Conspiracy Weary: Review for iZombie 311 by A. Zombie
Major will never live down being the Chaos Killer. He accepted that. Shawna seems to have a different endgame in mind, though. She’s not content with the sex fort. Oh no. This woman has to share her personal life online, and claims it’s all to boost Major’s public image. Because a half-naked man eating pizza and singing a lame camp song will totally make everyone forget he kidnapped a boatload of people. Whether or not she’s telling the truth, Major is not about to give his time to yet another woman who just wants something from him. Remember Rita, or whatever her real name was? Yeah, they might not say her name at all anymore, but when Major finds out he was double-crossed by Shawna, it is totally there in his eyes, that resigned, “Not again.” I suspect Major will spend a lot of time burying himself in work. Which is going to cause some serious conflict of interest issues the minute Liv finishes putting all the pieces together from the various deaths, which all really have one source. The Truthers never pulled the trigger, yet Fillmore-Graves finds the exact weapons from all their open cases. How’s Major going to feel about being party to murder-for-the-greater-good?
The showdown at the gun range is intense, echoing some of the tension from last season’s finale with all the close-quarters teeth against guns fights. Blaine and Liv do get to show off their zombie skills for once. Which, of course, makes Rachel panic and flee almost immediately. But Team Zombie doesn’t get the win on their own. Fillmore-Graves arrive unannounced, and blow away all but one Truth Hunter. Harley Johns escapes virtually unscathed. Bo Johns winds up as a snack for the zombies involved in the fight. On that note, Liv, Blaine, and Don. E. should never be allowed to feast on conspiracy theorist brain again. The stuff the writers dug up from the loonier side of the ‘net is just absurd, and takes over pretty much every conversation. So much so, Liv is repeatedly told not to confuse conspiracy theories with the facts they need to solve Wally’s murder, plus figure out the real reason why Ms. Greer was strangled by Weckler. No one is up for Liv’s wacky antics anymore. Soon, they may even suggest she rely on brain mash just for some sanity.
Peyton makes better progress than everyone on the cases. She gets the memory card after slightly manipulating Weckler’s daughter—who blows her zombie cover and has a vision in Peyton’s office. The memory card confirms Liv’s vision from Weckler’s brain. It also shows that the man called whoever forced his hand to tell them about the accidental murder. Liv manages to use her current paranoia to spitball a reasonable answer to all their problems, but they’re focused on Baracus, not whoever put the man in the perfect position for a zombie to lead from should humans learn about their kind.
Well, they’re so gonna figure it out thanks to Ravi’s big mouth and weakness for damsels in distress.
This has to be the most ineffective sidekick in the history of sidekicks. Ravi yet again puts zombies in danger. Not through his untested serums and such, but through falling for the oldest game in the book—a woman who simply flirts a little and listens to the man brag in order to get information to sell. Rachel works for a local free newspaper. One of those rags which love to lean on controversy. For instance, one writer is tasked with trashing Major for selling tacky merch, which he isn’t. But the real story is what Rachel gets from Ravi without any real pressure. The guy nearly kisses her and suddenly that’s enough to trust her with other people’s secrets. Sure, Ravi will have it rough being friends with a zombie and all, but that’s nothing compared to what Liv will endure now that her face is the one associated with the newly discovered undead race.
The fallout from the memory card revelations and Ravi’s big mouth will be epic. Will he finally have to answer for his shoddy decision-making skills? Can Liv forgive Ravi? What about forgiving Major once she realizes he’s working for the real enemy?
But the show is still here. They rolled out a two-hour season three opener on June 4th, garnering 4.7 million viewers. That’s a smidge better from how they wrapped season two, with just over 3 million viewers hanging in ’til the end. So I guess that means there’s still fans for FtWD, but the numbers are still nowhere near TWD’s season openers. Some fans admit they’re hooked after That Shocking Moment at the beginning of episode 302. Others are frustrated because it’s not meaningful to end a story line once it’s obviously run its course—or as I’ve said since the get-go, that particular one never stood a chance. Yes, I’m being vague. No season three spoilers here, folks.
If you, like me, took some time off from the show, here’s a run-down of what happened after the guts hit the fan and the family separated during the season two mid-season finale. Warning, Season Two Spoilers Below!
Nick makes it to Mexico the hard way, via water. He starts his trip strong, but eventually loses all his gear, food, and water. Basically, he’s playing the game on Hardcore Survival Mode, going so far as to drink his own urine and ingest raw dog meat. Nick is saved from an infection in his leg, and eventual death by exposure, by Luciana. She lives in La Colonia, a walled survivor camp, and takes Nick to get his leg treated. The colony believes death is natural, and the zombies are an extension of that. The sick/injured are given to the dead before they turn inside the walls. This group also has a trade deal with local thugs, drugs for basic supplies. It takes Nick a heartbeat to take over the drug portion of the trade, putting Colonia’s leadership on edge. It also takes him almost as long to seduce Luciana. With the drug trade their only means to obtain water and other vital needs, it’s vital the chain remain unbroken . . . then it’s broken. Nick and Luciana are pitted against Colonia’s increasingly crazed leader. He demands faith, they know faith won’t convince Marco and his people to share. Nick attempts to make another trade, but Marco reveals he’s found a new drug supplier who’ll help him take over La Colonia. When Nick takes the warning back to his new friends, they refuse to leave. The leader is bitten by an infected citizen, and his lie about supposed immunity is outed. Despite learning the truth and the upcoming raid, Luciana won’t leave her people when Nick demands they run. It isn’t until he returns the next day with news of a helicopter landing near the border that La Colonia’s people realize they must flee. Their leader stays behind, using his flagging energy to open a gap in the fence so the infected can attack Marco and his goons. The fleeing survivors make it to the border. And no further. Most are gunned down on the spot. Luciana is injured. She and Nick are separated at the season’s end and taken hostage.
