Tuesday, June 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'iZombie' - Liv Learns All About the Master Plan at Fillmore Graves in 'Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 2'

The CW's iZombie - Episode 3.13 "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 2"

Liv uncovers a shocking truth with far-reaching consequences. A reeling Major looks to the future, and Clive gets closure. Blaine makes a business proposal.

So many shows out there are afraid to shake up their status quo after awhile. Those fears are legitimate too. The formula that made them break out in the first place is unique and special. Changing that formula could risk alienating the audience to the point that it could be the end of the show. And yet, keeping things exactly the same can be devastating as well because it leads to the show feeling predictable. It's no longer surprising or rewarding for the audience even though the formula was once unique and compelling. iZombie has no fear to shake up its formula in its third season finale. This episode is very different from the previous season finales the show has produced. That's fitting because the third season was different than the previous two. It still suffered from similar problems - like too much complicated storylines going on at the same time. But it had different ideas at its core as well. It looked at the zombie outbreak from a macro level to see how it would affect humanity on a global scale. The formula was still intact with a case-of-the-week structure that gave Liv and Clive something to do in most of the episodes. But it was also clear that the knowledge of zombie's existence was building to some kind of climatic moment at the end of the season. The show doesn't hold its punches either. "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 2" actually pulls the trigger and reveals to the entire world that zombies exist. As such, it sets up a radically different fourth season that should be quite interesting to watch.

All of that is wonderfully exciting and interesting to predict about for the future. But right now, it's best to analyze what's happening in the present day of this story and how it affects the characters. Fillmore Graves proved to be an interesting season-long story. They weren't presented as a traditional antagonist like the previous two seasons. It wasn't fronted by a clear villain who did some impressive scenery chewing. The show has already done that. This year did something different by always making it unclear if Fillmore Graves was an ally or enemy to Liv and everyone else at the Seattle Police Department. An ally one doesn't know if they can trust is a compelling dynamic. The show did an interesting thing fleshing that out this season. Of course, it also seemed apparent to the audience that Fillmore Graves was also associated with the core mysteries of the season. As such, it was easier to paint them as the antagonists as the season went along. It was just a mystery of what the end game would be. Vivian set up the idea of a zombie island in the premiere. But she was killed halfway through the season. Her brother, Chase, came in and took over control. So, things could have changed under his watch. Jason Dohring does a tremendous job in playing the ambiguity of his character. Last week it seemed obvious that he killed Katty Kupps. But this week, he's more of a sympathetic figure while still carrying out this life-changing plan.

This finale needed to provide some clear resolution on the mysteries of the season though. Who killed Wally and his family? Were the zombie truthers really responsible for Vivian's death? What actually happened with James Weckler? Carey Gold is revealed to be the true big bad this year. That's a little disappointing. She appeared in at least half of the season. Until this episode though, I couldn't tell you what her name was. And even now, I couldn't tell you what she actually did at Fillmore Graves. She was just another face to fill that environment. She wasn't the person in charge but she did have some authority of some kind. As such, this finale is a bit more expositional than one might hope. It's setting up the new status quo while just doing what's necessary to resolve the mysteries of this season. It's still satisfying and intense to watch. It's very chaotic as well. It makes things clear for the audience. The characters each have to choose a side. Chase didn't want to carry out this plan. But it's already in motion and there's very little he can do to change that. The vaccine that has been shipped into the city to cure the flu has now been tainted with the zombie virus. It's turning a huge chunk of the Seattle population into zombies. That's a thrilling reveal.

