iZombie Season 4 Episode 7 Review: Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain

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As Liv heads further down the radical path, Major may have hit a point of villainous no return.

This iZombie review contains spoilers.

When Major stood by and supported Chase Graves when Mama Leone was executed, perhaps you could have blamed it on the shock of the moment—he didn’t really believe Chase was going to go through with it—but, as iZombie Season 4 races onward, Major continues to make decisions that prop up the increasingly totalitarian reign of Fillmore-Graves. Censorship is not a good look, Major. Neither is violently harrassing reporters or covering it all up. I wrote before about how the characters of iZombie are increasingly being asked to choose sides and while Liv is heading in one direction, Major is going the polar opposite way and it’s a damn tragedy.

The thing is: Major’s tragedy is making for some pretty good TV. And it is particularly poignant and statement-worthy that a character who has been as good and true and righteous as Major has been in the past can be so twisted. All too often narratives like to pretend that people are either good or bad, but that leaves so little space for the discussion of what role systems and institutions play in people making bad choices. Most of the time, people aren’t evil (unless they are Blaine). They’re “doing their job” and when we overrepresent sociopathic monsters in our stories, we leave far less room for the mundane evil that tends to cause much more harm in our world.

What does mundane evil look like on iZombie? It looks like Chase Graves delivering a speech in defense of censoring a newspaper that wrote a story that he didn’t like. “You wanna know when democracy doesn’t work? It doesn’t work when your species is on the brink of extinction.” Peyton looks at both Chase and Major, who backs up his boss, in horror at this statement. Chase isn’t even pretending to operate a democracy any more. He doesn’t have to. As he points out, the people aren’t rioting. At least not yet.

While the people may not be rioting, they are looking for ways to subvert the regime and to help others. One of those people is Liv, who we have seen become increasingly radical since Mama Leone’s death. In tonight’s episode, she uses a murder investigation to steal ID-making equipment from the Zombie Services bureau. She passed the point of no return when she scratched those humans in last week’s episode, but this is the moment when she doubles down on the risks.

If Liv is going to be a coyote, she needs to work on her subterfuge game. Peyton easily catches her in the act of making IDs because Liv is listening to music instead of keeping her ear to the ground. It’s a rookie move and, while Peyton will probably back up her friend (especially after the meeting she just had with Fillmore-Graces), nothing is certain. Peyton is a character who believes in the law and the justice it is meant to provide wholeheartedly. Liv can only hope that Peyton now understands how broken the system is. Will it be enough to not only keep Peyton’s silence, but encourage her to join in with Liv’s band of ragtag revolutionaries? That would be an interesting and organic twist.

Speaking of Liv’s revolutionaries, things are progressing romantically between Liv and Levon. While Levon may be too gentlemanly to sleep with Liv while she’s on player brain, it’s clear that they both like each other. There’s no doubt something romantic about being radicals together, fighting against a corrupt regime. The major move these two made, plot-wise, in tonight’s episode was going to Angus to ask for access to brains. While it didn’t seem to pan out (Liv isn’t interested in asking Blaine for brains), it did put Angus on Liv’s radar, which will no doubt come back into play later.

When Liv wasn’t doing her main job of hunting down murderers or doing her side hustle of being a coyote, she was trying ot help Clive get laid. In what was probably the most frustrating scene of the night, Ravi and Liv get their friend drunk and tell him to be someone else. Rather than actually listen to their heartsick friend, they push him into a situation that doesn’t actually help. Clive is his own man who makes his own choices, but he could have really used a good friend in this, and neither Ravi nor Liv really qualified.

In the end, Clive ends up paying a sex worker for sex. Clive is obviously super uncomfortable with it and only becomes more so when Bozzio asks him about his night out. In what feels like an emotionally-manipulative move on both the part of Bozzio (who is usually cool) and the show, Clive is guilted for sleeping with someone when he and Bozzio had clearly set the parameters of their relationship to be open. If this was some sort of weird test on Bozzio’s part, shame on her. And, if it wasn’t, it’s not really fair to get angry with Clive when her desire to stay monogamous was never communicated. 

Did we really need another representation of player culture? Probably not. Not unless you are going to say something new about it. iZombie played a little too have our brain and eat it too with this one, as it often does, both wanting us to laugh and indulge in the player culture, while also being critical of it at the last moment. It’s a lazy way to frame what is an extremely harmful subculture.

It took me a full minute to get over the fact that Liv and Angus had not only never met, but didn’t even know who the other one was. This makes sense—Angus’ storyline has, until now, mostly been kept to Blaine’s world—but it was still jarring. It also makes for a much more interesting story. If Liv had known Angus before his religious transformation, she most likely would have dismissed him as a potential ally as soon as she walked into his church. Now, we have an unexpected relationship forming. Liv may think Angus is borderline crazy, but she doesn’t think he’s evil, and I am always for narrative moves that further integrate this sometimes disparate story.

iZombie has never felt more like the wonderful In the Flesh than it does in Season 4. From the religious themes to the choice every zombie must make whether to go natural or to tan and dye, this show is seriously channeling the BBC zombie classic (though definitely not its intensely somber tone) and I am all for it.

I’m into Liv’s “new” look, which is obviously just Rose McIver sick of wearing that wig (which is fair). Also, Levon is wrong. Liv looks great in that fedora.

“I think I banged that dude.” — Liv, about Chase Graves

How will Clive react when he finds out Liv used a murder investigation to steal stuff for her coyote operation? If there’s one character who is more invested in the sanctity of the law than Peyton, it is Clive. It’s both a wise and a sweet choice when Liv chooses not to tell him what’s going on. Better not to put Clive into that position unless she absolutely has to.

Clive thinks This Is Us is emotionally-manipulative. Bless him and his excellent taste in television.

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