And He Shall Be a Good Man: Review for iZombie 413 by A. Zombie
Before you march into this battle, make sure to watch your six for episode spoilers.
It’s been a rough year for Seattle, and things are not looking up for the newly crowned zombie haven. Despite Peyton’s best efforts, the federal government halts all support to the city. Fillmore-Graves’ kidnapping scheme is for naught. Liv and Levon’s sacrifice for each other won’t matter if the people they’ve saved starve to death. The city needs a plan. Unfortunately for them, their self-appointed leader is so focused on slaughtering anyone who breaks the rules, he can’t find a way to work together to stay alive.
Starving to death, or being devoured by ravenous zombies, isn’t the first or even third priority for Team Zombie in this episode. Everyone thinks they know what they need to do, then the calls start—Liv and Levon are being executed in the morning. One thing this show did well was make sure Liv’s chosen family were worthy of her never-ending sacrifices. They prove it in this episode when those friends drop literally everything to hatch a rescue plan. Even Major makes it back into Seattle in time to deliver a heartfelt pep talk to Renegade’s crew. Gladwell, driven by Ravi and Major’s concern for their friend, risks her livelihood to be the mole in Fillmore-Graves and feeds the rescue squad intel. You’ve got to admit, that team is scarily efficient. In no time at all they have a solid plan in place, including contingencies for any security FG set up in the park. They also waste all that time for nothing. The documentary Levon produced forces Chase to bump up the execution time and change locations after the crew releases it to garner civilian support for Renegade. The plan goes from expertly planned to basically a pitchfork mob with some extra strength.
We should have known we weren’t going to get a huge fight scene. This show hasn’t pulled one off yet. In this episode they attempt two large-scale fights which fall so flat, they can use them as tarps to cover all the dead zombies left at the end. The execution scene starts off pretty good. Wonderful moments from the actors, and of course the shock-not-shock from yet another dead boyfriend story line conclusion. At this rate, all we can do is shake our head and ignore the writers the next time they say the boyfriend might survive to see another season. Where this scene fails is the actual action sequence. It’s edited with cut-to-black frames. The editing is supposed to make the scene tenser, but in this instance the cuts take out any interesting action, giving us a few seconds with Major jumping instead of an altercation between unarmed resistance fighters and the regime in charge. And while the end of the fight is super satisfying for obvious reasons, the editing left much to be desired as far as a conflict goes. The same can be said for Angus’ final charge into battle. There’s so much time dedicated to showing how much force the zombies are up against at the gate, only for us to see a little bit of running, then close-ups of battlefield executions. The production brought in a tank and didn’t let us see Angus’ head getting knocked clean off by it? Why even bother? I got my hopes up for nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Angus still pays the price for his evil deeds while alive and undead. This time he’s staying dead. Good riddance.
With the acting leadership, save Peyton, pushing up daisies, someone else has to fill the void before there’s a power vacuum in the tumultuous walled city. We knew Major was tapped to lead, but thought it nothing more than a ploy to test his loyalty. Turns out the best way to test someone is to present them with the truth and see what they’ll do. Major takes the reigns before someone with bad intentions beats him to the punch. His first act is to join with the military to stave off the zombies rushing the gates. The second most important thing to take care of? It’s the pressing problem everyone overlooked in order to rescue Liv. With few resources at hand, Major looks to the only people he knows can get brains into Seattle, Blaine and Don E. Guess Blaine will do okay without his father’s help, after all. The trio strike a deal which will drastically change how everyone sees the resident bad guys in the upcoming fifth, and final, season. From the looks of it, our whole crew will go out on top of their world. That’s probably just wishful thinking after four years watching the writing team emotionally torment the star characters.
The happy note for the season is, we’ve got a functioning relationship within the plot that doesn’t end in death before the wedding. Unfortunately, it takes a little bit of logic jumping to get there. Also, we’re going to have to ignore the fact that Michelle even exists, because that’s a ball of unresolved feels I’m pretty sure got dropped somewhere under the writing team’s table. But, hey, Clive smiles for an entire scene, and that’s the happiest we’ve seen this character, well, ever. The wedding scene is one of those great rom-com moments, capped by a literal miracle. Liv gives up her chance to be normal again, gifting Isobel’s curative brain to Dale as their wedding gift. If my tear ducts weren’t so rotted, I may have cried a little.
This season as a whole got a little messy. The plot was huge, with so many remaining loose threads I’m not sure if they were intentional or a product of realizing there’s no way to address that many issues in one go. We can only wait and see if the same writing problems make it to the final season. It’d be a shame for this show to go out with grousing from the fanbase, though.
You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away: Review for iZombie 412 by A. Zombie
Oh no, darling! You can’t possibly go on without knowing there’s spoilers in this review.
With just two episodes left in season four, it’s expected that the plot will whip into a whirlwind with hopefully enough momentum to push the ongoing story into the next season. The problem with this season is there’s too many stories. Too many new characters. Even if one watches this episode without commercials, it seems to take an eternity to get through all the important bits. Why? Because every scene, every moment has to count. The number of info dumps in the episode is staggering. Info dump is a term for dialog laying out a substantial portion of a story line with little to no action to accompany it. It’s usually something novel writers are guilty of, but a few shows have taken to this style of storytelling as a shorthand to get to the good stuff. At least this show, unlike GoT, didn’t use the one sex scene to info dump with breasts on screen in order to keep viewers’ attention.
The Brain of the Week case this time around goes to Ravi since Liv’s occupied with Renegade problems. While the victim this time is a woman—yes, what a shocker—she’s insufferably narcissistic. McKenna is, was, the kind of girl to walk up to a bar, ignore the bartender, and place an order via their “squad” of wannabes. The selfie queen, and former zombie, is a New Seattle celebrity. The Scratching Post brings her in as an “influencer” of sorts one evening, but by the time the sun rises, McKenna isn’t part of the undead or living crowds. Finding out who wants her dead isn’t hard. Ravi’s sole vision leads to a Brother Love follower who dishes the dirt about the pseudo priest’s call to rid the world of the woman’s offensive behavior. Angus himself didn’t do the deed, he’s too careful for that. Yet he still shows up to the interrogation wearing his robes, carrying the hammer we’ve seen him use against humans. Don’t get your hopes up. Angus walks free when Tucker, the bigot turned by Gladwell, confesses to the murder. It’s not a lie, either. Tucker doesn’t do any time for the murder, thanks to Lambert’s interference. Because that’s just what we need, a Fillmore-Graves employee drunk on Brother Love’s Flavor Aid. The day this story line ends cannot come soon enough. It’s cluttering the plot and, quite frankly, the religious extremist plot doesn’t hold any appeal since it’s been done a million times before.
