iZombie: Liv and Let Clive Review

This week’s iZombie has charm, but continues to suffer from low stakes in its crime solving plots.

As a new show, iZombie is still in the process of figuring out which elements of its genre pastiche work and which ones don’t. Arguably, the crime-solving bits have been the least successful aspect of the show, especially for a TV landscape so saturated with crime procedurals. This isn’t a deal breaker for a series like iZombie that has so much going on — i.e. quirk, quips, and some seriously great character dynamics — but it’s an aspect the show needs to figure out if it’s going to survive in the long run.

For me, much of the lameness of the crime-solving aspects so far have been saved by the interaction between zombie medical examiner Liv and police detective Clive Babineaux. These characters are not only compelling in their own rights, but also make an unlikely and interesting duo. Season 1, Episode 4 (“Liv and Let Clive”) was an opportunity to both test and explore their nascent relationship, as well as an opportunity to learn more about Clive in general. Sadly, though this is the obvious intent in this episode, iZombie only scratches the surface of that possibility. Rather than exploring the dramatic tension between these two characters, we get Liv on a wild goose chase with relatively low stakes while Clive spends much of the episode off-screen, no doubt in a (failed) attempt to create suspense around Liv’s very thin theory that Clive might be a dirty cop.

Thankfully, the plotline isn’t a complete waste. Not only does it have its delightful standalone moments (most notably, Liv demonstrating her new kung fu skills), but we also learn that Clive worked undercover with the Blue Cobras for a year prior to moving to homicide and teaming up with Liv. Apparently, when he returned to the force, not even his old partner wanted to work with him. This information is pretty tragic given that Liv, his current quasi-partner, suspected him of being a dirty cop for much of the episode, touching on what has to be a sore spot for the character. Again, this could have been deep, dark character development. Instead, it felt rushed and lazily depicted.

The good news? This episode succeeded in almost all of its subplots. It was great to see Major and Ravi hit it off. Thus far, Liv’s zombie/crime fighting life has been problematically separate from her personal life. Having Major and Ravi move in together goes a long way towards making this show feel more cohesive. The appearance of Liv’s brother for the first time since the pilot doesn’t work as well. His only character trait so far seems to be creepily crushing on Liv’s out-of-town roommate in the form of making jokes about sneaking a peek in her sports bra drawer. The moment when Liv went into full-on zombie mode to take out Chinese gang leader A.J. in order to protect her brother would have been much more compelling if we had seen more real talk between Liv and her little bro. Instead, we just got light sibling banter. It’s cute, but feels like a wasted opportunity to learn more about Liv and raise the narrative stakes of this climactic moment.

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Meanwhile, Blaine (David Anders) continues to turn every scene (and plotline) he touches into gold. This episode, we have the chance to further explore his zombie racketeering business, which cleverly involves turning people into half-dead clients so that he can sell them the brains they so crave. At the moment, Blaine has a monopoly on the business and he seems to be building up a little empire for himself. We even get to spend some time with a few of his underlings: two entrepreneurial gym rat zombies who decide to steal Blaine’s client list to start a brain business of their own. Blaine discovers their plan and promptly puts bullets in their brains, then sticks them on ice. I really hope that these two flunkies aren’t whole-dead. They were easily one of the most delightful parts of this entire episode. Exhibit A: “That’s because we’re jacked. People assume we’re dumb. But we’re living proof that it doesn’t take body fat to have phat ideas.” Well said, undead goons. Well said.

What did you think of this week’s episode of iZombie? Sound off in the comments below!


2 out of 5