It's not just about saving animals anymore

By Jodi Walker
September 07, 2016 at 06:43 AM EDT
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Credit: Shane Harvey /CBS
S2 E12
type
  • TV Show
network
  • CBS
genre

After two seasons’ worth of mother cells, genomic fossils, triple helixes, and mutating moms, the Animal Avengers finally achieved what they set out to do when they first combined powers in season 1: They made a cure that worked, disseminating it around the planet via a bunch of birds, and they stopped the Noah Objective. I mean, they did the damn thing, and they did it almost entirely within the first half of Tuesday’s two-hour finale.

If only they had known that while they were busy trying to save the world, another animal-loving group of scientists were working towards a similar goal… But their plan had a part two. Step 1: Cure the animals. Step 2: Sterilize the human race, effectively ending the world as we know it.

When Robert Oz said he was taking the team to Pangaea to meet “The Shepherds,” I thought it sounded like a sweet elderly couple in lab coats with a little hobby of un-extinct-ing prehistoric animals. But as I’ve written repeatedly in these recaps over the past two years, Zoo’s greatest and most consistent strength is its ability to shock. It doesn’t feature factually accurate science, nor does it have the ability to stay consistent with small details (quick note: do they just have that old woman who was going to take Jackson’s place as the ghost-gene incubator stowed away in a luggage compartment somewhere?). Nope: Zoo is best when it’s luring the audience into a false sense of security and then — BAM! — flipping everything we thought we understood on its head.

You thought we were trying to save the animals this whole time? Gotcha! It was the humans who’ve been doomed all along. And that elementary-school epilogue?! Well… We’ll get there.

Heading into Tuesday’s finale, the Animal Avengers are on the hunt for a sabre-toothed cat. Dr. Oz leads them to Pangaea, an island established by a consortium of scientists who feared the impact human progress would have on animals. It also happens to be where Dr. Oz has been hanging out since his “death.” The Shepherds are the ones who initially involved him in the Noah Objective in order to control Davies. They’ve also been keeping their eye on the Animal Avengers and have lots of plans to work alongside their quest for a cure. They’ve got 40,000 genetically enhanced birds to disperse the remedy; they’ve got a sabre-toothed cat; and they’ve got this guy Reece to take them to said sabre-toothed cat.

Reece tells Abe, Dariela, and Jackson the sabre-tooths are reclusive and nearly impossible to track, to which Dariela responds, “I’m the only side of beef you need.” It’s not a come-on — it’s her telling Reece she’s pregnant, so the cat is totally going to be drawn to her. Abe doesn’t love the idea, but Dariela is a tough chick, and if she wants to use her unborn child to lure an extinct animal out of the woods in order to save the world… She’s damn well going to do it.

Now they just need to pump that junk into Jackson’s mutant self — and to do it, they need Mitch Morgan, fixer of everything. Unfortunately, Mitch and Jamie are otherwise occupied. They’ve somehow ended up within yards of the clean DNA intended to repopulate the animal population once the Noah Objective has killed the sick ones. Mitch whispers that stealing the clean DNA is their last shot at stopping the Noah Objective, and suddenly, Mitch and Jamie are playing espionage and trying to steal a large metal cart of DNA currently under the protection of a dozen of Davies’ men. So it’s a good thing they had a little help in the unexpected form of…

LOGAN. I mean, this effin’ guy… He’s everywhere, and I kind of love it. Logan isn’t exactly comic relief, but a slight break from all the self-seriousness works nearly as well.

NEXT: DNA destruction

Logan is, of course, being paid by someone to steal the DNA — but one look into Jamie’s shiny eyeballs, and he’s on board with whatever the Animal Avengers are up to (despite her very much trying to kill him by pushing him out of a plane that one time). They get caught during their robbery attempt, of course, but Mitch buys some time while Logan creates a time-delayed grenade that blows up the DNA once they make their escape.

That’s one problem down! Well, kind of… Davies is definitely peeved about loss of DNA, but even he knows he can’t continue with his plan to kill all the animals without having a means to repopulate. He tells Lieutenant Mansdale, his second-in-command, that he’s calling off the Noah Objective. But when he goes to make the call, Mansdale snaps his neck and tells whoever’s on the line that the Noah Objective is still a go. He then tells Mitch, Jamie, and Logan he’s going to get them back to their friends, because he’s “someone who wants to see the world back to how it’s supposed to be.” It doesn’t really add up just yet, but I’ll shoot you straight — I’m frequently very confused while watching Zoo.

Speaking of confused, once the team is reunited and Mitch injects Jackson with the completed genomic fossil serum, he doesn’t understand why it’s not interacting correctly. (Psst… It’s because Dr. Oz recently injected Jackson with a bunch of acidic badger spit to slow down his mutation, and said badger spit is affecting the way he’s able to incubate the serum.) As they wait for the badger acid to clear his system, Mitch discovers something else while looking at some of the Shepherds’ experimental products. One of them, SM-117, was in the experimental drug he risked so much to get for his daughter Clementine in season 1… Which means they gave Reiden Global SM-117 to try curing Glazier Syndrome because they also created Glazier Syndrome. It also means that since SM-117 was part of their Pangaea experiment, Clementine has the ghost gene and could potentially mutate just like Jackson.

Mitch asks Dr. Oz if he injected himself with the ghost gene like he did his wife and his son, and when he says yes, Mitch tells him the only way to make up for what he’s done. Since they’re not able to clear Jackson of the badger acid in time, they can just reduce its presence in Jackson’s system by increasing his blood volume using his father’s genetically analogous blood cells. (Got that? Good.) The genetic transfusion does succeed in creating the cure from Jackson’s blood, but it’s not creating enough. So Dr. Oz tells Mitch to give him the genomic fossil serum, too, so he can pre-synthesize it and Jackson’s body won’t have to work so hard. It works, but what Mitch and Dr. Oz don’t tell Jackson is that giving his non-mutated father the serum will almost certainly kill him.

