Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zoo, Season 2, Episode 1 & 2: The Day of the Beast/Caraquet

A year has passed and everything is still bad. Which may get even worse as Reiden Global’s plan to wipe out all animals and then try and rebuild the population afterwards

The gang thinks this is a bad idea because it would be “murder.” I think it’s a bad idea because there’s absolutely no way humanity could survive the global ecosystem collapse that would be brought about by mass animal extinction. Besides, how would it even be done? If would could wipe out rats we would have done a long long time ago.

Still irrational people don’t always think clearly – and following the end of last season. We had a vast stampede likely to make things unpleasant for everyone and stopped them going to get Jaime and her bad CGI leopard (is it just my memory or is the CGI definitely worse this season?). We have a whole lot of action while everyone is split up and faces off against various monsters before reuniting at the International Animal Defence Group to join with new Official Ally person, Eleanor Lewis.

It’s all bad news – cities are being attacked all over, people are being moved into safe zones (including Mitch’s family) and it’s all very dramatic and scary. Resources are stretched thin and there’s even more push for global suicide by wiping out all animal life unless their intrepid team can somehow make the cure work. Though even if they do, the fact insects have started to be affected by the virus means the plan to spread it via mosquito bite seems unlikely.

Still they need that leopard cub – so everyone’s going on a helicopter ride (except Chloe) and being treated like heroes on the cusp of victory (their reputation precedes them) to go rescue Jaime

Except in Canada, Jaimie has been driven out (and her friendly First Nations plot device has been killed) and is running through the woods chased by wolves, bears and buffalo. The gang find the leopard she hid – but not Jaime. Mitch (as Jaime’s designated love interest) is desperate to stay and look for her despite them being surrounded and eventually Abe has to bodily drag Mitch back to the helicopter

This now begins a terrible sub plot in which Mitch stomps around like a child snarling and insulting Abe and genuinely blaming him for Jaime’s loss. This almost has a good moment when Mitch admits he’s acting like a child and that they’re all family – but then he continues to go on stomping and snarling and Abe and generally being an arsehole.

To make matters worse, the cure doesn’t work. The whole theme of this new season seems to be that the virus is mutating and becoming something even more scary and the old cure just won’t work. It’s also something of a reboot – centring around Jackson

He was bitten by a dog and this has already managed to change his blood type. And since several people have insisted that the virus can’t spread to humans, we know that’s definitely going to happen. Especially since a tiger decided not to eat Jackson after smelling his bitten arm. To drive us down this plot path the team decide to go speak to a scientist who has apparently discovered the “second tier” mutation.

I’m not sure why – is this to help the cure? Is there a reason why they have to go? What do they intend to do?

Anyway they’re off to Argentina in the shiny shiny shiny shiny ridiculous new plane that some anonymous benefactor has donated it to them. No it’s ludicrous. When shortages must be hitting it’s beyond belief that they’re going to spend the money necessary to fuel a plane that actually has internal balconies and galleries. This is silly. And there’s still no indication that this hyper-luxe plane has any means of stopping birds from bringing it out of the sky

When they arrive in Argentina and catch up to the doctor and his squad of rangers, they find them all dead but one – ranger Dariela Marzan who managed to give the creature hunting them a good stabbing

And yes, the creature is human. More on that later.

Since Dariela lost some good friends she’s all for killing the creature (a Dr. Kovack) out of revenge but now Chloe has gone into full panic mode because her Designated Love Interest may be infected and zomg there must be a CUUUUURE

So she decides to keep him alive (good idea). And to lie to the authorities about him existing so they won’t get the help of a team of scientists, major laboratories and the rest of humanity can’t prepare for this upcoming disaster. Because working with Mitch in a lab they’ve packed in a fecking plane is CLEARLY the best solution here


I’m not even going to call this a bad decision. It isn’t a bad decision. No human would make this decision. It isn’t a decision. It’s a convoluted plot ploy so the team can run around playing conspiracy and secrecy AGAIN rather than actually work with the support network they now have. It’s clumsy, it’s silly and it’s even worse that it comes from Chloe who was already so badly treated last season.

Apparently Dr. Korvack was bitten by an elephant and…

An elephant?

Just wandering around Argentina?

And it bites? A biting elephant? Wouldn’t it actually be really really hard for an elephant to bite? Considering how much easier it would be for an elephant to kill the human another way?

This show’s annoying me and it’s only the first double episode.

So they decide to hunt the elephant to get a blood sample to see what makes it special – while Abe and Dariela wander off to play with acid-rain causing vultures (no, really). After some more dramatic scenes (Mitch and Chloe on the plane also duel with the raging Korvack who escapes, rampages about a bit being nearly immortal before they lock him up) the gang finally reunites, escaping from vultures, carrying elephant blood and Korvack locked up in the plane’s big cage.

Only to discover the elephant is pretty much a normal mutation – and the likely cause of Korvack changing is in his own DNA (which means Jackson is still at risk)… not that they can cure him now because Dariel finally snaps and puts several bullets in his head.

Back to Canada – Jaime survived by hiding from the animals because these wolves have no sense of smell. She goes on a nature hike to try and find civilisation – and gets frostbitten and awfulness (it is Canada after all). After suffering mightily for a hellish long time she finally runs into a guy called Lucas. Who is also pretty much lost and freezing.

Ok, it’s probably notable that towards the end of this review I became steadily more inpatient. Let me count my frustrations.

I think there was more action packed in than was necessary (the team frequently split up for their own animal adventures) which, especially in a 2 episode stretch, felt like padding

As I’ve made clear, I loathe Chloe’s decision making. I also loathe Mitch’s tantrum. The unity of the team is one of the few things that has been really good. Abe continues to be the bright spot of the series being calm and sensible and oozing beautiful compassion, constantly resolving conflict and being the wonderful heart of the group. Seeing Mitch treat him like this is doubly intolerable

I also dislike that the opening has pretty much established Designated Heterosexual Love Interests will be Important this season – with both Chloe and Mitch’s ridiculous behaviour being triggered by it. And, honestly, it hacks me off that, in a media climate where people screech about “forcing gay relationships everywhere,” a show like this is so desperate to ram in some heterosexual sexing and it’s considered background, normal and even required

While I snarked about the CGI and the random biting elephant, my biggest animal beef this episode was the acid rain vultures. Intelligent, mutated, tough animals I can get behind. But I thought the whole POINT of Zoo was to invoke the horror of animals all around us turning on us. The horror was always more the pet dog or cat turning than random escaped zoo animals (and my gods there’s a lot of them about!) It was the normal and benign turning against us which was what made it scary. The more outlandish the animals become, the less it evokes that horror

Speaking of – humans being infected. No. no no BAD idea. I hate this because it has been done. “I am ill and turning into a monster.” Done. Humans degenerating into raging monsters? Oh so done. We do not need another zombie series. You do not want to turn Zoo into another zombie series. Or even an epidemic series. There’s a lot of these out there. Animals rising up to wipe us all out? Not so much. It’s only the second season, you can’t be out of ideas already!