ANTS?!?! With BrainDead, and now this episode of Zoo, why doesn’t CBS just create a sitcom about head lice, and make sure its viewers can’t stop feeling itchy until the sweet respite of fall TV?
But ickiness aside, I’m not turning up my nose at Tuesday’s electric-ants plot. I was glad to see Zoo move forward with “Phase 2” of our mystery mutation beyond the human mutant from last week. Zombies are a pretty widely covered subject area on TV, and if there’s one thing Zoo has going for it, it’s an original concept (along with James Wolk’s kind eyes and the occasional interspecies stampede up Pennsylvania Avenue). And sure, a bear in your kitchen is scary, but you know what’s scarier? Electric ants in your esophagus.
The premiere of Zoo’s second season might have been unnecessarily complicated, but the season’s objective was made clear — and it was the same thing it’s been all along, just with a little more human opposition: Find a cure for whatever the hell is going on with these animals. And so, if this season is going to find the same perfectly absurd balance of ridiculous story and disarming shots of animals doing bad all by themselves, then it’s going to need to progress the way these animals are behaving. Yeah, I know shit is going down in D.C., but what exactly are anteaters up to right now and why is it any worse than what it was a few months ago?
Enter Phase 2 mutation; cue electric ants stage right.
As long as you’re not coming to Zoo for scientific accuracy — and if you were, surely you would have left a long time ago — I’d call season 2’s second installment a success. And if you come to Zoo for lines like, “Oh my god, the river! It moved,” then I’d call this one a raging winner. Because the absurd exposition, it was flowing like…a Canadian river misplaced by mutant beavers. The episode picks up right where we left off last week, with Army Ranger Dariela Marzan shooting the human mutant that killed her team. The main thing we know about Dariela is she’s someone who says “my guys” (as in, “He killed my guys!” and “That thing killed my guys!” and “MY GUYS!”) a lot. The other thing is everyone hates her for killing their main chance at figuring out the Phase 2 mutation, and she hates them back… So that’s not really fun.
What is fun? Mutant ants! (And Dariela letting out some aggression by punching tires and mounting Abe against a Suburban, I guess, because that’s another thing that happens). The Animal Avengers’ IADG contact, Eleanor, gets in touch with them on their mysteriously funded superhero plane and tells them to get their avenging asses to Geneva, because something is going down she can’t disclose over the phone. All she can say is the Noah Objective — you know, the government’s plan to exterminate, like, every animal on earth and start all over again — is being pushed forward by Gen. Andrew Davies, and they need to get there, stat.
The crew thinks she’s acting a little weird, and while it’s certainly because she’s hiding something, it might also have a little something to do with the ants crawling all over her room-service plates. That seems terrible enough, but then Eleanor stands up from her computer (where she was looking at something labeled “TX-14”) and starts shaking — and then electricity begins crackling inside her mouth. By the time the Avengers make it to her room (I’ll say one thing about the animal apocalypse, it makes it easier to bribe hotel employees), she’s dead on the ground with her entire jaw hanging off her face. Needless to say, it’s a visual the cameras linger on a few times.
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The Avengers suspect this General Davies might be the culprit in Eleanor’s death-by-jaw, but they also notice the roughly 1 million ants crawling into her electrical outlet. So they set about their individual Avenger tasks: Chloe collects Eleanor’s laptop and anything that might clue them in to what she was planning to confide in them; Jackson gathers up some ants in an ice bucket; and Mitch uses a letter opener, a paperweight, a cocktail straw, and his mouth to syphon out some of Eleanor’s spinal fluid.
NEXT: Meanwhile, in Canada…