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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

iZombie: “Patriot Brains”

Rahul Kohli (left), Robert Buckley/The CW
Rahul Kohli (left), Robert Buckley/The CW
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As horrifying as it was, the end of this episode had to happen. iZombie has been slowly guiding us toward this moment all season; more importantly, it’s been slowly guiding Liv to this moment. Throughout the season Liv and Blaine have been two zombies on diverging paths, their stories only coming together on the periphery while they both go on adapting to zombie life in drastically different ways. But Liv is our hero and Blaine her evil foil, and it was inevitable their paths would have to cross again. It was inevitable Liv had to learn about Blaine’s operation, so she can eventually try to stop it. And it was sadly inevitable that she needed an emotional reason to drive their ultimate showdown and make it personal. It doesn’t get more personal than the bad guy killing your boyfriend.

This episode alleviated a lot of my latent frustration about Liv’s somewhat lackadaisical concern about Blaine and the threat he caused. It wasn’t that she blatantly ignored anything—she didn’t have all of the pieces she needed, not until she accidentally ate Jerome’s brain in the previous episode—but once Blaine left her alone early in the season, she definitely didn’t strain her brain’s connective abilities to put any of the pieces in front of her together. Part of this is the show spending time on world building and cases of the week, and the other part of it was giving Blaine’s story (and Major and Lowell’s part in that story) time enough to develop on its own before looping Liv back in. It’s a fun way to structure a season; that is, until you realize the inciting event bringing the two storylines together means breaking Liv (and our) hearts in the process.


If there was any foreshadowing that something was going to go horribly wrong, it happened at the very beginning of the episode when a contrite Lowell busts out a surprise “I love you” to Liv when he’s explaining that he didn’t know how Blaine procured his brains. The entire Liv and Lowell story was extremely satisfying throughout the entire episode, starting with Liv’s indignation that Lowell wasn’t curious about any strange visions he got from the brains, on to his contrition and their reconciliation, and finally concluding with their plan to kill Blaine. It was essentially an entire relationship arc in the span of one episode, right down to Lowell making the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to kill Blaine when Liv couldn’t bring herself to do it. What made the moment so powerful—Lowell turning to Liv and telling her he loves her, then basically turning back around to go after Blaine knowing he’ll likely die in the attempt—is that the moment wasn’t just about Liv, or Liv and Lowell; it was about Lowell, and why he felt like he had to kill Blaine to make up for his own failings. For all we questioned about Lowell’s intentions, he was ultimately a good guy who made bad decisions about procuring his brains, and the reality of those decisions broke his own heart. It’s a great arc for a guest start to get, and Bradley James played it beautifully. The moment where Lowell breaks down to Liv about them eating people to stay alive—that’s the moment the character became something more. Liv later watching Blaine kill Lowell isn’t just a heartbreak; it’s a call to action, one Liv isn’t likely going to be able to ignore.

At the same time Liv and Lowell are plotting to get rid of Blaine, Major is getting closer and closer to the truth about Blaine and the Candyman on his own. Major’s new theory is that the brains have something to do with bodybuilding, but when he goes to the gym to ask around about the possibility of brains his nosiness comes back to bite him when Julien (who he thinks is the Candyman, but is more like Candyman Blaine’s big brawny zombie elf) finds out and shows up at his apartment. Major manages to grab the gun he bought last week and shoot Julien three times, but when Major brings Detective Babineaux to check out the body, Julien is gone. This sets up an interesting dynamic on multiple levels: Major is confused about how Julien could have escaped; Babineaux is getting concerned Major is having some sort of mental breakdown; and Liv and Ravi, the two people who could put everything together, are far more interested in steering Major away from his inadvertent zombie hunt. Now that Liv and Ravi know those bodies were planted at the crime scene, will they somehow bring Major and Babineaux into the fold, especially after hearing what happened with Julien? It seems too early to have all of the major characters aware that Liv is a zombie (or even that zombies exist), but it feels like the stories can’t intersect any other way.

The case of the week was much stronger this week as well, in large part because it tied into Liv’s story with Blaine so well. By eating the brain of an Army sniper, Liv got the skills to feel confident in taking out Blaine—right up until the moment the real Liv snuck back in and she realized she couldn’t become a killer. But the big draw of the case was the eventual killer, played by none other than Mr. Wallace Fennell himself, Percy Daggs. Like Ryan Hansen before him, having a little piece of Veronica Mars in this show from time to time is just a lot of fun. Although the case itself isn’t particularly inventive—the best part is definitely that Daggs’ character kills the guy using a 3D printed gun that rides on a drone—it’s unobtrusive and fills the episode’s gaps nicely enough. Honestly, if every week’s case featured a different Veronica Mars actor that part of the episode would be far more interesting to me. Season two goal, writers?

Stray observations:

  • It looks like Ravi’s rat bite was inconsequential, as he shows no signs of turning into a zombie, or a wererat, or anything else. Why did you torture us like that, iZombie?
  • The “28 Milliseconds Later” opening title card was cute, as was Liv getting by Blaine simply because she deployed her hoodie.
  • So a rich idiot zombie named “Mr. Kaiser” wants to pay Blaine an obscene amount of money to procure a former astronaut’s brain, so he can have visions of going into space? Rich people, man.
  • Blaine’s Nirvana obsession is a fun little runner, but I bet Blaine was an insufferable music snob when he was younger. Name dropping all of Kurt’s bands is a big red flag.
  • “Great. PTSD. What’s more relaxing than a trip down traumatic memory lane?”

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