David Anders
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

Occasionally, iZombie has an episode that is so overwhelmingly packed with plot that it essentially throws out all of the show’s rules on episode structure simply so they can fit it all in. “Mac-Liv-Moore” is exactly that kind of episode; so many things happened throughout the hour that it is less an episode of television and more a test to see if your brain to keep up. Thankfully, even though it is structurally a bit of a mess, that didn’t stop it from also being completely entertaining.

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One of the biggest reasons the episode is more entertaining than mess is that Liv on white rapper brain didn’t become a black hole that sucked everything else into its orbit. This had the potential to be extremely awful, but instead it was a runner that played out visually more than anything else, save a few choice scenes where Rose McIver got to showcase her (not great, not completely terrible) rapping skills. Now, this only works if you don’t stop to ask why this week Liv can speak in Liv voice and not brain voice when last week she was a medieval maven the entire time, because those questions will drive you to drink. The main reason this brain was allowed to recede into the background was that there was no real murder case for Liv and Clive to solve. Which raises the question: Is iZombie a better show when Liv and Clive don’t have a murder to solve? In my mind it is, but I don’t think it is as sustainable of a show, which is key. Still, getting a break from the murder cases once in a while is refreshing.

Because the murderer this week is “Zombie Killer Cain,” an escapee from last week’s bus massacre who was in prison for murdering zombies (including his own wife and child), Fillmore Graves takes jurisdiction and calls a lockdown over the city so they can track him down. This manhunt ends up not really being a manhunt at all, as Cain manages to make it all the way to Chase’s office with the plan to kill him for Fillmore Graves’ role in starting the zombie outbreak. It’s a brutal scene, capped off by Major coming in and shooting him right before he takes Chase out. But Cain doesn’t die immediately, and Chase decides his punishment should be to be first turned into a zombie and then killed by guillotine in a public execution. That Major does this on Chase’s orders while barely even flinching is a huge step in whatever the show is doing with Major’s character this season, but the bits and bobs that got us here really don’t make for much of a satisfying character arc. Major is seriously suffering for lack of clarity, and the show only has a few more episodes to pull it together into something more coherent, if not ultimately more sympathetic. Simply understanding his arc is far more important than having any sort of sympathy for it, at this point

Fillmore Graves’ lockdown is fairly uneventful for Fillmore Graves throughout the episode themselves, but it does do a great thing for everyone else when it forces most of them to remain in the same place together. The highlight of this is the return of Dungeons & Dragons, as Ravi and Clive team up with sketch artist Jimmy and Vampire Steve to play a game. The game itself is nothing more than a periodic comedic interlude, but always a welcome one—and it does lead to something that will likely end up being important later, as Michelle joins the game and she and Clive end up making out in an interview room. Even in an episode packed with other information, small, quirky, character-focused runners are always welcome, and this one was certainly welcome here.

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Also forced to lock down together are Liv, Peyton, and their new charge Isobel, who is still getting used to the idea that she is immune to the zombie virus and is inevitably going to die from her illness. Because they are all locked in the police station, Ravi ends up meeting Isobel and then subsequently learns about Isobel’s immunity and Liv’s new position as the Renegade of New Seattle. It’s so nice to have a huge secret only last two episodes, especially one that Ravi would likely have been on board with all along. Now that he knows Isobel exists and knows about her immunity, Ravi can take his place as another useful part of Liv’s team as he works on a potential vaccine.

Perhaps the biggest and most disturbing storyline introduced in this episode is Blaine’s new get rich not-so-quick scheme, which seems like it has the potential side effect of wiping out all of humanity (and zombies too). Blaine apparently wants to get extremely, stupidly rich—even though he is doing perfectly fine for himself right now—and has decided that real estate is the way to the big bucks. Specifically, he wants to buy up depressed New Seattle real estate and then sell it for a huge profit once Seattle “opens up” again. And no, Blaine isn’t talking about the zombie virus being cured or going away; that would eat into his profits too much. He’s talking about somehow making the whole country like New Seattle, so no border walls are needed. To get his seed money to start buying the properties? He’s selling the stolen zombie cure doses.

A few questions about this. The first is how Blaine plans on zombifying the rest of the country, which will likely be revealed in the coming episodes. The second—and what seems like the most important—is how Blaine expects an entire country overrun with zombies to be able to sustain itself when New Seattle can barely get by. The inevitable outcome would be scores of starving zombies, who then turn into the scary Walking Dead-type zombies and kill everyone. It’s an awfully half-baked plan for someone like Blaine, which makes me think I either completely misunderstood the plan or there are evil layers yet to be uncovered that will solve all these issues. Either way, there is surely a lot more of this plan to come.

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Stray observations

  • Isobel’s disease is captioned as “Freylich Syndrome,” which per a quick Google search does not seem to exist.
  • It’s the little things that make it special, like the light bulb that comes on over Don E’s head right when he figures out Blaine’s ultimate goal.
  • Blaine is attempting to take over the world or some such nonsense, but he still has time to have Don E hack Peyton’s emails. Blaine, let it go, Blaine.
  • Don E’s idea of a “$100,000 brain” is Kid Rock’s brain, which was honestly very surprising for some reason. He doesn’t seem like a Kid Rock kind of guy. Red Hot Chili Peppers, maybe.
  • Veronica Mars connections, ahoy! Zombie Killer Cain is played by James Jordan, aka Lucky and Tim Foyle on Veronica Mars. Maybe he’ll get an awful wig and come back as another character here!
  • Did Liv put a lot of mayonnaise on her brain wrap because it was a white rapper? That is hilarious.

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