Thursday, May 11, 2017

iZombie 3.05: "Spanking the Zombie"

“Yeah, just a flesh wound. Thirty-five flesh wounds.”

I have mixed feelings about “Spanking the Zombie.” The “iZombie” creative team is still valiantly trying to balance a case of the week with like three different mythology-related longer term plots at this point. While I appreciate the effort, I think the show is being stretched thin. We’ve got our case of the week, Major’s health and work with the mercenary group, continuing investigation into the murder of that zombie kid and his mother Babineaux was friends with, and Angus and Don-E’s zombie bar plans. I think this episode could have dropped the content related to one of the latter two and been stronger for it. The case of the week and Major’s struggles provided more than enough to fill the hour without two additional plots. I had some mixed feelings about the case of the week, too. On the one hand, the personality Liv inhabited in this episode was more annoying than most. On the other hand, a comment Babineaux made near the end of the episode made me think a lot about what it takes for a woman to be respected in the workplace and in life in general. As if recent events haven’t been making us all think about that in detail for at least the past few months.

The case of the week for this episode is Roxanne, aka “Sweet Lady Pain.” In other words, the deceased was a dominatrix., and Babineaux needs Ravi and Liv’s help to solve the case. She was killed some time ago, and Liv thought her body was cremated, but Ravi’s got it covered. It turns out that he’s been using Roxanne’s brain to test his memory serum. When Liv eats the doused brain, it makes her visions of Roxanne’s life more frequent and intense. It also makes Liv more . . . demanding. She’s very assertive and sexual on this brain, which sometimes helps and sometimes hurts their investigation. While investigating Roxanne’s dungeon, Liv and Babineaux find a camera with a missing memory card. Liv also has a vision of Roxanne with local zombie/Mayoral candidate/District Attorney Baracus. Liv and Babineaux question Baracus, naturally, but they don’t get much out of it.

Baracus is just the first of many visions Liv has of Roxanne with her clients, and several of them seem like they’re pretty much excuses to include as many “Veronica Mars” alumni as possible in one episode. One of the visions is of Johnny Frost, local playboy anchorman, who is played by Daran Norris. Norris also played public defender Cliff McCormack on “Veronica Mars.” Another vision is of sleazy lawyer Brandt Stone, played by Ken Marino (sleazy P.I. Vinnie Van Lowe on “Veronica Mars). Of course Brandt ends up representing Johnny, so they can both do their best to try and mutually cover up their dealings with Roxanne. Meanwhile, Liv has visions of a number of Roxanne’s clients, and she tries to get Jimmy the sketch artist to draw all of them. I think he’s both intimidated and turned on by Liv (she’s being very particular about the sketches).

Meanwhile, Liv and Babineaux take some heat from Cavanaugh, their coworker who has been working on the case of Babineaux’s friends who were murdered. He’s mad that Liv and Babineaux have been talking to an anti-zombie extremist named Harvey Johns, and he lets them know that Johns was stalking the murdered family prior to the murder. Babineaux and Liv suggest letting folks from Filmore Graves talk to Johns to see what information he’ll give up. They can offer him money, after all. This meeting happens, and the representatives from Filmore Graves give Johns a check to compensate for his brother’s death and ask him a few questions. While this is going on, some of the mercenaries bug Johns’ car. It becomes clear that Johns and his followers believe the zombie virus is spreading and that they need to stop it. Naturally Filmore Graves isn’t too happy about that, considering they’re zombies and all. In other not especially consequential side plot news, after having a bad day at the bar, Don-E recruits a dealer of low grade Utopium to work at the bar, and he even offers to turn him into a zombie. The Utopium dealer thinks this sounds great. I’m sure this will actually matter later in the season.

Eventually, Johnny Frost agrees to talk to Liv and Babineaux about Roxanne in exchange for immunity. He shows them a video of himself and Roxanne that someone is trying to use as blackmail. Liv, Babineaux and Ravi all end up participating in a sort of sting operation. Liv and Ravi walk down the street near Babineaux, who is pretending to be an ice cream seller. When the blackmailer tries to take an envelope from Johnny, Babineaux takes him down. Liv tells Babineaux that she wants to be the one to interview the blackmailer, but Babineaux doesn’t think she’s intimidating enough. And this is where I thought the idea of Liv as dominatrix went from gimmick to something with artistic merit. Women have to deal with this kind of crap (men assuming they can’t do their jobs) every darn day. While it’s not something that interests me at all, I can see how some people might find being a dominatrix empowering. Liv certainly channels that assertiveness into her interview with the blackmailer. He sees the whip (yes, Liv brings a whip into the interrogation) and says he wants to sign a confession.

And finally, we get to the plight of poor Major Lillywhite. He goes on a raid with Filmore Graves (where we learn that the brain paste comes from the severed heads of people they’ve killed), and he gets stabbed multiple times. Stabbing isn’t fatal to a zombie, but Major’s cough (a side-effect of the first zombie cure) is getting progressively worse. By the end of the episode, it’s bad enough that Major asks a coworker to take him to the morgue, where Ravi and Liv decide it’s time for Major to take the second cure, whether or not it causes amnesia. They just need to keep him in a zombie state long enough for his stab wounds to heal. This leads to Liv and Major reconnecting for a night, but the next morning, it’s time for the cure. The episode ends before we find out whether or not Major will still be Major when he’s human again.

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