This week's episode is a bittersweet hour of reunions and losses -- and glass snakes

By Jodi Walker
July 20, 2016 at 04:44 PM EDT
Shane Harvey /CBS
S2 E5
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The good news: In Tuesday’s episode of Zoo, Mitch came up with a pretty solid theory on how to end the animal apocalypse, and after a close encounter with the polar-bear kind, Jamie has been reunited with the gang.

The bad news: Uh… Chloe just died.

I can’t believe they did it! (And for a clue as to why they did it, check out my interview with executive producer Josh Appelbaum here.) Last week, many commenters felt the show had spoiled Chloe’s surviving of the Noah Objective’s poisonous gas by showing her in the previews for this week’s episode — and I don’t know if those jerks did it on purpose, but they had me fooled. This episode picks up right where the last one left off, with Dariela staring on in horror through the door she locked as Chloe chokes on the TX-14 gas. The door opens right as Abe, Mitch, and Jackson arrive, and they quickly perform CPR.

For a few minutes, it seems like all will be well. Chloe chokes out a few breaths and regains consciousness just in time for them to get her out of there and away from Davies. Jackson calls her a lot of pet names that, while sweet, seem a bit unearned considering the 20-minute duration of their romance; back on the plane, she successfully relays the message that Jamie is in Caraquet and mysteriously whispers, “courier.” And then, just when you think she’s going to live… She dies. Like last week’s alligator attack or the previous week’s electric-ant-mouth syndrome, Zoo’s greatest achievement remains its ability to surprise.

Whether this week’s surprise will be a good thing for the series — or simply a shock for shock’s sake — remains to be seen. But Chloe’s death certainly pushes Jackson and his rapidly expiring non-mutant status to the forefront of this episode. As he mourns over Chloe’s dead body, he sheds a single tear…and it’s black, like tar. Homeboy is going the way of Kovaks, and if they don’t find a cure soon, it’s going to be mutant-central all up in that private jet. So it’s a good thing the jet’s owner remotely overrides the (theoretical) pilot and lands the plane. A woman walks aboard: Her name is Allison Shaw, she’s the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and apparently, she is Mitch’s stepmom.

I don’t much care for her right off the bat. She seems to have one foot on the side of the good guys, and the other planted with the aim of advancing her own agenda. Plus, Mitch doesn’t seem to have much love for her — but you can’t really use Mitch’s annoyance level as a reliable barometer, so I’ll try to reserve judgment.

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She tells the team that with Amelia and Eleanor gone, she’s basically the only one still trying to stop the Noah Objective. She’s also the one who gave them this fancy plane, in part to kind of help stop the loss of human and animal life, but also because her family owns the largest orchard on the West Coast, where all of their trees are dying. She figures that with the success rate in connecting environmental events to mutated animals (earthquake sloth — #neverforget), they can help her while also, y’know, coming up with a cure to save the world. Mitch replies that he’d rather save the world sans-plane than work with her, so Allison pulls out the big guns: “Did Chloe ever mention the courier?” Allison says that if they save her family’s orchard, the plane is theirs and she’ll tell them everything. This totally seems like a deal you can trust; on the plus side, it means that after they help Allison, they can go find Jamie!

NEXT: Meanwhile, in Caraquet…

Jamie’s found herself in yet another safe-but-not-safe situation. On their way to Caraquet, Logan and Jamie’s car breaks down, but it doesn’t matter: They can see Caraquet from where they are, and it’s on fire. But Jamie’s had her heart set on Caraquet for a while, so Caraquet is where they’re going. On their way, they hear an ominous roaring getting closer and closer, so they make a run for it, hop a fence, and are suddenly surrounded by men in gas masks.

As it turns out, Caraquet has turned into some sort of commune — but there’s no phone or radio around, which doesn’t seem ominous at all. Also not ominous is the town’s leader, Gwen, who keeps a permanent creepy smile on her face while she tells Jamie and Logan they “burn ’round the clock” to keep the animals away — nor the teenager who drops Jamie’s plate of food in the cafeteria line so that she can hiss, “RUN. First chance you get, run.” Yeah, things seem totally fine here.

Another place where things are decidedly not fine: Allison’s orchard, where the entire property is overrun with what looks like shards of glass, but is actually an organic substance akin to skin in its cellular structure. There’s no time to talk glass skin, though, because Allison comes running to ask Mitch and Jackson to help her employee who started convulsing in his sleep. When they arrive, he’s throwing himself around the room and seems to be choking — suddenly, a snake starts COMING OUT OF HIS MOUTH.

