iZombie – Season 2 Episode 9
iZombie rounds out its 2015 run by throwing a spanner in the works of Liv’s life and potentially upsetting her status quo completely.
I’ll start by saying that the case of the week was comparatively the dullest part of the episode. I know I say this almost every week but it’s also completely true every week as far as I’m concerned. There’s something about the procedural elements of investigating whatever murder has taken place that feels far less compelling than the really strong character stories being developed.
At least the case allows us to have a lot of fun with Liv’s shifting personalities. In this episode she consumes the brain of a man who spends his evenings acting as a costume vigilante in order to protect people. This is something that the CW Network is very good at putting on screen so seeing it happen as a one shot story in iZombie is a nice little meta gag.
The episode takes a more Kick Ass approach than The Flash or Arrow by highlighting how dangerous it is to live a life like that and how badly injured people can get. Ravi mentions that he has a lot of injuries that suggest repeated breaking of his ribs. Eventually his luck completely runs out and he is killed while trying to protect others.
It would seem that the victim is that naive and cheesy sort of superhero who spouts platitudes about justice and other stuff that you would find in a 1950s comic book. Liv takes on that heroic personality and finds herself burdened with a completely selfless desire to put herself in danger to help others.
Rose McIver is excellent playing Liv as a self righteous 1950s inspired superhero. She delivers the cheesy speeches about justice and other such corny one liners with just the right amount of sincerity to keep the story becoming a farce.
Of course, Liv helps others every thanks to her job and connection with Clive but this makes her want to be a more active participant who doesn’t wait for the slow moving legal bureaucracy to get results. As a result she rushes recklessly into a warehouse full of illegal guns so that she can finally bring Mr. Boss to justice for his illegal activities.
This doesn’t go so well for her as she is shot and knocked out by a heavy blow to the head. By the time she regains consciousness the warehouse is completely cleared and Mr. Boss has taken credit for saving her life. He even offers to not press charges as he is just a victim of the Christmas spirit.
Eddie Jemison is great as Mr. Boss. He radiates a certain unsettling niceness that makes him constantly rub people up the wrong way. He always knows he has covered his ass legally and as a result likes to live secure in the knowledge that he is in on something that others aren’t. How is this show getting away with so many charismatic villains?
Speaking of charismatic villains, Blaine is on top form as usual. He convinces Liv to turn a man into a zombie because he is the only one who knows how to get a supply of Tainted Utopium. It’s abundantly clear that Ravi definitely needs it or there will be no cure but Liv is naturally reluctant to knowingly condemn someone. She can justify it to herself by remembering that it’s for the greater good and if all goes well then everyone will be cured.
Blaine shows that he’s a master of manipulating people by keeping control of the situation involving the newly minted zombie and convincing Liv to do whatever he needs her to do. It’s amazing how the show keeps him around without him feeling like an empty threat presence.
Major and Liv are having a lot of problems currently starting with Liv’s discovery of “Rita” still apparently being in the picture for him. The episode jumps to hours later as they are having a really repetitive argument about Major’s fidelity. He insists that there’s nothing going on and the texts are entirely circumstantial. Liv believes him but the brain won’t let her back out of the argument. She’s clearly frustrated at herself for allowing it to continue but simply can’t stop herself.
I think this marks the deepest exploration of how the brains affect those who consume them yet. Apparently the new personality seeps into every aspect of the lives of those who eat them and temporarily change them from the inside out. Liv can’t tell where the brain ends and she begins which would naturally be frustrating when trying to maintain a relationship with someone who could never understand. Major is trying his best but since he isn’t a zombie then there’s only so far his understanding can go. If Liv can’t be herself at any point then what chance have they got as a couple?
Liv finally stops kidding herself and breaks up with him for the very same reasons she did in the first place. They can’t have sex and Liv doesn’t feel that it’s fair to keep Major in a relationship that will make him deal with the constant unpredictability that comes with her dietary requirements. The difference between her breaking up with him this time is that she is making an informed decision after having tried it. I hate to say it but it completely makes sense as they can’t be together as long as she is a zombie. They were completely kidding themselves before this point but that seems to be over.
I really liked Major’s solo parts of the episode where he found someone to talk to in a zombie prostitute. She used to be a fairly high class hooker -if there is such a thing- and was able to distance her life and work in a way that seemed healthy to her. This was forever altered when she became a zombie and was extorted to service other zombies in exchange for brains. I wonder who it is that acts as her pimp. Is it someone we know already or someone new entirely?
