Did Netflix Pick Up Zoo Season 4?
We are living in a golden age of TV in many respects; with the rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services, there are more amazing shows on television than ever before. Unfortunately there is a downside to this cornucopia of awesome TV, and that is that many shows don’t gain enough traction to complete their planned runs. If a show doesn’t generate enough interest in the fans, it will end up being canceled prematurely after just a few seasons. This can leave fans bereft, as the show gets canceled before completing the story arc, sometimes even ending on a cliffhanger that is never resolved. One such tragic end appears to have come for the show “Zoo”, originally airing on CBS. “Zoo” first aired on June 30, 2015, and ran for 39 episodes in 3 seasons before the show was abruptly canceled on October 23, 2017, just a month after the final episode aired.
The Series Summary
“Zoo” was an interesting and innovative thriller, centering on an expert zoologist, Jackson Oz (James Wolk). Oz begins the show working as a safari guide, and he begins to notice that the animals are becoming strangely aggressive. He begins investigating the cause, as the attacks against humans become more violent and better-coordinated. Oz is joined on his quest by fellow safari guide Abraham Kenyatta (Nonso Anozie), journalist Jamie Campbell (Kristen Connolly), veterinarian Dr. Mitch Morgan (Billy Burke), and French intelligence agent Chloe Tousignant (Nora Arnezeder). Other regular cast members included Alyssa Diaz, Josh Salatin, and Gracie Dzenny.
The original basis for “Zoo” was a novel of the same name written by James Patterson (who also served as an executive producer on the show) and Michael Ledwidge, although the series quickly moved past the events of the novel and began covering new plot elements. The series was written by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Andre Nemec, and Josh Appelbaum.
The ongoing plot for “Zoo” was rather intricate and at times absurd. During the first season, the team travels the world trying to find an antidote for the virus that has infected the animals, causing their strange behavior. They believe they have developed the cure, but it turns out that the virus has mutated and the animals have gone berserk all over the world. In the second and third seasons, they encounter a wide variety of new and strange creatures, such as a 70-foot snake that can turn invisible, burrowing ostrich-vultures, razorback wolves, and a wooly mammoth-rhinoceros hybrid. The events of the series became more and more bizarre, with Jackson seeming to fall into insanity, becoming able to control animals telepathically, and more.
The series ends on a cliffhanger, with a threat of a zombie apocalypse added to the animal apocalypse already going on.
The Initial Run
“Zoo” initially ran on CBS for three seasons, airing Tuesdays at 10 pm. “Zoo” was initially slotted as a replacement for “Under the Dome” in 2015, another sci-fi-themed show which was itself canceled in 2014 after three seasons. The show initially ran on CBS for three seasons. It premiered back in the summer of 2015 with a 13-episode opening season, which aired between June 30 and September 15. Airing Tuesdays at 10pm, the show replaced the network’s surprise sci-fi hit “Under the Dome”, which was canceled in 2014 after three years on the air.
Season two of “Zoo” ran from June 28 to September 6, 2016, with 13 new episodes, and the final two episodes were shown back-to-back in a special two-hour slot. The third and final season, again with 13 episodes, was broadcast from June 29 to September 21, 2017 on CBS. As noted, the show was then canceled by CBS about a month after the final cliffhanger episode aired.
Netflix and Amazon Battle
When Zoo first premiered, Amazon and Netflix fought for the rights to the series. After a fierce struggle, Netflix won and became CBS’s exclusive video-on-demand partner for “Zoo”. The deal was that Netflix would get access to each season only after all 13 episodes were aired on CBS. Netflix also got the rights to stream the series in more than 50 countries around the world, and as of February 2019 “Zoo” is still available for streaming on Netflix. (Looking for something else to watch on Netflix? Check out this review of great shows on Netflix right now, or this list of binge-worthy programs.)
