iZombie – Season 2 Episode 1

Oct 7, 2015 | Posted by in TV

“Grumpy Old Liv”

Readers of this website will know that iZombie was a show that I very quickly fell in love with last year. The writing was sharp and witty, the characters were great, the actors were equally great and it told a story that never stopped being compelling week to week. I was even fortunate enough to interview Malcolm Goodwin aka Clive Babineaux which was a great experience. Please do check it out if you have the time, he’s a cool guy.

Season 1 ended with Liv in a really sticky situation on several fronts that get picked up here. W learn that her ex fiancé Major has stopped speaking to her after she turned him into a zombie against his will when he was dying and subsequently cured him, her mother and brother have stopped speaking to her because Liv refused to donate blood to him when he really needed it and Ravi is having trouble with the fact that the cure he spent so long creating is all gone.

The episode opened as season 1 closed with Liv in the hospital looking at her brother as if this were only seconds later. It turns out that it’s 3 months later and things are no better for Liv. Her decisions have had real consequences and she has lost a lot. I really like the realism of the crumbling relationships on display. The hurt and confusion on her mother’s face feels so genuine as well as a massive level of disappointment in her daughter who she believes is on drugs. Liv assures her that she isn’t but also that she can’t explain what the truth is. Her situation poses an interesting personal question for Liv to consider. Is it really worth pushing her family away in order to protect her secret? I do wonder what would happen if her family knew the truth. Perhaps it won’t be too long before we find out.


The latest victim

It doesn’t take long to get us into the case of the week structure once again. This week’s victim is a really grumpy old man who is crushed by his car. Clive is on the case and needs his resident “psychic” to help him puzzle things out. If you watch this show then you know the routine by now. The simple structure of murder victim discovered followed by Liv consuming their brain to then use the visions she gets to puzzle out the murderer. Liv also absorbs personality traits of the murder victim and spends a little while acting weird until it wears off – hilarity ensues.

The structure is a solid one as it can hold the episode together but it is starting to feel a little too procedural after spending so long dealing with it. It isn’t boring at all and hasn’t become stale yet but I feel that it’s starting to get there. Similarly Clive is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to character development because all he seems to do is chat through the cases with tiny parts of his personality coming through now and again. I really want to see an episode of iZombie from Clive’s perspective as I think there’s some mileage in seeing how he reacts to Liv’s personality shifting beyond the odd confused look and eyebrow raise at some of the things she says. It would allow them to play within the established formula and bring a freshness to it as well as give Clive some much needed development.

This episode does give us hints at the man beneath the surface though. It is well established in this episode that he has major -pun definitely intended- doubts about what happened at Meat Cute in the finale. Specifically he sees lots of holes in Major’s alibi and starts grilling Liv about it persistently in the hope that she will slip up and compromise her story in some way. So far no luck but I get the impression that he’s starting to doubt her due to her evasive nature on this subject. Lt. Suzuki has been painted as the hero of the story who died in the line of duty which also makes him suspicious. He’s a smart guy and can make informed guesses based on the evidence presented. The most suspicious piece being that all evidence points to Suzuki shooting himself. He is also very cynical about the desire to paint a cop as a hero just so the case can be closed. There’s lots of room for both aspects of his thinking to play out so I hope they are taken advantage of.


Liv and Clive work the case

One thing I will say about this case is that the result wasn’t something this show has done before. When the murderer is revealed it turns out to be an accident and when Byron (Adam Rose) is discovered he breaks down and admits that it was a second of his life that he now has to live with and can never take back. It’s slightly refreshing to have a murderer that is a little sympathetic.

Liv’s absorbed personality traits are as always perfectly acted by Rose McIver. She really is a superbly talented actress who nails her performance every time. It was fun to see Liv acting like a grumpy old man with some great lines such as when she made fun of an ironic T-Shirt and just the general “old mannish” phrases she comes out with. Her casual racism is probably a bit much but I’ll admit I found it funny. I did cringe slightly when she said that Clive was “one of the good ones” but I was also amused. I can’t believe the writers actually got away with this.

The lesson that Liv takes away from having this personality is that she can’t end up like this. She doesn’t want to lose those closest to her and shut them out because ending up totally alone is absolutely no fun. Her experience of being a lonely bitter old man for a while causes her to take steps towards improving her situation by making an effort with her new roommate and taking an interest in her life. It’s another timely lesson for her but works really well here. McIver’s performance does a lot of the heavy lifting in selling this but the script is very strong as well.

