Remember when The CW was a composite of The WB and UPN? Remember when it was a running joke as the place where pretty actors get to pout at one another? Remember when that ceased to be the case? That’s right — The CW has become the genre network and it’s become the genre network for the better. Look at their lineup of superhero shows, telenovela and musical comedies, dystopian, historical and supernatural shows. iZombie is one of them. 

And better yet, it actively pokes fun in this episode (titled “Cape Town”) at the genre that’s bringing in the big bucks for The CW: the superhero genre. There are so many tropes to pull from that iZombie nails (mostly by going to go-to heroes like Batman) that the episode is simultaneously hysterical, while also making its case for why Liv deserves the title of hero too. Liv’s actually grown beyond her disgust of eating brains to realize that she really loves solving crime this way. And though the episode makes a case as to why eating brains is actually a miserable, consuming affair, it also makes the case for why Liv craves them more than ever because she gets to be the hero.

It’s a natural evolution of the reluctant hero type she played when we first met her, and now it’s the very superhero-wannabe brain that jeopardizes her future in crime-solving.

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Santa is Running the Town

Our victim of the week is a wannabe-superhero known as The Fog. It seems that Seattle has been collecting a few of these vigilantes for some time now and it was only a matter of time before one of them got killed. There are a few notable crime fighting suspects — like Ghost Cobra, Megafist, Blue Swallow and, last but not least, #Hashtag — but the team says they bailed on the Fog’s aspirations to take down a real crime lord.

Now, which of Seattle’s most notorious crime lords are we well acquainted with? Why, the frightening Mr. Boss, that’s who. The Fog found out that Mr. Boss’ crew was running arms into the city, but Mr. Boss (or Santa, as he’s known to the kids) insists it wasn’t him. Since we’ve all seen crime procedurals by now, we know that Mr. Boss can’t be the killer.

Which leaves us with the muggers and the mugging victim. One mugger turns up dead at the top of Mr. Boss’ giant outdoor Christmas tree, which the other “mugger” testifies as being penance for failing as a security detail for a poker tournament. It turns out that our mugging victim isn’t so much a victim but a thief on the run. 

The case has plenty of twists and turns, but the superhero theme really allows for iZombie to explore what it means for Liv to be a hero. Is she a superhero or just a zombie solving crimes? Pretty clearly, she’s the latter. Namely, the episode explores the trope of going beyond the law to “serve justice,” which puts Liv in direct odds with Clive. Sure, the show exploits an opportunity for Liv to disappear mid-conversation with Clive, but it works deeper to examine how Liv sees her life as a zombie.

To Liv, eating the brains, the visions, the weird personality quirks are worth it in exchange for helping the greater good. But in a twist of irony, it’s because of her justice-hungry brain that Liv goes too far in betraying the trust of Clive and nearly getting herself killed at Boss’ warehouse. Clive’s in the right for kicking his “weird” relationship with Liv to the curb when he discovers she went rogue and broke police protocol, but Liv’s also 100% correct in detailing the illegal arms ops Boss was pulling. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

To make matter worse, Liv and Major are fighting again. Or is it the same fight, the one where Major can’t handle Liv’s brain-swings and Liv can’t trust Major because he’s being less-than-honest with her? It’s hard to tell, really.

Major gets a pretty sweet, albeit weird, subplot in this episode where he befriends the zombie he’s meant to kill and saves her from herself. The beautiful woman planned to take her own life (part of her choice) but was stopped in the nick of time. They bond over zombisim and feeling powerless in their day-to-day lives. The woman, a call girl, was turned into a zombie to service other zombie men in exchange for brains. Now she’s broke, bound to a zombie kingpin and forced to have sex after digesting the brains of a nun or a man with dementia. Not fun. But Major freezes her on ice until they do find a cure, so that’s nice!

Finally, Major has someone to talk to about his own adventures in Zombieland — where he’s been freezing the zombie bodies instead of killing them — but, really, this is a place for Major to sympathize more with what Liv goes through every day. But, unfortunately, it’s too late for Liv, who realizes that Major can’t handle being with the girl post-zombisim. Bu-bye, Major and Liv. You’ll probably get back together around sweeps.

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Other Thoughts

  • The other subplot of the evening involves Blaine and Don E. dumping a nearly-dead body to Liv and Ravi for help, since Drake (as he’s later known) is the last person to know anything about where the tainted Utopium is. Liv decides to turn Drake into a zombie (though I’m unclear as to why Don E. couldn’t do it), and Team Z and Ravi learn that the last of the tainted Utopium is in the bodies of two drug dealers near a water tower. As we later learn, Drake is working as Mr. Boss’ bodyguard (that can’t be related!), but it’s unclear if Blaine and Don E. know this or not. And Ravi goes searching for those bodies, despite it being a lost cause, because his cure will not be another lost cause!
  • It’s pretty clear that Blaine pimped out the call girl zombie, right? He uses the term ‘Z team’ and so does she. Coincidence? I think not. (Though, it could totally be Blaine’s dad.)
  • “I’m the nightmare before Christmas.” Liv really did look like one!
  • “I was literally screwed into being a zombie hooker.”
  • Ravi is no Cisco Ramon when it comes to nicknames, but I appreciate his enthusiasm regardless.

iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV