Thursday, March 19, 2015

iZombie Raises our TV Hopes from the Dead

I'm not a big fan of Veronica Mars. I watched the first few minutes of it once and was like, "bored now..." But it took off, and that's what I'm hoping will happen with iZombie - it hits all the right notes with current pop culture trends: 80's nostalgia, zombies, drama, zombies, whodunnits... did I mention zombies? 

All the elements are there:
  • The plucky zombie protagonist coming to terms with her situation and making the most of it
  • Her boss - the Chief Medical Examiner, the enabler who covers for her as she helps herself to dead brains that she takes (after the examinations and notes are made, of course - she may be dead but dammit she still has her ethics)
  • The detective who benefits from her work as a medical examiner in the morgue
  • The dysfunctional family and social situation - her family and friends don't know she's a zombie, and can't understand why she left her fiance
Check out the recap after the jump and tell us what you think in the comments! 

Olivia Moore is an E.R. surgery resident with a passion for success. When the EMTs bring in an apparently dead 17-year-old boy, she detects no pulse and he isn't breathing. Her colleague Marcy has the Chief Resident paged, while Liv takes charge of the immediate situation by calling for a large syringe. She uses the syringe to re-inflate the boy's lungs, and he begins breathing again. The page for the resident is cancelled.

At the end of their shift, Liv and Marcy talk as they leave the hospital. Marcy invites her to a party but Liv declines, saying she has other plans. "It's on a boat," says Marcy as she tries to coax her into going. Liv declines again - her fiance is waiting. Marcy says, "so basically every day of your life is like the ending of 'Sixteen Candles'." Liv walks away with Major (yes, her fiance's name is Major. Really.), telling him about Marcy inviting her to the party. Major tells her that she should go and have fun - "What's the worst that could happen?" So Liv goes to the party....

"What's the worst that could happen?"

She wakes up dead in a body bag on the shore of the lake. Liv sits up, spits water out and discovers large gashes on her arm. A crime scene investigator notices, and freaks out when he sees her, thinking that he accidentally bagged a living victim.

Flash forward to five months later, as Liv arrives home from the grocery store. Her roommate/best friend Peyton greets her at the door, and babbles stuff about reinstating "Potluck Tuesday." She thinks it would be a good idea for Liv to have people around her that care about her. It turns out to be an intervention.

Liv's mother, brother, and former fiance are there. Liv's mother expresses concern about her recent behavior - giving up a successful, high-paying residency for a residency at the morgue, and breaking off her engagement with Major. Peyton says that she thinks Liv is suffering from PTSD - "You've changed since that night. It's understandable... the explosion, a bunch of drunks killing each other. We think you need professional help."  Liv's mother asks why she hasn't volunteered for the annual haunted house event like she does every year. Liv is already annoyed by this intervention, but promises her mother and Peyton that she will help out with it.

Liv leaves for work. Arriving at the morgue, she sees Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, the Chief Medical Examiner, having a bowl of cereal over a dead body. They have a little chit-chat, and he gets a text message telling him he needs to deal with the body of a suicide victim. As Ravi leaves, he tells Liv to finish the "Jane Doe" he was just working on.

"Jane Doe, huh?" Liv watches him leave, then grabs the skull saw. She weighs and documents the brain, then heats up some instant ramen in the microwave for dinner, adding hot sauce and the brain to the ramen. As Liv is eating in her office in front of the TV, watching "Night of the Living Dead", Ravi returns. He flips on the light switch and says "I have so many questions! First - why the hot sauce? Is that a zombie thing?"

Back in the morgue, Ravi is giving Liv an exam - checking her pulse and her throat, drawing blood. He tells her that everyone knows what happened that night with the party - the drunks, and the drug use. Ravi says that he was on duty that night. He tells Liv he discovered that most of the bodies had brain matter missing. The crime scene investigators just chalked it up to fish in the lake - "because rainbow trout go straight for the cranium. Right." Liv says she's confused. "Am I being fired, or given an exam?" "Fired?" he says. "I have, like, a billion questions! I'm contemplating asking you to move in!" 

Liv asks him how long he suspected her condition. Ravi answers that he figured it out when she finished the autopsy of a gang banger who was the victim of a shooting. He made the connection when a detective working on a case asked him to re-examine the body. When Ravi re-opened the skull, he discovered that the brain was missing. So he re-examined all the bodies that Liv had finished for him since then, and discovered the same thing - brain matter that was present when the bodies were initially examined had disappeared. 

Ravi explains that he used to work for the CDC but was fired because his supervisors were sick of his "warnings" about a dangerous man-made plague... biological warfare that was being spread through a new designer drug called Utopium. Liv tells him that she has never done drugs, and through a flashback scene we see the party on the boat devolve into the zombie massacre.

