iZombie’s second season began a long break last night, after giving us a CGI zombie rat, Blaine singing in his underwear, and what could have been an emotionally engaging murder mystery, if only the show hadn’t blown its load in the first few seconds. A super positive coffee shop owner was murdered by a falling air conditioner, and moments before it hit her, we saw her teen daughter roll her eyes at her mother and suggest she go look at something outside. Case closed, can I work with Ravi and Clive now?
It’s a shame iZombie gave us the hints we didn’t need too early, because the drama that played out between the teen daughter and her faux-French boyfriend was the most engaging murder-of-the-week subplot we’ve seen in weeks. Remember when that young magician turned out to be a woman in disguise, forever ago? Remember Major committing himself to a mental institution? Those plot lines were camp mystery gold! What happened?
This week’s episode also introduced a temporary, emotionless female murderer. That’s a satisfying pattern the show has developed; the cast now includes several uber-feminine, tough-as-nails women whose capabilities seem to outreach those of their male counterparts. Clive is fantastic for side-eyes and moving the plot forward, for example, but his girlfriend, Detective Bozzio, is chomping at the bit for a showdown with someone who matters.
We saw one of the show’s many woman vs. woman conflicts come to a boil when Liv finally got the chance to knock Rita’s lights out. Wow, that was a long time coming! It almost seems like the writers kept Liv and Rita apart for weeks, just to save the knockout for the end of the season. Was that smart? And why have Major leave just when things were about to go down?
That hesitancy is the primary issue with this episode, really: The show saved too much of its big moves for the last few episodes in the season, which led to a several-episode run that felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. iZombie’s first season, if you’ll remember, ended with a building exploding, several dead characters, a showdown between Liv and her primary baddie (at the time), and a main protagonist, Major, killed and turned into a zombie.
Although Blaine’s little arc here felt necessary — sex with his assistant, mournful naked singing, death, and emergence from his grave — Mr. Boss’ reason for having him put down was shoehorned into the episode. Mr. Boss, as boring as he is, has been established as a businessman above all things, so it doesn’t make sense that he’d shoot Blaine over a weird Chinatown reference while waiting for the guy to pay his debts.
The show has also begun catering to its burgeoning fan culture, giving those of us who adore Ravi and Blaine outright fan service. Ravi managed to find the only woman in the entire country who’s never heard of the Millennium Falcon. Are we supposed to believe iZombie is set in a universe where Disney wasn’t advertising The Force Awakens on fruit?
I’m still at a loss regarding Liv’s hookup buddy and why we’re supposed to care. He’s got all of Major’s muscle without the charisma or sense of humor, so now that this episode revealed he’s a double agent (working for Elliot from Just Shoot Me!), he’s now just a well-chiseled good guy in disguise, I guess. We’ve also been conditioned at this point to accept her temporary partners are expendable. What Liv needs, and what the show needs, is a character who will push Liv outside of her comfort zone. I hesitate to say this Buffy spin-off needs her complicated, bad-news Spike character, but it would certainly make things more interesting.