Liv still gets a personality shift from a brain, but it’s not because she decides on her own to eat this particular, love-stricken woman. In a rush to save Liv from herself, Major wanders up and casually kidnaps her, like he didn’t leave his Chaos Killer days long behind. His security clearance gets them out of Seattle and into the next state to a safe house. It’d seem like an extreme measure, but everyone who knows Liv is Renegade—including Clive, now—agrees that her first move after Fillmore-Graves publishes a statement threatening Curtis will be to turn herself in to Chase. Matter of fact, that’s what Liv is doing when Major nabs her outside the apartment. Where this story goes wrong is when Major uses old lovers’ brains to lull Liv into a false sense of security. He roofies her. We’re not quibbling over this fact. There’s no legitimate reason for Major and Liv to ingest these brains, save to give Major his happily-ever-after no matter what. The thing that gets me is, the actors are so good together, we’re almost charmed by these scenes. For the entire season, the Liv and Levon connection felt forced, marred by Liv the pickup artist coercing Levon into sexual situations. Their relationship only feels right once in a while. This episode is one of those moments where the relationship works, and then there’s Major screwing it up by drugging his ex for one more chance to play house after his repeated failures as a partner. Not to mention, this story line is a mess. Repeated info dumps. The sub-story with the missing couple is ridiculous. Are we honestly to believe two zombies can be in a house for a day before hearing the others in the basement? Then there’s the return of Roche. Out of the blue. Just shows up, forcing Liv to save Major after he destroys the last of her trust in him. Major’s on the outs with everyone, suddenly. His bro Chase even calls it quits after sending Hobbs to do a little loyalty test. Major’s going to have to do a lot to out-hero Liv now that she’s turned herself in to save Levon . . . who turned himself in to save Curtis. For Chase, it’s a case of, “Double the execution, double the fun.” He’d gladly triple it if he gets word of Major’s part in everything.
Using the chaos from his father’s speeches, Blaine has one hell of a plan on-deck. But first, he has to get God to send a sign so Angus will put the plan into action. That requires a secondary plan and, uhh, brain snow. Gotta hand it to them, brain snow is a brand-spanking-new concept. One I’d like to inspect. Closely. Hey, you can’t eat the yellow snow; no one said not to eat the pink-ish gray snow. Man, if Blaine gets his way, the plot for the next season is going to be super complicated.
Or maybe not. There’s a slim, and I mean slim, chance that Ravi’s long-shot testing with Isobel actually yielded an answer to the zombie problem. Once Ravi cleans his brain of McKenna’s influence, he dives into his grand experiment. The techno babble goes way, way over my head. However, the results are unmistakable. Thanks to whatever glowing chemical Isobel’s brain produces, Ravi cures a rat in virtually no time at all. Is it a definitive cure? Of course not. It’s one test subject in one testing sequence. Science requires far more work before Ravi declares he’s found anything beyond a hard-to-identify chemical in Isobel’s brain, let alone the cure to zombiesm. That being said, he needs to test faster before Blaine and Angus turn half the USA into the undead. Or he runs out of brain to test.
In happier news, Clive and Dale realize they’re grown adults. This entire season, they’ve simply failed to talk to each other in any meaningful way, as grownups who want a life together should. Clive’s fear made him blab to Liv about the kid thing, instead of taking it to his romantic partner. Dale’s fear of Clive’s desires make her lie about a non-existent lover. It takes a reality check from someone on the outside to convince them to talk. And wouldn’t you know it? They actually want the same thing—each other. The ‘ship still sails!
Insane in the Germ Brain: Review for iZombie 411 by A. Zombie
Clean off your hands and don’t touch any of the episode spoilers below.
This episode is . . . problematic. Countering a slew of character issues are a few golden moments. We witness this sweet farewell to someone too young to die, but they greet Death bravely. Chase has empirical proof of how far Major will go to prove he’s firmly with Fillmore-Graves. Not to mention, the romantic drama in Clive and Dale’s corner is just a gut-kick. These sub-stories tell me the production team can indeed make us care for the characters in ways which will make softer souls tear up. So why on earth are all the Brain of the Week cases in the last half of this season so cringe-worthy?
This week’s victim, Vince, winds up having his head bashed in after cross dressing to perform in a skit critical of the HR representative at his office. Right off the bat, the premise is pretty transphobic—oh no, it’s a man in a dress, let’s laugh about his penis! Ravi calls back to the penis gag several times in a couple minutes. Why? Why address the victim’s genitals at all if the trauma is to his head? Vince’s privacy is further obliterated when his office rival discloses his mental illness without any pressure from the police whatsoever. Then we’re slapped with a red herring in the form of Liv’s vision starring Softball Bigot and his pals. Because Of Course the first real suspect for the murder is a man who freaked out because his masculinity was bruised after drunkenly hitting on a Man in a Dress. This is probably the lowest, most loathsome way to treat this character—a character who isn’t even transgender, by the way. But boy oh boy, do they code Vince’s final night like a trans panic murder. It doesn’t take an overly enlightened person to see what the writers intended, here. And you know what? It’s gross. They should have shelved this idea and brought in a new brain for the episode. All the needed, really, was a victim for Crybaby Carl that’d bring him into the PD’s spotlight. It could have been literally anyone inside the city walls, not (yet another) white man, with a mental illness, who happens to be dressed as a woman. This whole rant of a paragraph doesn’t even cover the insensitivity of how they handle Vince’s mental illness after Liv eats his brain. As far as characters go, Vince is literally a Mad Libs page which finds itself on a camping trip, only to wind up toilet paper because someone didn’t pack right.
