Thursday, June 11, 2015

iZombie, Season 1, Episode 13: Blaine's World

Blaine has Major locked in the freezer because he really wants to know where his prime astronaut brains are. Of course Major is defiant. And cold. I have to admit Blaine is a kind of awesome villain. He also feeds Major brains.

In the morgue, the gang looks at Teresa’s body. She called 911 but they didn’t get there in time – she was bludgeoned to death. They also found Cameron’s blood in the motel room (after Clive does a quick recap of the last episode and it’s many murders)

Time for Liv to chow down on Teresa brains before she and Ravi talk about the cured rat. Liv wants to take the cure now, Ravi wants to be sure it’s not lethal first being sensible while Liv is dealing with her best friend thinking she’s a monster and Major wanting to kill everyone like her. She’s not sensible but she’s understandable. But Ravi points out they only have one cure – and if this cure works then the next step has to be replicate it. He wants to turn Liv human but they also have to be able to cure the other zombies as well. She has to concede this –and also has a vision

The vision, as she tells Clive, incriminates Max Rager since Teresa got her hands on the memo accusing their energy drink of causing mass murders.

Over to Max Rager where evil boss guy Vaughn is showing his new head of research a video of the old head of research interviewing zombie Sebastian – which is fascinating and gruesome since Sebastian kills the old scientist. They also know that Liv is a zombie which I why they’re eager to have her there to interview them.

Vaughn ducks and weaves and reveals he knows quite a lot about what has been going on though he seems quite unfazed by Liv’s blasé admission of stabbing Sebastian to death. But the case takes them away which leaves Vaughn to be rather excessive in his praise for what his new head of science will do for his product – which seems to involve turning it into every drug under the sun. Oh and remove the little zombie-causing issue. Of course for those zombies that actually exist, Vaughn intends to deal with them

Back to the case, between a hit on Cameron’s credit card and some CCTV, Clive and Liv conclude that Cameron has been kidnapped but not where he is. Ravi has some evidence though (and he and Liv have some quality snark – of course Ravi is right about English games). They’re interrupted by a 911 call from Cameron which abruptly cuts off

Tracking down the phone they find it in a junkyard where cars are crushed. Which also what happened to Cameron’s phone. But Clive is a clever cookie and figures out Cameron is scamming things and pulls up traffic cams to show Cameron himself drive his car to the junkyard.

Cameron is busy selling the thumb drive to as Max Rager operative – but his ineptitude only fails to kill him because the police scare him away from his car before it blows up.

While the police arrive to check out his bombed car, Cameron is on a bus to Canada. Trying to cross a border when there’s an APB out for you doesn’t always go well. Cameron ends up in the police station being interviewed by Liv and Clive

Cameron tries to be clever. He fails. Clive points out that they could just let him go – and let Max Rager handle things. Cameron finally does something smart and tells all. He also has a copy of everything on the thumb drive which includes Rebecca’s (remember her?) article which is a massive expose of all that is wrong with Max Rager and their product. And they’re bringing out a new product “super max.” Liv wonders what this will do if normal Max Rager causes zombies and the rage of full on zombie mode

Liv also has an angst moment spurred by both Peyton and Major’s continued disappearance. Cracking she decides to take half the cure – except her text to Major is answered by Blaine looking for his brains. He threatens Liv with eating Major’s brains if she doesn’t give him the brains he has. Unfortunately her brain exchange goes terribly wrong

But Major actually has a good idea. No, really, and manages to escape. And grab his guns and bombs… I think he’s reached his good idea quota for the day. He goes on the rampage, shooting Blaine’s zombie minions. He does almost spare his butcher when she begs – then she attacks so gets up close and personal with a bacon slicer. And he blows up Julian with a grenade. But he’s gloating too much and Blaine stabs him… Blaine is an awesome villain and ultra smug. Until Liv shoots him.

Blaine quickly points out why she can’t kill him – if he stops providing brains to Seattle zombies, the zombie apocalypse begins. She listens – or she hears Major call for help and goes to check on him only to have Blaine ruin the touching moment by mocking how he doesn’t know Liv is a zombie and spilling the big secret (the hair, the eyes, the complexion, you thought these were just questionable style choices?). Blaine then pulls on massive amounts of villain ominousness about how Liv can’t stop him and he’ll just make more minions – and she stabs him with the cure.

“Let me know if you survive. You’re our guinea pig now.” Oh Liv I’m impressed. Blaine’s come back is almost as good “if there’s a zombie apocalypse, assume I didn’t.”)

Of course, Liv now has a dying major in front of her… and she scratches him.

