Dept. H #1


A locked room mystery is one of the oldest crime story subgenres. In most of versions, it’s about a murder committed in a room with only one way in, generally locked from the inside – but in general it’s about a seemingly impossible crime. The question is who is the perpetrator and how did they do it. In the case of Dept. H, the crime is the murder of a scientist in a lab accessed only via corridor in a research base – six miles below sea level.

Set in a not too distant future, Dept. H #1 begins a whodunit investigated by Mia, an Indian woman and the daughter of the victim. She is recruited by USEAR (Underwater Science Exploration and Research), a government institution that oversaw her father’s research, to find out who killed one of the most important minds of the world, and instructs her not to trust anyone. Out of seven people working on the titular deep-sea station, at least one of them is a murderer, threatening the viability of the project. Some of the suspects are people she knows – including her brother Raj. Some of them are more likely suspects – and thus possible red herrings. Meanwhile, the entire crime scene has been flooded by the ocean water, making a tough case even harder.


The Ultimate Fighter - S23E01 "Ladies and Gents" - Women's Fight Recaps


The latest season of The Ultimate Fighter is here! The TUF coaches for this season are the Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and her rival Claudia Gadelha. The tension is palatable as Joanna and Claudia exchange some perfunctory greetings before settling in for a long but exciting day of watching exhibition fights, the winners of which gain entry to the TUF house.

They're joined by UFC President Dana White, who looks like a kid that can't wait to open his birthday presents; he's very interested in seeing which fighters can handle the pressure and which can not.

This first recap is extra long as we have a total of eight women's elimination bouts.

Women's Strawweight Elimination Bouts


Mellony Geuejes (0-1) vs. Amanda Cooper (1-1)

The interplay of fight styles displayed in this match encapsulates mixed-martial arts competition, making this an ideal way to start the show.

The fight starts with Mellony displaying superior striking (she has been a kickboxer since thirteen), but when she throws Amanda off-balance, Mellony makes the mistake of following her to the ground. Amanda's strength is in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and she immediately locks in an armbar, forcing Mellony to tap out in the first round.

Ashley Cummins (3-3) vs. Lanchana Green (2-1)

Ashley is a cop from St. Louis and Lanchana is a gym owner from England. In their pre-fight interviews, Ashley talks about the stress of duty, and seems wide-eyed and intense. Lanchana is more relaxed, talking about her gym and her life as English-born Taiwanese woman.

Round one, Ashley unequivocally dominates Lanchana, controlling her with wrestling and ground strikes, with Lanchana narrowly escaping a choke. Dana White remarks how the fight seems over, but in round two Lanchana rallies spectacularly, defending Ashley's attempts to take her to the mat and then unleashing a fury of perfect Thai kickboxing strikes while holding Ashley in the clinch. When the referee determines that Ashley is rocked and no longer defending herself intelligently, he stops the fight to prevent unnecessary injury. Lanchana wins by TKO.

A talented and gutsy fighter, Lanchana Green is one to watch.

This was an amazing fight. Dana is on his feet, calling it one of the most impressive wins he's ever seen on The Ultimate Fighter and the biggest comeback win he's ever seen. Period.

Alyssa Krahn (3-1) vs. Jamie Moyle (3-1)

Alyssa is a financial planner by day, MMA fighter by night. She says she wants to represent Canadian Women's MMA and proving people wrong is what she does best. Jamie Moyle is tiny compared to most of the other girls, but explains that she has good fight experience and has even fought and beat several of the girls here. After a good scrap, Jamie is left the one proving the doubters wrong with superior wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Win by submission, rear-naked choke.

Ashley Yoder (4-1) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-1)

Both Ashley and Jodie have interesting stories and powerful mentors on their side. Jodie is friends with Holly Holm (ex-UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion) and engaged to Keith Jardine, a celebrated UFC alumni. Ashley, who trains with UFC legend Dan Henderson, shares the tragic story of her brother's death in a car accident. This loss led Ashley to begin fight training, which gave her a chance to beat on things without having to explain why she was so mad at the world.

