…