Zombie Reviews . . . Train to Busan

Zombie Reviews . . . Train to Busan
by A. Zombie

Rated: TV-MA (extreme violence, strong language)
Language: Korean
Starring: Gong Yoo, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Soo-an Kim, Woo-shik Choi, So-hee Ahn, and Eui-sung Kim

Occasionally Netflix doesn’t fail the genre completely. Recently they added Train to Busan to their streaming service, which is probably the best thing they’ve done in the last year. It’s hard to believe this film didn’t catch my attention before now, seeing as it was a huge hit across the Pacific. Let’s be honest, the American film media is horrible about giving props to genre flicks not set on their home turf. Pair that with the fact that it’s best watched in the original Korean and film media push it aside for yet another poorly produced American movie which is just a clone of fifty similar films and television shows. This film is a breath of fresh air. It’ll also keep you so far on the edge of your seat, you may fall off by the time the final scene plays out.

Seok-woo is a work-obsessed absentee father dealing with the fallout from a tense divorce. On the eve of his daughter Soo-an’s birthday, he screws up royally. To make it up to her, he relents to her demands to see her mother in Busan. Leaving town isn’t ideal. There’s something going on with one of the funds he manages and his coworker Kim is increasingly concerned about the reports he’s receiving. But a promise is a promise, so off they go. Seconds before the train departs for Busan, an injured woman jumps aboard. She’s infected with something none of them have seen before. When a train worker comes to her aid, the infected woman attacks and chaos erupts. By the time the initial attack is done, there’s only one train car worth of people left. The rest turn zombie and are locked in the middle train cars. News coming in via overhead televisions isn’t any better. Entire cities are overrun with the undead. Several are quarantined. When the train stops at last, it’s only to discover that the military couldn’t hold the quarantine and the dead have taken over. They opt to move on, pushed by an unhinged COO, Yon-suk. Throughout the last half of the movie it’s hard to tell who the real enemy is, the zombies or the paranoid humans trapped on the train.

This isn’t just another action movie with zombies. There’s a message or forty in the way the living interact with each other. We have an intense father/daughter plot which will drive anyone with a heart to tears by the third act. The film’s writer leaned heavily on the notion of ingrained human selfishness and the heinous damage it does to the masses during a crisis. Many of those who perish in the final act only die due to selfishness and their willingness to turn a blind eye to hatred if it means they’ll live to see another day. Panic becomes a new cast member at the end, unseen yet pushing one survivor group against the other with no sound reason. We’ve seen tension like that before, TWD uses it near-weekly, but here it’s so in-your-face wrong that I couldn’t help but yell at the television. That’s the kind of writing I miss, the scripts which make one forget they’re not one of the characters for a couple hours. It’s hard to watch the human cruelty, but even harder to look away.

Those zombies, guys. I haven’t seen character movement like that in ages unless it was in one of countless demonic possession films. These zombies are twitchy, bendy, snappish, and flat out cool. They’re scary solo, and pants-pissing terrifying in a mob. Kudos to the extras who worked on this film. They left everything on the set every day of production. The pay-off created probably some of my favorite mass zombie scenes to date—the train station attack on the stairs and the sequence where Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, and Yong-guk fight from car nine to car thirteen to rescue a group separated from the other survivors. Because there are so many undead, the makeup for them is simplistic. And you know what? I don’t care. They could have slapped white grease paint on them and let them loose and it wouldn’t have done a thing to lessen the performances from the extras and hero zombies.

Train to Busan is the action-packed zombie film we’ve been waiting for since World War Z tried and just didn’t quite hit the mark. There’s some issues, yes, but the writing and action are so solid, the issues get a free pass. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again, something I never do with zombie films outside Romero’s contributions to the genre. Train to Busan gets five severed heads out of five. Now what are you waiting for? Go watch it!


Left in the Dark

Left in the Dark
by R.C. Murphy

Being a fan whose interests aren’t necessarily the norm isn’t easy. We’re a small group. The shows we love don’t pull in the same kind of money or numbers as Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, except TWD, of course. But it’s those smaller-budget zombie shows which really have fan’s hearts in mind. Or so I thought. There’s been some odd things happening in the background this year as far as production news goes. Yes, most shows we follow were represented at SDCC, but the information they gave us was as substantial as wet Kleenex. Now we’re a couple weeks out from the beginning of the Fall TV schedule, and two heavy-hitters for Team Undead have yet to announce an actual release date.

