iZombie: The first half of Looking for Mr. Goodbrain is all about unfortunate implications

It’s not a great time to be a tertiary/guest character on iZombie in the first half of the season three finale. The title reference for “Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1” is to a 1977 film about a young woman’s self-destruction via sex and drugs, and this episode sadly has some of that movie’s worst tendencies, specifically a penchant for inflicting unreasonable punishments upon its female characters. It’s not that this is a bad episode of iZombie: it’s a good set up for next week’s finale, they made a smart choice by skipping any Blaine/Don E. stuff this week, and it ends with a genuinely surprising and upsetting turn of events. It’s just that it’s also an episode with some unfortunate implications that suck a good deal of the fun out of the room if you think much about them.

**Spoilers ahead.**

Once again, the show eschews the case of the week format in favor of having Liv eat a brain that is more intimately involved with the overarching storyline of the season. This time, the brain du jour belongs to Ravi’s old boss from the CDC, Katty Kupps, and there’s much to be infuriated about regarding this development. It’s irritating that Katty is a character who seems to have been introduced for just this purpose; she doesn’t get much backstory of her own, she hasn’t been treated with much respect in her interactions with the show’s main cast, and she’s disposed of here so brutally and with so little ceremony it feels positively indecent. When we find out, two thirds of the way through the episode, that Katty had been picking up men nightly in the hotel bar and going to bed with them, it’s hard not to put that together with the title allusion and conclude that Katty’s murder was a culmination of her own self-destructive tendencies as much as anything else. In a show that is otherwise largely sex-positive and mostly non-judgmental, this might be easy to overlook if Katty was the only woman who seemed to be being narratively punished for her sex life this week, but she’s not.

Liv, under the influence of Katty’s brain (but also having her own ambivalent feelings about her fledgling relationship with Justin) spends much of the episode following Katty’s patterns, though she does stop short of having sex with any the human men she picks up. It’s only late in the episode that Liv is tempted enough to go through with the infidelity she’s been flirting with this whole time. After finally clarifying her relationship status with Justin (they’re officially exclusive), Liv still finds herself drawn to the hotel bar, and this time she runs into Chase Graves. This hook-up has been teased most of the season, and as handsome and sweet as Justin is, Liv has definitely had a bit more straight-up chemistry with Chase (who… oh, my god, is that body for real?). Considering Liv’s poor track record with men so far, it was even easy to root for Liv and Chase, if only to protect Justin from her, but not like this. While picking up men in a hotel bar isn’t exactly Liv at her best, she and Chase have a seemingly genuine connection before going up to his room to bang on his desk, and it’s kind of heartbreaking for Liv to end the episode with a strong and well-founded suspicion that Chase might be involved in Katty’s murder, especially when it’s framed in a way that almost suggests that Liv is stupid and should have known better.

The woman who comes out the worst this week, however, and by a long shot, is Major’s friend Natalie, who took the cure he gave her and has since moved to Italy. She’s back in Seattle for a few days, however, to wrap up her affairs there and move her stuff into storage before returning to her new home, and she takes the time to visit Major and thank him for everything he’s done for her. Major is recently unemployed, having been fired from Fillmore Graves when Chase found out he was human, and he offers to help Natalie move things. After a long day of lugging boxes around, they get back to Major’s place, things get romantic, and next thing you know Natalie’s asking him to come to Italy with her and Major is saying yes. He just has to go to his Fillmore Graves going away party first, and he takes Natalie with him—and she’s promptly killed in the blast when Harley Johns shows up and suicide bombs the place. Natalie has always been something of a plot device for Major’s storyline rather than a character in her own right, but this is a pretty obvious case of fridging that is both wholly unnecessary and wildly frustrating, as it’s not at all clear based on the show’s previous treatment of Natalie whether or not Major will be deeply affected by her death. Either way, it was always bad enough that the show played the Hooker with a Heart of Gold trope so blandly straight with Natalie, and is disappointing that they so casually have killed her off right as she was about to get a happy ending. That it directly followed her having sex, in an episode where she isn’t the only woman to have bad things happen to her after having some sex, only solidifies the connection: sex leads to bad things happening to you.

While Major is caught up with his romance with Natalie and Liv is in the midst of some kind of existential crisis, it’s Clive and Peyton who make the most of somewhat minimal screen time. New Mayor Baracus asks Peyton to be his chief of staff, which would be a significant promotion and great opportunity for an ambitious woman under thirty, but she’s still suspicious that he’s involved in the Weckler murder. Though Peyton can’t completely clear Baracus of the crime, she does test him by bringing up the case, only to find that he doesn’t show any obvious signs of guilt. Liv advises Peyton to take the job, and it seems likely that she will. Meanwhile, Clive is doing most of the heavy lifting in the actual investigation of Katty Kupps’ murder, and it leads him right back to the house where Weckler’s daughter is staying, which we find out is also the home of Carey Gold from Fillmore Graves. Between this connection and Liv finding the napkin in Chase’s room with Katty’s name and room number on it, it’s starting to look like Fillmore Graves may be up to their collective ears in whatever is going on this season.

Miscellany:

  • Ravi breaks the news to Liv about the front-page zombie story that he’s the source of, but Liv doesn’t seem to actually care that much about the source of the story and it’s somewhat glossed over in general.
  • I don’t really understand the bioterrorism red herring. I mean, it’s a red herring, obviously, and by the end of the episode it seems much more likely that Katty was investigating the zombie outbreak after all, but the bioterrorism angle never gets explored enough for it to properly do its job as a red herring.
  • I hated the trailer scenes of Liv having visions of Katty having sex with Ravi, but they weren’t terrible in context.
  • “Wake up sheeple!” surprised a cackle out of me.
  • Ravi and Liv interrogating the racist lady and then segueing to the adorable Sikh dad was perfectly done and extremely funny.
  • Harley Johns’ suicide bombing was genuinely unexpected, but it also makes so much sense for a character who has lost everyone he loved and has been turned against his will into something he hates.
  • I always miss Blaine when he’s gone, but it was a smart choice to skip him this week.

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