Zoocap 2.9: Everything Old Is Zoo Again
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. This week: Season 2, Episode 9, “Sins of the Father.”
I thought I might quit on this show when they killed Chloe. I thought the new season had stagnated midway through. I thought we’d get some workmanlike absurdity out of the remaining episodes, but never again reach the transcendently preposterous heights The CBS Program Zoo had delivered weekly.
Then came last week’s brainmelting airshow, which I thought might be the series’s high watermark.
And this episode left it in the dust.
In my wildest dreams I could not have conceived of forty-two minutes filled with more nonsense. TCBSPZ has turned soapy popcorn sci-fi in to high art. This is the freaking Citizen Kane of bonkersdom.
What the Hell Did I Just Watch
For those just tuning in, Jackson’s mother went missing in the wilds of Africa after turning mutant and going on a murder spree, a plot point which is, frankly, pedestrian within the context of this show. Obviously, he’s not leaving without her.
“We are one animal away from the cure!” Allison reminds him. “We have to stay focused.” Abe, on the other hand, offers a much more foreboding question: “And what if you find her? What then, Rafiki?”
Nonetheless, he follows Jackson into the bush. They’ve just happened upon a maimed lion carcass when suddenly, a whole pride of lions sprints past, ignoring them. It’s almost as if they’re running from something… but what?
IT’S MUTANT JACKSON’S MOM.
Jackson tries to reason with her, but to no avail, obviously. Viciously attacking Abe, she digs her claws into his chest way too deeply for him to be totally fine in the next scene. Jackson hits her with tranq dart, but to no avail, obviously.
“It’s me. It’s your son.”
“It’s okay, Mom. It’s Jackson.”
“GRRRRR [I am going to kill Abe now]!”
This is how the episode starts.
Aboard Zoo Force One
Mitch is still poring over the bones of the Seventh Special Animal — the last one needed for the cure — but he can’t seem to identify it, no matter how many real actual science words he teaches the viewers at home.
That’s when Jackson and Abe make their grim return with Mama Oz’s body. A quick once-over reveals the scar where Jackson’s father injected his own wife with the mutation, setting Jackson on a temper tantrum that is not cute. During his flip-out, he messes up Mitch’s bones.
“He messed up my bones.”
Guess whether Mitch gets an idea from this. God, I love his Budget Ian Malcolm schtick.
“If I’m right about this, somebody is gonna owe me a very large, very cold double martini.”
(Yes, that’s the double martini from that GIF up top. Keep it in the back of your mind.)
Fiddling with the bones one more time, Mitch announces that he’s finally identified the Seventh Special Animal. There’s just one problem.
Mitch: “Okay, I know what it is. But… it’s insane.”
Jamie: “Immortal jellyfish… ice lizard… earthquake sloth… they’re all insane.”
Mitch: “The one animal that we need most has been extinct for 14,000 years.”
OF COURSE. Of course this is what it is. The CBS Program Zoo just gives and gives and gives.
And gives some more. Because there’s only one person in the world who can help them now, and Allison orders the plane to Helsinki over Mitch’s vehement protests.
Jamie: “Anyone gonna tell me why we’re going to Helsinki?”
Mitch: “Because that’s where one of the greatest cryptozoologists of our time has chosen to sit out the animal armageddon.”
Jamie: “Okay, so we’re going all the way to Helsinki to meet a quack.”
Mitch: “Oh, not just any quack. This particular quack is a raging alcoholic, a pathological hypocrite, a straight-up cradle-robber…”
“…and he’s also my dad.”
Ohhh shiiiiit! You don’t think we’ll get anymore shocking revelations en route to Finland, do you?
“You have to tell Jackson about his father. Abe, I’m done with the secrets and the lies.”
Abe: “I can’t tell him the truth because it is so much worse than you know.”
Jamie: “Robert Oz is alive and working for Raydon [spelled "Reiden"]; how does it get any worse than that?”
Abe: “You think you know me, but I am not the man you think you know.”
Abe proceeds to tell her how he met Jackson’s mother. How he came into the clinic one day. How he feigned illness. How he distracted her. How he injected her with the mutation, like Robert Oz paid him to do.
