iZombie: Max Wager

izombie-max-wager

This week on iZombie, we’re all about tying up loose ends and opening up the bigger questions that will loom for the remainder of the season. Of course, we begin with the most pressing holdover from last week: Major and Liv’s hook-up. They ended things less hot and heavy than they did the week previous, but still in a place where Major says that he wants to date again no matter what the risks. So the following morning, Major is all but skipping around the kitchen at breakfast making Peyton and Ravi nauseous with his lovesickness. Liv follows him down, wearing his shirt, and confirms that this is indeed happening. “About damn time!” Peyton (and the world) exclaims back at them.

Downtown, Clive is leaving the courthouse after last week’s bad dude — the degenerate gambler who pinned the murder on the company cleaner — stops him to gloat that he’s out on bail and about to get the plea deal of the century for a minimum security prison that has its own private golf course. Clive snipes back at him for being a creep that cares little about a colleague getting gunned down because of the other man’s misdeeds and turns to leave. No sooner does he turn his back than a pair of masked gunmen pull up on motorcycle and spray bullets where they stand. It’s almost unclear if they were aiming for Clive at first, but when Clive stands back up he looks over to see the callous creep bleed out on the sidewalk.

Ravi asks the question we’ve all been wondering which is especially relevant now that Liv has taken to humming cheerfully while she works: did she and Major have sex? Liv assures him that they wouldn’t have taken such a huge risk lightly, but they are in this budding newly rekindled relationship, so she’s simply smitten with the idea of being with Major again in general. Ravi is worried about the zombism being transmitted sexually and refuses to let them risk anything until he knows for certain. Clive shows up to give them some information on the dead guy and takes her away before she can get a bite of the brain. They blindly go through the interrogation with the cleaner that was to blame for the basketball coach from last week, and ask him about his involvement in the murder. He tells them he couldn’t have made the hit since he was in jail the entire time and the only call he made was recorded. In the taped call, he offers his Seahawks tickets to someone else and tells the call’s recipient to “take care of Mr. Sheldon” which they believe to be a code to unravel.

Dale and Clive are reviewing the Meat Cute case over Chinese take-out, and as he informs her about the stray bits of brain given to him by Suzuki’s wife, Major and Liv stroll down the street past them. It’s awkward for everyone involved, especially considering Clive was just talking about his prime suspect being Major and there he appears. Liv is already in the gambling mood — only having finished off the brains a few hours before — and bets Clive he can’t make the shot while moving to throw away his napkin. He does and when he asks her to pay up, she insists that making him look good in front of his date is good enough. He starts to protest it being a date at all and Dale — being great and hilarious — wonders why, then, did she pay? Is she not getting any tonight? Clive looks shaken and tries to change the subject to the pair being split up last he saw them. Major makes a show of holding Liv closer and informing him that now they are together. Liv thinks there is simply romance in the air and bids them a good night as they try to part ways before the awkward takes hold of the conversation again. As they walk away, Major worries that Clive still hasn’t let go of the Meat Cute situation and now has gone so far as to bring the FBI in on the case. Liv corrects him that no they’re not and he’s relieved for a second. Liv goes on to explain to him that Dale is here about another handful of murders he’s committed instead! She is looking into the abduction and murders of rich people across Seattle. Major looks like he just swallowed a ping-pong ball.

Over at the funeral home, Blaine’s father is visiting and makes a hell of an entrance. He has his assistant shoot Blaine’s security guy through the side of the head and tells Blaine that he works for him now. He had someone trail Blaine last time he showed up at his offices, tortured his make-up assistant, and knows now that he is not a zombie. All the leverage Blaine has built up being an undead is gone and now his father has the power to threaten him with being a zombie again if he doesn’t do exactly as demanded. He wants Blaine to kill the son of a rival because (as Blaine surmises) this guy loves his son. Chief comes to as Blaine’s father leaves, barely coherent and still pretty dead-looking.

Liv continues making bets she can’t cash and when Clive asks her to finally pay up for some of the money she’s on the hook for, she has a flash from the brain she ate being told that the barber sent him to collect. Clive has a feeling he knows that this isn’t just some random phrase, and takes Liv to an actual barbershop that is an unsubtle gambling front (although the guy does seem to be good with a straight razor). There’s a guy placing bets on a cell phone and a lawyer sitting there offering non-stop advice on how the barber should phrase things so as to not incriminate himself. It’s a delightfully vivid mini-ecosystem that the show breathes life into for only a few select scenes, but shows iZombie‘s commitment to good writing for even the smaller roles each week.

