This recap of Tiger King season 2, episode 2, “The Carole Diaries”, contains spoilers.
There’s a popular “would you rather”-style question about whether or not you’d date someone whose exes were all dead. For most people, it’s an easy answer: No. But for Alan Schreier, apparently not. He dated Carole Baskin after Don Lewis had disappeared. He met her through a dating app, and now, twenty-odd years later, he bores people on golf courses with the fact he used to date her. He opens with it, even, which presents a different, arguably funnier question: If you dated someone whose exes were all dead and you lived to tell about it, would you mention it to every random stranger you meet?
Tiger King season 2, episode 2 recap
Alan obviously isn’t worried about tempting fate. His son Todd, though, was warier. He figured that bobcats roaming the house, strict curfews, and explicit instructions never to talk about Carole’s still-missing ex-husband were a cause for concern, and it’s difficult to disagree. Carole might not have killed Don, he says, but she certainly could have pointed people in the right direction.
Carole Baskin didn’t just decline to participate in this season of Tiger King but is actually attempting to sue Netflix for the use of footage she didn’t grant them access to, and one assumes that’s in relation to the plethora of video diaries from which this second episode takes its title. Carole recorded everything and posted it to the internet, from her old journal entries to her fascination with twisty-turny mysteries, and at one point I’m pretty sure she reads some poetry aloud. At several points thumbnails of Carole’s face, all dated, literally fill the screen. When it’s mentioned that she had a tendency to overshare, the line plays almost as a joke.
But there’s not much that’s actually funny about Carole Baskin. The flip-side of the matter is provided by investigative journalist Jerry Mitchell, law enforcement, Ripper Jack, Don’s daughters and executive assistant Anne McQueen, and other associates who were familiar with both of them. There only seem to be two credible theories. One is that Carole killed him and fed him to the big cats he had threatened to whisk away with him to Costa Rica. That leads to the second theory, which is that Don is alive and well in Costa Rica, where he fled to take advantage of the “fluid” laws. He already had property and business interests there, and a local associate named Rey Rodriguez who worked as his protection, translator, tour guide, and frontman — his name was on Don’s investments.
Among Don and Rey’s investment portfolio was the Bagaces Farm, which Don was planning to fill up with big cats. His farmhand claims never to have seen him since he built a little house and cages for the animals, but his presence in Costa Rica was felt. He was clearly laundering money through his properties and shipping exotic animals in and out of the country. Rey, who is so obviously dodgy that his claims he didn’t want to get involved in the dirty stuff made me laugh out loud, lays it all out. Don was into dangerous animals, dangerous business, and the Feds — Rey was warned away by “a contact at the CIA”, which is a weird thing for a translator to have — were onto him. The working theory might be that Carole killed Don, but based on how he was carrying on in Costa Rica, he presumably had no shortage of enemies with motives to get rid of him.
And this is before it’s revealed that Don apparently liked having sex with underage girls, and had turned one of his houses into essentially a brothel. None of this seems like it’s being presented to try and exonerate Carole Baskin, however, just to create a more complex portrait of Don, a man who even his own family’s limelight-hogging civil rights attorney, John Phillips, describes as being “deeply flawed”. But he was also a father, and those he left behind deserve to know what happened to him, whether he brought it about himself or was, as they suspect, a victim of his wife. Phillips and his team put up a $100,000 reward for information about what happened to Don, and the phone lines were, predictably, buzzing. People said he had his eyes and tongue cut out. Others said he was in a penitentiary somewhere for killing a tattoo artist. But one claim is more credible than the others. It comes from Sandra Wittkopp, Don and Carole’s former housekeeper, who suggests that Carole’s father and Kenny Farr had something to do with Don’s death and that her justification is her name having been forged on papers including Don’s Last Will and Testament. The plot thickens!