Ashley and Jodie go to war for two rounds, trading blows and scrambling through take downs. Dana is expecting it to go to a third, tie-breaking round and Keith Jardine thinks Jodie has clinched the win from two rounds. The judges however surprise everyone by not going to a third round and giving the win to Ashley. Joanna and Claudia gape in astonishment at the controversial decision.

An emotional win for Ashley and a heartbreaking, controversial loss for Jodie.

In the winning corner, Ashley is weeping in happiness so much that the doctor has to ask her a few times if she's alright. In the other corner, Jodie learns the classic MMA adage first hand: "Never leave it in the hands of the judges." You have to finish the fight, because judges can make some really bad calls. Dana tells Jodie she got robbed, her fiance Keith Jardine is bewildered and disgusted.

J.J. Aldrich (2-1) vs. Kristy Lopez (2-0)

J.J. Aldrich trains with Rose Namajunas (a ranked and quickly rising star in the UFC Women's Strawweight division) and seems to have the same fast and effective striking as her. In a quick and lop-sided affair, J.J. dominates Kristy over two rounds and J.J. wins by unanimous decision

Tatiana Suarez (3-0) vs. Chel-C Bailey (2-0)

Tatiana is a cancer survivor who equates her cancer struggle to her fights in the ring. Chel-C is a small and spirited fighter with the good fortune having her close friend UFC Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate present to advise her. In the fight, Dana is impressed with Tatiana's takedowns and Joanna likes her boxing. Chel-C is scrappy and lands some early shots, but ultimately Tatiana is too big and too strong for her. Tatiana easily dominates two rounds for the win, but remains disappointed in her performance. This lady is dead serious.

Irene Cabello Rivera (6-2) vs. Kate Jackson (7-1)

European ladies are representing again, with Irene from Spain and Kate from Great Britain. Kate looks strong and Joanna notices she likes to clinch up with her opponent to control the fight. The second round is more domination from Kate, as Irene gets out-wrestled and pounded. Kate wins by TKO.

Amy Montenegro (7-2) vs. Helen Harper (4-1)

Helen, an unknown in the fight world, is from a small, nowhere town in England. She tells us about how she began fight training after surviving an abusive relationship, in part "to avoid ever being in that place again." She comes into the fight with an optimistic outlook and impresses everyone with her excellent wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

She takes Amy to the ground and secures an arm lock where Amy makes a desperate bid to escape by lifting Helen up and slamming her. Helen doesn't let go and Amy soon taps out. Claudia is impressed and Dana is fan-girling over this unknown ingenue, "She looked awesome."

Dana White loves these new athletes.

Team Selection


Claudia Gadhela wins the coin toss, giving her the option to choose either the first fighter or the first fight. She opts for choosing Tatiana as her first fighter; Claudia says she felt Tatiana had a lot of personality and a solid fight game; Joanna is disappointed to not get her. Joanna picks J.J. as her first pick and one by one, they fill out their teams.

Team Claudia:
  • Tatiana Suarez
  • Kate Jackson
  • Amanda Cooper
  • Lanchana Green
Team Joanna:
  • J.J. Aldrich
  • Jamie Moyle
  • Ashley Yoder
  • Helen Harper

With the first episode in the books and some amazing competitors in the house, I'm very exciting for this new season. In the post-show TUF Talk, Team coach Claudia was interviewed by FOX Sports anchor Karyn Bryant and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier about the upcoming season. They get on Skype with Joanna and the two verbally spar. The tension between them is very real and apparently, as the season wrapped filming, the tension overflowed and they had an actual "full-blown fist fight" before it was broken up.

Simply put, these ladies are hardcore.

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.

