Let’s be honest: The first half of iZombie’s second season was a full-on emo roller coaster. For the eternal shippers (like me), it was a moment of complete and utter bliss to see Liv and Major back together again, despite all the obstacles life — and undead afterlife — was throwing their way. But such tragic love always comes at a cost, right? We all knew it was too good to last. And when the iZombie writers had Liv embody a jealous stalker, well, the writing was on the fake scrapbook.
But as finite as the breakup is, we were left with a lot of loose ends. Max Rager had spotty, scattered appearances throughout, and we had a brief murderous fling with the new Biggest Bad, Stacy Boss, but ultimately the first half of season 2 spent its time laying the groundwork of evil. Any hopes of redemption were quashed by the tragic metaphor of the rat becoming a zombie once again. As in: Liv and Major are over, Liv and Clive are over, Stacy Boss is still free, Blaine’s tainted Utopium sucks, Max Rager can’t pinpoint their zombie problem (there’s a new research director every time we go to the Rager dungeon) — and we’re right back to where we started.
This, of course, opens up the narrative field. Everything is fair game now and we shouldn’t expect that things will operate in the same old constructs — which is a good thing but also potentially precarious territory for a show just halfway through season 2. Luckily iZombie isn’t afraid to let loose ends unravel to the point where you don’t think they can ever be tied up in a neat little bow. Heartbreak City, population audience. Even though we hope for happiness and zombie cures, we’re destroyed every single time. So, despite the fact that both Blaine and Major are unknowingly working on borrowed human time, I’m thinking this half of the season might give us a happy ending (or two).
And in the midseason premiere, we aren’t disappointed. Instead of going right for the emotional jugular, the show plays it fast and loose — and funny — with a study in meta that takes us to the set of Zombie High (Liv’s favorite TV show, of course). The “accidental” shooting of chiseled-jawed actor Jordan sends Liv and Clive (back together again, whew) behind the scenes on the teen horror sudser where Liv can fangirl to her heart’s content. Unsurprisingly, everyone’s got a motive, from the 9021Bros to the sextape starlet to the zombie extras to the angry propmaster. (Spoiler alert: It was the propmaster, upset by the accidental death of his assistant director mistress.)
The trope — a set on a set! — is nothing new, but the iZombie team knows how to freshen it up. A “Marlon Brandouchebag” going full method on a teen drama? Questioning filming locations? (“Why film in Seattle if it takes place in Portland?” “Tax breaks.” Note: iZombie, based in Seattle, shoots in Vancouver.) Bowing down to the majesty that is the Craft Services table? Fandom shipping (“I’d ship those two if he weren’t dead,” says Ravi)? All accounted for.
Rose McIver, who obviously takes great joy in being able to let her funny flag fly on a “drama,” gets to mock actors’ most actory behavior. She’s particularly tickled (or so it seems) overacting the scenes, in which she pantomimes picking apples and runs lines with Wyatt, one of Zombie High’s “teen” stars. “The slap just felt right,” she says, and you just know that she’s been on a set where someone has said that before.
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Speaking of someone deserving a slap, Blaine is back in business, with his elves packing up brains and Utopium for their customers. “Some of our customers are getting restless, they miss Natalie,” says Blaine’s chief elf. “I’m working on it,” replies Blaine. “There’s not just going to be a new zombie hooker under the tree.” And there it is. It’s so easy to fall for Blaine’s charm — which reminds me, where’s Peyton? Isn’t she supposed to be swept away by his charm by now — that sometimes we need a reminder of how Big Bad he really is. Of course he was the awful creature who turned our sweet frozen hooker with a heart of gold Natalie into a zombie toy. When Dale stops by to see him, it seems like another dead end, but luckily Clive has the sketch of the suspect from the Meat Cute just, you know, hanging around on his desk — and thus a new lead begins.
NEXT: The Real Big Bad
But as evil as Blaine is, he pales in comparison to Team Max Rager, who are still working overtime in the dungeon lab to boost their disgusting energy drink to the next level. Never fear, Major is on the case, becoming Vaughn Du Clark’s new BFF and even giving him a friendship bracelet to prove it. (Just kidding, it’s a fitness tracker. Just kidding part 2: Its embedded with a secret mic, so it’s really just spy jewelry.)
There’s a lot of reconciliation in this episode. Though it starts out with the bumpy scene in which Ravi discovers that Liv and Major broke up, five minutes later Major is giving Liv a Christmas gift, and they’re all cracking wise. Clive, it seems, can’t live without, well, Liv. So they become partners once again. “My motivation, to team back up with you. It’s what I live for,” she says as she leaves the precinct. It could be a throwaway line, but this sentiment is more loaded than that. Since she doesn’t actually live (being undead and all), the only thing that makes her feel alive is when she’s helping other people. Seems like this quality is setting us up for quite the Achilles heel scenario.
What do you think?
“Silver lining: You two get to have hot zombie sex.” “Room temperature zombie sex?” –Ravi
Blaine: How long do I have? If it’s less than a few weeks, I have to add brains to my X-mas wish list.
Ravi: Hard to say.
Liv: We’re starting a pool. You interested?
Blaine: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
“Swing by when you’re done and you can canvas this. And by canvas I mean have sex with.” –Dale
Liv: Last night I was watching Zombie High. Now I’m IN it. Is there a word that means both cool and awful?
Ravi: “In the 16th century the word was egregious, now it just means shockingly bad, as in the way Zombie High treats science.
Propmaster: Did you find the prop gun yet?”
Clive: Not yet.
Propmaster: Bet it will be me who gets fired and not Numbnuts.
Liv: I love the cute little names the crew have for the actors.
Liv: Well, there it is, some of the most famous junk in America.
Clive: Cover it. Cover it! Who gets pierced there? Why?
Ravi: It’s called a Prince Albert. How do they get it through airport security?
“It’s like a bad acting workshop! This is what you get when a TV show worships at the altar of youth. Bimbos and Himbos running around screaming. At a school where apparently shop class isn’t the only place where you can see something wooden and poorly contructed.” –Ravi
“The almond milk seems off. Just get me a kale ginger juice.” —Diana, the showrunner (Oh how people in LA love to mock people who live in LA.)
Zombie 1: Without us, there’s no Zombie High. It’s just… High.
Zombie 2: You know what would be fun? A zombie show where a zombie’s the star.
Clive: That’s dumb.
Note: If anyone is fluent in ASL, I’d love to know the diatribe that actor was signing when his translator recounted it as “It figures.”