One of the great things about escalating tension by having characters keep information from each other is that when the secrets start to come out, the result is exciting and immensely satisfying. Like it did so well in season one, iZombie is again using this device to slowly untangle all of the interconnected story threads of this season to create one big, complicated, glorious mess to work through in the finale.
Just like in season one, the biggest mess that needs untangling is Major and impossible situation he finds himself in. Ravi knows his secret now; knows that he’s what the public thinks of as the Chaos Killer, but is actually playing a far more dangerous game. The scene where Ravi and Major work through what is going on with Max Rager is a perfect one because it relies so heavily on the relationship both those characters have with Liv. She’s the fulcrum of the show, so making her the fulcrum of Ravi and Major’s decision making serves to reinforce their individual bonds to her—as well as influencing the actual plotting. Ravi wants to tell Liv immediately because she is intricately involved and deserves to know, and also because she’s the person he trusts the most and his closest confidante in everything they do. Major, on the other hand, has spent the whole season decidedly not wanting to involve Liv out of a sense of duty to protect her from getting hurt.
It’s the classic trope superhero stories use to keep loved ones in the dark about their true identities, and it’s as annoying on the surface here as it always is in those stories, but iZombie does a smart thing by underlining just how willing Liv is to mix herself up in danger for the people she cares about by showing her waltzing into Mr. Boss’ office and roughing up one of his henchmen in her quest to find out what happened to Drake. It’s a bit clunky, sure, but it underlines the fact that Major isn’t being some sort of martyr. He legitimately thinks he is doing what is best, and once Ravi hears what Liv did, it gives him enough motivation to hide it from her as well. It helps that they obviously aren’t going to be able to keep it from her for long, as Dale finally gets an eyewitness who comes forward and associates Major with Minor the dog, and gives her enough to arrest him on suspicion of being the Chaos Killer. Now Major is in jail with no easy way to access brains humanely. And just like that, iZombie starts closing the loop on Major’s entire season two story arc, an elegant unraveling not dissimilar from what they did with his story in season one. Major certainly gets the best long-term arcs of any character on the show.
Besides Major, the other thing unraveling is amnesiac Blaine and how his newfound memory loss affects his connections with all of the other characters. Seeing Blaine so void of his essential Blaine-ness is strange and off-putting, and frankly kind of terrible, so this bit of plotting is obviously leading to something. One thing it does well is set up Blaine’s former Utopium business to fail in some sort of spectacular manner, and watching Don E and Chief take over and blithely trick Blaine into thinking they were his bosses all along is simultaneously satisfying and disconcerting, because it is all going to go so spectacularly wrong. Mr. Boss has been fairly quiet in these past few episodes but his name is always echoing through the edges of the story, keeping him involved in the story even when he’s not an active presence onscreen. In the meantime, we at least get scenes like the one where Ravi tells Blaine about all the horrible things he’s done, and then Major gets to awkwardly introduce himself as the byproduct of all those terrible things. It’s hilarious and twisted and wonderfully pitched within the episode, and a good reminder that Blaine is still a horrible person, even if he can’t quite remember.
The reason this episode works as well as it does—and this is an overall great episode—is because the case of the week is one of the most engaging ones of the entire season. This is the kind of case that makes iZombie feel like it exists within a universe, because it brings so many elements of that universe together. The case itself feels eerily like something out of Veronica Mars, as a college student running for student body president is murdered. The case brings back old friends Brody and Austin (fraternity members from the funny “Zombie Bro” episode earlier this season) and also ties Enrico Colantoni’s detective character Lou Benedetto into the mix as well. Bringing back pieces of things we’ve seen before in unexpected ways enriches the episode and the show as a whole, and it helps that the case itself—a morally twisty case of Benedetto overstepping boundaries with confidential informants—is compelling on its own while also connecting back to Don E and Chief’s new Utopium business as well. Each episode the writers impress with how committed they are to making the disparate parts of their universe feel like they naturally fit together.
The case of the week impresses for another reason, an unusual one for this show: The brain Liv eats is subtle and peaceful and yet still tied like a straightjacket to who Liv is as a person and where she is with her own mental state at this point in time. Drake going missing really threw Liv for a loop, and learning he’s an undercover cop has her questioning everything. Giving Liv a Type A brain, one that pulls something out of her own past that she doesn’t access anymore now that she’s accepted her zombie lot in life, is a sneaky way to get her to actually access emotion in surprising ways. The biggest examples of this are two small moments where she connects with Clive on a personal level in a way their relationship doesn’t usually allow, first when she confesses to him how freaked out she is about Drake, and again when she admits that Benedetto was able to use her for information because she used to be obsessed with pleasing people and earning praise. They’re small moments but really lovely and still ones, and in a season where Liv and Clive have gone through a lot of turmoil and mostly come out of the other side as colleagues who respect but don’t confide in each other, it feels like a turning point in that relationship, in a good way. At least until she finds out Clive has applied for the FBI, right?
- Major’s plan to use Vaughn as a test subject for the zombie cure is foiled, but that possibility is still dangling out there. Will it be Vaughn, or maybe Rita/Gilda that is the guinea pig? And now that Major is in jail, will Liv have to do it?
- What’s better: Ravi’s Don Corleone impression, or Clive totally shutting it down immediately in every way?
- I’m sure Liv waltzing into Mr. Boss’ office and beating up one of his henchmen won’t come back to haunt her for any reason whatsoever before the season is through.
- My favorite random thing is Don E and Chief eating bluegrass band brains and then having a little concert in the basement.
- There were so many things in this episode that reminded me of Veronica Mars: The student radio station with political debates (where are you, Piz?), Enrico Colantoni in general (but especially how his wild and crazy act was like when he got that gross tenant out of Wallace’s house), and “mutually assured destruction.”
- “Life’s a bitch, this is the slap.” Vaughn is so perfectly douchey.
- “That’s by Rob Thomas. There’s something so…compelling about the stuff he writes.” Complete with Max Rager theme song by the actual musician Rob Thomas!