iZombie: Zombie Bro

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Previously on iZombie, everyone hates Liv and Liv hates everyone. Hopefully this week things will be a little more cheery? This show’s batting average for gloom and doom is pretty high, so maybe we’ve already lost the game.

This week, Liv chows down on the kind of chill brains that would make for a funnier episode with stakes even half as high. We’re left with a lot of ups and downs, more questions than answers, and even more time spent wondering if this show is payback for anyone who told Rob Thomas that Veronica Mars was “too funny” (spoiler: while it was a blast, that’s a sweeping generalization that would ignore half the show’s core set-up) for a procedural detective show.

After a frat bro is brutally executed, toga and all, throwback Brutus-style, it’s up to Liv and the team to figure out whodunit. This week the team mostly consists of Liv and Clive as Ravi is off on his own adventure getting high and partying with Major. If that seems like a joke, then just you wait: you’re in for a surprise. On the case, they eliminate several suspects until they stumble across a double twist that means an earlier suspect with the same name was actually the intended victim. The dead guy pranked said guy by showing up to an anti-drunk driving speaking engagement (having received the invitation instead), drunk and belligerent, something that at the time simply seemed gross. Turns out, the would-be-speaker was doing so out of penance for accidentally killing the father of the real killer when he was younger and drunk driving himself.

It’s the second week in a row and kind of a trademark for iZombie, at this point, to cast great actors in these smallest of roles. A lot of procedurals do this, of course, but the results pay off so much more here than they do on many shows. When it’s revealed that the person he killed — the person who murdered his father, whom he harbored dark thoughts for years (rightfully so) — was a drunk frat guy without a care in the world, he lost it. To find out that not only did you have the wrong person, but the real person you want vengeance on is actually living a life giving speaking engagements to teens to prevent more death, is a doubly hard blow. There’s a long moment where the room is allowed to grieve with his sorrow for causing more death.

A theme that perhaps existed before this season — but feels especially prescient now — is that the struggle to abide by a person’s zombism is more about morality than novelty. So far, both killers this season committed crimes because they were manipulated by emotion and what they thought was the truth. The victims don’t necessarily “have it coming” but they are as much victims of poor circumstance as they are of any malice. These same “out of control” and “driven by animal nature” traits of need and vengeance have a little too much in common with zombies to make this entirely an accidental choice. It’s a great way of bringing things back to the core premise of the show, week to week, without cheapening it. Zombies, they’re just like us!

In the meantime, we have two very divergent plotlines outside the A-plot. We’re introduced to Blaine’s dear old dad and his new pet project. He requests the former (a very polished and devilishly well-cast Robert Knepper) to shell out half a million to take over the drug game in town. His first move in taking over the territory of the current Utopium sales market leads to his dealers all getting killed. He needs funds to get back in the game, this time using the deaths of the dealers to work with (read: blackmail) the undead DA to put away the current kingpin. Now that the kingpin is taking out rich white kids, Blaine assures him that the city will champion his attack even though there’s a ton of systematic corruption currently benefitting from it. From the minute we meet Knepper, it’s clear where Blaine gets his mean streak, and there’s hardly a word between the two that isn’t biting. Knepper does a great job of playing a villain in much the way that Harry Hamlin did on Veronica Mars. You assume that this charming well-to-do father must be embarrassed by his misbehaving jerk of a son but it goes into such darker places than you can anticipate. Evidently he forced his own ailing father out of the company in a hostile takeover and openly mocks Blaine for being a disappointment. Honestly, it’s very cruel to hear so much hate from father to his son even if the son you’re watching be mocked is Blaine. It is, on the other hand, refreshing to see someone call Blaine out for every ounce of bluster and showmanship that he’s usually lauded for. The people you hate most often know you the best. In the end, it seems that just as he turned his father into a zombie, he’s likely got him as an investor on the hook for one more wacky scam to put money into. We’ll see if it works out for him this time.

