iZombie: “Eat a Knievel” takes some risks, but not necessarily the right ones

After a couple of lackluster episodes, I had high hopes for “Eat a Knievel” after seeing the preview for it last week. Eh. It’s alright. The case of the week is decent, if predictable, and there’s some major progress made in some of the show’s other plotlines as well. Not all the plot progress is great, and there’s at least one highly questionable turn of events, but “Eat a Knievel” is at least a solid enough episode to deserve its extremely rad title.

**Spoilers ahead.**

The best development of the week is Blaine’s return to villainy. Last week ended with Blaine shot and left for dead by one of his dad’s flunkies; this week starts with Blaine hunting down one of his own ex-clients to ask for a scratch and directions to where Don E. and Angus are working. It ends with Blaine encasing his father’s feet in cement and dropping him into a well on their family property before heading off to have an almost-touching reunion with Don E. Blaine has always been best as a villain, and his amnesiac turn sucked a good deal of the life out of him; returned to zombie form and freed from the constraints of trying to be a better man, he showed more vim and vigor this week than he has in the whole rest of the season so far. The only thing missing was a Blaine musical number.

The other event of significance is the apparent murder of Vivian Stoll, right after she figured out that Major is human. This is the questionable part of things. The arrival of Vivian and Fillmore Graves on the scene at the end of season two was promising, and they figured largely in the first couple episodes of season three before being moved to a decidedly back burner in recent weeks so the show could focus more on the personal drama of Major’s illness and de-zombie-fying and Blaine’s faked amnesia. While we’ve seen some of the Fillmore Graves crew (mostly in Major’s storyline), there hasn’t been any new development on the bigger Fillmore Graves storyline (whatever that’s supposed to be) in weeks.

When one of the first scenes in this episode was a sort of update meeting with Clive, Liv and Major reporting to Vivian, it seemed that we might be coming back around to some of the bigger picture zombie stuff that Fillmore Graves represents. Instead, what we get is the Fillmore Graves leadership team killed and the company taken over by Vivian’s brother-in-law, who’s some kind of aggressively militaristic loose cannon. It’s unlikely that any good will come of this change in management, and it seems at least somewhat likely that the new guy is behind Vivian’s death to begin with, but with Vivian dead Major’s secret (that he’s human again) is still safe—even if Major himself is decidedly less so.

The case of the week involved the murder of one “Finn Vincible,” who is less Evel Knievel (excellent episode title pun, though) and more Jackass. The identity of the murderer—Finn Vincible’s producer, Rudy—is heavily telegraphed from the very start of the investigation, though it takes most of the episode to ferret out his motive. Because this season seems to be all about investigating the murders of the worst people, we learn that Finn “pranked” Rudy by supposedly fake-banging Rudy’s then-girlfriend-now-wife. Rudy only finds out that the affair was real when his wife gives birth to a baby that is obviously Finn’s, so Rudy sabotages one of Finn’s stunts. There aren’t too many surprises here, and it would have been nice to get a little more interaction with Finn’s acquaintances, but it’s a totally serviceable murder mystery that doesn’t interfere too much with all the much more interesting and significant stuff that’s happening around it in this episode.

Liv on jackass brain isn’t as hilarious as she could have been, but she’s also not nearly as insufferable and unfunny as she was on the last couple brains she’s had. It’s almost all worth it for the shot of Liv sitting in on an interrogation with staples in her face; Clive’s facial expression in that scene alone is almost enough to carry the whole episode. His reaction faces to Liv’s antics have always been great, but they’re reaching a whole new level of amazing now that Clive knows that Liv is a zombie and understands how the brains affect her. The other thing that happens with Liv on jackass brains is her second date with Justin. She cooks up some brains for him so they can be on the same brain together, and then they go out and play with lawn darts before sharing a nice kiss. It’s really too bad that Justin seems doomed; I like him a lot (even if it does still seem weird how fast Liv has moved past Major), but he’s already had multiple foreshadowing events that suggest that the iZombie universe is out to kill him.