Madison, Alicia, Ofelia, and Strand chase after Nick, but fail to find him. They also fail to secure the yacht and it’s stolen by the Mexican military. With nothing left, they end up hiding in a hotel. When the undead spread, a group was trapped in the hotel during a wedding. After Madison and Strand nearly kill everyone by getting drunk and having a party, they eventually work out a deal with the current occupants. There’s a catch. They have to shun Elena, a woman who came to Alicia’s rescue after the drunken fiasco. There’s tense history between Elena and the hotel leaders, Oscar and Ilene—so much so they’ve kidnapped her son, Hector. Regardless of who can stay or go, Madison pushes forward with clearing the undead from the hotel. There’s too many, but Alicia finds a riptide under the neighboring pier. The combined groups work out a plan to lure the infected to the riptide with Madison as the final bait. Ten days of cooperation later, all looks good. Except the lingering resentment from Ilene, who blames Elena for killing her daughter, and stabs Strand instead of her nemesis. Forced into action, lest Strand die from lack of care, Elena tells Madison about a gang-operated drug trade nearby where her other son lives. Yes, it’s also the same place Nick trades Oxy for water. Madison overhears just enough inside the store before they get their med supplies to know her son lives, and to make life difficult for the Colonia family Marco questions. They’re given their marching orders and return to the hotel to tend to Strand. Madison opts to use the generator to run the hotel sign, for Nick. Travis finds it instead. And he’s alone.
Chris wandered off from the group with a head full of crazy and not much else. His father only followed to keep him safe. After they make a grab and dash supply stop, the men Chris accidentally saved track them down and extend an invitation to join them. Brandon, Dereck, and James are heavily armed, dangerous, the opposite of what Travis wants for Chris, but the kid is already mentally with the new guys before they’ve been together long enough to know each other’s middle names. The newly-formed group spots a farm to ransack. Slight problem there; the farm owner is still alive and very protective of his chickens. James pushes his luck and is shot. Chris returns fire, killing the farmer. And he’s not sorry about it at all. Chris sees kindred souls in Brandon’s crew. He also sees a future, which he’d given up on just before leaving the yacht. James’ injury prevents the crew from moving on. Chris’ new friends get anxious, sure James will turn and they want to do him in before then. In a rather obvious double-cross, Chris holds Travis back while James is put down. Father and son part ways, Chris joining Brandon on the road, Travis heading on foot to find the ocean, and eventually the lit hotel sign.
That sign brings every survivor to the hotel door. Including, eventually, Brandon and Derek. The hotel dwellers reluctantly bring everyone into the parking garage to check them over and provide shelter. Chris’ companions, without him in tow, are typically American and rude. They also have news. Chris totaled their vehicle and perished in the crash. Madison and Strand agree now is not the time to tell Travis. Slight problem with the plan, when the duo are pulled aside to fix one’s dislocated shoulder, the other newcomers riot. Travis joins them to calm everyone down. From there, it’s a train wreck. Travis learns about Chris, but the stories don’t mesh. He gets the men alone, manhandling the truth from them—Chris survived the wreck, but they shot him over an injured leg. Snap. Travis beats the men to death, also accidentally injuring Oscar. The injury requires surgery, but due to the lack of, well, anything Oscar dies mid-procedure. A lynch mob rushes for Travis’ room. The family fights them off. Strand helps Madison and Alicia get Travis away from the hotel, but stays behind. From there, Madison finally falls into Nick’s footsteps and tracks him to La Colonia. There’s no Nick, but Alejandro, Colonia’s leader, gives them just enough information to send them in the right direction before he succumbs to the infection.
Will you tune in to see where the family winds up, or have you moved on to greener entertainment pastures? Personally, I’m using my free time to watch Wynonna Earp and a couple other SyFy shows.
Return of the Dead Guy: Review for iZombie 310 by A. Zombie
There’s only one reason to keep throwing back to Roxanne Greer’s death after her brain gimmick left a bad taste in fans’ mouths, it’s the one thing which will finally expose the puppet behind several deadly incidents in the city. We knew Greer’s death wasn’t cut and dry, not with Weckler being so ready to confess, and his subsequent staged suicide. The motive, however, remained elusive. With only one person alive with a connection to the man, Clive and Liv hunt down his daughter, who said some cryptic things about why Ms. Greer met her end during her final call with her father. They catch up with her at a friend’s house. The girl is wary to say too much in public. Or maybe her problem’s with Clive and Liv. There’s a surprise twist, tying Fillmore-Graves to the Weckler family. Was this their way of shoring up Baracus’ public image? If so, maybe the sniper at the reception wasn’t a crazed bigot, but someone trained not to shoot the mayor in the head. I know a certain company with loads of loyal men who’d pull the trigger in the name of the undead greater good. Could be a red herring, though. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Major and Shawna spend some time in Fort Lust. Yes, it’s as sickeningly sweet as it sounds. No, Liv won’t tolerate Major’s new attention diversion, as evident in her rat-feeding rant. Hilarious since she spends the entire episode apologizing to Drake for killing him, and he’s not really there. Drake even gets between Liv and Justin the first time they hop in bed together. But the minute Major is obviously happy, Liv is in a snit. She’s had ample time to deal with her feelings for the guy. They never see eye to eye for long and spend all their time saving each other from their own stubborn nature. But sure, writers, let’s make Liv the jealous ex yet again because you can’t figure out that adults can move on to new relationships without napalming the bridge with their ex. See Ravi and Peyton for another prime example. They do give Liv a moment to acknowledge her insane behavior—the brain-hopping to escape her violent farewell with Drake. The couple even get another chance to say goodbye. At last, Liv is free to move on. If we’re willing to forget her pettiness over Major’s current lover.