On the big-picture side of the plot, Don E. helps Angus reach a global audience. The disturbance from his visceral hatred for humans ripples far, far from the theater-turned-church. In the end, the violence wraps back around to affect the people Angus swears he cares for, yet he escapes, as always happens with this man. In Seattle, hungry zombies feel at liberty to envision devouring humans passing by on the street, and possibly act on it if it were darker and more secluded, perhaps? Local politicians, including Peyton, are on their way to their D.C. flight—where they hope to prove humans and zombies can coexist—when the edited broadcast goes live. Fillmore-Graves sees a gigantic PR disaster. Major’s guilt over dismissing Angus as a serious threat makes one want to smack him upside the head. Of course this monster would continue to be a monster, genius. Why not keep him under stricter observation? Particularly by zombies who aren’t so inclined to fall under his influence. Angus is a wildcard none of the leaders in town can afford to entertain anymore. I suspect instead of Renegade as the next public execution, Chase will swap to Brother Love. It’d certainly go a long way toward convincing the United States government that they shouldn’t nuke the city.
Before Peyton leaves, she and Ravi visit her parents for dinner. To say the scene is awkward is an understatement. Once again, Ravi manages to undermine Peyton’s authority. Admittedly, it’s to
tell her bigoted father to shut his trap, so there’s mixed emotions involved. The odd group do reach a consensus on one matter when it comes to Peyton’s safety—they’d all rather her stay in D.C. instead of coming back to Seattle. She, of course, is having none of this silent retreat plan. Any problem in Seattle is hers to meet head-on. Seriously. She’s the closest thing they have to a mayor currently, unless they’re going to give up all pretenses and just call Chase Commander of the city.
Peyton’s position is vital to the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, the need for her help comes after she’s gone. Doing her best to battle the brain’s influence, Liv busts into the border wall office dressed as Peyton. Why on earth would she be so bold? Well, Suki and a newcomer were stopped and held in the overly crowded waiting room. Liv lost one coyote to the authorities already, she’s not about to lose another. It’s a close thing, though, after she subtly freaks out due to the desperate people clamoring for help from the “mayor.” It seems reckless for them to bring in someone at this time, but the visitor is someone who desperately needs to reconnect with her daughter . . . Isobel.
Going into this story line, it was obvious Isobel wouldn’t stick with the show long. Then the actress made us all want to protect this darling, morbid as heck young lady. Even Isobel’s tired efforts to startle everyone by pretending to be dead provokes a little smile thanks to Izabela Vidovic’s acting skill. Where this story really works, and works well, is when Ravi comes to say his final goodbye. That goodbye comes after a heart-rending bout of denial. Rahul Kohli delivers his strongest performance yet in this scene. Seeing what could have been as far as a connection between all these characters makes one wish Isobel came in sooner. At least then maybe we would have seen the no doubt hilarious driver’s ED scene.
On the overlord side of the plot, Chase Graves screws up his own victory party. Big time. To even earn said party, first Major risks himself by knowingly walking into a bad situation in order to meet Roche’s boss. His team manage to not completely screw up the job and the bust is a resounding success. Then they fail to secure a weapon during prisoner transport, losing Roche in a city where he’s got all sorts of ties to people capable of making him vanish. After hearing the news, Chase snaps, blaming Gladwell for more or less everything that’s gone wrong in the last few months, if we’re honest. Anyone else uncomfortable with Chase being a neo-Nazi stand-in who routinely murders black women? Gladwell survives, so far, thanks only to being a zombie. Her partner doesn’t fare so well. Major would’ve died without those two in a stunt he only pulled in order to appease Chase. Now his white knight has blood on his hands. Will Major continue to march in Fillmore-Graves’ little army? He knows there’s a better cause to back just waiting for a savior dumb enough to join in.
As I said before, there’s just too much going on for this season. I’m loving certain sub stories, like Isobel’s visit, but dread Liv’s everyday work with the PD. Somewhere along the line, the focus went from telling quirky police stories with a zombie detective to complicated season-arcing plots which only vaguely fit together if one squints at the facts really hard and tilts their head. It’s a symptom of writers thinking they’re clever, yet the edited product is far from it because there’s only 40-ish minutes to tell all these stories. Sometimes less is more.
Yipee Ki Brain, Motherscratcher!: Review for iZombie 410 by A. Zombie
Where you going, punk? Don’t you know there’s episode spoilers in this neighborhood?
Major is the new hero is town. Well, at least in the Fillmore-Graves building. How long will his cohorts hold him in high esteem once they learn his ex-girlfriend is Renegade? What about his roommate, the underground zombie doctor? Sure Chase Graves trusts Major with literally his life right now, but he’s also a man about to watch everything he built crumble because he failed Dictatorship 101—which clearly states a leader should make sure he’s got a steady food supply for his people, or they’ll kill him. History is rift with leaders given a violent boot from the timeline when they couldn’t provide. Chase leans hard on Major to fix all his problems, and may even force the former Team Zombie member onto the guillotine before his own well-groomed head hits the steel. It’s clear after the final confrontation with Liv, Levon, and Major that he’s very much on the wrong side of history, here. His former friends will not be merciful if they all survive the chaos about to erupt from the religious corner of the city. His only hope is to get Roche to give up his boss. It won’t be easy. These guys are working a serious game, with the police and Fillmore-Graves completely unaware they’ve even sat down at the chess board.
Liv herself is pretty uninspiring this episode. The Brain of the Week belongs to Detective Benedetto, the epitome of scumball LEO. This charming chap was capped giving confession at church. Clive’s got three main suspects, all of whom were involved in a crime with a huge loot hidden somewhere in the city, according to AJ, one of said suspects. AJ claims Benedetto must’ve been killed because he wants the loot for himself. The theory sticks, seeing as Liv’s pretty much useless on this guy’s brain. She can’t even really work the case after whacking one suspect with a fish. Thanks to this, we never see any more action from the case unless it’s through Clive’s enthusiastic retellings. He gets the guy, by the way. And it is funny as hell to watch Clive fling himself around to replay his big off-screen fights.