We Have Opinions TV Edition #1

Limitless, S1E20: “Hi, My Name Is Rebecca Harris”
In this episode of Limitless, we get to have another character ‘narrate’ the episode as Rebecca takes NZT. Going through the episode, it’s amazing how much I like it, considering that I’ve never actually seen the movie. The show managed to fill first-time viewers in fairly quickly. I can best describe Limitless as an action-comedy in the vein of Scrubs. Brian, our protagonist, is an Andy Dwyer-type. I can easily see him being played by Chris Pratt. Due to the mind-enhancing effects of the NZT, a good chunk of the show features him talking to the viewer, subconscious clones of himself, and in one memorable episode, a Barney parody. The most recent episode had some intense moments, thankfully balanced out with some laughs. I implore you to catch up with the show before the first part of the season finale airs on Tuesday.


Girls, S05E08: “Homeward Bound”
The childishness on Girls can be too much sometimes, but the sight of Hannah running away from Fran, and him chasing her around the public restroom, is hilarious. Fran’s outburst when he finally catches up with Hannah isn’t as fun, but still liberating in its own way. It’s a proper Nice Guy rant, and he acts like the childish asshole the show’s been hinting that he (at least partly) is since the beginning of this season. If Fran yelling “fuck you” while driving away in a house car is the last we see of him, it’s a close to perfect goodbye.

On another note: Desi has a friend who is almost as annoying as he is, and she manages to make Marnie a lot more bearable by comparison. Is there anything worse than people who handle others’ anger by speaking in an unnaturally slow and soft voice, all the while maintaining equally unnatural eye contact? *shudders*

On a third note: “You’re an adult. She’s a baby. Why do you need more help than a baby?”

Tova Crossler Ernström

Jane the Virgin, S02E17: “Chapter Thirty-Nine”
Maybe the major takeaway from this episode is how amazing Michael and Jane are for each other, or that Petra would look weird as a brunette... But for me it is that Jane can be cruel just as anyone else, if she feels exhausted and powerless enough. It’s clear that Xiomara needs to get her shit together and that every time she loses control and messes up, or forgets to be a grown up, it hurts Jane. But I also get the feeling that the poison that’s hurting this relationship isn’t only going one way. Family is such a messy thing, where everyone is involved with each other’s lives and decisions. When we disagree with some of those decisions, shame and guilt can become a natural part of how we relate to each other.  It’s also easy to get stuck in roles we’ve had for a long time, because our interactions with people around us reinforce the same patterns (sorry for the pop psychology, but I’m sure you recognize the phenomenon). We’ve seen that Xo’s role in the family is to be the screw up - it’s what’s expected of her. It wouldn’t surprise me if future flashbacks show that this isn’t the first time Jane has made Xiomara feel worthless, though she’s never been as honest about her anger before. Expect a lot of yelling, crying and emotional catharsis in the future.

Tova Crossler Ernström


Faking it, S03E05: “Third Wheels”
On Faking It, everyone is stuck in a loop, as per usual. Lauren’s comment on the reconciliation pretty much sums it up: "Here we go again". Amy is sacrificing her other relationships for Karma, Liam is not an interesting person at all, and the show’s treatment of gender and sexuality is right on the edge between refreshingly progressive and annoyingly clumsy. Next week: Felix is back and we will be reminded that Amy is not confirmed to be either gay or bi, or pansexual, or… anything that could mean some sort of representation for anyone, basically.

Tova Crossler Ernström

Howard The Duck #6 Review


Previously on...Animal House!


-The Deltas were placed on “double-secret probation” by the Dean!


Previously on...Animal House (the Marvel Comics storyline)!