Boss weasels his way into a face-to-face with Blaine. He’s so sure he’s going to walk out of the mortuary the winner. Surprise, Boss! Zombies are a thing. Yes, Blaine brings the guy who’s been gunning for him in on the big secret. The brain supply is in peril without Angus’ firm hand to keep things running. Blaine just doesn’t have the same charm over the phone. He recruits Boss to smuggle brains for the business, after scaring the pee out of him with a little Full Blow Zombie mode, first.
That’s not the only real zombie action. Blaine grrs up again, this time with Liv in tow, to rescue the valiant duo trapped by the torture-happy Truthers. Ravi does his best to keep Don E. comfortable and safe from the groups’ plan to fry him like bacon until he snaps and turns full Romero. He even goes so far as to reach into some dark and mortifying places in order to retrieve Don E.’s burner phone so he can call for help. Rachel drops by, eager to check on the legitimacy of the live feed footage. She’s not on board with the plan Harley Johns and his pals pitch. But other than supporting Ravi as he literally stands in harm’s way, she can’t do much when faced with heavily-armed men hell-bent on hurting someone for fun. But the zombies can. The episode ends with Liv and Blaine Zing up in the car and Ravi’s got a gun to his head.
With three episodes left, things have predictably hit the fan in epic ways. Judging from the preview for next week, it’ll be an uphill battle for Team Zombie if they all want to survive this encounter with the Truthers.
Twenty-Sided, Die: Review for iZombie 309 by A. Zombie
This week, Liv turns into a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master. Only, she’s a cartoon of a human interested in table top gaming and ends up dramatically narrating everything. The second the brain is inconvenient, Liv magically remembers she can pilfer leftover Fillmore-Graves brain goop from Major. So the writers dragged yet another subculture through the mud, got a lot wrong according to my expert, and dropped the gag because it was too annoying to bring into Liv’s new relationship? Okay, sure.
There’s no resolution to this case, either. After the DM is poisoned during a gaming session, the red herring winds up being Dan the DM’s secret hobbit-fetish driven relationship with fellow player Zoe, and how the three other men in their gaming group likewise wanted to date her. I’ll admit, I almost turned off the TV and walked away from the episode. First, Ravi calls the gaming group nerds several times in a five minute span, then they bring on yet another case of Jealous Man Syndrome, in theory placing the blame for the murder on a completely innocent woman through her romantic choice. But she had nothing to do with what happened to Dan, because Dan was a secret international hacker. The FBI takes the case from Clive and Liv, leaving it all up in the air, along with the stench from all those decomposing, ancient DnD jokes they resurrected like it hasn’t been Hollywood’s favorite pastime to demoralize “geeks” since the Eighties.
Bringing the FBI into the case does allow the writers to kick Clive one more time via a face-to-face with Bozzio. She’s taking Dan the Dungeon Hacker’s case, yet absolutely refuses to take any BS from Clive when he runs outside to catch her before she’s gone for good again. We seriously need more scenes like this for Clive. He’s been the robot detective for three seasons, with half-second glances at something more under the scowl. I’d gladly follow the show for more from emotionally-expressive Clive, even if Liv were to bite the dust in the zombie/human war.
Major needs no help getting all up in his feels. With yet another new lease on life, Major stews in his recent past, cataloging what few good things remain after becoming the Chaos Killer . . . or Chaos Kidnapper, rather. There’s no shortage of motivation, Ravi has a trunk-load of hidden hate-mail from the CK era. Within the mountain of anger is one letter showing compassion. Shawna writes that she’s also found herself in a situation where she’s blamed for something she didn’t do and invites Major to reach out to talk anytime. He takes her up on the offer after watching Justin and Liv leave for Baracus’ fundraiser. Shawna doesn’t seem completely crazy, so there’s a chance Major gets to do something other than mope soon.
The Travelers may not be the bumbling fools we hope they’ll turn out to be. During the benefit, someone shoots Baracus. Things with these guys needs to wrap up quickly before the body count grows.
Ravi almost manages to be the savior he’s convinced he needs to be in order to woo a woman. While in the Travelers meeting, he steps in to put a kibosh on Harley Johns’ idea to kidnap a zombie, starve it, and live broadcast the outcome via internet to expose zombie-kind. The problem? These yokels have no clue how dangerous a cornered zombie can be. Outing himself as a morgue worker, and former CDC employee, Ravi warns them about a zombie’s ability to infect with a scratch. The mob calms down and agrees to the rational plan—wait for Ravi’s cure so if anyone is injured, he can cure them. Hint, there’s no way Ravi’s following through with that idea. He only needed to buy time.
Not nearly enough time, it seems. Thanks to Blaine’s little blue brain experiment, the Travelers have their hands on a genuine zombie . . . Don E. The dude stumbled into the street, tripping hard on doctored war veteran brain. The visions from Blain’s double-strength memory-enhanced brain are all consuming, pulling Don E. from the real world so much, he’s only aware of danger after Johns locks him in the back of his van and delivers him to Ravi. I mean, at least the dude isn’t at a secret government lab, but this means Ravi has to not only extract himself from the hate group, but also rescue an addle-brained zombie.