I’m looking at you Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead.

Starz has somehow delayed AvED’s announcements, despite filming being on schedule the last time we checked in with them. They’re trying to pacify fans by shoving Bruce Campbell out in the world to give interviews, all punctuated by the phrase, “In the third season, which has no release date yet.” None dare ask the man himself for a release date anymore. He deflects that question straight to his Starz overlords . . . who’re remaining mum through not only fan’s frustrated rants, but some tension from their star as his own frustrations rise thanks to this seemingly unprovoked delay from the network—this is an old struggle for them, as Campbell is notoriously short with fan questions he can’t answer due to network politics. Will we have the usual Halloween-time premiere? Will the show even make it to the small screen in 2017 at this rate? I’m trying not to be Debby Downer, here, but when a network broadcasts crickets instead of news, things don’t look good for the future of the show. That being said, AvED season 2 just hit Blu-ray/DVD, so if you’re jonesing for more gore-drenched laughs, at least you’re covered for a little while.

Syfy has been equally as quiet about Z Nation‘s return this Fall, though they’re slightly ahead of Starz by giving fans the vague promise of a September release, but that’s pretty much it. We know the gang is still filming up in Oregon. The museum which serves as their studio still allows fans to peek at the process, and the ZN Twitter page occasionally posts a filming update to advertise the experience. As for Syfy’s main accounts? Nada. Nothing. I scrolled for a bit while doing research and discovered the network is horrible about advertising their own shows, but has plenty of love for Game of Thrones and anything pop culture that they don’t create. It’s a serious disservice to their fans, actors, and production teams. What’s the point of using social media if you advertise someone else’s work ahead of your own daily? Yes, Syfy rebranded to (finally) accept geek culture as part of the network, but at what cost? Their focus remains outward, with most of their factoids and news coming from non-network sources. Meanwhile shows like Z Nation—not to mention their other women-lead shows Wynonna Earp, Dark Matter, Killjoys, and Van Helsing—are mired in uncertainty in regards to future seasons because it looks like a mere handful are interested online. But only because there’s nothing from the network to get excited about and share with the world in order to bring in new fans.

For an industry where numbers matter, Syfy and Starz seem utterly unwilling to do even a little footwork to bring in enough fans to justify a future for their horror-centric shows. The fans are here, guys. We’ve always been here, holding our breaths, waiting for shows to fill the gaps between halfway decent genre films. Don’t ignore people who want something to watch when you’ve got exactly what they need . . . except you can’t be bothered to spend the time/money to promote it. Z Nation and Ash vs Evil Dead are exactly what we’ve been begging for since TWD became bogged in their own success. It’s mind boggling that these networks still cannot tap into a built-in genre audience. Maybe peek out of your caves once in a while, dudes. Connect with the real world, perhaps? And for heaven’s sake, announce premiere dates more than 3-4 weeks in advance. Some of us have parties to plan.

Update: Murphy’s Law is real, folks. After this article was scheduled, Syfy finally announced that Z Nation will begin on September 29th at 9 PM. Of course, they didn’t come up with their own nifty graphic or anything. Instead the ZN Twitter account made the announcement by retweeting a post from the show’s co-creator, Craig Engler.


Dead-Diego Comic-Con

Dead-Diego Comic-Con
by R.C. Murphy

This year the San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Walking Dead was a vast departure from the way the show’s run things for the last seven years. Yes, the cast was there in force. Yes, the series’ showrunner and producers were on stage to guide the conversation away from spoilers. But Hardwick was nowhere to be seen. There were no prepared questions or discussion, and they jumped straight to audience questions. There weren’t even name tags on the table. The mood on stage was about eight notches down from past years. They’ve had a seriously rough summer, and given everything it’s surprising they still came at all instead of sending a smaller delegation with the trailer. No one would have blamed them for cancelling.