-Howard the Duck tried to kidnap Nancy’s cat, mistaking it for a different cat.
-Squirrel Girl, being Nancy’s college roommate, stopped him and agreed to help him find the missing cat, Biggs.
-Kraven the Hunter returns, now in his Kra-Van, kidnapping Howard The Duck for his employer.
-His employer turns out to be Shannon Sugarbaker, who, despite her sweet (heh, puns) name, is an awful human being. She has collected superhero weapons and knockoff Doombots to cosplay with, but they actually work.
-Howard The Duck is dumped with Beast, Biggs (now altered to be a cyborg), Rocket Raccoon, and Weapon II, aka a Squirrel Wolverine. Shannon wants to hunt them for sport, as anthropomorphic animals are a “legal grey area” in the justice system.
-Squirrel Girl arrives to save Howard. Kraven refuses to hurt her, so Shannon knocks both of them out and consigns them to be hunted. They awaken in a forest, just as the hunt begins…


To put it simply, this is a glorious crossover. Chip Zdarsky is a brilliant satirist, making him the perfect person to write for Howard The Duck; the original series being based in satirizing comics, American life, politics, and whatever Steve Gerber was annoyed about at the time. Complementing him, Ryan North is just hilarious in general, especially with character interactions.


Putting together a grumpy duck-detective and an optimistic hero creates a great comedy duo. If Squirrel Girl is the Kimmy Schmidt of superheroes, then Howard the Duck is George Constanza. He is constantly complaining about his lot in life, being rude to almost everyone, and definitely neurotic. However, for all his faults, there is some justification, at least a mild one. He’s trapped on the 616-Earth, away from his family and friends.


Meanwhile, Squirrel Girl is optimistic to a fault. While she definitely believes in the right thing and that almost everyone can be good, she isn’t naive enough to discount a serious threat. When you pair the two heroes together, it creates an interesting dynamic. As much as I want to see an actual plot, I would be perfectly content with seeing them locked in a room, simply engaging in a philosophical debate. (Marvel- call me. Make Mine Machiavellian, a series about supervillains in therapy.)

As for the actual plot, it’s pretty straightforward. Squirrelverine, Squirrel Girl, Howard, Kraven, Beast, and Rocket Raccoon have to escape from Shannon and send her to jail. It’s not bad, but it does highlight one of my small issues with the storyline. Howard The Duck is more of a humor comic, so some of the side characters, like Beast and Rocket, were really just used for one-note jokes. I would have enjoyed seeing everyone form a trap together. Shannon’s eventual defeat is engaging, especially with some meta nods to DC Comics, but it lacks the teamwork usually shown in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Additionally, I would have liked to see more of Howard’s friend, Tara. I feel that it was a missed opportunity to not have more of the characters from both series interact. Overall, I still recommend Howard The Duck #6. It is well worth your time. It feels truly collaborative, such as when the standard text jokes from Ryan’s comics appear in this comic, complete with commentary from both writers.

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or the Harry Potter books.

The Flash S02 EP18, "Versus Zoom" Recap & Thoughts

Recap

The Flash returns! We start off with a flashback of E2’s Hunter Zolomon watching his father murder his mother, and ending up in what I’m pretty sure was the hellish orphanage from Thief 3 that I can’t play anymore because it freaks me out so much.

Meanwhile, back on E1, Team Flash is testing out Barry’s new tachyon toy. (Pausing the recap for a moment... Barry disappears into a portal and then reappears, and later the big enhancer gets replaced by a smaller one. In the Supergirl episode he’s wearing the bulky version. So I guess that was him visiting National City! When he gets to STAR Labs, he asks how long he was gone and Cisco apparently misinterprets the question, but Barry doesn’t push it further. See the portal moment below):
Dat Supergirl episode, tho
Anyway, Harry wants no part in Barry fighting Zoom, but he is willing to upgrade the tachyon enhancer for him. Iris heads out on a date with her boss (eww), and Barry heads home to have dinner with Joe. Wally shows up and tells Joe that he can’t afford to live on campus so he’s looking for cheaper housing, but he rejects Joe’s offer of money.

