TV

'iZombie' Events are Reaching Critical Mass in "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1"

Liv and Ravi at the latest crime scene.

Interspersed with bar-hopping and sex visions, "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1" sets the stage for the finalé and beyond.


iZombie

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley
Subtitle: Season 3, Episode 12 - "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1"
Network: CW
Air date: 2017-06-20
Amazon
Liv (voiceover): What do they say at Fillmore Graves? Discovery Day is coming? It certainly feels that way.

Floyd Baracus: Peyton, I am now mayor of a city on the verge of learning that zombies are real. We may also be ground zero to a deadly pandemic. And, I need people who understand the nature of the task ahead. I need you to be my chief of staff.

The first episode of a two-part finalé, "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1", sets up next week's final episode beautifully. There are plenty of small decisions that begin to have very real consequences by the end of the episode; things move quickly, as they often have throughout the season, but the stakes are much higher now, and the way things end is both genuinely shocking and inevitable.

Liv's (Rose McIver) feeling the consequences of the alt-weekly piece about zombies -- featuring a photo of her in full-on zombie mode on the cover -- and decides to change her look now that spotting a zombie comes with instructions from the article. McIver essentially just looks like herself, but in contrast to Liv's usual look, it's a drastic change. While she's attempting to blend in more, Harley Johns (Andrew Caldwell) is locked up in a freezer in his bunker while she and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) figure out how to deal with him.

Interestingly, this episode brings back two characters, only to kill them, though to varying viewer investment. Katty Kupps (Christina Cox), Ravi’s (Rahul Kohli) old CDC boss, is back to chastise Ravi’s obvious involvement as a source for the zombie article -- much to Liv's consternation -- and to continue her investigation into an Aleutian flu outbreak tied to a flight from Paris to Seattle. When she's killed, Liv employs her usual crime-fighting tool and eats her brain. Unfortunately, and mostly amusingly, she flashes on the time Katty and Ravi slept together and the abject horror on her face makes for some great comic moments, although Ravi does have a bit too much fun teasing her about his sexual prowess to the point that it sometimes comes off as more creepy than funny.

In addition to flashes of Katty's time with Ravi, Liv's compelled to return night after night to a hotel bar Katty frequented, and used to pick up a different man every night. While she stops herself from sleeping with various men, she eventually gives in and sleeps with Chase, who's staying at the hotel. As we've already been reminded, she's safe to have sex with him because he's a zombie; however, she instantly regrets it, especially when she finds a connection to Katty in his room. Whether Chase killed Katty because she was too close to discovering zombies through her flu investigation (the two have to be related at this point, right?), or it's merely a coincidence remains to be seen, but again, it points to Fillmore Graves' larger involvement in zombies coming to Seattle.

Katty's murder investigation leads Liv, Clive, and Ravi to interviewing the final four first class passengers from the flight. The scenes in the interrogation room are terrific, not only because Clive cowers in the corner, afraid of contracting the flu, but because Ravi also has a very satisfying interaction with a racist passenger in which he soundly puts her in her place. They eventually discover that a passenger switched seats and the lead puts Clive on Carey Gold's (Anjali Jay) doorstep. She's a teacher at Fillmore Graves; although it's not yet clear how, this is another piece connecting Fillmore Graves to the larger story.

Although Peyton's (Aly Michalka) own investigation into the Weckler case has led her to suspect new zombie mayor, Floyd Baracus (Kurt Evans), as the dominatrix murderer, she begins to question her instincts when he offers her a job as his chief of staff, and simultaneously lets her know he’s both aware she knows about zombies and that he was one of Roxanne's customers. Liv encourages her to take the job as a way to keep an eye on him and stay on top of the city’s plans to deal with Discovery Day. It's a good way to keep Peyton in a useful role, as well as expand her circle of zombie acquaintances.

