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Team Zombie rolled into San Diego for Comic-Con 2016, looking quite sharp, I might add. Wardrobe aside, the gang was down a man. Robert Buckley couldn’t make it. However, newly-christened series regular Aly Michalka joined the cast, along with show creators Rob Thomas and Diane Russiero-Wright. They were in good spirits, despite the usual chaos at the con. For a good reason, they began filming for season three this week. Matter of fact, I think I saw Rose McIver post a video from the set on Wednesday with Buckley in tow. The zombie ball is rolling. But how are they going to deal with the fallout from the season two finale?
We said goodbye to our main Big Bad. His company was taken over by Vivian Stoll and her undead army. Rob Thomas said Stoll comes into the show in a unique position. “I’m not sure I file her under Big Bad” Going into season three, Stoll is a reactionary presence to the impending zombie problems once the public finds out. Only, instead of having a standing army to defend humans, this army is made from the undead to carve out a place in the world for them once the truth flies. Power like that can be corrupted. It’ll be interesting to see which side of the fence Stoll lands on, or if she can carefully navigate the line between and remain lawful neutral. Adding so many new zombies to the mix poses some ethical questions for Liv. An example given later in the panel pits Liv’s shocking white hair and pale skin against Stoll’s brood who strive to always blend in, covering the very thing which makes Liv unique.
Team Z will regroup stronger than ever. Liv is determined to keep everyone on the same page. No secrets. Out the gate, they dig into Stoll’s company. Some B-stories aren’t following through right away. The Boss story line will take a back-burner to establish new characters and dynamics. Major will search for Natalie and fulfil his promise to her. Not sure if that’s a solo mission or not. I’d assume not since they finally have everyone on the same page. We’re not done cleaning up the Chaos Killer mess, either. There’s one more Popsicle to defrost. Robert Knepper will return as Angus DeBeers in episode one this season. I’m thrilled. The DeBeers family reunions are a things of beauty.
The creators promise a shift in the story style. Season three will play out more like episodes of Law and Order, where Liv and Clive catch the bad guys, Peyton prosecutes. It looks like more of the crimes will tie into the zombie thing, at least from the way Thomas phrased the style rundown.
Other random tidbits dropped during the panel include a promise from the creators to McIver that they will not kill Liv’s next romantic interest, even if it is Major. This isn’t Supernatural. The hot lead actor can’t keep dying and coming back via some miracle.
Yes, there’s a love triangle with Ravi, Peyton, and Blaine. No, none of them know where it’s going. Though the cast joked about making it an open relationship, including Clive, and dragging Liv along as the fifth wheel.
Don’t get your hopes up for a working cure. Thomas said if Ravi creates a cure, the show is over. He also enjoys writing Blaine’s memory loss too much to give up cure 2.0’s side-effects and move on to 3.0 just yet.
We learned that McIver got to veto one potential brain for season three. From a list of about fifty. Then the night before the SDCC panel, they informed her she would get to play dominatrix this season. Guess that one isn’t up for negotiation. It better be the most integral part of the story this season or I’m going to roll my eyes at yet another excuse to dress Liv down in any way.
The new zombie blood will shake things up for the show, along with a new story format. If they keep the momentum from the finale rolling through the first couple episodes, it should be a fun ride. iZombie returns to CW in October.
WARNING! Spoilers below…
Major’s game of freeze tag is over. The FBI push hard on the Chaos Killer case, landing the newly re-zombied trainer in jail. Without food. Yes, this is a rehash from when Liv was arrested. Yes, crisis is averted just in time, yet again—even after Major is arrested a second time for the Meat Cute incident. Blaine, of all people, is the one to smuggle brains from Don E.’s stash after the tight-belted businessman wanted Liv to pay for a brain she plans to use to keep Major from turning the city’s jail into ground zero for the apocalypse. While she handles the food problem, Ravi and Major use video game metaphors to hatch a plan—retrieve a zombie from the freezer, defrost, show as proof Major didn’t kill anyone, release from jail. Simple. Easy. A cake walk.
Max Rager stole the bodies. DuClark also set out hits on Major and Liv as a gift to celebrate selling the company to a military contractor. Ravi gets caught in the crossfire, killing Janko when the mercenary drugs and attempts to abduct Liv. She’s fine. He’s shaken. The dead guy on the floor gives Liv the perfect chance to peek behind enemy lines. Later, she has a vision starring Major’s zombcicles, all nicely defrosted.
