To quote Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Oh, rats.” Of course, Indy was only dealing with regular rats. There were a lot of them and the stakes were pretty high, sure, but his rats probably hadn’t murdered an entire cargo ship of people, developed the ability to asexually reproduce, and created an alternate-universe-Nutcracker rat queen.
That’s the situation the Animal Avengers are dealing with tonight, leaving Paris to head to Massachusetts because Delavenne—you remember Delavenne… Animal Avenger assembler and Chloe’s boss who we know nothing about, including whom he works for or where he gets his funding—tells them about some abnormal rat behavior. And that’s when you know that the rat episode we’ve all been dreading is upon us.
Two weeks ago, a cargo ship headed for Portland reported going from an average amount of rats onboard to a total infestation in a matter of 48 hours. The ship was found adrift near Pender Island, Massachusetts, where a fisherman spotted thousands of rats swimming toward the shore. The ship had been transporting grain grown with Reiden Global products, and every crew member was found dead when the ship was searched, with wounds suggesting they had been attacked by rats. Sounds like a mass prison murder I once heard about…
Even weirder than seeing thousands of rats swimming from the scene of the crime is that they haven’t been spotted on Pender Island since then. Chloe and Jackson meet up with the sheriff of the town, Becky; she’s a friend of Jackson’s from when his family used to vacation on Pender Island, before his father fully went off the deep end. The sheriff tells them that they’re assuming the ship’s crew were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, and then the rats just got a little hungry, but if they want to go poking around, word on the street is that that abandoned Wilson Hotel is having a bit of a rodent problem.
So, while the rest of the gang heads there to collect a male and female rat for experimenting purposes, Mitch has hung back in D.C. He’s making good on his phone call to Clem and going to visit his daughter for the first time since she was a baby. He hasn’t planned anything because he’s Mitch, but they take Henry—the dog Mitch gave her as a baby—to the park and eat lunch, and Mitch gives her a parking ticket he got from the day she was born. You know she’s a super nice kid because she doesn’t immediately tell him that doesn’t exactly make up for 10 absent years, and you know things are about to go down with the Mother Cell/life-saving-meds exchange we saw Mitch begin to coordinate last week because Clementine sadly tells him that, all told, she’s “not bad… for a dead girl.”
Back on Rat Island, Chloe, Jackson, Abe, and Jamie head to “search for killer rats in an abandoned motel,” as Jamie aptly puts it. Once Abe picks the lock and gets the electricity back on—seriously, what would they do without Abe?—the noise of hundreds of rats scurrying around is heard. But there’s another noise too, which Jackson immediately identifies as “bruxing”: “The sound they make when they grind their incisors… they’re sharpening their teeth.” (I think grinding actually dulls teeth, but what do I know.)
NEXT: What’s worse than a rat motel? A rat motel with a Rat Queen in its basement. [pagebreak]
The team traps a male rat quickly, but before they can get a female, the elevator dings; they assume it’s the sheriff, on her way to meet them at the hotel full of rats in her county. But, NOPE! It’s an elevator full o’ rats—like, Shining full—running straight into the hallway where everyone is standing. Chloe is closer to the elevator, so she shuts herself in a room, but the other three duck into the stairwell. It’s then that they discover the male rat that Abraham has in a bag has somehow created a whole heap of rat babies… all male. Which means that these rats have not only developed the ability to reproduce asexually, but are somehow feeding these constantly arriving new rat babies without any females. Or maybe… just one female. RAT QUEEN!
What started as an average killer rat hunt has now turned into a hunt for a queen rat, and Jackson knows there’s only one place a giant matriarchal rat and her giant nest would be: the basement. So armed with absolutely nothing to protect them from the thousands of rats that have developed a taste for blood, Jackson, Abe, and Jamie head to the basement. And do you know what they find? RAT QUEEN, QUEEN OF THE RATS.
I’m thankful to the makers of Zoo for not giving us a gratuitous close-up of a freakishly giant rat nursing a zillion rat babies, but from what we can see, she’s about the size of a small cat… and she’s not very happy when Chloe, who’s been going through her own accelerated evolutions lately (from desk jockey to secret spy badass in a matter of weeks), comes in wielding a flamethrower left behind by an exterminator the rats had murdered. She flames down the queen, and until they can run some experiments, I guess that’s that on the killer rats.
But elsewhere, there’s more: After following a couple through their first date in New York City, it seems like we’re following another crazy-animal subplot when the couple takes a horse drawn carriage ride that ends up having an out of control horse. And while that may come back up—or maybe some animals just get emotional sometimes, okay—the real news here is that the man on the date was Ben Shaffer’s colleague. The man saw Shaffer as his protégé and has been worried about him being missing, but he gets a call at the end of his date that Shaffer was found dead in a stairwell in Alabama, and is then sent video footage of Shaffer talking to Jackson and Jamie in the hotel lobby before he died. The only thing we know about this man is that he said his job is to “settle differences within [his] business,” and that he’s “sure as hell” going to find out what Shaffer was doing in Alabama.
And I’d sure as hell like to find out what exactly Mitch’s plans are with the Mother Cell. After spending the day with Clem, he shows up at Reiden Global to meet with the exec he told he’d give back the Mother Cell in exchange for trial medication to cure his daughter. The man forks over the drugs; Mitch pulls out the Mother Cell (just pulls it right out like he’s going to give it to him with no backup plan or trickery!); and then Mitch stalls—because standing across the glass of the office he’s sitting in at Reiden Global is Delavenne, casually having a conversation with other Reiden Global workers. There’s a look of surprise from Mitch, a look of recognition from Delavenne, and then a look of realization—like he’s suddenly understanding something—from Mitch.
So what’s the deal with the boss man? Is he on Reiden’s side? Is he deep undercover in the company? Has Mitch just been caught? And was he really just planning to hand the Mother Cell straight over?