“Maternity Liv” kicked off the second half of iZombie’s rookie year with storytelling that continued the recent trend toward better integrating its various parts and a story that began the work of launching the season toward an endgame. This week’s murder mystery proved to be essential to stating and clarifying The Big Picture mystery—who or what is responsible for the zombie outbreak and why are they doing it?—and seemed to suggest that finding a cure for the zombie plague remains an actual going concern. Doc Ravi’s speculation that zombies are made from a toxic mix of Utopium and a secret ingredient in the Max Rager energy drink was proved correct in the episode’s grisly last shot, a lab rat under the influence of the lethal cocktail raging out on another rat. Now can he brew an antidote? If so … wither the premise of the series should Liv literally regain her humanity? TBD.
A vast zombie subculture is taking shape, one that tenuously or directly links law enforcement zombies to big business zombies to scuzzy underworld zombies of all seedy stripes, a complex, productive (un)life web that is precipitating a private, parallel zombie economy and food chain. I think. The villains of the episode—Mark and Margo Shepherd, alleged lunatics whose alleged self-invented belief system allegedly called for child abduction, child brides, and child sacrifice—left questions on the table. (Hence, all that “allegedly.”) Were they zombies? Zombie sympathizers? Were they connected to Blaine’s “Meat Cute” biz? Or were they just weirdos who made for convenient patsies for the intensifying 9 Trolls problem? Uncertainties and confusions, I’m more intrigued than ever.
I enjoy iZombie’s character-oriented stuff as much as its crimes, conspiracy, and crazy neo-grungy Seattle. This episode featured two really imagination-capturing riffs on the you-are-what-you-eat conceit, but failed to maximize the opportunities as much as I would’ve liked, a casualty, perhaps, of an episode with too many good ideas and too much plot to manage and not enough time to do right by everything. The case of the week required Liv to eat the brain of a pregnant young woman, a particularly heavy bit of business for a relatively light show like iZombie, but Rob Thomas and co. deftly juggled the tones, as Rob Thomas and co. usually do. Liv developed maternal instincts as a result, and it made for quality discovery and deepening. Example: I thought the story wrung just the right amount of poignancy out of Liv’s realization that being a zombie means she can’t ever have children.
Gaining motherly eyes was good for gaining greater appreciation for her mom and her family in general. That said, it didn’t leave me feeling any more invested in mom or her family as characters. And the comical expressions of Liv going full metal mommy—gags like hounding Ravi to eat his veggies or scolding her brother about getting a job—could’ve been more inspired. Meanwhile, Liv’s zombie boyfriend Lowell ate the brain of a gay egghead. It was good for complicating the developing romance between him and Liv for an episode—dig the sweet, chaste relationship-building montage, set to a sweet, chaste cover of “No Diggity”—but the idea that eating a brain could change your sexual orientation for a spell deserved a more elaborate, imaginative treatment than what we got here. I’d love to see the show return to the idea downstream.
This week’s dead meat was Emily Sparrow, another mirror twin for our re-humanizing heroine to reflect upon and learn from. Like Liv, Emily was what you might call an “overachieving pain the ass,” a 4.0 student and role model perfect, until danger boy party animal Dylan Munson dug his dirty claws into her and took possession of her heart, soul, and brain. Ah, love. It makes metaphorical zombies out of us all. (Speaking of doppelgangers: Munson even looked like Liv’s drug dealing zombie maker, Blaine.)
Emily got pregnant with Munson’s child, and that enraged and shamed her well-to-do parent. In fact, in a fit, Dad even threatened to keep his daughter locked up for the duration of the pregnancy. Emily went missing after attending a party with Munson, and the cops, thinking foul play, publicly tagged him as prime suspect. But Emily didn’t die. Yet. She was found many months after her vanishing by a quartet of teens playing spin the bottle in the woods as the story began. She was milky pale and decked in a dirty white gown, eight months pregnant and near death. The doctors couldn’t save her, but they did save her baby.
NEXT: What happens when you shoot a zombie?