Thursday, April 30, 2015

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 7: Maternity Liv

A group of teens by a camp fire get a surprise visit – a pregnant woman in a night gown who staggers to the group and then collapses.

That’ll ruin most parties.

She dies which creates something of a media frenzy (her baby survives) but one reporter is very on point – why does this upper-middle-class dead white lady get so much resources and attention when the poor, possibly living and largely POC kids that Blaine has been eating are not worth police time and resources. Clive’s boss, Lt Suzuki quickly moves on from the question and cuts eyes at Clive.

At the morgue the dead woman, Emily Sparrow, is formally identified by her parents. They blame Emily’s boyfriend, Dylan. Though there’s absolutely no evidence – brain snack time. And to the autopsy (after nagging the security company about the complete lack of security in the morgue to try and keep Blaine out). And Liv is overcome by the new brain’s maternal instincts which Ravi snarks, of course he does (and she leaves, thankfully, rather than make Ravi a sandwich out of worry he hasn’t eaten. Ravi’s facial expressions are worth a show on their own).

Liv goes to visit her mother in the maternity hospital – well visit Emily’s baby, much to her mother’s disappointment. Though she recovers quickly to remind Liv how she wants her to do anything else in life than what she is doing. This sets off a flashback to Emma’s parents locking her up and assaulting her boyfriend.

To Clive to tell him that she thinks Emily’s parents locked her up for 8 months when they found out she was pregnant. But Clive is a member of a task force and not the lead investigator so he doesn’t really get to pick and choose how he investigates this crime. And what Suzuki has chosen him to do is join in the interrogation of Dylan who is not feeling very cheery since everyone has basically accused him from the very beginning. He tells them that Emily hitch-hiked and about some loudly barking dogs which may have been relevant - and his intention to claim custody of his child (Liv has a horrified face).

She expresses her horror to Clive who points out that he is actually the father of the child; Liv is not impressed by this counter. Clive’s day gets worse when Major calls about the missing kids – because he’s working with Rebecca Hinson the journalist with the pointed questions earlier. And now she’s just heard him say something unwise on speakerphone because he thought he was talking to Major – and, seriously Major, who puts their phone on speaker without telling the other caller? Clive is, naturally, furious – but he unfairly applies that anger to Liv.

Liv is indulging her new instincts with Ravi’s test rats and Lowell visits where he and Ravi, both Londoners, bond over football clubs before Ravi tests him for zombie stuff. And Lowell has eaten a scientists so is spouting lots of scientific terminology. Liv is also upset that their kiss goodbye was lacking in any kind of passion or chemistry.

Liv’s angst over her new motherly instincts drives her to visit her mother and brother, greeting them with lots of hugs. Alas for poor brother, the new maternal-minded Liv supports their mother in the argument over whether he has to get a job or not.

Clive has lots of pointless paperwork dumped on him, but among it he finds a property the Sparrow family owns (through a somewhat dubious chain) which he and Liv go investigate, going down into the basement (with somewhat dubious legal authority). Inside which they find an ornately carved cot which they take to lend credence to the idea Emily was locked up for 8 months. They also hear lots of dogs barking, like Dylan reported.

And Liv has a vision of a crying Emily looking through slats at a smoking bearded man. And they get caught – the dogs belong to Emily’s father who has them trapped. So Clive gets to question the father about the cot the parents also tearfully describe how meeting Dylan changed their daughter

Clive is not convinced they’re responsible for kidnapping and killing Emily. Liv also tells him her vision – calling it an animal control truck.

So time to talk to the Animal control officer asking to see their records – she’s horrendously chipper and greets them as officers “ebony and ivory.” She fully deserves the look she gets. The lead seems to go nowhere

Back to Liv’s personal life – Lowell is felling no chemistry because he ate the brain of a gay man and has to deal with no attraction for Liv until he eats some “ludicrously straight brain” as soon as possible. So drinking, partying and dancing until then.