Scott Gimple opened this year’s panel with a touching statement about John Bernecker, an accomplished stuntman who tragically lost his life after an on-set accident a couple weeks ago. Prompted by a fan’s question later in the discussion, Robert Kirkman and Greg Nicotero also took a moment to remember late director George Romero, the man who created the zombie genre as we now know it.

The cast and crew were excited to announce that episode 801 is actually the show’s 100th episode. Danai Gurira misspoke at one point, saying, “100 years,” instead of episodes, to which Lincoln claimed it felt like it. To celebrate the occasion, AMC has a few things up their sleeves for social media and the likes come October. The producers also brought a retrospective video to show the panel audience to kick off the celebration. I’m not sure what clips they used, but Reedus was especially touched by the video and took the chance to gush about his time on the show toward the panel’s end.

The panel had about 30 minutes of fan questions after the retrospective. We didn’t get much about the new season outside the 5-minute trailer. Kirkman did put his foot down about possible future story lines—there will be no immune characters or another search for a cure, ever. They also teased new characters, but intentionally left the answer so vague, I’m just going to assume an alien invasion is a go until proven otherwise. Gimple joked that as part of the 100th episode, Judith will get her first zombie kill. “Three’s old enough,” Gimple said as everyone laughed. Kirkman promised that season 8 will be, “action-packed and fast-paced.” Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan stated they hope the show story line falls in line with the comics, as both would love to delve into that particular Carl/Negan dynamic. When asked about Glenn’s legacy living on in the baby, Lauren Cohan hoped the writers give Maggie the chance to instill his strengths in the child as it grows, as well as passing on tales of Hershel, Beth, and the extended family they’ve left behind.

The rest of the fan questions prompted some levity in the group, but not much. On a few occasions, Gimple acted as moderator, urging actors who weren’t answering fan questions to talk about, well, anything. To wrap things up, they showed that baffling trailer again.

No, I don’t think they’re pulling a Dallas, guys. Calm yourselves. But the end does raise a whole truckload of questions.

 


iZombie Discusses New Seattle at SDCC

iZombie Discusses New Seattle at SDCC
by R.C. Murphy

When season three of iZombie ended, the gang was left in a chaotic world where humans just discovered zombies are actually a thing, and they’ve been living amongst them for quite some time. The characters didn’t move into this new world unscathed. Most, if not all, were in tough positions when we last saw them. Luckily we won’t have to wait until next year to check in with the team. At San Diego Comic-Con, the cast, along with Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, dropped a video for the panel audience and delved into how things will change in season four now that Discovery Day has come and gone.

Thomas joked, “We almost immediately regretted that decision. So season three was a dream. We’re going right back.”

In all seriousness, Ruggiero said Discovery Day was always coming. Thomas laid the groundwork for it in the first season and considered season four the prime time to jump into the post-discovery world. He did say he thought he’d have more episodes per year to help smooth the transition, but they’re still plowing ahead with the plan anyway. Ruggiero said season four will be a, “whole new world.”

That world means quick adaptation from all the characters. Major found his place before season three ended, and Robert Buckley confirmed that Major is very much a company man from here on out. He believes in what Fillmore-Graves can do for zombiekind. This is also Major’s only chance to finally find a community who won’t drag him through the mud for the Chaos Killer thing. Not to mention, working on the frontlines in the new zombie city is distracting enough to keep his mind off Natalie’s demise. While Rose McIver feels that Liv will find some freedom post-discovery, she said Liv will very much need her friends and community in order to feel comfortable being “out” as a zombie. Clive’s plan? Malcolm Goodwin admitted it’s still going to take Clive some time to adapt, despite being on Team Zombie, but he will be all-in to help Dale. At last Peyton has some power in town. Aly Michalka dished on what’s in store for her character, who’s one of few humans who didn’t flee Seattle. Most notably, we’ll get more time with Peyton doing her actual job, in a courthouse—color me surprised.

Blaine may be the only character represented on the panel who’s going into this New Seattle with one hell of a game plan. First, David Anders confirmed Blaine will be his delightfully nefarious self still. Then he dropped the bombshell that Robert Knepper will become a fixture on the show. Lastly, we learned that Shady Plots got a renovation. The funeral home will become Romero’s, a high class restaurant for discerning, wealthy zombies.