At peace again, Peyton actually has energy to focus on work. First priority? Figuring out what happened with Weckler. The best way to learn about a person after their death is to talk to someone they trusted with their deepest secrets. This expert laughed at the notion that Weckler, distraught after losing his wife, would spend his meager income on a dominatrix. Which is pretty much what I’d already figured out. So who’s the puppeteer behind the mentally unstable man? It’d be easier to list the powerful men in town who hadn’t paid tribute to the deceased dominatrix; finding one man amongst her client list with that kind of sway over legal matters isn’t going to be easy.
Perhaps the answer just slithered back into town. We wrap this week by saying hello to Boss as he’s smuggled into Seattle. This can’t be good. His Unfinished Business list is longer than my arm. Drat. Peyton just got her life somewhat together, too.
Next week, make sure the Ghostbusters are on your speed dial. Hopefully the episode will be a nice pallet cleanser going into the final episodes. I’d certainly like to laugh instead of groan during the show.
Eat a Knievel: Review for iZombie 308 by A. Zombie
Didn’t anyone on the iZ team look at the optics of a jealous white guy burning a black man alive for impregnating his white girlfriend during an ill-considered prank? We’re not above the race talk in a zombie setting. We’re certainly not allowed to forget that unconscionable crimes are perpetuated against people of color all over the United States thanks to the vitriol coming from the sitting president’s supporters. Yet again I’m left to wonder if this show’s production staff is horrifically isolated from the world or if they’re willfully ignoring the negative messages laced throughout this last season in particular. They have a whole sub story about chasing down men committing zombie hate crimes, then stage a murder where a young black man is burned alive for defiling another man’s “property.” In a world with infinite possibilities, countless ways to murder, and the ability to combine any color of people in a situation, these writers opted for too many instances of white men killing people of color. Let’s not forget, the Travelers are primarily white Republican types and their first known victims were a black family.
It’s not okay for the writers to make a buck on killing people of color. It’d be great if they quit preaching that women who step out of line will lose their lives or suffer great personal loss. Just knock it off already. It’s not entertaining. You’re attacking your target demographic! There’s no rational reason to target women and people of color so often. None. If that is truly all these writers can come up with, it’s time to put iZombie to pasture and give the money to creatives who’ll bring some actual representation to women-led shows and not trot them out like a freakshow.
The gimmick of the week: Liv eats an immolated professional prankster, tries to staple a guy’s tongue, and channels her destructive nature into a weird “same brain” date with Justin—which includes impalement by lawn dart.
Fillmore-Graves is left scrambling when someone, likely Travelers, blows up the corporate helicopter with Vivian Stoll and her advisors on board. This happens moments after Stoll privately outs Major as human and demands answers, along with a sit-down with Ravi. Major gets another chance to die for zombie kind, hooray. The new commanders seem far tenser than Stoll. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first act of outright zombie/human war comes from Fillmore-Graves. That bunch has itchy trigger fingers.
Blaine hatches a plan. Boy does it work well. There’s just one catch. He had to turn zombie again in order to put everything into motion. Once Blaine is back on his feet, he wipes out all of Angus’ goons. It’s rather impressive to watch Blaine now compared to Blaine pre-human. It’s the same man. Same memories. But this Blaine is flat-out done. He’s either going to rule the city or bite a bullet. So far, everything going in his favor. Good ol’ pops isn’t as lucky. Well, I hope he can hold his breath. The upside to another hostile deBeers takeover is Don E. and Blaine teaming up again to expand on the base Angus founded with The Scratching Post and all those back office meetings.
The episode wrapped with Liv leaving Ravi alone to infiltrate the anti-zombie hate group. Yeah. Like that’s going to end well. None of this will end well. War is knocking on the door.
Dirt Nap Time: Review for iZombie 307 by A. Zombie
So while Liv should have still been in the mood to shrug off the MIA home-brewed drugs, she winds up stalking Blaine. Sure. Pummeling that smug face probably felt great at the time. But does she really think he’s going to buckle under her form of strong-arming when he’s faced off with his reptilian-hearted father for decades, always emerging from each scrape wiser and eager to fight again? Nah. She’s nowhere near his intimidation level. By the episode’s end, he’s also reached the “nothing left to lose” stage. Stealing the cure and lying to Liv’s face is only step one. I foresee a sharp left and a lot of, “What the hell, Blaine,” in the future. The lone wolf is about to go on a hunt.
That’ll put a kibosh on Don E.’s fun, for sure. Right now, he’s still living it up. Zombie prostitutes. Free-flowing booze. Zombies happily munching on the overly-priced brain cuisine. He’s created a little slice of hedonistic heaven in Seattle, and only the dead can enjoy it. The dead and Major, that is. The Fillmore-Graves crew got a tip about the speakeasy. Major’s crew is tasked with checking it out. That’s the “official” order. Really, the guys take a night to blow off steam after losing one of their own on that last mission. While the others get to know the professional women in the back rooms, Major’s new humanity is outed privately by Justin—note, Don E. vouched for Major at the door to bypass the pepper test. You gotta feel for Major. He hasn’t held a steady job since Liv started eating brains for the greater good. His skill set was honed for one purpose during his zombienapping days, and the only place who won’t balk at an accused serial killer collecting a paycheck happens to be run by zombies. Zombies who are highly suspicious of humans. So suspicious, Fillmore-Graves has bodyguards on Baracus to keep their high-level government zombie alive through the incoming storm of zombie hunters like Harley Johns. Johns and his pal do make an attempt to reach Baracus, but their real purpose was simply to provoke the zombies in order to capture video evidence. Which Justin provides after they run him over. That footage is going to cost lives.
