Zoocap 2.10: In Soviet Russia, Car Drives Zoo
Join us each week as we attempt to unpack the latest cuckoobananas episode of The CBS Program Zoo, setting ablaze our hottest takes as a burnt offering to the animal gods. Previous episodes: 2.1/2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9. This week: Season 2, Episode 10, “The Yellow Brick Road.”
Do you get it? Do you get why this episodes is called “The Yellow Brick Road”?
That’s right, The Gang had better find Oz — the escaped semi-mutant Jackson Oz — and fast, before it’s too late to cure him. There’s no way they can pack in enough crazy to match last week’s masterpiece, but dammit, they’re going to try.
What the Hell Did I Just Watch
Abe is cruising like a madman through Finnish traffic as Mitch attempts to navigate via phone consultation with Jamie back on Zoo Force One. Jackson, remember, injected himself with a tracking beacon for just such an occasion. The Gang really should’ve sprung for those deluxe trackers that you can trace from the car, but here we are burning through plan minutes on the streets of Helsinki.
Then, the SUV is overrun by CGI reindeer.
Even if Jackson weren’t their friend, even if he weren’t a threat to others, they would still need to find him to complete the cure. See, he has to serve as the incubator, and oh my god, none of this matters they’re just going to add new fake science next week anyway.
The tracker finally stops moving, allowing them to catch up, and if you have seen literally any TV or movie scene involving a tracker, you already know that means Jackson ditched it. Time for a new plan.
“Breaking news: An unidentified man has gone on a violent rampage at Helsinki Central Hospital.”
Well, that was convenient!
The boys arrive at the hospital to learn that Jackson didn’t kill anyone, but instead took a vial of blood.
Abe: “Jackson’s turning into an apex predator, not a vampire.”
Mitch figures out whose blood is in the missing vial, a process which he painstakingly narrates for god knows what reason. Its owner is Vera Salvon, who is nobody we know but does have a nearby address. And they’re off… but are they being followed?
This is the man Davies sent to tail Mitch and Abe. There is a zero-percent chance he will last the episode.
Now is as good a time as any to resurrect some manufactured conflict between Mitch and Abe.
Mitch: “We’ll figure it out. Relax.”
Abe: “Easy for you to say. You’re not the reason we’re in this mess.”
Mitch: “All right, I’m getting tired of your little self-pity party. This isn’t your fault. You making me leave Jamie in New Brunswick? That’s your fault.”
Dude, how are you still not over that?
Vera Salvon’s house is creepy as hell, but basically empty. Well, empty except for…
INTRODUCING THE NEW STAR OF THE CBS PROGRAM ZOO!
This is Bird. I friggin’ love Bird.
During their chat with Bird, our duo catch a glimpes of Jackson heading out the door, but he loses them, like, instantly. That’s when Davies’s man points a gun at Abe’s head.
Bro, this is where you went wrong. You’re following two dudes, and you’ve only got eyes on one of them. You’re leaving your six-o’-clock completely undefended. Sure, Abe is the more dangerous of the two… but Mitch has Bird with him!
Lights out, dummy.
Mitch and Abe then figure out that Bird will lead them to Jackson. I have no idea how this is supposed to work — which, who cares — but it basically involves the bird flying back and forth screeching while Mitch stares at it and shouts “LEFT!” and “RIGHT!” at random. This is The CBS Program Zoo at its finest.
“That bird is all over the place!”
“Come on, Bird!”
All of that screaming leads the boys, stupidly and wonderfully, right back to Zoo Force One, where they meet a little old lady who knows Bird.
“I have a message from Jackson Oz.”
Her name? Vera Salvon.
(I know. I too was hoping “Vera Salvon” was an assumed name for Chloe, who had secretly faked her death. Maybe she’ll be on Sabertooth Island.)
Aboard Zoo Force One
“We’ve got a problem,” announces Dariela as she walks into the room, because room-entry problem announcing is her number-one job on The CBS Program Zoo. “The Russian Minister of Defense is in our kitchen.”
“Leonid Ivankov?” asks Allison, because the writers couldn’t think of a MORE RUSSIAN name.
“Thought his name was [Russian accent] ‘Git me Meetch Morgan.’”
It wasn’t a great joke, but she committed to it.
This dude is in their kitchen, and he wants to know if they can find a cure or not. The Russians seem pretty skeptical of the Noah Objective, so really all The Gang needs to do is present an appearance of basic competence. This will all go great as long as —
“I’m Jamie Campbell.”
“I need to speak to Miss Campbell in private.”
“I don’t think so, Sputnik.”
They gave Dariela all the Cold War zingers this ep, huh?
At this point, for SOME REASON, the Russian dude subjects Jamie to a lie detector test THAT HE ADMINISTERS BY HOLDING HER WRISTS. This is the most unscientific bullshit they’ve ever done on this show, and it is a show that involves SABERTOOTH TIGERS MUTATED BY X-RAYS IN THE 1800s.
Jamie tells them everything, including the part about Jackson the missing mutant, which seems like an unforced error but actually turns out to be part of her long-term strategy of doing random things and seeing if any of them work out. For some reason, this one does.
The Russian dude explains that Jamie’s info matched with what they’d heard from a scientist named (can you guess?) Robert Oz. Because Jamie is not a total idiot, she immediately asks if they know where he is.