In order to get Major out of jail in time without a victim to hand over, Liv finally clues Clive in about Team Zombie. Okay, it takes stabbing herself in the gut to convince him, but he gets the idea and Major is a free man shortly after. I hope Liv bought Clive a new knife. Clive uses a loophole in the case against Major to secure his release. Bozzio is, understandably, livid. His hands are tied. He couldn’t knowingly leave Major in jail to start another zombie outbreak.
During the zombie antics, Boss sends his guys to clean house. The case against him is gone. He should be sitting pretty, save for his competition hitting the streets again. Chief takes a bullet to the brainpan. Don E. talks his way into a gut shot instead of a headshot. Poor hapless Blaine ends up exposed to Boss’ guys and has a hit put on his head. They use Peyton to lure Blaine into a trap. It gets a tad buddy-cop when Ravi and Blaine team up, armed quite impressively, to rescue her. Which is a joke, really. Blaine wiped out the men holding Peyton before Ravi made it in the door. Major joins Liv on Janko brain. They plan to infiltrate Max Rager during their big bash to celebrate the sale properly. To access the secret lab’s elevator, they’ll just take Janko’s hand along for a walk like it’s Thing. Clive disavows any knowledge of said plan—which lasts as long as it takes him to realize the zombies aren’t going to make the rendezvous time. The party scenes are chaos even before a group of idiots turns themselves into zombies with tainted Utopium. The party’s theme? A lockdown. They’re trapped. Just about everyone dies or is turned.
There’s a new savior in town. Vivian Stoll—the woman from the military contractor—saves Team Zombie when they’re trapped during the outbreak. Liv and Major are fine. Clive has a target on his chest being the sole human left on their feet. Stoll’s people clear the building. She gives them free passage to the secret lab.
In the lab, Rita and her father wait to make things just that much worse for the team. She’s ready to promise her front teeth in order to get free or get a cure. He’s hell-bent on winning at least one battle. The gang is separated in the zombie containment area. Drake, unfortunately, is no longer a coherent zombie. The test cures MR forced on them turned him Romero. Man, dating Liv is a curse. More so when VDC forces Liv to choose between saving Clive or Drake. She shoots her boyfriend. There’s really no choice. Drake was doomed to die the day they introduced him. VDC tries twice to gas everyone. Both times fail, with the final attempt ending after Major breaks a glass wall, following VDC into the elevator, and leaving the bad guy trapped in there with ravenous zombies. Upstairs, they open the elevator to find Rita chowing down on Dad brains.
Major takes the kill shot on his ex. Sense a trend? Stoll’s people take over the situation while she snacks on Rob Thomas. Surprise! The military contractors are zombies hell bent on making Seattle their new homeland.
I’ll admit, it’s one hell of a surprise. Unfortunately, I sense this may devolve into a Buffy situation—everything blamed on a mysterious government body who answers to no one, really, and does convenient bad things to make tension for the show. We’ve seen this trope a lot on genre shows. While this new plot twist did bring a lot of dead bodies, it could be foretelling a rather predictable season three.
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This is one character who will always be made the butt of the joke. Just when things get serious, she finds herself in a strip club white girl bouncing her butt at Peyton in hopes of sparking a vision. Why not, you know, go to the dead woman’s house to trigger something? Track down the ex-boyfriend and talk to him? Surely the dead woman wasn’t a walking, disrobing, stereotype.
Oops, cat’s out of the bag. Yes, Peyton makes another return to the show, filling her place as Liv’s roommate. There’s a change in their relationship now that Peyton knows about zombies. I’m not sure I like it. Cassidy, the dead stripper, was ready to turn in her boyfriend Nick. He just so happens to work for Boss, and she just so happens to have accidentally found a stash house where the empire bags drugs. A lot of drugs. Peyton needs the information in her bashed-in head. Liv is the only key to unlock it. Their interactions after Liv goes dumb on stripper brains turns from friends to boss and underling. Liv didn’t even want to eat the brain. She’d picked out another, safer, brain for lunch. I get Liv pushing herself to be useful and utilizing the powers she’s gained to remain relevant, but why would Peyton use her friend like she’s one of those psychic quarter machines? Yes, she’s desperate. If Boss isn’t put away soon, he’ll send someone after Peyton. But that is no excuse to use a friend with no regard to her motivation behind constantly exposing herself to brains which make her completely looney. Solving murders is what makes Liv tick post-zombiehood. Peyton isn’t concerned with the murder at all, just the information she can pry from Liv and Cassidy’s brain. They do eventually figure out who did it thanks in part to actual police work—running credit cards and known customers through the system with a vehicle description—and help from our favorite weatherman, Johnny Frost. Liv’s big help for the murder case was a vision leading them to the sole eye witness capable of IDing the vehicle.
