Zoo S01E08 Recap: "The Cheese Stands Alone"

If I'm being honest, I had this episode circled on the calendar for weeks. Not because of any conclusion we may be building up to but simply because of its name. "The Cheese Stands Alone" has a whimsical, juvenile ring to it and I just couldn't wait to see what it could possibly mean. Well, now we know, and there certainly wasn't anything whimsical, fun, or sweet about the episode's antagonists. It could be argued it's one of the more vile sights ever broadcast on CBS, but this is the same network that airs "Two and Half Men."

In their defense however (and as first noted in Entertainment Weekly's review) CBS did spare us from any super graphic close-ups of the queen rats, which was certainly appreciated. I'm not sure how much I could have stomached during an early morning viewing anyway. The chilling chattering of the rats grinding their teeth was almost enough to do it on its own. Let it be known that I don't have any problems with rats on their own, but put a thousand of them scurrying above the ceiling or flopping out of an elevator at the same time and I'm officially checked out.

Anyway, the most interesting development of all is that Chloe's boss is apparently in cahoots with Reiden Global, a realization that Mitch literally stumbled upon while inexplicably handing over the Mother Cell to one of the company's executives. Sure, the former is awfully fishy and will certainly come to a head over the next few weeks, but I don’t think we can just conveniently forget that Mitch was about to nearly sabotage all the work his team had done by forfeiting the one piece of hard evidence they have. Last week, I said I didn’t think he'd do such a thing. Now, it seems I couldn't have been more wrong. Plus Mitch had to bore us with a series of depressing segments where he's sitting next to his estranged daughter in the park and seems incapable of starting any real conversation. He's by far the least valuable player of the week. Hopefully he'll garner some flak for it as it may be difficult to explain to the rest of his team why he was even there in the first place.

But really, this doesn't seem like it should come as that much of a surprise. There's so many secrets and cover ups from one scene to the next that you just know two or three people aren't going to be all they appear to be. Ben Schaeffer was a dirty cop. Generic organization boss #1 is in bed with generic evil corporation. It seems all too easy to plot it out like so and the way things are going…I don't think it'll come as any shock to find one of our main characters has several things to hide yet. Maybe Mitch once worked for Reiden? Maybe Chloe wasn't just vacationing in Africa, what if she was there to ensure all the animals received their proper doses of the tainted food? Maybe Jackson's father didn't die of natural causes…but was murdered??? At the risk of turning a recap into a soap opera, I'll refrain from any more. But the argument still stands. When we reach a point where everything is capable of being something unexpected, everything sort of becomes expected.

This episode featured a nice mix of legitimate suspense with a few satisfying pay-offs. It seems to be getting better with time. The actors could just be getting more comfortable with their characters, or perhaps the sloppy, prolonged writing which plagued the first few episodes is firmly positioned in the rear view mirror. The show is churning, that much is for sure, although I'm still a little hesitant to guarantee a full resolution by the time the series reaches its end. There still seem to be too many cogs spinning to bring everything full circle in one fell swoop, and I fear the entirety of the animal kingdom may prove difficult to neatly defeat.

Some Other Notes:

• I find it very fitting that Schaeffer was this weird little agency's "golden boy," aka "the quarterback" or "no.12." Just like that cheating, no-good liar Tom Brady. I feel like that may have been intentional and I like it.

• Seems curious that the new husband of Mitch's "baby momma" was nowhere to be found this week, especially with the whole "first time seeing his daughter in 8 years" thing. Did the outing only happen because he wasn't around to argue against it? Why have the two not met face to face yet? Many more questions to come from this subplot, only time will tell if they actually turn out to be interesting though. Related: why hasn't their treasured, household dog turned all violent just yet? Whatever chemicals may be in play here, they certainly seem to have affected the world's other animals rather quickly. Seems odd to continue to see nothing happen there, when the presence of Reiden's dog-healing drugs were teased weeks ago.

• I give the flamethrower scene a solid 7.5/10 on its own. It could have been cooler, but I understand that both time and budget may have been limited. If anything, hopefully the team can now learn to bring some protection with them, rather than just walking around an abandoned hotel with thousands of rats waiting to feast on unsuspecting strangers. Also, I'm going to go ahead and start producing bumper stickers that read: "You always bring a flamethrower to a rat fight."