It’s gnarly stuff, but also pretty cool. Jackson yells, “We gotta pull it out!” So that’s what they do. The man dies, of course, because the snake was, of course, made of the glass-like substance in the orchard. Given the amount of glass at the orchard, Mitch says there must be thousands of snakes somewhere, though he assumes they’re hiding in the area’s aquifer and shedding their toxic skin into the water supply. They’re going to have to poison all the snakes — or the snakes are going to poison the entire Pacific Northwest.

For that, Mitch is going to need to do some experimenting. But while he and Allison are having a fight / heart-to-heart on the plane, the snake manages to escape and start hissing and striking out at everyone. No one can get close to him except Jackson, everyone’s favorite pre-mutant. He manages to calm it down with his healing dog bite, after which he turns to a shocked Abe and says, “We should talk.”

He finally tells the others what for so long he had only confided in Chloe and then Mitch, that he’s well on his way to Mutation Level: Kovaks — but he’s also the key to the animal-apocalypse cure. Speaking of the cure, Mitch helpfully steps in with the details on his new plan: The triple-helix DNA structure isn’t the only thing Jackson has in common with Phase 2’s mutated animals. With the blood-rain vultures, the electric ants, the earthquake sloths, and the glass snakes, ‘ol Jackie-boy shares genomic fossils, a.k.a. extinct genes that existed millions of years ago but were thought to be nonfunctional…until now. Mitch thinks each of the seven rungs on Jackson’s new DNA represents a genomic fossil from a different animal. They already know four of them — the aforementioned vultures, ants, sloths, and snakes — and if they can identify and capture the remaining three animals, Mitch can find a cure.

NEXT: Wayward Pines for the animal apocalypse

That’s a good thing, right? Less satisfying is Jamie’s secret meeting with teenager Maddie, who tried to warn her about getting out of Caraquet. Turns out there’s a reason for all those creepy smiles everyone was throwing her way, and when Maddie gets caught spilling the beans about “The Feeding,” Jamie and Maddie end up getting selected for the next Feeding that commences in the morning. Logan tries to volunteer himself with Jamie, but Caraquet is no Panem. Creepy Gwen tells them that in Caraquet, they “guarantee the safety of many with the sacrifice of a few” — and ever since they began the Feedings, there have been no attacks.

The increasingly resourceful Jamie manages to steal a small canister of propane on her way to the Feeding. She sneaks it to Logan and tells him to throw it in one of the fire barrels when she and Maddie get to the fence. He does, and there’s a huge explosion that blows a hole through the barrier…and that’s when the effin’ polar bears show up. Ooooh, they are scary. And majestic, which is the most fearsome kind of scary. The polar bears start attacking, and Jamie, Maddie, and Logan head for safety on an abandoned school bus nearby. Gwen tries to get inside, but Jamie holds her in place through a window until a bear comes charging.

More polar bears make their way to the bus and seem like they’re about to get in, so Jamie goes full-on Die Hard and tells Logan to take Maddie out through the back door while she distracts the bears. “I brought you to Caraquet, and I’m going to get you out,” she says, as she lowers her bandana mask and heads out to face the bear at the front door…right as he goes down, thanks to a tranq dart courtesy of Dariela.

THE ANIMAL AVENGERS ARE BACK TOGETHER AGAIN! Cue Jamie spotting Mitch and running into his arms, along with all of my tears for this silly show.

A few loose ends:

  • R.I.P., intel operative Chloe Tousignant.
  • Most absurd line: “You’re not here to talk about toxic glass, are you?”
  • I didn’t mention this earlier, but the episode is interspersed with scenes of Jackson dealing with the fact that Dariela is potentially responsible for Chloe’s death. Ultimately, though, he extends what seems to be an olive branch by asking her to stay with the team. Dariela is a jaded Army Ranger, and she knows why Jackson wants to keep her around: so she’ll put a bullet in his head if he goes the way of Kovaks. She will, she says — and she won’t hesitate.
  • The alcohol supply on this plane must reproduce Harry Potter-style.
  • Even though I’d rather still have Chloe, it really is painfully sweet that she spent her last living moments trying to save Jamie. And she succeeded!
  • Be sure to read the interview with Josh Appelbaum to learn more about what the Animal Avengers will be up to now that they’re reunited, and sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Chloe’s death. For the record, mine are “:( :(” — glass snakes and polar bears!

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