Things aren’t looking up for Blaine after taking the emergency-only cure Ravi provided. Sure, it made Blaine human again, but he can’t remember anything. Seriously. Tell him a color and two minutes later, he has no clue you even spoke. Don E. and Chief try to keep it under wraps. They pass off his odd behavior when Liv and Peyton visit to discuss his missed meetings as him being confused because he’s out of the loop or tired. Eventually when Blaine doesn’t recover himself, they take him to Ravi to run tests. There’s a glorious moment where David Anders is utterly brilliant, showing how terrified Blaine is not having a memory to solidify his identity. His goon squad will not help matters. Don E. and Chief see a gap in the drug trade—Blaine buried their business, literally, and Boss just lost a major stash house thanks to Liv’s visions. It’s a gap they want to fill. Don E. even goes so far as to turn zombie as insurance policy against assassination. Not the pair’s brightest move. They’re rats sinking a sinking ship. If Ravi can’t reverse the cure’s effects, they’ll need a way to make a living anyway.
The huge news for the show is what’s going on with Ravi and Major. It all ties back to that freaking dog. The morning newspaper has a story charting the Chaos Killer’s victims. One photo is the dog and its owner, which triggers another round of, “Where did you get him? Where did he go?” Which leads to Major failing to convince Ravi that the dog they once housed and the dog in the picture are different. At some point, Major had to consider Ravi’s access to the police and his ability to charm anyone. Bothered by their morning talk, Ravi asks Bozzio about the dog. In return, she asks if he can ID the man in a surveillance picture from Blaine’s. Ravi lies, of course. He won’t say anything until he can find proof. First stop? Breaking into his roommate’s safe. It takes a while, but Ravi uncovers Major’s Chaos Killer kit. Later, he confronts Major with the evidence. Still, Major cannot tell anyone about his link to Max Rager. Pushed to the brink of panic, the adrenaline rush triggers Major’s reversion to zombie. Before he attacks, Ravi doses him with the same injector gun he uses as the Chaos Killer. I’m elated someone finally can call Major on his bull dung Long Ranger idea. Instead of alerting Liv to danger, he hid it from her. In doing so, he put everyone in danger. If Du Clark learns that Ravi has been testing zombies on his own, Ravi will either end up working in an underground bunker until he’s no longer useful or he’ll be murdered to keep the zombie information zipped tight. Either way, exposing Max Rager’s schemes to Team Zombie personnel means everyone in their little friends circle has a target on their forehead. Du Clark sent Janko to nab his own daughter. He won’t hesitate to take out the team.
I am growing tired of our Big Bads for the season. Boss is a tiny man with anger issues and not much substance other than freaky. Du Clark’s threats have been so vague when it comes to the core characters, each time he orders a new death, it’s not surprising and lacks the impact death should have. My hope is these last episodes will wipe out both problems, introduce a few new ones, and finally let Clive in on Team Zombie’s existence.
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Someone messed with the screws holding up a window-mounted A/C unit in the apartment above Leslie’s coffee shop, Positivity, and when she went outside to check out the chalk art her daughter mentions, the A/C unit drops on her head. There’s the usual suspects dragged into the fray thanks to Liv’s dead-end visions. We meet Pam, the loud-mouth inmate from Liv’s short stay in jail, as she’s holed up in the bathroom of the apartment puffing on a vape pen with cannabis oil. Leslie’s ex husband, Stan, is likewise waved as a red herring. As is Gilbert, boyfriend to Leslie’s daughter, Cher. Gilbert swears he’s this ultra deep French guy, but really he’s the son to a real estate agent. An agent with access to the apartment above Positivity. Gilbert would do anything to make Cher happy, even let her talk him into taking the fall for the murder after one stolen kiss in the police station. Cher gets away. Liv gets the jitters from her caffeine habit.
While Liv and Clive catch one half of the murderous duo, Ravi works on the cure now that they finally secured the tainted Utopium samples. Major hovers a lot of this episode—his only other bit to add to the episode involves finally outing Rita/Gilda to Liv as a spy, prompting Liv to hit Rita and kick her out. Hovering won’t make the cure happen any faster. Matter of fact, not much will at this rate. The replica of the cure which worked on Major and Blaine turns a test rat into a Romero zombie. They’re going to need that cure sooner than later if they plan to save everyone attached to Team Z.
Turns out, Boss isn’t the only bright cookie in his organization. His debt collector remembers Blaine from his days as a street level dealer nicknamed Chinatown. Not because he worked that district, but because he took the district by force. Seeing the potential for Blaine to be the one behind the new drug ring, Boss orders a hit. Blaine is kidnapped, half nude, from his funeral home. They drive him to the woods, slit his throat, and bury him alive. The next day, Blaine wakes looking like he needs to drink every drop of coffee in Positivity and stumbles away from his grave behind a Girl Scout troop. Guess trauma like that will negate the cure. How long until Blaine either croaks or stops being so picky about his meals?
