Thursday, May 4, 2017

iZombie, Season 3, Episode 5: Spanking the Zombie

This week’s brain is a dominatrix. And already that makes me cringe because there are so many ways this can go wrong and perpetuate the negative ideas people have around fetish and kink

One of the main issues is how simplistic iZombie can be about brains personalities – especially this season. So when Liv eats the brain of Roxeanne –we get dominatrix Liv. Roxeanne was a woman – dominatrix was a profession and, presumably a sexual kink of Roxeanne’s. The idea that this would dominate her entire personality – that this would be her mind in every situation, that she can’t actually have conversations without trying to dominate or intimidate people is not exactly a healthy, realistic or non-shaming depiction of kink

The flip side is Liv, with her dominatrix brain, is very resistant to Clive shaming anything to do with kinky sex, with excellent lines resisting the idea that people who see a dominatrix are broken or sick and when he questions the idea of someone eating in the dungeon she points out she eats most her of her meals in a morgue.

There’s also the clients – now while we have a return of Johnny Frost the weatherman now anchorman who recurs in the show as a bit skeevy – neither the mayor nor the lawyer are particularly presented that way (hey and the lawyer’s actually competent by the standards of TV cop shows. Points to “Any more questions you’d like me to expertly evade” I may steal that). On the negative, there’s a lot of playing things for humour of course, being iZombie, as well as both the problem of Liv-dominatrix brain and absolutely no-one having much compunction about blackmailing these men over their sex lives. Also, Liv going all Dom brain on the forensic artist is played for laughs but that’s work place sexual harassment. Also deciding to “intimidate” a suspect who was previously institutionalised for mental health issued by calling him “crazy”? Is not ok.

It could certainly have been worse, but there were issues, definite issues.

Also they got this case from another detective, it wasn’t a cold case but it was certainly lukewarm – and this detective completely missed the hidden camera Clive found in 5 minutes? Damn that detective was phoning it in.

Roxeanne’s brain was also the one that Ravi was experimenting on with his memory cure (which failed) – which makes the visions extra long and extra potent. Also Clive makes a Game of Thrones reference which is geekily appreciated.

Other plots lines – we have the police detective telling Liv and Clive to stay away from the zombie murder case –but they’re now even more suspicious of John Harley who they already questioned. So they recruit Fillmore-Graves to try and question him with added money. One of their soldiers just wants to kill him, but even the Fillmore-Graves staff are less thrilled at just murdering people

They offer him $10,000 to help with his brother’s funeral costs and try to talk to him about zombies. To which he talks about how zombies are dangerous, how to find zombies by checking their slower pulse rates and how it’s “us or them”. However they try to back him away from that he’s clear – zombie apocalypse is coming, zombies need to die. They bug his car – and learn he also plans to hunt down and kill all the victims of the Chaos Killer he, rightly, thinks are zombies. That escalated.

Side plot line: we have Donny the inept setting up his zombie brains with brains from a poverty stricken hospital in Bangladesh which really needs to be addressed. He’s recruited a new sidekick and this is going to go badly.

Now to Major

Major has just gone on a mercenary mission using he and his fellow cohorts zombie powers to kill several men and win the day so they can now return home with several human heads

Ok, this is entirely unexamined here beyond a brief and vague “kidnapping Americans” and “team good guys”. Yeaaaaah, no. By all accounts this is a private military contractor going to countries that are most certainly not America and killing people and harvesting their heads – there is absolutely no more analysis than that. Just a vague assertion of being “good guys” for going somewhere and shooting people – and harvesting their brains. This is not very different from Donny and Blaine’s dad harvesting brains from a desperately poor hospital (and a mercenary company declaring themselves “good guys” does not make this true or morally defensible). You can’t just cover this with “we said we’re good”.

Back in the US, Major’s health issues continue to escalate until he collapses – but he can’t use the memory loss cure as it will turn him human and he has been repeatedly stabbed. He needs his zombie healing to survive. In comes Liv

Hey remember Liv was an awesome medical student who had saved lives before? Go Liv.

Of course a temporary fix doesn’t mean Major is out of danger – it’s just a delay until he heals. And when he does it’s time for the memory loss serum

We get a lot of beautiful scenes with Ravi and Liv saying goodbye to him and promising to preserve his memories. It’s poignant, moving and very emotional including a reminder of Liv and Major being a couple once – and perhaps again – with him talking of falling in love with her and them having sex

They’re clear they will stick by him and remind him of who he is (though he also wants Liv to give him a less silly name) and it’s all an excellent depiction of loss and grieving of what he is losing and what they’re losing. It’s the highlight of this episode.