iZombie recap: 'Zombie Knows Best'
iZombie: Because no other show is going to let Robert Buckley play a teenage girl.
That’s a tagline I’m giving away for free, if The CW is interested. Something has to convince people to give this show a chance, right? Why shouldn’t it be zombie Robert Buckley all hopped up on the brains of a super-dramatic teen? Major with the mind of a 15-year-old girl is easily the best thing about this episode — like, real talk? It’s literally one of the best comedic bits this show has ever done. Like, ever.
First, a disclaimer: Having been a teenage girl for seven years and then worked with them for a few years after that, I feel obligated to at least acknowledge that this whole gag — which finds Liv and Major eating the brains of a regional bank manager and his ice-skating daughter, respectively, to solve their murders — is a little one-dimensional. Every teenage girl has more going on than selfies. But plenty of this show’s brains-of-the-week have painted in broad strokes before. Liv on dad brain is basically Danny Tanner. iZombie is an equal-opportunity roast, and when the results are this funny, that’s fine by me.
Our victims this week are Stanley and Cindy Chen, a father and daughter on their way to skating practice who get blindsided in an empty intersection at 4 a.m. We meet them just long enough to pay witness to their deaths, which isn’t a trick this show pulls with its one-off victims very often, but Stan does a mean dolphin impression, and it deserves screen time. It’s not like Cindy appreciates it.
The accident is too intentional to be anything but murder, which means it’s time for Liv to fire up the brain grill. Aww — Clive’s first time watching his medical examiner snack on a victim! He’d rather not get used to it, but he’s already got this figured out: Liv eats banker brain, which means to improve their chances of solving the case, Major should go for the teenage girl. Liv did this to Major on purpose, didn’t she? I see you, Liv (and thanks).
While Liv is off meeting Stan’s banker buddies and calling people “sport,” Major stays behind at the morgue with Ravi to dispense with the BFF advice as only an unfiltered teen can. Ravi is still hung up on Peyton and Blaine — Peyton left him a message saying she wants to talk, but he hasn’t been able to bring himself to call her back. Major’s advice? Don’t. “She doesn’t deserve face time with you!” he exclaims, perched on the edge of a couch like he’s starting his own advice column. In the words of Major Nathaniel Lilywhite, I can’t even.
The brains of a teenage girl aren’t a terrible thing to be on when your lovelorn friend needs a pick-me-up, but Major does have other things going on in his life. (“I have mercenary training, GOD!!”) In the locker room at Fillmore Graves, we find him wrapped head to toe in towels like a wet dog (I LOVE THIS VISUAL), frowning at his chiseled fellow soldiers: “Your abs make me want to kill myself.”
It’s not easy being a teenager. But when Major is all, “Why can’t I stop taking selfies?” the guys are all, “Because you’re not eating Go-Gurt Brains, bro.” As if weaponizing against a possible human threat weren’t enough, Fillmore Graves has also apparently found a solution to the whole visions-and-mood-swings thing: They mash up a bunch of brains and put them in yogurt tubes. This strikes me as the absolute worst way to consume anything, much less human brains, but Major is (excited whisper) “pretty psyched to tryyy itttt.” Liv is not. As far as she’s concerned, “in this house, we eat whole brains and we solve murders.”
These dad-and-daughter brains are the gift that keeps giving. I’ve enjoyed plenty of Liv’s personality swaps in the past, but you can only take the joke so far when she doesn’t have anyone else at her level to play against. Now that Major can “yes, and” her antics, the characters have more freedom. And as much as crime-solving gives our zombies a good reason to keep enduring mood swings, it’s smart of this show to introduce a way around them. Just in case.
Anyway, in this house we solve murders, and Major’s locker room outburst leads to a big break. He has a vision of Cindy showing her very concerned father a picture on her phone. It’s only a matter of time before Liv has the other side of that vision: The photo shows Cindy’s classmate Winslow in bed with her stepfather, Ken. The fact that this lighthearted teenage girl farce just became a story about statutory rape should not work, but it does, mainly because the dad-and-daughter brain comedy was already balancing out Clive’s sad backstory with Wally. But we’ll get to that.
Winslow’s family is street-named-after-‘em rich, and her mother Tory seems intent on shielding everyone from the investigation — until the cops take Winslow’s phone, and she knows what she has to do. The next day, Tory and Winslow show up at the precinct to announce that Ken is definitely the killer; he knew Cindy and her dad were going to the police, and he’s been on the run since Clive and Liv came calling. But it doesn’t all track — since Winslow never told him that she’d told Cindy about their “consensual but illegal” affair, how did Ken know what the Chens were planning?
