Since it’s debut on Netflix on March 20th, everybody has been clamoring for more “Tiger King.” The original seven-part docu-series was perfectly binge-able and the latest streaming obsession, coming right at a time when most every American found themselves sequestered or under quarantine in the comfort of their own homes. Just recently, Netflix released some numbers on the show, claiming that “Tiger King” has had more viewers than the original season of “Stranger Things,” with a whopping 19 million viewers just here in the U.S. and over 34 million worldwide.
Well Netflix delivered an Easter surprise this Sunday, giving us an all-new episode in the saga of Joe Exotic. Actually, Episode 8, entitled “The Tiger King and I,” acts more as an epilogue, an after-show, hosted by Joel McHale (“Community,” “Talk Soup”), because, why not? In the style of most other shows during this pandemic, Episode 8 consisted of isolated interviews conducted by Joel McHale. Several of the players from Tiger King gave us updates on their lives post-show. They also offered up several other juicy tidbits of information. Joel was a fair and funny host, respectfully mixing in some humorous questions to go with the more direct and serious questions that had been on everyone’s mind.
The biggest omission from this “bonus” episode was, of course, Joe Exotic himself, now serving a 22-year sentence for the crimes he committed. Also missing were two of the biggest characters from the series, Carole Baskin and Doc Antle, but there was plenty of story left to tell from the eclectic panel of guests Joel had assembled.
Read on to find out what we learned during this brand-new episode of “Tiger King“!
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Erik Cowie. First up on the list of interview subjects was Erik Cowie, the Head Zookeeper at Joe Exotic‘s zoo. The main revelation from Cowie’s follow-up interview with Joel was that he bluntly confirmed that he had witnessed Joe Exotic put down tigers and other animals for reasons that didn’t warrant it. Part of Joe’s prison sentence is in regards to animal cruelty, but even the series didn’t quite put it as plainly as Cowie does in this interview. He also reveals that he has not, in fact, even seen Tiger King yet! But he has no love lost for his old boss, and says “good riddance” when it comes to Joe Exotic.
RELATED: Joe Exotic’s Husband Dillon Passage Says Joe Doesn’t Know Footage Of Travis Maldonado’s Death Was Included In Tiger King; Says It Shouldn’t Have Been Shown
Jeff Lowe and Lauren Lowe. Jeff Lowe, the newest owner of Joe Exotic‘s zoo, was second to Carole Baskin as far as “lead villain” of the docu-series goes. According to this interview with Jeff and his wife Lauren, which jumped back-and-forth between substantive questions about the series and questions regarding Jeff Lowe’s attire and smokin’-hot nanny, Jeff was not at all happy with his portrayal. He called the idea that he had set-up Joe Exotic a “complete crock of shit,” and seemed to echo what Erik Cowie had mentioned, about how Joe Exotic would needlessly slaughter his animals.
Jeff details how he witnessed Joe Exotic kill tigers just to free up space in the cages from time to time. He also calls his alleged literal partner-in-crime, Allen Glover, “the sweetest hitman you’ll ever meet.” Asked if he would participate in new episodes of Tiger King should they ever do more, Jeff was not quite sure, but one thing that he WAS sure about? That Carole Baskin murdered her husband.
John Reinke. One of the few participants at Joe Exotic‘s zoo to come out of the docu-series with a shine, John was best remembered as the zoo worker with the artificial legs. Like several others, he felt under-appreciated by Joe while working for him at the zoo, but reveals that he also quit his job there the day that Joe Exotic left…there was just too much drama and bad things going on around him to justify staying.
RELATED: Tiger King Star Joe Exotic’s Husband Dillon Passage Says Joe Would ‘Support’ Him Pursuing Another Relationship
He also revealed that Joe Exotic destroyed his golf cart and blew up his cabin, because, you know, that’s how Joe rolls. He does not think that the Joe Exotic story is over yet (millions of Netflix subscribers hope he’s right) and that he thinks he will still be called into court as Joe’s case works its way through appeals court. But as for if they ever make a Tiger King movie? He feels like Matthew McConaughey would be a perfect John Reinke.
Kelci “Saff” Saffery. “Saff” was most-famous from the Tiger King with the depiction of a scene where he loses his arm to a tiger in maybe the most horrific sequences of the whole series (and that’s saying a lot). There was some confusion and misconception during the run of Tiger King, as the series referred to her as “she” when in fact, Saff identifies as male…on this topic, he confessed to Joel McHale that the mistake didn’t personally bother him too much despite becoming controversial. He expressed outrage at the tiger killings that had taken place at the zoo, and confirms that his true loyalties lied with the animals, and not his former boss, Joe Exotic.
However, Saff specifically points out the massive Thanksgiving dinners Exotic would host (as briefly depicted in the series), claiming about Joe, “He also did a lot of good things too.” Of all of the participants during this new episode, Saff seemed the most sympathetic towards Joe Exotic, adding that he believes justice was served, but would not want to see Joe die in prison. As for that anticipated Tiger King movie? Saff hopes that “Johnny Tsunami” actor, Brandon Baker lands the part of Saff.
