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'Zoo' recap: 'Blame It on Leo'

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Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/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

“This mission of ours has just become a whole lot less amusing.” –Abe, when faced with technology-hating bats

Five episodes in and Zoo has its hands (paws?) chock-full of plotlines; but for as many plates as it has spinning, it is managing to keep them all moving. Evan Lee Hartley, Reiden Global, defiant pupils, the Mother Cell… it all seems like it can tie together somehow, the question is, will we understand it when they do?

Tonight’s episode had some great shocks—mostly involving sneaky bats, but also a framed picture or two—but with the folding in of Reiden Global out from the fringes and into the main plot, we might be nudging up on the maximum amount of complex theorizing that can be juggled at once in a series that started off worrying over shifty house cats. I’m still enjoying the ride… I’m just keeping an extra notebook to log each new crazy-eyed man I think I might need to know by name. For the record: Professor Robert Oz, Evan Lee Hartley, and Leo Butler, in that order.

Speaking of eccentric gentlemen, Mitch is doing a little research: The crew has made their way from the prison in Mississippi to a high school in Alabama so Mitch can use the lab gear to study the infected killer-wolf blood (no coffee pot necessary this time). He finds a bacteria present in the blood that looks to be similar to a bacteria that’s used in the cleanup of oil spills. Its chemical signature tells him that it’s man-made, and his pal at M.I.T. tells him that the signature was created by a man who used to work at… Reiden Global. Cue Jamie gasps. The chemist’s name? Leo Butler. Cue Jackson’s doe-eyes, because Leo Butler is the name he’s been seeing scribbled all over Evan Lee Hartley’s bible.

Chloe instructs Jackson and Jamie to stay in the States and track down Butler while she, Mitch, and Abe head to Rio de Janeiro where bats—more bats? Same bats from Antarctica just trying to warm up? I have no idea—have infested the city. But when they arrive, it’s worse than they thought… less of an infestation, and teetering on the edge of a plague of biblical proportions. They meet up with a friend of Chloe’s from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, who tells them that the good news is that it’s not rabies; the bad news is rabies is the only possible explanation for the nocturnal animals swarming in the daytime. So, the Brazilian government is planning on dropping an extremely toxic pesticide that stands to harm every living person in Rio the next morning—Chloe, Mitch, and Abe are going to try to figure out this batty situation before that.

Back in Alabama, Jamie has been dabbling in some light hacking of FBI files which earns her a visit from Agent Shaffer, who we met last week. I’m still not sure what role he’s serving (other than a welcome bit of comic relief), but luckily he’s totally cool with bringing on some civilian apprentices in their collective hunt for Leo Butler. That involves traveling to Mobile and getting on a swamp boat to find the address that Jamie located by figuring out that Butler has been blackmailing Reiden Global and moving the money through shell corporations to give to charity, presumably, in penance for his Reiden-related sins.

When they arrive, they find a man with a crazy look in his eye… it could be because Jackson punched him in the face to keep him from running, but it’s probably because he’s been living alone in the middle of a swamp thinking of all the bad he helped Reiden Global do in his time there. You see, the bacteria he created that brought them to him isn’t what could cause this kind of behavior in animals. That’s the other thing: Reiden Global has been able to stomp all of their competition and gain so much power because a long time ago they discovered something that no one else had and only a few in the company even know the source of to this day: a DNA molecule that can manipulate cellular material on a genetic level. In normal people words, “It means they have a molecule that allows them to be faster, better, cheaper.”

Butler tells them that it’s called the Mother Cell—“well, that doesn’t sound ominous”—and it’s in everything Reiden produces; it’s all over the world and it can’t be stopped. But it can be found. Butler has the Mother Cell—or at least some portion of it—hidden close by, but after a rough go of things with Jackson and Shaffer, he’s only willing to let Jamie go with him to find it. This should go well.

NEXT: Meet a very sweet little girl and her sweet dog who has not yet turned evil…[pagebreak]

We’ve been told over and over about the far-reaching evil arms of Reiden Global and now it’s time to tie that back to something more personal. Throughout tonight’s episode we visit Boston to meet a little girl named Clementine. Clementine is sick, a self-described “dying girl,” and sometimes she suffers from seizures—but she has an adorable yellow lab named Henry who helps alert Clementine, her mom, and her step-dad when one is coming on. Henry gets out of a broken fence in the backyard though and is hit by a car. Clem’s mother and step-dad struggle to pay for Henry’s surgery and medicine, in addition to Clem’s expensive treatments, but her mother tells the step-dad she just can’t contact Clementine’s real father for help—he’s been out of her life too long. They figure it out though, and Henry returns home with a precious little cast… and a big ol’ bottles of pills courtesy of the labs at Reiden Global. No, no, no, no!

Oh, and one more quick, heartbreaking thing… Clementine finds a picture of her father and asks her mom, “Do you think if I got really bad, he would come?” Her mother doesn’t give her an answer, but she does leave the picture in Clem’s room… a picture of a young Mitch holding a yellow lab puppy.

But at this very moment, Mitch is holding a bat. Well, first he’s trying to catch a bat. They notice that the bats are only gathering in the bad favelas, the poorer part of town where Abe recognizes as familiar: “To survive the people are forced to improvise.” Everything from the electricity to the cellular antennas are jerry-rigged in big heaps of wire and electrical boxes on poles. Mitch disrupts a group of bats while trying to catch one and they all head straight to one of those poles, start chowing down, and manage to cause a chain reaction that puts out all the lights in the favelas. That brings a gang of neighborhood young men over who seem mildly threatening, especially after Chloe pulls her gun, and they pull about three times as many in return; but Abe is able to hand them a wad of cash for their troubles and they stand down—and that is why we keep Abe around.

We keep Mitch around because he was able to bring a recently dead bat back. Oh wait—“That is not dead! That is not a dead bat!” The bat comes back to life while Mitch is experimenting on it and I guess they let it outside because it later attacks Chloe on the balcony… well, actually it attacks her cell phone. Which gives her and Abe—not the scientists as Mitch reminds them—a few crazy ideas. The bats seem to be attracted to technology in some way, and as Mitch tells them, humans aren’t high up on the trophic scale; there are only two things that allow us to behave at the level of the most dangerous apex predators: Our ability to reason and… our technology.

If the bats are targeting human technology, then Chloe thinks they can use technology to target them back and avoid the pesticide drop. She wants to create an electro-magnetic signal in the middle of the forest that will permanently lure the bats away from the city using something like a powerful cellular antenna. So, they head back to the last place they saw something like that; while Abe hot-wires a truck, Mitch and Chloe try to take down the cellular tower at the favela, where they are quickly noticed by the gang they told they meant no harm just hours ago.

So that’s where we leave Mitch and Chloe, being beaten up by local Brazilians for trying to steal their cell service…

And we leave Jamie upside-down, potentially bleeding out in a car. You see, Butler takes Jamie out into the middle of nowhere, retrieves the Mother Cell (which has a real Kryptonite look to it), and doesn’t even try to murder her or leave her in the swamp or anything. But as they’re driving back, he does get totally t-boned form the driver side, violently wrecking the car, and when Jamie comes to, she upside-down, watching a pair of boots walk toward her. Those boots belong to none other than Evan Lee Hartley and he’s there to take none other than the Mother Cell.

So. Mother Cell… defiant pupil… Reiden Global… distant dad, Mitch… which of these plot lines have been most successful for you as a viewer? And how do they all fit together? Is capacity for animals to turn against humans a biological instinct or has it been put into the animals by humans themselves? Take it away in the comments! 

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