While Peyton is continuing to immerse herself into the zombie world, Major (Robert Buckley) is unceremoniously kicked out of it when Chase (Jason Dohring) discovers he's human and fires him from Fillmore Graves. Major's been in a funk all season, as he's grappled with becoming a zombie and then reverting back to human form only to be ostracized as the Chaos Killer. He's been floundering for a while and his ill-advised relationship with Shawna was yet another disaster that not only left him alone and embarrassed but also revealed him to be human (and reminded the audience that zombies can’t have sex with humans without infecting them with the virus).

Surprisingly, Natalie (Brooke Lyons) returns and gets him excited for the future again. They make whirlwind plans to move to Italy together after Major's big going away bash thrown by his mercenary buddies, but those plans fall apart when Harley shows up; his friends found him in the freezer and let him out. Harley’s hatred of zombies extends to himself now that he’s become one, and in a devastating move, he activates a suicide vest, killing himself and everyone in the party ("Zombies are abominations. That’s what we are. Abominations!").

Luckily, Major and Justin (Tongayi Chirisi) are outside when the explosion happens, but Natalie, most (if not all) of Major's zombie friends, and Harley are all killed. Major's certain to blame himself; his connection to his Fillmore Graves family has been his lifeline. The death of his friends and his inevitable guilt will likely lead him further into his depression.

Discovery Day has been referenced over and over this season, and perhaps next week will be the big event, but it would be impossible to completely wrap up all season three’s storyline in one more episode. This means season four will have plenty of material to work with, but for now, with one episode to go, season three has been packed with plot, filled with humor, and always entertaining, as exemplified in "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1".

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Editor's Note: Originally published 30 July 2014.

10. “Bedlam in Belgium”
(Flick of the Switch, 1983)

This is a massively underrated barnstormer from the boys off the much-maligned (unfairly, I think) Flick of the Switch. The album was missing Mutt Lange, but the Youngs did have his very capable engineer, Tony Platt, as co-producer in the studio at Compass Point in the Bahamas. Tony’s a real pro. I think he did a perfectly fine job on this album, which also features the slamming “Nervous Shakedown”.

But what I find most interesting about “Bedlam in Belgium” is that it’s based on a fracas that broke out on stage in Kontich, Belgium, in 1977, involving Bon Scott, the rest of the band, and the local authorities. AC/DC had violated a noise curfew and things got hairy.

Yet Brian Johnson, more than half a decade later, wrote the lyrics with such insight; almost as if he was the one getting walloped by the Belgian police: He gave me a crack in the back with his gun / Hurt me so bad I could feel the blood run. Cracking lyrics, Bon-esque. Unfortunately for Brian, he was removed from lyric-writing duties from The Razors Edge (1990) onwards. All songs up to and including 2008’s Black Ice are Young/Young compositions.

Who’ll be writing the songs on the new album AC/DC has been working on in Vancouver? AC/DC fans can’t wait to hear them. Nor can I.

 
9. “Spellbound”
(For Those About to Rock We Salute You, 1981)

"Spellbound" really stands as a lasting monument to the genius of Mutt Lange, a man whose finely tuned ear and attention to detail filed the rough edges of Vanda & Young–era AC/DC and turned this commercially underperforming band for Atlantic Records into one of the biggest in the world. On “Spellbound” AC/DC sounds truly majestic. Lange just amplifies their natural power an extra notch. It’s crisp sounding, laden with dynamics and just awesome when Angus launches into his solo.

“Spellbound” is the closer on For Those About to Rock We Salute You, the last album Lange did with AC/DC, so chronologically it’s a significant song; it marks the end of an important era. For Those About to Rock was an unhappy experience for a lot of people. There was a lot of blood being spilled behind the scenes. It went to number one in the US but commercially was a massive disappointment after the performance of Back in Black. Much of the blame lies at the feet of Atlantic Records, then under Doug Morris, who made the decision to exhume an album they’d shelved in 1976, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and release it in-between Back in Black and For Those About to Rock.

In the book Phil Carson, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic, calls it “one of the most crass decisions ever made by a record-company executive” and believes it undermined sales of For Those About to Rock.


