“You know, who we were isn’t who we are. It’s practice for who we want to become.” —Major
While season 1 of iZombie focused on introspection, season 2 has been largely about relationships and interactions: the external. Liv, more comfortable in her soft-as-the-driven-snow skin, has shed a lot of her feelings of inadequacy, striving to pull herself out of the well of zombie alienation. Of course, it helps that most of her nearest and dearest now know that she’s a zombie. It’s harder to feel alone when you’re not shouldering the burden of a heavy secret — that just happens to have totally changed your life.
We assume, of course, that life is good when you’re a gorgeous, happy-go-lucky medical student with a washboard abs fiancé and culinary cravings that are, at their scariest, sugary carbs. But iZombie does love to toy with the nature of “good,” doesn’t it? When Liv eats brains, it’s not gross; in fact, it usually saves the day. And with this aptly titled episode, we’re left asking ourselves: Is Liv happier now? Before life was good, but now she’s a damn crusader for good. Does that then make pre-zombie life “bad”?
Brain-of-the-week Bailey is a type-A, Adderall-popping overachiever who was destined for greatness until some skinny dipping coeds found her swimming with the fishes. (Okay, not fishes, just an indoor pool, but how funny was Ravi’s Godfather impression?) For the first time I can remember, Liv decides to eat Bailey’s brain not just to help solve the case, but to help understand herself. Although Liv has memories of the way she used to be, a self-proclaimed “praise-aholic,” a coupe that runs on compliments, she is also incredibly self-aware now. Over the course of the season, we’ve seen her grow to understand how important working with Babineaux is, both to her mental well-being and to the person she has become.
When Liv asks Ravi if he thinks someone like him would be friends with someone like her, pre-zombie, the vulnerability is sweet but also revealing. She’s so busy crusading all the time that you rarely get a glimpse of self-doubt. Seeing Bailey reminded her of how she used to be. Hindsight is 20/20, and for the first time, Liv sees the bloom has fallen off her rosy past.
Even Major and Ravi can see it. When Major tells Ravi the truth behind the Chaos Killer, well the Chaos “Kidnapper,” they both agree that telling Liv is the worst possible idea. I always though that Major was trying to save Liv from being killed. But it’s so much more complicated than that. He’s trying to save Liv from the self that she’s become and the self she left behind. Raining on her validation parade would not only make her retreat back into the lonely new zombie that we met in episode 1, but also would likely drive her to save the day, thereby putting her in danger. He obviously doesn’t want her dead, to be sure. But he also doesn’t want her to be unhappy.
With all this soul searching going on, the decision to give Blaine amnesia is clever. Of all the characters on the show, Blaine has done no good — it’s fairly black and white — except in the service of making himself The Biggest Baddest Bad. But wipe his memory clean and suddenly he’s a tabula rasa, absolutely required to be the most introspective of all of them. But in a twist of fate (or plot), all of his introspection is external because he’s relying on other people to put the pieces of his life together.
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The pieces of the case of the week, however, are fairly straightforward — and directly connected to solving the tainted Utopium puzzle. As iZombie’s sophomore season has unfolded, the cases have become more and more intertwined with the overall doozy of a plot web. Benedetto (Keith Mars, it’s always so good to see you) had been running his own informant program, which is a shady but potentially useful way to track down Lucky U. That is, until it turns deadly and your bad-guy informant Steve kills your good-girl informant Bailey. And then it culminates not with an arrest, but with Chief knocking you on your ass and killing your bad-apple informant.
Chief and Don E., man. I really thought they’d be loyal until the end. But they’re pulling one over on Blaine so harshly that you almost feel sorry for the guy. But there’s a bright side: Blaine is brilliant, and when two subpar henchman start running the show, someone is bound to slip up. (Which is great because next week we get back-to-back episodes and a finale, so please please please let us get some answers.)
NEXT: Babineaux is so close to becoming Babi-KNOW.