Our enigmatic new IT guy might have an answer. He shows up in the morgue like the second coming of Parks and Rec’s Orin, works his dark techie magic, and finds an app on Winslow’s phone called Tinker Spy. It’s basically an all-access pass for parents to hack their kids’ phones (in the words of Major Nathaniel Lilywhite, ew), and the adult spying on Winslow wasn’t Ken — it was Tory.
Tory caves and admits to driving the family’s truck right into the side of the Chens’ compact car, but this doesn’t even begin to answer my questions. First of all: How dare she? Tory was willing to sit back and watch as her husband raped her daughter (though, tellingly, she frames the “seduction” as Winslow’s) because it was more important to keep quiet and keep her inheritance than to get her daughter some help. I’m not inclined to trust anything this woman says. Did she tell Ken to go on the run? If she did, it didn’t work out. Ken’s caught using his credit card, and Clive brings him in.
Clive isn’t having a very good week. He’s busy deflecting Detective Cavanaugh’s questions into the murder of Wally, Wally’s mother Anna, and her brother Caleb while also trying to work the case on his own — and, you know, grieve. Clive’s relationship with Wally and family unfolds in a series of flashbacks: He lived next door to the kid while he was working undercover with vice, and his apartment’s thin walls gave him a front row seat to Wally’s father Rick’s abuse of Anna. Clive busted in and made the arrest.
It was a sad start to a happy relationship. Anna, who seems like one of those people you want to be around as much as possible, sweet-talked Clive into watching Wally one night after her sitter canceled. Wally tricked Clive into letting him watch Game of Thrones (so it began!), and in no time, they became a makeshift family. But Anna’s actual family, her brother Caleb, was on his way home from overseas, and Anna was considering moving in with him. Clive didn’t think that was necessary — he’d be there to watch out for them. “Take me for granted,” told Anna, kissing distance away. They never closed that distance.
Clive’s undercover work picked up, and he couldn’t resurface for the two weeks leading up to Rick’s release; by the time he did, Anna and Wally had moved out. Anna eventually wrote to say that she was starting a new life with her brother and didn’t want to keep in touch. That was 22 months ago. And it’s been 21 months and 21 days since Fillmore Graves took employees and their families on a Fourth of July retreat that wound up turning everyone into zombies. Now we know why Caleb was overseas — though I’d understand Anna’s request to cut off all contact with Clive a little more if it came after she was turned. Was she that hurt by Clive’s disappearance when she needed him? Or is it just that she was that scared of Rick?
In any case, Rick can’t be the killer; he assaulted his parole officer and has been locked up ever since. And Vivian’s theory that they’re looking for a zombie-fearing human doesn’t narrow things down. Listening to the Chuck Burd show, Ravi catches the conversation we heard some of last week: a caller insisting that his neighbors ate brains out of tubes. When Clive runs the number, it’s a match for Wally’s neighbor.
The neighbor has an alibi for the time of Wally’s death, but he posted what he knew on a message board for conspiracy theorists, and someone found his address. Anyone on those boards could have done it. But I don’t trust this neighbor either; he makes a big show out of having a photographic memory when he looks at Clive’s badge. And while we’re on the subject: Why exactly did Liv tag along to question a man who already believes in zombies? Sure, he probably doesn’t know to look for white hair and pale skin, but what if he figures it out? Tan and dye, Liv!
The lines are being drawn between humans and zombies, and we don’t know who’s drawing them. It could be Vivian — she’s a little too eager to put the blame on humans this week, which doesn’t do anything to disprove the theory that she set up these murders to get Liv and company on her side. But maybe it’ll be easier to get to the bottom of this when we’re not on teenage girl brain. There’s just so much math.
Did Rick abuse Wally as well as Anna? The cast on his wrist says yes, and so does his history of broken bones.
Major is making some progress in the hunt for Natalie: One of the victims saw her begging Janko to call the number of someone who would apparently pay big bucks for her. Thanks to a vision from Janko’s brain, Major has that number. Thanks to teamwork, Clive is now running it.
Ravi: “Look at us. All working together to solve mysteries. We should get a van and a dog.”
District Attorney Floyd Baracus (Peyton’s boss, integral in driving Mr. Boss out of the country, Chaos Killer survivor, and zombie) is running for mayor. Hmm.
Wally: “Is that mustache real?” Clive: “No, I glued it to give myself more authority in situations like this.” Wally: “Well, you look like black Tony Stark.”
Hey Clive, maybe don’t listen to the Chuck Burd zombie broadcast on full blast in the bullpen next time.
Major, in the background: “Whaaaat?”