This iZombie review contains spoilers.
iZombie: Season 2, Episode 3
Maybe it was just Liv’s reference to the Veronica Mars theme song, but this iZombie episode (in addition to last week’s) felt like an episode of Rob Thomas’ high school noir show from its heyday. Bold statement, I know. And I don’t think iZombie has gotten enough of a rhythm going to equate the excellence of this shows just yet, but iZombie is seriously finding its stride by adding nuance to its villains, keeping its murder mystery related to the zombie plot, and integrating its characters into a cohesive ensemble in a way it never really managed in season 1. If you’re not watching iZombie, you’re missing out on a suspenseful, unpredictable, character-driven TV show that just keeps getting better in its second season.
Liv on real housewife brains.
When a wealthy Seattle housewife ends up the victim of a hired assassin, Liv takes on one of her funniest brain-personalities yet. Sure, she’s snobby and classist and has some serious internalized misogyny, but she also says what she’s thinking and feeling more than she usually does as just herself. It makes the moment when Liv finds out that Major is working for Max Rager (though, she thinks, as Vaughn Du Clark’s personal trainer, rather than his zombie assassin) that much more heightened.
Without the real housewife brains, Liv might have been subtly hurt. With the real housewife brains, she slaps Major. Sure, it’s a little dramatic and physical violence is never cool, but her expression of extreme emotion is totally called for. Major has been giving her the cold shoulder for months now, only to turn up at the office of her arch enemy?
Major is spiraling hard.
Major is in such a mess, and the first step to him working his way out of the hole he’s dug himself into is telling Liv. It’s kind of ironic that, last season, Liv could have solved a lot of problems if she had just told Major the truth about her zombie-ism. This season, it is Major who needs to let Liv in on his secrets — before things go from really bad to really, really bad.
Because, guys? Major is a straight-up murdered, and I’m still not over that. Bold move, show. Tragic move. And so incredibly well-realized. Because, yeah, Major is definitely making the amoral decision here, but he’s doing it for moral reasons: because he loves Liv. Major’s misguided morality (and that dog) are so going to get this guy caught. Frankly, I’m kind of convinced Major wants to get caught.
Liv’s birthday is so sad.
iZombie’s brains-induced personalities work best when they highlight an aspect of Liv’s own personality that needs to be explored. This week, it was Liv’s loneliness. And how sad was it that almost no one remembered her birthday. Her family hates her right now. Major is trying to avoid her altogether. And neither Ravi, nor Clive apparently know it is the anniversary of Liv’s birth. Enter Peyton, who is back from her self-imposed sabbatical to rid the city of Utopium, bake Liv birthday cakes, and give Ravi hugs. Basically, she has the best priorities ever.
Peyton is back!
I have to admit: I wasn’t sure how iZombie would integrate Peyton back into the fold, and I didn’t necessarily miss her. The show didn’t really know what to do with her in the first season. That doesn’t seem to be the case her. As the deputy district attorney, she is well-placed to root out any Blaine-related corruption at the municipal level. Plus, Liv and Major both really need her as a friend.
Last season, iZombie suffered because so many of its characters were operating in separate worlds. So far in season 2, iZombie has managed to make it seem like all of these characters (save for Liv’s family, who are still a narrative weakness) live in the same world.
iZombie does villains so well.
We got a lot more Vaughn Du Clark this week, and it was glorious and terrifying. Steven Webber is doing such a good time with this role, bringing a maniacal, pragmatic glee to Vaughn Du Clark’s capitalist amoralism. It isn’t that he is crazy or likes to see people in pain (though he doesn’t seem to mind). It’s that his responsibility is not to morality, but to the shareholders. He is our fears of a money-grabbing CEO played to the extreme.
Last week, iZombie moved to humanize Blaine through the introduction of an undead father who has never loved him. This week, it’s Vaughn’s turn to get a humanizing element. It turns out his assistant/Liv’s roomie Gilda is Vaughn’s daughter. I loved this development. For me, villains are scarier the more I can relate to them. A villain who doesn’t have any vestiges of humanity doesn’t scare me. It is the villains who have the same motivations — albeit in different degrees, in a different order or prioritization — that scare me. Vaughn is a greedy, driven man who seems to have at least some level of affection for his illegitimate daughter. Also, he feeds board members to zombies when they threaten his power. Without those more relatable traits, the murdering thing is somehow less compelling.
Guys, iZombie season 2 is off to a furiously ambitious start. This show continues to make me feel things, surprise me, and make me laugh on a weekly basis. All while developing a larger, serialized plot about the dark side of corporate greed. If you’re not watching, you need to be.