Since Liv’s off the case, she spends way more time taking care of Renegade’s duties in this episode than in previous. It doesn’t seem like much, since most of the work is done in a montage, but she’s pretty serious about the trafficking thing, even on the brain. Everything’s running smoothly. Even one of her coyotes feels secure enough to announce he’s getting married. Then Fillmore-Graves happens. Curtis, the newly engaged guy, is nabbed and threatened by Chase himself. Curtis spills a cover story about Brother Love, which buys Levon enough time to get Liv for a rescue mission. Only, Renegade’s blessing comes with their scratch, and that’s the only thing Liv can give Curtis in the end thanks to FG’s security measures at the safe house.
The one person Liv still can’t save is Isobel, who’s now officially staying in Seattle to run tests with her mother’s blessing. Over a month-long montage, we see Ravi performing virtually every non-evasive test possible. Unfortunately, they all yield answers he could’ve predicted. Nothing special jumps out from her tests screaming it’s the key to a cure. Ravi’s upset about it, but what can he do? Well, he can start by not becoming a helicopter parent to a teenage girl overnight. Thanks to some serious binge-watching, Isobel has a huge crush on one of the actors from Liv and Ravi’s favorite show, Zombie High. With Liv on a brain with the impulse control of a gnat, she sets up a date for Isobel, sending Ravi into a full-blown meltdown. Why? Because Isobel’s finally feeling her mortality and being reminded that she’ll likely never fall in love every time she sees her new adult guardians flirting can’t be doing good things for her mental health. The post-date scene with Ravi policing Isobel’s right to her own body is pretty much what I expected from this writing team. At least they’re clear on the messages they send to women.
Parenting takes a vastly different form when we hop over to see how Blaine is dealing with Angus and his flock. By all rights, Blaine should just catapult his father over the wall and be done with the manipulative bastard. Somehow, some way, Angus manages to get back in his boy’s head. Blaine takes up the offer to join his father at church. He even plays a song for the congregation! A few flattering words likening Blaine to Jesus and the guy is putty for his father to shape into a new weapon. Wonder if Lambert will report Blaine’s activities to Graves, or if he likewise will fall under Angus’ influence. That’d be a huge shift in power for the city, and the city cannot handle a power struggle so soon after the mass zombie creations.
Mac-Liv-Moore: Review for iZombie 409 by A. Zombie
Watch your step. This review contains mad episode spoilers.
Another week, another bland white man for Liv to eat. This time around, it’s a rapper, which she eats in the world’s whitest definition of a wrap I’ve ever seen. Where’s the greens? Some mustard? This guy’s so boring, they tell us ahead of time by having mayonnaise as the only flavoring in his “final meal.” Liv’s turn as a rapper is probably the least inspired story gimmick yet. Here’s another case with a story where they could’ve picked literally any other victim, but chose white man #492 to inform how we see Liv’s world. When do we get to see her world through someone more like Liv? Or, you know, Liv herself? Surely she has to be tired of constantly yanking around her loved ones’ emotions in the name of the job. Why can’t Liv have a brain tube vacation and police the old fashioned way? This is a Seattle teaming with known zombies. She can’t be the only one willing to allocate the extra time for the cause. By the way, does she get bonus pay for these duties now since it does impact literally her every waking second while on a case? I’m just saying, pay the woman for the actual effort expended, not just her in-morgue hours.
One half of a feuding rap duo and his girlfriend are shot, then dumped on Ravi and Liv to investigate by Fillmore-Graves. Discovering who killed the lovebirds isn’t the problem. The problem is that he’s a known zombie serial killer, and I don’t mean a phony like the Chaos Killer; this Zombie Killer started with his family. Somehow he is probably the only one who survives the bus massacre. Once free, he doesn’t go into hiding to save his own skin. Oh no. He goes back on the hunt. Fillmore-Graves decides to get to him first, putting the entire city on lockdown until they catch their prey.
The lockdown puts everyone in a tough situation. Liv and Peyton are forced to hide Isobel in plain sight at the morgue after movie night is cancelled. Not ideal for them, but Isobel loves it. She’s gleefully morbid, having come to grips with her fleeting mortality long ago thanks to her condition. That playful morbid streak is why Ravi winds up finding her in one of the body drawers and subsequently discovers her condition. Which is how, in the end, Ravi also learns that Liv is the new Renegade. It’s great that they’re telling the truth and all, but she’s a city employee with ties to the police, moonlighting as a human trafficker; at some point Clive will find out and have to make a decision about his loyalty. And now there’s a teenaged girl caught in the middle of all that who’s volunteering to maybe, possibly, become the answer to everyone’s prayers about finding a zombie cure. Because this plot doesn’t have enough going on, already, right?
In another part of the police building, the gentlemen of the group take advantage of the enforced downtime to spend some quality time together . . . playing DnD. It’s great that they all have hobbies and all, but the scene goes from funny to sexist as whoa when Michelle asks to sit in—and provide a much-needed character type—only for the men to act like she walked in on them discussing the size/shape of what’s in their pants. Their blustering dies down eventually, but Michelle’s place in their social circle probably won’t be defined by her playing skills after one of the guys catches her and Clive making out in the neighboring room. Goodness, why can’t these writers let us have something pure and good once in a while?
Fillmore-Graves isn’t playing around when it comes to finding the Zombie Killer. Every team is on-task. The only person not on the streets is Graves himself. Major’s squad is the least effective during the search mission. Probably because instead of focusing on these secondary characters like professionals, they drag the lone WoC into a domestic spat during work to yet again undermine her authority as a FG agent. If Gladwell ever gets a fair shake from this writing team, I’ll eat my shoe. They’ve done their best to make her irrelevant since day one. Why drag her in when any number of nameless FG employees could popular Major’s team? I don’t care about these characters or their failed relationship. I certainly don’t care that Major is so ineffective a leader, he can’t get them to stop fighting. The only interesting thing from that entire team is when Major just happens to be in the right place at the right time at the end to help Chase before he’s taken out by the Zombie Killer. Major being a savior isn’t new. It doesn’t require rehashing failed minor character arcs. Certain parts of this season shouldn’t have made it to the final script. It’s just too many new people, too many plot threads flapping in the wind this close to the season’s end.
