Well, this one is a bit different. I went in expecting an established zombie apocalypse scenario. Instead we get a rather unique approach to the zombie origin story. While, yes, this is foremost Maya’s story about getting away from her horrifically dysfunctional household in order to strike out on her own with someone she feels she can trust, the film is at its roots a graphic cautionary tale about drugs and chemical lab safety procedures.
Always, always dispose of illicit drug lab waste properly, lest you bring on Armageddon.
The script isn’t earth-shattering beyond the unique creation story—one which I’d certainly never considered before, and applaud the writer on thinking outside the box in a genre which has been bogged down by Romero and TWD fanfics for too long. That being said, the dialog is often clumsy, or leans heavily on stereotype jargon—like Gault’s dom-heavy dialog, especially in the scene where he randomly corners and belittles Maya about garbage etiquette in their dilapidated, condemned eyesore. Surprisingly, there are personal stories for each building tenant, except for one poor guy who spends the entire film too ill to leave his apartment, let alone participate in the aggressive, murderous side-effects of exposure to the chemical fumes. But like the dialog, there’s quite a bit borrowed from the Lazy Writer’s Guide to Messed Up Characters.
Special effects crews worked overtime on the late-stage infection looks and sight gags. It’s safe to say, most of the production’s focus landed on the last half an hour of pure blood-drenched action. They really dug in, going for the most disgusting things they could think of, within only a slim semblance of reason—again, my mind wanders to that poor guy who never left his apartment and I can’t help but shudder. There’s no formula for the zombie look, since the method of exposure is so unique. But for the most part, they just start rotting, their mind as well. The mixture of real violence and hallucinated violence pushed the final act right over the cliff.
Better yet, that final act actually kept me on the edge of my seat—something which hasn’t happened at all during the last few films I’m reviewed. The tension is beautifully stretched by characters like Roxy, who easily stole the scene anytime she showed up. Roxy’s story is one of few which get some serious on-screen time. Unfortunately, her role is constantly victimized to the point of ridiculous, and all to perpetuate an ugly stereotype. The script failed Roxy. The actor salvaged what they could to deliver a stellar performance. Combine the few standout actors with the locked building thriller vibe and the last act just works. But, boy, you have to sit through some weird dialog and character choices, first. No one in the building is sane before the chemical fumes, after they are a million times worse. Watching Gault and Murphy’s slow decline is probably the most uncomfortable because it feels like an S&M tourist tried, and failed, to write a comprehensive depiction of the live-in BDSM lifestyle.
This film wraps with open-ended possibilities for the universe, my favorite. It alludes to government officials stepping in to cope, which as genre fans know is a signal that things will only get worse from then on out—governments always try to weaponize something they shouldn’t. Maya’s final scene is intense, intentionally misleading, and perfectly caps the bloody final act.
Condemned could have a higher rating, but for heavy-handed use of several unfortunate stereotypes, I’m only giving it 3 bursting eyeballs out of 5.
Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 2: Review for iZombie 313 by A. Zombie
Liv heaps blame on herself for being dosed with Kupps’ brain. We do find out Chase Graves wasn’t the one to ultimately put Kupps in Liv’s path. However, this whole side trip into Liv Is Unfaithful Land is just another excuse to paint her as the bad guy for having sex. Like we’re honestly surprised she A) accidentally fell into bed with a man, and B) the guy she’s currently dating did so thinking they are exclusive to each other. News flash, Liv isn’t written as one woman. She’s always, always been herself and the brain for the episode—mostly the brain. While Liv may want a relationship, whatever brain she’s on will never allow it to happen. Yet again, Liv’s love life is sacrificed for the greater good—it probably will end up fodder for more jokes during the hiatus at whatever comic conventions the creators attend, too. There’s only so many emotional walls you can slam your main character into before it’s just painful to watch. Ask Buffy fans what happens after years of killing or maiming the main love interest. Hint, they stop caring. If fans can’t bother to care about who your main character wants to settle down with, you’re writing it wrong.
The real bad guy for the season isn’t the Truthers bumbling through outing the undead. It’s not Blaine, or his water-logged father, or even his flighty second hand man and their brain-selling empire posing the greatest risk to Seattle and its zombies. Chase Graves is almost innocent, as well, though once he catches on to the plan, he has no choice but to reroute the orders given from within his company to morph them into something productive, not an all-out attack on humans. In a twist I saw coming once the helicopter incident happened, Carey Gold is the one responsible for the zombie assassinations, along with the plot to put Baracus in the mayor’s seat no matter what. She also put Plan B into motion, a plan which undermines the Zombie Island protocol Fillmore-Graves worked toward up until Vivian Stoll’s demise. In the power vacuum, Gold worked her magic, convincing zombies they must strike first before humans have a chance to assemble their pitchfork-wielding mobs. She never took into account the fact that Chase Graves is sincere in his belief that humans and zombies can live together, given enough help dealing with the whole brain-needing problem. Now she’s got all the time in the world to ponder where she went wrong in her attempt to snag control of the deadliest force to gather inside the USA since it formed. Well, that’s if there’s an afterlife for zombies. Gold, her daughter, and anyone in good faith with her were grabbed by Fillmore-Graves by the time the episode wrapped.
