But Liv's a Cheerleader! (And a stoner.)
Credit: Liane Hentscher/The CW
S1 E12
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Emotionally smarting from the psychotic hallucination that faux re-meet-cuted Liv and Major (such a short respite from the usual Meat Cute), I approached this episode with trepidation. Could my heart take much more angst? Turns out it can, and it did, with Liv giving the full zombie reveal to one of her nearest and dearest—and this time it was for real. All the loose ends unraveled in last week’s episode set this one up for some answers. And yet, we got very few beyond the fact that bashing a zombie’s brain in does, in fact, kill him. (Although, apparently I’m the only person in the entire zombieverse who didn’t know you can obliterate a zombie by blowing his brains out.)

Instead, it’s more questions—and, as it turns out, a ton of violence and suspense in the goriest ep since the season began. Will I ever get used to the smash and squish sound of a rock crushing someone’s skull? To set up the horror fest, the opening mini movie of “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Rat” is an homage to I Know What You Did Last Summer. (Later on, one of the kids says “And if there’s anything I learned from I Know What You Did Last Summer 1 and 2…” to which Liv, not missing a beat, responds, “You saw I Know What You Did Last Summer TWO?”)

Four teens careening down a dark, curvy road hit a dude with their SUV, freak out—”Somebody needs to do chest compressions to the beat of ‘All for the Best’ From Godspell,” says cheerleader Kimber—melodramatically, and after the requisite “we can never tell anyone about this ever” speech, bury him. The problem: That dude is Sebastian, the Max Rager thug who tried to kill Liv last week, but got a dose of the undead life when he licked her blood. The burial lasts about 3.5 minutes before Sebastian busts out, snaps Kimber’s neck, and goes cruise ship buffet on her cerebellum.

Liv, more determined than ever to kill Blaine, is in a full revenge-plot emo tailspin from all of the zombie Patient Zero fall-out. With Lowell, it was painful, but now that Major is in the midst of getting closer to the truth, she thinks the only way to save him is to keep him in the dark. But the creatures that inhabit that dark are way worse: Blaine is on the warpath to find his million-dollar ticket, the Brainy Lean Cuisines that Major stole. And Major? He’s watching zombie apocalypse vids on YouTube and recording a confession to be watched in case of his death.

Charmingly, the first round of “you are what you eat” brains turns Liv into a one-woman pep squad. “Can we not talk about high school right now?” she zings, as Ravi reminisces about his younger days. “It’s hard not to feel like you’ve peaked when you’re doing shots of two-week-old liquefied prom queen brains in cold Mexican hot chocolate.” It’s the best deadpan of the week, suitably out of the mouth of the best undead chick I’ve ever come across—and perhaps the most cynical. Ravi’s cured zombie rat, Hope, dies, and we get another Liv deadpan: “Hope’s dead. How ‘on the nose.'” But there’s still some tainted Utopium left, and Cheer Captain Liv, full of “totes” and “like’s” has suddenly found hope again. (But not Hope, she’s gone to rat heaven.)

My favorite moments from this season are the tiny flashes of real Liv when she’s under the influence of someone else’s gray matter. Watching Rose McIver play two characters simultaneously is truly a joy, and nothing makes me more invested in this show than when she smirks and rolls her eyes at herself. The way she physically embodies each brain-inspired character of the week is uncanny. It’s a tic that’s gotten even more pronounced as McIver has gotten more confident in the Liv-ness of it all. And while the show’s writing and storytelling continue to get tighter and more intriguing, it’s McIver’s spark that makes me tune in week after week.

And damn does she have fun with Brain One this week. While interrogating Kimber’s BFF Tate, Liv goes full teen, winning her trust with a promise of an ex-boyfriend gossip sesh and fro-yo. (Hey, did I mention McIver is from New Zealand? You’d never know it from her flawless American accent.) Tate plays a message from Kimber—”I’m seeing Hotty McBody and I’m thinking I may take that oral exam”—which leads Babineaux to: 1. Make the most amazing face while reacting to that sentence; and 2. Track down a band called The Asshats, a.k.a Kimber’s hit-and-run mates from the night of her death who promptly deny any involvement in the case. But Liv does get a vision of French kissing (sorry, I never get to say that) stoner Nate. “High school girls make weird choices,” she explains to Babineaux.

Meanwhile, Major, no longer a minor character, keeps making stupid decisions and goes health inspecting at Meat Cute. He also buys two guns and… a grenade?! Seriously, his death wish is approaching levels of bone-headedness that could really sabotage how great his storyline has been developing. So it’s absolutely no surprise that he ends up with Blaine’s goons at the end of the episode. I want to feel bad for him, but his behavior is annoying when Liv isn’t properly interwoven into his narrative.