“It is because of me that she turned into a monster. It is because of me she is dead. It is all because of me.”
God, don’t you just wanna punch a tire?
Dariela is leading Priesto (remember Priesto?) and the villagers to the safe zone, having made it as far as the last mile (out of, wasn’t it like, 80?) without incident. Kudos to the English folks for not constantly asking her for these figures in kilometres.
And then… killer horses!
It is impossible to overstate how hilarious this sequence is. ZooVision makes everything better.
The villagers panic, but the horses seem intent only on attacking Dariela as the rest of the convoy runs for shelter. After a narrow escape, Dariela theorizes that she must be attracting the animal attacks for some reason, and formulates a plan to distract the horses while the villagers trek the last few blocks to the safe zone.
Does this plan involve a motorcycle whose provenance is never explained?
Does this plan involve Dariela’s stunt double driving that motorcycle through a window just for the hell of it?
THIS IS THE CBS PROGRAM ZOO, KIDS, YOU KNOW THE ANSWER IS YES!
This, nonsensically, works perfectly. The villagers all get to safety, and though the motorcycle breaks down (why couldn’t the unexplained bike have more unexplained gas in it?), Dariela is able to outrun the horses on foot and make it through the gate just as the doors are closing, because there is no karmic retribution for her closing the doors on Chloe.
Mission Accomplished, right?
Only something is bugging her. The horses ignored all those villagers, just like other animals have done with Jackson. But… they can’t all have the mutation, can they? Or is the mutation… changing?
(Hint: The mutation changes like every single episode. #DefiantPupil #MotherCell #TripleHelix #GhostGene)
“Lieutenant Marzan? I found something rather unexpected in your blood results.”
Do you think… could it be?
“Oh my god… maybe I was right. Maybe they were targeting me.”
Targeting her… and her UNBORN CHILD? I’m calling it now. Pregnant women on TV always find out unexpectedly from routine blood tests.
“I have to get to Finland. Does somebody have a chopper around here? Because I need it now.”
And that chopper better have a “Baby on Board” sticker in the window!
Mitch and Allison arrive at the opulent Scandinavian home of his father, her ex-husband, and the world’s only expert in getting to the next plot point, all rolled into one douchetastic package.
Mitch’s Asshole Dad regales his unexpected guests with opportunities for backstory exposition, like that time Mitch’s mom left him because he banged her best friend. But they’re not here to chit-chat.
He makes himself at home aboard Zoo Force One — his old plane, by the way, which explains why his secret jar of Swedish Fish, the candy for people who hate themselves, is right where he left it. And that’s when Jamie walks in.
“Pleasure to meet you, Jamie.”
“Please don’t kiss her hand.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Is Mitch’s Asshole Dad gonna try to steal his girl?” Actually, it wouldn’t be the first — oh, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Everyone gathers in the bone room, where Mitch’s Asshole Dad is asked to date the sabertooth bones. (Like, in geological time, you goofballs; he’s not taking the bones to dinner and a movie!) It is not explained why Mitch would be unable to do this himself, nor why it would require the specialized fake knowledge of a cryptozoologist.
First, Mitch feeds the bones to the Hurricane Jellyfish, an excuse to deliver this zinger:
“Amazing thing about jellyfish is they eat, poop, and procreate all from the same orifice. Kind of like you.”
“If I could do that, I’d never leave the house. Heheheh.”
Dude, I know you’re a stock character and this is The CBS Program Zoo, but dial it back a skosh, eh?
The results come in, and the bones are indeed a mere hundred years old. Not only that, but they show traces of a synthetic bioactive compound, whatever the hell that means.
Mitch’s Asshole Dad: “You’re sure these were never tampered with? Beyond-a-shadow sure?”
These hundred-year old bones that we have known about for like two weeks?
Mitch: “Hundred percent.”
And then Mitch’s Asshole Dad relates the stories he’s heard about a secret research facility on an island off the coast of Chile.
This facility has supposedly developed a synthetic bioactive compound.
I’ve set up a kind of… biological preserve.
A compound that allows them to recreate extinct animals.