Of course, a lot of this finale centers around the chaotic actions of this story. As such, the character moments do get lost a little bit. They aren't able to just breathe for a moment and accept their ever-changing situation because they have to move on to the next twist. So, Liv and company are worried about Major and Justin being dead in the house explosion at the start of the episode. But that soon dovetails into Liv confessing that she slept with Chase Graves, which forces Justin to break up with her. It's exciting to see Clive and Dale finally have the chance to reignite their romance after he reveals the existence of zombies to her. But then, she is turned into one a few scenes later which creates a new major obstacle in their relationship. Major is in mourning over Natalie's death. And then, he decides he wants to be a zombie again in order to honor his fallen comrades. Both he and Justin are then helping Fillmore Graves enact this plan throughout the city. And finally, Liv is just running around all over the place. She's accusing Chase of killing Katty. Then, she learns that it was actually Carey, only to arrive at Fillmore Graves after she's been killed by Chase. Then, she's getting into a fight with the teenage girls over what's about to happen. Then, she discovers what's going on with the vaccine. Then, she's convincing Johnny Frost to make a broadcast warning the entire city about the spread of zombies. It's great that Johnny is now a zombie. This moment has genuine stakes because it revolves around characters the audience knows. There is just so much happening - with the addition of Chase showing up to play a video that seems to calm the entire world down. A new world order has arrived. Some are still arming themselves to kill the zombies. But it seems like Fillmore Graves has thought everything through.

Liv is standing in defiance to the rest of the zombie population. She reveals herself to be standing on the side of the humans. That's the life she still wants to return to once Ravi is able to develop a cure. She was able to live in secret as a zombie despite having pale skin and white hair. Now, everyone will know what she truly is. She still embraces that identity. It's actually an act of rebellion against Chase and what he wishes to accomplish in this world. He's still attracted to her despite everything that goes on in this finale. But the most emotional sequence of this episode comes at the very end between Liv and Ravi. It's such a quiet but monumental moment that highlights the love of their friendship. It's a payoff to a plot contrivance created early in the episode. Katty apparently had some tainted utopium. He's able to potentially create a vaccine to the zombie virus with it. The only way for him to test it though is if Liv scratches him. It's such a devastating and emotional scene that works because the show doesn't rush through. It gives it the weight to carry the importance it clearly deserves. Liv doesn't want to be responsible for creating any more zombies. She doesn't want to spread this disease. She doesn't want Ravi to become a part of this world. She loves him too much for that. Their "I love you's" are so powerful. It highlights their strong bond of friendship. There's nothing sexual or romantic about it. But they do love each other. This moment tests that bond. The show ends on a cliffhanger. It's not clear if Ravi is turned into a zombie or not. I'm guessing not because a vaccine would carry so much significance in this new world. But it could go the other way as well and force Liv to carry that guilt with her as she tries to deal with everything that has happened in such a short amount of time. Either way it's going to be very exciting to watch.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 2" was written by Rob Thomas and directed by Dan Etheridge.
  • The show just really needs to decide if Blaine and Major are zombies or humans. They've gone back and forth a number of times throughout the run of the show. It seems likely that they are both content with being zombies at the moment. But it wouldn't be surprising if that changes for one of them at some point in the future.
  • Also, Major and Liv are both zombies right now. That leaves the door open for possible romance next season as well. And yet, it may not happen either because he's working for Fillmore Graves. He seems reluctant to scratch people at hospitals. But he still ultimately does it. He's willingly spreading the virus which is something that Liv doesn't want to do. So that will probably be their new conflict.
  • Blaine tries to form a partnership with Chase regarding brains. It's important that Chase turns him down. Plus, Major keeps up the guise that he has no idea who Blaine is. Those both seem like important details to remember moving forward. Of course, Blaine's business is booming thanks to the new zombies as well.
  • A lot of this finale is chaotic and serious. However, it's just a ton of fun to watch the zombies at Blaine's bar high on choreographer brain that has been dipped in the blue juice. That's just completely unexpected and a delight. Blaine and Don E's reactions are great as well.
  • This season never did reveal who stole the zombie cure from Ravi's office, right? That seems like a pretty important plot point to just leave dangling for the audience. It ensures that none of the zombies can currently be cured. That's important to maintain some semblance of the main premise. But it could be a huge detail next season as well.
  • It should be interesting to see how the outside world reacts to zombies becoming real. A private military company rises up and makes all of these demands known. They are carrying out their own sense of justice as well. They are operating outside of the system. That could prove to be dangerous. Any zombie could get caught in the crossfire as well. So that leaves things very precarious moving forward.