I learned a lot of things in this episode of Zoo. First, that a pack of bears is called a “sleuth,” a word I’ve typically reserved for the purposes of describing Nancy Drew. But I also learned that even though it’s frequently repeated that bears aren’t prone to venture out on solo projects—bears of a sleuth stick together—the same can no longer be said for our sleuth of Animal Avengers.
I was always a little suspect of “FBI Agent” Schaffer with his perfectly chiseled jaw and willingness to let pedestrians have free roam around crime scenes, but I’d never even considered that one of our core five assembled animal investigators might rebel from the world-saving ranks. It turns out that we haven’t been learning about little Clementine’s illness over the last few weeks just to gain a better understanding of Mitch’s surly disposition. No, it’s been to prepare us for the day that Mitch went rogue. He hasn’t handed over the mother cell to Reiden Global yet. But unless he’s as crafty at working over all-powerful global corporations as he is with handling live bears, this happy sleuth of animal experts might have a whole lot of disruption coming their way… and just when they were starting to really make some progress.
The episode picks back up in Washington, DC where Jamie is having her photo taken for a new fake passport. Presumably, she’s going undercover now for when the authorities eventually discover Ben Schaffer’s body… you know Ben Schaffer? The not-FBI-agent that Jamie shot four times even though he had simply tied her up when trying to do his dirty work. But that Mother Cell—it makes people do crazy things, like go full Ocean’s Eleven (Chloe’s Five?) in Reiden Global’s Paris headquarters.
That’s right, the team is headed to Paris, because the brown bear that we met on his quest for the perfect summer pinot grigio last week, apparently has three friends—all four bears were part of a study until three of them went off the grid and one showed up in a rich French lady’s kitchen. When they arrive in Paris, Jackson and Chloe go to meet with a local group that’s trying to find the bears, and one particularly handsome civil engineer reveals himself to have a personal connection to Chloe: He’s the guy she was supposed to marry and go on her African safari with until she found out that he was sleeping with her sister days before the wedding. So… there’s that.
While this is going on, Mitch is working on his own tasks, both personal and professional. Before they leave for Paris, we see a higher-up at Reiden Global receive a call from someone saying that they have the Mother Cell and will give it back for something in return. That person is—you guessed it—Mitch, but the possible traitor does also still seem to be working toward the good of the team (and humankind). Once in Paris, he’s back on task, taking blood samples from the bear that randomly went into hibernation to prove that Reiden Global products and the Mother Cell are to blame for its odd behavior. Oddly, when Mitch takes a look at the bear’s eye, its pupil is markedly not defiant.
The group is meets back up at Chloe’s incredibly ritzy apartment where they’re all staying while in Paris. There is much to be discussed over many bottles of wine. First, Mitch tells Jackson that bears go into hibernation for two reasons and he thinks this bear might be doing it for the lesser known of the two; basically, because its body is going through some significant biological change.
Jamie, though not hibernating, also knows a little something about change as she recently, y’know, killed a man and is sporting a passport with the name Nancy Armstrong as a result. Abraham brings things into perspective a little by telling her about how he also used to have a different name: When he was 13, his parents were killed in a raid, and he and his two younger brothers were taken by the rebel army. As a form of initiation, they gave him a gun with one bullet and told him he must choose one of his brothers to kill, and if not, they would both be killed. He tells her that he knew if he shot the bullet, he and the brother that was chosen to live would be turned into animals. So, both of his younger brothers were killed by the rebels, and once he was able to escape, he changed his name to Abraham and has spent his whole life trying to protect his new family in the way that he was not able to protect his brothers—a family that now includes Jamie. Nonso Anozie so completely sells this scene that I found myself getting a little more emotional than I ever thought I would during an episode of Zoo.