The longer we deal with Drake, the more I want to not like this random man they’ve shoved in Liv’s bed for sake of giving her a male shoulder to cry on after bombing her previous relationship with the dreaded sexually transmitted disease dead horse. Thing is, they’re finding ways to make Drake vital to the overall plot, which happens to be the confrontation with Boss this season. Drake isn’t just Blaine’s spy in Boss’ camp, he’s a vice detective in deep cover spying on everyone even claiming to push Utopium. His handlers rough him up after dragging him in in front of Boss’ guys, then they gather his intel and urge him to drop Liv.
Dating someone associated with the police isn’t just a bad idea, it’s a surefire way to get dead. Which, given the way this show goes, will happen. Major only escaped death because of Liv’s scratch and then the cure. There’s no cure for a dead zombie.
I know Ravi and Liv work for the morgue and all, but they’re usually not the ones to find the bodies, let alone report them to the police. While searching yet again for the murdered Utopium dealers with the tainted batch, Major and Ravi unearth a body far too fresh to be their prize. There’s no ID on the mystery dead guy, but he does have a gun and a coaster with a phone number scrawled on the back.
Clive seems to buy Ravi’s geocaching explanation when he asks how they found the body. He still takes Major aside for a private conversation. Not about the body nearby, but the Cute Meat incident. Using the good ol’ crazypants excuse, Major dodges the questions. It’s only now that Clive sees the really weird stuff; first Major’s connection in part to the brain and Julien DuPont and then later in the episode Clive question’s Liv’s personality changes reflecting the homicide victims they’re investigating. Funny how they managed to write around this for so long, it’s almost ludicrous they’d attempt to clue in Clive about Team Z.
The coaster yields its secrets, leading the team to a woman IDing the dead guy as Corey, no last name. They’d hooked up a while back at a place called Possibilities, but Corey never called her again. Gee, would that be because he was busy feeding the ecosystem in a field? The girl also dropped a bombshell; Corey said he was FBI. At Possibilities, the bartender has great things to say about Corey “Big Fish” Carp. Namely, his ability to lie his way into the pants of any woman he set his eyes on. No lie was ever grand enough for Corey, who in reality worked for an arcade game company repairing machines and collecting quarters. Boss just so happens to own this guy’s company, too. Is there anything happening in the city not supervised by Boss? Does he check everyone’s pee to make sure they’re hydrated, too? This show puts too much on their Big Bads in order to simplify the plot.
There’s a few red herrings, some tail-chasing. It all leads to another murder case with Terrell Johnson as the primary person of interest. Liv gets a few visions magically connecting Big Fish to Terrell and later Fish’s connection to the murdered Utopium dealers planted somewhere in that accursed field. Basically, Fish killed the dealers. He then kept an eye on the field to make sure they remained buried. When Don E and Drake, of all people, started digging, Fish shot Drake. This all ties back to the night Liv made Drake a zombie. I’d call it clever story weaving, but they reached so far to make this plot tie together, it doesn’t make sense unless we’re willing to forget how heavily they rely on Liv “accidentally” discovering everything. Also, Liv seems way too okay with Drake lying to her. She still calls him her boyfriend after the vision connecting him and Don E to the murder she’s investigating. A similar lie from Major would have caused three episodes of angst.
Speaking of Major, where’s he been after helping Ravi dig up the body? Well, you could say he’s helping Blaine comfort test caskets. Don E and Chief are called by a client who trapped Major in their panic room after he went to add them to his ice cube collection. Blaine and Major eventually strike a deal—Major takes care of the zombies Blaine wants and frees Angus McDonough in exchange for living outside a six-foot deep casket. Seems fair to me. They put the partnership to test with Jimmy Chu, Blaine’s newspaper inside man. Chu is high-maintenance, something Blaine cannot handle in his sources. Major drugs Chu with no incident. Later he returns Angus to his son. Blaine has some fun, dressing like he’s aged at least thirty years. Fresh off the defrost cycle, Angus is slow to figure out what’s happening. He even begs Blaine to help—a refreshing turn in the relationship for the son since he was always the one begging when his caretakers abused him. Once Angus is more himself, he thinks to outsmart Blaine. One step ahead, Blaine brings in Chief and Candy, both of whom have suffered thanks to Angus. Blaine is assured the will, currently drafted to give his abusive caretaker the entire inheritance, will be changed soon.