The person who uses the lockdown to their best advantage has to be Blaine. He’s been sitting on a plan for a while, now’s the time to hatch it and rake in the cash. It’ll require specialized help, though, so Blaine brings in the best computer-oriented brain for Don E. to enjoy. Once his pal is on-board, they waste no time setting up a Dark Web auction for one of the cures stolen from Ravi last season. You know, the kinda-cure which leaves the patient with monthly brain cravings that hasn’t been fully tested? There’s a slight hitch in the plan; they have no definitive proof that the cure works. To no one’s real surprise, Blaine stages a snuff film in order to get video evidence for the auction site. The shocker comes when Mayor Baracus finds himself surprisingly human, and then dead for good. For those keeping score, that means Peyton is the acting mayor. Things just got super awkward in the Charles/Moore household.
Chivalry is Dead: Review for iZombie 408 by A. Zombie
Dost thou not proceed with caution? Verily, there be spoilers lurking below.
Well, this brain is pretty much the DnD brain, but without the witty break where Team Zombie sits down to play out a game. Liv drops so much ol-timey language, only renaissance faire actors can decipher everything she says after chowing down on the brain from avid LARPer, Garrett. I’d like to go on to say there’s a world of variety in this case-of-the-week, but it boils down to yet another domestic dispute which relies heavily on lack on communication in a relationship to push a rather weak plot. Okay, sure, it’s sometimes fun to have a case reflect the lives of those involved, but it’s four seasons in and the domestic dispute cases, primarily ones where the woman is the partner who steps out, are the vast majority of what we see on-screen. The case outcomes are becoming increasingly predictable in order to push all the other story lines. How does one go from a dead guy in armor, to a zombie Thunderdome, to undead LARPers, yet decide in the end to make a woman’s sex life the sole reason for murder? Find another scapegoat, writers. Women are allowed to do what they want, when they want, with their bodies. This constant commentary on how women behave without any solutions in this mythical reality is akin to duct taping a cracked window in the middle of a category 5 hurricane. Fiction gives us a way to work through these problems, yet again and again this writing team barely scratches the surface on social commentary. For a show aimed at millennials, they don’t seem to understand how they think and process messages presented via entertainment.
This is where I have to come back to Angus’ story line. The concerning thing is, even after being called out for harboring a known harasser, this team still uses takes/dialog for Angus which lean toward highly inappropriate. In this episode, Angus orders his flock to savor their high-class meal. The tone and language he uses? It could very easily be used to explain a certain sex act, right down to his command that they swallow. Blaine even makes a subtle joke to back up the entendre. What are we supposed to do with this in-your-face disregard to a known problem? Not only are we forced to endure constant poor-taste dialog from Angus, but he’s also a vital part of Blaine’s sub plot. Every time I think they can finally write him out, he’s back, being useful in ways other characters could also be, so why Angus? Why not write in someone else with the manpower to do what needs to be done and leave Angus in the well?
Blaine’s problems don’t end with his father. Boss is back in town, ready to cash in on a pay day he’s waited for since one of his guys turned state’s evidence to rat him out. Casper is the only one who knows where Boss’ remaining cash is . . . or is he, now? Peyton, also after a quick buck in order to actually help the Underground Railroad, gets to Casper first. Which our bad guys don’t realize until far, far too late. In order to get his hands on the cash, Boss needs to snag Casper during his transfer to a minimum security prison—as promised in his deal with Peyton. Blaine doesn’t keep that kind of manpower handy anymore. Boss’ associates are all dead, in jail, or just done with him. This is where Angus’ flock comes in handy. They tip the bus, eat the prisoners, and hand over Casper for Blaine to enjoy. While I am not keen on Angus’ part in the plot, the moment where Boss, Blaine, Don E., and new goon Crybaby Carl watch/commentate on the mayhem is some of the purest comedy this show’s had in a while. There’s no gore on-screen. Just the guys’ reactions. And it’s hilarious.
Infiltrating the brain-smuggling group is pretty easy for Major since he’s great at manipulating people, then failing to follow his own moral code when it matters. For the most part, all he has to do is show up, get drunk, and make sure Russ doesn’t catch wind of his true purpose. Considering Russ is always inebriated or brain-wasted, it’s stupidly easy. Great for Major since he foolishly talks to Liv in public at the Thunderdome. After he passes whatever “test” Russ has, Major gets to tag along on a rough-up job for the brain thieves. The one thing showing promise for Major despite his deep ties to Fillmore-Graves? He lies to keep the scared zombies alive, though Russ really wants to kill them.
On the Renegade side of life, Liv’s having a hard time maintaining the separation between work, home, and illegal activities. First, Peyton catches her and wants to join the good fight. Then Isobel, one of the women being smuggled, calls in a panic while Liv’s at work. Liv’s old-timey brain antics actually scare Isobel a little, not a good thing considering these people are trusting her with their lives. Yet Liv never clarifies why she’s acting so weird, leaving Isobel to worry right up until the moment they meet at the end of the episode . . . and Liv’s scratch doesn’t cure her. So while, yes, they finally have the money to proceed at full-steam ahead, either Liv can’t make new zombies, or they’ve just found the terminally-ill key to reversing the zombie condition bottled up in a frightened young lady. Honestly? This is the kind of plot development they should spend more time on. The sub-plots are usually good, but this season some of it feels like stretching just to keep up the male-oriented story lines active. Let it go, writers. Let it go. You’ve got something good with the Renegade plot. Just focus on that, please.
Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain: Review for iZombie 407 by A. Zombie
Oh! Watch out, there. This review has episode spoilers.
It’s no secret I detest scripts where Liv delves into the puddle-depth minds of A-class jerks. This episode is no exception, what with the constantly toying with the rape culture theme like it’s a new Axe body spray samples in a frat house. The plot is, as usual, heavy-handed with some of the messaging, on top of the PUA propaganda dropping straight from the lead actress’ mouth. Yes, it’s propaganda. Written by men who see women as things to possess or use, and then they have the gall to call themselves Pick Up Artists instead of what they are, pure trash. Seattle is a large city. It’s diverse. How on earth are we to believe there’s an epidemic of nothing but dumb white men dying in this place over the course of four years? Television gods, please save our hero from a life steeped in mediocrity.
