CBS’ Zoo, much like the establishments that give the series its name, has a lot of shit going on. Basically, a cataclysmic event caused every animal on Earth to rise up and turn against the human race. It’s up to a rag-tag team—zoologist Jackson Oz (James Wolk), journalist Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly), safari guide Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie), intelligence agent Chloe Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder) and pathologist Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke)—to develop a cure.
Honestly, the details don’t matter.
What actually does matter is the fact Zoo is a beautiful, preposterous summer slice of sensory overload. More plot happens in thirty seconds of Zoo than in entire seasons of The Americans. To properly convey this series’ tone, I should be delivering this piece entirely in capital letters and featuring several thousand exclamation points. If I tried to recap everything that occurred over Zoo’s two seasons we would all miss the June 29th Season 3 premiere. Instead, I have boiled it down to eight moments, all encapsulating why Zoo is not only the most absurd show on television right now but a must-watch experience.
1. The Wolf Pack Jail Bust
Zoo’s third episode, “The Silence of the Cicadas,” concludes with a pack of wolves orchestrating a coordinated attack on a Mississippi prison to free a death-row inmate named Evan Lee Hartley (Marcus Hester). I say “coordinated” but they mostly just rush inside at the same time as the guards frantically flee in the opposite direction. Saying “coordinated” allows me to picture the wolves sitting around a table with a prison map on it. It adds layers, which all prestige television has. Eventually, it is revealed that Hartley is afflicted with the same mutation that turned the animals against us, and the wolf pack views him as their alpha dog. Our heroes discover this information through several conversations about “scat.” Google “scat.”
2. The Antarctic Bat Attack
“Pack Mentality” introduces Wendy and Margaret Rhodes, a married couple of scientists whose relationship is on the rocks despite the fact that they moved to an isolated shack in Antarctica to study birds together. And that was before a rogue squadron of bats descended on their solar panels, shutting off the building’s electricity and heat. What follows is flesh-against-wings suspense similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds if Alfred Hitchcock had never seen a bird before. A single bat sneaks its way inside and flies directly into the backup generator. “Maybe we let the birds go and they’ll restore our power?” Margaret suggests, because the first step after a suicidal bat knocks out your last chance of survival is “bargaining.” The last shot we see is of empty bird cages and the scientists’ corpses, two frozen bodies equally as cold-blooded as that murderous colony of bats.
3. The Animal Street Rumble
Zoo’s Season One finale, “That Great Big Hill of Hope,” ends with the most deliriously delightful scene of gang warfare since West Side Story. Jackson, Abraham, Chloe, and Mitch drive toward the boat that will take them to Jamie, who has a leopard that will cure all wildlife—that is a whole other thing—when they are confronted by a street gang composed of hundreds of different animals. Reader, it is amazing. The only possible way this image gets better is if one of the lions was wearing a leather vest, or if a gorilla was brandishing a butterfly knife. Extra points to Abraham, who squints, says, “Hold on,” then gently slows the car to a stop like he can’t see every animal in existence has blocked off the street like a Pride parade.