[This is a review of iZombie season 2, episode 10. There may be SPOILERS.]
For a crime procedural, even one with a supernatural twist, nothing raises the stakes quite like the main character being told that they’re not allowed to solve crimes any more. In iZombie, each episode has the same basic scaffolding: a murder, a collection of suspects, a crime scene, and a series of interrogations – all broken up by frequent sojourns into long-term story arcs like Max Rager’s nefarious dealings or Blaine’s efforts to become the zombie kingpin of Seattle.
So, when Clive told Liv in season 2’s midseason finale that he would no longer allow her to play cop, we couldn’t help but wonder what might happen next. Would there perhaps be an episode like House‘s season 6 two-part opener “Broken”, in which the series’ medical detective was stuck in a psychiatric hospital with no cases to solve? Would iZombie see Liv going fully vigilante, or take a new direction and focus on bigger story arcs rather than a case of the week?
The answer, it turns out, is ‘none of the above’. Instead, Clive’s decision is reversed within the first ten minutes of the midseason premiere, following a rushed storyline in which Liv helps him solve a murder and Clive remembers why he started bringing her along in the first place, while also forgetting why he put a stop to it. It’s hard not to feel cheated out of a satisfying conclusion to such a dramatic plot beat; perhaps a two-episode arc of redemption would have been too much, but having the whole thing swept under the rug within the space of a few minutes is definitely too little.
With that little story blip brushed aside, “Method Head” is a pretty average episode of iZombie. Major and Blaine are informed of Ravi’s discovery that the zombie cure is only temporary, though neither seems particularly ruffled by it. This speaks volumes about how far Major has come in his perception of the zombie scourge; last season he was horrified and disgusted by them, but his duties for Max Rager (not to mention his brief return stint as Liv’s boyfriend) seem to have helped him overcome his squeamishness.
Speaking of Major’s Max Rager duties, Vaughn du Clark’s attention is drawn to the possibility that the guy he blackmailed into becoming a killer for hire by threatening his girlfriend’s life may not be entirely sincere in his concern for Vaughn’s buns of steel. Major is put to an obvious test of loyalty that he easily sees through, and his bluffing abilities are rewarded with a glimpse at the real secret that Max Rager has cooped up underground.
As all this is going on, however, there’s a second murder to solve. While filming an episode of Liv’s favorite trashy supernatural soap opera, Zombie High, the male lead gets shot with a real bullet instead of a blank and it’s up to Clive and Liv to figure out which of the many people who had a grudge against him was responsible. This, of course, involves Liv eating the victim’s brains and gaining a sudden talent for acting – and also for irritating everyone around her by explaining her “method.”
The setting of this week’s case is largely an excuse for inside jokes about making a TV show – which of course includes someone suggesting a series in which the zombie is the protagonist. It suffers from being crammed into such a limited amount of screen time, fitted in between the Santa Claus case at the start of the episode, the developments at Max Rager, Ravi’s continued efforts to locate a corpse containing tainted Utopium, and Blaine’s booming brain business being threatened by interest from the FBI. In fact, there’s so much going on with the larger plot that Liv’s restoration to being Clive’s sidekick could probably have waited until the next episode.
Regardless, the status quo is now restored and it’s back to the grind for Seattle PD’s hardest-working assistant medical examiner. The murder mysteries are still kind of perfunctory, but if you’ve made it this far into the show and you’re still sticking around, chances are it’s because of the interesting main characters and the fresh, funny banter between them, rather than a burning desire to find out who killed Bland Victim of the Week #46. So long as the dialogue stays sharp and the main players remain engaging, we’ll be here as well.
iZombie returns with “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” on Tuesday February 2nd at 9/8c on The CW. Watch the promo below.