Liv says, "just so you know - regarding my unique dietary needs... I do it as infrequently as possible. If I don't eat, I get dumber... meaner. I'm afraid that if I let it go too long, I'll go all... George Romero." Ravi asks her again about the hot sauce. "Pretty much the only way I can taste anything is if it has at least six chili peppers next to it on the menu."

Detective Clive Babineaux walks in, and asks about progress on his "Jane Doe." Ravi tells him that nothing came back on the fingerprint check, but he is going to try and get a match through dental records next. Ravi asks if Clive has found anything in the dumpster that can help them process the case. Clive shows them a set of handcuffs - not police issue, but a set of novelty handcuffs from an adult store. Liv gets a vision of a crime in progress.

Liv speaks up. "Shoplifting in Canada. She was arrested for shoplifting in Vancouver in 2008." Clive asks her how she knows this. "That's when Obama was elected. It's just a hunch..." Clive remarks that it's a pretty specific hunch. Ravi introduces Clive to Liv as he searches the computer records for arrests in Vancouver in 2008. He tells Clive that Liv isn't feeling well - that it may be something she ate. Clive snarks at Liv. "So what... she had moose hair in her bloodstream? 'I heart shoplifting' tattoo?" 

Ravi finds the mugshot of the Jane Doe in the arrest records, and the fingerprints in the system match the prints from the body. The name on the victim's arrest record is listed as "Stephanie Germinotta." Clive asks if they're screwing around with him, and demands to know how Liv knew the information about the victim. Ravi answers, "Liv's... psychic." Clive looks back and forth between the two of them. "Fine - that's how we wanna play it. Everyone screws with the new guy." He gives them a wry grin and leaves. Ravi asks her if that was a brain thing. Liv explains that it's a side effect of eating the brains - "it's like being on somebody else's acid trip." He asks if he can do a cognitive function analysis on her before the end of her shift.

At the haunted house set-up, Liv feels a compulsion to pocket a handful of bright red eyeball props. Peyton greets her and asks where she wants to help out. Liv says she really doesn't care. "Kinda your personal motto lately," quips Peyton. Liv's mother finds her, and suggests that she go grab a hammer and help out with the mad scientist's lab - where Major is working. Liv makes her annoyance at her mother's suggestion clear, saying that she will instead go work on painting tombstones. In a narrative voice-over, Liv says that there's no way she's going to risk giving the man she loves Zombie (like passing the flu.)

Liv hears a woman scream, and she gets a visionary flash of a masked man. When the mask comes off, she sees that it's the weatherman from the local news station. She goes to Ravi with this information, and he convinces her to report it to Clive. Liv is hesitant, but goes anyway. At the police station, while she is waiting for Clive, she pockets a bright red stapler from Clive's desk, and a bright red picture frame from a desk nearby.

Clive shows up, and the other detectives launch into the first bars of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Clive waves them off. Liv tells him that she thinks she saw something about the victim. "With your eyes, or with your... gift?" He tells Liv that the name she gave him for the victim is Lady Gaga's real name. Liv says that the victim must have given the arresting officers that name. Clive lets off a little rant about how he's been in Homicide two months without a collar. "Lieutenant's breathing down my neck, and now I'm back to square one." 

Liv tells him again that she thinks she saw something - she thinks she saw who killed the girl. "That's great!" Clive snarks. "Do tell! I'll pick him up, maybe grab some lunch. What did you say his name was again?" "Johnny Frost." "The weatherman from channel 11?" Clive asks, looking at her doubtfully. "Look... I brought you this. Do with it what you will." Liv gets up to leave. Clive says, "So you come up in here, dump a pile of crazy in my lap, and expect me to put my reputation on the line by grilling this guy?" "Yeah. I guess. Bye." Liv turns to leave. "Oh, no no no no no. It's not gonna work like that. Let's you AND me go talk to the weatherman."

They go to the TV station, where Johnny is wrapping up his weather segment. Clive shows him the picture of the dead girl, and he claims he doesn't know her, but his reaction says differently. He refuses to answer any questions and tells Clive to contact his attorney. As he turns to walk away, Liv says "Heeeeerrrrrrre's Johnny!" He turns around with a sour look on his face, and quietly asks in an angry tone, "Did you record our sessions?" Clive asks him again if he knew the victim. He tells Johnny that she was killed. "Tatiana's dead?" So now they have a name to put with the face of the dead girl.

Johnny ends up cooperating with them, showing Clive the escort websites that the victim and her friend had up and gives them the friend's address. Clive and Liv go to interview the friend, who's name is Tess. While in the hall waiting for the door to be answered, Clive asks Liv what's up with the whole "goth/emo/whatever thing" she's got going on. The door is answered by a woman in a silk robe. Clive asks if she is Tess, and she nods. She thinks it's an escort appointment. 

