This show’s weekly opening scenes vacillate between J.J. Abrams’ Super 8-adjacent and Liv-centric—but this week’s was the most titillating yet. From the good three minutes of moaning and groaning and writhing naked under a sheet—“Yes, Yes. NO. I forgot the safe word, what’s the safe word? Kelly Clarkson! Ping pong”—you’d think Liv’s zombie paramour was taking a trip downtown. But this is The CW, people, not Showtime. Zoom out to Liv getting a foot rub that would raise the undead. (It sure seemed to get a little rise out of these zombies, at least.)
Liv unceremoniously sends Major’s early morning phone call to voicemail, having no idea that he’s in prison for breaking into the car of Blaine’s henchman. This strategically placed moment is a big old flashing neon sign: Liv has moved on, Major has become minor, and her body is ready (quite literally) for a new relationship. Indeed, mopey Liv had become a little monotonous. This episode was probably the most fun yet, and it seems we’re just getting started.
Naturally, everything happens for a reason, and this cold—uh, hot open is no different. “I’d forgotten what it was like to be touched,” Liv voiceovers. Hello, relationship–themed episode. Exposition is always a challenge, so what’s the best way to play armchair shrink? Why, have your main character eat the brains of a sex expert with her own sassy radio show called “Good. Morning. Sex,” of course. Boom. Absolute free reign to have Liv Dr. Phil the hell out of every character on the show.
“Dead Air” is so much more than a Frasier Cranium procedural, though. Any Jan Brady would peg the past few episodes as being “Liv Liv Liv.” Now we get a chance to go deep into the minds of Major, Ravi, and even a bit of Clive and Peyton with no brain eating whatsoever. But first, a meet cute: Ravi impatiently waits for Major’s release from jail paging through a kids’ book of Brain Teasers, when Liv’s roommate Peyton busts in to lawyer all over the place. The hearts practically shoot out of his eyes. That is, until Major rolls out with a busted up face—again. Seriously, why must they keep taking mug shots at Robert Buckley’s pretty visage? (Although it’s quite amusing later when Liv asks what happened and he says, “I can’t talk about Fight Club. Crap.”) We also learn that the police found the bodies of Major’s missing Candyman kids at last week’s psycho farm.
Ravi embarks on a new romance—that is, until he’s potentially zombified. Liv finds her happy place—and then loses it in the blink of an eye. Major finds out the “truth” behind his disappearing group home kids—and then proceeds to search for the real truth. And Blaine continues his reign of terror and witty bon mots. All in all, this episode created enough loose ends to last for at least three more seasons. (Hello, CW execs, if you’re reading this: A renewal announcement would be great.)
This week’s dead meat: Feisty radio host Sasha gets a call from “Cheated on in Chatanooga” threatening to murder her over an affair the on-air trouble-stirrer has been having with her husband. Just as Sasha puts a hand on the mic, KABLAM—a gagillion watts course through her veins, killing her instantly. (“Shocking,” says Ravi, when they show up later. Beat… Beat… “Too soon?” The man truly has the best comedic timing on the show.)
Wouldn’t you know it? Liv, grappling with her own love afterlife, happened to have been listening to the very same show in the morgue. A visit to the radio station introduces us to Callie, the faithful assistant and Jane, the show’s producer. Under the guise of being a helpful little worker bee, Liv volunteers to listen to over 30 hours of shows for clues. Is she just drawn to the drama? Or perhaps she’s looking for insight into her own relationships, which are—finally—evolving?
Back in the morgue, Liv is mesmerized by the candid advice coming through her headphones. “Yes, manscaping is a thing. You don’t want a guy to go hacking through the bush like Indiana Jones looking for some Peruvian temple,” Sasha says. Meanwhile Clive has a lead. Shock jock Chuck Bird of The Morning Hurl was feuding with Sasha, not to mention creating some pretty grotesque blow up dolls with her likeness on them. Turns out he was sleeping with her, and his wife’s alibi is as firm as her class of booty-blasting compatriots who can vouch for her.