Season four will not return to the early-season formats of one big bad tormenting Team Zombie. Instead, Thomas says the characters we love will fight battles on just about every front imaginable. We have Angus’ return. There’s also a new human terrorist group to replace the Truthers. Thomas gave two possible names for the group, Up With People or Dead Enders—I think the latter is the final name, the former the working name during planning stages. Not to mention, Fillmore-Graves will still be in town, and they’re pretty much running things in a military manner, much to Team Zombie’s dismay. Another big change is that Liv won’t be the only zombie working with a detective. Every detective has a zombie partner in New Seattle.

Surprising no one, Thomas announced Liv will have a new love interest . . . and then said nothing else about him, except that the guy was named to create a specific ‘ship name down the line. Because what Liv needs in her life is another writer-forced gimmick.

The show will attempt to tackle some serious topics this season. One story line in particular focuses on health care refugees who swarm New Seattle in order to turn zombie so they don’t die. With that comes the typical problems of housing and food supply. At all turns, when it comes to how zombies run the city, Liv’s people and Fillmore-Graves will butt heads. So, I’m assuming there won’t be another random attempt to get Major and Liv together again anytime soon.

We have no dates yet for the new season, but it’s safe to say they’ll follow the usual time frame and come in during the spring.


Catching Up with Fear the Walking Dead

Catching Up with Fear the Walking Dead
by R. C. Murphy

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (8970351m)
Mercedes Mason and Michael Greyeyes
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ TV show panel, Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA – 21 Jul 2017

The main cast each got a little time to talk about where their character has come since the season started, and how the actors feel about where they’ll go in the upcoming episodes. Kim Dickens was quite impressed with how the show’s writers went back to ground Madison’s seemingly unrealistic decision process in severe childhood abuse. She said the reveal was a “beautiful moment where a parent becomes human to their child.” Colman Domingo relished in the chance to rebuild Strand after the yacht joined the other deceased FtWD characters in the great beyond. Frank Dillane wasn’t too clear on what’s pushing Nick now, but showrunner Dave Erickson was there to give the panel’s audience a glimpse into what the production thinks about Nick’s amazing ability to adapt thanks to his troubled past. Alicia was on the outside looking in for family bonding time, according to actress Alycia Debnam-Carey, and has no plans to rely on Madison or Nick to get ahead in their new circumstances at the ranch. She, along with co-star Sam Underwood, defended Alicia’s undefined romantic relationship with Underwood’s character Jake. They were adamant that the relationship will never become that horrible codependent trap all young women on TV fall into at some point, and pointed out how the show has never shied from take-charge women who don’t need men to survive. Daniel Sharman took a minute to quell rumblings that Troy was being taken advantage of or unwittingly influenced by Madison. Their tension isn’t what some assume, but a well-calculated game of manipulation chess. Dayton Callie was on hand to say farewell to the FtWD chaos in his own particular way. Mercedes Mason offered some insight into the changes we’ll see from Ofelia. She’s finally accepted that she’s her father’s daughter, became a total badass in order to survive, but will be very much herself, still. Newcomer Michael Greyeyes gushed about being a fan of the franchise before accepting the role as Qaletqa Walker. What drew him to the character? The fact that Walker was written as an intellectual, a former lawyer. He enjoyed the chance to bring that kind of representation to the small screen.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 21: (L-R) Actors Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Sam Underwood speak onstage at the “Fear The Walking Dead” panel during Comic-Con International 2017 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

There were a few fan questions at the end. Most were rehashes of every comic-con panel question ever, so I’ll spare you. Erickson did drop one small tidbit—we’ll never see deadTravis on-screen due to scheduling conflicts and story direction.

I wish we’d gotten more from this panel. It was somewhat lackluster, and downright insulting during one portion where it devolved into a free-for-all about certain actors’ accents. Maybe the footage they showed made up for the shortened discussion time with the actors.