The episode finishes with Liv and Ravi trying to sneak into an anti-zombie conspiracy theorist event, but Liv is forced to turn back at the door when they realize that the zombie-haters are checking blood pressure at the door to prevent exactly this sort of thing. In the end, we’re left with an almost-cliffhanger—I mean, it’s tense, but it’s not really high stakes enough for proper cliffhanger status—as Ravi enters into the anti-zombie event alone to find out what these folks know and how organized they really are.

Miscellany:

  • “Stop talking. You had me at ‘money.’”
  • I suppose this episode finally lays to rest the theory that it was the Fillmore Graves folk who stole the cure from the morgue. The more I think about it, the more my money is on Blaine as the culprit. We saw him messing around with making his own batch of Ravi’s blue memory serum, so could Blaine be looking to sell the cure for top dollar and then charge people for the memory serum as well to “cure” the temporary amnesia? With no other likely suspects, this seems as plausible as any other theories I’ve seen.

Into the Badlands: In “Wolf’s Breath, Dragon Fire,” are you fucking kidding me with this?

Sometimes a show is disappointing for doing the easy, predictable thing. Into the Badlands, however, disappoints by doing something so unexpectedly cruel it verges on nihilistic.

**Spoilers ahead.**

As a conclusion to the season, “Wolf’s Breath, Dragon Fire” is far better than the season one finale at wrapping things up, but there’s still quite a lot of unanswered questions and unfinished business by the end, even regarding the show’s biggest storylines. Unfortunately, basically everything in the episode is completely overshadowed by the senselessly unnecessary and tragic death of Veil, which is hands down the most infuriating thing I’ve seen on television so far in 2017.

It’s been a tough season for Veil from start to finish, as she’s spent ten episodes as Quinn’s prisoner, trying to survive and protect her infant son from Quinn’s increasing brain tumor-fueled madness and violence. The damsel in distress trope is played out enough on its own, but it worked well for most of the season, partly because there’s still a certain amount of novelty in the damselled romantic lead being a black woman and partly because Veil has had numerous opportunities throughout the season to distinguish herself as a strong character with as much agency as her volatile circumstances have allowed.

In a sense, this continues in the finale; Veil’s death is, more or less, by her own hand as she runs herself through in order to strike a killing blow against Quinn. But the way that we get to that point in the first place is just absurd, even for a show in which characters routinely take a bananas amount of punishment before dying. Quinn, having survived Sunny’s season one attempt on his life—nursed back to health by Veil herself—has survived a brain tumor all this season. He’s survived the Widow and Lydia and even just narrowly missed out on another attempt on his life by Veil on their wedding night. Just in this episode, Quinn survives his own explosion to collapse the tunnels of his hideout, and he then survives being impaled through chest twice before he even lays hands on Veil. Honestly, just the idea that Sunny wouldn’t make damn sure of a killing blow of his own before turning his back on Quinn is absolutely mindboggling, and it costs Veil her life.

Honestly, I just don’t know if I can keep watching this show after this. It’s the second time this season that a woman has been blatantly fridged (I haven’t forgotten Ava), and that this time it’s the only woman of color in the main cast is unforgivable. Veil was a great character who was a valuable bit of representation in a show with a tendency to give white women the more exciting, ass-kicking storylines. Even through all the shit Veil had to put up with this season—which, frankly, got to be straight up torture porn at times—she endured and schemed and was constantly waiting for her moment to escape. There’s no reason at all to have Veil sacrifice herself in this way except to reorient the narrative so that the viewer is reminded that this show really is all about Sunny after all.

I suppose, in Sunny’s story, Veil is disposable. Which… fine. But I don’t want to watch a story where that’s the case, especially when we’ve been told all season that it wasn’t.

For a more in-depth write-up of just how fucked up this all is and why it’s hurtful and disappointing, be sure to check out Monique Jones’s piece on the episode over at Black Girl Nerds.

iZombie: “Dirt Nap Time” digs deeper into a bunch of this season’s plots

“Dirt Nap Time” contains another unremarkable case of the week as well as another tediously irritating brain for Liv to eat (though by no means as terrible as last week’s). What is lacks in case of the week panache, however, it makes up for in interesting plot developments, which are occurring at the show’s habitual near-breakneck pace this season.

