In the eighth episode of the second season of iZombie, EVERYTHING GOES WRONG AND I DON’T KNOW HOW ANYONE WILL RECOVER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch iZombie.
Trigger Warning: For talk of stalking, racism (specifically misogynoir)
Y’all, having a stalker is NO FUN AT ALL. Not that any of you would ever think that it is, but as someone who’s had multiple of them since high school, I can give you some insight into why this episode is so relentlessly creepy when it’s not being super funny. Regina’s behavior here is ridiculously horrifying because there’s a disconnect between reality and how she presents it through those scrapbooks. That one-sided view of a relationship is a difficult thing to deal with, and all my worst stalkers were people who imagined something that simply wasn’t there. And in at least a couple of those cases, I’m talking about a complete imagining. These were people (one was a guy, one was a woman) who I had actually never met. That’s not to suggest that because Babineaux or any of these other men met Regina that they “deserved” any bit of the attention she later gave them. It’s just that the challenge that comes from this sort of non-reciprocal interaction is a unique thing. It’s hard to explain! But common sense or logic or anything like that simply doesn’t work.
So how do you deal with that? Look, I’ve been right where Babineaux was. I threatened someone who stalked me once, and guess what. IT BACKFIRED. HORRIBLY. It made the person think I was playing hard to get, that they needed to just try harder to convince me that we were meant to be. Y’all, there’s no handbook given out to handle stalkers and people who can’t respect boundaries, and when I was younger, I responded badly to these instances. Which I get! It’s a scary thing to go through, especially when stalking escalates into some real fucked up shit. That is certainly the case here in “The Hurt Stalker,” since Regina’s motivation for stalking these men is SO FUCKED UP. She imagined futures with all of them; she taunted them; she rubbed affairs in their faces or the faces of their wives; she stole and invaded their homes, she violated about a billion boundaries all at the same time, and in the end, she implicated Babineaux in her own murder. (Though by coincidence? Accidentally making someone look guilty for murder: Not As Bad As Everything Else Regina Did.)
The case is complicated and thrilling, and it also has a huge problem in the middle of it: the writers don’t really deal with black women well. At all. At this point, I can’t think of a positive representation of a black woman on this show. There’s Babineaux’s superior, who only appears to be angry at him. Then there’s Regina, and I think I’ve done a suitable job of describing her personality traits. (In summation: she is a terrible person.) Then there’s the woman in the cell with Liv, who exists to poke fun at Ferguson (Really?!?!?!) and to provide a chance to make a large black woman a joke for existing. I really can’t divorce the jokes from her body; they’re based on her being big, loud, and black, and it made me super, super uncomfortable. Do I think anyone did this intentionally? No, but that still doesn’t excuse how clumsy this repeated characterization is, you know? It felt especially glaring in this episode since we got Regina and the inmate back-to-back.
What kills me about this is that iZombie is clearly willing to give us morally complicated characters. ALL THE TIME! So when they relegate black women to one specific role, it feels cheap. I say that because in this episode, Liv and Major both get absolutely killer stories that are complex and challenging, neither of which paints them in the best light. That’s a good thing! I find iZombie more satisfying because of it. For example, the whole issue of trust and infidelity at the heart of “The Heart Stalker” shows us how neither character fully trusts the other one. Granted, Liv is under the influence of Regina’s brain, but I still wonder how much of this is her own concerns, too. Regardless, bad decisions are made. MANY BAD DECISIONS HAPPEN HERE.
There’s Major, swapping out the sedative he uses on zombies with Liv’s engagement ring! Oh god, a sweet moment ruined because the audience knows that HE IS STILL LYING TO HER. Granted, he making the best of a shitty situation and he’s not actually a murderer, so there’s that? But this is not Gold Star behavior, friends. We’ve got one character asking for the truth while he lies. Then, we’ve got Liv, who violates Major’s privacy MULTIPLE TIMES. Again, I don’t know if she was still under Regina’s brain power at the end of this episode, but after seeing how hurt Major was when she went through his phone, you’d think that she would have resisted doing it again. BUT THEN SHE DOES, AND SHE PRETENDS TO BE MAJOR IN TEXTS TO GILDA, AND EVERYTHING IS A GODDAMN DISASTER. Whew, I actually thought that Liv would learn who her roommate was, but instead, everything is just uncomfortable. All the time.
So my point is that I want the same complication for everyone. Except Vaughn. He can be a one-note villain because I am eager to see him destroyed. MAX RAGER IS A BAD IDEA, BY THE WAY. DO NOT CONTINUE.
Of course he’ll continue using it. OF COURSE.
The video for “The Hurt Stalker” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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