Gearing Up for More Z Nation

Gearing Up for More Z Nation
by R.C. Murphy

First of all, we will not have to wait until October to visit with our zombie-slaying pals. The show will begin in September, possibly near the beginning of the month. However, Syfy has not announced a firm date yet, so keep your eyes out for an official announcement from them sometime soon.

Season four will have thirteen episodes. Episode four has a surprise guest director. Well, not much of a surprise because Keith Allan was still pretty wound up from his time in the director’s chair. Allan said of the acting/directing combo, “It was profound and exhausting.” Unfortunately, there’s no downtime in the end days and the gang was headed straight back to Spokane for work on episode five after the convention. The script for an upcoming episode scandalized Russel Hodgkinson, he admitted during one interview. Guess Doc talking to Elvis and sharing Z-weed with a zombie won’t be the craziest thing we see from everyone’s favorite character. D.J. Qualls was in attendance, much to fans’ relief. Citizen Z will return for the new season, and he’s got a huge weight on his shoulders. Family changes a guy, after all. Qualls said his character’s main focus is to make the world safe for their child. And maybe a change in wardrobe. Warren’s forthcoming story line should be interesting. Kellita Smith said, “This journey Warren is on this season scares and excites me.” If Smith is scared, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

So what’s going on? The cast were pretty tight-lipped about specifics. We did learn that season four takes place two years after the season three finale. Why? The production team wanted the chance to hit the reset button for everyone—from the main crew, to the group in Zona, and beyond. They’re not going to ignore that timeframe; all the story gaps will eventually be filled in. The only thing we’ll be completely clueless about is Roberta’s new mission. While it will dominate the plot, the gang says nothing is actually revealed until episode thirteen. Not sure how they’ll keep the audience out of the loop that long, but color me intrigued.

After the cast spoke at their panel, the production announced the new guys brought in for season four—Henry Rollins, Tara Holt, Grace Phipps, and Michael Berryman. We also learned that Lucy will be a significant part of the season. And no, things are not any better between father and daughter. Murphy still has a lot to learn when it comes to fatherhood. Luckily he’s got the team by his side again to help with that.


A New/Old Undead Threat

A New/Old Undead Threat
by R.C. Murphy

The world has gone nuts. There’s no denying it. We at the ZSC pride ourselves on being equipped for any dangers, from natural disasters, to zombies, to whatever unfolds as a result of the bow string tight tension in the political sphere. Shamefully, despite years spent preparing, we may have overlooked something deadly lurking in the shadows.

Vampires.

Hear me out, folks. Yes, vampire myths are ancient and diverse, with just about every culture out there developing their own version of the undead menace since who knows when. Vampires have been in and out of vogue in popular culture so often, the concept itself is vampiric, resting for years like Anne Rice’s Lestat, only to rise again years later with a renewed sense of purpose, stalking television and film screens.

Several vampire inspired or vampire-centric shows bid farewell in recent years, signaling the end of one undead cycle—True Blood, Hemlock Grove, Penny Dreadful, and the most recent departures The Strain and The Vampire Diaries. TVD’s spin-off series, The Originals will also end after its fifth season next year, that’s the left hook in CW’s current plan to scrap vamp-centered shows from their schedule. It won’t last for long. Vampires have been ever-present in media across the Pacific. Here in the US, they go through phases. Just when the bloodsuckers crawl back in their coffins, a few rethink the retreat and new shows haunt pilot season, waiting for some unsuspecting network to invite them inside.

There are a handful of vampire shows still on-air or currently in deep pre-production—Van Helsing, Castlevania, Preacher, Let the Right One In, The Passage, Vampire Chronicles, and Midnight, Texas. On top of those, there’s another Supernatural spin-off in the works. The original show had several vampire-heavy episodes before, so it’s not hard to imagine them pulling a known predator from the hat sometime during the show . . . assuming this new spin-off makes it further than the last attempt. There have also been rumors of a TVD/Originals spin-off in the works. The big news, though, is Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series, which will focus on Lestat de Lioncourt. With the film rights back in the creator’s hands, she’s opted to take the vampires many grew to love on the page and put them on the small screen—after two questionable films, it’s refreshing to know the master leads her creatures down their new path with a tight leash. But there’s already rumors that the series, which is in early pre-production, may develop spin-offs to focus on the other ancient vampires who may not get a lot of love on the show.

