Episode title: Heaven Just Got A Little Bit Smoother
Original air date: April 4, 2017
Episode number: First of season 3, 33rd episode of the series overall
Written by: Rob Thomas (developed by), Diane Ruggiero (developed by)
Directed by: Dan Etheridge
Featured brains: Super Soldier Brain
Previous episode: Salivation Army
Liv has discovered there are more zombies living in Seattle than she previously believed. In fact, there’s a private military contractor employing a small zombie army, and that army is preparing for the day humans learn of their existence. Major was exonerated for the crimes of the Chaos Killer, but is still considered a pariah. He manages to land a job with the one and only place that will hire him. Meanwhile, Blaine is accused of lying.
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In this episode, we once again meet Vivian Stoll, played by Andrea Savage. Vivian first appeared in the season 2 finale, and it seems like she is going to be a recurring character in the third season of the show. So far she seems like an intriguing presence, and she seems like she has other zombies best interests in mind. We also get to see that she has a school for zombie kids, and she genuinely seems to care about them all. However, there are still some troubling questions about what she has in mind for humans when “D Day” occurs – is she a friend or a foe?
We also meet Wally Reid (played by Mataeo Mingo), a kid who got turned into a zombie on 4th of July. We learn that he used to be Clive’s neighbour, and that the two share a very special bond. We also meet Wally Reid (played by Mataeo Mingo), a kid who got turned into a zombie on 4th of July. We learn that he used to be Clive’s neighbor, and that the two share a very special bond. The episode ended with us learning that he, and his family, was brutually murdered because he was a zombie.
Other recurring stars include the ever so awesome Robert Knepper as Angus DeBeers, Bryce Hodgson as Don Everhart (who Rose tweeted during the episode live-tweet that was probably their most interesting character – and we can’t help but love him!), Robert Salvador as Detective Cavanaugh.
- At one point Scott asks Angus “Haven’t you ever seen Star Trek?”. Robert Knepper, who plays Angus, played the role of Wyatt Miller on the first season episode ‘Haven’ on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Factual error appearing in the episode: As described, the Zombie virus is not “contagious” (requiring only casual contact) but infectious.”
Episode Style: Liv’s looks
iZombie’s Season 2 premiere established a big new dynamic for the show, as a lot of the action looks to center around Fillmore Graves this season. Even if Vivian means well for zombies, there are questions about her bigger plans (her look when Liv came to her at the end, in the midst of grieving for Wally and his family, was an eyebrow-raiser) and Major now joining up is possibly giving us a “whose side are you on?” scenario. In the meantime, having that boy Clive knows be brutally murdered because he’s a zombie was a dark note that thrust the show into more metaphorical places in a suitably jarring manner. | IGN (Click for full review)
The welcome return of the CW’s iZombie for its third season picks up only “2.8 minutes” after the season two finalé. It’s a smart move to bring the audience right back to the dramatic events that ended the last season, not the least of was the revelation that Max Rager’s new owner, Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage), is also a zombie committed to creating a zombie utopia in Seattle. Additionally, Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) now knows Liv (Rose McIver) and Major (Robert Buckley) are zombies, Liv was forced to kill her boyfriend Drake (Greg Finley), and Vaughn Du Clark’s (Steven Weber) party devolved into a full-blown disaster that threatened to expose zombies to the general public. Oh yeah, and singer Rob Thomas is dead.
“Heaven Just Got a Little Smoother” serves as not only a reminder of how things ended last season, but it also quickly drops the audience back into the high stakes facing these characters. Smartly, this episode moves past most of the angst that all the recent revelations have created by keeping Liv and Major on super soldier brain for most of the episode. It allows the story to move forward without getting too caught up in the emotional fallout of Drake’s death and Major’s continued stigma as the Chaos Killer—regardless of the fact that he’s been cleared—just yet. Although Major is obviously lost and looking for his place now that he’s no longer playing hero behind Du Clark’s back, there’s too much to delve into right away. | POPMatters (Click for full review)
If you think TV’s other dystopian realities are bleak, try this one on for size: iZombie now exists in a world without Rob Thomas.Last season’s finale was a pun-tastic bloodbath: Two Rob Thomases entered (the singer and the showrunner); one Rob Thomas left (guess which one!). It’s been a long year without this charmer of a show, which left us on the image of a private military contractor feasting on the brains of the Matchbox Twenty frontman while one of her guys played “Unwell” on guitar. No other series is going to scratch that itch. But here we are at last, as starved for wordplay as Liv is for brains, on the threshold of a new world order.
iZombie’s third season premiere is primarily concerned with fleshing out Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage), private military contractor with a heart of… gold? Steel? It depends on your angle. Vivian’s a take-charge kind of gal: As soon as the victims of Major’s Chaos Killer kidnappings are evacuated from Max Rager’s HQ, she’s crafted a cover story and bombed the place, burying the evidence of a zombie outbreak in the rubble. Fare(un)well, Max Rager. This is the dawn of Fillmore Graves.
What, you didn’t think you’d be sympathetic to the cause of a mercenary firm called Fillmore Graves? Neither did Liv. But when she, Clive, and Major pay Vivian a visit to ask what exactly she means when she says Seattle is going to be “the capital of a zombie homeland,” the woman makes some surprisingly fair points. First, there’s her origin story: A zombie scratched her husband to extort him for brains, so Vivian, “more willing to live as a zombie than to live without him,” took his hand while he slept and scratched herself. But their tragic romance came to a downright Shakespearean conclusion when her husband was killed for trying to get out from under his extorter’s thumb. | EW Online (Click for full review)
In its first two seasons, iZombie spent its time mainly focusing on the ways being turned into a zombie directly affected Liv’s life. Yes, there were bad guys (Blaine), then bigger bad guys (Mr. Boss, Vaughn, and the Max Rager fiasco), and an increasing sense of impending doom, but the show always smartly pivoted those concerns directly back to how they affected Liv and the other people in her life. The end of season two brought about the end of most of the previous bad guys, while at the same time signaling the beginning of a welcome new era for the show, one where Liv’s personal concerns expand to encompass the idea of the zombie race as a whole.
Max Rager biting the dust leaves a big, villain-shaped hole where Steven Weber’s glorious scenery chewing used to be, but that hole is immediately filled by the introduction of Vivian Stoll, CEO of Fillmore Graves Enterprises. Vivian is an interesting departure from the show’s past antagonists because she straddles the line between friend and foe; a zombie who has devoted her entire post-zombie life to ensuring the survival of the species should the general population find out about their existence, and who is willing to use her trained zombie militia to go to war with the humans if it comes to that. She’s hyper-focused on her goal in a way that hints of danger to come if and when things don’t go her way, but at the same time has reasonable ideas about building a pseudo-utopia on something dubbed “Zombie Island” and is openly affectionate toward the zombie children in her care. All of this to say that in a very short amount of screen time, iZombie has sketched out a very good portrait of this new character and her world, whether Fillmore Enterprises turns out to be friend or foe. | A.V. Club (Click for full review)