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.


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.

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.


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!

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?

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!

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.

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 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. 

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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.

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

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:

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.