Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Horror Of...iZombie Season 1, In Short

As Halloween approaches the season is an apt time for certain themed shows to return. The zombie shows. Z Nation has started. There's some Walking Dead stuff going on. And iZombie is starting up again!

Now some people complain that we already had a zombie show. Don't care. We have different shows of other genres, so zombies deserve exploration (and not just repetition). And these shows try and go in different directions.

Unfortunately, In The Flesh went off the BBC. It looked at the aftermath of zombies rising, where society was dealing with containing and curing the remaining zombies. It was an interesting drama. And it was it's own thing.

Z Nation with it's more colorful, adventuring, road trip group has a very unique feel on SyFy. It is playing with a range of zombies, weird situation, and now a post nuke environment. It's fun to tune in every week.

Now we have iZombie. It's a show that again takes the zombies in a new direction. And the result is fun, with plenty of blood.

Coming from the creators of Veronica Mars, it makes use of humor in the midst of dark and macabre happenings in Seattle. Zombies are afoot. Crimes need to be solved. A corporation is conspiring. And Liv Moore is in serious need of straightening her life out...or unlife?

To start, we have Liv Moore, born to the most ironic name to die and rise again with. She's played by Rose McIver (Who's appeared in Once Upon A Time, Hercules, Xena, and been a Power Ranger.). Her origin story goes a little something like this...

Liv got scratched and it seems she then drowned. But she's back and hungry for brains.

The good news is that zombies in this show offer a variation of the zombie as we have become habitually use to. Zombies, when fed brains, can maintain their humanity. They think, feel, breath, etc. They are largely still the same. Largely.

Your flesh goes quite pale, and your hair goes white quickly. But luckily there are skin and hair products for that.

The modern zombie need brains often. Without them, they will deteriorate. First they will lash out for their sustenance. Then, if they still don't get it for an extended period, they are pretty much like what you find on the Walking Dead.

So far, we've only seen one such zombie on the show, who had been trapped in wreckage for weeks. Even after being fed, the zombie couldn't revert to even a little more human.

Zombies also seem to be very good healers. As long as they are feeding, it seems most injuries they face (except where the brain is destroyed) can be healed up quick. Bullets. Bludgeoning. Nothing keeps a zombie down long.

And part of what keeps them going is their strength. Going "full zombie" means that their eyes go blood red, their strength magnifies, and they get a bit blood lusty. It's dangerous, and obvious to bystanders, but it gets you out of deadly situations.

Along with sustaining zombies, brains also have other effects. They change a zombie for a short time. The zombie has flashes of the persons memories. They also gain some of their personality traits. And they also gain temporary access to many of their victim's skills. Artistic. Combat. Technical.

Might be an interesting life, if you didn't need to eat human brains to live. And their is no out for needing the brain of a human.

Lucky for Liv, she had the skill set that allowed her to work in a place she could disappear, and access brains. The morgue.

Lucky for Liv, she works for Ravi (played by Rahul Kohli). He's cool about her being a zombie. He's fascinated by meeting a zombie, and learning about what makes them tick. He's a former CDC doctor. Now he gets to save the world from zombies, by discovering a cure to it before any major outbreak can occur.

He's also a geeky guy that's just fun to watch. Through the season he's working to help Liv learn about zombies, find a cure, and help on criminal cases she pursues.

Because, see can see the memories of people she eats. And many of them are murdered. So she gets a sense of who the killers may be. And that's where Detective Clive Babineaux (played by Malcolm Goodwin) comes in. Liv connects with him, and they team up to crack some cases. (She also pretends to be psychic, as it's easier to believe than she's a friendly zombie.)

Liv struggles to find her new normal. She's largely cut out her family, and is unsure how much to let them in. She lives with a roommate and old friend, named Peyton, who learns what Liv is near the end of the season, and bolts. Then there's Major.

Major Lilywhite (played by Robert Buckley). He was Liv's fiance before the change. She broke up, and tried to stay away. But she's been drawn back into his life, by her feelings for him, and the fact he's stumbled into some dark zombie doings in Seattle.

When a kid he helps as a social worker disappears, he begins pushing to find out what happened. He soon can see it's tied to a spate of missing homeless people across Seattle. When he thinks he's found a killer, he's found a zombie. Who beats him up. As he pushes, he hits a conspiracy to avoid looking at what's happening. He loses his job, he's imprisoned, and beaten more. He begins to question his sanity as he starts to see all the evidence pointing to zombies in the city. But the evidence keeps amassing.

