So, a month or two ago, I saw this trailer for the series iZombie.
Now, I’m generally not one for the horror genre, but I love when people can put a twist on things. I mean, a zombie as the main character? A perfectly rational zombie? Who helps solve murder mysteries? Hmmmm, intriguing!
So, watched the pilot episode two weeks ago, and I felt it was rather well done. Based on the comic book of the same name, they did a pretty good job setting things up, the characters, the premise, the “fantastic thing” and the rules around how being a zombie works, etc.
We saw Olivia “Liv” Moore (oh, a zombie pun!) used to be a med student, engaged to a very handsome man, and she was fairly well liked, if not really “popular.” Then there was that fateful night at a party on a boat in the middle of a lake. There was something about a drug called “Utopian” or some such, and the people who partook quickly became raging, brain-hungry zombies. Everyone died. Including Liv.
Except, she came back. As a zombie. Hungry for brains.
In fact, Liv needs to eat brains, or she becomes dumber, angrier, and hungrier. Not the combination you want when you do not want to kill everyone in your path. So she got a job as an assistant coroner, taking the brains of dead people, including murder victims. Small detail: when she eats a brain, she gets “visions,” or flashes of what that person experienced, from their perspective. Until it processes through her system, she also adopts certain skills and mannerisms from the deceased, such as speaking Romanian and suffering from kleptomania in episode one, or, in episode two, being able to do artistic things while also being a bit more touchy-feeling affectionate.
Wanting to help find justice for the deceased, not just because they were people but because Liv sees herself as one of them (a bond further enforced when she takes on their characteristics), Liv works as a “psychic” consultant, with the aid of Detective Clive Babinaux and her boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti. It was Ravi’s idea for Liv to be “psychic,” so Clive is currently unaware of Liv’s zombified status. But Clive has a passion for bringing killers to justice, and while he is fairly capable, he’s not so prideful as to refuse Liv’s help, even if he doesn’t get how it works. As for Ravi, he’s the only person who knows Liv’s secret, and his genuine treatment of her as a living person is most appreciated. He’s even working on a way to cure her condition, not only so she can have a normal life again, but also because he has a healthy respect for the dangers of new diseases, and would prefer humanity not be wiped out when he could have stopped it.
Of course, as Liv can’t just tell her family, “I’m a zombie now,” they are left to worry about the changes she’s undergone since that traumatic boat-party massacre, including her pale skin and hair. They don’t seem to emphasize the drama of it, as of yet, but they do show how Liv has a family who loves her. She can’t be with the man she loves, because she fears turning him into a zombie too, but the heart, even a dead heart, wants what it wants. Basically, in the first two episodes, her family relationships are a combination of “touching” and “distracting.” But they do serve to help ground her as a human.
In direct antithesis of Liv, who is careful not to hurt others, who is giving and seeks justice for the dead, there is another zombie, introduced in episode two: Blaine DeBeers. When Blaine was alive, he was a drug-dealer, and it was his experimental drug which caused the boat party to become a miniature zombie apocalypse. He claims to have reformed since his death, but that could not be further from the truth. We see him attacking, and murdering, his former associates, and he mentions how he’s going to be the one in charge someday. He’s ambitious, he’s violent, and where Liv restrains herself from turning anyone, Blaine deliberately turns at least one woman during a one-night stand, then comes back to gloat and establish the rules: she needs brains, and he will provide, so long as she pays him for them.
That is far worse than just a one-night stand, just using someone and throwing them away. He uses, enslaves, and extorts people, all for his own ego. If Liv is an angel, then Blaine is most definitely a demon.
It’s only just started, but I can see some good promise for this show. That said, episode one left me willing to watch more, while episode two seemed more… lackluster? They introduced Liv’s apparent antagonist, but in every other aspect, it seemed a bit less than the pilot. For instance, the brain Liv ate helped her feel and do things, and try something new like painting, and it was almost like a drug. But then she accidentally hurt her ex-fiancee, emotionally, and within seconds she was reflecting how the brain’s drug-like effects pushed her too far. We were told, even shown, what happened, but I didn’t really feel anything about it. Just… meh.
That said, I am not about to dismiss iZombie just because episode two tripped up a bit. I’ll keep watching, at least for awhile, and we’ll see how it develops. I’m not sure how exciting it will be until Liv has to deal with Blaine’s malice, but between that and the mysteries she helps solve, I am honestly rather intrigued.
Of course, the whole brain-eating and zombie violence stuff are legitimate turn-offs for some people. It is not meant for all audiences. Consider yourselves warned. 😉