Tiger King 2 review: Joe Exotic’s story continues, but there’s no point

What was 2020’s Netflix experience Tiger King actually about? Was it a wild trip through the eccentric subculture of business owners and conservationists who display huge felines in personal zoos? Or was it a compelling true-crime story about bitter competitors Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, who each might have taken part in different, strange murder plots? When the docu-series premiered, right as individuals were beginning to hunch down in the house, preventing an emerging pandemic, just what made it so addictive?

These aren’t idle concerns. They’re what Tiger King directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin definitely asked themselves prior to beginning work on the series’ five-episode 2nd season, now offered on Netflix. Yet evaluating by what they produced, they never ever found out the responses. The Tiger King follow up is a discouraging mess, with none of the gripping storytelling that made the initial run such a guilty satisfaction.

It’s tough to find out what this 2nd season is meant to be. The very first episode is the most appealing among the entire batch. It takes a bigger take a look at the entire Tiger King phenomenon, remembering how the program swept throughout the United States throughout what ended up being an extremely odd year for America and the world. The episode catches the numerous manner ins which the documentary’s topics ended up being practically like imaginary characters to the general public, a few of whom dressed up like Joe and Carole for Halloween, or increasingly disputed the regret or innocence of the series’ individuals.

Wildlife owner Tim Stark, shirtless and with a monkey perched on his shoulder, standing in front of a trailer in Tiger King 2

Wildlife owner Tim Stark in Tiger King 2
Picture: Netflix

Then episodes 2 and 3 modification course, vanishing when again down the bunny hole of the allegations versus Carole Baskin, who — as covered relatively completely in season 1 — has actually been thought of nasty play in the 1997 disappearance of her rich ex-husband Don Lewis. The brand-new product includes bit, other than for fresh interviews with individuals who rework a great deal of the very same info, in tiresome information.

Episodes 4 and 5 pivot once again, and work the most like a correct follow up to the very first Tiger King. The very first season exposed the absence of governmental oversight at “wildlife encounter” traveler areas, and drew needs both from animal-rights activists and from common worried people that the federal government closed down these questionable operations. The last 2 episodes of season 2 record the pressure placed on Jeff Lowe and Tim Stark, 2 of the Joe Exotic-like zoo owners included in the previous run. Bold to the last, even as federal representatives roll onto their residential or commercial properties to take their animals away, Lowe and Stark grow significantly frenzied, making desperate relocations. Their scenes are quickly the most amazing of these 5 episodes, though like the rest of this season, their stories aren’t particularly well woven into the entire.

Throughout all the episodes, Goode and Chaiklin return routinely to Joe Exotic, still being in jail, where he’s been following what’s gone on given that Tiger King debuted, and hoping somebody from his old life will step up and assist exonerate him of the charge that he worked with a hit man to eliminate Baskin. The brand-new season covers the unsuccessful efforts to get Joe a governmental pardon, consisting of some shocking video of the group behind the project unfurling a banner at a January sixth D.C. “Stop the Steal” rally, and drawing some mad responses. Legal representative John Phillips ultimately moves from representing Don Lewis’ household (and losing their trust after persuading them to appear in an advertisement throughout Carole Baskin’s look on Dancing with destiny) to representing Unique, and attempting to get all individuals who switched on him to rally to his defense.

However simply as Exotic’s case appears ready to deviate in his favor, the season suddenly ends, recommending that someplace down the roadway, like it or not, we can anticipate a Tiger King season 3. Goode and Chaiklin then tag on an epilogue that’s practically like an afterthought, exposing the possibly better futures for all the huge felines took from Stark, Lowe, and Unique.

That epilogue a minimum of jobs the sense of function that the remainder of the season is doing not have. Tiger King is trashy, however season 1 did shine a light on some troubling mistreatment of animals, and season 2 reveals that some excellent was done since of it. However the epilogue likewise resembles self-congratulation — as does the season’s beginning, which commemorates the big audience the series drew when individuals were unexpectedly stuck at house in 2015, distressed for any sort of enjoyable shared experience.

Also, the filmmakers ultimately double down on some of the most distasteful elements from their initial run. Once again, they let their subjects serve up unsubstantiated accusations of criminal behavior, couched as dishy gossip. They turn real individuals’s lives and deaths into the stuff of soap operas, for viewers to laugh at, gasp over, and scrutinize.

In episode 1, at least, it almost seems like Tiger King is going to be self-critical, getting into how the series’ subjects have been handling their newfound fame — which in some cases has meant having terrifyingly hateful comments directed at them, online and in public. (Carole Baskin, who has been the most criticized, notably does not sit down for a new interview in this season, and is currently suing Netflix for including her at all.) Some of the new episodes’ most provocative moments return to this idea that sudden celebrity can obscure the lines between fact and fiction, like when Don Lewis’ family sets up a tip-line about his disappearance, and it’s inevitably gets flooded with calls from people who want to share theories they developed only from watching Tiger King.

Joe Exotic and family in a file photo seen in Tiger King 2

Joe Exotic and family in a Tiger King 2 file photo
Photo: Netflix

And sure, the team behind this show still has a sense of what kind of weirdness their fans want to see, whether it’s a psychic hired by Don Lewis’ family vomiting as he walks around what he swears is the place where Lewis was killed, or it’s Jeff Lowe building a little strip club in the middle of his zoo, complete with a hot tub suite for when “Shaq and Flav” drop by. The people in this microcosm are still perversely fascinating — and perhaps none more than Tim Stark, who comes across like the poster child for 2020s “live free and die” American life, as he insists that no one can tell him what he can and can’t do with any animal he owns.

Still, season 1 put all these odd ducks in a well-ordered row, telling a story with carefully timed twists at the end of nearly every episode. Season 2, on the other hand, continues some parts of that story and merely repeats others, haphazardly strewing all these loosely connected pieces across 200 or so shapeless minutes. Maybe we need the feds to step in once again. Can somebody please occurred and free the more amusing parts of Tiger King?

Season 2 of Tiger King is streaming on Netflix now.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.