It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s…Liv’s identity crisis! And in its midseason finale, iZombie has chosen to tackle it, well, head on — leaping tall buildings with a single brain! — by feeding Liv a superhero cerebellum so her outer persona matches her inner need to save the day. Zombie chow may give Liv the opportunity to express her feelings and thoughts sans filter, but brains both sustain and control her. It’s a lethal combination and, for the audience, a revealing one. iZombie has done an amazing job of creating this expository loophole in which it can both show and tell without being heavy-handed.
I’ve talked at length about the strength of iZombie’s pacing, but it bears mentioning again, especially given the intensity of this episode. By making Liv a superhero, the writers have managed to again balance the gravity of a deeply pensive and soul-searching situation with wacky, improbable superhero humor (a real life superhero is unbelievable, but whenever someone finds out zombies are real, it’s a shrug and a “hey, did you get my last text?”). This week’s episode was loaded with drama, but with the delicate balance between dark monologues and Ravi’s reactions, Major’s pain and Liv’s superhero zingers, the show has become not only an expert in plot pacing, but an expert in emotional pacing as well.
It has also crafted an important narrative for Liv. We root for her to win and for everything to go back to normal. And as long as she’s Babineaux’s partner, helping solve crimes, she too can neglect her dark side. But take that away, and there’s only one question.
Who — or what — is Liv Moore if she can’t turn her zombie-ism into a force for good?
As Liv finally faces this internal struggle, everything that she’s fought so hard for suddenly becomes inconsequential. This season might as well have been subtitled “The Redemption of Liv,” as she finally began to claw her way (quite literally and disturbingly during this episode as she sires her second zombie) back up from the affliction that hijacked her life and happiness. This return to normalcy seemed like the perfect antidote, or a good enough substitute while the actual antidote was out of reach, but it took a desperate attempt to rekindle her former life to make Liv realize that it just wasn’t realistic anymore. It wasn’t enough.
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Nothing, it seems, is enough, as every decision she thinks that she’s making for the greater good leads her down a darker path. Liv saves Mr. Boss’s henchman by making him a zombie because Blaine says he’ll lead them to the tainted Utopium. After visions lead her to Boss’s warehouse full of guns, she attempts to be a superhero herself and Babineaux ends their partnership. Finally she calls it off with Major in an attempt at “if you love something, let it go free.”
It’s clear by the look on her face at the end of the episode that nothing has helped, but this week’s brain, which belonged to vigilante crime fighter The Fog, is the most revealing yet — and also the most devastating. Flipping the script, the story features a hero (The Fog) unknowingly rescuing a criminal (small-time thief Mary Contreras), who tries to kill a hero (Liv), who’s rescued by a villain (Mr. Boss). iZombie is at its best when it toys with the notion of good and bad. But ultimately, who’s the good guy, and who’s the bad one?
NEXT: Lingering questions for the rest of season 2