Getting the truth about zombies under wraps again won’t be so easy. Nor is it Graves’ plan now that Gold’s scheme to create more zombies—and therefore the public couldn’t ignore the need for brains—actually worked. After Liv drops the bombshell on the public via newly zombified Johnny Frost, Graves swoops in with a prepared video detailing how the company plans to handle the new rush of undead citizens. It also states that Fillmore-Graves fully expects the USA to be on board with supplying brains for the company now single-handedly holding back an epidemic with teeth. That’s going to go over like a lead balloon. But their services are necessary. The zombie population doubled, if not tripled before Liv put a stop to the tainted flu vaccines. Bozzio is one of the unfortunates who were dosed before word spread—the scene where Clive helps color her hair is so easy to miss, but screams volumes about where their relationship could go. I mean, I’m not saying Clive should go undead, but he obviously cares deeply for this woman on a level most people are incapable of. Bozzio is oddly adaptive to the zombie idea. Which is good since she is one now. But I’m not sure she’d want Clive to join her for the sake of their relationship. There is always a chance Ravi will cook up something—he’s currently testing an honest-to-god zombie vaccine.
On the flip side, Major cashed in his humanity chips and signed back up for zombie soldier duty after Natalie and his fellow mercs died in Johns’ suicide bombing. Major is pretty focused on the job. Jumps right into the trenches in the hours after Discovery Day launches to pass out brain mash. He even plays savior, visiting hospitals to scratch and save the poor souls dying from the flu Gold spread during her evil plot. The gang feels he may have turned his back on humanity. They may be right. As much as I enjoy puppy-like Major, it’s time for him to get serious about his future and stop whining about the aftermath of the Chaos Killer. If that means he turns into soldierbro for a while, so be it. Just as long as he’s not building sex forts or writing sonnets about his couch and all the TV he watched from it. That was getting old, fast.
The zombies are out of the morgue and in the public eye. Seattle is lead by an undead man, and the city’s largest new company is also run by a zombie. Yet there’s still tension. Humans won’t take this new reality with a simple grain of salt. They’re going to fear the change, fear what happens if the zombies are weaponized either through biological warfare or straight up attacks. As bigoted as this last season was in certain aspects, expect that to worsen a thousand-fold while the writers bumble through bringing two kinds of people together. I know they can’t leave well enough alone. They proved it when that racist as whoa little old lady laid into Ravi for no reason. While I’m excited to see the show expand its view, it’s going to be painful watching the writers try to get it right without being horrifically offensive to minorities, LGBT, and women.
Looking for Mr. Goodbrain (Part 1): Review for iZombie 312 by A. Zombie
Where to begin? Let’s just go for the jugular, shall we? Did anyone else get the impression Chase Graves intentionally dosed Liv with Katty Kupps’ brain? It’s no secret within the company about what, exactly, Liv does for the police department in order to solve murder cases. Chase obviously knew Kupps, and with no effort at all he could figure out why she was in town. He also must have figured out that the woman possessed absolutely no impulse control when it came to romantic encounters with strangers—were at the same hotel since her arrival and even the staff knew Kupps liked to entertain a new date every night. Long story short, Chase roofied Liv. Possibly on purpose. Liv talks herself out of sleeping with every other man Kupps’ brain drew her toward except Chase, and that’s because he manipulates her in the bar by playing flirtation games to keep her on her toes. Everything about the encounter screams date rape, down to Liv’s reaction once her adrenaline levels out after. But it’s okay, because Chase is a dog guy. Dog guys don’t dose zombie girls with brains with high sex drives.
I’m going to punch a wall because this episode is so frustrating.
Ravi finally, finally gets to act like the senior morgue staff member and is invited to sit in on interviews with the folks involved in Kupps’ current CDC investigation. He gets maybe thirty seconds to act like a professional, then Liv has a vision from Ravi and Kupps’ ill-timed tryst. Of course she did. Off the bat, Ravi is undermined by his sexual impulsiveness, and then keeps bragging about it for the entire episode. Then they just roll into Racist Old White Woman Land out of the blue. Yeah. No. Knock that crap off. It’s completely unnecessary. We know these people exist, but giving them screen time just to point out that your lead actor has brown skin is bull. You gave hate enough attention with the Truthers. Often writers fall into the trap of, “I’ll just show them how bad they look!” It’s not that easy to erase deep-rooted racism, folks. All you’re doing is advertising hate speech at this point. And for what? A laugh at the expense of the kindly father she railed against? Give me a break, already. Racist Granny #3 wasn’t necessary for the episode at all.
Baracus is in deep with Fillmore-Graves, but may not be the one ordering the executions, as Liv theorized last week. Either that or he’s one hell of an actor. While they all ponder how involved Baracus is in the D-Day preparations, and the murders to keep it all under wraps, Peyton has something else on her mind—a shiny new job as Baracus’ chief of staff. The gang tells her to take the offer, at the very least it’ll give them an inside man.
Natalie makes a comeback to give Major something to do other than mope on the couch after Chase Graves outs him as human and fires him on the spot. Like before, their scenes are a calm in the storm. The two just click in a way Major and Liv never did, and this new relationship is purely platonic until almost the end of this episode. Which makes the episode’s surprise ending just so much harder to watch. Major is outside with Justin when his farewell party is bombed. With Natalie inside.
Harley Johns has had quite a cruddy few days. Catches a zombie. Proves to some in the world there might be undead amongst them. Then zombies attack, and give him his dooming injury. The same zombies find his secret hideout, only to drug him and lock him in a freezer. The topper is when two other Truthers, including ex-guard Billy, break into the bunker. They defrost they guy, thinking he’s dead, and steal his beer. Probably the best part of Johns’ day is when he realizes delivery arrived just in time for breakfast. His hatred for zombies leads him to strap on a bunch of explosives. Johns is the one who blows up the party. Because we really needed a white terrorist act to round out this . . . morally questionable first half to the season finale.
Let’s just get next week over with. Maybe time away from the table will give the writers something other than racism and misogyny to lean on for plot points. But I’ll tell you right now, my patience with this stuff is wearing really thin.
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.