iZombie – Season 4 Episode 6
“My Really Fair Lady”
iZombie picks up Liv’s plan to carry on what Mama Leone started in order to find a way to help the people either most in need or forgotten by society.
This season of iZombie is dead set on holding up a mirror to our own world by exaggerating some of the significant problems that much of the audience will be familiar with. In particular the show is focusing on the divide between the rich and poor and what that means for the people disadvantaged by that.
There’s no doubt that Mama Leone was fundamentally a good person who believed that there was an unjust system at play that she actively worked to subvert. This proved to be dangerous for her as it ended up with a public execution to serve as an example to others who might choose to follow in her footsteps. The law is very clear on what will be done to those who break it but all the same she still chose to put herself on the line to benefit others because she felt that it was the right thing to do.
As far as Liv was concerned this works out well for her because she can keep a respectable distance from Mama Leone’s activities while helping her out on the sly. It seemed like a workable arrangement for her that had a lot of benefit while absolving her of the guilt associated with inaction. She could happily see herself as part of the movement to improve the lives of others so her involvement didn’t need to be greater than that.
Mama Leone’s death changes things for Liv in a big way. Seattle is left without anyone to help those less fortunate so she has two choices; either she descends into apathy and let things continue the way they are or she can do something about it at great risk to herself. Liv is a good person so chooses to continue on in Mama Leone’s stead and continue the work she started though she is met with resistance from Mama Leone’s colleagues because they don’t believe that she has what it takes.
Ultimately this episode is all about Liv proving herself worthy of carrying on Mama Leone’s work and she does so with added theatricality thanks to the brain of a really pretentious stage performer (Rachel Bloom) who is shown briefly putting on a stage production of Rent with a Zombie twist. It’s a great introduction for the brain that will give Liv her personality even if it doesn’t add much to the episode. Sometimes throwing in a bizarre musical number for the sake of pure entertainment to give the audience a flavour of what Liv is in for is a good thing; I say sometimes even though this is the first time the show has done this but it was certainly welcomed.
This episode is off format in that it doesn’t feature a murder that needs to be solved. It’s refreshing to break with the norm for a little while and have Liv eat a brain because she’s hungry rather than looking to get to the bottom of a mystery. It adds greater scope to the world of the show as there are times where the characters get to do other things and there are different things motivating them than their day jobs. Also, given the enormity of Liv taking on Mama Leone’s mantle there is very little time to follow the case of the week structure.
Much of Liv’s screen time in the episode is spent with Mama Leone’s colleagues. Levon (Daniel Bonjour) -we already know him though this episode spends more time developing him and his connection to the Underground Railroad-, Baron (Francis Capra) and Suki (Melissa O’Neill). With the exception of Levon they aren’t so keen on Liv taking over their operation because they feel that she has no idea what she is letting herself in for. Liv is made aware of everything that Mama Leone could do and the connections that she had. Taking over for her is no easy task because she represented much more than a simple desire to help people.
Liv takes it upon herself to change their minds and uses her brain to do it. She engineers a very theatrical demonstration of what she’s capable of and sets it up as if it’s a stage presentation. It’s a really impressive operation complete with her distracting a guard by pretending to be a jilted New Zealander allowing Rose McIver to use her native accent and put on a terrible American accent as part of it. It works really well with a great structure to it as both a plan and a sequence. There is a lot of tension associated with it thanks to Fillmore Graves being suspicious of them and the different moving parts are always at risk of disrupting the entire operation but iZombie never loses the sense of humour in the face of all this tension and the sequence comes together beautifully.
Following this Liv is given an opportunity to show how serious she is by taking on the burden of turning people into Zombies in order to save them. Each of them are immensely grateful and give Liv due credit for risking herself to save them. Seeing a family reunited really hammers home how important that work is and why it’s wrong for those in privileged positions to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others simply because it’s easier to ignore than do something.
By the end of the episode Liv is fully committed to her new role and learns how difficult it is going to be for her. She goes through the list of candidates after learning that it’s only safe to save three of them at this point because to do more risks exposure. This creates a fascinating moral dilemma because Liv naturally wants to save all of them but can’t if she wants to stay under the radar. She gets an idea of the difficult life that Mama Leone lived as she would have to make peace with letting people suffer so that she could continue to help people. Living with that won’t be easy as Liv is surely about to learn but those are the difficult choices she has to make now that she has committed to this role.