Major’s situation hasn’t improved all that much in the intervening months. His only chance to find work is as a personal trainer to people who confess their eating sins to him. Immediately we can see that this is not what he wants to be doing and there’s a particularly powerful moment where a couple of kids skateboard past him and he is reminded of what he used to love doing. This show really enjoys stamping on Major and making his situation worse which sucks for him but admittedly makes for great TV.


Blaine, alive and loving it

The zombie cure has a very notable side effect for Major as he can now detect zombies when they are nearby. A zombie’s proximity causes hairs on his arm to stand up. I would say that the overall theme of this episode is consequences. Liv is facing the consequences of the choices she has made and Major is doing the same. His life and career are in the toilet following his obsession and he is also suffering the consequences of a choice that was made for him following his newfound zombie sense.

Naturally it can’t just be left at that as Major has a lot more suffering to do. Vaughn Du Clark has become aware of this due to the surveillance he has placed on Liv and basically blackmails Major to work for him disposing of zombies on behalf of Max Rager. He tries to do the honourable thing and decline but Du Clark increases the stakes by threatening to turn him into the police and when that doesn’t work, start the zombie cleansing with Liv. This results in a scene where Major appears to have killed a zombie and dump the body in the river. Whether this is just playing for the audience that is Du Clark and his spies or he is actually doing it remains to be seen but things are pretty grim for Major as usual.


My zombie sense it tingling!

Blaine is back and I couldn’t be happier to see him. He also has a zombie sense due to being cured and is trying to convince Liv that he has gone legit. He runs a funeral home which gives him easy access to brains without murdering anyone but unbeknownst to Liv he is running a drug operation from the basement. It looks like Blaine has completely landed on his feet and is enjoying toying with Liv. It seems like his connection to her this season will be focused on getting more supplies of the tainted Utopium to help Ravi’s cure research just in case it isn’t permanent and Blaine finds himself craving brains again. Blaine motivated by his own self interest is a perfect place for him to be and it’s good to see that becoming human again hasn’t caused him to lose his edge.

I initially felt that it was a little cheesy to have Du Clark have easy access to every word that Liv has said but it suddenly made sense when her new roommate was revealed to be Du Clark’s assistant Gilda (Leanne Lap) who pretends to have a boring job at the IRS. Her role in all of this is interesting but almost nothing is known about her at this point. She does seem to be chameleonic in how duplicitous she can be. Time will tell what becomes of her.

  • 8/10
    Grumpy Old Liv - 8/10


A solid start to the season but the procedural nature of the case of the week structure is starting to creak. It hasn’t given way yet but it could quickly happen.

The structure works well enough and it allows Rose McIver to really stretch her acting muscles to give off some truly great performances as Liv absorbs various personality traits but the cases are always the least interesting part of the episode. What happens around them and how the characters feed into them are the interesting part but beyond that there’s a lot of going through the motions.

In this episode the murder was revealed to be an accident that the murderer deeply regrets. It doesn’t lessen his punishment but having a slightly sympathetic murderer was a little refreshing.

The case also gave us more time with Clive who is slowly starting to develop. He is still getting the short end of the characterisation stick but his suspicious nature around Major’s alibi and mistrust of Liv by extension are interesting to watch. Similarly his questioning of the hero worship for Lt. Suzuki as being too convenient gives lots of potential.

Liv’s emotional situation is well handled here. At the beginning of the episode she is at the point where her family and Major no longer speak to her due to decisions she has made and she realises how important that is once she gets a taste of what being old and lonely really means. The consequences of decisions run through this episode and it’s handled nicely.

This also applies to Major who is saddled with the consequences of his obsession causing his life and career to have all but eroded away. He also gets blackmailed into working for Vaughn Du Clark as a zombie bounty hunter due to the cure causing him to develop a zombie sense.

Blaine is still hanging around on the sidelines pretending to have gone legit by running a funeral home but also having a drug operation in his basement. David Anders is always great at chewing scenery and does it so well here.

There are lots of great ingredients for a great season of TV in this episode and I have full confidence that they will be developed in intriguing ways.

User Review
0 (0 votes)