Liv’s new beau isn’t off to a good start.
Yeah, that’s a thing. The pair go on a kinda-date to The Scratching Post in order for Liv to question Don E. about the missing cure. Before they find the busy business owner, they spend hours lost in conversation. Because the brain Liv’s on this week turned her into a weird hyper-happy person who listens to others rather well, but talks to them like they’re a three year old. I don’t find it attractive.
The case-of-the week involves a school teacher, Jamie Brennan, and his trio of lovers—all lovingly hand-picked from the parents of his class, with the staff’s full knowledge, and no official reprimand for bringing his personal life into professional life in destructive ways since he has new lovers every year and they inevitably cause a scene at the school. Sure. I believe that. And cows will headline in this winter’s big budget rendition of The Nutcracker. We were never supposed to focus on the womanizer who ends up dying by nail gun, but instead focus fell on his lovers. Macy’s love life in particular takes center stage once the writers attempt to bring in the notion of polyamory/open relationships. In reality, they wrote yet another cheating wife, jealous husband story. Which we’ve seen in probably half the cases Liv solves. Someone on the writing staff needs therapy which doesn’t involve writing out their relationship issues to foist on this show’s poor actresses.
Peyton’s still dealing with the fallout from Liv poorly handling Weckler’s interrogation—the lead suspect in the dominatrix murder and subsequent blackmail case. Not only are there holes in the testimony, but the man’s lawyer thinks there’s something larger at play. He’s right. Weckler won’t part with the memory card in order to make a deal because something on it is worth enough to a third party to keep him alive. Until another lawyer butts in. Thorne boots Weckler’s lawyer, tells Peyton off, and the next day Weckler is found dead in his cell. Nothing suspicious there, folks. Liv’s really botched this case for Peyton.
This is something I’ve waited for them to add to the show. What happens when Liv’s recklessness and egomania isn’t enough to get the job done? She’s certain she’s the end-all, be-all when it comes to getting inside the head of the victim to give them a voice after death. But, come on. Liv barely does her morgue job some weeks. She’s abusive to her boss, Ravi. The number of times she’s embarrassed Clive or committed morally questionable interrogation techniques is astronomical. Let’s face it, Liv sucks at her self-appointed mission. She’s still guilt-eating all these murder victims, with no actual care for the people they were or the families they left behind. All Liv wants is a pat on the head for solving a murder with no pesky laws or moral clauses to worry about. So what if she gets fired? She’s a zombie. Eat a brain, obtain new skills long enough to actually learn them, and go get you a new job. What will the humans in Team Zombie do if Liv continues to not consider the impact of her yo-yo personalities? Will Fillmore-Graves hire them after Liv ruins them like with Major? I think not.
Liv thinks becoming human again will fix her life. Much like in the first episode, I see a character too self-centered to do anything but insert herself in the middle of a hurricane because everyone’s talking about it, then blames family and friends for pushing her. In reality, they jumped in to save her and were blown against the brick wall that is her ego.
Some Like it Hot Mess: Review for iZombie 306 by A. Zombie
Clive wraps the case, suddenly Liv’s under no geas and is free to express her natural self. This leads me to believe the writers and production team knew the Sweet Lady Pain gimmick was a turd in the punch bowl. Yet they ran with it. For what purpose? To further deride sex workers in pop culture? Yeah, no. This isn’t something they can pass off as, “Oh, well, the brains wear off.” Liv rode Janko’s brain until she collapsed, utilizing the mercenary’s self-control to lock down her emotions after Drake’s final death. That took a while. Liv ditched the leather and whips on day two or three. She didn’t over-exert herself in any fights. Nor was she forced to heal any serious wounds. Both would take extra nutrients to heal, possibly explaining how Liv’s typical meal schedule wouldn’t be sufficient. Or we could just say, the writers messed up. They know they messed up. They went to great lengths to make us forget it by rushing Liv into a narcissist’s brain, therefore pitting her against everyone and causing drama. This is akin to tying shiny paper around nectarine tree limbs as a distraction so the birds won’t take the fruit, but truth is, the birds will always get what they want. What fans want is a show with a woman at the helm who isn’t deliberately knocked down to become the laughing stock in order to cover poor decisions from the production staff. I, for one, will keep checking this tree to see if there’s anything worthwhile to digest. There’s so much potential. It’s trapped behind a messy patriarchal wall, though.
Liv isn’t the only woman on the show getting this flavor of treatment in the writers’ room. Peyton still suffers barbs from Ravi over her personal life, only for every crappy thing he’s said to be proven right so Peyton is obligated to apologize. Apologize to the man so obsessed over who she’s kissing, he hopped in bed with a woman he detests? Are you kidding? But, it happens. This week’s case is centered on the victim, Yvonne, and her affair with a married club owner, with a jealous coworker red herring. Who actually offed the self-centered party girl? The roommate she screwed over. A woman, by the way. Not one of the sexually-motivated angles Clive and Liv investigate produces a lick of information. I dare not go back to count how many of the women who’ve died on the show were given a similar treatment, but off the top of my head it’s already too many. And when the victims themselves aren’t interesting sexually—because of race, weight, age, etc.—a side character, like Rhonda in episode 304, is tapped to fill the position. Could we not?
