iZombie is dead, long live iZombie
Comic book adaptations transcend the pages they were written on. Marvel and DC Comics rule the roost but imprints like Vertigo (RIP) and Dark Horse Comics have provided some of the best movies and shows in the last 30 years. One of those is iZombie.
The show was adapted from a comic book series on DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint in 2010. The original series told the story of a gravedigging zombie called Gwen Dylan and two friends: a 1960s ghost called Ellie and Scott, a were-terrier. She ate brains to survive (unsurprisingly) and with each one, part of their thoughts and personalities passed onto her. In its two-year history, iZOMBIE sneaked in an Eisner Award nomination for Best New Series in 2011 and developed a cult following.
Fast forward three years and iZOMBiE became a tv series. Written by Veronica Mars writers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright and starring Rose McIver (A Christmas Prince), the show changed a lot but kept the essence of the comics. McIver played the role of Olivia “Liv” Moore who was working as a doctor before turning into a zombie on a boat party. She left her job and fiancé without telling her friends and family why began her new life as a ranging zombie. To satiate her appetite and avoid killing innocent people, she took a job as a medical examiner at the King County morgue and ate autopsied brains. Eventually, her colleague Dr Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) twigged and became her best friend whilst also striving to find a cure.
The show announced Season 5 would be the last after 66 episodes, 12 award nominations and two wins over four and a half years. For those who need a refresher or want to skip to the most recent series, here’s a brief synopsis of each season.
Like the comics, Liv inherits the personality traits and skills of the brains she eats. The downside is she experiences all the highs and lows that come with them, including flashbacks of the person’s life and how they died. She turned that into an advantage in Season 1 when she began assisting Police Detective Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) in his investigations who had no idea Liv was a zombie. As a cover story, she pretended to be psychic.
Blaine DeBeers (David Anders) stars as the zombie that made Liv a zombie. He began selling brains to zombie customers as the zombie epidemic spread across Seattle. Liv vowed to kill him after she discovered he killed one of her friends.
Meanwhile, Liv’s ex-fiance Major Lilywhite returned and started investigations of his own as one of his friends was murdered. Alongside that, detective Clive Babineaux continues his work solving crimes across the city whilst also secretly helping Major solve the case of his missing/murdered friend.
And then there’s Dr Ravi Chakrabarti who stayed in the lab for most of the time. In between autopsies, he analysed the “Max Rager” drink that contained Utopium, the active ingredient in the zombification of Seattle. He developed a crush on Liv’s lawyer friend, Peyton.
By the end, Major confronted Blaine and died before Liv scratched him to turn him into a zombie. She later gave him a cure made by Ravi to make him human again.
Major started working for the Max Rager CEO Vaughn Du Clark as a zombie hitman. But instead, he locked them up in freezers. A noble idea at first, both Du Clark and the FBI started sniffing around.
Clive and his FBI partner Dale Bozzio were also investigating and their partnership turned into a relationship. By the end of the season, Liv revealed to him she was a zombie.
Blaine had been turned human faked complete memory loss as he embarked on a relationship with Peyton, much to Ravi’s jealousy.
By the season finale, Liv, Babineaux and Major crashed Vaughn’s Super Max Rager party which became a zombie free-for-all and a new character, Vivian, appeared with an army. She asked Liv to help her start a zombie revolution.
By Season 3, the status of Seattle was precarious. Vivian wanted it to become a zombie homeland and Liv discovered there are a lot more zombies than she realised. Major joined the Fillmore-Graves army that was headed by Vivian to protect their kind against the humans. Blaine continued his life as a human again with amnesia, until that was discovered to be fake as Ravi’s crush for Peyton deepened. Oh, and Ravi became a zombie. Kind of. Once a month he developed zombie-tendencies.
But the big twist was a flu shot given out to humans which was, in fact, a strain of Utopium which unwittingly turned them into zombies. All at the hand of Fillmore-Graves.
Season 4 opened with Seattle with a new name: New Seattle. The city was walled to contain the zombie outbreak, and that led to even more hostility between humans and zombies.
Liv became more of Clive’s partner upstairs rather than a morgue buddy to Ravi, who also spent more time in the outdoors as he dealt with his monthly zombification. She also became the underground leader Renegade who smuggled sick humans into New Seattle and scratched them as a way of “curing” them. But Chase Graves (the head of Filmore-Graves) found out and threatened to end her and her operation. This contributed to a massive war between humans and zombies until he met his maker and Major was elected as the new leader.
Rav started dating Peyton, Blaine’s dad (also a zombie) became a crazy preacher, and Blaine continued his brain food empire. Oh, and Ravi developed a new cure for Liv but she gave it to Clive’s girlfriend, Dale, who had become a zombie in Season 3 and she was also pregnant.
What to expect from Season 5
Season 5 is almost halfway through and things started slowly but have cranked up a notch in recent episodes. We won’t reveal any spoilers as it’s still ongoing but we wouldn’t expect a damp squib of an ending with so much momentum carried forward from each season.
Highlights so far include ballroom dancing and Ravi as a cockney gangster.
The major appeal of iZombie comes from its quirky style. Themes are diverse on the show, covering everything from sports (where Liv left no wagering stone unturned as a gaming addict) to ballroom dancing which Ravi and Liv pulled off well enough to warrant a ten from Strictly Come Dancing betting’s Bruno Tonioli.
There have been plenty of socioeconomic subtexts about population control, acceptance of others, and immigration (whether intended or not). They haven’t been strong allegoric storylines but they’ve been visible enough.
The show hasn’t strayed away from the comic book aesthetic either, with each new scene opened by a panel-style card. It’s been nice to see a show develop without drifting away from its origins.
iZombie has never been a ratings behemoth but it never planned to be. The cast wasn’t full of widely known actors to begin with (except Aly Michalka who plays Peyton). In the four years since the show started, everyone has celebrated relative forms of success and still managed to keep the show as fresh as possible, despite the “unfresh” zombies that powered the show through. iZombie is dead, long live iZombie.
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Photo: Courtesy of The CW