Thursday, December 10, 2015

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 9: Cape Town

So, melodramatic super hero. Whose antics get him murdered. Lesson learned, if you’re going to be a super hero you better have the super powers to back it up.

At home Liv and Major are arguing, Liv used his phone (and finger) to try and find out if he was cheating on her which is a major violation of privacy while Gilda (at the other end of the phone) convinced Liv that he actually was. Snooping vs cheating – with Major getting annoyed that Liv is alternating between “how dare you” and “sorry Major, I can’t help the messed up brain” which causes Liv to have an excellent come back – try living with it. Because living with the brain constantly changing your personality/mind is waaay worse than just witnessing it.

Ravi groggily interrupts their fight for the crime – where Clive tells them that Chris, the dead man, was well known for his vigilante shenanigans and his body being disposed of wasn’t unexpected.

Ravi also excellently just tell Liv “no, don’t” every time she lets the stalker brain run with her.

They get the body back to the morgue and it’s clear Chris regularly sustained injuries in his super-hero guise which Liv considers foolish and ineffectual while Ravi is impressed by the self-sacrifice and courage of it. He’s in geeky heaven. Of course Liv is snacking down on brains.

Which means she’s melodramatic super-hero when going investigating, interviewing Stacey Boss (the crime lord who Peyton is trying to bring down) dressed as Father Christmas who manages to be sinister.

Blaine, alas, has annoying minions – Donny brings a wounded man to him. Blaine recognises him and I not amused. He’s not in the saving people business so brings the injured guy to Liv and Ravi to heal.
While Ravi and Liv are not really capable of saving a man in a morgue, Blaine suggests zombifying him: she objects but the dying man is the only one who knows how to make/where to get the tainted Utopian that Ravi needs to find a zombie cure.

Liv turns him – and Blaine gives him some zombie induction. And the offer to find brains.

The man, Drake, seems quite grateful to be zombified – so far. But he doesn’t have the Tainted Utopian, he does know two guys who had loads. Which they swallowed – and were then murdered by Stacey boss and buried. So there’s a lot of Utopian out there but it’s going to take some grave robbing. Well, grave finding first. And, bonus, Stacey Boss is also looking for them.

Meanwhile the murder investigation uncovers a whole pack of wannabe super heroes. And if Clive doesn’t finally realise something is up with Liv after this episode I will despair of his character. The gang of misfits were being recruited by Chris to take down Stacey Boss and his shipment of guns which even they considered… unwise

Especially as we have another body – one of the muggers Chris saved someone from (and assumed to be the ones who murdered him). Naturally Stacey is suspected.

Except as Clive follows up the case and finds the surviving “mugger” he learns a different twist: they weren’t muggers, they were “security” for Stacey Boss’s poker game which the woman had just scammed for a lot of money (a habit of hers apparently). She killed the silly superhero when he was confused that the “mugged” woman he saved had a huge wadge of cash and Stacey is now hunting his two informants not because they witnessed a murder, but because they were terrible security and Stacey has a low tolerance for failing employees.

Meanwhile Liv is chasing Stacey’s gun shipment and going all Full on Zombie when she’s shot – but not killing anyone which shows a surprising level of control. She rescues their hostage – not realising she’s not entirely the innocent victim – and is knocked senseless by her. She’s saved from being shot by Stacey Boss – who shoots the woman.

When Liv comes to Stacey Boss is gone, his guns are gone, his thugs are gone and the only body is the woman who tried to kill Liv. Stacey is now happily painting himself as a hero. Of course, Liv can’t prove any different and can’t shake his happy, creepy, jovial image.

And he has a new minion – Drake the zombie.

Clive confronts Liv about her ridiculous vigilante routine, how she broke the law, put her life at risk and was generally an utter fool. He realises he has been treating her like a cop for too long when she isn’t – he says they have to end their working relationship.

B plot time! Major goes apparently to flirt with women – but he’s zombie hunting again. Or seems to be – but when he tracks down the zombie lady he finds her about to commit suicide and decides to stop her. She nearly kills him, but quickly tells her his sob story about being forced to kill zombies. Personally that would convince me to kill him not to let the zombie killer go, but that’s just me. Apparently she’s heard of him – the zombie community calls him the boogie man. The zombie community needs scarier serial killer names.

She is a sex-worker – when she was a human she made a good living and loved her life. Until she was turned into a zombie and now has to have sex for brains – she can no longer make choices or make the living she wants to and loathes it. She also loathes what the brains do to her – how they control her, change her personality, make her a new person. She was a vegan – now a hunter brain pushed her to kill a deer.

Major spills his guts about having to keep killing zombies to save Liv – and how terrible he finds it and how he can never tell Liv because she’d find it as unacceptable as him. She understands – and points out she wants to commit suicide anyway.

Rather than kill her, Major instead freezes and drugs her until they have a cure. He also promises her that if there is no cure he will kill her rather than let her live as a zombie

One advantage of his whole experience is that when he goes back to Liv he has had a bit of a breakthrough about the effect of brains on zombies. He does suggest that Liv try… synthetic brains? Is that even a thing. But Liv doesn’t want to – she needs the sense of purpose that solving crime gives her.

He assumes that’s just the vigilante brain talking which she objects to – this is her and her sense of purpose. Of course how can he tell which is which? She also raises the harsh truth – they can’t work. Major loves who she was but tolerates who she is. She says they have to break up – and Major clings to it only being temporary until they have a cure from Ravi.

Except, new twist, the cured rat they have has returned to zombiedom. The cure isn’t permanent – which suggests Blaine and Major may return to zombiehood. He worries dramatically about the zombies losing hope

This episode brought back one of the elements we touched on in season one which was kind of excellent (the first season threw in some very heavy emotional stuff among the zany) – just how disjointing it is to lose your personality, your self, with every meal.

This is such a powerful narrative and really does need all the attention it gets. It is such an extreme invasion of self to become anything, even something completely opposite your morality, to find things you found repugnant appealing – and to find repugnance in the life you once loved.

On top of that personal violation we then have the whole problem of how someone relates to a zombie like that especially when you’re intimately involved. Sometimes you need to write off their whacky behaviour as just a consequence of the brains – but that carries the heavy risk of, as Major found out, dismissing them and something very important to them. It’s an impossible balance and pretty meaningful and well done

We also have a return to – or a hint of – another excellent theme from the first season. Guilt. Guilt over eating people’s brains even if you don’t kill them – a guilt Liv has got through by catching killers. If she loses that purpose then how does she handle that?

Unfortunately, these excellent messages are a little muted by how extreme the brains have been this week and last week. I think the messages of Liv’s brain personalities and trying to get a hold of her authentic self and desires would be much more poignant without obsessive stalker brain and a brain that literally makes her wear silly costumes. The comedy breaks the message

I’m in two minds about sex-worker zombie (I still didn’t catch a name for her). On the one hand she made some excellent point about being a zombie and the horrible pitfalls of it. She also discussed sex work from two dramatically different angles and highlighting that the abuse in sex work comes not from someone having sex for money – but from the lack of consent and agency in doing so. This is an excellent message

Except she kind of existed to be a less and learning experience rather than a character in her own right. And we have to also notice that Major was killing zombies – but drew the line at the zombie who was an attractive woman