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iZombie - Pilot - Review: "I Knew That Party Would Blow"

It's finally here! The iZombie Apocalypse has arrived and frankly I've never been so willing to have my brains taken. Liv may be after my brains but after just one episode she can definitely have my heart. I'm pretty sure the CW realized they were taking a big risk when they decided to adapt a lesser known DC comics property for the 2014-2015 season, but in my mind the Rob Thomas gamble was a success. Hopefully the show does well ratings wise following the Flash because I'm already craving more iZombie and I don't think that 13 episodes will be enough. Sure, the Rose McIver fronted series contains some similarities to another near and dear to my heart show, Veronica Mars, but iZombie's Liv has all the makings to be her own witty titular heroine with a quip-tastic vocabulary and amusing roster of supporting players. So let's break down the introduction to the CW's newest, pastiest heroine shall we?

Liv, Undead and Unsatisfied(Mostly): So let's start off by saying that before death, it was impossible to sympathize with Liv (Rose McIver), because from the brief moments we saw her it seemed her life was perfect. She seemed to have it all, she was a great medical resident, that not even her closest competitor can hate. She has a hunky fiance named Major(Robert Buckley)(Seriously??). Liv also ends everyday very "Sixteen Candles" according to her sort of not nemesis, Marcy. A statistic helped by Major as he waits outside for her waxing on about her amazing good looks, and you can't help but feel like Liv is a bit of a Mary-Sue, coasting through her amazing fairy tale life. She's got that sweet good-girl thing that makes it hard to find something to root for. At Major's persistence, Liv agrees to attend a boat party that her sort of not nemesis, Marcy, invites her to because as he so eloquently puts it, "What's the worst that could happen?"

"What's the worst that could happen? Try an inexplicable zombie outbreak, followed by a sudden desire to eat brains. (pause) I knew that party was gonna blow."

And that quote pretty much sums up how Liv, the brunette(or is dirty blonde)with the sunny-disposition is now Liv, the white haired zombie struggling with a major undead-life crisis. We see a quick scene of the boat party goers under attack and Liv running from the chaos and then awakening, already undergoing the change, in a bodybag. (That poor first responder who had to witness her rise from the dead.) Flash forward five months and one awkward checkout scene later and we are greeted, as is Liv, by Liv's roommate Peyton(Aly Michalka) with an idea she may not be that into. Pot Luck Tuesday. Peyton's use of the word "WE" as she describes why Pot Luck Tuesday is reinstated gives Liv a bit of a tip off that things are not what they seem because as she rounds the corner not only is Major in attendance but so is her Mother, who is quick to spout off how un-Liv she's become, but her brother as well. Her mother(Molly Hagan) tells her, from a place of love,just how upsetting it is that she gave up a top-notch residency to work in a morgue while also telling her she will regret breaking off her engagement with Major until the end-of-time. Cue some charming dialogue from Major, who sheepishly admits that he was promised they wouldn't bring up the engagement today's Pot Luck Tuesday Intervention. Yep, everyone has been so concerned about the change in Liv since the accident, they just wanted to get her together to suggest she get some help for her PTSD related to the incident. That's right, no one knows that she's a zombie. The pasty skin and pale white hair are not dead giveaways in a town like Seattle apparently. Seems the official word on the night of the part was that the drunks started killing each other and then set the boat on fire.To calm their nerves, Liv agrees to help out with the hospital's charity haunted house. While they may be clueless as to the fact to that she is a Zombie, Liv agrees they are right, she is suffering she has Post Traumatic Ennui as she puts it.

Liv, and the Kleptomaniac Escort: For me this is where the show really starts to pick up with Liv's secret coming out of the bag. See, Liv needs to eat, Liv needs to eat brains, and working in the morgue gives her free access to them. So while she may feel personally unfulfilled at least she's eating, even though brain digesting comes with one weird little side effect. After being told by her boss Dr. Ravi Chakrabati(Rahul Kohli) who leaves to collect another body, (someone way too enthusiastic to be working in a morgue) to bag and box their Jane Doe who was found dead in a garbage crusher, Liv removes Jane Doe's brain and prepares it for consumption while lamenting over the course that her life has taken now that she is dead. Though she probably should have made sure she was truly alone first, because Ravi, having suspected that something was up with Liv for awhile, walks in with so many questions. Like, "Why the hot sauce, is that a Zombie thing?"

