Liv's cup is half-full while Blaine's is half-empty

By Danielle Nussbaum
February 24, 2016 at 05:51 AM EST
Bettina Strauss/The CW
S2 E14
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One of the greatest things about iZombie is how it has managed to convincingly redefine the concept of the villain. After all, this is a show in which the lead character, a straight-up, Night of the Living Dead-level zombie, is the hero. Liv’s save-the-day status couldn’t be more unlikely, and yet we root for her, even as she becomes the Barefoot Contessa of brain recipes. By subverting the stereotype, iZombie began with an unconventional premise, and as everyone’s stories begin to collide in this episode — quite literally, the end of the show is full-on multi-plot gridlock — we see how thoroughly the writers have plotted out this season’s development. And how they’re constantly making viewers second guess their allegiances.

We began with four bad guys: Team Max Rager, Blaine, Mr. Boss, and — sorry, but it’s true — Major, a.k.a. the Chaos Killer. So we have three horrible jerks and one good guy who has no choice but to murder zombies. Then we get Drake. So we’re at five villains: two malefactors, one thug, one desperate good guy, and Blaine? Well, let’s just call him entrepreneurial. Tonight, in a surprising twist involving Det. Lou Benedetto (Enrico Colantoni playing a police detective, not a private eye, but welcome back, Keith Mars!), we find out that Drake’s an undercover officer. It’s like The Hunger Games but with villains: Who will survive and turn out to be good and/or truly evil?

The standard procedural setup of this episode is clever enough to take on the dichotomy. When Liv eats the brains of sunshine-spouting coffee shop owner Leslie, killed by a falling air conditioner (New Yorkers, take note, the struggle is real) in front of her daughter Cher, she becomes a ray of positivity — which is incidentally the name of Leslie’s commune-like coffee spot. Across the street at Seattle’s Daily Grind, Leslie’s ex-partner (played by Oscar Nunez from The Office) serves the same coffee but with more hip, bitter barista sass. Watching Clive and Co. try to place the blame on Pam, the rehabilitated employee with an attitude, and Leslie’s angry ex-partner, the message is clear: What you see is not what you get. Leslie’s conniving daughter plotted the whole murder and manipulated her lovesick boyfriend into taking the fall. (I guess Cher wasn’t so sunny after all.)

“Love makes you stupid,” she sneers as we cut to Drake, sitting in an interrogation room, refusing to give up Liv — even though she could jeopardize the case. Must be all those adorable emoji texts. Underneath the brooding and flexing and smoldering beats the heart of a man in love. (Or it would be if zombies had hearts. Although with all the romance he’s throwing Liv’s way, I find it hard to believe there’s not some sort of heart somewhere above those abs.) Even though he’s deep undercover, Drake’s connection to Blaine seems to have been severed along the way, but given that Blaine encouraged Liv to scratch Drake — in order to save his life —I’m guessing the plot will thicken.

Tonight, the villain gets away for the first time ever in an iZombie episode, and it’s damn unsatisfying. Why? Because we want to see the bad person punished. But it’s never that black and white, and the writers want to make sure you know that. Instead of ending on Cher zooming off to her new life in a cab — listening to “Zou Bisou Bisou,” à la Mad Men — we get two more key moments.

NEXT: Major + Gilda/Rita + Liv = bizarre love triangle?

First: A bizarre love triangle. Major, adrift in his own mortality after Ravi’s second round of antidote turns recovery rat into a monster, shows up at Liv’s to confess his Chaos Killings. He probably didn’t expect to run into his past fling. And I certainly didn’t expect Liv to land that right hook once she found out that Gilda was Rita — or this magnificent line: “You’re a sick bitch, and I want you out now. Because at midnight, I’m going to hunt down anything you own and burn it.” But it seems both Major and I have been underestimating Liv: She’s not a weepy damsel in distress. With or without zombie rage, she is a force to be reckoned with — and after she confronts Major, my guess is that she’s going to be introduced to Team Max Rager very soon.

That leaves us with Blaine, the show’s most complex, compelling, and yes, golden-voiced character. Over the course of the season, Blaine has evoked our pity and our ire, but his charm always wins in the end. And it’s with great devastation that I have to report that we only get a fleeting moment of Blaine in his skivvies crooning a few wink-wink, nudge-nudge bars of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” before Mr. Boss and his henchmen kidnap him. (Perhaps there’s a longer director’s cut of Blaine in boxers belting out the entire song? Please share, Mr. Thomas.) Throat slit, Blaine languishes in a shallow grave for all of 12-18 hours before he climbs out, fully rezombified. I actually cheered.

The moral of the story? Sometimes the bad guy gets away. And sometimes you’re rooting for the bad guy to climb out of his grave and become a zombie again—and get away? I’m not entirely sure

Killer Cuts:

WHERE’S PEYTON? I’m going to keep asking this until she returns. It’s been two episodes and her absence is bordering on offensive.

Though Ravi didn’t get a juicy subplot this episode, he got most of the quality zingers, as usual. Note to the iZombie writers: If you bring back Peyton, you might have a plot worthy enough for Ravi. Boom! Solution.

Ravi: Your boss is Gandhi?

Darcy the Barista: No, the quote is Gandhi.

Ravi: I know that. [Points to self] Of course I know that, I’m British. That manky old git cost us the crown jewel of our empire.

Ravi: Apologies if my hair looks like I was driving with my head outside the window of the Millennium Falcon.

Darcy: Is that the new Ford? The one for Millennials?

A special shout out to iZombie’s music supervisor who has been absolutely killing it this season. First, a genius setup of Blaine’s zombie-inspired “A Whiter Shade of Pale” with Mr. Boss’ shout out to Procol Harum. Then Los Bravos’ “Black Is Black” playing at the cheery coffee shop when Cher tells her mom’s ex “feel free to paint it black.” Check out the season 2 playlist here, courtesy of The CW.

“I’m makin’ cappuccinos, roll up like Al Pacino.” —Pam’s rap/spoken word

“I remember my first. So smooth. Like filling out a 1040A.” –Mr. Boss

Clive: It’s raining.

Liv: That’s liquid sunshine my friend. Don’t believe me? Ask a farmer. Or a duck.

Ravi: Or Gene Kelly.

Chinatown jokes never get old. Blaine deserves all the neo-noir twists that the iZombie writers can pile on him.

Major: Imagine how put out the guy who invented the polio vaccine must have been, what with all the impatient children dying of polio stacking up.

Ravi: Jonas Salk is his name. Perhaps if he scored a touchback for the Huskers…

Major: A touchdown for the Huskies.

Drake: That’s a pretty good shot of me. Feel free to hang it in your locker.

Lou Benedetto: And cover up my David Cassidy? Doubt it.

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Rob Thomas adapts the comic series for The CW.
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