Basically, vampires are everywhere and won’t stop coming back no matter how hard anyone tries or how many shows they cancel. Several cultures still hold rituals to protect villages from the undead, ranging from as simple as planting a certain flower around the suspected vamp’s grave, to the disturbing act of disentombing a corpse to remove vital organs before roasting them and feeding the remnants to those affected by the vampire via nightmares and/or mysterious illness.

We’re not recommending cannibalism, rest easy. However, there are certain methods to taking care of vampires which differ from zombie-slaying techniques. The easiest method would be, honestly, to find the vampire’s lair, wait until sunrise, and whoops, one wall in their bedroom wall just happens to get a hole in it. Sun-fried vampire is the least hands-on you can get, assuming they’re not holed up underground or in a casket. Decapitation works with vampires, unlike their zombie counterparts who tend to remain animated and bitey even when their head is in the dirt. There’s also the classic stake through the heart technique. Problem is, it takes quite a bit of effort to drive a large, mostly blunt object through the chest muscles, ribs, and finally the heart itself. You aren’t Buffy. Staking a vamp isn’t the wisest choice for non-Chosen Ones. I’d suggest reevaluating your weapon of choice and repacking your go bags with tools which would take care of not only our zombie foes, but also this ancient threat making another round across our television screens.

Oh and don’t forget to pack the garlic!


Call of Duty Delivers an Undead Package

Call of Duty Delivers an Undead Package at SDCC
by R.C. Murphy

Developers sat down for a panel at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss what pushed them to venture into the WWII era for the next zombie game tied to the popular series. Their main focus? Michael Condrey, co-studio head for Sledgehammer, had a burning desire to terrify gamers in ways we’ve only really felt from gold-standard horror films—save perhaps one or two game titles, one of which Condrey himself directed. They really dug into their research to ground the game in reality, which developers feel will add to the scares once the undead hit the screen.

The animation shown during the trailer is all cut scenes, but still beautifully detailed. If you can call burned, armless zombies beautiful, that is. There’s blood and gore everywhere in the short clip. Several kinds of undead are featured, with more variations to come as promised by the development team. What cinches the creep factor in the trailer is Udo Kitter’s voiceover as uber creep Dr. Peter Straub.

We only get a small taste of the full story through the trailer. It’s just your standard mad German scientist premise, really. Things don’t get interesting until the playable characters are brought into the plot. The development team didn’t want a bunch of super confident soldiers at the helm, that’s overdone and tired. Instead they reached into history and plucked out the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program to find the game’s everyday-Joe heroes. There’s four playable characters—Olivia Durant (Elodie Young), Marie Fischer (Katheryn Winnick), Drostan Hynd (David Tennant), and Jeff Potts (Ving Rhames). All are members in the program sent in to recover works of art stolen by the Nazis in their attempt to claim literally everything for the fatherland. Winnick’s character brings another layer to the story, which fans can catch up on via the viral advertising campaign for the game. While the MFAA team is looking for art and fighting the undead, Marie has a more pressing mission to find her brother. It adds welcomed depth to what could be “just another zombie game.”

The voiceover cast was in attendance during the panel, except Rhames. He sent in a special video for fans to introduce them to his character. And then he was maybe, probably, eaten by zombies off-screen. Much to the audience’s delight. Udo was, well, Udo during his first visit to SDCC and proceeded to creep out everyone by reciting parts of Straub’s speech from the trailer. Young and Winnick elaborated on how involved they were in the character-creating process. Winnick also took a moment at the end of the panel to celebrate the women gamers in the audience. Tennant gave some insight on how character dialog evolved for this project, namely it involved him channeling a non-existent drunk Scottish uncle to get the appropriate level of profanity. Did I mention this will not be a kid’s game? Yeah, no.

Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Zombies is slated for wide release on November 3rd. However, if fans pre-order the game now, they get beta access starting August 25th on Playstation 4—dates for beta on other devices were not available as of the SDCC panel.

Here’s the trailer. I don’t suggest snacking while watching.

 


Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 2: Review for iZombie 313

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

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.