**Spoilers ahead.**

The episode opens right where the last one ended, with Major having to answer for where his other dose of the cure is. Liv gets a great unlikeable moment when she refers to Natalie unkindly as Major’s “zombie hooker friend,” which she immediately apologizes for, though it’s still a bit of meanness that serves as a reminder that Liv isn’t a flawless heroine. Much of this episode is subsequently taken up with Liv trying to find out who stole the cure from the morgue, but both the prime suspects—Blaine and Don E.—convincingly deny responsibility. Interestingly, the prime suspect from the viewer’s perspective last week seemed to be Fillmore Graves, but that theory is largely weakened this week with the revelation that Justin hasn’t told anyone else about the cure yet; he was apparently waiting until he could ask Major about it.

The other thing Justin asks Major about this week is if Major minds Justin asking Liv out on a date, which is weird. On the one hand, I get it, “bro code” or whatever. On the other hand, it’s 2017. On the other other hand, it seems really early for Liv to be dating again and for Major to be so seemingly okay with it. I know that they can’t be together while Liv is still a zombie, but literally just two weeks ago they were reconnecting in a way that strongly suggests that they are (or at least ought to be) an endgame couple. I’m not a fan of overwrought relationship drama, in general, but this episode seemed to just be going to the opposite extreme with this. Maybe it shouldn’t be completely torturous for Major to see his friend going for it with Liv, and maybe Liv shouldn’t spend her whole life moping about Major, but at the same time it feels unbelievable that they wouldn’t have more feelings about what’s going on between them. That said, Liv’s date with Justin at the Scratching Post is a highlight of the episode. If it wasn’t developing so quickly, I’d have far more positive feelings about their obvious chemistry and the adorableness of their passing notes back and forth between Major.

The murder mystery this week starts off well enough, with a surprisingly promiscuous preschool teacher, but the interrogations of various persons of interest are a mixed bag and the revelation of the murderer, while somewhat unpredictable, is surprising in a way that manages to be both bad and dull. It’s weird. The worst part about it, though, is Liv’s bizarre behavior while on preschool teacher brain. It’s genuinely unsettling to see her baby talk at adult people and play with puppets in the interrogation room, and it’s for the most part extremely unfunny. iZombie is really at its best when it lets Liv’s brains-induced personality shifts show us something unexpected about the murder victims and give us a better sense of who they are as individuals. It’s that insight that makes Liv and her visions valuable for solving cases, and it’s disappointing to see the show waste two weeks in a row on over-the-top portrayals of unpleasant caricatures instead of actual characters. It diminishes interest in the murders and it makes Liv herself unlikeable while its going on.

Perhaps the most interesting storyline this week is Peyton’s work on the dominatrix murder case. She and the public defender handling the case are working together to hammer out a deal for the accused murderer, and it’s reiterated that without the guy’s confession Peyton’s case is flimsy. Indeed, when the details of the case are laid out, none of it adds up, and things take another turn for the unusual when another lawyer shows up to oust the public defender and refuse Peyton’s offer of a plea deal. When the accused hangs himself in his jail cell, Peyton goes to Ravi to ask about getting Liv to eat the guy’s brain and find out his secrets. Although the dead man has a history of mental illness that Ravi and Peyton both acknowledge that Liv won’t like, Ravi sets the brain up in his blue memory serum anyway. It’ll need to soak for ten days, so it’s uncertain if we’ll get to see new developments on this front next week or if it’ll have to wait until the episode after that.

Miscellany:

  • I’m having a very hard time giving a shit about Blaine’s redemption arc or whatever. I always loved villainous Blaine; he’s been a great antagonist. And amnesia Blaine was a potentially interesting way to craft a redemption arc for a character who is such a garbage person. But faking-his-amnesia Blaine is just villainous Blaine with an extra layer of assholery on top, no matter how much time he spends feeling sad about Peyton dumping him.
  • Major’s decision to stay at Fillmore Graves makes sense, but there’s no way this is going to turn out well, right?
  • What happened with the guinea pig?!
  • “We don’t all want to be astronauts, Liv.”
  • “It is sorta like being the drummer for Spinal Tap.” -Ravi, on Liv’s boyfriends
  • Liv telling Don E. to “use his words” was the only laugh-out-loud moment of the episode for me.
  • So… Justin is now on video going full zombie. That’s probably not a great development for zombies in general.