NEXT: Suit up![pagebreak]
This emotional non-bear interlude is all to say that Abe has come up with a plan to protect Jamie from somehow being charged with the murder of an FBI agent. They have to be able to prove that Schaffer was, in fact, on the Reiden payroll. They decide the only way to do that is to hack into Reiden’s finance system, which doesn’t use passwords, but facial recognition. Cue Zoo going full caper film: everybody dresses up in their finest business attire and loiters around the Reiden lobby until Jackson is able to trick the V.P. of Finance into staring into his phone long enough for Jamie to capture video of his face at a nearby computer. Mostly it’s just an excuse to see James Wolk be charming while simultaneously very awkward with a cell phone, but it also happens to work; Jamie gets into the system and downloads the files they need.
While everyone else is having a grand old time trying their hand at spy-work, Mitch is staying in his lane at the animal lab. He’s gotten the bear’s lab results back and while the blood work confirms what Mitch was expecting, that the bear’s biology has been affected by the Mother Cell, he was not expecting to find that the bear’s DNA had been changed altogether. When the bear starts to stir and Mitch attempts to inject it with a sedative, the bear’s skin bends the needle. It seems that, while hibernating, the bear has developed
a thick candy shell a sort of endoskeleton. Mitch takes another peek at the bear’s eyeball and it turns out that its new endoskeleton comes with an accompanying defiant pupil. Also, the bear is now awake and busting through the lab’s glass wall, but not before Mitch is able to tag him with a tracker.
Chloe, Jackson, and Abe track the bear’s route, assuming that he’ll lead them to his three more elusive friends. The escaped bear has already been sedated by Wildlife Services when they get to the woods, but Chloe’s fiancé is also there and leads them to where the other bears are probably hibernating: a partially underground fort from the Franco-Prussian War. Chloe passes out tranquilizer guns and they head straight in to find themselves some bears. It all seems a little rash, but I guess there’s no time to waste when you’re trying to head off the animal kingdom from wiping out humankind.
They come across two snoring bears fairly quickly and another a little further inside the fort. Once they’ve spotted all three they decide now is a good time to alert Wildlife Services, but when they walk past the spot where the original two bears were, they seem to have come out of their brief hibernation. Jackson tells everyone to stay still so the bears won’t feel threatened, but the ex-fiancé starts to run (kind of a habit of his, amirite?). When Jackson tries to shoot the bear with a tranquilizer, the dart bounces off like he shot it at a steel beam—endoskeleton, remember, guys?—but he finds a soft spot on the bear’s back and is able to knock him out. Abe takes the other one down with a “Hey, mister beeeeear” assist from Jackson. I guess I’m glad everyone is okay, but I really enjoyed seeing those bears taking down humans with nothing but a little swat of the paw. Give us more bears!
We’ll definitely be getting more mutated animals, at least. Back at the lab, Mitch has been coming to some conclusions: It’s not abnormal to see DNA anomalies adapt in a species overtime when those anomalies are useful to survival, like opposable thumbs or, say, bears developing endoskeletons. But with the bears (and the bats and the lions), it seems that the Mother Cell is accelerating these mutations. What should happen naturally over a few hundred years is happening in the course of 3-day hibernation. That’s the slightly terrifying news…
The good news is that if the Mother Cell can cause the problem, it can also probably fix it. Chloe reports back to her boss that Mitch says there is the definite possibility of creating a vaccine.
That Mitch—such an important part of this well-oiled animal-studying machine, no? It would really be too bad if he met up with a Reiden Global exec at the end of this episode without anyone else’s knowledge and demanded secret trial-stage-medication to cure his daughter’s Glazier Syndrome in exchange for the Mother Cell. Well… that is what happens.
So, what are the odds that Mitch is playing the biggest corporation in the world and is about to simultaneously get help for his daughter without totally screwing over his team (and humanity)? Is there any way out of this without losing Mitch as an Animal Avenger? Were you as fascinated by the bears-of-steel as I was? What wacky combination of animal traits are you hoping to see next? Horses that can fly? Pigs with gills? Venomous rhinos? Sound off in the comments!