As the nightmare stories about Sasha pile up—a cupcake-throwing tantrum when she finds out Jane is shopping her own show around, an affair with her assistant’s husband—it’s hard to navigate the suspects’ twists and turns. But ultimately, a doctored audio file leads Liv and Clive back to Jealous Jane who turns out to be more of a head case than Sasha ever was.
You are who you eat: Sasha was the kind of straight-shooter that Liv could never be. “Before this brain, my advice-giving was gentle, sympathetic,” she said. “Now I feel compelled to take people apart, whether they want it or not.” Getting into the head of someone who gets into other people’s heads because you ate what was in her head? Way deep, brah.
But this seems to be the perfect amount of befuddling layering that’s been going on with Liv until now. Finding your identity is tough when you feel like you’re all alone in the world, but meeting Lowell has given Liv her vim and vigor back, not to mention quite the libido. And Sasha had an above-average horniness quotient of her own, which Liv quickly puts to good use while trying to explain to Lowell her latest gray matter snack: ““She’s exhausting. I thought that being a relationship and sex expert might be a little fun, but—“ “Sorry, what expert?” he interrupts. Cut to sex scene with him throwing her on the bed.
All of these things are finally allowing Liv to feel normal again, or at least her new normal. So now that she’s begun to know herself, munching on the brains of a brutally honest relationship expert gives her—and us—the tools to start figuring out everyone else. “I know how close you and Jerome were. I think you holding on to this case is a way of you holding on to him,” she tells a suddenly girlfriend-less Major, who just lost his job and is looking for answers. It’s nice to see him finally starting to get some development as a character. I was afraid he’d been painted into his Mr. Nice Guy corner, even with his evolving B plot of trying to find the missing kids from the group home where he works. (Well, worked.)
Ravi, my favorite character by far, is also getting a life of his own, which is a good thing because the cliché of a morgue Doc only dealing with dead people (even metaphorically) was getting a bit tired. He pushes Liv for the 411 on Peyton. It’s hard to tell if Liv’s protecting him or already under the influence of the honesty serum brain cocktail of, but she tries to shut it down before distracting him with a callback to last week’s rat experiment. Seems the Frankenstein zombie rat Ravi created busted out of its cage and ate the brains of all of his buddies. “The Lannisters send their regards,” Liv deadpans.
Ravi, cowering up on a desk, is not amused: “That rat you’re doting on like a purse Chihuahua could end civilization as we know it.” Later, he shows off his zombie-rat armor, chain mail glove and his will of steel as he stands up to Liv trying to dissuade him from asking Peyton out. (Note: I cheered a bit when she ultimately said yes. But then he had to go and get bitten by that damn zombie rat. Is anyone allowed to be happy on this show for more than 4 minutes?)
Where’s Blaine: Sitting in an abandoned warehouse working on his slow clap, apparently, waiting for Lieutenant Suzuki to stroll in. When he admitted to moving the bodies to distract everyone from the missing kids, I gasped a bit. The officer really tries to put his white hat back on and end his deal with Blaine, because “it’s just too heavy,” dealing with all of it. “Emotionally? Because physically it shouldn’t been that hard. How heavy are bones? …I’m literally your meal ticket.” Oh Blaine, you’re as cold as ice, you’re willing to sacrifice our love, you never take advice, some day you’ll pay the price, I know.
But perhaps the biggest Blaine moment of gasp? Liv has finally found her bliss, smiling as she watches the golden light settle on Lowell practicing guitar. Cooking up a delightful breakfast of eggs and cerebellum, she pops a few pieces into her mouth. Hopping into the elevator to leave, Liv has a vision: Major’s missing buddy Jerome being told to hand over his American flag shoes. Shaken, she glances down through the elevator glass to see Blaine entering the building with a delivery. I knew Lowell was too good to be true—maybe it was that boy band hair cut. Did any of you suspect him?