Ravi was on duty the night of the Lake Washington Massacre and he noticed several of the corpse missing large amounts of brain matter, and the official story about it being due to fish never added up to him. He of course lets Liv know about this while giving her a physical and for someone who just found out zombies are real, he is quite excited. Though he does mention that he used to work for the CDC and he was actually let go for tedious warnings that one day the zombie outbreak was going to happen. I got some major Davis and Tru from Tru Calling vibes watching him be so into Liv's transformation. Ravi had started to suspect Liv one night after having to open a corpse Liv closed back up and discovered that he was missing a strong male role model half a pound of brain. Liv is freaking out that Ravi isn't freaking out, she's spent months concerned about someone finding out, but Ravi just seems normal. He mentions that her condition could very well be linked to a drug called Utopium,and he asks her if she took any at the party. Mary-Sue Liv emerges and persists that it's ironic because she didn't even attend parties with normal drugs, let alone experimental ones nor did she take any that night. We flash back to the night of the party where we see the unnamed David Anders character offering Liv some of the miracle drug, hitting on her and then all hell breaking loose and attacking her, scratching her as he throws her over the boat. She then explained why no one was freaked out by her resurrection, and that she tries to eat as infrequently from the bodies as possible because she only eats because she is afraid of what happens when she doesn't. She also explains that the only way she taste anything is if it is really spicy, this the reason for the hot sauce.

Their bonding over Liv's undeadness is cut short when Detective Clive Babineaux(Malcolm Goodwin) shows up carrying a pair of novelty cuffs that were on the Jane Doe and asking Ravi if he had anything new on his Jane Doe. Liv ends up having a vision, which is a residual effect from eating Jane Doe's brain, of Jane Doe getting arrested in Canada in 2008 for shoplifting. She blurts this out to Clive who asks her how she could know that and she chalks up to a hunch, one Clive feels is awfully specific. Ravi, introduces Liv and then tries to explain away her sudden hunch. Clive seems like he is just about to lay into Liv when Ravi cross checks the prints with the Vancouver police records and comes up with a match, our Jane Doe is Stefanie Germanotta, arrested in Vancouver in 2008 for shoplifting. The hunch being correct fires up Clive even more but Ravi comes to Liv's rescue claiming she's a psychic(ish). Clive leaves thinking he's been messed with. Liv then explains that she can get flashes of someone's memories after eating their brains.

"I think Liv's not feeling well, could it be something you ate?"
Following another sleepless night, one of many over the past five months Liv has spent agonizing over her current changed existence, Liv shows up at the haunted house to volunteer like she agreed. Just before she is greeted by Peyton, Liv can't help but to grab a handful of red plastic eyeballs and shoves them in her pocket. Her mother is so thrilled Liv showed up and she not so subtly tried to pair her off with Major. Liv decides against it and walks off to paint some tombstones but not before exchanging a glance with Major and remarking how she doesn't want to risk giving the man she loves Zombie. Her glance is interrupted when the screams of two volunteers playing triggers another vision, this time Liv is being chased by a man who removes his mask and screams "Here's Johnny!" She immediately heads back to Ravi, who can't believe that Liv has seen KTSW's weather man Johnny Frost(Played by the brilliant Daran Norris) kill their Jane Doe. Ravi suggests that she take this information to Babineaux because she ate the girls temporal lobe, so going to the police with her potential murderer is the least she could do. So, down to the station Liv goes to meet Clive and while there she spies red stapler and picture frame that she just has to grab. Clive isn't happy to see her because he's a laughing stock because the name Liv and Ravi gave her was Lady Gaga's real name. Liv informs him of her vision and then decides to leave, but Clive afraid of being duped again makes Liv go with him to confront Frost. Frost visibly recognizes the victim from the photo Clive hands him but tells them he has no idea who she is. (He also tells Liv she could use some sun) Liv throws out his "Here's Johnny" line from her vision and Frost caves and tells them in private that Jane Doe Tatiana was an escort he hired and role played with like in Liv's vision. Frost asks if Tess is the one that told them, and they decide it's time to have a talk with Tess, right after Liv steals a little red snowglobe.