Liv also keeps getting drawn back to Emily’s son in the maternity ward and has another vision – involving 2 women saying “she’s going to catch you.” This, combined with more of Clive’s research leads back to the Animal Control Officer and her husband

Time for a stake out (and Clive’s excellent advice based on his previous experiences). He also advises patience but the people inside shooting at the cuts all that boring waiting time. Police and back up arrive and go in while Liv spots a tree house where she thinks the other girls are being held.

Lt Suzuki goes in first, alone, demanding everyone else wait until he signals them. He gets shot – and goes full-on zombie. Yes the hint of last week is definitely confirmed. He rips off the door of the fridge and uses it as a shield to hide behind as he guns down the man. He goes to the woman, the animal control officer and holds her at gun point. She puts her hands behind her head – and he shoots her.

At the tree house, Liv takes a bullet to the leg which gives her the impetus for her own full-on zombie moment, easily ripping the chained door off and rescuing the two women inside. Afterwards she and Suzuki share slightly suspicious looks.

In the aftermath, the police keep their word and make it clear that Dylan, Emily’s boyfriend, wasn’t involved and did help them. There were also a lot of corpses found at the house – Suzuki claims they were involved in human sacrifice (and since they’re dead they can’t really protest otherwise).

Over to Major and Rebecca and Major decides to break into Blaine’s goon’s car (finding hot sauce and hair dye, zombie signifiers and a signed receipt – he has the guy’s name Julian Dupont. He also finds a brain in a Tupperware box. He also gets himself arrested for breaking into someone’s car. Major tries to protest “look a brain!” but Julian points out he works in a super fancy delicatessen and calf brains are considered a delicacy.

Of course, the revelation of the human sacrifice murder couple and the many bodies on their property means they’re also set up to be perfect scapegoats for all the missing teenagers (uh-huh, a cult recruiting and killing “sister-wives” is unlikely to kidnap teenaged boys. I call dubious on this cover up).

Dylan’s still a pretty terrible person and is already preparing his own reality show. Liv is incensed. She (verbally) rips him a new one. She goes to see the baby one last time – and sees that she’s shamed Dylan into giving up the child to his grandparents.

Major is in prison – and it’s not going to be great since he pissed off the police. And Liv has a renewed drive to spend time with her family

Also one of the rats Ravi was testing has turned into evil zombie rat.

I kind of like how casually everyone just accepts “oh it’s someone I ate” as an explanation for just about any personality quirk. I also love how it isn’t just used (entirely) as an thing-of-the-week trope, each new experience, each new headspace that Liv occupies allows her a new perspective on her life. While there’s always the quirky and the fun connected with her brain eating personality shifts, at the end of the episode she usually takes something from them, she learns something, she adapts and grows as a person with new appreciation for the life she lives. In some ways this is more of a super power than the super strength of full-on zombie mode.

That said, there are still Unfortunate Implications. I know that we usually only get one segment of a person’s personality flowing with the brains, but the fact that Emily’s entire personality was reduced to “mother” is an issue and one that dogs a lot of mothers who are expected to remove personhood and basically replace it with “mother.” Especially since the depiction was shallow, cliché and didn’t make much sense (Emily hadn’t even given birth and if she had I find new mothers are generally less concerned by smudges on people’s faces than they are the rising tides of shit and vomit, endless screaming and no sleep ever ever ever again).

I’m also not all that much of a fan of Lowell eating the gay brain. Yes they could have been way way way more offensive than they were and many shows certainly would have been. But this is now the third time iZombie has teased a gay or bi issue or representation, skimmed close and then backed away while continuing to have no non-ambiguous/doubtful LGBT characters.

Major was completely out of line (and rather bizarre in his voicemail choice to say the least) though it is also worth noting that Clive is facing heat because he told the truth. The police do not want unsolved murder cases they have to work on, especially from a group considered so easily ignored and expendable. Keeping the missing kids off the murder board is an apparent goal. It is worth critiquing and I like that they keep remembering this.

And I still love this show. I think it may be my favourite of any I’m watching at the moment.