Despite my dislike, it happens, so let’s see how Liv manages to further screw up her life by again living like a clueless white dude.
Said dude is named Max. Max is a PUA for hire, selling his services to dateless men hoping he will act as the ultimate wingman. Folks, he sucks at it, quite frankly. But, even though he’s boorish, insulting, and disregards his client in front of her, Max still finds a woman to take home for a good time. God grant me the success rate of awful men like this. Max kicks the bucket right after finishing his after-work activity. How on earth does a healthy man die without warning? Someone poisons—somewhat miraculously—only the inside of his condom. The suspect list is long, full of women used by Max in his great scheme to make himself look important. There’s no re
al suspects in the group, though one or two provide essential clues which prompt a vision for Liv—Max facing down a scared Fillmore-Graves agent named G. Marsh.
Chatting with the autocrat in charge won’t be comfortable, for anyone. Just about the entirety of Team Zombie has various rough encounters with Chase Graves this episode. Only one person will make it through this takeover with any actual power left, and that’s Graves’ new right-hand man, Major. Stationed above the other FG officers, Major gets handed delightful tasks like ending the brain tube smuggling ring via friendly infiltration and terrorizing a small-press newspaper. Even Peyton gets a metaphorical slap on the cheek from Chase when she and the mayor confront him about the armed men who shot up the newspaper office. Graves is so set in his plan, he’s going full T***p, claiming any reports of Fillmore-Graves misdeeds are “fake news.” Chase does manage to help Clive and Liv with their investigation, but relishes making them wait to talk to the recently-frozen Marsh.
New kinds of people in the world means new ways for men to abuse women, and of course this show points the spotlight right at it while forcing Liv to perpetuate the poor behavior. Before the deep freeze, Marsh hired Max and his technique worked. Marsh, being a piece of walking dog poo, didn’t tell the woman he hooked up with that night about being a zombie, then later asked Max to get on the stand during a Fillmore-Graves trial to claim the victim begged to be turned. You know, rhetoric straight from the rape culture handbook, and handled with the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop. Some detective work leads Clive and Liv to find the woman’s ID. Turns out she is in their group of disgruntled women in Max’s wake and cooked up a story to distance herself from her trauma, along with her new name. New things don’t change how much these men violated he
r. With Marsh frozen, she unleashed her anger on Max, using her job to create the perfect murder weapon for a womanizer. None of us are sorry she killed the guy, so this is just another chance for the writers to force awful ideas into Liv’s head.
Liv spends the episode simultaneously hitting on Levon and helping him plan for the next batch of newcomers over the New Seattle wall. They desperately need to secure ID cards for the incoming zombies, or a way to feed them, whichever is easier. They start at Brother Love’s church, where he miraculously provides for his flock. The meeting is a mess from the get-go, what with Angus’ new bigot pal oh, so ready to assume everyone’s a threat. Then there’s the whole whacky Ten Commandments for the undead, which somehow doesn’t convince them to run the second they read it. Angus’ reticence to disclose his brain source is alarm number three Levon and Liv overlook in the name of the greater good. It’s capped off by Angus uncomfortably flirting with Liv by praising her as a pure zombie specimen, like any good white supremacist would when trying to bring young women into the club as bait for others. The deal breaker is, oddly, Angus’ relationship with Blaine, and not the unwelcomed flirtation. Liv gladly finds a new way to proceed when Max’s murder case takes her and Clive to the office where all zombie paperwork is processed and held. The end of this scene is great. Clive knows something’s sketchy on Liv’s end, because he’s a good cop and friend. He just about tackles that security guard to help Liv steal the card-maker he doesn’t even know she took, he’s just following his gut, and his guy says his partner needs assistance.
If only Clive had as much insight into his relationship. Instead of talking to Dale, as he should have the second his jealously rose to cause a fit, he goes off of Liv’s word about what she saw and proceeds to go out on the town several times looking for a quick hook-up. Well, he finally just ends up contacting a professional to take care of his needs. Which flings all sorts of red flags in the air for Dale, since she hasn’t done more than make out with a few men after declaring their relationship open. Men, just talk to your ladies. Seriously. Eighty percent of romcom scenarios would never happen with open, honest communication.
Liv’s new criminal enterprise is at risk . . . thanks to a pair of headphones. Guess we’ll find out next time what Peyton thinks of her roommate, the human smuggler.
My Really Fair Lady: Review for iZombie 406 by A. Zombie
Sashay this way, but watch out, there’s episode spoilers ahead.
Never thought I’d type this sentence, but here we go.
This episode kicks off with a little culture for the masses in the guise of Rent, but with zombies. Is it as catchy as the original? I’d say it’s a decent parody, given life by a cast who obviously enjoy the tongue-in-cheek approach to padding out the show’s universe by bringing in a bit of rebellious, culture-shocking theatre. The play’s director and star is our victim for the week. Let’s just say, Nellie is a spotlight in a dark room. When Liv’s in full “theatre actress” mode, not much can slow her down. She puts that energy to good use in order to prove herself to Mama Leone’s crew. Which she desperately needs to do because as far as the other guys are concerned, none of them have enough connections in New Seattle to continue running the underground railroad. They dismiss Liv outright in their first meeting. Sheer willpower, thanks to Nellie, get the engine back on the railroad’s tracks. Is it enough for Liv to act her way through such an important situation? How can she possibly maintain that level of focus while bouncing from brain to brain for the police?
While she’s on a roll, Liv gets things done; there’s no faulting her there. Take two with Mama Leone’s crew goes a dramatically different direction. While still hesitant, it’s through Liv’s sheer exuberance that they’re convinced to follow her lead on a rescue mission stemming from the leadership vacuum in the railroad. After the execution, most of the support team for Renegade’s crew scattered. Including the people responsible for retrieving a shipping container from the docks with several ill humans trapped inside. It takes a day for Liv to whip together a scheme, complete with script and costumes. The actors brought in for Renegade’s crew are great; it takes impeccable timing to make scenes like this work. One of the show’s strengths is their ability to bring in astounding talent every week. Thanks to Liv’s hard work, and everyone’s newly learned acting chops, the mission is a success. Hopefully that means more time with these new cast members.
