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…
Of course, Jamie is also busy fulfilling her role: being in constant peril. She’s still out in the Canadian wilderness with the mysterious man, Logan, she stumbled across last week. He says he’s a local pilot and that he became stranded while making a delivery. He also has a duffel bag with him that contains all of his life savings in cash, because his girlfriend didn’t believe in banks and was eaten by wolves. (I believe the two are unrelated.) Now, it’s not that any of this is completely beyond logic… It’s just more like someone threw darts at a wall of index-card ideas to decide exactly what Logan might be up to. And Jamie, bless her, at least gathers that something might be up, so she devises a plan to get herself alone with Logan’s duffel bag. It’s not a good plan, but as this is Zoo, it doesn’t need to be a good plan in order to work.
As previously mentioned, Jamie is trying to go to Caraquet, and she’s been following a river on her map to get there. The only thing is…that river moved. At first, Jamie thinks a mountain must have moved. But then she uses her noggin and decides it’s indeed the river that has shifted. And, okay, I guess it’s not that crazy of a notion when you realize mutant beavers were involved. Anyway, since the beaver built a giant mutant dam to divert the river, Jamie and Logan need to get to higher ground to see what direction they need to go. And since Jamie’s right foot is slowly turning black, Logan offers to climb the rest of the way alone. But his bag of cash is just so damn heavy, he has to ditch it about 10 feet up. The moment he’s out of sight, Jamie lunges for it and finds a whole lotta cash…and a few creepy photos of her taken through the fence of her former Canadian abode. Not great. (She also sees an absolutely ridiculous-looking beaver puppet, but that doesn’t end up meaning anything.)
Back on the giant plane, Mitch has discovered Eleanor had an ant in her spinal fluid when she died, so it seems General Davies wasn’t her killer — but that doesn’t mean he’s above it. As they weren’t seeing eye-to-eye about keeping the killing to a minimum on their fancy-pants plane, the Animal Avengers drop Dariela off in Geneva. She spots a lieutenant we know to be Eleanor’s former aid, and about the time Dariela attempts to reach out for help getting back to her command center, she sees General Davies tailing him. When the lieutenant makes it to the train that was going to get him the hell out of ant-ridden Geneva, Davies pulls him aside and says he knows he has Eleanor’s laptop (nope, that would be a lovely but tough-as-nails Parisian woman). When the lieutenant says he has nothing to give him, Davies shoots him in the head.
And that’s a big deal and all, but it’s kind of overshadowed by a huge explosion near the train station’s transformer. Knowing something is up, Dariela begrudgingly calls Jackson and Chloe to the scene and tells them the transformer has somehow become magnetized. Unperturbed, Jackson smells sulfur, follows his nose and, yes — just as he expected! — there are a bunch of ants, and then boom — less expectedly! — another explosion. Combining their findings with what Mitch and Abe are discovering back on the plane, the Avengers determine the ants are generating electricity and causing explosions all over Geneva. And those explosions are all strategically placed in a straight line on the map, headed right toward…the Large Particle Accelerator (LPA) housed beneath Geneva. Mitch says if these ants generate a large-enough charge at the accelerator, it could trigger a “runway fusion reaction” that could kill every living thing within a thousand miles.
NEXT: Shock her like an electric
And guess what… The ants have made it to the LPA. But so have the Animal Avengers! And they’ve figured out they need to manually override the LPA’s collision point to disperse the ants’ collective energy and counteract the charge they’re going to create once they reach their final destination. Mitch, Jackson, and Dariela make it to the manual-override lever, and for some reason, as Jackson tries to break the glass protecting the lever, Dariela has Mitch throw a fire extinguisher in the air — which she shoots to cause an explosion that will slow down the ants. It seems like a better use of the bullet might have been to shoot the glass, but it doesn’t matter: The lever gets pulled and the LPA soaks up the ants’ charge.
There’s one problem, though: Dariela swallowed an electric ant. And there’s only one solution when that happens: have your new animal-avenging friends create an electric chair from scratch in underground Geneva and shock the hell out of you. The plan is to electrocute the ant inside her before it can electrocute her (because SCIENCE). It takes three electrocutions, but they finally kill the aunt. They also kill Dariela, sort of — but Abe, his CPR skills, and presumably the power of love help bring her back.
Speaking of unlikely pairs, Jamie gets away with snooping through Logan’s bag, but there’s not much to be done about the fact she’s in the Canadian wilderness with someone who’s been tracking her. So when they find a shack to take shelter in and Logan offers to get firewood, she makes a break for it. But she has one numb foot, so Logan catches up with her pretty quickly and explains he’s totally not planning to kill her with the gun on his hip — he was simply hired to fly some men out to Jamie’s former hideout. All he really knows is they weren’t looking for her, they were looking for the leopard. As far as hanging on to the pictures, I guess he just thought they were nice shots.
Jamie says they can stick together, but only if she can hold the gun. Logan agrees, and when they get back to the shack, he takes a look at her foot. It looks like a 4-year-old took a black marker to her big toe, and that’s when Jamie gets a crazy idea: They’re going to chop it off. Logan has sterilized an axe and is about to go full Parent-Trap-ear-piercing-on-speed on her toe before Jamie thinks to ask if it will hurt. Logan’s like, yeah, no duh. For some reason, this prompts Jamie to ask if his girlfriend (who got eaten by wolves) was ever real at all. Logan brings down the axe, surprising Jamie, and the gun goes off.
Does someone get shot? We don’t know. That’s the last we see of Jamie and Logan this hour. But if the Noah Objective has anything to do with it, they probably weren’t long for this world anyway. Post-electrocution, Dariela tells Chloe what she saw General Davies do, so Chloe finally takes a look at Eleanor’s laptop to see what Davies was hoping to keep secret. It’s a demonstration of how the Noah Objective would go down. Specifically, it shows (via dots) where all the animals would be killed…and then, how many human casualties that would cause.
The camera pans away somewhere around 2 million.
A few loose ends:
- Last week’s tiger isn’t the only animal willing to let Jackson and his nasty dog-bitten arm off the human-hook. At one point — when Dariela, Mitch, and Jackson find themselves in an ant river — Dariela and Mitch have to scramble out of the way, while the sea of ants simply parts for Jackson. So whether Chloe likes it or not, at the end of the episode Jackson decides it’s time to tell Mitch he might be a mutant, or whatever.
- Zoo-iest line of the night: “Scoop up some ants — hurry, before this spinal fluid goes bad!”
- I forgot Zoo does that hilarious Breakfast Club-esque intro every week that explains exactly what each Animal Avenger does.
- How many “steaming craps” does Dariela give about Chloe’s “spy secrets?” None! Not one steaming crap!
- So the “Julie” that Eleanor’s lieutenant calls to get him out of Geneva is definitely the person funding the Avenger plane, right?
- At some point, I’m going to need some specifics on exactly how the Noah Objective is supposed to work — if they don’t have any uninfected animals to, y’know, ark it up with?
- Most self-aware dialogue of the night: “Do you realize how crazy this sounds?” “Yes. I do. We hear it all the time.”
What did you think of tonight’s episode of Zoo? Too ridiculous, or just ridiculous enough? What do you think went down with Jamie and Logan? And how many extra cans of Raid did you order on Amazon Prime tonight? Sound off in the comments!