Major has been lacking in someone to talk to who understands what he has to deal with. Liv only seems to apologise for the changes but doesn’t help him understand them where Natalie (Brooke Lyons) gives him a very real account of how badly it can affect someone who doesn’t have that kind of support system. She is completely willing to kill herself as she can’t take what she has to endure any more but Major is able to talk her out of it and give her hope that she previously didn’t have. It’s amazing how the writers of this show can turn a zombie hooker subplot into compelling and moving drama.
For Liv, the thing that seems to give her a purpose is her work with Clive who takes her vigilantism as the last straw. From his point of view it makes complete sense as he comes from a world of rules and protocols that need to be upheld so to have Liv constantly disregard them is a personal embarrassment for him and something he can no longer tolerate. He has been willing to look the other way and have her involved in interrogations and things like that because so far the end justifies the means but he can no longer cover for her so cuts her loose.
What effect this will have on Liv psychologically is anyone’s guess but it’s apparent that she was holding onto this as something that gave her a reason to tolerate her status as a zombie. Without that, who knows how dark she’ll get? This would be a good point to address her family situation again as it has been shelved for most of the season but if the writers really want to torture Liv when the show returns then that will be another good thing to pile onto it.
The last scenes revealing that Hope the Rat has become a zombie again after a period of time provides some interesting potential. Could it be that Major and Blaine are next to revert back to their undead selves and if so what will come of that? Does the cure affect humans differently to Rats and not revert at all? Who knows but join me here in 2016 and we’ll find out together.
A really strong midseason finale that changes up the status quo for Liv in a really significant way for going into next year.
I say this every week but the procedural elements are the weakest aspects as always but at least it allows some fun to be had with the shifting personality. In this episode Liv consumes the brain of a man who acts as a superhero in the evenings.
The episode takes more of a Kick Ass view on superheroes rather than The Flash and Arrow which works really well. It is established as a dangerous way to live as evidenced by the long list of injuries and eventual death.
Rose McIver does a great job as a self righteous hero type. She spouts cheesy lines about justice and other one liners with just enough sincerity to keep it amusing without turning into a farce.
This brain causes her to be a more active participant in stopping crimes which doesn’t end well for her as she ends up shot and knocked out while trying to prove that a warehouse full of illegal guns belongs to Mr. Boss.
Eddie Jemison radiates an unsettling niceness as Mr. Boss in this episode. He always seems like he’s in on a joke that nobody else and of course that is true since his illegal activities cannot be proven.
Blaine is on top form as usual as he shows his ability to manipulate any situation. He manages to get Liv to turn a man into a zombie because they’ll lose access to Tainted Utopium if he dies. Blaine is able to successfully convince Liv to compromise her principles and condemn a man while he manages the newly minted zombie.
Major and Liv are having problems that pick up with her discovery of “Rita” at the end of the last episode. Rationally she believes Major but the brain won’t let her drop it which results in a heated argument that goes in circles all night.
This marks the deepest exploration of the brain changing people yet. It seems that the new personality temporarily changes someone completely from the inside out and it becomes difficult to know where the line between the two are. This makes maintaining a relationship frustrating for both sides as the unpredictability is difficult to deal with.
Liv stops kidding herself and makes an informed choice to break up with Major. Her reasons are the same as before but her experience of giving it a go has only shown her that it can’t work.
Major’s solo parts of the episode that have him confide in a zombie hooker named Natalie are really strong. Talking to her allows him to really understand how things work for zombies and the effect it can have. He manages to give her hope that stops her from killing himself and finds someone to have a candid conversation with. Good work on the part of the writers to turn a zombie hooker into compelling drama.
Clive’s decision to cut Liv loose from helping him with cases is the end of something that she feels gives her purpose. As long as she can help people she can tolerate being a zombie but I wonder what this will do to her now that she has lost that. It’s hard to disagree with Clive’s decision as he has looked the other way for too long but Liv acting like a vigilante was the last straw since he lives in a world with rules and protocols that simply can’t be broken.
The reveal that the cure seems to be only temporary -at least on rats- is an interesting development that has a lot of potential for next year. Are we about to see Blaine and Major revert to being zombies? Join me here in 2016 and we’ll find out together.