 
8. “Down Payment Blues”
(Powerage, 1978)

This is one of the best songs off Powerage -- perhaps the high point of Bon Scott as a lyricist -- but also significant for its connection to “Back in Black”. There are key lines in it: Sitting in my Cadillac / Listening to my radio / Suzy baby get on in / Tell me where she wanna go / I'm living in a nightmare / She's looking like a wet dream / I got myself a Cadillac / But I can't afford the gasoline.

Bon loved writing about Cadillacs. He mentions them in “Rocker” off the Australian version of TNT and the international release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Got slicked black hair / Skin tight jeans / Cadillac car and a teenage dream.

Then you get to “Back in Black”. Bon’s dead but the lyrics have this spooky connection to “Down Payment Blues”: Back in the back / Of a Cadillac / Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack.

Why was Brian singing about riding around in Cadillacs? He’d just joined AC/DC, wasn’t earning a lot and was on his best behavior. Bon had a reason to be singing about money. He was writing all the songs and just had a breakthrough album with Highway to Hell. Which begs the question: Could Bon also have written or part written the lyrics to “Back in Black”?

Bon’s late mother Isa said in 2006: “The last time we saw him was Christmas ’79, two months before he died. [Bon] told me he was working on the Back in Black album and that that was going to be it; that he was going to be a millionaire.”

 
7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
(Back in Black, 1980)

Everyone knows and loves this song; it’s played everywhere. Shania Twain and Celine Dion have covered it. It’s one of AC/DC’s standbys. But who wrote it?

Former Mötley Crüe manager Doug Thaler is convinced Bon Scott, who’d passed away before the album was recorded, being replaced by Brian Johnson, wrote the lyrics. In fact he told me, “You can bet your life that Bon Scott wrote the lyrics to ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.” That’s a pretty strong statement from a guy who used to be AC/DC’s American booking agent and knew the band intimately. I look into this claim in some depth in the book and draw my own conclusions.

I’m convinced Bon wrote it. In my opinion only Bon would have written a line like “She told me to come but I was already there.” Brian never matched the verve or wit of Bon in his lyrics and it’s why I think so much of AC/DC’s mid-'80s output suffers even when the guitar work of the Youngs was as good as it ever was.

But what’s also really interesting about this song in light of the recent hullabaloo over Taurus and Led Zeppelin is how much the opening guitar riff sounds similar to Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason”. I didn’t know a hell of a lot about Head East before I started working on this book, but came across “Never Been Any Reason” in the process of doing my research and was blown away when I heard it for the first time. AC/DC opened for Head East in Milwaukee in 1977. So the two bands crossed paths.

 
6. “Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation”
(Powerage, 1978)

It’s hard to get my head around the fact Mick Wall, the British rock writer and author of AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, called this “a two-bit piece of head-bopping guff.” Not sure what track he was listening to when he wrote that -- maybe he was having a bad day -- but for me it’s one of the last of AC/DC’s classic boogie tracks and probably the best.

Mark Evans loves it almost as much as he loves “Highway to Hell". It has everything you want in an AC/DC song plus shakers, tambourines and handclaps, a real Motown touch that George Young and Harry Vanda brought to bear on the recording. They did something similar with the John Paul Young hit “Love Is in the Air”. Percussion was an underlying feature of many early AC/DC songs. This one really grooves. I never get tired of hearing it.

“Rock ’n’ Roll Damnation” was AC/DC’s first hit in the UK charts and a lot of the credit has to go to Michael Klenfner, best known as the fat guy with the moustache who stops Jake and Elwood backstage in the final reel of The Blues Brothers and offers them a recording contract. He was senior vice-president at Atlantic at the time, and insisted the band go back and record a radio-worthy single after they delivered the first cut of Powerage to New York.

Michael was a real champion of AC/DC behind the scenes at Atlantic, and never got the recognition he was due while he was still alive (he passed away in 2009). He ended up having a falling out with Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg over the choice of producer for Highway to Hell and got fired. But it was Klenfner who arguably did more for the band than anyone else while they were at Atlantic. His story deserves to be known by the fans.

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