Later, Liv is watching a zombie movie in the morgue with Ravi and the subject comes up of her being the only zombie in exsistence, of which Liv is unsure of but she feels had there been more like here, they would have seen something by now. Clive enters and asks if she has an hour to spare to do her voodoo while he questions Tess since she's not busy being too tortured to go on living. Liv is hesistant but Ravi forces her hand and next thing you know Liv is off banging at the door Tess with Clive, who by the way finds Liv's whole whatever vibe perplexing. Tess answers but when Clive shows his badge she claims to not speak english and starts speaking in Romanian, but to Tess and Liv's surprise Liv understands and responds back in Romanian. Before they can question Tess, her neighbor pops into the hallway to check on her but Tess sends him back in. Clive proceeds to question Tess about Tatiana, but once she learns Tatiana is dead, Tess proceeds into her apartment and locks the door. Cive does manage to get Tatiana's full name from Tess and he and Liv head over to her apartment to check it out for clues. They get inside to discover the apartment has been ransacked, but nothing valuable appears to be taken, so whatever the killer was looking for it was something specific. They find her phone which has a message form Tess dated the night of the murder. Turns out Tatiana was working with Tess and another girl that night and it sounds like Tatiana stole something. Then it clicks for Liv, not only did eating Tatiana's brain gave her Tatiana's memories, but she also gained her Kleptomaniac tendencies and the ability to speak russian. Then it happens again, when Clive is on the balcony Liv gets another memory, this time of the moment Tatiana died as her killer hangs her over the balcony demanding to know what Tatiana did with his ring before he lets go and she falls to her death.

"So, 'You are what you eat' isn't just a bitchy thing my mom says about fat people"

Liv and the Full Zombie:It's following this vision we see something in the now undead Liv come alive. She's spent most of the episode sulking in her whatever vibe, shying away from any huge emotion, but a fire lights under her after she experiences Tatiana's death. She tells Clive they have to find the killer, and they head back to Tess to pump grill her for more information. They find out from her neighbor that Tess is gone and whatever they told her scared her off but he does let slip another name, Monica. Liv storms off but Clive stops her and asks her what is going on, and she informs him that experiencing Tatiana's death makes it personal. Clive promises to track down Monica's address and asks if Liv's boss would be okay with her going with him. Liv assures him that Ravi would be, but she heads back to the morgue to asks anyway. Ravi, who is busy injecting Liv's sample with E. Coli as research, agrees to let her go. He also lets slip that he's trying to find a cure for Liv's condition and this gives Liv hope. She ditches Clive to go see Major, she had ditched him thinking that she'd forever be a zombie, but if there is hope she can be cured they could have hope to be togethr. She arrives at his doorstep only to find him inside, with a girl, playing a zombie killing video game. Just like that, Liv realizes it's not fair to Major to ask him for a day that may never come and is back in bed, back to her "whatever" vibe.

Meanwhile back at the station, Clive learns that his case is being handed over to another Detective who has an informant with a lead. Clive begs to keep case, informing his superior that the third call girl is enrolled in online classes and just recently logged in and they are working to obtain her location through her IP address currently. The Captain's response is to tell Clive that maybe if that pans out, Detective Pratt will let him tag along. Clive is upset, but Pratt just assures him it's just because he's the low man on the totem pole and he asks him to follow up with some previous inerviews. Liv, finally comes out of her stupor when she gets some choice words for roommate, Peyton and starts on a course of living again, by returning all the little things she took due to Tatiana's stealing habit. She returns the stapler and frame back to the station while looking for Clive, but Pratt tells her that he's not around, right as another officer gets a call about Monica's address. Liv heads back to the morgue where Clive is waiting, to beg for her help, but Liv informs him that she is back on the case. Clive tells Liv that Tatiana told Frost she had a bearded pig. Clive puts the pieces together and realizes the killer is a bearded cop, and then he realizes it is Pratt and that's why he wanted the case. Liv tells Clive that Pratt knows where the girls are,and they both head out to find the girls before Pratt does, except it's too late. Pratt really just wants his ring back before his wife comes home, so he has the two ladies tied up until one of them admits where it is. Monica admits that she took and pawned it knowing that Tatiana would take the blame.

