Wednesday, February 28, 2018

iZombie, Season 4, Episode 1: Are you Ready for Some Zombies?

So last season we saw the city of Seattle have a huge amount of their populace turned into zombies, and zombies now being revealed to the world.

The US responded by building a huge wall around Seattle, declaring it a quarantine zone and threatening to shoot anyone who tries to cross. They do seem to be sending brains though - there’s a huge factory run by Fillmore Graves (who basically run everything) grinding up brains into tubes. And Fillmore Graves does run everything - much to Blaine’s annoyance that he has to play spymaster to Chase Graves in order to keep his businesses going

They have also designed a guillotine to work on zombies - it smushes heads. And scratching humans and turning them is a death penalty offence. Peyton - having dinner with the mayor - disapproves a lot but her fellow lawyer (and date?) Derreck thinks it’s just being used for gesture politics to reassure the humans

There are still plenty of humans in Seattle; though there was an exodus before the wall went up. And the Mayor puts their continued presence as the reason why the US hasn’t just nuked Seattle by now: too many innocent humans

We have standard tropes of prejudice against monsters: the homes of zombies are being vandalised with giant “Z”, zombie children being kicked out into the street by hating parents and Major’s night time military patrol was attacked by humans with molotov cocktails. On top of this, society does not seem to be super happy: there’s a curfew and Blaine more than implies a little corruption in how Fillmore Graves soldiers are treated

Despite all this radically changed setting, we’re still a crime show which has Clive, one of the human workers in the brain factory being killed (all the workers are human. Including one who is really concerned that his random statements may be offensive to zombie Liv).

Clive has two defining features: he’s a rabid Seahawks fan (apparently a sport of sportiness) and he hates zombies. Since Liv eats his brain in one of those very disturbingly tasty looking meals, she then gets both of these traits. Mainly the rabid sportsfan thing in which she talks a lot about sports.

Which leads to classic red herring suspect who is a rival sports fan who likes another sports team who does sporty things. This leads to lots of arguing of what is better, Seattle vs San Francisco, comparing landmarks et al (and no third party comes in to say “earthquakes vs constant rain” which is just kind of depressing. There’s no sarcastic New Yorker about?)

While they both hate each other for their sporty stuff, he’s clearly a distraction. Distraction no. 2 is the reveal that Clive caught a Fillmore Graves soldier selling brains on the black market. While he’s definitely doing this and spending lots and lots and lots of money at Blaine’s bar on women (who are treated like ornaments), blue enhanced brains for hyper visions (a Shakespearean actor which is honestly kind of hilarious to see this angry soldier go all Elizabethan) and top shelf booze -but he isn’t a murderer. He also appears to be at least a little untouchable as a soldier.

The real killer, aided by visions (and the very very awkward moment of telling the dead man’s widow and son about zombie visions and how Liv ate hubby/daddy’s brain), Liv sees Clive violently rejecting his zombie son - they arrest him and despite his protests, his mother confesses. She killed her husband because he forced her to pick between him and her son.

Dale, the FBI agent, seems to be the new police chief in Seattle, also brain eating for the sake of justice. But she doesn’t need to eat a brain to solve her latest case - and instead Ravi does.

Yes, Ravi. Last season Ravi took his zombie vaccine and then asked Liv to scratch him to test it. So… it worked. Kind of. Sort of. He does turn zombie about once a month with white hair streaks and brain cravings - but it wears off after 72 hours. So when he eats the nudist professor’s brain and spends most of the episode naked, Liv, Peyton and Major are not surprised though we do get some basic, “time of the month” jokes.

Other than Ravi we also have the return of Angus. While Blaine is chafing under Chase’s reign, he still takes time out to torment his dad who he has buried at the bottom of a well. Unfortunately he would do well to spend more time and energy on employee relations. An often abused Dino has had enough and rescues Angus hoping for a payday. I don’t know what brains Angus has been eating but he’s ranting prophecy and vaguely religious mumbo jumbo as he bashes Dino’s head in with a hammer. From there he goes to a religious revival with a human priest preaching to a zombie congregation

Angus ramblers slightly worrisomely about needing an army - then bashes the priest’s head in and eats his brain - inviting the congregation to join in

And we have another storyline which maaaay be one too many. Chase recognises that Major was a youth councillor and has a job for him. There are a number of other kids who have been kicked out for being zombies - they’re forming groups and Chase worries about zombie gangs. Time for Major to make this not happen

He gathers a group and talks to them and we quickly learn that a lot of them face abuse, a lot of them are starving and forced to extreme measures (including prostitution) to get enough brains, that the brain supply is heavily adulterated (probably due to the soldier’s corruption selling brains). Which contrasts heavily with the well fed life of a Fillmore Graves soldier. As they all exchange stories of the first time they went “Beast Mode” they’re all very bubbly and happy - and one, jordan, notes this is how the soldiers feel when well fed.

Major also covers for them when they’ve acquired a but more brain than they should have

But then we see Chase’s ulterior motive: he wants to recruit more zombies into his army to boost numbers. Chaos picks Jordan and “Captain Seattle” (since he stands up for others). Needless to say, despite his co-operation, this isn’t exactly what Major envisaged

Ok this is such a very very very different setting. I’m intrigued how openly zombies are fitting into society - no, I’m more intrigued by how openly brain eating is being integrated into society. We’re not talking zombies quietly playing down their differences - we have restaurants openly serving brains and selling. We have people assuming different personalities in bars and no-one finding it that surprising. Dale jokes about eating a brain to solve crime in front of several of her colleagues. Even a guy worried about offending zombies speaks openly about brain eating. It’s odd and different that this brain waiting is front and centre along side the more expected and usual tropes of prejudice and hatred

I am still not sure where to stand with Ravi -because I don’t know if two characters having their random character moments like Liv. Even if I do approve of naked Ravi: we now have Liv, Ravi and Major in the main characters who have the potential for random character moments. While interesting in society, can get annoying with too many major characters going all visiony and character changing

I think more intriguing than the hey-let’s-present-a-monster-as-a-marginalised-group trope AGAIN is the kids: desperate, homeless and hungry, facing violence are then being drawn into the military. A combination of security and Major’s caring combining to draw them in to fight for the Chase Graves. This can definitely be an interesting take on how the military can be a draft on the poor and vulnerable.

Oh and I have absolutely zero patience for LGBTQ/zombie metaphors here. Absolutely zero. This show has zero LGBTQ characters (unlike the comics it adapted) and that just exacerbates pushing this idea of “closeted” zombies used in the same speech as talking about intolerant parents kicking out their different kids