“The Lyin’ King” hones in on Jeff Lowe and Tim Stark and their various shady business dealings, not to mention their extensive abuses of exotic animals and people around them.
This recap of Tiger King season 2, episode 4, “The Lyin’ King”, contains spoilers.
Let’s say, theoretically, that you wanted to hire a hitman. Who would you hire? I don’t mean specifically, but just in general. You’d hire someone remotely competent, right? Someone who had their life together. You wouldn’t, I assume, hire someone who drives drunk and generally doesn’t know what they’re doing. This is Joe’s somewhat unflattering argument about Allen Glover, who he ostensibly hired to cut the head clean off Carole Baskin. Is that really who he’d pick? Or, more likely, is that someone who would be easily exploitable as a patsy for someone like Jeff Lowe?
Tiger King season 2, episode 4 recap
Tiger owner and self-described “Eastern European bitch” Zuzana Kokol has some choice words for Jeff at the beginning of “The Lyin’ King”, all along the lines of him being someone who preys on the vulnerable. But Jeff, who is quickly becoming a crucial focus, argues that he had no real motive in fitting Joe up for anything. He ended up as the owner of GW Zoo when Baskin sued Joe for his assets so Joe put them in other people’s names to prevent her from claiming them. Now she’s pursuing the property from Jeff, which is apparently the kind of bad luck and controversy that follows him everywhere. But you know the saying. If you meet an a*****e in the morning, you met an a*****e. If you meet another in the afternoon, you met two. But if you meet assholes all day long, you’re the a*****e.
Jeff’s history is pretty chequered and includes diverting funding away from a shelter for battered women, which sounds like a supervillain origin story. Speaking of which, Tim Stark, apparently one of the cruelest exploiters of animals, and someone who describes himself as an addict. His drug of choice is animals. He’s the president and founder of Wildlife in Need and the pioneer of Tiger Baby Playtime, which as far as I can tell involved him just releasing tigers into a room full of people, sometimes after deliberately angering them. The reason this guy is important is that, six months after Joe Exotic’s arrest, he partnered up with Jeff.
As with all Jeff’s business endeavors, it seems like a bit of a one-way street. Tim was putting up the money and doing all the work, but he was also turning up to the zoo with trailers full of dead animals because he had stopped for a booty call in St. Louis and left them without air conditioning. It’s worth noting that while Jeff is talking about this, he’s sat on a zebra-skin throne while Lauren lounges on a sofa in the background in what looks like a negligee. This guy is living an extremely bizarre life. (He later floats the idea of putting Lauren on a corner to drum up some capital, and he’s only half-joking.)
One of Jeff’s bright ideas was to combine a zoo with a strip club, so the punters could fondle baby tigers as well as women, which seems like a disaster waiting to happen if you ask me. But it makes sense since Jeff and Lauren and other employees had a specific radio code, Code 69, that denoted a hot girl had entered the park. These girls would quickly be seduced by Jeff and Lauren (the latter picked them) for a one-night stand and then unceremoniously booted out. One of those girls, Ashley Webster, was brought in as one of these playmates and claims Joe offered her a couple of grand to kill Carole Baskin. Her warning call to Carole is what kicked off the murder-for-hire investigation. She also claims that Jeff was just as much behind the plot as Joe was.
Allen also takes a ton of responsibility and is willing to be arrested and face perjury to help Joe — “It’s the f*cking thing to do, dude,” he offers by way of explanation, which is immediately the most character anyone has shown in this entire series. Luckily, animals count for more than character. You can’t mistreat animals for any length of time and get away with it. It has been discussed earlier in the season that it’s easier to get off on a child abuse charge than it is an animal cruelty one, and when you have an organization as militant as PETA, who Carole Baskin was apparently working with, people like Tim Stark have no hope. But he won’t go down without a fight. He has claimed nobody will take his animals alive, he has brandished guns at USDA officials, refused to give straight answers in a deposition, and utterly disregarded any official guidelines put in front of him. Even Sue, his softer alternate personality, has gone on hiatus. His psychotic outburst in court is all Tim Stark. But as one of the whistleblowers who exposed his abusive operation in the first place says, he might threaten to slit people’s throats, but she has a 9mm. One way or another, Tim Stark will be brought to justice.