I can’t believe I haven’t been a Zoo fan from day one. To be fair, Zoo gave almost zero indication of the twists and turns it would take, but the hints were there: After all, how could a show be grounded and low-key when it’s about animals who have absolutely had it with humans?
Now here we are, two seasons later, after endless twists about mother cells and ghost genes and Noah objectives, and a show about animals that suddenly want to kill us has mutated into a sci-fi apocalypse full of crazy conspirators and mad science. Honestly, it’s hard to keep it all straight because Zoo pretty much reinvents itself every week, and the pivot at the end of season two was a doozy.
If you remember — or not, because it’s kind of criminal how under-the-radar this show is — the last season ended with the show’s heroes (hereby known as the Zoo Crew) achieving their goal of curing the animals of the world, only to have their cure hijacked by a group of extremists known as the Shepherds, who laced the cure with a special something that, in addition to curing the animals, made all of humanity sterile. The show then flashed forward ten years to show Zoo Crew members Abraham and Dariela attending their daughter’s elementary-school graduation, which is also the last graduating class in elementary school.
Suck it, Game of Thrones. This is some next-level shit.
Since teasing us with a glimpse of the bleak future that awaited in season three, much of “There’s No Place Like Home” is spent catching us up with the Zoo Crew’s new normal, as well as the general state of the world and its sterile people. This means it’s a middle-of-the-road episode for Zoo fans, but it’s also a great episode for newcomers because it tells you all you need to know. And what you need to know is pretty simple: After ten years, the world is kinda jacked up. Most of the West Coast is walled off thanks to mutant hybrids run amok. Scientists are working hard to find a cure to make humankind fertile again. And the Zoo Crew is adrift in the wind, no longer the team they once were.
Abraham and Dariela are more or less all that’s left, raising their child and helping work toward a cure — if there’s a Zoo Crew 2.0, they’re the ones it’ll be built around. Former investigative journalist Jamie Campbell is off on her own as an “author extraordinaire,” but also a self-styled super spy who’s looking for the Falcon, the last remaining major player from the Shepherds. Jackson Oz (still can’t believe that’s his real name) is out in the West Coast Wildlands trying to make them safer with new girlfriend, Tessa, watching his back — and maybe even the power to communicate with lions?
I really can’t believe this airs on CBS every week.
Then there’s Mitch, the Zoo Crew member thought dead at the end of season two, only to have his daughter show up in the flash forward to tell Abe and Dariela that he’s alive … and he knows how to save humanity. She doesn’t know where Mitch is, but the IADG does. (That’s the International Animal Defense Group. They’re not nice, and also, an acronym dangerously close to IDGAF.) Apparently, he’s been kept in suspended animation for reasons unknown. And he doesn’t seem to know who he is. This frustrates the IADG, who want to know what’s in his head, but can’t seem to get it from him.
The IADG appears to be up to some seriously shady shit, as Jackson finds out when his wild lands outpost is bombed by a woman in an IADG jacket. using a drive similar to one Jamie had confiscated when she ran afoul of her government-flack ex for her Falcon investigations earlier in the episode. There’s another Grand Conspiracy under way here, and the shape of it is far from clear, but it’s bound to bring the Zoo Crew back together after ten years apart. My biggest question, though, is how it all ties into the blood sample from a new species of hybrid Abe receives. In the most unsettling scene in the episode, it starts growing, and no one knows what the lump of flesh will turn into. Bad news, probably.
The episode ends with Clem, unable to get the unqualified support she expected on the hunt for her father, Mitch. So she leaves Abe after pulling a gun on him, and then tries to talk Jamie into helping her. Meanwhile, the IADG tries another tack to get Mitch to talk: They introduce him to his grown daughter, Clem. Is it a scam? Or is the Clem we’ve been following a fake one? Probably not, but this show is crazy enough to try that.
This season is gonna be delicious.