The tricky thing about doing a show that relies so heavily on the main character adopting a new personality every week is that if that personality is a bit of a flop, the episode can flop right along with it. This week’s iZombie isn’t a total flop—there’s too much good happening around the case of the week for that—but Liv on hot mess party girl brain was definitely the least effective one so far this season.
Part of this issue could simply be the way this brain hits you, personally; Yvonne the Entire Foods cashier-slash-wannabe DJ is every manifestation of your worst coworker and that one roommate you had in college who drove you up the wall, all wrapped up with some weird baby talk issues in a neat, obnoxious bow. To Liv’s (and the show’s) credit, she knows things are about to get very annoying, and they never really pretend you’re supposed to like Liv when she’s dropping the ball left and right. The main problem is that most of what Liv does and says while under the influence isn’t quite funny enough to make up for reminding you of a stereotype of everyone you’ve ever wanted to casually strangle for being bad at life.
Where the case falls down beyond being annoyed by Liv’s antics, though, is in the pacing. There’s a lot happening in this episode, and at one point the case is gone for so long that when it does return, it feels like an unwelcome interruption to what we actually want to be watching. The show is usually so good about parceling out their A, B, and C (and sometimes D, E, and F) stories that when it doesn’t quite fit together seamlessly like it doesn’t here, it really stands out.
There were definitely much more important things to accomplish in this episode than Liv eating some scattered narcissist brains, because a ton of things happened beyond the case of the week. The biggest among those is the likely not-so-surprising revelation that Blaine did, in fact, get his memories back and has been faking his amnesia in order to give himself an easy life reset button. There is a lot to unpack here, but the final result ends up feeling like it did far more damage to Peyton’s character than the show likely intended. Peyton falling for Blaine could have genuinely worked if both Peyton and Blaine’s stories were given the necessary room to develop in a way that made their connection vital and inevitable, while still recognizing how fraught with issues it would be. A district attorney falling for a former criminal who has vowed to reform (even if it was because of amnesia) is filled with the kind of angst that, if mined correctly, could be very compelling. Instead, it was rushed too quickly and then dropped just as fast, making the whole thing feel plot motivated rather than character driven. Peyton has barely been given the time to develop as a character as it is, and this didn’t help. The one saving grace is that she took Ravi’s somewhat unwelcome advice and tricked Blaine into telling her the truth, then immediately ended things with him for his deceit. Peyton deserves a real, juicy story that she’s the center of, and I do hope she somehow gets one now.
The episode’s emotional center revolved around the cure, both following Major’s journey through his memories (both lost and then found), and then Liv’s emotional rollercoaster of learning she can now take the cure. We got to briefly meet Major’s mother, who apparently left his father for another woman and led to them being estranged. It’s somewhat odd to see parents on this show considering how much it has divorced itself from any of the characters’ family members, but it was sweet.
The biggest emotional swings came when Major regains his memories and Liv gets to dream about being able to finally be cured, and those mostly landed, even if it was inevitable that the actual cure would somehow slip out of their grasp right when they finally had a reason to use it on Liv. You can’t really have a zombie show without a zombie protagonist, but this is the first time in quite a while that Liv’s desire to be human again was addressed, and I think reasserting that wish is important to keep the character feeling grounded. Even if poor Liv and Major can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to that cure and their timing in being together.
Now that the cure has been stolen and the one final dose is in Natalie’s hands because Major gave it to her to potentially save her from her captors, it feels like many of the threads the show was weaving this season were suddenly wrapped up, but in a way that they can easily branch off into the next story. Will Liv and Major just accept their fate and move on from the idea of being together? Or will there be another period of mourning for Liv like in early season two, and a frantic search to find Natalie and the cure? Of all the story threads remaining, I’m most interested to see where Fillmore Graves and their mission for zombie survival in the face of the threat from humans goes from here.
- Honesty if the episode had just been an hour of Major being excited to eat ice cream that would have been fine. “But… it also turned you into a baby?” from Liv was killer.
- The cop at the case of the week crime scene and the guy who wants to buy a cure in the Scratching Post look exactly alike but they are not the same person. I think. Due to different haircuts. But it is still very, very confusing.
- So what is Blaine doing with the recipe for the blue brain juice? Is he going to dose his client’s brains somehow? If he immediately goes back to being a bad guy now that Peyton dumped him that certainly would be boring. A complicated guy who’s trying to be good but keeps doing bad things would be far more compelling.
- Ravi and Major talking girls while playing video games was great. I am always in for more breezy-yet-revealing character moments.
- Who stole the cure? Don E seems like way too easy of an answer, and so does Blaine. Maybe it was Fillmore Graves, since Justin did overhear them talking about the cure previously. Hmmm.