Into the Badlands: “Nightingale Sings No More” is a great set-up for next week’s finale

In addition to being a truly excellent episode on its own, “Nightingale Sings No More” is a creditable lead-in to next week’s season finale, setting up the finale’s major conflicts while offering some dramatic payoff of its own. It’s a briskly paced hour with a good mix of character work, dramatic moments and action, including one of the season’s best fights. Most importantly, however, the show seems poised to end with a decisive wrap-up of the season’s major storylines next week rather than a frustrating cliffhanger like the first season did. What will be interesting next week is to see if things are tidily concluded in anticipation of not getting a season three or if there will be hints of next season’s potential storyline.

**Spoilers ahead.**

The pre-credits scene reveals some more of Bajie’s past—and that the Widow is Bajie’s lost apprentice, Flea. It’s almost disappointing how obvious it was, especially after I know I wrote this speculation down in my notes weeks ago, but it works well enough. It’s also a revelation that quickly bears fruit, as Bajie and his erstwhile protégé are reunited this week. Some shows might have made us wait for that, but Into the Badlands is nothing if not prone to racing through story and not wasting time on diversions. In the flashback scene, we also learn that young Minerva had the book of Azra when she came to the monastery and that it’s something that she was asked by Bajie to keep secret from the Master and the other abbots there—a secrecy that Bajie also asks M.K. to enter into later in the episode when they are trying to steal the Widow’s book to combine with Sunny’s pocket watch (something tells me the watch is the key to deciphering the book). Bajie ends the episode presumably captured (along with M.K.) by the Widow, and this storyline will likely feature largely in next week’s finale.

Sunny is quickly changed out of that ridiculous white number Chau gave him and into something much more practical, but right as Sunny and the Widow are about to formulate their strategy against Quinn, Quinn’s flunky Gabriel shows up and drops several info-bombs on Sunny—namely that Veil is Quinn’s wife now and that it was the Widow who sold Veil to Quinn in the first place—before suicide bombing the Widow’s compound. In the ensuing chaos, Sunny escapes into the woods and seems intent on facing Quinn alone if need be. Sunny’s trust in the Widow hasn’t been robust at the best of times, but obviously finding out about the Widow’s betrayal of Veil—even sans details—sends him off on his own. It’s a little disappointing that he didn’t stick around for an explanation, but I expect something of that sort may yet occur next week. By the end of this episode, the Widow seems overdue for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, the reunion between Tilda and M.K. is sweet, but somewhat sullied when it turns out that Odessa was a cog being shipped on the same boat where M.K. went on a rampage and killed his mother and a whole bunch of other people. While it’s a little too convenient that Odessa would have this first-hand knowledge, it’s also a good way to force Tilda to really think about who her friend is and what he’s capable of and whether or not she’s okay with that. Interestingly, Tilda seems to have chosen a side by the end of the episode. When she goes to ask her mother where M.K. is, it turns into a broader confrontation about the Widow’s general ethics in her war to change the Badlands, and this turns into a gorgeously executed mother-daughter fight scene in the Widow’s conservatory that effortlessly accomplishes the twin goals of serving the story/characters and looking amazing. Though the scene ends with Tilda seemingly killed—after begging her mother to kill her, even—that’s, if anything, a confirmation that she’s definitely not dead.

At Quinn’s not-so-secret hideout, things go from bad to worse for Veil, who tries to stand up to Quinn and has Henry taken away from her and finds herself locked up in the ventilation room. A lot of shows might have decided to have Veil raped to show how bad things are for her, but after last week’s near miss it seems that Veil is off the hook for having to experience sexual violence for character growth. I hate that the bar here is so low to pass, but “not unnecessarily depicting the rape of female characters” is always a bonus in a fantasy drama, and Badlands finds plenty of other ways to put its women through hell. For Veil, being separated from her son and kept in isolation is torture enough, and when Lydia finally brings Henry to her—along with the news that Quinn has rigged the whole complex to explode before he’ll let Henry be taken away from him—their situation takes on a renewed sense of urgency. Quinn’s mental state is obviously deteriorating in a major way, and there’s no telling exactly what will set him off or when. As Lydia says, they can’t wait for Sunny; they’re going to have to find a way out on their own.

