All hell broke loose at the end of iZombie's second season after a massive outbreak threatened to expose zombies to the public. But Season 3's new heavy, Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage), is already planning for the inevitable future — in which zombies are public knowledge — with her military-contract company, Fillmore Graves. But will Liv (Rose McIver) join the cause to protect zombiekind and turn Seattle into a safe haven for the undead? Or is Fillmore Graves secretly the enemy?
Though Vivian came through clutch in the second season finale, taking control of a completely chaotic situation and neutralizing the zombie threat, her idea of a zombie utopia comes at the cost of public exposure. Liv, Major (Robert Buckley), and Team Z just aren't ready for that, though that doesn't necessarily make Vivian a big bad like Vaughn Du Clark and Mr. Boss before her. She's much more complicated than that.
"I didn't want to go three seasons in a row with ending the final episode in a big shoot-out with the bad guy," executive producer Rob Thomas (no, not that Rob Thomas) told MTV News ahead of Tuesday night's (April 4) Season 3 premiere. (Though he does miss writing "delicious" bad-guy dialogue for Season 2's villain, played by Steven Weber, like, "Will no one rid me of the meddlesome Jason Priestley type?!")
"There's a bit of a mystery going on," he added. "You don’t know who's bad and who's good. You're worried: Is Liv being seduced by a bad organization, or are they truly the protectors of zombiekind? If humans find out about zombies, will they be good to them or will they try and exterminate them? You've got to ask these big questions."
Of course, Vivian also gives Liv another female zombie to relate to, and her companionship fulfills a need that Ravi (Rahul Kohli), Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), and Major just can't. Thomas, alongside executive producer Diane Ruggiero-Wright and the writers, had been cooking up Vivian's entrance since midway through Season 2. They knew they wanted a "powerful female character" at the center of the third season.
"We knew that we wanted the Season 3 heavy — we can't use the term 'big bad' because that's not what she is — to be a powerful woman," Thomas said. "That was always the plan."
With the introduction of Vivian and Fillmore Graves, expect iZombie to feel bigger. In its third season, it has progressed from a show about one functioning zombie to a show about an entire underground operation of functioning zombies. But the world isn't the only bigger thing this season; Team Z has also expanded. Clive is finally in the know about Liv's insatiable hunger for brains — and, of more narrative importance, how those brains impact her crime-solving capabilities.
Thomas admitted that he and the writers kept Clive out of the zombie loop for so long because they were "terrified" they'd lose the humor of Clive and Liv's dynamic.
"We find Malcolm to be one of the great straight men out there," he said. "His responses to Liv’s behavior when he did not know why she was behaving the way she was behaving [were] just gold for us. So we were afraid to lose all that funny. We should have realized that it's actually just as funny when Clive knows it. Suddenly, you have Liv in an interrogation acting like a dominatrix, and even if Clive knows it, his reaction is still hilarious. Watching Clive watch her eat a brain — his level of disgust — is very funny."
Among the other brains on Liv's plate? In Episode 2 this season, Liv and Major consume the brains of a middle-aged father and his teenage daughter, respectively. "My wife watched that episode, and she said, 'Is there any way that you can have Major on teen-girl brain for the rest of the season?'" Thomas recalled. "Buckley should win an Emmy for his teen girl. It is so good."
For the cast, however, there's one brain that might be hard to top. When Liv eats the brain of a Dungeon Master, she stages a game of Dungeons & Dragons for Team Z. The fun segment, which Thomas calls the longest scene they've ever done on the show, is 10 straight pages of the cast playing the fantasy game together. It was shot over one day and features some truly memorable performances from McIver.
"The crazy thing is that there are performances within the performances, so Liv is on the brain of a Dungeon Master, but then she’s acting out the various characters within the game as well," Thomas said. "It's meta goodness."
But did they invite Mr. Boss? We all know that he was one hell of a Dungeon Master, and every player deserves at least one God call.