For the first time in her undead life, things are going swimmingly for Liv. She has a hot, British, musician boyfriend who she doesn’t have to worry about turning into a zombie (because he already is one). Her boss/friend is making significant advances in his quest to cure her zombie-ism. And work involves getting to listen to hours of a morning radio show she is already obsessed with. The mood of iZombie, to some extent, follows Liv’s mood, which is probably why Season 1, Episode 8 (“Dead Air”) was so much fun. But the fun can’t last (#zombieproblems) and “Dead Air” also did a great job of reminding us and Liv of that fact with the advancement of some key plot points. This combination of quippy and compelling made “Dead Air” iZombie’s best episode yet!
Something else this episode did well? Integrating this diverse ensemble in organic and compelling ways. One of the major weaknesses of this early run of episodes has been the disjointed nature of iZombie’s elements, but this show has slowly been solving that problem. Ravi moved in with Major and the two became friends. Lieutenant Suzuki is covering up Blaine’s murders in exchange for brains. Major is onto Blaine’s business. Ravi and Peyton are going out on a date. And now we know that Lowell, Liv’s new boyfriend, gets his brains from Blaine. “Dead Air” did the best job yet of getting the cast to interact because so many of these interactions were not just about the respective characters’ relationship to Liv. That played a part, of course, but we’re starting to get to know and like these supporting cast members as much as we know and like Liv, and the difference is palpable. It also made the formulaic nature of the crime-of-the-week seem like a non-issue, so entrenched was I in these deepening dynamics and connections. Well done, iZombie!
Can we also talk about how hilarious this episode was? iZombie always gets in a fair amount of clever, character-specific quips, but every single one landed in “Dead Air.” Including this teasing exchange between Liv and Ravi:
Ravi: Do you think this is how Oppenheimer felt staring down at the A-bomb?
Liv: Like a drama queen?
Liv and Ravi’s relationship was mildly tested this week when Liv ate the brain of a sex and relationship therapist and started doling out harsh, unsolicited advice to those around her. In the case of Ravi, she told him he has no chance with her BFF Peyton. Ravi stands up for himself in a rather epic fashion, and the two have their first real squabble. Though it never feels like their friendship is in danger, the tension highlighted just how central this relationship is for iZombie and for Liv. Ravi is the first person Liv trusted with the secret of her zombie-ism. Sure, he figured it out himself, but she subsequently let him in. He is arguably the person who knows Liv best right now, and supports her wholeheartedly despite the fact she’s a zombie. Relationships (and especially dramatic depictions of relationships) are fueled by emotional vulnerability, by one person letting another see who they truly are and that second person accepting that person. Right now, one of Liv’s greatest fears is that her loved ones will not accept her for the person — or, more accurately, zombie — that she is now. That they only loved the old Liv, the human Liv. Ravi didn’t know Human Liv, and that may make the vulnerability Liv shows him easier in some ways, but it doesn’t diminish the intensity of their friendship. It is the heart of this show. Now, please don’t turn Ravi into a zombie!
On the other end of the People Liv Will Be Honest With spectrum is Major. Right now, he is the Iris West of this show. Major has become obsessive about exposing Blaine’s brains business for what he is and, even if he doesn’t fully understand what he has stumbled upon, he is very close to blowing this whole thing wide open — or, you know, getting himself killed. When he goes to Liv with what he knows, because she is still that person he trusts with himself before all others, she doesn’t tell him the truth. Even though keeping this secret from him puts him in even more danger. It is the Protect The Ones You Love By Lying To Them trope. You know, the excuse the protagonist all-so-often makes under the guise of love, when it is really about fear. Fear that the person you’re trying to “protect” won’t accept you for who you are. This trope is so overdone, but usually with the gender roles reversed so it feels somewhat refreshing here? Though, it still makes no sense if Liv’s goal is to protect Major because he looks like he is heading into some serious danger. At the end of the episode, we see him buying a gun, seemingly to protect himself for the justice-bringing he is about to attempt. Unfortunately, Major is ignorant to the nature of the danger he is heading into. Bullets can’t stop zombie. And, now that Liv is knowingly keeping Major in the dark about the zombie dangers that surround him, that ignorance is partially on her.
The big cliffhanger in this episode came with Liv’s realization that Blaine is behind the disappearance of Major’s youth and that her new boyfriend is one of his customers. Surely, Liv could have figured this out without literally snacking on Jerome’s brain and therefore getting the horrific vision of some of the teen’s final moments, but the personal nature really hammered home the point that she is part of this zombie social web whether she likes it or not. The ingestion of Jerome’s brains signified an inadevertent culpability to Blaine’s brains business that Liv can no longer ignore — even if she wanted to. We know this even better than her, and it is nice that iZombie (mostly) dropped the dramatic irony and let her catch up. Because we have known that Blaine’s business is not only preying on defenseless kids, but starting to endanger the people Liv cares about most for weeks now. Liv’s revelation will hopefully kick this plot into high gear.