“The Cheese Stands Alone” is episode eight of season one of Zoo.
In the previous episode, “Sleuths”, Mitch had contacted an executive at Reiden Global, and offered him the Mother Cell. At the end of the episode it was revealed why when they met. Mitch’s daughter, Clementine, who was seen first in “Blame It on Leo”, is dying – and Reiden Global apparently have a cure that works, but one that his daughter hasn’t been able to get. Mitch wants the cure in exchange for the Mother Cell. Which does explain why he is willing to make the exchange.
The episode opens in Paris. Chloe is videochatting with Delavenne – and we still know almost nothing about him – because he wants them to return to the U.S., to Pender Island, Massachusetts. Two weeks previously, a cargo ship had left Oslo bound for Portland in Maine. According to the reports, the crew had said the ship had an unusually high rat population. Two days into the journey, there were apparently hundreds of rats, and then the ship ended up adrift near Pender Island, where a fisherman said he saw thousands of rats swimming away from the ship. When the vessel was boarded, the crew were all dead, and were then eaten by rats (although it may have been the other way around), and one of the cargo containers had grain which came from a farm that uses Reiden pesticides (does Mitch really want the Mother Cell in his daughter?). Delavenne wants them to, at the very least, capture a male and a female rat. So they go to Boston.
Jamie is still staying out of sight, in case anyone is looking into the death of Shaffer, the FBI (assuming he was) agent she killed in “This is What it Sounds Like”. In the previous episode, they hacked Reiden’s computers in Paris, so they may have information showing that Shaffer was on their payroll.
Mitch had theorised that the Mother Cell was accelerating changes in creatures that would normally take many generations to appear. With the rats, Jackson suggests that this could be how hundreds turned into thousands in the space of a couple of weeks, and Abe points out that rats have a short gestation period. So it could be the same with other animals as well. As he points out, something similar happening to lions, tigers and alligators would be bad. Jackson also states that rats that taste human blood essentially get addicted to it. Jackson had also visited Pender Island with his father, and his last good memories of them both were on the island.
Jackson knows the woman who is now the sheriff. He wants the island to be evacuated, but doing so in peak tourist season will not go down well. Plus, the fisherman who saw the rats is an unreliable witness and no-one has seen large numbers of them, only a few near an abandoned hotel. Not evacuating may be a mistake and an exterminator discovers that there are more than a few rats in the hotel. Very briefly – they are quite aggressive. What is happening with the rats is even weirder than thought and Jackson has a theory about why all the species are changing.
With the others going to the island, Mitch is first going to see his daughter. He asks how the dog, Henry, he gave her is behaving, which is okay. For now anyway – Henry was hit by a car and was prescribed some Reiden drugs. Mitch is also supposed to be seeing what can be found in the data they got from Reiden, via a friend of his.
In New York, a man who sounds like he may have a connection to the now-deceased Shaffer is on a date, and a horse appears to have been affected as well.