For a fun writing exercise, I’d like iZ writers to pen a script which has no mention whatsoever of sex. It happens in shows lead by men all the time! Why is it any different for Liv? She’s a zombie! That’s rather interesting on its own. Add in her career choice and it’s a story all in itself. With so much story fodder, why the obsession with the women on the show having sex? This isn’t how you present women’s sexual liberty. Go back to the drawing board.
Major is back to his puppy-dog-esque self after taking the cure. Ravi isn’t as calm. He obsessively tests Major’s memory. He’s so desperate to save his bro, he asks Liv—doped on dingbat brain—to take shifts watching their human-again friend. Which, of course, she doesn’t even bother trying to do. In an attempt to do one last good thing before he loses himself, Major takes an unannounced trip to visit his family. Cue panic. Flailing. And a big ol’ truth bomb dropped on Peyton like a load from a rhino’s backend. Blaine faked it. Well, most of it. The cure does indeed strip memories, but it’s more like a hard reboot than a full wipe. It took a couple days for Blaine to remember his old ways, and he hated it. He hid the truth to start over. Great news for Major, but Blaine’s lies put Peyton in an awful position yet again.
A functional cure also means Liv can finally stop being a pawn for whatever weird fantasies the writers are working out on the page.
Or not. See, the cure’s gone missing. There’s only one real suspect in Team Zombie’s mind.
Don E. has a regular at his bar who’s flat-out tired of the brain game and wants out without eating the end of a pistol. Being the ultimate businessman, Don E. skips over to the morgue to present Ravi with a lucrative deal, they split the money from the rich guy and hand over the cure. No go. Ravi has a finite amount of serum and probably has names to go with most of them on his mental list. Obviously there’s a demand for the cure. Who’s always around when there’s an opportunity to exploit? Yeah, Don E. is the usual suspect this season. But in this case, he’s the scapegoat when Blaine absconds with the remaining syringes of the serum. It looks like he’s going to make a new designer drug for the dead set based off the blue memory goo. So why take the cure, too? My guess is population control. Slip the cure into his drug and watch Angus lose his brain-munching customer base. It’s Blaine, the sky’s the limit with his scheming ways. He may surprise me.
Spanking the Zombie: Review for iZombie 305 by A. Zombie
Once we hit the last ten/fifteen minutes, the tone for the show was so changed, I had to pause and take a lap around my cell to wrap my mangled mind around the sharp turn from lambasting sex workers to showing nothing but care for how Major transitions into a memory-less life. The change need only be measured in one fact: Liv’s overbearing dominatrix personality is nowhere to be seen during Major’s ordeal. There is no room for ridiculous behavior in his scenes, but Liv’s life is nothing but a joke. The creators even jest about her sex life in comic-con panels. They act like it’s perfectly okay for any woman to suffer a series of horrific personal losses while continuing to subject herself to ridiculous, debasing scenarios for other’s benefit, yet she receives no recognition for her efforts. How can anyone look at the sensitivity presented to Major, but repeatedly denied to Liv and suggest the writers have women’s best interests in mind? They don’t. The dominatrix story line should have never left someone’s list of questionably-witty brain gimmicks.
Okay, that’s off my chest. Now for the hardest part of all . . . I really enjoyed those last fifteen minutes. There hasn’t been that much genuine emotion on this show in too long. My heart sat in my throat the entire time they said their goodbyes. Where has this been for the last year? Can we order more writing of that caliber from here on out? I’d gladly shut up about the more ridiculous show aspects if we could treat the ladies’ emotions with the same compassion.
On to the case. Clive catches a two-week old case from a colleague involving a professional dominatrix, Roxanne—A.K.A. Sweet Lady Pain. Her body was passed on to a crematorium, but Ravi lifted her brain to test his memory serum. Convenient. He couldn’t have kept literally anyone else? Ravi’s sexual problems keep interfering with others’ lives, yet no one calls on him to fix his behavior.
Once dosed with the serum-soaked brain, Liv is unbearably domineering. It’s embarrassing on a soul-searing level to watch such a creative actress forced to deal with this script. Liv’s visions focus solely on Roxanne’s clients. There’s no mention whatsoever about this woman’s personal life. She’s a prop to bring sex back to the forefront of this show. Roxanne’s clients happen to be the same group of weird, sexually repressed white men who typically appear when sex professionals are murdered—Frost, Stone, and Baracus. Frost and Stone band together after separately lying to the police to point a finger at Roxanne’s stalker and possibly the one blackmailing Frost with footage from his sessions under Sweet Lady Pain. Team Zombie sets up a money drop to catch their guy. Clive’s bumrush with the food cart is probably my favorite stunt on the show so far. I don’t know why. It just is.
At the police station, Liv does a crap job of intimidating the blackmailer. He folds under such weak pressure, confessing with a lot of wishy-washy language. Huh? That’s anticlimactic. There’s no righteous justice served. Roxanne’s murder is wrapped as quickly as possible to make way for Major’s big scene.
Zombie society is slowly banding together to face the threat posed by Harley Johns and his fellow Travelers—that’s the name I thought he said, but I could’ve had a bug in my ear. Johns has enough proof to pose a serious threat to Fillmore-Graves’ plans for Seattle. He also has a whole load of batcrap crazy ideas on how to go about protecting humanity. Stoll isn’t idly collecting information from a known threat during the meeting—held at Liv’s suggestion—but takes the chance to bug Johns’ truck so they’re on the same page as the hunters. This sub-story touches on a boatload of human rights issues and is focused on introducing a whole new people into an already tumultuous global community. Seattle isn’t an isolated incident. The city is merely testing grounds for the weapons used during the inevitable conflict. Fillmore-Graves adapted at break-neck speed to their new reality in somewhat overwhelming ways—the chest o’ heads Major found after his stabbing, for instance. There’s no doubt the zombies will find a way to survive and thrive, that is clear now. The humans won’t accept their new neighbors easily. The stage is set for some serious fighting right in Team Zombie’s back yard.