“Zoo” started out fairly strong (there was a reason Netflix and Amazon got into a dustup over the show), averaging 6.4 million viewers per episode and a 1.06 rating in the key 18-49 demographic during the first season. The first episode had around 8.1 million viewers, although that dropped to 4.8 million viewers by the season finale.
Those ratings slumped further in the second season, which opened with 5.1 million viewers and ended with 4.2 million viewers. The season average dropped from 6.40 to 4.40 million viewers and an average rating of 0.74 in the key demographic.
As the original core viewers (perhaps alienated and confused by the increasingly weird plot twists) dropped away, the downward trend continued throughout the third season, which opened with just under 3 million viewers and closed with 2.8 million viewers. The season average was 2.65 million viewers with a 0.51 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo.
“Zoo” had a downward path that simply was never interrupted. After its strong start, the show never was able to regain its momentum, almost halving its audience the first season. The second season didn’t lose much ground, but the third season was a disaster, and the steady decline in the numbers fed industry speculation that the show was on the bubble and being considered for cancellation. That industry buzz proved correct; even though “Zoo” eked out a third-season renewal, the numbers were simply terrible and the third season episodes never beat the 3 million viewer mark; the third season’s tenth episode hit an all-time low of 2.03 million, and even the much-anticipated season finale only reached 2.8 million. The cancellation in October of 2017 was disappointing to true believers and the show’s die-hard fans, but not to anyone else.
Will There Be a Season 4?
Rumors have swirled ever since the cancellation that Netflix might pick up “Zoo” for a fourth season. The video streaming service is always hungry for content, and shows like “Zoo” with a built-in audience can be attractive for the network, which has resurrected a few dead series in the past. Netflix already the exclusive video-on-demand rights for the series, and the fact that the third season ended in a cliffhanger seemed to many people to create a natural entry point for a renewal. An online petition was even created by the fans.
Despite the rumors and speculations, Netflix remained silent on the subject. One problem is that “Zoo” was a show heavily based on CGI, and while the costs of special effects have definitely dropped in recent decades, creating 70-foot invisible snakes and rhinoceros monsters isn’t cheap. With only a couple of million people willing to tune in by the end of the series, Netflix probably simply didn’t see any money on the table for a fourth season. That said, the future of the series remains uncertain, as there is still no official announcement from Netflix either way.
The other significant issue blocking a resurrection of “Zoo” is that important cast members have already moved on. James Wolk is starring in CBS’ new thriller “Tell Me A Story”, which was recently renewed for a second season. Alyssa Diaz is playing the female lead on ABC’s “The Rookie”, while Billy Burke is pursuing a movie career.
All in all, the odds seem stacked against a season 4 for “Zoo”.
Episode Summaries – Season One
Season one was widely regarded as the best season of Zoo, and here we present the episode summaries for this season for your information.
Episode 1, “First Blood”
American zoologist Jackson Oz saves Chloe Tousignant, a French tourist, from a lion attack. Jackson’s father Robert was collecting scientific evidence concerning animal attacks on humanity. A lion attacks a keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo, and journalist Jamie Campbell believes this was triggered by a pesticide created by biotech conglomerate Reiden Global; she begins to investigate the issue with veterinary pathologist Mitch Morgan.
Episode 2, “Fight or Flight”
Safari guide Abraham Kenyatta is captured by a group of lions before being rescued by Jackson. Jackson’s mother advises him to search for his father’s abandoned research in Japan. Jamie and Mitch continue to investigate Reiden, finding unusual brain activity in the lions in the Los Angeles Zoo. Chloe goes back to Paris and is revealed to be an intelligence agent for the French intelligence agency DGSE; she is approached by a man named Gaspard Alves.
