Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

The best thing about “Looking For Mr. Goodbrain, Part 1” is that it is very obviously coded as the first part of a two-part season finale. This isn’t a slam on the episode itself—it’s a very engaging, often hilarious hour that ends with a well-executed shock—but an acknowledgement that it is designed to be much more like a setup for the finale than an episode that could ever stand on its own. Now we just have to impatiently wait until next week to see how all this setup gets resolved.

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If one thing was clear in this episode, it was that if you were a returning recurring character, you were in serious trouble. The first to fall victim is Ravi’s old boss (and former one-night stand) Katty Kupps, who is found murdered in an ally. Her murder is essentially the jumping-off point for almost all of the stories in this episode, from the personality Liv takes on by eating her brain to the escalation of the “Aleutian flu” outbreak she was investigating at the time of her death, and the way it winds through everything to set up whatever is to come in the finale is impressive.

One slightly different thing about this story is the way Katty’s brain affects Liv’s behavior. In most cases, it’s fairly easy to tell when Liv is under the influence of brains she’s ingested, or if she’s simply being herself. But while the episode begins with Liv having the typical visions—hilariously of the time Katty and Ravi had sex—it quickly becomes a much blurrier line between what is Katty and what is Liv. Why does Liv keep going to the same bar and picking up human men that she then has to reject before it goes too far? Why is she so unsettled and strangely clingy with Justin? It’s not until we learn that Katty went home with a different guy every night that it all becomes clear, becoming the rare case where we find out elements of the deceased’s lifestyle after we see them manifest. Switching things up like this upsets the balance of how we know this world works just enough that it becomes mildly unsettling, leading to a sudden cathartic release of that tension once we know what’s actually going on, and it’s a clever little narrative trick to pull out every so often.

What makes it especially interesting is that Liv stops herself every time before it goes too far with these men, right up until she doesn’t. The reasons she stops herself are just about as obvious as the reason she ends up giving in at the end: She’s a zombie and can only have sex with zombies, lest she infect them. So it was kind of the writers to have Chase Graves walk into the bar right when she had decided she was done with temptation. Liv clearly is no match for the full Chase Graves charm offensive and ends up flirting with him and falling into his bed (or desk, I suppose). Her dalliance not only serves to throw a wrench in her relationship with Justin, but also ties right back into the Katty Kupps murder case when she finds a napkin with Katty’s name and room number on it on Chase’s nightstand. Did he possibly murder her to stop her investigation?

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Katty’s murder investigation also moves in an interesting direction when Clive goes to track down the people Katty was interviewing regarding the Aleutian flu and ends up at the doorstep of one of the Fillmore Graves higher-ups. This is all dovetailing into something I can’t quite wrap my brain around yet, but setting up all of these avenues that are clearly about to neatly collide in next week’s finale. It seems as if the Aleutian flu is actually the zombie virus, but as of now it is unclear.

Also returning only to suffer a horrible death is Natalie, who shows up on Major’s doorstep all happy and human. The writers definitely played the long game on her story, setting it up in the first episodes and only really paying it off at all here. Every time Major would randomly seem to be hung up on Natalie or searching for her early in the season was all just stealthy setup to bring her back right when Major was at his lowest, have them reconnect in a romantic way, and then brutally blow her up while Major is only a few feet away. It’s honestly pretty horrifying, but the shaky execution in Major’s story during his search for her pays off effectively emotionally here as she meets her end. The most surprising thing is how actually surprising Harley donning a suicide vest and blowing up the party turned out to be. It’s fully in character and yet also came out of nowhere at the same time, and that’s the way you pull off an effective end-of-episode shocking cliffhanger. Until next week!

Stray observations

  • Considering Rahul Kohli is constantly battling people on Twitter who come at him with the same racist garbage that that witness did, it was nice to get to watch him do it in the context of an episode.
  • Mayor Baracus wants Peyton to come on board as his chief of staff, and Liv wants her to take the job. I think this would be a very interesting thing for Peyton to be involved in for next season.
  • Ravi not fully explaining to Liv how he ended up as the alt-weekly’s secret source bothered me. Shouldn’t that have been a longer discussion? Shouldn’t Liv be angrier since he never actually could explain?
  • I like that Major’s zombie tranquilization and freezing skills came in handy here. Major may feel useless right now, but he has a trade!
  • “We’re not freezing the mayor.” Bless this show that this is a normal, only slightly amusing sentence.

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