After a game-changing, world-altering finale like the one iZombie delivered at the end of its third season, fans of the series knew that life in Seattle (or technically, New Seattle) would be different once Season 4 began. And for the most part, “Are You Ready For Some Zombies?” does a solid job of presenting us with the very different world our characters now inhabit nearly four months after the events of Discovery Day.
New Seattle is a walled-off community in which no one can enter or leave. While Mayor Baracus is still “officially” in charge, the city’s true leader is Chase Graves, who orders Major to recruit young teens to join his mercenary ranks, turns a blind eye to Blaine’s criminal affairs in exchange for intel, and brings back the guillotine to intimidate any and all zombies that might try to escape past the wall. Zombies and humans, for the most part, interact peacefully, although there’s still threats from terrorist groups like the Dead-Enders, who throw Molotov cocktails at Fillmore Graves zombies like Major and his team, and zombie gangs forming because of how many young zombies find themselves poor and homeless after their transformations. Brains appear to be in short supply as some Fillmore Graves employees sell brain tubes on the black market. Along with Don E., Blaine runs The Scratching Post, where zombies can enjoy blue-brain specialties and scantily dressed “companions”; he also owns a new, high-class restaurant called “Cemetery to Table,” which offers what seem to be the freshest brains in New Seattle.
If it feels like I’m throwing a lot of information at you, it’s because I am. “Are You Ready For Some Zombies?” is an entertaining but overstuffed iZombie premiere that answers many questions and sets the new status quo while still failing to dig into characters like Bozzio and Peyton, who has a new lawyer-boyfriend named Derek. Instead of diving into the complicated dynamic of Clive and Bozzio’s relationship or exploring how being a human in a zombie-led community affects Peyton’s work and life, Rob Thomas (who wrote tonight’s premiere) provides us with an enjoyable but forgettable case of the week. The premiere’s case doesn’t pack the emotional punch that it could have because of how thin its characters are (they’re given only one full scene of development before the reveal happens later in the episode), and it really just serves as a way for Liv to take on the personality traits of die-hard Seahawks fan. That brain leads to plenty of hilarious football jokes and wonderful sight gags (the shot of Liv in full face paint, wearing the ridiculous Seahawks wig, is priceless), but it lacks the thematic connectivity that we’ve come to expect from iZombie‘s best brains. We fail to get much insight into how Liv is grappling with the realities of New Seattle, particularly her distance from Major, and if she is trying to forget the pain that she’s currently feeling, then maybe she could have viewed the Seahawks brain as a form of escape from the loss or despondency she currently feels. We get none of that type of emotion from her, though, and it feels like a wasted opportunity.
Similar to Liv, Clive also feels very much at a distance throughout “Are You Ready For Zombies?” There’s hints of pent-up anger and frustration, feelings that reveal themselves a couple different times throughout the hour, such as when he pulls his gun on Russ at The Scratching Post or jokes about the U.S. government nuking New Seattle any day now. However, there’s no clear reason given for Clive’s current state; we can infer that there’s probably issues in his relationship with Bozzio, but the two of them barely talk during the premiere so we can only guess that it’s the case.
One character we don’t have to guess about anymore, though, is Ravi, as the Season 3 finale cliffhanger about his fate is resolved about halfway through the episode: the cure worked, for the most part. Ravi is more human than zombie; however, he still reverts back to a zombie state and gets a craving for brains for about 72 hours every month (Liv hilariously refers to it as his “time of the month”). It’s both a predictable and satisfying direction for the iZombie creative team to take this story. If Ravi was fully human again, the cure would have completely worked, and Liv and everyone else in New Seattle would no longer have to be a zombie. If Ravi completely turned into a zombie, then the series would be dangerously close to having too many zombie characters; the human elements of Clive, Peyton, and Ravi are needed in order for iZombie to fire on all cylinders. Plus, Ravi’s new condition leads to some of the premiere’s funniest moments, from his trying on of different hats to cover up the white streak in his hair to the multiple times he walks around his apartment (and Liv’s apartment) naked because of the brain he’s eaten. Rahul Kohli has always been terrific at bringing comic relief to the series, and you can tell he’s enjoying these new aspects of Ravi’s character. Right now, I am, too.
And really, “enjoyable” is the perfect word to describe tonight’s Season 4 premiere. iZombie has gotten off to stronger starts in all three of its previous seasons, but it’s never had as much legwork to do as it does in this season’s opener. Establishing New Seattle, its major players, and the new conflicts that threaten our characters within 42 minutes is a tall order, and I would ultimately rather watch iZombie swing for the fences and hit a double rather than not swing at all. Sure, the show bit off a little more than it could chew this time around, but once Season 4 settles into its groove over the next week or two, I’m expecting the series to be just as great as it’s always been, if not better, which would really be an achievement given the fact that I already believe it’s the best show currently on The CW.
- Robert Knepper has always brought a great energy to iZombie any time he appears, and I’m excited to see what type of mayhem Angus will cause this season. However, ending tonight’s premiere with him is a poor choice given how little time we get with all our favorite characters. His extended scene in the church could have been shortened so we could have checked in with Liv or Clive or even Ravi.
- I am so happy to see iZombie bringing back Major’s past experience as a teen counselor (remember Season 1, y’all?) and infusing it into his current storyline with Fillmore Graves. I’m very curious how he will guide and teach Jordan and Fisher moving forward, now that they are on his team.
- “Zombie scum!” “You said it, man! Go Hawks!” “Go Hawks!” This little exchange made me laugh harder than almost anything else in the episode, and I think it’s because of how much it reminded me of my fellow Eagles fans here in my hometown of Philadelphia. You can be fighting with someone or have nothing in common with them, but as soon as you start an Eagles chant or call out “Go Birds!” nothing else matters. Also, the Eagles won the Super Bowl, and every day since this month has felt like a dream. A sweet, beautiful, amazing dream.
- I know we don’t get anything definitive about them in the premiere, but if Clive and Bozzio are broken up, I’m going to be so unbelievably pissed off, you guys. They deserve happiness!
- All of Liv’s interactions with the 49ers fan are pretty much perfect. “Sherman would light you up, son!”
- “What do I do about Ravi?” “I say get back together with him.” Please do, Peyton. I know we just met Derek, but the dude seems like a total bore.
- “It’s called Beast Mode.”
- Welcome back to iZombie reviews here at TVOvermind! As I mentioned above, I consider this the best show on The CW (and it’s probably my favorite one as well), and I can’t wait to cover another season of it (I’ve been writing about the show since it premiered back in 2015). I hope you all will stick around to read my thoughts and share some of your own as well.
What did everyone else think about iZombie‘s Season 4 premiere? What are you hoping to see from the series this season? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW]
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