Netflix’s Tiger King became a surprise phenomenon and zeitgeist-y lockdown hit last April as the whole world was hit by COVID – a fact acknowledged right at the start of the true crime documentary’s highly-anticipated second season.
From TikTok dances and bleach blonde mullets, to Carole Baskin impressions and mainstream news coverage, season two begins with a montage of fans going wild for the mad world of America’s exotic animal enthusiasts and the high-stakes drama that came with it. The now-incarcerated Joe Exotic (convicted of an attempted murder for hire plot) and his rivalry with Big Cat Rescue’s Carole Baskin made the pair pandemic celebrities, with Tiger King becoming the biggest show of 2020. But can a sequel really live up to the sensation season one was, or should Netflix just let sleeping cats lie?
If you were hoping for another round of the Joe and Carole show, you’re likely to be disappointed. Joe Exotic does appear in each episode, however all his interviews are recorded over Zoom with the former zoo owner still serving time in prison, and while archive footage of Carole Baskin does feature in season two, it’s clear that she didn’t return for new interviews – in fact, she told RadioTimes.com back in February that she’d refused to take part.
That being said, Tiger King 2 does revisit the fascinating lives of these now-cult figures, with Joe’s murder-for-hire conviction and the disappearance of Carole’s husband Don Lewis being the main focal points of the series.
Season two is shorter than its predecessor, consisting of just five episodes – probably due to the fact that a lot of Tiger King 2 goes over ground already covered either by the first season or the press over the last year. The new episodes feature interviews with never-before-seen characters, from Joe’s estranged brother Yarri Schreibvogel, his ex-fiancée Kimberley Craft and Carole’s ex-boyfriend Alan Schreier and while they give us more insight into Joe and Carole, particularly Joe’s upbringing and how his narcissistic persona came to be, you do feel at points that many familiar points are being rehashed in this season – particular in the first episode.
Whenever new information does come to light however, it’s explosive. Episodes two and three look at the disappearance of Don Lewis in a lot more depth, shedding light on the type of man he was, his shady dealings with Costa Rica and exploring various theories, including a credible suspicion that he may be living in the Central American country under a new identity.
For those intrigued by what happened to Don Lewis, season two is definitely worth a watch, with the series also following his daughters as they hire legal representation (as well as a psychic at one point). We watch as they pressure the authorities to look back into the case, while the film crew speak to Don Lewis’s Costa Rica associates and a friend whose ex-wife believes he was involved in the disappearance.
The main action of season two seems to happen in the last two episodes though, with the docuseries returning to Joe Exotic’s conviction for a murder for hire plot against Carole Baskin and the aftermath of his imprisonment. Exotic is replaced as the eccentric, polygamist, animal rights abusing protagonist in season two by two familiar faces: Jeff Lowe (the rival zoo owner who helped lock Joe up) and Tim Stark (the Wildlife in Need founder who takes over GW Zoo with Lowe).
As Lowe and Stark ride the coattails of all the Tiger King success, law enforcement inevitably begins to close in on them and as a result, we’re given one of the biggest twists in the whole Tiger King story so far. Without spoiling too much, the docuseries gives us a somewhat satisfying ending and sets up a potential third season (providing Joe Exotic’s appeal turns out to be successful).
While Tiger King 2 is definitely not as addictive as its record-breaking predecessor and tends to jump manically from subject to subject at an almost-overwhelming speed, the second season of this Netflix juggernaut is definitely worth watching if you’re a true crime fanatic who is still fascinated by the chaotic world of Joe Exotic and his big cat kingdom.
Want more Tiger King content?
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- What happened to Carole Baskin’s husband Don Lewis?
- What happened to Joe Exotic’s zoo in Tiger King?