These kids are being grabbed and taken as food. It's a business. The brains of the unwanted being sold for large sums of money to wealthy people that are zombies. Worse for Major is that at the center of this is a dangerous individual named Blaine.

Blaine (Played by David Anders, he's been in many shows from Heroes to Alias, 24 to Vampire Diaries, and even Once Upon A Time. Yes. Tinker Bell is battling Dr. Frankenstein.) is a former drug dealer. He was dealing a new drup the night of the zombie outbreak that took Liv. It seems the drug may have a part in the outbreak, but there's more to learn. At some point that night, he was turned. Then as Liv was trying to flee, he grabbed at scratched her.

He survived the night, and began planning. He killed off his drug dealing friends, and began a new business model. He began turning wealthy people, and then explained their situation. He would feed them brains every month, for 10's of thousands of dollar. They pay him, he helps keep them thinking and normal.

He runs into issues through the season, and runs head to head with both Liv and Major. He makes both suffer. By the end of the season he's eager to let Major die from wounds he's inflicted, and take out Liv. But Ravi creates a likely cure for zombies. And Liv decides to use Blaine as a guinea pig, and he ends the season very mortal.

Meanwhile we learn during the season that an energy drink company, Max Rager, is the main culprit in the zombies emerging. A chemical in their new line of drinks can cause people to turn. I am still unclear how and if this is tied to the new drug, Utopium, in causing zombies. (Ravi is using tainted Utopium to create zombie rats for testing.) Are they both from the same source?

Vaughn Du Clark, (played by Steven Weber)  the CEO of the company is interested in quietly handling the zombie issue, and has had a number of people killed to keep it all under raps. He's sent out assassins, lawyers, and scientists to try and control the environment.

As we go into Season 2, we'll see how he handles Liv, as he wants the zombies gone.

Most everyone is pissed with Liv at the end of the season.

Blaine is human again. Just as he was about to corner the zombie market.

Major has learned she is a zombie. Months of lies, the break up, and a hidden life get revealed. Then she turned him to save him from dying. Then she cured him. It was quite a cap to a brutal season for Major.

Ravi has now had all of his work on a cure used up. He had produced 2 treatments of a possible experimental cure. With it gone, he is back at square one. And being experimental, we have no idea of Blaine and Major will be affected. So Ravi has another moral and ethical concern.

Peyton saw Liv kill a man. How does she deal with that?

And Liv's family. At the end of the season, when Blaine's business was blown up, Liv's brother was outside. He was caught in the blast, and needs blood. Liv is the closest source they have. But that would mean turning her brother, she just dealt with that reality with Major. So she's refused to help save her brother. That will put a dent in the family ties.

What will Liv do now? Season 2 waits to tell us.

Overall the season was quite fun. It's zombies, gore, crime, and humor. It makes for an engaging mix. The cast come off as people enjoying their work. The lives of the characters draw you in. And the conundrum of why zombies are being produced by some mystery chemical is ponderous.

The show has a fun time letting Rose McIver shift and change episode to episode, being inhabited by the flaws and strengths of the brains she's eating. It's interesting to see her shift, and she her as Liv dealing with the impact. Liv is growing over the show, learning more about who she really was all her life, and who she might want to be from here on out. Dying has a awakened her some, and McIver plays this revelation nicely.

The show wisely is giving us a mix of personal horror, personal humor, personal drama, and mystery. As some have noted, particularly early on in Season 1, the mysteries weren't that strong. Thankfully, the dynamic of Liv and Clive keep you engaged. Their interaction, Liv dealing with how the latest brain is affecting her, and Clive dealing with Liv's latest shift makes for good entertainment. And as many of the cases help expand Liv and the audiences understand of what is happening, it helps connect and grow the show.

And I was worried at the start whether the humor and imagery of the show would shy off any gore. Thankfully the show runners are making smart use of it, whether with grim deaths, or disturbing ideas, like being grabbed and taken to a meat shop to be used like any other carcass taken in. The show isn't about the gore, it just functions to heighten the nature at the heart of the show.

Definitely can't wait for Season 2 to start.

No comments: