iZombie – Season 2 Episode 3
“Real Dead Housewives of Seattle”
iZombie throws itself head first into a series of interconnected stories that all feed into each other in really clever ways.
The case of the week formula was a little different this week right from the start as we see the murder happen and know who the murderer is very early on. What we don’t know is who arranged the murder and why they did it but that’s where the standard part of the formula comes in. As usual we have Liv and Clive talking to various people, asking questions and dealing with the evidence while Liv is overpowered by the personality change caused by the brain she has ingested.
Her personality change this week was to take on the traits of a rich housewife. In order to make this work week on week some stereotyping is often necessary to give the viewer something tangible to use as a frame of reference. In this case it’s the multiple marriages, digs at friends behind their back, lending importance to really trivial things and just generally acting like a complete snob who is an authority on absolutely everything.
Rose McIver’s considerable acting talent is able to sell this perfectly while retaining enough of Liv to have it not be a full transformation. I make this point every week but there has never been a weak performance from her in any episode of the show. She’s just such a good character actress that her personality shifts are always an absolute blast to watch.
As with most episodes her personality shift compliments the way that she feels at that particular point. In this episode Liv is feeling really lonely in general with Major avoiding her, her family not talking to her and Ravi caught up in his own life. She spends this episode looking for friends so that she isn’t alone on her birthday as it turns out. She doesn’t tell anyone that her birthday is coming up presumably because she doesn’t want a pity party. Her desire is to have people want to spend time with her which makes perfect sense. McIver puts across Liv’s vulnerability in this situation perfectly and I think she embraces her alternate personality more than she normally would because of this.
I like that she acts so much more assertive in going after what she wants from people. Her confrontation with Major in the Max Rager offices is the perfect example of this as she puts across her disgust with him being associated with this evil company. I wonder what the reaction will be when she finds out what he’s really doing. Major’s point about needing to make a living would be a fair one if we didn’t know what he was really up to but it’s a very real heated argument -at least from Liv’s side- and it’s refreshing to see her so passionate about something.
That scene in general is so wonderfully chaotic. Liv is arguing with Major over his life choices while Vaughn Du Clark watches on loving every minute of it as he knows exactly what is going on. There’s also Gilda hidden around the corner trying to process everything that she’s hearing. Clive just stands there looking confused.
Clive is still pretty underdeveloped but every week there’s little touches of his personality coming through. I like how fed up he seems with Liv’s personality shifts to the extent that he won’t entertain it any more. His reaction when she tells him that she’s not wearing the right shoes to walk to the car is priceless. I like that Clive doesn’t really want to socialise with her when she tries to get him to come to her secret birthday celebration and I can completely understand that given that he never knows what it is that he’s getting from her. Their relationship feels very professional from his side this season and it’s a good move. I still want that full episode from his perspective to really explore how he feels about the grief he gets from working with her every week.
Major is really headed down a self destructive path. He is becoming dependent on Utopium, has committed himself to murdering -probably- innocent zombies and is keeping it all to himself. He is distancing himself from his friends and refusing to ask for help despite the fact that they could probably offer it. He seems to enjoy the fact that legally Clive can’t do anything about his suspicions around his connection to the Meat Cute murder spree at the end of season 1. His tryst with Gilda is yet another addition to Major’s descent. It’ll be interesting to see how this all develops as it’s only a matter of time before someone finds out the truth about him.
Ravi has quite a lot to do this episode despite his relative lack of screen time. It turns out that he’s seeing some as yet unseen girl he met in the club when trying out Utopium and is bragging about that but a spanner is thrown in the works by the return of Peyton who is heading an initiative to bring down Utopium in Seattle once and for all. Ravi and Peyton’s conversation is really well done as it comes across as awkward but mature. They are honest about how they feel and now that the zombie secret is out they can have some very honest conversations about what life is like for each of them. I’m glad Peyton is back as her departure last season was very abrupt but her return makes it feel like it was all part of the plan. Whether the intention was always to do it this way or not is up for debate but it all fits together perfectly.
There’s no Blaine this week but having Steven Weber’s Vaughn Du Clark chewing the scenery more than makes up for it. Weber is clearly having a blast with this role and comes across as so deliciously evil that it’s hard not to like him. How can one show have so many charismatic villains rattling around without having ruined at least one of them by now?
Du Clark is connected to everything from the case of the week to Major. Having him feed into different aspects of the show is great as it puts Max Rager as the centre of everything. His relationship with Gilda is deepened this week with the reveal that he is her father which just adds another layer of creepy to everything. I like Gilda so far as there are hints that she’s not happy with what she is involved in but doesn’t see any way out. I get the impression that she likes Liv and feels bad for spying on her.
The reveal of Du Clark’s project to study zombies in the secret basement is classic super villain but fits him perfectly. It’s clear that he wants to see how far the disease progresses so is using the poor Doctor as a test subject and occasionally feeds him people he doesn’t like. I’m curious to see how this all turns out. It didn’t take long for this show to have my full attention.
As a final point I am very impressed at the constant ability to throw in references to Veronica Mars in a way that feels reasonably organic. In this case the lyrics to the Dandy Warhols song “We Used To Be Friends” are casually used in a conversation. I love the sense of humour this show has.
A great episode that keeps the different aspects of the various character stories connected in ways that prove interesting.
The procedural elements of the case of the week were largely by the numbers but the fact that it connected to Vaughn Du Clark and Max Rager in a way that allowed Major’s story to feed into it as well made it feel deeper than it normally is.
Rose McIver’s performance is as always on top form and it connects nicely to her feelings of loneliness as her birthday approaches. She spends the episode using her more assertive personality to try to get friends to celebrate with her without much luck. The degree of vulnerability to Liv works really well and offers an explanation as to why she embraces her new personality more than usual.
Major is very far down his path to self destruction by using Utopium recreationally, having trysts with the equally troubled Gilda and generally committing to his murdering of the -presumably- innocent zombie population. He is on Clive’s radar so it’s only a matter of time before he is caught.
Clive develops slightly in this episode but there’s still not enough of it. I like that his relationship with Liv seems purely professional from his side and he’s generally showing signs of being fed up with her personality shifts on a weekly basis.
Ravi does a lot with very little screen time with his strongest moment coming from his conversation with the returned Peyton. It’s awkward yet mature and the fact that they can be totally honest with one another about the strange things that happen in their lives.
Vaughn Du Clark is as good a villain as Blaine as evidenced here. Steven Weber is clearly having a lot of fun chewing the scenery at every opportunity and the way he interacts with every character just works perfectly. His secret zombie studying basement is intriguing. I can’t wait to see where this season goes.