Also slowly putting pieces together? Babineaux. When I moderated the iZombie panel at WonderCon a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but ask the group: How is it possible that, after all this time, Babineaux still doesn’t know about zombies? They all looked at me like I was so crazy I thought maybe I was living in another universe. Turns out, I am — it’s the iZombie universe in which everyone knows about zombies but the one dude who is being helped by them and needs to know how to crack his case? He doesn’t. This bubble is an interesting one. How quick we are, as viewers, to accept this alternate universe, a bubble in which everyone lives normal lives, except some are zombies and some aren’t.
But there is hope for Babineaux! I swear I saw the teeny tiniest glimmer of interest — Recognition? Doubt? Oprah aha moment? — in his eyes when Benedetto tells just the craziest story about an informant that finally cracks. “I work for zombies, man. Flesh-eating zombies, man!” said the informant. “Zombies! I have officially heard it all,” says Benedetto, shaking his head. Come on, Babineaux, clap your hands (or stir fry some brains) if you believe!
We got some tender moments between Liv and Babineaux this episode as she tells him about Drake (still missing, sigh) and admits she was withholding information from him. “You can trust me with almost anything,” he says. “I do. Almost anything,” she replies. It’s subtle but important. No matter how much they open up to each other, until he knows she’s Z-positive, the real truth is a mystery.
Besides the tainted Utopium/Super Rager/zombie antidote relationship, it’s one of the few mysteries left. But that apparently won’t last long. As Major heads to use Vaughn Du Clark as an antidote-testing lab rat (the irony here is that he’s already a rat, and not a cute one that prepares French comfort food in Paris), Minor saves — spoils? — the day and inadvertently rats Major out. Rats! It was almost so perfect.
“Life’s a bitch. This is the slap.” I love this Super Max slogan almost as much as I love the fact that Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas is the one singing the Super Max jingle in the commercial.
“That’s Rob Thomas, there’s something so compelling about the stuff that he writes,” Vaughn says of the singer, but also probably of the iZombie (and Veronica Mars and Party Down) co-creator.
Benedetto: You’re on quite a high streak. Solving case after case.
Babineaux: It takes a village. [shoots Liv the cutest look]
(Liv and Babineaux are hitting peak friendship this ep.)
Liv: Idle brains are the devil’s workshop.
Ravi: I think it’s hands.
“Bro, come on, it’s me. The only thing I’ve murdered is ass.” —Brody
High five to this Ferris Bueller meets Spaceballs homage: “My bro’s cousin’s girlfriend’s roommate saw her get busted selling Addy.”
Ravi: She was strangled with some kind of chord. Garroted, like Luca Brasi. Fitting that she too went to sleep with the fishes. [In a Godfather voice] “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.” That’s Don Corleone.
Clive: No it isn’t. And was Clemenza that said that line anyway.
“Well if it isn’t Blaine John Deaux DeBeers McDonough Jingleheimer Schmidt.” —Bozzio
Peyton saying “so, we’re done?” was pretty loaded with meaning. Although she really wants to make this case, her chemistry and body language for the past few weeks have made it pretty clear she’s not done with Blaine. (And I’m not mad about that.)
“Get an MRI or a CT scan, maybe a PET scan. Anything with an acronym really, just as long as it tests brain function.” —Ravi
“I really seem to inspire negative reactions in people. Was it something I said?” —Blaine
Ravi: Also, you also murdered the fourth man to walk on the moon. And you picked a fight with me once. Don’t worry about it. I won.
Blaine: None of this makes sense, man.
Ravi: I’m scrappy. I’ve got reach.
“Remember how I was telling you about that guy whose life you ruined? How you turned his fiancée into a zombie, then cost him his job, killed a bunch of kids that were close to him, kidnapped him and locked him in a freezer and tortured him before stabbing him to death? This is him.” –Ravi
Of all the Robert Buckleys (including the shirtless ones), Robert Buckley singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from Oklahoma is now my favorite.