I really look forward to seeing more of this. Levon is an interesting character as he understands how genuine Liv is while offering reasonable advice to her in taking on this role. There’s definitely a spark between them which probably means that he’s marked for death and I predict that will happen in episode 9 if not before then. Baron’s initial reluctance before coming round to the idea of working with Liv is predictable but well played by Francis Capra. As a Veronica Mars fan I like the idea of Francis Capra giving a blonde a hard time while investigating a bus crash. If that’s not another level of meta then I don’t know what is. Melissa O’Neil is engaging enough as Suki though there isn’t much to her at this point but her place in the overall dynamic is certainly essential.
My only issue with this setup is the insistence on recording Liv scratching people. I don’t see the need for it as it’s not as if the video will get out into the public domain. If it does then there’s a high chance of someone from Fillmore Graves seeing it and sending her to the Guillotine. If staying under the radar is the aim then recording her exploits definitely isn’t the way to do it though I do somewhat like the idea of making sure historically significant moments are immortalised in some way even if this isn’t the way to do it.
Ravi’s monthly cravings return and he uses this opportunity to help Peyton in her quest to find a lost dog so that a mother and son don’t have to lose the dog as well as the husband/father. The catch is that the father was a heroin addict meaning that Ravi becomes an addict in withdrawal for the entire episode. As plots go this definitely borders on insensitive but it is handled well and the make up work on Ravi to make him look like he’s deep in withdrawal is really impressive.
The purpose of this plot is to develop the Ravi and Peyton relationship and it certainly accomplishes that. They have certainly been on the rocks so far this season but it’s undeniable that Ravi really cares about her as evidenced by his willingness to go through hell in order to make her happy. It’s somewhat unclear if he’s doing that in order to find a way to win her back romantically or not though that is the end result. Based on what I know or Ravi I’m inclined to think it was a genuinely altruistic thing for him to do and it’s definitely a gesture that he cares about Peyton, one that she greatly appreciates.
Clive’s difficulty dealing with an open relationship further complicates things for him at the police station. A sexual harassment seminar led by none other than Johnny Frost makes Michelle (Christie Lang) aware of his relationship with Dale after she shows interest in him. At first she thinks that Clive was looking to cheat on Dale with her which makes Michelle feel angry until Clive explains himself in a way that is very mature.
It’s rare to see characters in TV shows -especially male characters- take full responsibility for their actions and sincerely apologise for them. In this case it hadn’t got to the point where Clive had strung Michelle along and when he’s called out on it he admits the truth about everything and owns up to his mistakes. He’s completely honest about his feelings for Dale and the open relationship not being his style while being fully accepting of Michelle’s desire to find something real in her life. This is perfectly in keeping with Clive’s honest and decent nature so it was great to see. Dale overhears this exchange so I hope this adult approach continues when she speaks to him about it.
Blaine finally learns that his father has escaped the well when he shows up with his followers demanding that Blaine allow them to eat in his restaurant once a week. It’s a great scene with Angus doing some low key manipulation that Blaine is completely susceptible to. He does call Angus out on the his abusive approach to fatherhood but Angus holds all the cards here and doesn’t mind exploiting it. I like that this is allowed to be complicated as their relationship always has been because it makes their interactions so much richer.
The key thing to bear in mind is that neither of them are blameless here as Blaine is very much part of the problem charging Zombies fortunes to consume brains purchased through less than reputable means and Angus has his own troubled past that is very much shrouded in mystery. For now his desire to help the Zombies of Seattle seems genuine but I suspect there is more to it and setting up a mechanism to keep Blaine and Angus interacting is almost certainly a good thing.
An excellent episode that takes a break from the usual format to establish Liv taking on Mama Leone’s role. This is done really well with an engaging group for her to work with and a theatrical brain to help her prove that she’s completely serious about it. Seeing Liv start to deal with the reality that it won’t be possible to help everyone if she wants to continue is really touching and sets up an engaging moral dilemma. The only downside to this is her decision to have her exploits recorded which makes no real sense considering the need for secrecy. Ravi on heroin addict brain is well done and allows for some meaningful interactions between him and Peyton that develop their relationship nicely.
Clive’s continued difficulty dealing with an open relationship is also handled really well in a scene where he admits to Michelle that he made a mistake and takes full responsibility for his actions while showing her the respect she deserves. It’s a reasonable adult approach to dealing with this and makes sense for Clive’s character. Blaine learning that his father escaped the well is great because it allows their complex relationship to continue while showing that neither of them are blameless in the grand scheme of things.
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