Around the edges of the drug dealer territory play, we have Major and Ravi literally getting high and going clubbing. Yes, you read that right a second time. In order to find out how the non-dosed Utopium works, Ravi simply decides to get high and test it on himself. It’s a pretty brazen decision given the drug’s ability to bring people back from the dead given smallest of chemical alterations, but he seems very confident that he’ll just need Major there to trip sit. Major, like anyone whose been asked to do this out of the blue, is quick to try and back away slowly. Ravi is in the middle of doing a check-up on Major and it’s the guiltiest someone taking a needle out of another person’s arm has ever looked. Major relents and tags along to the club where they meet the soon-to-be-dead dealer who gives them two doses. The pair could not look less comfortable in the club, leading up to a moment where Ravi (so unfamiliar with buying/taking drugs that he’s pretty much walking around yelling about where to buy and take them) is holding the vials above his head like he’s waving a flag. Once Ravi is high and doing a mediocre at best job of documenting the effects, Major gets jealous of the trip and takes a dose himself, clearly desperate to feel anything after the week, month, and year he’s had. The two get aggressively giddy and dance around like doofy idiots until Major starts looking for another score before his high has even worn off (not a good sign at all), and eventually gets sick and passes out in the bathroom.

Ravi is up dancing on stage, leaving Major to fend for himself. Luckily a good samaritan finds Liv’s name under Major’s in case of emergency contact in his phone and gives her a call. Liv comes to rescue both of them — Ravi more from himself as he’s up dancing shirtless on the stage with a handful of ladies — and takes them home. On the cab ride home, in a fit of drugged honesty, Major mumbles about how “they’re always listening” and “you’re never safe” then grabs Liv’s phone and literally tosses it out of the car where it’s ran over immediately by a passing car. Although Major’s quick descent into being sick could have been written off as the drug affecting him more than Ravi (who seems merely tired and happy), this is the first sign that there is way more going on with him than what’s at the surface. We know he is being blackmailed to keep Liv safe, but it’s clear the darkness is slowly creeping into his whole being.

Later, as he’s in and out of the throes of illness coming down off the Utopium, he asks her to stay behind and lays his head in her lap. Liv is already halfway out the door before he asks, making it clear that she’s prepared to give Major space, but he requests her company for the night. The following day, however, when she’s back to pick up the new phone Major purchased to replace the one he chucked out the window, he is back to freezing her out. Liv brushes off Ravi’s warning that Major left the phone for her to take at the front door, pushes into the apartment and practically brags that they’re back on speaking terms, not in an obnoxious way but a happy one. She’s missed Major for far longer than he’s missed her. She seems ecstatic to have her friend back. Instead, when she gets upstairs to say hello, he keeps the door shut and locked and claims to be busy. A dejected Liv wanders off, leaving him alone to watch the video we opened the episode with: his first victim’s children, pleading for help in finding their missing beloved father, again and again. He takes out another hit of Utopium from his nightstand, snorts half, and slowly slips away to oblivion, dead to the world again.

Stray Observations:

  • Blaine’s new right hand gal, Candy Baker, gives the corpses blush touch-ups and manicures. Love her already.
  • Thanks costume department for putting Babineaux in knit sweaters for at least one scene. Goodwin looks great in oxfords, but it’s a nice reminder that Clive could wreck you.
  • The subtle sight gag of Liv having rearranged the lab skeletons to have one spanking the other was so great.
  • Gilda tagging along with Liv was suspicious at first. But she’s just a good egg.
  • If that girl was willing to pretend to be a furry to alibi out her boyfriend: what a catch.
  • “Hugs are my drug.” – Major Lilywhite, drug addict.
  • “I’d date Tom Hardy but I kind of want to delete Cruise AND Brady.” Don’t we all.
  • Ravi on clubs: “Everyone looks like a drug dealer in this lighting.”
  • Breezed over the frat guys ironically thinking Liv was painting them as terrible people when she mistook dogfighting to mean actual dogfighting and not just inviting “the ugliest girls” to a party to see who wins ugliest date because who wants to dwell on that. Besides, Liv was rude to think of you as gross, how dare she?
  • I think Blaine’s funeral home is literally called SHADY PLACE and for that, I salute you iZombie writers.
  • Thank you Ravi for standing up for Dermot Mulroney: “Did you not see his turn on New Girl? I found it delightful!
  • In the final arrest scene, two-thirds of the room were from Oceania: ACTING!

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.