The barber doesn’t think what they’re suggesting he had a hand in is a very intelligent way to do business. Clive argues that anyone who was late on payments would be pretty motivated to pay up, but the older man doesn’t budge. It’s simply not how he does business. The man getting a shave says that his money would be on the guy that the victim was going to testify against, the barber suggests the widow, and Liv is distracted by the horse race on screen that she now has tons of opinions on. As they leave, she runs back in to place a bet for twenty-four bucks which the bookie worries is entrapment but the barber tells him to take because he’s taken a shine to Liv.

Clive finally figures out where to find the widow and tells Liv they’re heading to the funeral home — Blaine’s funeral home — to speak with her. Liv discreetly tells Ravi to let anyone who should know where she’s going, and then they’re off. Before they begin the interrogation, Liv ducks downstairs to double-check that Blaine will stay out of sight. He’s drunk and feeling pretty raw about the new deal with his dear old dad, and asks her if she ever likes being a zombie. She’s pretty appalled at the question at face value, but he continues to explain that he was wasting his life before he died. Human Blaine was an underachieving joke before he died and human Liv wasn’t the Nancy Drew heir apparent that she has become. Although Liv points out, rightly, that he was a psychotic murderer as a zombie (Liv — he still is), he misses it. The loud, unspoken question here is why he hasn’t had someone scratch him again if he’s so desperate for that life back. When Liv gets back upstairs, Clive is getting the second degree from the widow. She explains there was never any money and anything he had was spent gambling.

On their way out, Clive sees Calvin Owens — a fictionally famous basketball player — across the room, paying his respects. Clive is a huge fan and awkwardly tries to make conversation before Calvin politely excuses himself as his driver is waiting outside. Liv asks for his opinion on who to call for a college basketball wager and when Clive asks to see his ring, she has a flashback of Calvin refusing to give more money to our dead guy.

Later, when stopping by the barbershop to let her winnings ride on a new bet, Liv relays this information to the barber. The same man is back getting a shave again today and when the men all start discussing what a truly perfect crime would be, he has very specific opinions. You get the victim to commit the crime himself by showing him his family held hostage on Skype and giving them a loaded gun to trade their life for their family’s. When the barber wonders what happens to the witnesses, he says you’d have to lose them.

The man stalks away, suddenly giving off a far more menacing vibe than he had up until that point, and walks over to the district attorney’s offices. He whistles his way up the stairs and into the office where the Stacey Boss crime tree was put together by Peyton and Blaine, where he moves some photos to their proper places. Turning around and running into Peyton on his way out the door, the man introduces himself to her as Stacey Boss, in the flesh. He threatens her that every few years some DA tries this with him and so far all of them are happily retired, except one whose fate escapes him. She bites back explaining that trying to bribe an assistant district attorney is illegal, and paired with speaking to opposing counsel off the books might be enough to get him back there during working hours. He lets her know that he also is pretty sure her source is out of date and no longer with the company, thus by process of elimination is Blaine, so they should both take care.

Back at the precinct, they are now in possession of their bad guy cleaner’s turtle who they’ve discovered is named Mr. Sheldon. The code that was passed on through the recorded call was literally to take care of his turtle. Liv suggests there might be a message on his stomach, in some movies they do that, and when asked for other movie-specific suggestions, Dale mentions that in A Fish Called Wanda the clue is in the treasure chest in a fish tank. The turtle has a castle instead, but when they smash it, there’s a bag of cocaine inside.

At night, Liv and Major play strip hi-lo card on Skype. Major loses pretty rapidly — thank god — and Liv teases him as he makes a show of losing clothes bit by bit (slowed down by Major slyly wearing four pairs of socks and a g-string, which — again — thank you, show). Since they can’t have sex yet, this is a good go between for them to relieve some romantic tension. They reminisce about the last time they were together and look forward to a few days from now when they have their answers.