The first brain Liv is offered spells certain misery should any zombie chow down. Unfortunately, the heroine-addicted Denny Minnis is an important part of Peyton’s mission to make the victim’s lives easier after the horrific bus accident. Minnis’ spouse begs Petyon to find the dog her husband abducted in a huff during their last argument. With Liv unwilling to put herself in that position, hope seems lost. By some wacky happenstance, Ravi is going through his “monthlies” and whims himself down to the morgue to play hero for Peyton. Regret is an understatement when it comes to discussing Ravi’s feelings once the brain’s influence kicks into high gear. In a day, he goes through some of the roughest parts of being an addict. It’s so bad, Ravi’s put on house arrest by his friends, only for him to jump out a window on Payton’s watch and hit up The Scratching Post for drugs. One of these days, Ravi’s need to prove himself to Peyton won’t have a happy ending. Not this time around, though. He helps find the dog. Peyton drops a little guilt off her conscience. Then they smooch. Wait, what? Are we just going to overlook some one the super awful things he’s done after they split? Ravi has been better, but good enough for Peyton’s trust? Guess we’ll have to see where this goes.
Since we miss out on Liv’s take on a drug addict, instead we get an hour of insane antics and random singing. She’s painfully chipper about everything. Even the required sexual harassment class for police and staff. Johnny Frost makes a hilarious return to the show as the instructor for said class. After showing a video demonstrating how not to act in the workplace, he pulls up a volunteer to role play scenarios to further make his point. Liv’s the only one remotely interested in being in the room, let alone reading from a script. This is one of the most intentionally awkward scenes in the show’s history. I dare you not to laugh once Liv really dig into the scene.
On subplot street, Blaine’s got more problems than random not-really junkies popping into his place of business making demands. The church is done being told how, when, and where they eat. Angus latches onto this rebellious streak and leads his flock to Romero’s for a sit-in protest. Even with the lords of the city at his back, Blaine doesn’t feel he has the pull to say no to his father. Not only that, but Blaine lets his emotions get out of control. Backed into a corner, he has no choice, really, but to provide weekly meals for the church. This arrangement won’t last long if Blaine has his way.
We’ve got an emotional subplot from an unusual source showing its face in this episode. Clive’s relationship issues aren’t a secret. However, this is the first time he really addresses any of it in his work environment. During the harassment class, Clive and Dale are used as an example for workplace relationships adhering to the rules. Which is super awkward because he made a date with Michelle, the new officer, without mentioning the open relationship thing. In a rare moment, Clive talks it out with Michelle. The date’s still off, but he got to voice what’s on his mind at last. Clive should know better than to use interrogation rooms for private conversations; Dale hears all of it, including his secret concerns about their relationship. I’m all for Clive’s emotional growth. It’s about time.
The brain shortage is what will eventually leave New Seattle too weak to protect its infected citizens from the world outside the wall demanding their demise. Fillmore-Graves can’t keep up with demand. On top of hungry mouths without any other option for nourishment, there’s countless brain tubes vanishing into the black market no matter how hard Chase pushes his people to plug the leak. It leaves them backed into a corner, and these guys are in full self-defense mode. The council strongly advises Chase to toss Mama Leone onto the guillotine without a trail. The weight of their failure to provide for the masses is foisted upon Mama Leone’s shoulders in the guise of blaming her for an overpopulation problem. To says she’s sentenced to death is an insult to the justice system. Fillmore-Graves uses the brain shortage to take out a political dissident as a message to anyone who’d disobey them. When it comes to the execution itself, I’ve never seen such a moving scene on this show. Credit to the actors for leaning into it hard and not flinching at the message. This is one of those rare scenes which leaves a lump in your throat. It sets a new tone for iZombie.
Murdering one woman won’t fix the fallout from hungry zombies continuing to live as humans do without nearly enough food to perform the same amount of employer-demanded labor. Judging from the zombie church’s congregation, most new zombies are now homeless and without support systems to aid them until things smooth out in Seattle. Those who are fortunate enough to retain their jobs and houses work themselves to the brink of exhaustion in order to keep the humans from attacking them. Malnutrition in a human saps strength, physically and mentally, making one’s moods unpredictable on top of being too tired to think about work, let along doing it. Compound that with a zombie’s biological needs and the rabid physical response to starvation, it’s not a pretty peek into the near-future. Peyton witnesses how the shortage effects the average citizen in a jarring sub story with a zombie bus driver whose family likewise have changed. The driver is reported by an angry mob for being dangerous behind the wheel at the beginning of the show. Peyton promises to get him more food, which he gives to his family instead. Later in the episode, Peyton finds one of the women from the complaint in custody at the police station and asks the officer with her what’s going on—malnutrition caused the driver to crash the bus. All the blood from wounded passengers sent him into a frenzy. The woman shot him, ending the rampage before it got out of hand. This incident is probably what pushes Chase to put Mama Leone to death harder than the constant nagging from his council.
Fillmore-Graves has much more than a brain shortage to worry about. Before her demise, Mama Leone drops some truth on Chase’s broad shoulders. His company has a PR problem. Right now, the world sees a new kind of people making demands for what some consider the most precious part of a person without giving anything in return. Pleas for brains isn’t what the world should think about when they consider New Seattle and their plight. They need to see the positive, how the undead can help mankind. Mama Leone helps sick humans because it makes her feel like she’s doing some good in the world. As far as just causes go, it’s a great one. Fillmore-Graves doesn’t feel there’s room for that kind of rhetoric in their city, however, and those who demand a scape goat get theirs in the end. Renegade may not be gone for good. Liv wants to take up the mantle after being there to witness Mama Leone’s final brave moments.