The team is down a man. With war on the horizon, can they find a way to bring the undead and the living together while rebooting Major? Let’s not forget, if Don E continues down his current road, he’ll create an entire generation of zombies all on his own long before Fillmore-Graves or Team Zombie figure it out. A “baby” boom in the middle of tense introductory talks tends to feel more like an invading army, especially since there’s little to no gestation time for the transformation process and zombies emerge as fully functional adults so long as they maintain healthy eating habits. Seattle is a powder keg and both parties keep lighting matches to fling at it.
Halfway through the season and we’re looking at war. That’s some speedy pacing. Next week may slow things a bit. Liv won’t have enough focus after the next brain to tie a shoe, let alone prevent a war.
Wag the Tongue Slowly: Review for iZombie 304 by A. Zombie
This review discusses adult content.
Fasten your seatbelts. The muck is deep on this path.
Let’s just start with the case. A lot of the seriously harmful language toward women comes in during the latter half of the investigation when Clive and Liv bring in coworkers harassed by Cheryl, the office gossip monger who accidentally overdosed from Utopium-laced yogurt. While under the influence of Chatty Cathy, Liv has one vision. It’s a scene from an adult film outing coworker Rhonda as a porn star. That wasn’t the first time the character had been outed; in the backstory, Cheryl exposed Rhonda by sharing her films with the entire company—likely via an illegal download so Rhonda didn’t even profit from the sales. Yeah. Okay, no. That’s not a quirky plot point to exploit for some cheap giggles when The Guys find out the case involves porn. For sex workers who are outed, it’s rarely something they can just brush off. The stigma behind the work instantly pollutes their new work environment. They’re almost expected to perform in some sick corner of their coworkers’ minds. For someone who may want to move past that stage of their life with a clean slate, outing means uprooting and finding a fresh place to start life again. Rhonda doesn’t even react to the second outing, this time to the police and morgue crew, in a believable way. She fluffs her chest and draws focus to her body, indicating that the attention thrilled her in a way. There’s the performance I mentioned, used this time to, I don’t know, talk her way out of the cops looking at her movies? It makes no sense for a former sex worker whose been outed twice in professional settings to wave it off with a flirt. Frustrated? Yes. Angry. Totally. And I don’t buy that crud excuse that she’s hiding her part in the prank-gone-wrong. It’s careless writing which put the character in such a horrible position. They could have done literally anything else when Rhonda formulated a comeback to Clive’s questioning, but by choosing the exploitive route, they’ve failed to uphold the safety of women foremost. The week before Liv traipses down Domme Road, writers demonstrate how much of a train wreck it’ll be by failing to handle Rhonda’s story with any consideration for sex workers as humans.
Then there’s Ravi. At this point the character has to go, or the writers need a good talking to about how to stop enabling awful male behavior by depicting it through a character who used to have a moral compass. They’re obsessed with Peyton’s sex life since Liv isn’t having any and it’s not good television. I pity these women who were brought onto a show which could be so unique, but the story lines written for them are the same two or three plots we see for women in most entertainment. And now Ravi has a terminal case of creepy guy syndrome. If Ravi were a real man, no woman in his social circle would date him at this point in his life. He’s fixated on Peyton’s sex life, without any consideration for her feelings, and fueled by his righteous indignation that she dare sleep with anyone else. Ravi publicly humiliated Peyton and blackmailed Blaine to test a serum he didn’t know would work or kill the guy. He’d rather get drunk and wallow in his sense of betrayal than help a friend do what could possibly be his last mission before he loses his memory. Sleeping with a woman Ravi hates is more preferable than a heartfelt conversation to clear the air with Peyton, but it’s her fault for catching him in the aftermath of the act. The topper is the instant Ravi heard there is an adult star under investigation by their team, he’s practically a walking cartoon penis. Obsession comes hard and fast, and after Ravi binge watches hours of Rhonda’s films, he’s rearing to get his stalk on. The audacity of the writers lies in that they felt no guilt over Ravi stalking a woman who’d been endlessly harassed by the deceased and her coworkers, only for the police to dredge it up again. Yes, Cheryl died from Rhonda’s actions. It was reckless to prank someone with drugs. No one should ever be dosed without consent. That doesn’t give writers license to treat a sex worker with so much disrespect, though. She’s still a human, not a physical embodiment of all sexuality and its perceived evils.
In other matters, Major finally has a solid lead on Natalie. He’s also too close to death for Ravi’s comfort. With that in mind, the dynamic duo band together and bumble through tracking Osborne Oates—some scum-sucking jerk who apparently is way into human trafficking. Through him they find a scary as hell security guard, but most importantly, Natalie’s hideout. There’s a hitch in the plan. Well, other than Major having nothing left to lose and making rash decisions right and left. Natalie won’t leave. She refuses to endanger Major. His last ditch effort to help is to give her his syringe with the cure, plus a warning about the memory loss. While he does escape Natalie’s guard squad, he’s likely heading straight into another mess when his zombie squad deploys on its first mission the next day.
