If the past few episodes of iZombie have been puzzles wrapped in enigmas, laced into straight jackets, locked up in chains, and sealed into an underwater box, “Abra Cadaver” is a simple card trick: entertaining but just a slight of hand to distract you from the big show to come. Perhaps I’ve gotten a bit used to the supersized serialization this season, and a just-the-facts-ma’am episode is a little too dead for my undead, adventure-seeking soul. Even setting it in the world of magic and illusion didn’t give me the drama I’ve come to crave. But my zombie sense tells me that this set-up structure will ultimately lead to one hell of a ta-da.
As for the case of the week: Magician — and Criss Angel lookalike — Sid Wicked is found murdered in his hotel room, a metal playing card having sliced his jugular. Security tapes show that no one except the maid that found him entered the room at the time of his death. Wicked, staying at the hotel for the Prestofest, a convention of illusionists and their ilk, was universally hated among the prestidigitation set. And we get many magic moments before the red herrings — one quite literally — lead us to Smoak and Meers, a Penn & Teller rip-off who killed Wicked because he threatened to reveal the secret behind their greatest trick. For the first time in a while, the case of the week is strictly procedural, and there’s no carry-over toward the greater storytelling arc of the season.
Liv does deliver some pretty dope card tricks, though. (Apparently Rose McIver learned real tricks for the show.) “This is the best brain ever. I almost want to start killing magicians so it never ends,” says Ravi. And the cerebellum snackage gives her a stockpile of soliloquies that are a forlornly corny cross between an emo teen and a death-obsessed carnival barker. But it feels like the episode lacks the pacing that’s become an iZombie hallmark.
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I know I’ve been begging for a good, old-fashioned one-off, but a week without bad guys is like a meal without brains. Whither Max Rager? Whither Gilda/Rita? Whither the race for tainted Utopium? Whither Stacey Boss? Where have all the villains gone? It’s not as much fun to root for the good guys when there are no bad guys in sight. I’m aware that a set-up episode leads to an amazing next one, but man, I miss the creepy parts.
Perhaps, though, the pacing is, in fact, unsettling enough. Everyone seems just a little too comfortable with the status quo. Major, the understanding boyfriend, is totally fine with heavy petting and his GF mood-swinging on the brain of the week. Ravi and Blaine seem to have halted their search of the magic Utopium cure. Peyton talks about Liv’s zombie rage like it’s bad PMS. And it’s a little weird that Ravi is so eager to talk to Peyton about his relationship, especially after drooling over her booty-shaking, smoothie-making morning routine. (Equal time for Major’s abs, I suppose.)
On top of it all, Liv acquiesces to partnering with Blaine just a little too easily. (Although “Help me Zombie-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope” would win me over, too.) Don’t get me wrong, I was stoked to see Blaine and Liv team up to fight for the greater good. I’m all for Law and Order: iZombie, in which we get our own Benson and Stabler — even if they do have drastically different agendas: Liv wanting to, well, live, and Blaine wanting to make a buck. But why is everybody so disturbingly mellow all of the sudden? Bring on the spice!
NEXT: Blaine mentally charms the pants off Peyton
We do get a few hot moments, though. While Peyton rebuffs newly single Ravi’s advances, she’s got the major yayas for Blaine. Their morgue flirting was as sparkly as it was depraved. (Is it wrong that I’m more excited for the possibility of a Peyton/Blaine getting their groove on than Liv/Major?) Speaking of yayas, Babineaux and Bozzio are creating their own joint task force in her bedroom. Everyone’s pairing and unpairing like they’re running the stairs in a British farce. Interestingly, Liv felt alienated for so long, and yet now that she’s the only zombie in her clique — having cured Major and Blaine — she’s the least lonely than she’s been since the season started. Perhaps the real action has to exist between every duo besides Major and Liv because they can’t have any real action. (Horizontal action that is.)
But despite the seemingly chill episode, maybe it’s all just an illusion, not unlike Liv’s changing the test results to make Babineaux think that the brains in Suzuki’s freezer were from a cow. Last week’s twist ending is still unresolved — Seriously, what is Major doing with his zombie igloo? Will we find out now that Liv has revealed she’s on to the fact that there’s a zombie serial killer on the loose? — and now we get a brand-new mystery. Someone is staking out the FBI agent’s house and leaves an envelope on her doorstep.
iZombie has mastered the art of misdirection, and surely this trick will wow and amaze. As the great Houdini said, “That’s the thing about magic; if it’s done right, the answer’s right in front of you.”
- I can’t tell if Peyton is getting the best lines or she just has the best delivery, but keep ‘em coming, iZombie.
- The Twitter (“a vast collection of humanity’s impetuous thought vomitings,” according to Liv) subplot is a nice nod to the cast’s Twitterverse presence:
Ravi: Hashtag I think we have a new lead.
Liv: Don’t do that.
- Liv and Major’s pillow talk is super saucy for prime time:
“The difference between a turkey burger and a hamburger.” —Liv, describing heavy petting versus s-e-x
“Of course I want to sex you up, girl. You’re VERY attractive. And I very much have a penis. But just being with you is enough.” —Major
- Liv: It’s like I’m always Britney, but sometimes I’m hit-me-baby-one-more-time Britney, and sometimes I’m head-smashing car windows Britney.
Major: Real talk, I thought both of those Britneys were hot.
- “I think Rick Bang lives in a one-bedroom apartment in the San Fernando Valley and gets paid to do it on camera.” —Liv, on Ravi’s “magician name”
- Ravi: You know Steph, the woman I’m kind of seeing.
Peyton: Kind of seeing. Women love when you use qualifiers like that.
- “I’m an acquired taste. Like gazpacho or that free U2 album.” —Blaine
- Blaine singing “Danny Boy” made me melt into a little puddle on the floor. Repeating my request for a musical episode STAT.