Clive pulls out his badge, and Tess immediately says she doesn't speak English, then smarts off in Romanian. Liv fires back with her own remark - also in Romanian. "What the hell?" Liv adds in Romanian, confused herself by the fact that she can now speak a foreign language. They tell Tess that Tatiana is dead. Tess says she doesn't know anything and closes the door. Clive asks her to talk to them - at least give them a last name so her family can be notified. Tess gives them Tatiana's last name, and they leave.

Clive finds Tatiana's address. When they get to Tatiana's apartment, the building manager lets them in. They see that the apartment has been ransacked. Clive encourages Liv to "do what you do, just try not to move anything around." Liv finds a cell phone on the table, and gives it to Clive. He listens to the most recent voice mail, which was left the same day that Tatiana died. The voice mail is from Tess, and it's in Romanian. Liv takes the phone and translates. "Tatiana, you klepto - get your ass back up to the suite right now or we will never work with you again." Liv looks in the closets and sees handcuffs and some other bright red items. She realizes that not only does she get the victim's memories when she eats the brains, she also picks up characteristics of their personalities - like their native language and their habits. It appears that Tatiana was a kleptomaniac.

They go back to Tess' apartment to see if they can get more information from her. There's no answer at the door, but the neighbor comes out to tell them that she's gone. They ask where she went and he gets defensive about it. Liv pokes him in the chest and tells him that there is already one dead girl and they are trying to prevent another one from dying. He asks if it's Monica, another one of Tatiana's friends. Liv finds the website on her tablet and goes through Tatiana's friends list. 

She shows the picture of Monica to the neighbor and asks if that's her. He says it it, and Liv starts rushing off down the hall. Clive follows. "Whoa, slow your roll, dirty Debby Harry. What's the deal?" Liv says that she felt Tatiana die. "She knew she was going to die. It's become personal." Liv is afraid that she's going to find Monica in one of her drawers in the morgue next. Clive promises that they will catch the guy responsible before that happens. He asks if she thinks that her boss will let her come with him to follow up on the leads. Liv has no doubt he will.

In the morgue, Ravi is at the microscope. Liv comes in, and starts telling him what they found. She notices that there are sample petri dishes on the desk. "You're giving me E. Coli?" Ravi tells her that he's trying everything on her blood samples. He thinks he can find a cure. Confused, she asks, "You're trying to cure me?" "You didn't expect to stay this way forever, did you?" For the first time since she woke up in the body bag, she has hope. She leaves, and finds Clive waiting for her. Liv tells him that she can't go - "Something has come up."  Clive calls out, "Wait!" as she rushes off. "Thought I had me a psychic sidekick... I was workin' on a bit - Cagney and Pastie..." 

As Liv drives to Major's house, we hear her in a voice-over. She says that Major had asked her if there would ever be a chance for them. She she felt that she owed it to him to at least let him know that there was hope. She goes up to the door, but then decides that it wouldn't be fair for her to ask him to wait for her forever. As she turns to leave, she hears a woman's laughter. Approaching the window, she sees Major playing a zombie-killing video game with a woman. It appears that Major has moved on, so she leaves sadly. 

Clive goes back to the precinct, and finds that the Lieutenant has taken him off the case. He's put Detective Pratt on the case, saying that Pratt has a confidential informant who has leads on the girl. Clive tells the Lieutenant that he's so close, and gives him a rundown of the information he has so far. Clive says that they have information that the killer is one of Tatiana's johns. The killer's ring was stolen, and he went to get it back - but Tatiana told him she didn't have it. One of the other girls is enrolled in an online college. She's just accessed her online college account less than an hour ago, and computer forensics is running down the IP address to get him a location. The Lieutenant tells Clive that maybe Pratt will let Clive tag along on the follow-up when they get the location.

Clive walks out of the Lieutenant's office. Pratt follows him, and apologizes for the case being pulled. Pratt says, "It's always the low guy on the totem pole gets boned. But it will just be that much sweeter when you do bag your first collar." He encourages Clive to follow up on his leads, and to get back to him with whatever he finds. Clive agrees grudgingly.

Liv watches a Zumba workout channel on TV in her room at home, eating Cheetohs. The room is a mess - clothes all over the floor, the desk is a mess. Peyton comes in, and asks if Liv has seen her pens. Liv retrieves the pens with bright red caps on them, and hands them over. Peyton is concerned about Liv, and frustrated. "I so want to write you off... I so wanna be in that 'you can't help those who won't help themselves' place, but despite all of... this," she says, gesturing to the mess in the room, "you're my freakin' heart. I need you to step up."

Liv resolves to be better than she has been. She returns the red eyeballs to the haunted house, putting them on the backdrop that's being built. She goes to the precinct to talk to Clive, and returns the picture frame to Pratt's desk. As she's about to put the stapler back on Clive's desk, Pratt approaches her and asks if there's anything he can help her with. She tells him that she's from the M.E.'s office and that she's looking for Clive. Pratt says he's not there, and gets interrupted by a detective telling him that there's a phone call for Clive. He takes the call. It's from the computer forensics department - they traced the IP address and have the physical address. Pratt writes it down, and asks Liv if he can give a message to Clive. She says no, and he leaves.

