How happy am I that iZombie is back on my TV screen? Pretty darn happy. For newbies, the premise is high concept and simple: a medical intern goes to a boat party and leaves as one of Seattle’s rising walking dead, but don’t worry — the apocalypse isn’t upon us. In fact, things are pretty normal for Liv Moore (get it?) besides the bleach white hair, pasty skin and a hankering hunger for brains. Swapping doctor for Medical Examiner, Liv ingests human brains, absorbing the personality traits, memories and skills of the deceased. Using this unknowable knowledge, she helps out cases with her boss, Ravi, and her detective friend and partner, Clive Babineaux.
I mention the premise because the season 2 premiere, “Grumpy Old Liv,” drops us into the middle of things. The show’s smart enough to assume you’ve seen the show and know the stakes but also that you’re not tuning in for the first time. It swiftly catches us up on the three-month interim, where Liv refused to donate blood to her dying brother after using a zombie cure on former fiance Major Lilywhite (the names on this show). That relationship is pretty strained, considering Liv hasn’t disclosed her infliction to anyone without them having a terrible reaction (bye bye, Peyton; we hardly knew ya).
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Liv may be deep in self-pity, but iZombie is smart enough to know that all of that self-pity was brought on by herself. While to some, Liv may be Veronica Mars-lite, it’s pretty clear she is not. While both ladies have their fair share of secrets, much of Liv’s problems are self-inflicted. Or at least it’s not something that’s happened to her that she’s reacting to. Oh, yeah, she’s a zombie (that’s the whole show), but her complications are her own doing. She didn’t tell Major about her zombieism and he committed himself. She hasn’t told Clive yet and he’s the subject to many a racial joke in this episode after Liv eats an old racist man.
And it takes seeing that lonely old man, who no one will claim, for her to stop with the self-pity, sort of. She’s trying to make efforts to fix this pity party, but the damage is done, for now. Plus, the stakes are high for Liv; either she tells someone and they have her committed or someone tries to kill her.
Either way, we’re set up for an interesting season 2 of TV’s favorite zombie show. Sorry, The Walking Dead, but you’ll never be as fun as Liv Moore and Co., which is just what I need from my zombie shows.
As far as procedural cases, this one is pretty standard, aka predictable to figure out. The victim: one cantankerous old man who’s been murdered with suspects all around. There’s his sister-in-law who lives down the street hurting her property value, there’s the punk kid around the block known to get into some trouble and there’s the do-gooder tipster hipster.
If you’ve seen as many procedurals as I have (aka, if you’ve watched Veronica Mars as many times as I have), you’ll figure out that of course the killer was the hipster across the street. But unlike other procedurals, we get fun forays into visions and kind of an unexpected sadness to it. The hipster believes that old man Wendall kidnapped and killed his missing dog and in a drunken moment kicked the car that would kill him instantly. Two tragedies for the price of one. (And also, good job to the guest star of the week for making us care.)
I’m not sure if we watch iZombie for the procedural aspect — though I can’t imagine the show without it at this point — but the show has a firm handle on the beats it needs to hit and then some.
Besides, we kind of watch the show to watch Rose McIver inhabit an archetype every week, and eating the brains of a hitman to a radio personality to a mental patient is fun to watch.
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Not-So-Zombies in Zombieland
Blaine is still alive — hallelujah. The decision to bring in such an antagonist for Liv in the first season was a smart one, even if the show used him in two scenes for some episodes. And hopefully that villain move will pay off now that Blaine is running a funeral home. It’s not a big deal that he killed countless low-income teens to Seattle’s rich and wealthy, but it is providing him with a new side gig to run pure drugs again in search of the perfect zombie maker. Not for himself, of course, but to get that lucrative business model back.
But to be clear, Blaine’s pretty stoked to be human again, though with some side effects. For one, he can now sense nearby zombies. Just like recently sort-of-cured Major, who’s suffering a few blows since his recent death and un-death and rebirth. After a stint in a mental institute and being suspected of the murder of five zombies by Clive, things aren’t looking up for Major. He’s had to resort to being a personal trainer, which looks like his own personal hell.
And then there’s the Max Rager crowd — remember them? There’s the American Psycho CEO Vaughn Du Clark and his assistant, Gilda, who are working hard to get their new energy drink out, even if it means another zombie apocalypse. And they’re working hard to contain the current one. As it’s revealed at the end, they’ve had heavy surveillance on Liv and Co. for a while now to learn of Major’s predicament and they blackmail him several times to do their dirty work for them and clean up the city of their own making.
- Remember Scott E? His twin brother, Don E, is back. The iZombie writers clearly love this actor/joke.
- Not much for Ravi and Clive to do in this episode except roll their eyes and leave the room at Liv’s dreadful racism. It’s funny when it happens to Ravi, who’s in the loop, but Clive has to think that Liv is crazy now, right? How could he want to be friends with her after this?
- Liv versus Jimmy the sketch artist is my favorite interaction of the fall season so far.
- Theory Corner: Last season, I predicted that Vaughn Du Clark is actually Blaine’s daddy, after a blink-and-you-missed-it line from Blaine in the season 1 finale. I’m very, very curious to see if that theory is correct. I’d like to get this theory out here early so I can one day brag.
- “Your t-shirt is stupid. That’s meant to be literal.”
- “Good god, Lemon. Patience.”
- Finally, I’m happy that Gilda, Vaughn’s co-worker/assistant at Max Rager, is in the mix. This show desperately needs some more female energy and the actress seems capable.
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9pm on The CW.
(Image courtesy of The CW)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV