iZombie – Season 2 Episode 5
“Love and Basketball”
iZombie makes massive strides in the ongoing story of Major hitting rock bottom and develops some of the fringe characters significantly.
After the cliffhanger ending last week that suggested Major wanted to accept help from Liv to get his back on track the episode immediately redeems this overly sudden development by having the opposite be true. Major turns up to Liv’s apartment hoping to rekindle their relationship in a way that he clearly hasn’t thought through properly. Initially Liv is swept up in the passion of the moment but saner heads prevail when she worries if physical contact with lead to him becoming a zombie. She mentions open sores in his mouth and goes over the possible nightmare scenarios that have her accidentally turn him at a later point. We see that Blaine turned a woman after sleeping with her in season 1 but it’s unclear what the actual cause of it is.
I like that the show is taking a scientific approach to these questions by having Liv test everything about Major she can think of to make sure that kissing him didn’t cause the transformation. It’s good that Liv is cautious about these sorts of things as that was the rationale for her breaking up with Major in the first place. Rekindling their romance is tempting for her but she is acting in his best interests by showing restraint. Robert Buckley is incredible in this scene playing Major as being irrational and uncaring about what happens to him. His cavalier attitude is a symptom of his self destructive tendencies lately. He really is at a new low as he doesn’t care what happens to him to the extent that might leave him as a zombie for the rest of his life.
Some positive steps are made to get his life back on track when he becomes the basketball coach for a group of underprivileged kids which starts bringing him back to what defined him in the first season. Being a social worker is what he was good at and he was very passionate about it so it’s good to see him return to something resembling that. It’s clear from Robert Buckley’s performance that Major is really enjoying making a difference to the lives of kids again.
The basketball team is connected to the case of the week as the murdered party was their former coach. I didn’t find this particular case all that interesting but I think it was only ever supposed to be a means to an end in the context of the overall story. The investigation goes through the motions and resolves itself by the end of the episode but I was never really fascinated by it.
Liv’s alternate personality of course comes from the victim and she gains an appreciation for basketball that she didn’t have before. It is well timed as it allows her to give Major a pep talk similar to one a coach would give that casually insults him, encourages him to stop wallowing and allows him to take charge of his life. It’s a funny scene and Major’s reaction where he calls Liv weird is priceless. I like that he understands why Liv’s personality changes so frequently and has come to enjoy it.
Her appreciation for basketball allows her to have a more friendly conversation with Clive about basketball. I really enjoyed seeing these two characters talk about things that aren’t gruesome murders and show a spark of friendship between them (as a side note, I know for a fact that Malcolm Goodwin plays Basketball whenever he can as revealed in my interview with him here). There’s also a hint that Clive is starting to get suspicious of Liv as he makes a particular note of the fact that she notices his Knicks mug without ever doing so before.
Clive gets some real development in this episode as he continues to investigate the Meat Cute massacreat the end of last season. Dale (Jessica Harmon) gives him an important piece of information about the missing astronaut’s hair being found at the scene. He also learns from Lt. Suzuki’s wife that her husband kept brains in the fridge. It seems that it won’t take him too much longer to get to the truth and that’s something I really want to see.
Another great scene from Clive is when he beats up a deadbeat Dad because he hits his son. He seems particularly angry about that for reasons that are unclear but I foresee and abusive childhood revelation coming for Clive. I welcome any attempt to develop him as I think he is a compelling character who is vastly underused.
Speaking of underused characters, Ravi has quite a bit going on this episode. He finally has possession of the Tainted Utopium he needs to restart his search for a zombie cure. It’s different this time as he wants to do it properly with months of testing before making any determinations. The effects of the last cure are still something of an unknown so it makes sense to be more cautious on this one. Spending months testing is an obvious attempt at stalling because if he finds a cure then the series is over and I really don’t want that but it does make sense from a character and plot perspective as well so I’ll happily allow it.
Blaine has other ideas as he wants the cure immediately and won’t take any excuses. Having him show up to the morgue singing “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure is a stroke of genius and feels perfect as an entrance for Blaine. Seeing Ravi and Blaine awkwardly fight over the concoction that proves to be an instant zombie killer is both hilarious and awesome. It adds more strings to the Ravi character and is simply a joy to watch.
Another impressive episode that further fleshes out some of the underdeveloped background characters in a way that is compelling.
Major’s self destructive tendencies are a pretty strong focus for the show right now and I like that him turning up to Liv’s apartment seeking help wasn’t an indication that he was suddenly ready to get his life back on track. Liv is concerned that she will turn him into a zombie through physical contact but he clearly doesn’t care which shows that he is still at rock bottom.
Having him take the job of coaching a kid’s Basketball team after their coach is murdered is good for the character as it brings him back to what he is good at and was passionate about back in season 1. Robert Buckley’s performance clearly shows that Major is enjoying the experience.
The case of the week involving the murder of the Basketball coach very much goes through the motions but I think the point of it was to inform the other parts of the story rather than be the story itself. It was all fine but I never found myself compelled by it.
Liv gains an appreciation for Basketball by eating his brain which allows her to have a different interaction with Clive. They have a more friendly conversation about Basketball which makes for a refreshing change to them constantly talking about gruesome murders. Clive also seems suspicious of the fact that Liv has only just noticed the Knicks mug that he has always had.
Clive’s investigation of the Meat Cute massacre makes some developments now that he knows that Lt. Suzuki kept brains in his fridge as well as the hair of the missing astronaut being discovered at the scene. Surely knowing the truth can’t be too far off for him now.
The scene where he beats up the deadbeat Dad who has been hitting his son is really well done. It strikes a nerve for Clive which makes me think that there is an abused childhood revelation in his future. If handled right then it should be great for the character.
Ravi gets his hands on the Tainted Utopium so restarts his work on the cure with plans to spend months studying it extensively before coming to any conclusions. It’s a clear ploy to extend the life of the show but that’s fine as I have no desire to see the show end.
Blaine showing up demanding a cure immediately makes sense for him and seeing them fight over the proven zombie killing concoction is absolutely hilarious. It allows these characters to shine more than they normally do and is just a joy to watch.