Miscellany:

  • Quinn’s careful grooming of Gabriel is chilling.
  • Bajie’s ploy to infiltrate the Widow’s compound was a much needed bit of light humor in an otherwise serious and quite dark episode.
  • Waldo is still touting his no emotions philosophy, and no one ever listens to him.
  • I kind of love that Odessa wasn’t jealous. Maddison Jaizani really sells the moment, too. I only wish the Odessa/Tilda relationship would get more screen time.
  • It’s interesting that it’s Odessa who rats M.K. and Bajie out to the Widow after she expressed her own lack of trust in the Widow just recently. I guess she’s more scared of M.K. than she is distrustful of the Widow, but I wonder what she’d think if she knew the Widow had similar powers to M.K.’s and that she’s trying to reawaken them.
  • The casual cruelty of the Widow telling Tilda to call her “Baron” rather than “Mother” seemed a little pre-emptive. While Tilda has been having some doubts about the Widow for a while, their relationship has otherwise been pretty normal (for them), and it seems weird that it’s the Widow who would be the first to upset the status quo in this fashion.
  • Tilda’s echoing of the Widow’s “Don’t start what you can’t finish” just destroyed me.

Doctor Who: “Oxygen” is a good episode that could have used a bit more room to breathe

**Spoilers abound.**

“Oxygen” is another solid Doctor Who adventure, for all that it retreads some of the same thematic ground that was already covered in “Smile” and “Thin Ice” just a couple weeks ago, specifically regarding the dangers of robots (of a sort) executing their programming in a more extremely literal fashion than is strictly healthy for humans and the dangers of unfettered capitalism, which is also not particularly healthy for humans. It’s an ambitious enough episode in that it takes a strong stand and conveys a coherent progressive message, but it suffers from being a bit overstuffed and at times feels distracted as it tries to touch on more topics than can reasonably be done justice in just forty-five minutes. It’s an episode that, while overall well-done, could have benefited from some tighter editing and spending a little more time on the central thesis instead of getting sidetracked with ideas and asides that never quite fit within the main narrative.

The episode begins with two events. First, a nice-seeming couple is working on a space station when they are attacked by what appear to be some kind of space zombies. Meanwhile, the Doctor is pining for space and feeling cooped up being stuck on Earth to guard whatever (whoever, really) is in the secret vault that he and Nardole have secreted under the university. While Nardole does his best to keep the Doctor on Earth, Bill is game for a space jaunt, and soon enough the three of them are answering a distress beacon on the now seemingly abandoned space station. The bare bones of the rest of the story is that there are no space zombies (a disappointment, to be honest); just a bunch of company-owned space suits designed to sell oxygen to workers on a mining station in an especially evil take on the idea of a company town; the station itself is kept empty of air, and all air needed by the workers is metered out through the suits. At some point, either someone at the company or the AI technology in the suits themselves realized that it was cheaper for the company to not have human workers at all, and the suits have been systematically killing their occupants as a cost-cutting measure.

For an episode of Doctor Who, it’s surprisingly dark, and perhaps the most interesting thing about this story is that there are some real consequences for the characters in the end. Bill gets another glimpse of a future that isn’t, at least in some ways, as optimistic as she might prefer. More importantly, she is not only in real danger; she has a serious brush with death that must highlight just how dangerous her travels with the Doctor can be. The deaths of most of the workers on the space station are permanent, however, and the Doctor is only able to rescue two out of forty of them, which gives “Oxygen” a staggeringly high body count, even compared to similar episodes. That the news of the event leads to the eventual downfall of capitalism as humanity’s economic system of choice is cold comfort, especially when the Doctor adds to that bit of information that humans still find new and different mistakes to make after capitalism. Surely this will be true if humanity survives long enough to spread to the stars, but still. This is a family show.

