iZombie: Grumpy Old Liv

For those that missed last season’s closing scenes, this season of iZombie is going to be a bit of a blur. Say what you will about whether you like the developments or not, iZombie is not the kind of show that dwells on plots for too long (unless they result in one hell of a body count, that is). Things ended with Major going on a killing spree at Meat Cute that forever altered the life or death of approximately half the main cast. Major is fatally stabbed by the vengeful Blaine upon the former discovering the massacre. After using half the dose of the cure to stop Blaine from creating more zombies, she makes one for herself in Major. Upon realizing her mistake, she forgoes waiting for Ravi to make more and cures Major. Moments later, she finds out that her younger brother showed up to work at Meat Cute when Suzuki blows the place and is in a medically induced coma in need of a blood transfusion that she refuses in fear of turning another zombie in as many days.

If all that seems like a lot of plot to miss, a friendly reminder that all of that takes place in barely ten minutes. This show packs a punch worthy of Major’s morning workout routine.

This season, things are as different as they are the same. Liv is back at the morgue ready to solve another murder, but the events of the previous episode  still loom large. Unlike Liv of the past, there is a lot less physical intervening and interaction between Liv and anyone but Ravi and Clive. The estrangement between her work life and her personal life has never felt larger which is increased ten-fold by this week’s brain coming from the titular grumpy old man.

Upon revisiting the hospital to see her gravely injured brother, both he and her mother tell her to hit the bricks but not before the long wondered “What’s eating Liv?” (when they should be asking what’s Liv eating for the answers they desire) is finally broached on fully serious terms. Her mother accuses her of using drugs and her brother says he never wants to speak to her again. Liv begs off before things get too heated, clearly devastated still by not being able to intervene. The best she can do is explain that it was out of her control and dangerous for them to ask that of her. So far, that answer seems too little too late.

Clive, meanwhile, has been slowly building a case that Major was definitely involved with the Meat Cute bloodbath. He has enough circumstantial evidence to start asking for alibis, but that thread is merely being pulled for now and likely will take a few more episodes to fully unravel.

Over the course of the episode, the murder of the week causing Liv to be such a grumpy old man is blamed on a neighborhood ruffian who is chugging Max Rager for his entire interrogation. This is too early to feel like a substantial lead in the case, but it keeps the real villain of Season 2 nipping at the main story’s heels from the get-go. When it’s discovered that the “anonymous” tipster — played by Rob Thomas alum, Adam Rose — has a dog that matches one seen in a brain flashback, he’s questioned again and ends up being the final suspect. In a strong casting choice, they have Rose deliver a very stirring and emotional goodbye to the dog he murdered for when he’s brought in on the charges. In a series of flashbacks knitting together those that Liv has, the murder occurs after the grumpy old man threatens to kill Rose’s dog and it actually goes missing. Rose knows that the soon-to-be-deceased has a history of killing small animals and is following through on the promise. When confronted, the man brags to a drunk Rose that the dog isn’t going to be a problem anymore, while working on his car as it sits jacked up in his driveway. Rose kicks the jack and crushes the man in the process, only to find his dog kidnapped in the man’s basement. Although Rose had been leaning into the Seattle area hipster element that the show draws from on multiple occasions in the past, it’s very sad to see a very genuinely unfortunate wrap-up for the case of the week. It’s something that mirrors Liv’s continued disappointment with just about every outcome of the last season’s events. Although she revisits the hospital and vows to throw out the old grumpy personality with the last crumbs of brain, she certainly is stuck hoping that her family will soon feel the same way.

