iZombie Season 2 Premiere: Grumpy Old Liv Review

iZombie season 2 continues to surprise and compel in its undead drama, though its murder-of-the-week habit still lacks novelty.

This iZombie review contains spoilers.

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 1

iZombie was one of the most fun new dramas last season. Sure, it might not be breaking any TV formula modes with its (at times) tiresome procedural element, but there are enough snappy one-liners and an ongoing, serialized zombie drama that makes it worth watching. The same is true of this second season so far.

In “Grumpy Old Liv,” iZombie isn’t making any bold news moves. The murder-of-the-week is forgettable, and I’m getting tired of watching Clive try to figure out a zombie plot the us viewers and almost every other character on the show already knows about. It’s a waste for a character who this show doesn’t seem to know what to do with. Last season, I was hoping Clive might turn into one of Liv’s confidantes. This season, I’m just hoping he gets some — any — character development.

Where “Grumpy Old Liv” really thrived was in those character-driven serialized elements I was talking about. Liv’s brother and mother are mad at her for not giving said brother the blood transfusion needed to save his life in the season 1 finale. As a zombie, any transfusion from Liv would have turned her brother as well. Maybe I’ve watched too many superhero dramas in the past few years, but the secret identity trope is just not working for me here. At this point, I don’t understand why Liv wouldn’t tell her family. Perhaps, she wants to keep at least a few people in her life who don’t look at her as a zombie — who, even if they’re furious with her, believe her to be human. But, if that’s the case, iZombie has to sell it. Right now, they’re not.

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Meanwhile, Ravi continues to be Liv’s most trusted friend and advisor. Though he is a little pissed that Liv used his only doses of the experimental zombie cure on Major and Blaine last season, he cannot stay angry with her for long. Ravi is the person Liv will always be able to depend on, and their dynamic continues to be at the heart of this series.

And how about the experimental zombie cure? So far, neither Major nor Blaine seem to have any crazy side effects — other than the ability to detect zombies. This would probably only be a fun party trick (and potentially live-saving skill) if not for the fact that Max Rager finds out about it. Thing is: Max Rager created this little zombie problem and it’s bad for business. When CEO Vaughn Du Clark finds out about Major’s little skill via a handy phone tap, he recruits Major to become his zombie headhunter.

At first, Major refuses — then, Vaughn threatens Liv and Major acquiesces. This is a bold move for this show and for this character. On first reflection, Major’s decision seemed out of character. On second reflection, Major’s love for Liv and the violence he was forced to witness, endure, and sometimes enact upon others last season has certainly taken its toll.

If Major doesn’t go along with Max Rager’s wishes, then the company has someone in place to take Liv out: her new roomie, aka Vaughn’s assistant. Liv thinks Gilda is just some IRS worker looking for a good housing situation, when in actuality, she is actually tapping Liv’s phone and potentially plotting her demise. Terrible roomie. Awesome twist.

Finally, we get to check in with Blaine, who is very bitter at his return to humanity. Though his brain business might not have worked out, he has a new gig: Utopium dealer and part-time coffin seller. OK, so that first part is actually an old gig that he’s returning to, but the funeral home front is definitely new. One of the best parts of the episode comes in Liv’s conversation with Blaine. Though they both hate it, these two are tied together in interesting ways. Liv needs Blaine to find out what the Utopium was cut with the night of her zombie transformation so that she can give it to Ravi to make more zombie cure. Blaine needs this to happen because, as far as anyone knows, this cure to zombie-ism is temporary. Ergo: delightfully reluctant partners.

This premiere does a lot of work to catch us up, while simultaneously clinging to its murder of the week plot — and it mostly succeeds. iZombie continues to be at its best when it is checking in with the characters we care about, rather than investing time in a short-term murder, but there is more than enough surprising, hilarious, compelling drama here to keep me tuning in.

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3 out of 5