A Zoo Community
CBS (ended 2017)
Billy Burke, we missed you!

Zoo has always been a show that seemed to embrace the inherent goofiness of its concept. CGI animals going berserk? Check. Animals with superpowers? Check. Weird-ass tech? Check. Mitch Morgan as a "veterinary pathologist" who is smarter than all the eggheads at Reiden and the government combined? Check.

Sadly, the first two episodes of this season of Zoo kinda forgot this. Instead we get the sterility of humans and the threatened extinction of the species. That's pretty serious stuff. And other than the occasional embryo growing on a lab table like The Blob, doesn't offer much in the way of goofiness. I don't expect the Children of Man scenario to be a light-hearted romp. But it's not exactly playing to Zoo's strengths, is it?

But never fear, "Ten Years Gone" is here!

For starters, what was up with downplaying Billy Burke? He doesn't show up except for flashbacks until the end of the first episode. And he spent most of episode two as a ten-years-in-a-tank shell-shocked homeless person. Billy Burke is one of the best actors on the show, jumping effortlessly across the line from serious actor to "I know I'm better than this garbage, but I need a new pool."

"Ten Years Gone" is no exception. Burke spends most of the time with his head locked into a vice as Jamie bores into his head with a drill she got out of the toolbox. Yeah, a "I hope you sanitized that!" wouldn't have gone amiss. But this is the Mitch we know and love, asking for a pig and lollipops, lecturing Jamie and Clementine about how a pig's brain is similar to a human, and basically talking them through his own trephination.

Because he has a "biodrive" in his brain, and it's putting pressure on the speech centers, giving Mitch stroke-like symptoms. It was designed by the Shepherd to create a group consciousness but proved fatal with everyone except Mitch. So if he keeps it, he dies. If he gets rid of it, he loses all of his memories. Ruh-roh! Mitch chooses to keep it.

And all the time Burke is selling the heck out of the whole, "I've been asleep for 10 years, everyone ignored what I wanted, and I'm dealing with my now-adult daughter." Subplot. Billy Burke deserves an Emmy, even if they have to create a new category for him. "Actor With the Most Sheer Chutzpah," maybe.

Also, Mitch is the audience surrogate here. He wonders what the heck has happened in the last 10 year "time jump," and since the characters can't sit around and talk about things they already know, we have a character that they can talk to about it who doesn't already know it.

As I've noted before, Billy Burke has always been Zoo's MVP. But Nonso Anozie is a close second, and the creative team gets us on their side by having Daniela having an affair with some generic "Good Looking Professor" schmuck sometime in the last ten years. If you want to get the audience on your side, have someone hurt Abe. It's like clubbing baby seals. It helps that Daniela is the one who is tightening the screws. Her and Logan have always been the second-stringers of the team, and I still expect them to die horribly. If Chloe wasn't safe, why should they keep on living?

Speaking of which, Josh Salatin doesn't have much to do this week except look all Dominic Monaghan-ish as Logan and give bad romantic advice to Jackson. We do get the idea that he might have abandoned Jamie and Clementine. Why, we don't know. Logan still remains the most undeveloped regular character on the show. Maybe because we've pretty much never seen the "real" Logan. He's always posing as an infiltrator, or a counter-infiltrator, or a police detective, or something. And yet Logan isn't interesting or developed enough to be a "I like slipping from one identity to another" kind of guy.

Speaking of bad romantic advice, Jackson tells Tessa who he really is. And she leaves him. It's not clear, to us or her, if she's leaving because Jackson is (supposedly) an extinction-causing bad guy. Or because he lied to her. That's the problem with time jumps: unless the characters involved are the main characters or have had a lot of development, we don't really care about them or their relationships with the mains. Tessa got dumped on us, we saw that her and Jackson were... comfortable around each other. And now she's gone until her inevitable return. Too bad, so sad.

Kristen Connolly is probably the biggest disappointment, but then she always has been. She plays Jamie with a dead-eyed determination that not even Mitch's return can do more than occasionally snap her out of. You can almost see her gritting her teeth and imagining, either "Why was my character killed off on The Whispers?" or "This is the high spot in my career?!?" She's the only main star that acts as if she has better things to do than appear in Zoo. Ms. Connolly doesn't, unless I missed the memo on a The Cabin in the Woods sequel.

James Wolk, by comparison, is mostly harmless as Jackson Oz. Jackson is the obligatory white male "Man of Action rather than Geek of Science" lead. Almost every major show has one, and Zoo clearly intends to be no exception.

What else did I mention? Oh, right CGI animals and superpowers. This week we get burrowing vulture (??) CGI hybrids. And next week's previews suggest that they're going to attack a major metropolis. We never do find out what happened to the rhino hybrid, and I was a bit confused. So they traced it to the area using the signal Abe gave Jackson. But then switched to thermal imaging and couldn't find it?

We also have Abigail, who is one half of the Face of Evil bad guy. Last year we had Peter Outerbridge, this year we get a two-fer with Athena Karkanis (Lost Girl, The Expanse) and Sophina Brown (Numb3rs). And more references to Robin Thomas as Max Morgan than I can stand. Zoo Drinking Game: Take a sip anyone says "Grandpa."

One does wonder where Mitch's ex Allison took off to, though? Where's she been for the last ten years? And if they get Joanne Kelly back, maybe they can bring in Saul Rubinek and have a mini Warehouse 13 reunion. Allison Scagliotti is busy over on Stitchers, so she probably can't make it. But I'm sure Eddie McClintlock and Genelle Williams don't have anything better to do.

And I don't review Stitchers because although I like the concept, the Freeform-ish "Young good-looking multi-racial cast have soap operaish issues" just isn't that reviewable. But sheesh, they give Scagliotti the obligatory second-tier LGBT relationship. And she tells her new girlfriend Amanda that she's worth a shot. And Amanda gets all huffy about being called a "shot" and walks out. What's the point of being a lesbian if you're going to be a dick?

Anyhoo, Zoo seems back to normal. Heck with the sterility of mankind: give us more CGI animals and bantering Mitch!

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Comments (3)
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Jul 18, 2017
Nothing like hanging out in a halo cast with your brain all exposed! Just too funny!
Jul 16, 2017
LOL. I loved loved loved your hilarious review. Took the zoo outta my Zoolander mouth ! Gotta go now, the hybrids are coming through my windows. Dun wanna end up in a jacuzzi fish tank like Mitch. Growl grrrr-........too late! They're here. See u in the next episode. :P
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