This iZombie review contains spoilers.
iZombie: Season 2, Episode 2
Damn, iZombie. Stop making me feel things. (Just kidding. Never stop.) This show may have just delivered its best episode yet with the perfect balance of character-drive zombie arc developments and an unpredictable, compelling murder-of-the-week. Never have I wanted to spend more time with a bro than in “Zombie Bro.” Well played, show.
Bro murder mystery.
Let’s get the murder mystery out of the way first because, while watching Bro Liv try to solve this one was one of the more entertaining parts of my week, it couldn’t compete with the heartbreaking character stuff that went down elsewhere in the ep.
When a member of Zeta Theta Beta ends up dead after a frat party, there is no end to the people who have a motive for killing the fun-loving jerk of a dude. Ultimately, it ended up being a non-suspect introduced late in the game. Seemingly unconnected to the murder victim, Clive eventually discovers that the “sweet-faced kid” was trying to kill the other dude on campus with the same name — and a history of drunk driving and killing his father.
The reveal was suitably tragic (as was the way Clive continues to solve these cases without getting any character development to speak of — thankless job). Plus, it gave us a chance to see Liv as a fun-loving brodude. Not all brains-influenced Livs are created equally. Last week’s Grumpy Old Liv didn’t really work for me. Though the caricature of the brodude is similarly drawn here, it gives Liv something new to work with and through. Liv might not usually be a grumpy old man, but she is a brooder. Getting to see her carefree — even if it isn’t totally real — is therapeutic for us viewers and, no doubt, for Liv herself.
The comparison of these brains-induced personalities does highlight a particular problem in the iZombie structure. We rarely get to see Liv’s snacks as actual people. Instead, they are caricatures — reduced to their most recognizable stereotypes. iZombie walks a fine line between smart parody and dumb offense. Tonight’s ep managed to fall on the former side, perhaps because so much else in the episode was so complexly somber. It was a nice reprieve.
Major and Liv are tragic.
Speaking of bros, we finally got the next installment in The Story of Ravi and Major’s Friendship — and it was awesome. (We better get another Princess Sparkles reference in a future episode.) Ravi convinces Major to go clubbing with him so that he can test out some Utopium. Ravi thinks it will help him better understand the drug that can help cure zombie-ism. Major tries the drug as an attempt to forget about the fact that he is murdering zombies for Max Rager — all to keep Liv safe.
iZombie tends to play it slow on the whole Liv/Major romance plotline, and it is totally working for me. While so many other TV romances follow the same will-they-or-won’t-they patterns in which the couple dances around their feelings for one another, Liv and Major have much more complicated, terrible problems. It is no secret that they love one another. That they don’t want to be with anyone else. But Major can’t forgive Liv for turning him into a zombie, and he can’t look at her because he is ashamed of what he is doing in her name.
Not knowing the latter reason, Liv is trying her darndest to get back on Major’s good side. I half-expected her to turn Major away when he asked her to stay with him. It would have been understandable. Major can’t have it both ways — he either needs to let Liv in or let her go. It’s not fair to waver somewhere in the middle. But she is one of the only things she has left to hold onto, one of the only things he actually wants for himself, even if he doesn’t think he deserves it. These two are so tragically complicated. I wasn’t expecting their dynamic to be the absolute best part of this episode.
Blaine has daddy issues.
I’m not surprised Blaine has daddy issues. I am surprised that iZombie decided to showcase them here with the actual introduction of Blaine’s dad — a businessman who was Blaine’s first turn. Blaine hits daddy dearest up for $500,000 (part of his plan to take over the Utopium trade in town), and we get a quick refresher on their back story. Blaine’s dad always loved the company more than he loved Blaine; he even had his own father institutionalized so he could take the company from him — the grandfather Blaine apparently holds quite dear.
I’m not sure if Blaine needed this extra character layer, but I am still happy to get it. Any excuse to spend more time with Blaine is good enough for me. Plus, this show isn’t the type to send Blaine on some kind of contrived redemption arc. Blaine may have a tragic history, but that doesn’t make his mass murder justified in the slightest. He is still the villain of this story. (Or at least one of them.)