What’s most surprising and compelling about this episode, however, is that it’s the Doctor himself who faces perhaps the most significant and transformative change of the episode. When Bill’s space suit malfunctions right as they’re about to go into the vacuum of space, the Doctor gives her his own helmet to save her life. It works, but though the Doctor’s tolerances to space are greater than any human’s, he’s still injured, left blinded until they can return to the Tardis, where he expects to be healed (or at least says so). In the end, however, we learn that the Doctor is still blind, which may well be a permanent state of affairs, at least until his next regeneration. Going forward, it puts him at a decided disadvantage for future adventures—offering an unprecedented chance for the show to explore disability in a thoughtful manner—and gives him a secret that he’s keeping from Bill, who has no idea that the treatment the Doctor underwent on the Tardis didn’t work. The Doctor is a character who’s defined by periodic major changes, but there’s never been a time in the rebooted show where the Doctor experienced this type of potentially profound change. It will be interesting to see how the show handles it in the weeks to come.

Miscellany:

  • I like Matt Lucas quite a bit, and I was happy to see him get some more screen time this week, but I’m still not sold on this weird dynamic between Nardole and the Doctor.
  • This was the most passive I think Bill has been to date, and I’d have loved to see her have a bit more to do, even if the episode was already overstuffed with happenings. This was the first time Bill has felt so purely like a tourist in an episode, and had so little to contribute to the solution of the hour’s problem.
  • The blue guy and every interaction anyone had with him would be my top pick for what to cut to make room for everything else to have a bit more time to shine.
  • Alternatively, just a straight up extra 15 minutes would have done this episode some good.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: May 14, 2017

It’s been a bit of a rough week, productivity-wise, for me. Monday, I ended up having to take my car to have its transmission rebuilt, which left me without a car until Friday, which–it turns out–is still an inconvenience even when you do live within walking distance of everything truly essential. It also meant that my partner was working from home all week, which is fine, but I’m definitely looking forward to having my alone time back this coming week.

On the bright side, I read quite a bit, finishing three novellas (All Systems RedKilling Gravity and Reenu-You) and a novel (The Guns Above), and I’m hoping to finish the rest of The Radium Girls tonight. After several weeks of what, for me, was a reading slump, I’m starting to feel somewhat normal, at least in this one aspect of my life. The other good thing this week was finally getting some flowers for my balcony yesterday. I spent more than I wanted (I was hoping to spend under $20, but ended up closer to $30), but the two big hanging baskets of fuchsias I got were definitely worth it. I cannot wait til all the buds on them start opening up in a few days.

The finalist list for this year’s Locus Awards is out, and it’s excellent.

Maurice Broaddus’s post about wrestling with writer’s block has been helpful to me this week.

There’s an amazing Humble Book Bundle going on right now: the Super Nebula Author Showcase, which is full of wonderful work by a great selection of diverse authors.

Sleepy Hollow has finally been cancelled.

There’s a new Andy Weir bookArtemis, coming out November 17.

Michele Tracy Berger wrote about the Big Idea in her novella, Reenu-You.

Paul Semel interviewed Martha Wells, the author of All Systems Red, book one of her Murderbot Diaries series.

Speaking of robots, there’s a ton of neat real robot photos right now over at The Big Picture.

At Nerds of a Feather, Joe Sherry talked 6 Books with John Joseph Adams, editor of Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies, which I reviewed a couple days ago (spoiler: it’s awesome).

Lady Business is the place to go this week if you’re looking for some woman-focused space adventure recs.

The Skiffy and Fanty Show tackled the topic of inclusivity in fairy tales.

At Tor.com, my current favorite re-teller of fairy tales, Ursula Vernon, wrote “Reshaping the Bizarre Structure of Fairy Tales.”

Mari Ness’s series of fairy tale posts also continued this week with a look at Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

There’s an interesting piece at Pornokitsch about the tendency of SFF readers to separate art from the artist.

At the Millions, Daniel Jose Ruiz wrote about the friction of geekdom and race.

Finally, this Fantasy Faction post about how the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) is revitalising SFF is a must-read.

 

iZombie: “Some Like It Hot Mess” fails at humor but succeeds at storytelling

“Some Like It Hot Mess” is season three’s first brain flop, in which Liv eats a brain from someone so unlikable that it also makes Liv herself largely unlikable and definitely unfunny. It still manages to be a decent episode, with some great emotional moments, a significant setback and a major reveal, but Liv’s “hot mess” brain is absolutely an albatross around its neck.