Russian dude: “We spoke on a secure line.”
Jamie: “Is it traceable?”
Russian dude: “By definition, secure lines are not traceable.”
Russian dude: “But in Russia…”
“…we trace everything.”
So they set up some kind of spy tent in the Zoo Force One cargo bay, and Jamie calls Robert Oz. He doesn’t answer, probably because it’s Jamie, and who wants to talk to her?
Luckily, the Russians are well beyond stereotypical enough to be good at spying, and they manage to locate Robert Oz just outside of Washington, the Dece. (Are people calling it that? I’m calling it that.)
Somewhere Over the Atlantic Ocean
While Mitch runs some tests to find out if Vera Salvon can incubate the cure, she slips Abe a secret letter. It’s from Jackson, telling Abe that he is forgiven, because every conflict in this show is resolved as easily and arbitrarily as it is initiated. Nonso Anozie still crushes it.
But that’s not all that’s in the letter.
“By now you must realize what I’m going to do… and that I’m not coming back.”
Washington, the Dece
Ring ring! Yes, this is General Davies!
“I want to speak to my father.”
As Davies scrambles to trace the call, Jackson — who totally knows Davies is scrambling to trace the call — offers to turn himself in. Provided, of course, Davies can prove he has Robert Oz. “Call the safe house!” Davies orders.
The phone rings at the safe house, where The Gang have popped in just in time to find the place deserted.
Where’s Robert Oz?
With no answer at the safe house and Jackson Oz on his actual doorstep, Davies decides to bring on the Ron Burgundy memes.
“New plan. Kill him.”
“I want Jackson Oz dead.”
For reasons inexplicable, Davies specifies that the kill shot needs to coincide with Jackson touching the door handle. I guess he had a peek at a draft of the script and thought it would make a nice climax.
Look out, Jackson!
“We should run.”
Random Stranger of the Week
Jamitch vs. Mitchison
“I need you to come with me to the embassy.”
“I’m gonna go get Jackson, okay?”
“No. No, you’re not!”
Uh-oh. Seems like that coitus mighta gotten interruptussed permanently, eh?
“I know that you saw Mitch and I.”
“Mitch and me, Allison! Mitch and me.”
“With what’s going on right now, you want to take a time-out to discuss office romance?”
“This mission means more to me than Mitch Morgan, so just say the word and I will back off.”
“He’s all yours.”
NO, JAMIE! NOOOOO!
“Mitch… be careful.”
“Was that Mitch?”
Hey, do you think Vera Salvon is #TeamAllie or #TeamJamie?
“In order to survive, sometimes you have to build walls, literally and figuratively.”
And a few seconds later, when Mitch returns…
“I like this one. When everything is over, you and him can work on that wall.”
“What is she talking about?”
Last one, I promise!
“I’m in love with Mitch.”
“I wasn’t lying before. Except maybe to myself.”
“Losing him has been one of the biggest regrets of my life. And just getting thrown together with him during all of this? Maybe it happened for a reason.”
Allison is the worst. She makes Jamie look like Jack Bauer.
“I didn’t come back for a fight.”
“Then why did you come back?”
“Ever since I joined the Army, I’ve considered my unit to be my family. Now, you guys are my unit.”
Awww. Hope there’s no secret complication that might screw this all up!
Zoolight of the Episode
Remember last week, when there was something unexpected in Dariela’s routine bloodwork and I guessed that it was BABY?
“Those horses weren’t ignoring everyone else. They were targeting you.”
“Because you’re pregnant.”
“So what, you wanna throw me a baby shower?”
Allison: “What about Abe?”
Dariela: “I need to figure some things out first.”
Allison: “Pregnancy is rough, even in the best conditions.”
Dariela: “Everything happens for a reason, right?”
Bonkers Dialogue Lightning Round
“The brain has three levels. One controls logic, one controls emotion, and the other is reptilian.”
“The Noah Objective is days away, and we still need a sabertooth cat.”
“I’m going to be introducing seven genomic fossils into his DNA.”
— “Russia is thinking about pulling out of the Noah Objective, but Davies needs their airspace to launch the gas.”
— “I don’t speak Russian.”
“We found out how to take specific animals that have — bear with me — a triple helix DNA strand, and use their genomic fossils to synthesize a cure.”
“So, you’ve been experiencing black tears?”
When the world is falling down around you, ya gotta follow your own path. Sometimes that means trusting unexpected allies, whether it’s the Russians, your long-lost father, or a little yellow bird. (By the way, Bird is a goddam hero. Can’t be said enough.)
But in dire straits like these, as The Gang has come to learn, sometimes you just gotta go with your gut. Even — sigh — even Jamie.
Next Course: Feast On!
Search the Feast
Brandon Michael Lowden is a writer of musicals, plays, children’s shows, novelty songs, album-oriented rock, underground rap, and apparently blog posts now. He holds an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he was a recipient of the Mel Silverman Scholarship. Prior to that, while earning a BS in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, he was an award-winning writer for both the Daily Princetonian and the Triangle Club (who still perform his songs annually). A native of Pittsburgh, Brandon now resides in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan and works an office gig to support his real job (writing).