iZombie “Virtual Reality Bites” Recap

by on 04/23/2015

After last week’s fake-out, they tried to trick me a second time by opening this episode with a shot of Major lying motionless in the morgue. Sorry, guys, not falling for it twice. Especially since I’ve already seen the previews.

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He wasn’t there for normal reasons, but because his insurance wouldn’t cover having his wounds fixed and Ravi would know how to stitch up a body. Not very well, unfortunately, and Liv enters the episode to tell Ravi he’s doing it wrong. She retouches the job, and she and Major show some chemistry, even though she’s supposed to be madly in love with another zombie.

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This week’s murder was that of Simon Cutler, agoraphobe and hacker. At the time they find him, he’s been dead for ten days, and left the nastiest-looking corpse this show has featured to date. Clive couldn’t stand the stink of this guy, but Liv was the only one in the room who didn’t seem to mind. Do zombies have a sense of smell?

Any sympathy I might have had for someone who checks out this way, though, evaporated once it was revealed the guy was an Internet troll, and a hardcore one at that. Perhaps the worst thing about our modern age is that it’s allowed sociopaths like this, who normally would have their abilities crippled by their fear of the sun, to prey on others mercilessly just for the fun of it, or for self-justified vigilante “reasons.” Cutler was guilty of both.

Of course, he was also a heavy gamer. When gaming or Internet culture wind up as plot points on TV shows, they have a tendency to slander or misrepresent certain groups, or get some facts horribly wrong. iZombie wasn’t as bad at this as the typical CBS procedural, but there were still a couple tone-deaf parts, which I’ll be examining as they appear.

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CUTLER’S SCREENNAME: “TheSimReaper.” He’d get laughed out of the community. Even trolls have standards of taste.

PEOPLE MAKING AN ENTIRE WEBSITE CELEBRATING THE OCCASION OF A TROLL’S DEATH: I’m afraid not. Not that it can’t happen, it just can’t happen like THIS. Even though WordPress has made it easier than ever, it’s not that simple, that cheap, or that practical to start a website solely for a temporary purpose like this. This celebration would take place on social media, a forum like 4Chan or a subreddit, not on its own site.

CUTLER’S MANIACAL PHONE RANTING: I realize they were using creative license here for humor, but even the most arrogant trolls I’ve ever encountered don’t boast about themselves or their own prowess THIS highly. The closest I’ve ever seen was from Elliot Rodger, the crazy from last year who shot up a sorority because he couldn’t get laid. Prior to his suicide, he posted a lengthy manifesto online that was the closest thing to a movie supervillain rant I’ve ever read. Towards the end he listed long-range plans to conquer the world and make every woman on the planet subservient to him. And even he didn’t sound half as looney as Cutler in that phone call.

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The murder weapon this week was — a birthday card! According to Liv’s visions it was rigged to blow out confetti laced with peanut oil, so whoever killed Cutler knew he had an allergy. Given the anonymity involved in such an assassination, and the fact that his enemies had to be numerous and potentially global, this one was going to be hard to crack. Liv’s best shot was to start playing the online computer game Cutler had been devoted to.

Liv is at first sneeringly dismissive of video games (this is why I’ll never date Liv, that and the whole threat of infection thing), but then Cutler’s mushy brain takes over her own, and she takes control of his MMO character with expert precision. To the show’s credit, Ravi was there to provide a different perspective and explain that video games are like any other medium.

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GAME PLAYERS SHOUTING THINGS LIKE “I’M GOING TO VAPORIZE THIS LIZARD-CHICKEN HORDE!” No. When gamers talk, it’s usually to trash the other players or, if the game is solo, it’s to vent frustration over a hard task. Any Let’s Play would tell the iZombie writers this (though they don’t sound like PewDiePie either). Gamers on TV are often made to look stupid by acting deeply engrossed in dumb concepts to the point where lizard-chicken hordes are 50% of their dialogue. If something happens in a game that sounds silly to say out loud, nobody is going to shout it as loud as they can.

Liv is now deeply into the game, trying to find which player could have killed Cutler. Go figure, THIS is the one time when her mother decides to pop in. She’s been worried about Liv ever since the boat party “changed” her, and the behavior she observed here — a shut-in so glued to her laptop she barely looked up — didn’t soothe her worries any.

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Cutler loved a local donut shop’s brand of crullers, and a vision told Liv he almost died from one. Blaming the shop for trying to kill him, he went after the shop itself, spreading rumors and posting negative reviews until it had to close. This put the shop’s former owners under suspicion, but when they were brought into investigation, they had no idea the reviews had even come from one person.

Liv then realizes he must have started ordering from another shop. One more vision reveals the card played “Ring Around The Rosey” when Cutler opened it and died. That points the blame at delivery boy Shawn Posey, who wanted Cutler to know who his killer was (so….why didn’t he just write his name down?) Posey is cornered, and confesses that Cutler e-harrassed his girlfriend so much that she killed herself, driving him to seek eye-for-an-eye.

CUTLER DRIVING A WOMAN TO SUICIDE: Sadly, this one is 100% accurate. If you relentlessly attack someone long enough, if you dox them and bombard their social media with threats and hack their accounts, you can affect them psychologically to the point where they’ll consider ending their own lives, and there are trolls who attack targets with this as their end goal. It’s not as prosecutable(yet), but with the malicious intent I would still regard it a form of murder.

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Meanwhile on the other side of the show, Blaine’s penthouse girlfriend was in dire straits. The delivery body from Meat Cute was late, and she couldn’t hold off the urge to feed for much longer. So when he arrives — and she finds he left her brain cuisine behind by mistake — she takes the closest thing in the room and whams the poor guy’s head into a hook fixture, killing him instantly. Blaine isn’t happy, not only about the missing teen he now has to answer for, but I’m guessing Jackie going over his head (and, thereby, over his control) enraged him a lot more. She met her untimely demise by the episode’s end.

In fact, the investigation into the man’s disappearance led Clive right to Meat Cute, and directly to Blaine behind the counter. He came about this close to becoming the shop’s next victim, but turned around and decided not to investigate further. Good for him. Bad for the next customer of Meat Cute…..LIV’S MOM.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Liv calling Lowell to cancel their date. “Cough cough….I don’t know what happened, but in the last 24 hours I picked up this really nasty…..wait, we’re both zombies! I can tell you for real! I ate a brain that gave me agoraphobia.”

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