Liv goes back to the morgue, where Clive and Ravi are talking. Clive tells her that he knows she's busy but he really needs her help to follow up on the leads. Liv says she's back on the case and ready to help however she can. Clive tells her that the weatherman Johnny Frost told him that Tatiana had something called a "barboos de pork or deer pork or something." Liv says the Romanian word, and tells Clive that it means "bearded pig" - "Are you sure you're saying it right?" Clive thinks a second, and then understands. "Son of a bitch! That's why none of the girls have a record - he's a cop! A bearded cop!" Clive deduces that it's Pratt. "There's no CI, that's why he wanted me off the case before I solved it!" Liv asks if Pratt is the detective who sits at the desk one over from Clive's.He confirms, and she tells Clive about the phone call. "He knows where the girls are! He has the address!" 

Clive and Liv go back to the precinct. Clive takes a pencil rubbing of Pratt's notepad, which reveals the address. As Clive is driving to the address, he's on the police radio asking for backup. the dispatcher is giving him a hard time about it, and Clive finally says "Just do it!" They pull up to the address to find a house that is under renovation, with scaffolding outside.They see Pratt's car. Clive tells Liv to stay in the car, and he gets out to go investigate the house. As he approaches, he sees that Pratt has the girls tied up, and he's threatening them. 

"If I go home without that ring, my wife is going to be very upset! Have I told you the history?! how that ring belonged to her grandfather? Did I tell you how her grandfather's ring survived Dachau but her grandfather didn't?" He threatens to kill the girls if they don't tell him where the ring is. Tess tells him that Tatiana stole it. Pratt says that she didn't have it. He demands to know what happened to it. Monica tells Pratt that she pawned it to pay for college. Tess turns her head and sees Clive outside. Pratt notices Tess move her head, so he looks outside. He fires a shot at Clive, then runs upstairs.

Clive breaks a glass pane in the door, and enters the house. He checks on the girls, and Tess tells him that Pratt went upstairs. Meanwhile, Pratt is climbing out an upstairs window, then down the scaffolding. Liv sees this, and slides over to the driver's seat. As Pratt tries to take off, she blocks him in with Clive's car. Pratt gets out of his vehicle. and yells for Liv to get out of the car. When she refuses, he shoots her and pulls her out of the car. Pratt then steals Clive's car and drives away. 

As Pratt is driving, the windshield breaks and an arm comes through. Liv is on the roof of the car, ripping away the windshield. Pratt fires the gun through the roof, and Liv rolls to dodge it. She reaches in, grabs the steering wheel and pulls hard. The car hits a tree, and Tess is thrown off the roof. Pratt comes through the opening where the windshield was, to land on the roof of the car, apparently unconscious. Liv gets up in full zombie mode and approaches Pratt. Just as she's about to take a bite out of crime and score herself a fresh brain, Clive comes running up. 

He looks a Liv in disbelief. "You were shot!" Liv shrugs. "He missed, so I played dead." She asks about the girls, and Clive confirms that they're ok. Liv asks if she wants him to check Pratt out, since she is a doctor, but Clive tells her to go see to the girls. He handcuffs Pratt, saying "You're right. This is so much sweeter."

At the morgue, Ravi is removing the bullet lodged in Liv's heart. Liv is excited as they chat about what happened. "I was a dead alabaster bad ass!" Liv says. "I'm doing open-heart surgery on you without anesthetic - you're beyond bad ass," Ravi responds. "I'd offer to stitch you up, but there isn't even much blood!' Liv says "Must help to take the pressure off when your patient's already dead." Ravi tells her to stop thinking of herself as dead. "You're undead. And you'll never go hungry again." He hands her a lab coat and a brown paper bag. "Fresh brains for later. Now - let's get to work."

Liv attends the haunted house, wearing a zombie costume and make-up. Her mother is happy to see her chasing kids across the lawn. All's well for now - until Liv goes home, and has another brain-induced vision of another crime.

Raven is an avid cosplayer and TV fan.

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  1. Quick correction- Pratt says that his wife's grandfather's ring survived Dachau, but he didn't.

    Pratt was literally the only reason I tuned in for this episode and I think it's an okay show- I'm hoping that the episodic nature of the format won't turn me off. I kinda hate the monster-of-the-week format. Speaking of which, the actor who plays Pratt appeared in Supernatural's season 8, as Benny. Watching him be such a creep in iZombie was actually alarmingly uncomfortable, considering he was such a cute and cuddly vampire on Supernatural.

  2. I thought that was what I wrote. If not, thanks to the editors for catching that.