'Zoo' skips a few steps and goes full animal apocalypse, and worse, breaks up the Avengers.

By Jodi Walker
September 16, 2015 at 05:45 AM EDT
Credit: CBS
S1 E13
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“Tell me one last thing: Would you say all hope is lost? That things are only going to get worse? Is all hope, in fact, lost?”

It’s a Jamie look-alike that asks this question of Mitch while giving him a Jamie-style interview (which is to say, way too obvious and completely unproductive) and it’s a question to which the Zoo finale screams a resounding, “YES!” right up until the last five minutes — continually this series’ very favorite narrative trick.

I should probably state right from the top that this finale is pretty weird as far as final installments go… even for a show that is consistently about killer house pets. In almost every way, it feels like last week’s two hours should have been the season 1 finale, and this week’s “That Great Big Hill of Hope,” the (likely inevitable) season 2 premiere. Though most of season 1 was spent with Jackson and the gang doing their very best to convince anyone who would listen that the escalation of odd animal behavior popping up around the world was connected, this finale suddenly finds the world of Zoo knee-deep in a full-fledged animal apocalypse. There are rhinos in the middle of the road, inter-species animal street gangs, and leather jackets abound. I always wondered why everyone was constantly wearing leather in post-apocalyptic tales, and now I know: German Shepard bites.

If you’ve formed an attachment to any of Zoo‘s main characters — which, hey, you very well may not have — then you will probably find it odd that much of your final hour with them are instead spent with the strangers they’ve taken up with since the disbanding of the Animal Avengers. The episode gets off to a gripping start though, with a point-of-view scene as Jamie surfaces from the plane crash that was hinted at in last week’s cliffhanger. From there, the episode suddenly skips ahead a few months where the world has descended into chaos, and by that, I of course mean, random public singalongs to 4 Non Blondes. Oh, and 17,000 animal related casualties. So let’s just quickly run through what the Avengers are doing to busy themselves while separated for 55 minutes/3 months, so we can get down to what really matters, what’s always mattered: Leopards, the Mother Cell, and the Cure.

Jamie enters in and out of consciousness as a fisherman pulls her — and a Very Important Box — from “Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.” He takes her to his cabin, pulls out the piece of airplane that’s taken up residence in her thigh, and seemingly takes care of her until she wakes up. And when she does and sees that it’s snowing outside, she wonders, “How long have I been here?” That’s not really clear; what is clear is that this man who doesn’t speak English (no matter how much Jamie prattles on to him in it) has her caged inside his property with a surrounding locked chain-link fence and barbed wire. Or rather, as she finds out when she attempts to “escape,” has something else locked out: ravenous bears and wolves just one chain-link away. Jamie is protected, but without a phone, there’s no way for her to communicate with her team to see if they’ve been successful in offering a little protection to the world.

Jackson can tell you that they certainly have not. The other Avengers made it off the plane and they’re all grappling with the failure of not being able to offer the world a Cure. Jackson is coping in a very familiar way: He’s pacing and panting into a camera, recording a manifesto of sorts, just like his fire, trying to think of an alternative solution. He has what feels like a very unnecessary scene with his neighbor across the hall, but to be fair, I really couldn’t watch him make any more vlogs. And his neighbor did give him that cool leather jacket and a reason to leave the apartment where he immediately runs into a gang of street dogs and cats. He narrowly avoids them only to be chased into a building by baboons, where he’s bitten by a German Shepard that seemed to have recently killed his owner. The animal apocalypse has hit the streets and…

Mitch will remind you (and that reporter who apparently doesn’t possess half of Jamie’s compassion, but possesses all of her lackluster journalism skills) that they lost the only cure. It’s not their fault that their plane crashed, but it does sound like the four accounted-for Avengers agreed to sign non-disclosure agreements re: the Mother Cell, Reiden, the Cure, everything in order to avoid criminal charges for all the laws they broke in their quest; failed and silenced, Mitch is just drinking his life away in a crummy bar. He also has a pretty unnecessary scene with a bunch of business bros who he goads into beating him up, seemingly just to establish that he thinks he was in love with Jamie, whom they all believe to be dead.

NEXT: Chloe tries, Abe drives, and Jamie — Jamie is alive!

Chloe is really the only one who still seems to be actively trying to save the world rather than get herself killed, but Chloe has also never been our best bet. When we last left her, she’d gotten government official Amelia Sage on her side, but in the months since, as the animal situation has escalated into madness, the hope of finding a solution that doesn’t include killing all of the animals has all but disappeared. Amelia still tries to help her by sending a team to acquire another leopard in Zambia since the cub that was the key to Mitch’s Cure didn’t make it out of the plane crash, but it turns out that the leopards have been exposed to Reiden products now and therefore aren’t viable. The plan that the government seems ready to pull the literal trigger on, developed by Reiden Global, is to kill all of the animals (yeah, okay) and somehow regenerate and repopulate the earth with them in six to 10 years. Huh.

But as much of a downer as all of that is, probably the most disheartening thing in the finale is watching the perpetually optimistic Abe fall into a pit of leather vest despair. He’s purposefully not in touch with any of the rest of the group and working as a kind of underground transporter with a bunch of other large men. He has — you won’t believe this — a few unnecessary scenes with a stranger that he’s transporting, but this stranger is at least kind and encouraging and tells him that he needs to get back in touch with his friends, to rediscover his Reasons to Continue.

So that is about 90 percent of the finale: Everyone is alone and sad and failing all the time. And you may not like Jamie (I know you don’t — I read the comments), but if we didn’t get that last Jamie scene, I might have just had to give up; I didn’t sign up for post-apocalypse, I signed up for pending apocalypse, and this finale moved way too fast from the latter into the former. But — but! — just because everyone is operating under the impression that Jamie is dead and they’ve failed themselves and her, we know different. We know not only that pretty much everyone on Zoo excluding Mitch is wrong about nearly everything, nearly all the time.

Jamie is alive and being watched over by a slightly unsettling, but entirely kind and protective outdoorsman. That man is able to track down a satellite phone for Jamie, and when she goes out to meet him in the yard with it, she sees a box… the box we blearily saw him take from the ocean when he rescued Jamie… the box that the leopard cub was in. That box is now empty and Jamie rants to her new landlord in English about if he’s seen the cub. He can’t say anything back, but he does take her around back — where she finds what looks to be a full-grown leopard, safely fenced into the yard.

So how long exactly was Jamie in that fenced-in one-house community? Or is rapid growth part of that leopard’s mutation? I’m a little shaky on the timeline here, but Jamie does immediately call Mitch, they both get misty — her because she misses him, him because he’s 17 whiskeys deep and thought she was dead — and he sends up the bat leopard signal to reunite the crew with the news that they just might still be able to create a cure with Jamie’s leopard. Cue the titular Great Big Hill of Hope.

And that’s probably a little closer to the finale I was expecting — these four dreamers barreling around in a Hummer on their way to save Jamie’s butt. Considering what comes next, I certainly think there could have been enough stakes to maintain a high octane finale in following this plot. As Chloe tells them the plan is to take a boat from Delaware since plane travel is kind of out of the question, Abe pulls the car to a stop; there, waiting for them, is a veritable zoo of wild animals. How have they all gathered on this street without anyone noticing or informing the media? I don’t know — but I sure do like looking at all of them. And the decision to have them charge in the split second before the scene goes to black is a clear indication that Zoo wants to keep me looking at them for a second season. But just where and how do you expect to find the Animal Avengers if and when the series returns?

Thanks for following along with me here all season, and sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the finale!

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