The point to this episode is to finally find the bodies with the tainted Utopium. Well, they found them. Everything else is fluff. There’s no change in the case with Boss. Blaine’s personal beef takes him from the conflict with the main bad guy and the FBI. Peyton is MIA in the episode. Drake vanishes after running an errand for Boss, so there’s no emotional resolution after Liv finds out he’s deeper in Blaine’s business than she thought. The whole episode was simply to get to that discovery moment with the Les Miserables soundtrack playing. Way to have storytelling goals, guys.
I honestly thought we were past the time where everything associated with erotica was followed by a not-so witty reference to a novel/movie franchise I need not even mention because it’s right there in the title for this episode, though the erotic novel within this episode has no resemblance whatsoever to the referenced franchise. So why would they use the name? To boost ratings by using the promise of a nude lead actor—in this case, Liv—and further undermine her place as a productive member on Team Z.
Pumping Liv with “horny librarian brains” gives them a blanket pardon to sell their floundering product with cleavage and numerous make-out sessions. Jumping on the bandwagon with the episode title is like a rocket pack strapped onto the show’s pet shark. If Liv isn’t in bed with someone, they don’t know what to do with her emotionally. She’s either the postal child for bipolar, riding hard on each brain she eats, or she’s sex-obsessed and weeping. There’s few middle-ground moments where she remembers herself. They tried to establish control over the brain in this episode, but given the big picture, it isn’t effective. She still ends up in bed with a hot guy—Drake the newly undead zombie, who also happens to be a double agent for Blaine in Boss’ drug ring.
It’s all so predictable. As is the case’s conclusion.
If you follow this show regularly, you’ll notice a startling trend to their crime-solving tactics. Inevitably, the murderer is actually the first solid suspect in the case or the spouse—Often, they’re one in the same. Occasionally they’ll pull a Shyamalan, leaning hard on the plot-twist gimmick and convenient case solutions. Yes, this is a dramedy leaning harder on the comedy side at times, but there still has be natural tension resolution and variety in the cases they cover. Most episodes, we know who did it not long after they find the bodies just by following their simplistic pattern.
Long story short: All writers are petty and jealous, but not petty enough to kill. Meanwhile husbands are equally petty and jealous and they do indeed kill. The only way they managed to stretch Grace LeGare’s case to the episode’s end was to make Grace’s husband, Andy, physically handicapped and therefore not an obvious threat. His original questioning with Clive is glossed over by Liv’s incredibly raunchy day dream featuring Andy’s home care assistant, furthering the vain attempt to obscure the writer’s sole solution to any woman’s murder on the show. In the end, Andy went to a lot of work destroying his wife’s chance at a career writing erotica, then pinned the murder on Grace’s library co-worker, Muriel—who also happens to be a writer, but she pens crime thrillers. Why? So people wouldn’t think he is less of a man.
Blaine goes from having an awesome week to a not-so-awesome week overnight. Bozzio and Clive dig deep and discover his real name. No, not the one we’ve heard all the time, but his really real name. The pieces fall in Clive’s lap at last. They waste no time scooping up Blaine and hauling him to the police station for questioning. For a guy who’s had his junk metaphorically kicked twice in a row, he’s pretty smug. In comes his knight in shining armor—armor he’s seen up close and personal after drinking and sleeping with Peyton in her office the night before. Blaine is a key witness against Boss and therefore has immunity. Clive lays out what kind of guy he thinks Blaine is to Peyton. She still gets Blaine out of the handcuffs, but then turns to Liv for verification about who Blaine, John to her, really is. It breaks Peyton.
A lot of dead-ends for Bozzio and Clive in this episode. They finally get the GPS tracker in the missing guy’s dog turned on. Major overhears this plan and panics, downing a Max Rager and parkouring his way to the groomer where he left the dog. He lies to the groomer, telling her he rescued the dog from an angry cop and if the cop comes around to find him, she has to lie. Major panicked, and stupidly abandoned the dog on a city bus, for no reason. The GPS chip is in the dog’s tags, which Major ditched after he originally kidnapped it. Most heart-breaking, Major lies to Ravi about the dog’s whereabouts, saying he gave it back to the family who lost it.
It feels like they’re trying to tie up loose ends by continuing the age-old tradition of bone-headed moves by the lead characters. They want us to like Major, yet he continuously perpetuates animal neglect. Liv only has personality with a man in her bed. Peyton is set up to die soon given how deep she’s gotten in the Boss case. And Ravi? He’s keeping to himself, searching the field of woes and missing the dog which shouldn’t have been.
Ravi may be the only character fans connect with anymore.
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