An Incredible iZombie Promise

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I can’t think zombies and brains without thinking 45 Grave and the Return of the Living Dead (which must hold some record somewhere for the most times of the word “brain” was used in a movie).

I can’t talk about iZombie without first talking about how awesome it is that The CW streams its shows the day after they air. ABC and Fox make you wait a week to watch the latest episode of your favorite show (unless you have a cable subscription). The CW gets it. They understands that they’re commercial TV not subscription and that fans of its shows can’t stop their worlds (no matter how much they want to) to sit and watch.

Not only is The CW fan friendly, it’s also a fan-maker. I’m proof. I wasn’t a big fan of iZombie at the start. I had seen Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s comic on the shelves at the comic book store and I read about why it ended. I have to count myself among the reasons it ended (and I am sorry). I had never read it. However, the Season One finale of the iZombie TV show, “Blaine’s World,” brought the story (and all the little side stories) to a tantalizing climax. The time afterwards required a post-coital cigarette. For me, that came in the form of Dead to the World, the first collected volume of the comic that inspired the show.

The book is completely different from the show. Not in wit or enjoyment but the characters’ names have been changed and some have been replaced on the show — and so far there are only zombies. The comic has were-terriers (puppy dog versions of traditional werewolves), ghosts, and vampires. Olivia “Liv” Moore on the show is Gwendolyn “Gwen” Dylan in the book. She is a medical examiner on the show. In the book she is a gravedigger who lives in a mausoleum. On the show she has a nice apartment and a human roommate who doesn’t know she is a zombie. She has a roommate in the book too — a ghost named Elle. On the show, zombies can’t taste anything so douse their food in hot sauce. In the book, brains taste “nasty” — “like motor oil and someone’s else’s vomit.”

“Blaine’s World” ended with Liv refusing to provide her dying brother with a blood transfusion from fear she would transfer her zombie-ism to him. Ravi successfully created a cure for Liv but there were only enough ingredients to make two doses. She uses one on her ex, Major Lilywhite, who she turned into a zombie to save his life. He resents her for doing so because he has spent the entire season nurturing a vendetta against zombies. She uses the other to cure Blaine (the episode’s antagonist namesake).

The AV Club provides a somewhat heady but spot on review of ”Blaine’s World”:

“Blaine’s World” presents a far more complicated vision of the world created when Max Rager inadvertently created zombies. It’s a vision that offers incredible promise for the show’s second season, and which raises only the moral questions the show is willing to follow through on with real consequences.

So far in Season Two, iZombie is keeping its “incredible promise.” Vaughn and his company, Max Rager, succeed Blaine as the show’s main villain. Though Blaine is still a bad guy, keeping with the “promise,” he is an unreliable bad guy and a potential third party in the war between Liv and Max Rager. We also get a glimpse at life after zombie-ism for Blaine and some insight into his childhood when we meet his father. The second season has also introduced the idea of a grayer, muddier relationship between Blaine and Liv, as she needs his underworld connections to get more Utopium.

We’ve been shown what Blaine goes through to disguise himself as a zombie. I suspect we’re going to see the lengths he’ll go to maintain his zombie identity. We’ve been given doses of his ponderances and small talk as he engages his victims and clients alike. With the introduction of his father, I wonder if we’ll be privy to glimpses of little Blaine or of little Blaine’s mother? Or maybe a “Day in the Life of Blaine” episode, where he narrates the highs and lows of maintaining his illicit business as well as his legal funeral home business.

In a Comic Con interview with IGN, Diane Ruggiero-Wright says that one of the things that separates iZombie from The Walking Dead and other zombie shows is that in iZombie zombies exist in pop culture. She says it’s totally possible that Liv could have an “I heart Norman Reedus T-Shirt on.” It got me wondering if there would ever be an episode where Liv is frustrated by zombie stereotypes (like the cavemen in the old GEICO ads) or an episode where Liv confronts own biases towards “Walking Dead” type zombies. Maybe its an episode where she comes face-to-face with a half-starved zombie, who has lost the sophistication of speech but is alert enough to call Liv out for prejudice.

iZombie works because the dialogue is witty like its comic book and because it weaves a beautiful relationship web between the characters. This Tuesday, iZombie addresses “zombie sex.” I don’t think any other show has dealt with zombie sex before, which is why I am a fan of iZombie. And while I’m sure there are going to be copycats, I am equally as sure that no one will be able to handle those moments of fragility and awkwardness afterwards as well (again keeping the show’s “incredible promise”).

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