It’s right up your alley.
There’s one place on earth you can find a sabertooth cat. And they call it…
Jurassic Park Pangaea.
THIS. FRIGGIN’. SHOW.
And with that, it’s time for Mitch’s Asshole Dad to go. Unless…
“Allison. Stay in Helsinki with me.”
“You are unbelievable.”
MAD: “She’s a grown woman, sport.”
Mitch: “I’m starting to have a little déjà vu here.”
YES YES YES. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.
Allison: “Can we please not do this right now?”
Sorry, Allison! Time at last to confirm that you dated Mitch all those years ago and subsequently dumped him for his asshole dad!
MAD: “You should have said something if it bothered you.”
Mitch: “Like what? ‘Hey, Dad, really appreciate it if you didn’t try to skeez her out from under me’?”
By the way, does Mitch’s dad seem like, not that much older than him? Is this a nightmare version of Gilmore Girls?
MAD: “I married her. You weren’t even ready to give her a damn friendship bracelet.”
Jamie: “Oh my god.”
JAMIE ARE YOU JUST NOW CLUING IN TO THIS CONVERSATION?
And then Mitch lays down the law on his asshole dad:
“Get the hell off our plane.”
Meanwhile, Jackson has discovered that his mother didn’t have the telltale mutation injection scar in her old pictures, meaning someone other than Robert Oz must have injected her after they moved to Botswana. Any thoughts on that, Abe?
“It was me, Jackson. I injected your mother.”
“…what? How would you do that, Abe?”
Abe: “Your father came to me. He gave me two hundred dollars.”
Jackson: “My father is dead.”
Abe: “Your father is still alive, and he’s working with General Davies.”
And then — a GUNSHOT?!?
I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO THE REST OF THE INSANE THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS SEQUENCE.
Wounded, Jackson sprints out the cargo ramp and into the wilderness.
Random Stranger of the Week
[British accent]: “Taiwanese authorities declared a mass evacuation of Jinshan following a coordinated multi-species attack on the nucular power plant. Belgium and France…”
[British accent]: “…on the nucular power plant…”
[British accent]: “…NUCULAR…”
“You don’t have to be a nucular scientist to pronounce ‘foilage.’”
“Can we do what people do sometimes and just maybe try and start over?”
“Yeah, sure. Let’s move on.”
“Abraham Kenyatta here.”
“God, it’s good to hear your voice.”
“I was attacked by horses.”
Wait till he finds out he’s a daddy! (Maybe. I’m guessing.)
“Don’t apologize for him.”
Allison: “I’m not. I’m apologizing for me. I was young.”
Mitch: “Well, it messed me up.”
Allison: “You didn’t act like it.”
Mitch: “Well… that’s what I do.”
“Still… here we are.”
Zoolight of the Episode
On his way out, Mitch’s Asshole Dad runs into Jamie, who brought his jar of Swedish Fish, the candy for people who hate themselves.
“I’m glad I met you. For the first time, I feel like I understand why Mitch is so… irritating.”
“I think you love my son.”
“Haaa I think you’re crazy!”
He leaves, asking her to tell Mitch that, in spite of their troubled relationship, he loves him. Honestly, it was just as likely they were gonna make out right there. You never know with this show.
And off Jamie goes up the spiral stairway of Zoo Force One, to tell Mitch that he is loved… but on behalf of his asshole dad? Or herself?
“This is insane.”
A very large, very cold double martini… she remembered! SHE DOES LOVE MITCH!
BOW CHICKA WOW WOW!
The past is a funny thing. You never know when it might come bubbling back to the surface… past loves, past lies, past mistakes. A father you spurned, a son you wronged, a lover you wounded. An apex predator that went extinct in the Pleistocene.
Or it could be the friend you promised to shoot if he turned into a mutant killing machine. The surrogate mother you betrayed for the price of a PlayStation. The love you discovered when you kissed on an airplane while saving a leopard and subsequently forgot about during a series of increasingly frustrating bad decisions in the Canadian wilderness.
Whatever it may be, don’t let your guard down, because when you least expect it, the past comes rushing back.
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).