Liv goes back to the barber one last time to let it all ride on a college basketball bet that she got information from Calvin Owens on placing. The barber is amused at someone taking Calvin’s word on anything to do with gambling since he was notorious gambler himself when it came to college games. When Liv shares this with Clive, he suggests that having a college buddy who was a serious gambler makes this a pretty solid theory. Besides, the two gunman from before are Serbian nationalists with very violent rap sheets that he is fairly certain were guns for hire. When he tells her the hard to pronounce last names, she assures him he says them right and there’s certainly a connection to Owens. When they bring him in for questioning, with Peyton there to back them up from the DA’s office, they inform Calvin of their theory on how they shaved points back in college when they were hard up for money, and even once he made it big and quit, his friend still needed the money and blackmailed him up until his death. Turns out the Serbians were former basketball teammates turned war criminals, and Peyton offers him a deal to stay out of general population if he complies.

In a rapid change of pace, Blaine visits his sickly grandfather at the nursing home he threatened his father with earlier. When he receives a call from the man he lies and says he’s getting the brains he requested by tomorrow. Then Blaine hangs up, turns up the classical music playing, and suffocates his grandfather. It’s such a starkly dark scene in an episode that has been relatively cheery for this show’s current season. As the elderly man struggles, Blaine shushes him quietly and tells him to just listen to the music.

Later, things are heating up with Liv and Major when the last bits of her gambling brain are pushing her to suggest that the 90% success rate with condoms might be worth the risk. We’re left nervous that they’ve gone through with things when Ravi, defeated, comes home to a house with discarded clothes left all over the place. He storms upstairs and bursts into the room, almost uncaring that they are potentially mid-sex, to tell them to stop. He has concluded that with 100% certainty that if they sleep together that Major will be a zombie. They brush it off as a temporary setback, but it’s clearly a point of contention that can only last so long before they move on or make due.

Afterwards, Major leaves for late night training sessions that we know to be a cover for “murdering rich people for hire” and we see him pulling up to a new dump site to get rid of the body. At the same time, Blaine is boxing up his grandfather’s brain in Tupperware to bring for his dad to eat and be traumatized by reliving. He’s interrupted by one of his flunkies telling him that his father is in the news for having been kidnapped. Blaine, devastated that he just murdered his grandfather for no reason is shaken, and while still listening to the classical music from before looks livid at the same flunky who asks what the hell they’re listening to and wants to turn it off. He’s likely somewhat relieved that however it happened, the universe is potentially wiping his father off the map. Getting back to Major, we confirm that is the case as Blaine’s dad is in his trunk. After dumping another body over his favorite murder spot, Major goes off the beaten path to a new place. He walks into an empty storage warehouse with a freezer full of rich guy popsicles that Blaine’s father is tossed alongside. So long, the Fathers DeBeers. We hardly knew you both.

Stray Observations:

  • Good on Peyton and Ravi for having the adult relationship game on lock and being able to politely share breakfast without things getting too awkward.
  • “I’m Major.” “You certainly are.” Dale gets it.
  • “Suffer, bitch.” Liv (ironically) breathes so much life back into Major, it’s so nice to see.
  • “Come on, give me a show.” “Hey, don’t you dare make me feel cheap.” Seriously, I can appreciate the show not just for the partial nudity of it all but for the lightness Major/Liv brings to so much darkness.
  • Calvin Owens from Greek would be so offended by this episode sullying his good, stand-up college athlete name.
  • Immortality really does suit Robert Knepper. Maybe it’s the jawline.
  • “I don’t even have a motorcycle license.” “Hypothetically.” “Literally.” You know writing is top quality when the one-off scenes between periphery characters make you sad they aren’t in more of the episode.
  • I guessed before (based on an obstructed outside sign) that it was called Shady Place Funeral Home. It’s actually Shady Plots funeral home. Even better! So brilliant.
  • Drunk Blaine is great. Drunk Blaine making Charlie Brown teacher voice noises as what he hears when Liv speaks is the greatest. Also, David Anders does that sound perfectly.
  • “A week ago you were dissecting the triangle offense and now you know nothing about one of the greatest players of his generation?” I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Why can’t they just tell Clive that she takes aspects from the murder of the week? He’s clearly onto the whole shebang. Plus he’s an expert detective. He might be able to help more if he could ask her questions that are specific to those brains. This is a stupid omission that they never got to and are now stuck with. Can’t wait til Clive knows about zombies in general so this is a thing of the past.
  • It was pretty rude of Major and Liv to discard clothes all over the stairs and living room like they did. You live with two people, guys. Keep that in the bedroom or someone’s gonna have to clean up after your mess.

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.