When iZombie first started, I thought Major Lillywhite was a boring, milquetoast character with few redeeming qualities (other than his attractiveness, natch). Thankfully, the show quickly proved me wrong by giving him plenty to do—and plenty of character growth—from his working with homeless youths/zombies to this season’s job promotion to commander of Fillmore-Graves’s forces.
Major joined Fillmore-Graves out of a sense of duty and an idealized view on the company’s plans for how to help zombiekind. (He’s always had a heart of gold.) When Chase Graves, um, left the show last season, Major was the only one who stood up to lead, even though he didn’t really want to, and even though doing so has turned out to be a massive pain in the butt during the show’s fifth and final season.
Over the first half of this season, Major’s struggled to hold things together in a Seattle that’s tearing itself apart at the seams. Fillmore-Graves is not only working on distributing brain tubes to the zombies trapped behind the city’s walls, but also is attempting to keep the peace between Seattle’s zombie and human populations and policing the city’s borders. These aren’t easy tasks to start with, but add in the complications around Blaine DeBeers and the black market brain trade—pretty much the only way to get the needed quantity of brains—Renegades’s coyote operation, and the various anti-zombie hate groups (e.g., the Dead Enders and Concerned Humans Imposing Common Sense (CHICS)), and Seattle’s become a dangerously smoldering fire pit just waiting for a spark.
And because he is who he is, Major’s the one left holding the lit match and trying desperately to keep from dropping it—or to stop anyone else from smacking it out of his hand.
One of the most compelling scenes of the season so far happened in episode two, “Dead Lift.” While Major’s in the Fillmore-Graves locker room, crying over Jordan’s death, some soldiers return from duty and loudly (and stupidly) complain about Major’s “touchy-feely” ways. They’d much prefer to return to the days of Chase Graves and take the law into their own hands. They are zombies, after all. What could a weak human do to stop them? Major gives them what for—and makes a whole lot of sense while doing so. But they’re still not convinced that working with the city—or the humans of the city, to get specific—is the best plan of action. It’s in this scene that you can almost feel the weight of all that’s resting on Major’s shoulders.
A lesser man (or zombie, in this case) might have given in to his baser ragey urges and wiped them all out for insubordination, or given in to the wishes of his soldiers simply to prove to them that he’s a worthy commander. But in his eyes, being worthy doesn’t mean losing his “humanity,” even though they’re literally no longer quite human. Being worthy, for Major, means keeping the peace and working together for the benefit of all. He’s trying to lead by example, and doing his damnedest to prove to his soldiers that control by force or fear is no control at all.
Since the second episode, Major’s demonstrated this time and time again, even when he’s had to resort to somewhat questionable tactics (such as tricking Don E. and Mr. Boss into decreasing their price on brains or, most recently, shooting Justin point blank in the head for being a misguided traitor). He’s the commander of a paramilitary force, sure, but he’s also a citizen of Seattle and a really, really good egg. He doesn’t like to have to occasionally lean over the fence between right and wrong, but he’ll do it if the situation calls for it and it’s what needs to be done for the good of his people.
And by “his people,” he means everyone living in Seattle, be they human or zombie.
What’s to come in the final episodes of the series remains to be seen, but goodness knows iZombie’s heroes have a lot to contend with. If there’s one thing I can be pretty certain of, though, it’s that Major’s going to come out on the other side of whatever goes down mostly at peace with his decisions—and on the right side of history.
Do you think Major’s going to be able to keep the peace while staying true to himself through the rest of the season? Let us know!
iZombie airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW. For more news, features and conversation on iZombie, click here.
Mandy Curtis writes about comics, specifically the Young Adult DC Ink line, and TV for DCComics.com. You can find her on Twitter at @mandyannecurtis.