Joshua Dial. Introduced into the docu-series as Joe Exotic‘s campaign manager during his run for Governor and President, Joshua applauded the show, calling it “fair and balanced” and “a wonderful production.” But he also rejects the idea that Jeff Lowe was portrayed unfairly. “The truth hurts,” was Joshua’s reply to Lowe being upset with it. Addressing rumors, Joshua nixes the idea that he was ever romantically involved with Exotic, claiming that at age 34, he was simply not Joe’s type, which he describes as “young and dumb.” He also rejects the rumor that he had done drugs in any way, shape or form.
In perhaps the most harrowing scene of the show, Joshua had been present for Exotic’s husband, Travis Maldonado‘s, accidental suicide and he firmly believes that it wasn’t deliberate…he also claims that Joe didn’t get actual counseling after the incident, but had seen a “shaman” about it. Echoing the sentiment of the audience who watched Tiger King, Joshua tells us he thinks Carole Baskin’s “sanctuary” is no better a place than Joe’s zoo, and that all these people care about is the money. Speaking of money, he alleges that the fame Joe Exotic has received since the debut of the show is reaching him even in prison: Through proxies, Joe has managed to set-up several Facebook fan sites, and is getting all of the messages as well as donations from his fans on said pages.
John Finlay. Of all the interview participants during this episode, Finlay may be the one you don’t at first recognize. That’s mainly because he now possesses a full set of teeth. So what is Joe Exotic‘s ex-husband up to these days? He’s married and has a four-year-old daughter and happily announced that he and his wife binge-watched the whole run of episodes in seven hours the day it debuted. He was not happy overall with his portrayal as a “drugged-out hillbilly.” And in case there was any doubt, he confirms that Joe Exotic was NOT, in fact, singing on any of those songs depicted in the show, a report that had already been confirmed by several outside sources since the show’s debut.
Rick Kirkham. Last and certainly not least for McHale to interview was good ole’ Rick Kirkham, the Reality-TV producer who had gotten entangled in the wild world of Joe Exotic…you may remember him as the cowboy-hat-wearin’, cigarette smokin’ guy from the show, whose production offices were burnt down under some pretty shady circumstances. He was doing his remote interview from Norway, where he now lives with his new wife, and where he apparently is the biggest star in his town (apparently Tiger King is huge even in Norway).
Having known polarizing TV-personality Bill O’Reilly from his “Inside Edition” days, McHale asked who was worst to work with, Joe Exotic or Bill O’Reilly? Rick gave the memorable answer that he thinks Joe is “more evil” but that Bill was “just more an asshole.” Rick went on to underline the fact that Joe Exotic had mistreated his animals, but not just his tigers.
In a shocking story, Rick tells Joel of one time when a woman dropped off her horse to Joe’s zoo, where he said he would give it a good living…the minute she left, Joe pulled out the revolver he always had at his side and shot the horse in the head. He doesn’t think Joe Exotic is long for jail, meaning he doesn’t see him surviving long enough to outlive his sentence, and that the jealousy that Joe is feeling from all of the others, like Rick, who are finding fame post-Tiger King will kill him even faster.
Rick then dropped what was perhaps the biggest bombshell of the entire after-show: That Joe Exotic, was, inexplicably, deathly afraid of big cats. He mentions specifically that two tigers shown in close contact with Joe during the series, that one was blind and the other had been tranquilized. He regrets ever having met Joe Exotic and still has nightmares about his time spent living at the zoo.
Oh, and the Tiger King movie? How about Billy Bob Thornton as Rick Kirkham?
So, What’s Next? If you think this after-show episode is the last you’ll hear of Joe Exotic, think again. There is a lot more coming, across all different genres. First up, a TMZ-produced Special, “TMZ Investigates – What Really Went Down?” is coming to FOX as early as Monday, April 13! Hosted by TMZ’s Harvey Levin, it will probably look and feel a lot like this final Netflix chapter. There is then going to be an Investigation Discovery “definitive sequel” that will apparently be the story as told from Joe Exotic’s perspective. It promises to get to the bottom of the nagging question: “Did Carole Baskin kill her husband?”
Oh, but there’s more. Kate McKinnon is set to star as Carole Baskin in a limited series, but there’s been no official announcement or network attachment. And all that talk about a Tiger King movie? For now – and especially during the height of this pandemic – there is nothing officially in motion. But, you’d be insane to think that this story won’t one day make its way to the big screen.
So keep your eye on the Tiger. This frenzied audience is hungry for more meat and there’s sure to be enough to go around. That’s all for now, cats and kittens, stay tuned!
TELL US – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS EPISODE? WHAT NEW INFO SURPRISED YOU THE MOST? AND WHO WOULD YOU CAST IN THE DREAM TIGER KING MOVIE?
[Photo Credit: Netflix/TMZ/FOX]