Clive and Liv do make progress with the anti-Z message board. They track a local gun range owner who piques their interest with his posts, and the zombie-heavy advertising for his business. The plot strands tangle again, almost wonderfully so, when Harley Jones turns out to be brother to the Max Rager employee who, literally, lent Clive and Liv a hand at the doomed party. Jones is pretty much who you think he’ll be. White. Not in great shape, but large enough to be threatening. Mouth runs off without his brain fully engaging. The only difference between Jones and other crackpot racists is he has insider information about zombies and poses an actual threat. Despite that, he says he’s not the one who pulled the trigger on Wally’s family. I believe him. He seems to type to brag about horrific decisions. And now I’m going to throw up my eyeball pudding at that thought.
Next week, Domme Brain. I’m honestly not looking forward to it.
Eat, Pray, Liv: Review for iZombie 303 by A. Zombie
Ravi tells Major he’s got a few weeks left before he must take the cure or die. By the episode’s end, I’m certain that time frame is far, far shorter. This guillotine over Major’s memories is held by a single strand on a frayed rope. He knows it. The painful truth is right there in his eyes while watching Liv play that ridiculous dancing game with his new work pal, Justin. One might mistake it as a nudge toward a rekindled relationship. It just so happens that happy friends are one thing Major has lacked since the zombie thing started, and if he’s going out soon, he might as well do as Liv’s brain-influenced babbling suggests—live in the moment. In the moment doesn’t include bland, bagged brain mush. He and Justin break the feeding protocol to imbibe in the real thing. I’m digging this happier Major. How long until he’s forced to take the cure? What if the memory serum doesn’t work—we’ll talk testing ethics later—and he’s rebooted while serving in a zombie mercenary squad? There’s no real good outcome unless Ravi’s serum does indeed reverse the memory snafu, but that opens a whole new world of problems for Major’s future.
The thing with Ravi and Peyton? The plot went to the place it never should have. Why? So Peyton could say some deep, insightful things and be all grr-arg, woman power! And then they turn around and have Ravi learn absolutely nothing from forcing Peyton into a corner where she had to defend not only her right to make decisions for herself, but her right to have sex at all with anyone who isn’t Ravi. The cap on the entire ridiculous story is after Ravi is a sex-paranoid nutjob in front of Team Zombie while professing his love, Peyton goes to him and appears to at least somewhat forgive him with a kiss. But wait, he’s already slept with the woman he swears he hates more than snails hate salt. Why even trot out this moral lesson? All men will see is that Ravi still has sex with an attractive woman, so what’s the problem with how he treated Peyton? You don’t get to berate someone in front of their friends about who they sleep with, mortify them, and win a prize. To assume Ravi can have whoever he wants, whenever he wants because he said he’s sorry is precisely how this show continues to perpetuate unhealthy romantic expectations. It’s obvious in the weird sub plot stating Liv can’t be happy in bed because she’s secretly unhappy and guilt-ridden over her brain-eating. It’s the way Peyton has been used as a fire hydrant in a dog park since the get-go, men marking their territory right and left. It’s Major caring more about women he barely knows, but the two closest to him are constantly in danger, sometimes through his own doing. It’s the writers assuming every non-STEM employed woman Liv eats is secretly a slut, crazy, or too caught up in “being a woman” to have a career. For a show with a woman on all the advertising, it does a crap job at representing them. I know not one woman who would’ve kissed a man after what Ravi said when he emotionally blackmailed Blaine into taking the memory cure. Not. One. A few certainly would’ve punched him, instead. With a fist, not lips. Got that, iZ writers?
Let’s get to the case for the week. Topher is a mindfulness teacher, focused on helping others look past negative thoughts, to live in the moment without fear. During his solo meditation, someone introduces his personal Shambhala to a Buddha statue. Clive and Liv dig up a far different past for the Zen guy. Once upon a time, he was a venture capitalist with partners Mitch and Devon. Things went sideways, someone turned to drugs for start-up money, and Mitch spent years in jail while the other two moved on to become legitimate businessmen and mindfulness coaches. It doesn’t take a genius to solve the crime once they look past the red herring a “random” homeless guy tosses in their way. Topher’s brain is one of the better personalities foisted on Liv, honestly. His case just isn’t that intriguing.
While Liv and Clive seize Mitch’s future moments to pay for his newest crime, Blaine is having one hell of a week. The last problem on his list is the potentially harmful serum Ravi bullied him into testing. The first problem, really the only real problem Blaine should worry about if he were his old self, is Angus. The old man wastes no time letting Blaine know he’s back from the deep freeze, in part as a test, but mostly to see the fear of God in his son’s eyes. Disappointing day for Angus; Blaine only fears the man he used to be, the horrible person he’s forced to face every time someone coughs up a story he can’t remember. After getting his money back from Blaine, Angus sinks it all into a restaurant. His new business will eclipse the under-the-table brain biz Blaine’s running in the mortuary’s basement. We’re talking top of the line service. For the right price, Angus’ new associate, Dino, will secure any brain their customers desire. Don E. is way out of his element, and seriously missing Blaine, but tries to be clever enough not to get dead. That may require more work than he thought. Angus won’t wait for word-of-mouth advertising. Nope. Don E. will make customers to fill Angus’ demands. If everyone thought Stoll had a bad idea for zombies taking over Seattle, DeBeers is about to make it a thousand times worse.
That’s if Katty Kupps doesn’t expose zombies to humans before they do it themselves. She’s close to connecting the dots. Too close. Seattle is a zombie powder keg. Isn’t it great?