Barry thinks Cisco might be the key to opening portals thanks to his E2 doppelganger’s powers. Harry visits Joe to ask him to change Barry’s mind about fighting Zoom, but Joe says he can’t. He does ask Harry to help Barry succeed (and live). Thanks to that, Harry shows up with Reverb’s shades to help Cisco access transdimensional energy. Cisco succeeds, but freaks out and says he can’t do it and runs off.

While Harry upgrades the tachyon enhancer, Barry tells Joe that Wally wants to live with his dad, so Joe decides to offer him a room. Iris and Caitlyn have a girl-to-girl, where we learn that Iris never went on her date with her boss (yay!) because she’s wondering if she and Barry belong together. Cisco reveals to Barry that he’s Anakin Skywalker, in that he’s afraid that accessing Reverb’s powers will drive him to become Vader (yes, this whole scene is done in one giant Star Wars metaphor). Barry tells him his family at STAR Labs won’t let him go to the dark side, and Cisco decides to embrace the Force.

Harry tells them about E2’s Hunter Zolomon, who is giving off some serious Hannibal Lecter vibes. We basically get Zoom’s origin story in flashback form. Barry gets an idea on how to stop Zoom from that, and the team sets up to trick Zoom into a trap. Cisco opens the portal, Zoom comes through, and we’re off to the races! During the chase inside STAR Labs, the team trots out pictures of Hunter’s dead parents to stop him in his tracks, and manage to chain him down in his distraction. Zoom is not impressed though, and escapes, because “you can’t lock up the darkness.”

It turns out Zoom has taken Wally, and it will cost Barry’s speed to get him back. A trade that Barry is perfectly willing to make so Zoom shows up with Wally, and hangs around as Team Flash drains Barry of all his speed to honor the deal. Once turbo-charged with Barry’s speed, Zoom goes to kill him, but Caitlyn begs for his life. Jay spares Barry, but he runs off with Caitlyn instead.

Drugs are bad, mmkay? Especially speed...
Thoughts

I’m ecstatic that The Flash is back this week. But man, come ON, Team Flash, how can you be so dense? Of COURSE Zoom wasn’t going to honor any kind of deal, although you’re lucky to get Wally back, I guess. Sometimes Barry is too noble for his own good. Giving up his speed was probably not the smartest thing to do. There’s always another answer! Just ask Harry!

I really enjoyed Cisco embracing his Vibe side, especially the way it was handled with usual nerdy charm. I don’t care if you become Vader, Cisco! You will always be better than Prequel Anakin! 

As usual, The Flash’s biggest weakness appears to be knowing what to do with its female characters. I’m glad that Iris didn’t go out on a date with her boss, but I’m also kind of irritated that this episode failed the Bechdel test massively. I mean Iris and Caitlyn mooning over Barry, seriously? They were just missing pink PJs, nail polish, and stuffed teddy bears. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a solid Barris shipper, because Iris is his One True Love, but I wish this show’s writers would actually make use of her badassery. Although if “more to do” means dating her gross editor, then never you mind. Keep the girly sleepover. I prefer that. 

Also, hopefully Caitlyn getting abducted (maybe meeting Killer Frost?!) means she’ll have something useful to do, because she’s been brooding in the background way too long. I don’t see why it’s so hard to give the brilliant scientist on the team stuff to do just because she happens to be female. Come on, Flash, you can do better. 

Anyway, onwards to next week's episode! What does Zoom want with Caitlyn? How will Team Flash succeed without Barry's speed? Find out next week!

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.

iZombie: The double season finale and its female characters





The second season of iZombie has come to an end! Next season we will have weekly coverage of the show, but for now - here’s how the female characters fared in the double finale. This is neither chronological nor comprehensive, so look elsewhere if you want events recapped or episodes dissected. I’m just going to talk about some women.