Thus, Dr. Oz is finally able to make amends for injecting his son with mutant juice, and he dies as the father-son duo swaps animal jokes. And with that, Jackson is cured, and the cure for the world’s animals and ghost-gene-carriers is ready. The Animal Avengers make their way to Pangaea’s beach to release the birds, and I actually felt a little emotional watching them fly off to save the world. This team finally did what they set out to do so long ago. Mitch asks Jamie if she wants to go with him to Maine to meet Clementine, and she says yes. But when she calls the pilot to swing the private plane around, he says all airspace is closed. Which doesn’t make any sense, because that’s what would have happened if the Noah Objective had been executed…

Cut to the Shepherds’ control room, where the woman in charge announces, “My fellow Shepherds — the gas has been released and the birds have left the beach. Our work is finally complete.” That’s when Lieutenant Mansdale takes the Avengers captive and tells them, “It’ll all be clear to you, to the entire world, very soon.”

But I’ma go ahead and clear it up for you right now, because this sh-t is wild: The Avengers are briefly held captive in some cave, where they run back into Logan. They escape, but are nearly killed by some hybrid animals called razorbacks that escaped the fenced-in area of the island where the Shepherds keep their failed experiments. When they get back to the plane and discover the Shepherds have taken all of the cure serum, Mitch, Jamie, and Jackson head back into the compound. Because with the TX-14 gas released — and without that serum — Clementine will die. Luckily, Jackson finds the serum!

NEXT: Daddy issues

Unfortunately, while they’re in the lab, Mitch sees the electric fence containing the rest of the razorbacks is weakening. If they can’t get the power back up, the razorbacks will storm the runway and they won’t be able to leave — and in Mitch’s mind, they won’t be able to reach Clem in time. Only one hall is not full of razorbacks, but someone has to stay back and manually raise the strength of the fence. So without telling them the full circumstances, Mitch sends Jamie and Jackson back to the plane with the serum while there’s still a safe escape route. He ups the fence’s power as the razorbacks close in on him and calls Abe to say they have to leave without him — it’s Abe’s responsibility to get the cure to Clementine and take care of her. And with that, he goes down under a pack of “wolf things,” as Jamie calls them.

Although I was very sad when I thought Mitch had died (and also assumed I would probably refrain from watching a season 3 without Mitch), that’s not the wild part. No, that would be what the remaining Animal Avengers discover once they’re able to go through all of Dr. Oz’s research they took from Pangaea. But first, they have to get the cure to Clementine. They succeed, and I have to say: It was a really smart move to center the emotional drama on whether Clem’s dog, Henry, survives or is killed by people in the safe zone who fear the animals. (That dog actor is one of the cutest dogs I’ve ever seen, which really raises the stakes.) In saving Henry by proving he’s not mutating, Jackson and the gang realize the cure has worked, and that it doesn’t seem to have been counteracted by the TX-14 gas.

But that doesn’t exactly make any sense, until they look at Dr. Oz’s research. It seems that in 1895 — when Pierce created the triple-helix animals with his X-ray radiation — he realized what was happening and created a compound to sterilize the animals. When Jackson hacks into his dad’s files, he sees that Pierce’s formula is what Dr. Oz sent to Davies to use as the poisonous element of the TX-14 gas. Instead of protecting humans as originally intended, the neutralizing aspect has been recalibrated to protect the animals — which means that instead of killing (or even sterilizing) the animals, Dr. Oz and the Shepherds successfully conspired to sterilize humankind.

Or, as Jackson puts it, “My father just ended the world.”

Epilogue

Oh, this epilogue, I loved it. It might not have been subtle, but I can’t think of many creepier things than watching a precious 10-year-old at his elementary-school graduation…only to discover it’s the last elementary-school graduation ever, because Abe and Dariela’s son was one of the world’s last babies to be conceived. In the finale’s final minutes, we see the proud parents watch their son graduate and someone showing off a bestselling book by one Jamie Campbell; we also see that Jackson has sent his nephew a hybrid spike for his graduation present. We then see news cameras outside calling little Isaac’s class “the lost generation” and hear sirens warning of razorback attacks. And finally, we see a young blonde woman lurking around the school.

She calls out to Abraham, and he asks if he knows her. When she tries to talk to him about the hybrid problem, he answers that he’s not involved in stopping that kind of thing anymore. She says that’s because he knows there’s only one person who could solve this problem. “Yes, but Mitch Morgan is dead,” says Abe. “No, he’s not,” says a grown-up Clementine. Mitch is alive, and she knows where he is.

A few loose ends:

  • Presumably, wherever Mitch is, he totally knows how to save the human race and bring the Avengers back together again for an even more bonkers season 3!
  • If you want to read more about season 3 (and how we aren’t the only ones who think these twists and turns are totally nuts), head on over to my interview with James Wolk.
  • Most absurd line: “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” “Pretty sure we just ruined your little genocide.”
  • I really loved the extra focus on Abe in this finale and thought Nonso Anozie (as well as Billy Burke) did some excellent work tonight, but man… Abe must have done a pretty sh-t job of watching out for Clementine like he promised if he didn’t even recognize her in the epilogue.
  • And finally, the world needs to know… What did the aardvark say to the taxi driver?!

Episode Recaps

Zoo

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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 2
rating
genre
status
  • In Season
network
  • CBS

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