What's worse: Deranged gorillas, or daddy issues from that time your dad turned you into a mutant?

By Jodi Walker
August 31, 2016 at 05:51 AM EDT
CBS
S2 E11
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Instead of the calm before next week’s season 3 finale, Zoo served up the electromagnetic pulse before the storm in tonight’s penultimate episode. No, we didn’t get a single step closer to the cure, but the distractions from the Animal Avenger’s ultimate goal included unplanned pregnancy drama, fathers raised from the dead, and deranged gorillas. And when you really get down to it, are you watching Zoo for the “science,” or are you watching for deranged gorillas?

Personally, I’m watching for that crazy look in James Wolk’s eye, plus the promise of another glimpse at a CGI sabre-toothed cat in the very near future. Also, all the badger spit!

Last we saw the mutating Jackson Oz, he had just been saved from death-by-bullet by the man who has all but sentenced to him to a death-by-horrifying-mutation-that-made-him-kill-his-mother-and-will-likely-cause-him-to-murder-everyone-else- he-loves. Tonight picks up with the Animal Avengers trying to track down their missing team member. If I asked you to guess which person — an animal expert, an army ranger, an intrepid reporter with nine toes, and a veterinary pathologist — was a technology wiz, who would you pick? Was your answer E: All of the above? Then you’re correct! These civilians are hacking security cams, cruising through GPS apps like Grand Theft Auto, and generally Mr. Robot-ing their way through the search for Jackson — in the end, though, they don’t need any of their randomly developed technology skills.

Our resident handsome mutant shows up in the plane’s vehicle bay with a tale of his father trying to poison him and said father bloodied and unconscious in the trunk of his car. Here’s something Abe and Jackson want to make very clear to the uninitiated Dariela: Dr. Robert Oz is not to be trusted. And here’s something Dr. Robert Oz is going to do repeatedly once he wakes up: Insist everyone has to trust him without giving a single explanation for his actions. Supposedly, there’s no time for him to disclose anything; there’s only enough time to say TRUST ME BLINDLY! Of course, everyone does. Sure, they question him, but they still do everything he says.

Dr. Oz says Jackson’s brain chemistry is betraying him and instructs Abe to get his bag from the car…a bag from which he pulls out one particularly angry badger. Apparently, badger saliva contains some of the most acidic compounds on earth — and since acid accelerates decay, Dr. Oz thinks he can restore Jackson’s brain chemistry by breaking down the tendrils of the mutation currently spreading through his body.

That’s what Dr. Oz was trying to do when Jackson thought he was trying to poison him, and that’s what he’s trying to do now with one of his patented empty reassurances: “Take this and I’ll explain why.” And Jackson does! Perhaps the man is to be trusted, because it does help Jackson become 100-percent less mutant-y in just a matter of seconds.

Even though he’s not actively trying to murder him, Jackson still doesn’t trust his father, especially when General Davies calls the plane and says now that Dr. Oz has his son as requested, he has to deliver the TX-14 secret recipe he’s been withholding. Jackson’s all, “You created the gas that’s going to kill me and 2.2 million other people?” and his dad is like, “Yeah, son, it’s complicated.” But again, there’s NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, because Davies says he’s sending his jets to take down the plane unless Dr. Oz delivers the gas. For that reason, I have to go ahead and skip to tonight’s most absurd line: “Jackson, I know you have a lot of questions and I will answer them all, but first we have to build a bomb.”

NEXT: Never say bomb on a plane…

They’re not exactly building a bomb so much as electromagnetic pulse-shooter. It won’t kill Davies’ pilots, but it will break their planes and force them to eject. The plan is to turn off the power to the Animal Avengers’ plane, pulse the enemy planes to lose them, and then turn their own power back on so Davies no longer has track of them. During the bomb-making, Jackson finally gets a few answers: Dr. Oz says he wasn’t trying to doom Jackson and his mother to mutant-hood — he was trying to protect them. He knew the change was coming with the animals, and he wanted to make sure they would survive, but he didn’t understand what side effects it would bring (y’know, like the urge to murder entire villages of people).

As far as “faking his own death,” Dr. Oz says he has been doing his research in Japan (hey, remember all his mad-scientist video diaries from season 1?) when a para-government organization discovered him and actually believed in what he was doing, but suggested going “off the grid” might make his research more effective. It was the same group that passed him on to Davies, but once he discovered the truth of the AGC3 carriers — that’s the ghost gene, just with a lamer name — he sabotaged his work and started trying to find Jackson.