The police are called – and Suzuki, of course, insists on taking the case and keeping other cops away. He arrives to find carnage and lies, telling the police it’s all good. He then injures himself, stages the scene and blows the place up – and possibly him with it. Worst timing ever, Liv’s brother arrives just as the shop blows. Alas, the message he wrote in his own blood is obscured in the blast. Clive is suspicious especially since he recognises Julian – and he tells an officer to check Major for gunshot residue

Back at her flat Liv has a transitioning Major and he has a lot of accusations about her lies. She says she lied to him because he’s too good – because if she had said what she was he would have gone ahead with the wedding and spent a life without sex or children to be with her and Liv couldn’t live with that. She also explains her brain visions and solving the murders – and how that helps her conscience. Major isn’t buying this or the idea they can be together now – Liv made this choice for him, not fate nor chance – just as Liv let him check into a mental hospital rather than tell him the choice. He rightly calls her out on making such major decisions for him based on what she wanted or what she thought he wanted (wrongly).

Liv also leaked Rebecca’s story to the press, exposing Max Rager. Vaughn’s inner peace ripples. He’s not finished yet

Liv injects Major with the only other dose of the cure she has. Which is also when she’s called in to the hospital where her brother is in major surgery. He needs O- blood – her blood type as her mother points out.  Her mother begs Liv to go with the doctor… and Liv says no.

Yikes now that’s an ending! The choice! The horrendous consequences!

And Major and Liv was… perfect. Of course a part of me wanted to yell and beg for Major to say “no Liv it’s all good” and not throw more tragedy and pain and I wanted this to work… but he was so utterly completely right. I have to applaud the show for doing what so many haven’t – for calling out Liv making choices for Major, for making him a zombie despite his very clear aversion to it, for him pointing out her conscience salves don’t fundamentally change what she does and very much for not forgiving or forgetting her allowing him to check into a mental institution rather than reveal the truth. While I understand why Liv made all those decisions and she was, in many ways, in impossible situations, that didn’t make her choices right

At the same time I can see her point about not wanting to ask the sacrifice of Major – and while I know a case can be made for it being his choice, equally it has to be Liv’s choice whether she wants to live with a man who makes what she considers an epic sacrifice for her, whether she wants that looming over her.

Of course I still kind of want to hug Liv and be super sad this season ended so painfully. Especially when her brother was thrown in the mix as well.

Her use of the cures was also excellent – noble, good and, again, the only real choice. The only real choice when confronted with her making such an epic choice for Major was to do what she could to reverse that choice. And Blaine? He was right – so long as there is a population of zombies out there, each with the ability to infect with a tiny scratch and prone to unreasoning hunger based rage they are one meal away from a zombie apocalypse. She can contain Blaine, but stopping him at this stage would be so dangerous. And, yes, Blaine is an excellent villain.

And this is an excellent show. I cannot say just how much I fanpoodle this show – it is so very very very awesome. I love how it does manage to combine some deep, emotional and devastating scenes (Lowell’s death, this finale) with the general awesome zany fun that so characterises this show. And the dialogue is so excellent. These characters bounce off each other excellently. I love just about every interaction. This is probably one of my favourite shows we’ve covered for Fangs

But, as we’ve said before, it does have problems. There is a problem with the way Liv wears marginalised identities. There is a problem with some episodes resorting to some pretty gross stereotypes. Yes this show does have 2 prominent POC on the cast and both of them have been shown to be awesome in their own rights (though Ravi has the whiff of the sidekick about him even while he is awesome) but that doesn’t make single-episode character stereotypes ok.

Other things it has done right – Clive and Ravi are good characters and we have had a good treatment of sex workers, for example. There are good moments and good insights from Liv’s brainy experiences, but it is shaky

The show has only hints of LGBT characters who are either dead before we see them (existing only as brainy food) or labelled as such by other people with no actual confirmation – despite this, iZombie has been willing to play with the hint of LGBT characters or LGBT brainy experiences 3 times – that’s not ok to mine for experience and storyline without inclusion. The same applies in spades to the treatment of mental illness and addiction on this show. No actual characters, but they do exist to be brainsy experiences, usually in highly stereotypical fashion, for amusement and zaniness. Again, this is not ok, it is not ok to use marginalised experiences for trivial amusement especially without actual representation behind it.

And another big issue – why is everyone around Liv male? The only recurring female characters on this show are Peyton and Liv’s mother, neither of whom appear for more than a few minutes. The lenses both of these characters could have brought to Liv’s life as a zombie would have been awesome and definitely stopped Liv being the one woman in such a male cast. The exceptional woman or the single female protagonist with all male peers is a problem in this genre

I do like Ravi and Clive a lot but, as I said, more on their experiences would have helped – I also think Suzuki, his experiences, his conflict would have been powerful to explore; something made all the more apparent by his suicide at the end of the season. There was a compelling story there which wasn’t told.

There, I’ve done my criticism thing – can I go back to fanpoodling and begging for season 2 now?