Thursday, April 7, 2016

iZombie, Season 2, Episode 17: Reflections on the Way Liv Used to Be

We ended last week in a major cliffhanger – Major told Ravi the truth and started to turn into a zombie… before Ravi drugged him

And this episode begins with… common sense and Ravi allowing Major to explain himself (he drugged Major because the stress was turning him full on zombie), including the whole death threat and kidnapping instead.

Can we take a moment to say how much I love this? A terrible situation happened that needed desperately explaining and… the characters explained themselves! How unheard of is this? They needed to spend at least 4 episodes with whacky misunderstandings, lots of angst before finally seeing the truth. Seriously, characters actually explaining themselves and listening to each other is so depressingly unheard of fiction that this is novel.

Common sense… so very rare.

Of course Major being a zombie is likely to cause a lot of emotional angst, especially since he’s hungry for brains… so Ravi feeds him left over super-positivity brain to making him all happy and sunshiny.

Ok while this is kind of hilarious, this needs to be something that iZombie needs to examine more. It is something they began to touch on in season 1 and occasionally when Major first learned about Liv – the whole way that eating brains really does destroy someone’s personality. How their basic opinions, attitudes, personality, likes, dislikes – every single aspect of their beings, of their identities, is constantly in flux. They lose themselves – and it’s constantly played for jokes without really looking at the utter horror of this. They did touch on the horror of eating brains and then living the lives of the people you’ve killed – but the fundamental horror of losing yourself is not really touched on

Similarly, iZombie is still not doing well with borrowed identities from those brains either. This week was a lot more subtle than previous weeks – but we still have the murder victim, Bayley, being used to return to Old Liv: an overachiever, desperate for praise, constantly pushing themselves to extreme levels. This would be a nice moment of introspection (which it wasn’t, sadly) with Liv seeing the person she used to be before she became a zombie – but there’s a shaky element in this “this girl is just like me” narrative. Bayley is Black – and an overachieving Black woman of colour (now dead) going to college and striving to do the best she can is different narrative to a White character doing the same thing: there are implications there and “she is just like me” is shallow. Which is kind of indicative of every single time Liv has borrowed a marginalised brain.

Interestingly, while this story doesn’t focus too much on Clive, it does do some interesting things to add to his history. Firstly, Clive now has an excellent clearance rate for his cases. Now in other shows this would be down to Liv’s shiny abilities (and Clive even says “it takes a village” acknowledging he didn’t do it alone) but, as I’ve said repeatedly, a lot of these cases continue to be solved as much or more by Clive’s detective skills so it’s nice to see the affirmation of his skill. We also learn why he’s so very unpopular with the police force – because he follows the rules. He follows the law and doesn’t agree with police doing whatever they want to do

In this particular case we have Drake’s old partner in narcotics forcing a large number of students to become confidential informants to expose drug dealers. This naturally puts their lives at risk – and this is what got Bayley killed. The detective, Bernadetto, gives a dubious “greater good” argument that Clive doesn’t buy, deciding to feed Bernadetto to internal affairs. This could be something interesting to follow up – especially since police abuse is becoming more of a prominent topic. A huge problem with police abuse is not just abusive police, but a culture that views rules governing police as a burden that needs to be removed and a police culture of continually supporting and covering for their fellows. I hope we keep following this storyline of Clive refusing to chase results even as it puts people at risk and flouts the law. I want to see more of this.

I want to see less of side comments like Ravi’s “smells like Taiwan” when discussing Liv’s brain cooking

On the beta storylines – Blaine still can’t remember anything and has to be filled in by Ravi who tells him everything he was involved in. It’s something of a shock to Blaine who also has a whole lot of legal problems and Peyton being super pissed at him. He is beginning to see through the manipulations of Donnie and Chief (which could end messily as Chief was involved in the latest murder/drug dealing case).

But Blaine’s amnesia gives happy-dappy Major an idea: he’s happy to remain a zombie for the moment and doesn’t buy that he’s definitely going to die just because a rat did. He proposes infecting Vaughn with zombieness and if he starts to die, use the cure. Sure it may give him amnesia, but Vaughn with amnesia is not a bad thing... given all the evil (and he has now imprisoned a Not Impressed Zombie Gilda in a cell)

When They try to implement this though, they fall afoul of Clive and Dale – Dale has put some clues together and now knows Major is the Chaos killer. She arrests him… and he turns full on Zombie