Peyton

Thank the Goddesses there was more Peyton this season. And she’s in both episodes of the finale! Unfortunately she doesn’t get a lot of character development. While I appreciate any scene showing Peyton in her office, flirting with a skeevy lawyer guy to get him to bring Major a chocolate/brain bar isn’t exactly the type of task I would conjure up for someone with her level of intelligence and skill. Yes we get it, Peyton is beautiful and cool. She could probably charm me into doing a lot of things. But female characters using their sexual appeal to get what they need - from men - is both a highly sexist trope and plain unimaginative on the writer’s part.

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I wish this was Peyton saying “There’s no way in hell I’m letting you pressure me into having drinks with you. If you do your job and get this to your client I might respect you a tiny bit, but that’s it”. I’m more interested in Peyton’s case and the task force being shut down. The Boss storyline was a great way to bring Peyton close to the main action on the show, and to let us see her do her thing (which is Badass Bitch Lawyering, in case anyone wondered). I would have liked her character to be fleshed out even more, similar to how we’ve seen Major evolve, but this season was a clear step in the right direction. Peyton has her own goals, motivations, feelings and agency… And her own bad days.

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Her day gets better pretty soon, when she talks to Ravi about feeling like she’s failed and is a bad person - and then makes out on his face, on the sofa. Yay!

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I’m going to ignore how close to Nice Guy logic this conversation veered for a while, because: Ravi’s face.

Then Ravi’s face gets punched and Peyton loses most of her agency, all in one fell swoop.
Not so yay. I mentioned sexist tropes before, right? Kidnapped Woman Used As Collateral might just beat out Woman Gets Thing Done By Being Sexy in the pop culture popularity contest.
Not that TV creators have to choose between lack of agency and sexual objectification for their female characters: Boss’s underling gets in a couple of totally irrelevant comments on Peyton’s looks before he drags her away. While in captivity, she of course does her best to get away. And it’s good, it makes sense both for her character and the story and it gives her more to do than just lie around and be a helpless woman. But why not go all the way and let her get herself free?

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Another ten minutes, and this plot development might have been saved.

Instead Ravi and Blaine team up to save the day, or rather Ravi stays in the car while Blaine goes in with guns and night vision goggles. Until Ravi gets restless and sneaks in as well. The way this is shot, the acting, the music… It all makes it seem as if the reason Ravi is walking in there isn’t because Blaine might need some help, but because he wants to be the one to save Peyton and prove his manliness. Apart from how stupid and out-of-character that is of him, it pushes Peyton to the background of the scenes - even though she is the one who was freaking kidnapped and probably thought she was going to die. We don’t even get to see her face, just her back, when she’s hugging Blaine - and then the scene ends with a close-up of Ravi’s face. As much as I love that face, this isn’t about Ravi. I wanted to see what Peyton was feeling and thinking, dammit. Let’s hope there’s more on that next season! Dale dale.png

I had some mixed feelings about Dale in the penultimate episode. Her interrogation technique is questionable - Do FBI agents actually talk like this? Does it work? - but her frustration is understandable. Since we know Major is innocent, and have seen so much of his side of the story, it’s easy for us to side with him, and it makes Dale come off worse in their interactions. Still, Dale is pretty damn likable and we’ve had almost a whole season to see how serious she is about her work, in addition to being a decent human being. The show certainly isn’t painting her as the bad guy. I think this is just what happens when you’re in the world of iZombie and have no idea what’s going on. Just look at Major last season. Being out of the loop with these crazy events is clearly exhausting!

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If this isn’t character development, I don’t know what is.

Dale’s brief win followed by the realization that there was no win at all, and she may have risked her job in the process, is engaging even if you’re watching the whole thing knowing she’ll never crack the case - and that she’s going after the wrong guy. The fact that she’s adorable in between being serious and being wrong makes me care a little more as well. I’m only human after all.

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Pure adorableness.

In the end, it’s more seriousness and less adorableness. Dale and her relationship with Clive gets caught in the crossfire and he can’t even explain to her why he did what he did. It’s mostly just sad - there’s not much more to say about it, except that even if this story development makes sense it’s too bad we’re losing Dale. Clive is going to miss Dale, and I am too. dale13.png
Sad, sad and sad.

