Tea & Review: iZOMBIE – Heaven Just Got A Little Bit Smoother

The first episode of iZOMBIE‘s season 3 – Heaven Just Got A little Bit Smoother resumes immediately after the closing scene of season 2. While Liv (Rose McIver), Major (Robert Buckley), and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) discuss their cover story for the massacre at Max Rager, Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage)(the Fillmore Graves military contractor and the zombie who’s purchased Supermax), tells them to take cover. Her soldiers then detonate the building. Neatly destroying the remaining evidence of the zombie outbreak. She smugly, and perhaps ominously tells Liv, Major, and Clive, “we think of everything.”

We discover more about Vivian throughout the episode. From the extortion endured by her husband and her promise to avenge the zombie-on-zombie crime to her plans for a schoolhouse on Zombie Island. We develop a respect for her intentions, but reservations for her methods. Stoll’s unwavering commitment to her family of zombies may be virtuous, but it may also make her a formidable enemy.

We also learn of the measures she’s taken to prepare for. As Vivian terms it, D-Day (aka Discovery Day). This is when humans en masse realize the existence of zombies). Keeping in step with the World War II reference are the posters hanging in the hallway. Reminiscent of Allied forces’ propaganda, catchy phrases caution zombies to conserve resources and act with care.

Stoll’s posters instruct, “Waste not want not,” and “Clip your nails, no epic fails.” Indeed, “Don’t be that guy, tan and dye” is the type of rhyming earworm we know all too well in “Loose lips sink ships.” Stoll is training soldiers for combat, but now we know she’s preparing the zombie civilian population too. But what did we expect? She thinks of everything.

Straight out the gate, Major sympathizes with Stoll’s cause and initiatives. His initial sympathies are then encouraged when he returns home with Ravi to find his house trashed and tagged. Major’s “Helton Shelter” t-shirt emphasizes just how far he’s fallen from grace. Where once he was employed, active in the community, and respected for his work as a counselor for troubled youth, he is now unemployed and unwanted.

When the barista writes the label “Chaos killer,” on Major’s coffee cup instead of “Americano,” we see in black and white his status as an outcast most in need of citizenship—something that perhaps may only be found within the zombie homeland. The song playing in the background, “I’m only human,” is ironic and yet true.

Later, when the Alex Jones-inspired radio host, Chuck Burd (Aaron Douglas), sits with his American flags and gun rights poster, we see more signs of the show’s interest in associating with the political landscape of our own world.

The episode introduces topics like homeland, self-segregation, and what constitutes a threat to American institutions.

iZombie is preparing itself and its audience to explore identity, humanity, and the power of government to protect or persecute. Part of the fun of watching this season will be watching characters make the toughest of decisions: which side are you on? And we must ask ourselves: what makes a patriot?

Most scenes close with a question in this episode.  This makes us feel as confused and hungry for answers. Much like  Liv, Ravi, Clive and Major likely feel. In the effort to diminish that which might drive them apart in uncertain times, Liv proposes a commitment to one another. This will prove challenging as the stakes are getting higher. She’s kind enough to warn us first by saying: “this is important”. Then, goes on to say, “From now on, we’re all on the same team, working in the same direction.”

However, as an audience member, it seems less of a proposal than it is a test. Indeed, I think patriotism will be a major theme throughout the season.  It applies to loyalty within Liv’s inner circle, and loyalty to one’s own kind (zombie vs. human).

A few asides and predictions:

The reference to Dylan Thomas seemed a bit hollow. While I normally relish any opportunity to hear a quote from his most famous poem. It seemed wasted on this episode. It didn’t tie into anything (that I could see). And it didn’t seem like the writers, or the characters earned the right to invoke such epic words.

Supposing we see propaganda posters again, I’ll be curious as to if and how they change. Will they include images and names designed to reinforce the idea of an enemy (just as anti-German, anti-Italian, and anti-Japanese posters did during WWII)?

Logically, I had an issue with Clive’s inability to shut down the radio testimony of the security guard. Why didn’t he just turn to the producer and say, “cut the feed, go to commercial”?

We meet Ravi’s former boss, Catty Cups. It’s a strange name, which sounds a bit like catacombs to me. I wonder if Ms. Cups is more familiar with the undead than Ravi believes.

When Liv expresses her concern for Cavanaugh’s involvement in the murder of Wally and his family. She cites the potential for Cavanaugh to be the catalyst that brings about D-Day. I wonder if her concern should instead be focused on herself. Ravi, Wally, and Vivian all comment on Liv’s conspicuous zombie appearance, and recommend that she “tan and dye.”

Could Liv be the one that exposes zombies to humans en masse?

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