We find Liv Moore lying on a body bag like a sunbather on a blanket, soaking in the day. She’s cheerfully ruminating about how easy it was to tan and freckle in the days before she became a pale-faced born again zombie. She’s beaming. Her eyes twinkle. Undead Liv looks downright lively, but there is something superficial, even buggy in the witness of positivity. After four episodes of growing into her carrion skin, Liv has become too glib about death, too friendly with her morbidity personality. You hear it when she asks Doc Ravi whom among them he’d eat first if he were a zombie, or when they start joking about this week’s Murder, She Ate homicide vic, a drugged skydiver impaled on a tree branch. An exercise in competitive gallows humor unfolds: Who can come up with the most deliciously inappropriate food metaphor for the shafted chutist? “Shish kabob.” “Chicken satay.” “Cocktail wieners.” “Corn dogs.” “Lollipops.” “Cake pops!” Rose McIver and Rahul Kohli do something impressively tricky here: They make us laugh while making suspicious of Liv’s flipness, that it’s evidence of something missing. Maybe something that can be regained via this week’s One To Grow On learning-by-eating-brains life lesson? Yes, indeed! And it begins with a buzz-killing newsflash: That Cake Pop in the tree is actually someone Liv knows. And with that, the laughter dies.
So began “Flight of the Living Dead,” in which the latest node on Liv’s ascending curve toward rehumanization involved learning to appreciate the value of a human life, fighting for it, even, and more, enjoying what life you have to the fullest. The theme played out in various ways across a few different characters. We got Major screwing on his superhero, searching for Jerome, who went missing searching for his missing friend Eddie (we know both were claimed by Big Bad Blaine for his Meals on Wheels biz). Major’s activism in turn activated Detective Babinaux to expand his concept of justice, to care about doing right by the living as well as the dead. And we got a new zombie – and a major rival to Major for our heroine’s unbeating heart—Lowell (Merlin’s Bradley James), a burgeoning rock star yearning to live more fully, and now, yearning for Liv Moore, too. He’s also sponsored by an energy drink called Max Rager, a company with a cult-like culture, and the episode seemed to suggest that it may have something to do with the zombie outbreak spreading throughout Seattle (Clive’s homicide boss is a hot sauce-swilling, nail trimming revenant, too!) and presumably beyond. (My pilot recap observation that Liv’s zombie scratch resembling the logo for Monster energy drink ain’t so crazy anymore, is it? It wasn’t a coincidence! IT WAS A CLUE, I tell ya, A CLUE!)
“Flight of the Living Dead” wanted Liv to transition her ironic joie de vivre to a more authentic verve. I appreciated the point, but it also seemed slightly redundant with the point of the pilot, in which we watched her recover her heroic agency. The storytelling struggled to find interesting ways to express this spiritual modulation in the flow of the procedural plot. Those breakaways to Liv joy riding in the rain through the streets of Seattle with a goofy smile on her face? Kinda corny. What seems to be working best for the show is when Liv’s acquires a psychological property—kleptomania; sensuality; paranoia—that can play out in visceral ways that either help her or hinder her (or both) in her crime-solving and her relationships.
A story about an attitude adjustment was also an opportunity to tinker with the franchise in general. “Flight of the Living Dead” fed the mystery of the zombie mythology and gave Liv a new relationship that should allow her character to dramatically express a broader range of emotions. With Lowell, Liv now has a significant other with whom she can wholly relate to, with whom she can be all of herself. Lowell does give Liv maybe a man too many. In the Buffy parlance, she now has an Angel to add to her Spike (that would be Blaine) and her Riley Finn (that would be Major). My guess is that one of these guys will be out of the picture by season’s end. But which one?
NEXT: More questions. Plus: Was that Reverse Flash’s house?