Episode 3, “The Silence of the Cicadas”
Gaspard tells Chloe about six men who have been killed by dogs and asks for her help in investigating. Jackson and Abraham fly to a radioactive area in Japan where Robert conducted his research, but are the only survivors when their plane is attacked by bats and crashes. They find horses that had become violent. Jamie and Mitch go to New Orleans to show their results to the powerful Senator Vaughn but he refuses to see them because of Reiden’s power. Gaspard meets Mitch in a bar and they go to Japan, where they rescue Jackson and Abraham. They meet Mr. Delavenne, who believes that animals all over the world are attacking humans. A death row inmate in Mississippi, Evan Lee Hartley, escapes from prison when wolves attack the facility.
Episode 4, “Pack Mentality”
FBI agent Ben Shaffer investigates the Hartley escape and it seems that Hartley is leading the wolf pack. Jamie discovers a photograph of Hartley with Mitch. Abraham and Mitch try to catch a wolf, but are themselves captured by Hartley. They escape and are able to take a wolf corpse with them to dissect. An Antarctic research station is attacked by bats, and the researchers release their caged birds to try to get the bats to leave, but the bats block the station’s solar panels and the researchers freeze to death.
Episode 5, “Blame It on Leo”
Mitch discovers a chemical signature in the wolf corpse that points to Leo Butler, a chemist at Reiden, whose name Hartley had written many times in his Bible. Jamie hacks Reiden’s computer system and discovers that Butler was blackmailing the company. Jamie, Shaffer and Jackson find Leo, who explains that Reiden has achieved commercial success using a “mother cell”, a special molecule in all of their products. Leo and Jamie go to try to access the mother cell, but they are intercepted by Hartley. Chloe, Abraham and Mitch go to Brazil to look into a swarm of day-flying bats. The group is held up by a local gangster, Gustavo Silva.
Episode 6, “This Is What It Sounds Like”
Silva continues to hold Chloe and Mitch captive in Brazil while the authorities attempt to poison the bats without success. Mitch builds an ultrasound signal to defeat the bats. In Alabama, Jackson notices that Hartley has the same wide pupils as the aggressive animals because Hartley has injected a sample of the “mother cell” into his eyes. Jackson, Jamie and Shaffer go after Hartley but find him dead. Shaffer steals the “mother cell” but Jackson captures him. Jamie shoots Ben in the process. The team, with the “mother cell” in hand, regroups at the airport.
Episode 7, “Sleuths”
Chloe’s former fiance, Jean-Michel Lion, is working with Paris authorities on a case of bears going into residences. Jamie infiltrates the Paris office of Reiden to look at their accounting records. Mitch examines a captured bear, which is hibernating, and finds no sign of the mother cell, but when the bear wakes up its pupils widen and its DNA changes. Mitch believes that the mother cell creates accelerated evolution in animals and might have curative properties. Jean-Michel, Chloe, Jackson and Abraham find the other bears but are attacked by them when they wake up.
Episode 8, “The Cheese Stands Alone”
In Massachusetts a freighter runs aground when its crew are killed by rats who have been exposed to Reiden pesticides. The rats swim ashore to an island and hide in an old hotel. The team travels there to capture sample rats to determine if the mother cell accelerates reproduction. The local sheriff Becky, a childhood friend of Jackson’s, does not want to evacuate the island, not believing there is a threat. Abraham discovers a male rat which gives birth to pups but cannot nurse them. Jackson believes the rats have become a hive creature and the team goes after the queen. Mitch leaves to visit his sick daughter in Boston. In New York City, a carriage horse goes berserk and gallops away, causing a crash of the carriage, in which Brannigan, Ben’s boss at the FBI, was riding.