The genre elements of this show have always been a quiet strength, placing Liv in a morgue where she can get brains easily, and still serve a purpose outside of her nutritional needs. This season, Blaine is given equally strong footing by using his remaining funds to buy a funeral home. Although he is now a real boy, Blaine remains as conniving and dastardly as ever. Even the coffins he’s selling having zombie-specific usefulness should he be able to make a sale. On top of the camp of having a former dead man own a funeral home, he is already cooking up a plan to unleash the Utopium to the masses. Liv threatens him with how untested the version of the cure he was given really was, but he seems mostly unrattled and instead annoyed by her presence in his new shop. David Anders is at his best hamming it up in classic Julian Sark-levels of cloak and dagger, which leads to him sucking on pieces of chocolate and taunting Liv for liking being a zombie a little too much. He also shows his hand to see if Liv will relent that Major is a zombie now, since he wasn’t dead at the scene. Liv remains as evasive as Blaine and although they both need things from one another, much like last season, this pair remains unwilling to flinch to the other’s machinations. Blaine, not pulling anything on Liv who suspects as much, has already located thousands of tabs of Utopium and makes a detour to find the guy who cut it with the secret ingredient the night of the boat party (hint: it’ll probably be killer).

Whatever his motives are, pursuing the opposite side of this war is the far more prominent and maniacal Steven Weber, who returns as head of Max Rager, Vaughn Du Clarke. Taking a more direct route, he’s having his assistant track down their solution to the coming zombie apocalypse: Major Lilywhite. Turns out, in getting the cure, Major has a Spidey-sense reaction to meeting zombies. While drifting through his new and listless job as a physical trainer (which keeps Robert Buckley without sleeves for most of the episode, thank god), Major runs into a client who, without being able to explain exactly how, he knows is definitely a zombie. Although the zombie client seems like a very nice guy (his concerned teenage daughter tells Major upon his arrival that he’s there to save their dad’s life because he’s always stressed and eats terribly which they’re all afraid will kill him), Major knows he’s already dead.

Clarke brings Major in for a very threatening meeting where he tries to convince him to join their league of anti-zombie brethren. Instead, Major tells them that despite trying to blackmail him with the bugged phone call of Liv warning him that his alibi is weak since he did kill those five people, he’d rather go to prison than help. Taking it up one more notch, he reveals that they know about Liv and will start the extermination of all zombies with her if they have to do it themselves. Major relents and starts out offing his own client in a very dark and ominous sequence where he is watched and reviewed by Clarke’s second in command. Buckley’s latent action hero capabilities get very little rest and seem like they might be flexed for many a future episode.

After all is said and done, to keep things extra interesting, Liv’s new replacement roommate is revealed to be none other than the same henchwoman overseeing Major’s new new job.

Final thoughts:

  • Suzuki received a medal of honor from the Seattle PD for almost getting Evan killed. At least we have Babineaux’s side-eye to keep us company while that continues to unfold.
  • Is there a reason why Babineaux can’t be told about Liv taking on personality traits of victims? He already believes in the vision stuff and at least then we wouldn’t have to have him so appalled by the weirder brains Liv eats making her a total jerk for a few days.
  • Didn’t get into the weird racism that came with being a grumpy old man. It was meant to be uncomfortable and I’m glad it was called out by most everyone immediately. Yikes.
  • “Your t-shirts stupid. That’s meant to be literal.”
  • Wouldn’t we all keep random caches of chocolate on us if we’d recently regained taste for the first time in a year? Good life choice, Blaine.
  • That poor dog, though. What good casting to make me care so much about a dog I met fifteen minutes ago. I’m not saying that guy had it coming, but I’d last five minutes in voir dire.
  • If Major is going to go all rogue nation and start killing zombies, can we hope for a chin-up scene every episode? Fingers crossed!
  • “Her name is New Hope, not Final Hope. You know this. If I wanted to give her a depressing name, I would’ve gone with Phantom Menace.”
  • Seriously, everyone: go hug your dogs tonight.
  • Hello everyone! I’m Maura Kate. I’ll be recapping iZombie this season and I’m thrilled about it. If season one is anything to go by, we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Photo  Courtesy of The CW

About Maura Kate

Maura Kate is a twenty something from the “generic M. Night Shyamalan exterior shot” area near suburban Philadelphia. She co-hosts a podcast called The Televoid (@thetelevoid), where she watches all the worst episodes of TV so you don’t have to. She tweets from @maurae.