In saccharine BFF mode, Liv and Peyton—who should be around more; Aly Michalka has really turned what could be a one-note roommate stereotype into a saucy well-developed character—reminisce about old times and even bat around a pillow or two. Pitch Perfect 2’s Anna Kendrick might think a pillow fight sets feminism back 30 years, but in this case, it’s a sweet reminder of what the two friends once had—pre-zombie, of course. Sadly, a promise of a spin class date goes unfulfilled after Liv houses brain pizza courtesy of French-kissing-burnout-bad-boy Nate, who Liv and Babineaux find “OH EM GEE” dead in the band’s rehearsal space.

A text from Kimber to Nate (a week after her death) full of dollar signs and a security cam video of Cameron fleeing the scene 7 minutes after Nate’s death raises questions that Babineaux and Liv can’t answer. That is until a sketch artist’s portrait, courtesy of the she-who-has-no-name but sounds like Demi Moore drummer, brings Sebastian back to undead life. Faux Demi then sneaks out of the police station to go meet Cameron at a motel. This is definitely going to end well, right?

NEXT: Peyton learns the truth

Round two of “you are what you eat” starts with an apple bong and continues with edibles and stonerspeak. Lollipop Liv morphs from But I’m a Cheerleader to Dazed and Confused so smoothly that you’d think you were at an indie double feature. And things get pretty cinematic. Liv arrives home to Peyton, hogtied and out cold, as Sebastian cooks up chili stir fry medulla. Cue a gnarly fight involving a cast iron frying pan, multiple stab wounds, and the inevitable zombie rage that ends with Liv putting a knife through Sebastian’s brain. (I’d bet iZombie saves a lot of money on dry cleaning since the undead don’t really bleed.)

This time, Peyton sees it all. “What are you?” she sobs, and Liv tells her the truth: “I’m just going to tell you. I’m going to tell you and trust that you know I’m still me… There are zombies in the world, Peyton. And I’m one of them.” Liv then goes to get something for Peyton’s wound, but Peyton’s gone when Liv returns. It’s a heavy scene, and both women made me realize that at its core, the show is often less about brains and more about heart.

But the moment, and Cameron, it seems, is quickly killed—oh good, more loose ends, the suspense is killing me! The show has really mastered the cliffhanger, and not in a manipulative way. This episode is iZombie at its most suspenseful: In the last 3 minutes, Ravi is stood up by an MIA Peyton, Major gets tied up in the back of Meat Cute, Blaine hires Liv’s brother, and a bloody Faux Demi crawls to a hotel room phone to dial 9-1-1. And I just realized there’s only one episode left in this season. Could things get any worse?

Other Choice Cuts:

Ravi buys Hope (his cured zombie rat) an exercise ball because he’s worried she’s bored. Liv: “Ok, but no Rat Soul Cycle. If you start lighting candles and blasting ‘Work Bitch’ I’m intervening.”

Liv: Why would a zombie leave behind perfectly edible brains?

Ravi: Maybe he got interrupted.

Liv: Or she. Girls can do anything!

Ravi: Yes, please. Let’s be politically correct when speaking about zombies.

I got a bit dreamy-eyed imagining Ravi in a Jimmy Stewart-esque suit for his Vertigo tour of San Francisco with Peyton. Seeing him waiting that on that porch (while Peyton bailed post-zombie-rage) was like watching Josie Grossy get stood up for prom all over again. Heart-breaking.

Cheerleader Liv’s mastery of teenspeak under the influence of a pinky promise:

Tate: You have to promise me you won’t tell anyone, ok?

Liv: Ok, but we kind of might tell people, but only if we like really really really have to.

Tate: Ok, but you cannot tell her dad.

Liv: I personally am not going to tell her dad. But he may find out. I just want you to have all the information because you so deserve it.

Tate: I like, so appreciate that.

When Liv becomes a pothead, she tells Peyton, “Sorry for bogarting your apple,” and I was immediately transported to my basement with green shag carpet. That apple bong was like my DeLorean set to 1994.

“I’m not going to prison. Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? I’m not taking a shower wearing tampon sandals!” You know that when someone watches this show in 5 years, they’ll have no idea what she’s talking about, but right now it doesn’t matter, because iZombie’s writers are connecting to your pop culture soul.

Blaine was fairly absent for this episode. Maybe he’s the season’s Big Bad and he’ll be taking his leave next week OR the best Blaine is yet to come and Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero will find a way to go all Spike and Buffy with Blaine and Liv next season. (Not in the biblical sense! Just in the evil and good pairing up to fight an even Bigger Big Bad.) What do you think?

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