Rita

Rita doesn’t make an appearance until the second half of the finale. Her conversation with Vaughn is great, though it tells us more about him than it does about her. We can see that Rita hates her father, and that he deserves it, but there’s no deeper insight into Rita’s thoughts or motivations - or how she is handling being a zombie. 

rita4 - we're gonna lock eyes across the room OR so dead.png
We’re gonna lock eyes across the sun-drenched patio… “ Yes, and then she is going to kill you. With her eyes. When we see her again, there’s some neat witticisms and general evil vibes going on (even if I could do without some of the more cliché sexual jokes). Rita would make a great sometimes-enemy-sometimes-ally-always-morally-ambiguous minor villain for the show. I could see her building up an organization, perhaps even take over the family business.

In less time than it takes to finish imagining that scenario, Major has taken over the scene and Rita is back in the background, doing little more than standing around and reacting. Then she eats her dad’s brain, goes full-on zombie mode - and gets shot in the head. Well, it was a short-lived dream, but it was a sweet dream. Bye Rita.
Natalie

It’s nice that Major still remembers his promise, and cares enough to ask for Natalie. She’s not forgotten, either by him or the show. However, simply mentioning that she has been used for an experiment and died, without her appearing in the episode, is not a great way to show that she matters. She becomes a reason for Major to bring the #sad face instead of a person in her own right. I do think Natalie was left out for practical reasons (since there are already so many characters and actors in these last two episodes), and there doesn’t have to be any sexist reasons for this particular character’s obscurity. But it reminds me of how few of the major characters are female, and makes me wish there were enough women on the show that we didn’t have to care about one of them being a detail in a male character’s story.
Vivian Stoll

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The only reason to turn down a drink called “Convicted Melon” is if Vaughn du Clark is the person offering it to you.

Speaking of having more female characters; we know very little about Vivian, but I already like and loathe her. Apparently she only drinks alcohol that comes from a barrel, “like god intended”, which is both a delightful and an absolutely douchetastic thing to say. If she were a man that comment would just make me cringe - as it is now, I can’t make up my mind if it’s stupid or colorful (and that goes both for the woman herself and the writer who decided to give her that line). When Vivian shows up the second time, there is a high level of awesome, even if I still didn’t exactly a sympathetic impression from her. And then there’s this:

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Not my kind of picnic-and-jamming-session.
Well, I guess we can’t get rid of Vaughn and have him replaced by someone who is not a scary and dangerous evil mastermind… And it could be refreshing to have a female Big Bad for once.

Liv

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Is it just me, or is Ravi’s and Major’s film collection really underwhelming? What is there even for Liv to organize?

Liv gets about 30 seconds of being fun on type A brain. From there, it’s all downhill for her.
First she finds out Major is suspected of being the Chaos killer, and then Ravi is arrested right in front of her. Not a great way to start your day.

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You know, it’s nice of Major to want to protect Liv and all. But story-wise it puts us in a situation where everything now revolves around him, and Liv’s job is mainly to worry about, and try to help, him. Having someone keep secrets from Liv the way she used to is interesting, but I think that this season, with Major more involved with the major (really, no pun intended) actors than Liv, has done her character a kind of disservice. Or at least us fans of shows with a “strong female presence”, as it’s usually described. Especially in the first half of the finale, there’s a lot of exasperated looks on Liv’s face, and they’re all about what’s happening to the men in her life. On the other hand, would I prefer the male characters on the show running around and being worried because Liv was in danger? At least Liv is not a constant victim who has to be saved by others.

One of the biggest moves on Liv’s part in this quest to help Major is telling Clive the truth. Or actually, showing him. I have to say, that was badass. I don’t care if she’s immortal, stabbing yourself in the chest is brutal.

