Zoo, Season 1 Episode 5: “Blame it on Leo”

If you watch Zoo, why have you chosen to watch it? Is it for the mystery, or the completely bizarre goings on? If it’s the former, there are some possible answers this week before they’re snatched away. If it’s the latter, there’s more stuff happening with bats, but nothing as bizarre as a man who is the Alpha of the pack but unfortunately not a werewolf. “Blame it on Leo” is a typical mid-season episode of a drama: we get a little further along in the quest, but they can’t get too close to solving the whole darn thing, because there are still another 13 episodes left. We also learn some things about Mitch’s personal life that were so obvious that I’m ashamed of myself for not putting it together. Much more interesting is Agent Schaffer joining in the investigation.

I’m going to start with Mitch’s old family, because it’s the storyline that’s least connected to the narrative as a whole. Or it was, but now the dog has been given tablets that were manufactured by Reiden Global, so something is going to happen, and I’m really worried about Clementine. Here’s what we knew about Mitch before this week: he doesn’t really get on well with anyone, and he has an ex-wife and a sick daughter. Because I don’t take this show that seriously, I didn’t put that together and I needed CBS exposition to help me. I knew that because the photo was kept hidden for an entire scene that it’d be a character we already know (much like the photo of Evan Lee Hartley with Jackson’s father last week). Mitch’s daughter Clementine is sick. The illness is never named, but she has fits, which makes me think it’s epilepsy; but it’s a very serious case, because Clementine mentions that she’s dying. Her dog Henry barks just before she has fits, and I now want the entire show to be The Adventures of Clementine and Henry. However the dog gets hit by a car and breaks his leg, and now he has medication from Reiden, who are the evil corporate overlords that Jamie always insisted they were.

Back to the gang! The episode starts on a phone conversation between Mitch and Jamie. Mitch needs to analyse the bacteria that he discovered in the wolf last week, and he finds a signature on it. He sends a photo off to his guy at MIT, and it turns out that the person who left their mark there is Leo Butler, formerly of Reiden Global, and the man that Evan Lee James had written down somewhere in his cell. Meanwhile, Chloe has gotten a call from someone – either Agent Dixon or a friend in Brazil, asking her to go to Rio de Janiero, because it is the bats’ new favourite haunt. The gang splits up, and on we go to the missions of the week!

For the first time we have a Jamie and Jackson pairing, as the two head to Alabama to find Leo Butler. Jamie has gotten friends to hack into Reiden Global for her, which impresses Jackson, but then Agent Schaffer shows up. This is a positive development in every way, because Geoff Stults improves most things, and I’m really glad he wasn’t a single episode guest star. Schaffer takes Jamie and Jackson to where they think Leo is living/hiding (he’s been blackmailing an MNC, which makes him a person of interest to the FBI), and he has a cage in the middle of his house with a chair in it. Leo tries to escape but then Jackson punches him in the face. Not great, Oz! Leo explains to the gang that the reason Reiden Global are able to manufacture new products so quickly is because of what they call the “mother cell”. We don’t know much about the mother cell, except that it’s in every Reiden product, and most likely what’s causing the animals to act differently. He has a prototype or something hidden somewhere, and he brings Jamie with him to get it. They do, and on the way back, Evan Lee James crashes into them and steals the mother cell. What does he want with it? You’ll have to watch next week to find out.

While they’re waiting for Jamie and Leo, Jackson and Schaffer go through Leo’s things, and find an inventory of every product containing the mother cell. A helpful piece of exposition tells us that it’s everything “from pet food to pesticide”, which also provides us (along with Mitch’s explanation of the bacteria passing up the food chain) a possible explanation of how it affects wild lions in a protected area. Genetically modified crops are advertised as a way for people in developing nations to bring themselves out of poverty. The catch is that GM crops need special pesticides, which, if Reiden Global is into genetic modification, means they’re also into pesticides. So, farmers in Africa are growing GM crops using Reiden seeds, along with Reiden pesticides. A bird could eat the seed and become infected with the bacteria, and as the bird is eaten by its predator, the bacteria makes its way up the food chain, and so on. We pretty much have the answer to what is making the animals act so strange now, a much more interesting question is why different species react to the bacteria in different ways.

For instance, the wolves massacred an entire prison to help their human alpha escape. Meanwhile, the bats are cutting off power sources in Antarctica and the world’s bat population seems to have made it to Brazil. However Chloe, Abraham and Mitch notice that the bats are only swarming in certain parts of Rio de Janiero, so they go to investigate. This area is the slum, where Abraham recognises that people are connecting their own transformers to the power lines (I may be wrong on the terminology, this isn’t my area), which in itself is a marker of class. As Abraham tries to catch a bat, they fly over to the power lines and disturb the transformers so that they explode and everyone’s power goes out. Later, when Chloe is talking to Jackson on the phone, a bat attacks her phone.

Mitch’s theory is that the bats are trying to take away human technology, which is what enables them to act as an apex predator. Anyway, for some reason the bats seem to be attracted to electromagnetic fields, which is the complete opposite to what is happening with Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul. Abraham and Chlow have an idea to move a transformer or something to an area that’s far away from any humans to attract the bats, but they’re interrupted trying to steal the transformer by the people who wanted to beat them up last time. Despite the fact that there are stakes (our heroes have made themselves enemies of the locals, and the government is considering dumping pesticide all over the city to stop the attack), this is much less interesting than the other story, probably because neither Jackson nor Jamie are there, and they’re the characters we know the most about. Either way, I’m along for the ride.

Other thoughts:

  • Leo is super paranoid, and I love guys like this. He is absolutely the one person we were missing from the squad.
  • I was really worried about Chloe, I thought the bat was going to attack her and then she’d be infected.
  • Mitch: Crazy seems to be on a sliding scale since I met you guys.
  • Apparently they know about the solar panels in Antarctica, which is almost a bridge too far for me. How would they know if the people who worked there are dead? Did they manage to send out a distress signal before they died?
  • Okay, she’s Mitch’s daughter.
  • Perhaps Noregard Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary of Reiden Global.
  • One question: if the mother cell is in all Reiden Global products, some of which are presumably used by humans, why haven’t they become infected?

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