Episode 9, “Murmuration”
Mitch, having promised a trade of the mother cell for a cure for his daughter, escapes from Reiden without giving them the mother cell and rejoins the group. Mitch believes he can develop a cure for the mutations, but needs an animal that mutated without being exposed to the mother cell. The group decides leopards in Zambia are the best choice. Brannigan issues arrest warrants for Chloe and Jamie. Delavenne is revealed to be Reiden’s head of global security, and is ordered to retrieve the mother cell. Chloe and Jackson talk to Delavenne and suggest that Reiden come clean, but Delavenne declines. Jamie contacts a journalist friend, Wilson Dupree, and they plan a meeting. Brannigan intercepts the meeting and tries to arrest Chloe and Jamie, who narrowly escape. Reiden threatens to sue Wilson’s newspaper and she gives in. The team discovers that various bird species have begun communicating with one another and attacking humans. Mitch rescues his daughter from a bird attack and gives her the medicine. Burke tells Delavenne to assassinate the group.
Episode 10, “Emotional Contagion”
The FBI has put the group on the most wanted list. Mitch needs a piece of equipment to examine the African animals for the mutation, and the group seeks help from Ray Endicott, an activist with a troubled past. They break into a zoo in Florida and Mitch steals the device he needs. Ray attempts to free some of the zoo animals, and is shot by zoo security. The group finds that the animals Ray put in his truck have spread the behavioral change from the mother cell to one another, making them friendly with each other but hostile to humanity. Ray makes the others take the animals with them, but the animals escape en route to the airport. The group is chased by police and Chloe is captured, but the rest are able to make their plane for Africa.
Episode 11, “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”
In Zambia the team finds that Ray’s contacts have been killed by leopards. The leopards attack their camp by night and Ray is killed. Jackson and Abraham find a cub to examine its mutation. The group is held up by rebels and escapes, but Jackson is shot. In Virginia, Brannigan and Chloe are attacked and Brannigan is shot while Chloe is kidnapped by Gaspard, who demands she reveal the location of the team. Gaspard tortures Chloe’s sister when she refuses to talk, so she lies and says the team are in India. Delavenne frees Chloe and Gaspard is shot.
Episode 12, “Wild Things”
Delavenne lets Chloe present their results at a conference on the animal attacks, but scientists don’t accept her suggestions. Chloe is approached by Amelia Sage, leader of another team investigating the mutations. Mitch, Abraham and Jamie drive Jackson to a hospital in Harare, in the middle of an evacuation prompted by animal attacks. A doctor helps Jackson, and the team uses the hospital’s lab to produce a cure using stem cells from the Zambian leopard. The group is attacked and they lose the mother cell, but the cure is tested on a dog and works. Chloe sends soldiers to rescue the team, but on the flight back home the plane is attacked by birds and crashes.
Episode 13, “That Great Big Hill of Hope”
It has been several months since the plane crash and mutant animals have taken over. The group believes she is dead, but Jamie was rescued by a fisherman and is trapped at his home. The others have promised not to talk in exchange for legal immunity and the government has decided not to prosecute Reiden in exchange for their help in fighting the mutation. Abraham works as a bodyguard against the animals, while Jackson and Chloe have joined Amelia Sage. Jackson plans to use mosquitoes to deliver the cure, but they have no more Zambian leopards to use, until Jamie is able to call on a satellite phone and reveals that the fisherman also rescued the leopard cub from the plane crash. The group reunites and set out to find Jamie, when they encounter a large group of hostile animals.
There are so many shows today that every series faces fierce competition for an audience, and while the expansion of the medium has permitted a lot of new stories and ideas to reach production, the true king of Hollywood is and always will be the bottom line. Shows have to attract enough of an audience to pay for themselves, and “Zoo”, like many other original and interesting programs, simply wasn’t able to measure up. Shows with high viewership and ratings get renewed, while the others get canned. Although it still had stories to tell, “Zoo” suffered from poor ratings for much of its run, which eventually resulted in its cancellation. A rebirth seems unlikely, although not impossible.
(TechJunkie keeps tabs on a lot of the cancelled shows that Netflix, Amazon Prime, or other services might pick up. For example, we cover whether anyone is going to give Last Man on Earth another season, and we do the same for Luther, Dark Matter, Grimm, Daredevil, Impostors, Taken, Into the Badlands, Z Nation, and many more.)