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Character Tracks in iZombie

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Hearing iZombie was Rob Thomas' new series was of interest, but given how Veronica Mars devolved, it wasn't something I was rushing to see either. However when I heard Bradley James was going to be on (which I only discovered because I follow his twitter account, infrequent as he is about using it) I tuned in. I laughed, as I imagine I was expected to, about him dying his hair because he'd look ridiculous blond. However, especially as Ryan Hansen was also in the episode, I couldn't help thinking about it as VM 2.0. Young perky blonde heroine, check. Mystery solving series, check. Possible Wallace, Duncan, and Logan characters? Could be that last one has been checked now...

While I was not initially all that taken by the show, I reached a stopping point before the season ended. For starters, Liv needs more women in her life. Peyton has been MIA for a few episodes and her mother is barely around (nor does she seem a likely confidante for her anyway). In the Patriot episode, the only woman was the suspect (and the daughter gets what, one line?)

For another, I am quite disinterested in Major's storyline. Part of the problem to me is that the series is essentially about two people. Because Liv has little reason to interact with him at this point, he's off on his own separate track. He interacts with some of the other characters for different reasons, but if you took him out of the show entirely, I don't think he would be missed. You could instead give the zombie hunt storyline to Clive who is, right now, just as much in the dark as Major, and perhaps equally likely to hide his sideline from her.

The third problem is the way Liv is developed. To date there hasn't been much moralizing about her condition, and she's been stumbling her way through things, perhaps with the hope that Ravi can eventually return her life to her. But that changed significantly in the last few episodes when she both realized (some of) what Blaine was doing, and also that Lowell was connected to him.

Perhaps because Liv at first assumed that there was only one other person out there who was a zombie, she didn't think much about what it would take to sustain a population of such people. It doesn't make sense to me the way they wrote Lowell as surprised and delighted to find a local zombie woman given that, as he knew of Blaine's menu service, he had to realize there were quite a few people in town sustaining it. Why would there not be a number of women? This suggests to me that the writers were either making this up as they were going along, or that the whole zombie aspect is not what's really driving the storylines -- which doesn't make sense given that Liv is a doctor.

This also bugged me on the show Forever, but it bugs me more here. Forever was clearly a procedural show with a supernatural element thrown in, which seemed more of an effort to be trendy than because the writers had any desire to pursue it. There was literally no investigation in all of S1 as to WHY Henry was seemingly immortal -- what thoughts he had about it centered only on how he might die. The one thing I was able to handwave is that after 100+ years, Henry's driving mission might no longer be to find out how his condition came about or to question what his existence meant in a scientific (or even broader cultural) context. But Henry, also first a doctor and now a medical examiner who was nonetheless partnered with a cop, did the work he did because he wanted to know all he could about death. It was still, however feebly, connected to investigating his condition.

By comparison, Liv seems to have no real scientific curiosity about her own state. Instead it's Ravi who is curious and doing the research. It's also Ravi, in Patriot Brains, who points out to her how hypocritical she is being about Lowell's own lack of interest in investigating where his food is coming from. Yet Lowell is a musician (and, as he reveals in this episode, a trust fund baby who could afford to pursue his music even if he weren't a commercial success). He has a lot less reason to have some scientific curiosity than Liv should.

It also seems odd given that in Flight of the Living Dead, she describes herself in college as studious and focused on her field. Given the rigors of the medical field you'd kind of expect she would be, but you wouldn't know it now. And at no time does she seem to wonder whether or not she and Lowell and any other zombie really has a right to exist given their possible effect on the general population.

This is why when she decided to have a "do no harm" moment kick in precisely when she would, in fact, be saving countless people by destroying Blaine, I didn't buy it for a minute. The whole episode turned on the issue of what it takes to have a population of zombies trying to go on living. This was expressed not only in Liv and Lowell's very direct confrontation, but also in Blaine's new assignment -- to fulfill the lifelong ambition of a now dead man, by murdering the living. In a way, even the episode's mystery tied into the theme -- when a person disconnected from their loved ones nonetheless attempts to keep what they once had, possibly to the detriment of those loved ones, is it justified? But the show seems to come down on the side of those who refuse to move on -- even when, as Lowell demonstrates by digging up a brain, the process, when faced directly, is grueling to consider long-term.

The end result is that I was really irritated in a, pun intended, no-brainer decision being altered for no good reason other than that the show doesn't want its chief villain killed off before S1 ends. Yet they couldn't be bothered to create a better circumstance in which the assassination attempt would fail, but instead just decided for an angsty moment of killing off a promising character.

It also did nothing for Liv's character. Sure, at the end of the next episode she takes responsibility for not having done her part. She claims she's ready to kill Blaine, but then it was her idea to kill Blaine in the first place and apparently she's more motivated to avenge Lowell rather than to have protected him. Despite what she says about Major's reckless single mindedness, which is true enough, she's clearly learned nothing about making unilateral decisions that leave others at risk.

While I like Liv well enough as a 1st person narrator type of character, it's really Ravi I like the best, perhaps because the show direly needs his levity to spice up some otherwise procedural centered plots. And Ravi isn't even an incredibly humorous person, it's just that he's the only one in each episode who seems to have much. Clive is a more or less straightforward cop, mostly business in his scenes (in fact, deliberately avoiding any kind of personal talk with Liv in Dead Air), while Major is well-meaning but dull. Besides Ravi, it was Lowell who had all the good lines.

If the show changed its focus, I could see coming back to it, but as it is I see the whole supernatural angle as simply another mystery plot rather than any way to have insightful moments with it.

The only good thing about the Patriot episode was the nature of Lowell's death. After having declared himself not to be a noble self-sacrificing or brave person at all, I immediately thought of his character arc as perfect for an Arthurian reincarnation plotline. I'd love to see someone really tap into that with a whole backstory for his character. Only as it's fanfic, either Merlin would arrive in time or, as his second life disappears, his memory would return.