NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “iZombie” are present in this review
iZombie has spent an extra long time off the air, since its second season wrapped in Spring of 2016. It’s been almost an entire year since we’ve had a chance to check in with Liv Moore and friends, but finally, with the start of April, iZombie is returning for its third season! The third season premiere, “Heaven Just Got a Little Bit Smoother” also represents another format deviation for the show, since, rather than another case-of-the-week, the episode is instead entirely dedicated to addressing the fallout from the Max Rager massacre that occurred in the Season Two finale.
This resulted in a pretty strong and surprisingly foreboding season premiere for iZombie this week, even if Mr. Boss is conveniently shuffled away for now, and Vaughn du Clark and his reign of terror is officially over. Instead, we get to settle for a sense of subtle tension that works pretty well, as Super Max formula heiress, Vivian Stoll’s intentions prove to be pretty uncertain, while another force moves to work against a newly-amnesiac Blaine. For what it’s worth, Aly Michalka has also been upgraded to a series regular with the start of this season too, after being recurring for the first two seasons. Hopefully, that means we can look forward to some big Peyton-driven storylines this season.
Without a murder victim this week, everyone is left to ponder what happens in the wake of Vivian covering up the real nature of Max Rager’s destruction. After Liv witnessed her and her PMC’s munching on brains and announcing the desire to turn Seattle into a, “Zombie homeland”, Liv, Major and Babineaux decide to pay a visit to Vivian’s compound, while Ravi tries to engineer a way to counteract the memory-wiping effects of his second potential zombie cure. Blaine also shows up for a few quips too, even if he spends most of this episode wandering around aimlessly, confused at the man he once was. It’s actually Don E. that makes the bigger impact in this episode, since he discovers and revives a frozen Angus McDonough, convincing him to build a new business that will utterly obliterate Blaine’s operation!
The way that the show is keeping us guessing with Vivian most notably though works surprisingly well so far. Vivian’s intentions about building a segregated island society, a safe haven for zombies, don’t outwardly seem so bad, especially when she has a functioning educational and philanthropy program for zombie victims and children. Vivian’s husband even disappeared under tragic circumstances, shortly after she used his own zombie nails in his sleep to voluntarily infect herself so as not to lose him, making her a seemingly sympathetic character. That said though, there is something not quite right about Vivian, and it’s intriguing to ponder whether she will be the big antagonist this season, or whether Seattle itself might become the real threat, as the truth about zombies threatens to come out.
Liv and Babineaux failing to stop one of the Max Rager guards from blabbing to a conspiracy theorist radio show about what really happened during the massacre also ends up having tragic consequences, as some of Seattle’s less stable citizens sadly start proving Major’s argument right, that humankind isn’t ready to hear the truth about zombies. After a young boy that Babineaux knew, along with his parents, all three of them zombies, are killed by someone towards the end of the episode, Liv comes to realize that Seattle can’t yet know about the undead living among them, while Babineaux swears vengeance on the killer. Could Vivian be connected to these murders at all, despite being just as outwardly shaken by them? Either way, this was a surprisingly dark ending for an iZombie episode, possibly representing a larger struggle for Babineaux, now that he knows about zombies himself.
Major and Peyton, meanwhile, are in the process of attempting to repair their lives in the wake of Season Two’s events. It looks like Peyton might be repairing her tense relationship with Blaine most notably, as she’s forced to take him up on his offer of, “Protection”, after someone starts tweeting her some sort of, “Nasty things.” We don’t get to see exactly what’s bothering Peyton so much yet though, which is frustrating, since it doesn’t adequately explain why Peyton would be so disturbed as to return to Blaine. I’m sure we’ll find out soon, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
Fortunately, Major trying to re-adjust to life after suspicion falls upon him as the Chaos Killer is far more dramatic and effective. Major comes home to a defaced house, has, “Chaos Killer” written on the coffee he buys, and everyone in Seattle seems to be ostracizing him, killing his chances at an honest living or the job market. Fortunately, all is not lost though, as Major seemingly joins Vivian’s soldiers towards the end of the episode, even if that does seem to create yet another conflict surrounding whether or not Major will be a good guy this season. We’ve already gone down that route several times on iZombie, so hopefully the show finds a way to keep the latest morally ambiguous Major arc feeling fresh and interesting.
“Heaven Just Got a Little Bit Smoother” made for a pretty solid, and especially harrowing way to kick off iZombie’s third season, all culminating in a surprisingly dark testament to what could go wrong if the truth about zombies comes out the wrong way. The surprising drama behind bringing Babineaux into knowing about the existence of zombies worked very well, as did Major struggling with the fallout of being the supposed Chaos Killer. Peyton’s upgrade to a series main hasn’t managed to pay real dividends yet though, and we’ll have to see where the cards fall with Vivian as an apparent new antagonist or ally to Liv and friends. Even as the show pivots quite considerably away from past conflicts though, it seems like it hasn’t lost any of its creativity and inspiration!
- Vivian effectively keeps viewers guessing about her intentions
- Major dealing with the fallout of his Chaos Killer accusations
- Surprisingly dark consequences for Babineaux failing to stop the truth from trickling out
- Not much fleshing out of Peyton's new conflict yet