Now here they are, making electromagnetic bombs together and exchanging Nietzsche quotes. Jackson is still dubious about his father’s work with Davies and the fact dear-old dad is the reason he had to kill his own mother a few days ago, but once again, THERE’S NO TIME for distrust. Davies’ planes are closing in on them and a new piece of information has just come to light: It seems Mr. Acidic Badger didn’t like Dariela earlier and gave her a little saliva spray as a result. Given his acidic compounds can’t distinguish between cells duplicating toward a mutation and duplicating toward life (y’know, like the human life growing inside Dariela), she’s having a bit of a cell crisis.

Of course, Dr. Oz is kind of the new Mitch in town, so he knows exactly what to do to save her life, but this mostly means the metaphorical badger is out of the bag: Dariela’s pregnant. Abe is the father, and even though he was questioning just moments ago whether they should even keep trying to save the world, our jolly guy is back to “sunshine and bubble baths” once more. It’s actually pretty sweet, and about the time Dariela tells Dr. Oz to can it with all the “welcome to parenthood” sentiments (since he doomed his only kid to be mutant and all), I think I’m starting to come around to her presence on the team.

Speaking of the team, you might be wondering where the rest of our animal-avenging friends are hiding. You see, Allison brought Mitch and Jamie with her to the Russian Embassy to finish convincing Ivankoff’s colleagues to back out of the Noah Objective. They all wear their smartest blazers — Jamie’s contribution to the team continues to be her oddly specific ability to charm Russian dignitaries — but there’s just one problem. There’s a raving-mad gorilla charging through the embassy’s lobby right toward the elevator that’s supposed to be taking Jamie, Mitch, and Ivankoff to the meeting that will bring Russia to their side.

NEXT: Hold the door!

This gorilla seems particularly interested in attacking them personally. It somehow goes from banging at the closing doors to being on top of the elevator inside the elevator shaft. Or perhaps it’s a second gorilla? Either way, they manage to block the gorilla from getting through the vent, and eventually pry open the doors and escape through the gap between the partially risen elevator and the wall opening. A woman tells them the other unseen raving animals are still sequestered in the lobby, and they realize if the gorilla on top of the elevator gets loose, it will just run through the rest of the building and cause more destruction. So, Mitch rips off the bottom of the woman’s high heel, and Jamie says she’s going to jam it in the fireman’s keyhole to send the elevator and gorilla back down to the lobby.

All she has to do is get in the elevator, jam the keyhole, and get out without getting sliced in half when the elevator begins plummeting. And with the help of Mitch, her complicated love interest, it’s no problem. He tells her, “You already lost a toe for this team, losing an arm or a head would just be showing off.” But that’s where the cuteness ends. When they return to the lobby, they see bodies everywhere, and Ivankoff’s grieving with his wife over their young daughter’s lifeless form. As you can imagine, the loss of his daughter to a mutated animal is enough to swing Ivankoff back to the Noah Objective. As Allison puts it: “Try explaining to a man whose daughter was just killed by a crazed gorilla that any plan to rid the world of crazed gorillas isn’t a plan worth pursuing.”

With the loss of Russia, Allison also removes herself from the Animal Avengers’ mission so she can help prepare the country for what’s coming next. But the OG Avengers aren’t built for running away. Back on the plane, they’ve got another all-knowing scientist on board, so things are maybe looking up. Jackson tells his dad what they still need for the cure — as a reminder, it’s an animal that’s been extinct for thousands of years and supposedly hiding on a top-secret island called Pangaea — and Dr. Oz immediately calls Davies and says he’s emailed him the correct formula for the TX-14 gas.

Jackson freaks out, but his dad says to — you’ll never believe this — trust him. He says he’s thinking seven steps ahead, like he always taught little Jackson to do in chess. He tells Jackson to tell the pilot to turn off the plane’s transponders and head to the coordinates he’s providing. “I’m taking you to meet my friends,” he says. “They’ve been waiting to meet you. Together we’ll save you, save the animals, save the world.” It’s a tall order, but one they just might be able to achieve. Because those friends of Dr. Oz? They live on a little island called Pangaea.

A few loose ends:

  • Most absurd line (runner-up): “Just steer clear of badgers. And otters. Actually, just to be safe, let’s give a wide birth to the entire mustelidae family.”
  • Is that security guard with an envelope full of cash and a guilty conscience going to come back and haunt General Davies? I sure hope so. That guy has gone full William Stryker.
  • Listen, I know it would be tough to realize all your hard work to prevent an animal genocide has been entirely futile, but Allison was being très dramatic in her final scene at the embassy.
  • Let’s not forget her parting warning to Mitch about his loving looks to Jamie: “I know you think she’s special and you’re meant to be together, but as someone who knows you very well… You’re not. You’re going to destroy each other.” Yikes.
  • And finally, I know transponders are real, but that word has always sounded fake to me and they said it a lot tonight. But hey, if a team of superheroes are going to make it to a magical island filled with extinct animals, I guess they’re going to have to turn off a transponder or two. See you next week for the two-hour finale!
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