"What else am I gonna do, subdue him with a good verbal flogging?"
Clive is making his way to sneak up on Pratt when Tess spots him and gives him away. Pratt shoots at Clive and manages to escape, making his way outside to his car. Liv sees him trying to escape and pulls Clive's car in front of Pratt's who gets out and demands she get out the car. She doesn't and Pratt shoots her as Clive watches from afar. Pratt throws Liv out of the car and then proceeds to hop in and drive away. Clive makes his way to where Liv's body should be, but he discovers it's gone. That is because she is currently atop the car Pratt is attempting to get away in banging out the windshield. Pratt shoots at her through the roof and misses and Liv reaches in and grabs the wheel crashing the car into a tree. Liv is thrusted a few feet away and Pratt lands on the windshield. Liv wakes up, apparently full zombie(Her words) and heads over to eat Pratt's brains, but Clive comes running up and she turns it off. He tells he saw her get shot and she tells him that she didn't, Pratt missed and she played dead and then chased down the car, which he believes. When he asks about the bullet holes in his car, she explains that away too.

Back at the morgue, while Ravi takes out he bullet lodged inside of her, she explains to him that she got mad and then became like 99% Zombie and that she's never felt more badass. Ravi then commends on her on all that she's done since eating the Jane Doe's brain and then hands her a little doggy bag with a brain for later while cementing her badass status. Later, Liv shows up at the haunted house, dressed as a gory zombie, and it's clear to see by those who love her that a bit of of the old Liv is back. Through her voice over, Liv explains how she's finally over spending the last five months lamenting over what was taken from her and know she realizes she has something to give, as a zombie psychic. Liv has a reason to be not dead, she has hope that there's a world she can fit into someday. And that night as she finally lays down to sleep, she awakens with a start as she receives another vision, this time she's running from David Anders character form earlier who is now a zombie, and just like that Liv is no longer as alone as she thought she was.

Overall thoughts: I loved iZombie's pilot. I said a lot over in my preview of the pilot, but watching it again just proved to me how strong this show is. I think iZombie has so much potential to be a show with a cult following, but hopefully it is a ratings success as well. I think the three leads were perfectly casted and each brings a certain charisma and pull off the banter and dialogue well. I'm going to break down my thoughts into two categories, one being the Lead character and the other being the plot and then I'll give the overall grade, which if you read the preview will be no surprise.

So let's talk about Liv. I love Liv. I don't know Rose McIver from much other than Once Upon a Time, but she kills it as Liv. A show like this really needs a strong actor at it's core to carry the concept and McIver does just that. She took a character that I really didn't think I would root for and made me sympathize and root for her. The character of Liv really came alive as she was dead, granted we didn't see much of her living but still. How this episode was written it truly felt like we were seeing this world through Liv's eyes. It was great watching her struggling to accept what she is, to embracing who she is. I felt as if the character had most certainly grown by the end of the pilot and I can't wait to see more of her. Her chemistry with both Ravi and Clive was so good that I could watch an hour of just the three of them bantering. I get why they had to have a love interest for Liv, to help round out the differences that her life now faces, but it was a little weird how oddly perfect he came across and I really didn't feel the chemistry there. Then again, most of their interactions came after her un-death, and she is now a completely different person, so the change in chemistry is to be expected. A pilot should introduce the viewer into the world of the protagonist in a way that is engaging and organic and I think this pilot did just that. One thing is for sure, while the show will draw comparisons to Veronica Mars, Liv is not her. Liv is equally as rich and witty as Veronica was while being a character all her own.

The plot of the episode really wasn't about the case, at least not to me. The plot was about Liv coming to terms with her transition and finding a purpose for her life. Something I think the pilot did a nice job of doing, the case was merely the tool for setting Liv on the course for her new calling and introducing who was going to be by her side. The episode was in a sense the origin story of Liv, Zombie Psychic Superhero of sorts and it was really satisfying.
Overall after watching this episode for sixth time, it still views well and is just as engaging as the first. It may not be everyone's taste but it certainly is a different take on procedurals and fills the Veronica Mars sized hole in my heart. B

So what did you think of iZombie's pilot? Are you down for the ride? Did it live up to your expectations? What were some of your favorite lines? Are you setting this one to series record or taking the wait and see approach? Sound off Below!
About the Author - Winston Mize
Winston is a 24 year old goofball, born in the north, and currently living in the south. He loves TV.... for some it's coffee, for him it's TV talk that gets his day going. He wants to be a screenwriter, and watches some of everything. You name it, he's probably checked it out. And he would like you to know that it is okay for a 24 year old to play with action figures... well, he does anyway
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