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Look, no hands!

And I’m extremely happy Major didn’t have to take the cure and risk losing all his memory - just think of all the character development we would have lost! Even while missing out on some of her own, Liv is saving the evolution of other characters for us. That’s a true hero.
Another thing I love about Liv: How excited she is to be back at the morgue. If she manages to keep that positivity up even after being drugged and carried out of there in a body bag, she deserves all the praise. And sure enough, she may not be happy-go-lucky in the next scene, but she’s all about problem-solving and doing the best you can with a crappy situation. That is, eating the right brains.

On to the next episode, where the problem-solving goes even more hardcore and Liv is by no means standing on the sidelines. I may have to take back some of my critique against her role on the show. When Liv is planning and taking down bad guys, it’s not an unfamiliar sight. We’ve seen her take charge before. Though she didn’t look nearly as cool doing it.

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‘Sup?

Liv’s wise proverb of the day: A massive zombie outbreak means never having to say you’re sorry. So true. After that it’s a lot of action and not so much character-focus. It’s fun to see Liv be an excellent target shot, and walk around with a severed hand in her belt. But just as the fun at the start of the last episode, it’s brief.

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I’m tempted to make some joke about Drake being much more good-looking before… 
But this is just heartbreaking.

Insert the curse words of your own personal preference here. Liv simply cannot catch a break. As Vaughn is an asshole, he must make it even worse. The moment is over too soon for it to sink in for either audience or Liv, but having to kill her boyfriend is probably not something she’ll get over easily. I’m sure we’ll see it affect her actions next season.

Vivian Stoll and her question to Liv is also something we’ll have to wait to see the consequences of. I don’t know enough about Stoll to speculate about her future interactions with Liv, but I can say this: It’s obvious Liv won’t be able to just stay out of this woman’s way and go on with her crime-solving everyday life. Somehow she will have to deal with her, and I think whatever way that’s done, it will shake the show up a bit in both format and tone. It also means no more out of the loop, on the sidelines, Liv. She’s right there, smack dab in the middle of it all. For better or worse.

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Shit just got real.

Women in general

So… Does this show, this fabulous and funny show with a female main character I love, have a women problem? I didn’t think so, but when focusing specifically on the female characters, it becomes clear a) that there’s not enough of them, and b) that they’re not being written as well as they could, especially not when it comes to plot development. iZombie rarely passes the Bechdel test, mostly because Liv doesn’t have enough conversations with other women, because there aren’t that many women there in the first place. Peyton’s very sporadic presence in the first season has been expanded, and Rita has turned up, but at the same time Liv’s mum disappeared from the show and yet another fantastic male villain was added. Now when we finally get an important new player who’s a woman, it’s only after two female characters leave (or die).

The way Peyton’s character was used in the last two episodes also left a lot to be desired. I sure hope that story isn’t going in the direction it seems to, and that Peyton remains her own agent rather than the prize of two competing men. If being kidnapped means Peyton decided to learn Krav Maga, great! If it scares her enough to take a break from working as a lawyer, that’s sad but potentially interesting and an opportunity to look into more aspects of the character. If all it does is feed romantic drama based on a male hero complex… Then that is far below what I expect of this show, and I will be disappointed in that way that "not angry" parents are when their kids have done something truly idiotic. Hint: It will be bad.

On a more general level, I wish for more interesting female characters and more interaction between those characters. I want to see Liv and Peyton face off against Stoll. I want Liv to talk to her mom, whether for a reconciliation or a heartbreaking fight. And I’d love even more female allies for our group of involuntary heroes. This show is supposed to be like a mix of Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it’s also created much later in a world where female-driven stories with women as the heroes are much more common - surely the show-runners and writers can fill their world with some fascinating, kickass women?

Tova Crossler Ernström is a bisexual Swede, feminist, socialist, INFJ, Hufflepuff, HSP and Taurus. She is fond of personality tests, labels and lists.