This week’s case gives Liv an in to Renegade’s operation thanks to hockey goon Geordie Shultz and his friend, New Seattle newbie Levon Patch. Geordie was one of Renegade’s people cut down during Blaine’s raid. Liv takes a trip back to bullheaded dude land, but this time it’s actually kind of fun to watch her playing up the sport in question. Maybe it’s the visual of a woman zipping across the ice to tackle someone without a second thought. I don’t know. The bigger news, not that Liv joining an underground railroad isn’t a Big Thing, is that Geordie’s brain gives Liv proof she needs to shift police focus Blaine’s way again. Blaine is quick to figure out exactly how much information they have, and that so far all of Clive and Liv’s proof lives in her head. The man is Teflon. Nothing sticks. Not even when he slips up and says something about the laundromat, which the others kept to themselves. Just as Clive and Liv jump to find hard evidence, Peyton delivers the bad news. They have to release Blaine on Fillmore-Graves’ orders. Their investigator, Enzo Lambert, manages to pin Blaine’s murders on the budding hate group, Dead Enders. Lambert exists to find ways to claim a zombie murder is a hate crime. Not one of his investigations are to be trusted.
Major and Don E take a quick road trip to pick up a special package for Chase Graves. Settling Fillmore-Graves’ PR problem is a Gordian knot. Every tug in one direction creates a whole new tension somewhere else. In this case, Chase’s desire to silence an outspoken American general turns into kidnapping and (technically) murder. When Don E falls asleep instead of watching Sloane, the special package, she overdoses on U in the bathroom. Major has seconds to make a decision. They can ask the smugglers to pack up a dead body for the bossman, or he can save her so General Mills, Sloane’s father, doesn’t follow through with his threats to nuke New Seattle. Chase doesn’t seem too thrilled to have a new mouth to feed, but he’s sure glad Major delivers Sloane in one piece. At the rate, she may be the only bargaining chip he has left to save the city.
Brainless in Seattle Part II: Review for iZombie 404 by A. Zombie
Watch out, you may swoon over the episode spoilers below.
Brother Love’s influence spreads through the downtrodden zombie citizens in Seattle. One man uses his rough encounter with Fillmore-Graves goon Russ Roche as fuel for Angus’ new persona to toss on the smoldering fire within the community. To them, he’s the only to reach out a kind hand since their sudden departure from living society. He feeds them. Picks up their spirits when they’ve resigned themselves to being “dead” to the people they love. Not to mention, he has this uncanny ability to pick a target for his rage and project that onto the masses with a few magnanimous acts to sew the seeds of Us vs Them. Major steps right into this perfect storm on the search for Tucker, the man Gladwell scratched while being recorded. After his friends abandon Tucker, he steals the phone with the video and finds solace in the anger Brother Love preaches. That’s where Major catches up with him. The congregation shout at the Fillmore-Graves employees. Angus uses the moment to praise the Chaos Killer, and issue a stern warning that if Major ever shows his face at church in Fillmore-Graves clothes again, that’ll be his last day having a face. And people think this dude’s a role model. Okay, Sure, Jan.
The Scratching Post crew drops a load of truth bombs in this episode thanks to the brain Blaine and Done E eat in order to find Renegade. The guys use honesty as the best policy, allowing the brain to cough up visions while they operate their businesses almost as usual. There’s a plethora of hilarious throw-away lines from these two. Blaine eventually gets enough information from his illicit snack to find the laundromat where Renegade operates. The calm sanctuary I enjoyed last time is a horror show this episode after Blaine’s guys shoot their way in to grab Mama Leone. Chase Graves doesn’t look too thrilled to be face to face with his supposed nemesis, but it seems like he’ll go through with Blaine’s deal. Wonder how Graves will justify his actions to Mama Leone’s face.
Catching Bruce the coyote takes a lot of patience, a dash of subterfuge, and a large dose of overacting. After several days running a stakeout at the building Bruce uses to torch his victims, Clive and Liv need a new method. Mama Leona, before she’s taken to Fillmore-Graves, tells Liv to try an online ad. Ravi offers himself as the bait, really overworking an upper crust British accent during the video call to set up a meeting with Bruce. The acting doesn’t get better when Ravi waits for Bruce with SWAT, plus Liv and Clive, on standby. Despite the flightiness from the romcom brain, Liv’s passionate about putting Bruce in his place when he claims they have no evidence. I think Mama Leone’s chat about wanting to feel needed after becoming a zombie put some pep back in Liv’s crime-fighting step—that conversation also reminds us how awful Blaine actually is when he’s not oozing charm.
Throughout the various stakeouts and meetings to prepare for catching Bruce, Liv is relentless about talking around Clive’s relationship problem. So much so, Clive snaps at her when she flat out says he should break up with Dale without giving a reason why. It takes the entire episode for Liv to open up about what she saw at The Scratching Post. Turns out Clive and Dale are trying an open relationship, but he’s not keen on hearing the details. Sorry, my man. If you haven’t already heard these details, you’re not in an open relationship, you’re just grasping for a connection that isn’t there. Communication is key, but Clive’s always been a locked door emotionally. It’ll bite him in the ass.
The Great Tim Saga comes to an end. Thankfully. When the gang head to The Scratching Post for the human/zombie mixer night, and Liv’s maybe-date, they must first face off with The Not-yo Man Major Savage. Gladwell and her new partner dose their commanding officer with blue wrestler brain as a joke. It leads to a heartfelt, but laughable scene with Major and Liv having a post-breakup talk about how much they just want to see the other person happy, no matter what. Kudos to the actors for getting through that scene at all. Every time Major opens his mouth, one can’t help but laugh hysterically. With that talk, and several others from Peyton about fate, ringing in her brain, Liv manages to just converse with Tim for the first time since they met. That’s when she finds out he’s a whackadoo Brother Love follower. Good riddance to bad rubbish; she tosses him like a pair of torn pantyhose. The episode wraps with the same sort of fun energy that charmed me during the last episode. We have most of the central cast in one place, hanging out, being silly, dancing, and no one’s worrying about anything. I forgot these characters could laugh so much without their faces cracking. Here’s hoping we get to see more of this, but I’m pretty sure the fun days are gone, what with Team Overlords getting ahold of Renegade and all.