**Spoilers ahead.**

The episode opens with an introduction to party girl Yvonne, who will be this week’s murder victim, and she doesn’t seem like a bad sort. Self-absorbed and flighty, sure, but not the worst. However, as we get to see more of Yvonne’s personality through Liv after she eats Yvonne’s brain, it starts to grate. I’m not really sure what the joke is here, to be honest. I suppose it’s that Yvonne is vapid, talentless and irredeemably self-centered, but none of that is particularly funny, and the portrayal works mostly in cheap stereotypes without much depth of thought. While iZombie often plays with stereotypes and worn tropes for comedic value, the show’s treatment of Yvonne is genuinely unkind and oftentimes unpleasant to watch—particularly when you can tell that the show was going for a laugh and it doesn’t land.

That said, it’s possible that the writers wanted to use this experience, for Liv, as a way of reiterating for the audience why it’s so crucial to Liv that she get the cure for her zombie-ism. More than once in this episode, Liv’s brain-influenced behavior is hurtful to her friends, damaging to her relationship and/or professionally embarrassing. The thing is, this is all stuff we’ve seen many times before in one way or another, and while all of that is heightened by consuming the brain of someone as unpleasant as we’re supposed to think Yvonne was, this heightening feels superfluous. It’s especially so in light of the fact that Liv starts the episode off expressing her fatigue over the whole zombie/vision thing; this makes the cringeworthy saga of Liv on “hot mess” brains feel particularly torturous in a way that’s, frankly, at least as fatiguing for the audience as it must be for poor Liv.

The star player of the week is Robert Buckley as Major, who we first see gleefully scarfing down ice cream with his reinvigorated taste buds at the beginning of the hour. As expected, he starts to lose his memories soon enough, though not before pranking Liv by answering the door and pretending to have forgotten her. It’s a fine line to walk, and the scene could have come off as cruel, but it works largely because once Liv is inside the house we learn that Major has been writing letters to everyone he cares about—including a very fat and tear-stained one for Ravi. Major is coping, and it’s sweet. Of course, then he gets on a bus to Walla Walla, where his mom and her girlfriend (wife?) live, which is terrifying for Ravi and Liv, who have no idea where he is, but offers us an interesting and unknown before now part of Major’s backstory. He’s always been a very reactionary character, responding to things that happen to him, and the extra depth provided by even the barebones story of his parents’ divorce and his choosing his dad over his mom is a nice development, even if his mom doesn’t enter into the story again. iZombie doesn’t often include these kinds of grace notes in character development, probably because it’s such a wildly plot-heavy show.

Speaking of plot! The big revelation of the episode, of course and finally, is that Blaine has been faking his amnesia—for months. It’s Don E. who convinces Ravi of Blaine’s duplicity, and Ravi who gives Peyton this information in another scene that walks a fine line; Ravi is still hung up on Peyton, and she knows this, but Ravi does (barely) manage to deliver the news in a way that doesn’t come off as self-serving or jealous. While Peyton doesn’t take it well, she does seem to take it to heart, and it’s Peyton who smartly maneuvers Blaine into confessing it all to her: he did lose his memories, but only for a couple days, and he’s been faking ever since because it gave him the chance at a fresh start. It’s a surprisingly sympathetic performance, but we oughtn’t forget that Blaine is an actual murderer and that his sexual relationship with Peyton has been under false enough pretenses to arguably amount to rape by deception. In any case, that the memory loss is temporary is good news for Major and should be good news for Liv (who is already planning her own ice cream feast), but by the time the gang gets back to the morgue, the place has been tossed and the cure is missing. Worse, Major gave his other dose to Natalie.

Miscellany:

  • Clive’s exasperated “Oh, boy” when he hears a brief description of Yvonne’s personality was the single perfect comedic moment of the episode.
  • What kind of monster drinks pepper vodka straight?
  • Peyton is working that dominatrix murder case, and she points out that the confession seemed fishy with there being so little hard evidence connecting the suspect to the murder.
  • I feel like there was some point trying to be made about Nice Guys™ in the interrogation of Yvonne’s friend from the grocery store, but I don’t really know what point that was.
  • I wonder why Blaine is making Ravi’s blue stuff.
  • I have a strong suspicion that the obvious suspect isn’t who took the cure from the morgue. My money is on Fillmore Graves taking it.

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