Tiger King Season 2 Ep 1 Review: The Joe Exotic saga continues but it seems pointless this time
Tiger King 2
Tiger King 2 Cast: Joe Exotic, Jeff Lowe, Allen Glover
Tiger King 2 Creators: Eric Goode, Rebecca Chaiklin
Tiger King Streaming Platform: Netflix
Tiger King 2 Stars: 2.5/5
While Gal Gadot and her celebrity friends' Imagine cover may not have brought everyone together amid the pandemic last year, it definitely was Netflix's Tiger King that did the job. From Facebook groups to podcasts, the coronavirus lockdown last year gave everyone sitting at home, one major topic apart from the virus itself for discussion and it was the shady characters of Tiger King. Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin became household names and as the true-crime series returns for the second time, things have long changed. For starters, viewers are no more under a lockdown but the subject of the series is. For the unreversed, Joe Exotic was incarcerated on grounds of animal cruelty and also for attempting to get Baskin murdered under federal law and is now serving a sentence of 22 years of imprisonment. Does Exotic being behind the bars change things for season 2? Let's find out.
The second season of Tiger King gets five episodes and having watched the first out of the lot, I'm going to go out on a limb and say, I'm fairly disappointed. After hitting the pop culture nucleus with its first season, the second part takes off mainly with a celebration of the success of the same and one seems to hear no end of it. The constant reminder of the success of the show leaves one wondering whether it's just something Netflix forced upon its makers to boast about or does it speak volumes about how the pandemic cognitively deranged everyone to not only binge the show but also to take on a liking for its characters, who unfortunately aren't fictional. The series kicks off with Joe communicating from behind the bars as he claims to have been framed while everyone else seems to be enjoying at his expense, particularly, Jeff Lowe who is now handling the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and claims he now has "more money than god."
The introduction to Tiger King's season 2 isn't very strong and one can say with its key figures, Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin missing as its front and center, there's little left to chew on. The show takes us back to the pandemic and former US President Donald Trump's speeches where Joe's (full name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) supporters try to plead for a Presidential pardon for him. It's not a far-fetched idea to ask Trump for Joe's pardon given the history but with private jets, limos being driven around for it, it seems a bit of a stretch that even Trump wouldn't fall for. With not much fodder coming in from the pardon request, the show then turns to Joe's personal life, particularly his younger days. We get an introduction of his career as the youngest police chief in Texas and the bullying he faced for being a gay cowboy during the time. The series does seem to at various points show Exotic in a sympathetic light that seems unnecessary.
Joe's husband Dillon also makes an appearance and he seems rather not sorry about Exotic's incarceration. Exotic during one of the prison phone call bits that are scattered throughout the episode also mentions how his husband hasn't come to see him after they had a fight, on the morning that he was arrested. Not only Dillon, but Joe's former employees also feature in parts as they reflect on the impact of Tiger King and discuss whether their former boss deserves the punishment he has received.
The plot and purpose of Tiger King Season 2 seems scattered all through. From Joe's life sentence being the key topic discussion, the attention soon also shifts back to Carole Baskin's missing husband, Don Lewis, who vanished in 1997. It seems the true-crime docu-series exhausted most of its crucial content the first time around and this time, it's a sluggish affair. Much like the first time around, the focus of the show remains on sinister characters and their chaotic lives with little attention given to the mistreatment of animals and other real issues that need to come to light. Unfortunately, the impact of Netflix's (reported) 64 million viewership for the show's first season only seems to have added a negative to the well-being the very big cats around whom the show is staged. And it's evident as Lowe reveals how the park received massive footfalls amid the pandemic thanks to the show's popularity despite researchers claiming that the animals could be prone to catching COVID-19 as well. Not to mention the strange heroism that's placed on Joe while Carole was being subjected to ample online abuse and death threats. The misogyny of it all is glaring, to say the least.
Gauging by the way the first episode takes off, it seems that there will be more attention given to Baskin's missing husband and whether it will make for the satiating cringe-fest that the first part became seems dodgy. Joe Exotic's music videos also don't serve as much drama as they did during the last season. All I can hope for is despite its uneven start, the show will hopefully pick up its pace in the next four episodes when the recap and the celebration of its success ends to make way for some genuinely mind-blowing dirt on these unabashedly exotic folks. The series still maintains its salacious vibe but for those looking to find something beyond the same may be disappointed.