[This is a review of iZombie Season 2, episode 4. There may be SPOILERS.]

As Ravi points out, love and murder are mainstays of country music and they’re also the central focus of this week’s country music themed episode of iZombie, “Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues.” When Texan singer-songwriter Lacey is found brutally strangled in her home, an ex-boyfriend recently released from prison with a history of violence and some seriously hurt feelings seems like the obvious culprit. The only way to know for sure, however, is for Liv to cook up some delicious brains.

It really does seem like The CW is building up to the release of a tie-in recipe book for iZombie, showing the best ways to cook up human brains (or a less illegal substitute) in spicy recipes. There’s something rather ghoulish about seeing Liv getting gourmet with the contents of a person’s head, but having each meal be an anguished moral crisis would probably get old after a while. Besides, it’s all for a good cause.

Speaking of good causes, “Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues” is a solid example of iZombie at its best, even providing some of the things that were on our wishlist for this season. Clive gets what could be a new love interest in the form of FBI Agent Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon), who is in town to investigate the current trend of rich guys going missing (courtesy of Major Lilywhite: Zombie Assassin). Peyton is back and feeling a lot more integral to the show as she rediscovers her friendship with Liv and leads the charge on investigating Seattle’s Utopium distribution. Even Ravi has a new lady friend. Her name is Steph. She seems nice. That’s pretty much all we know about her right now.

iZombie Liv and Peyton in Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues iZombie: A Boy Named Su

Major’s campaign for Sad Sack of the Year continues as he hangs out on the couch playing video games, doing drugs, and failing to look after the dog that he stole from one of his murder victims. Ravi christens the basset hound Minor (which is actually pretty clever), but keeping a dog that belonged to a murder victim is little better than Major leaving his still-smoking gun on the coffee table. Let’s hope the canine isn’t microchipped.

Still, Major is pathetic and tortured enough at this point that he’s a sympathetic character once again, even in light of the people he’s killed. The real clincher is when he goes to buy some more Utopium (“U-bombs,” as the kids these days are calling them) and realizes that he’s buying them from one of the youths he used to mentor in his previous career as a social worker. Worse still, he gets recognized. His life is quickly turning into a ghost train with bad luck and bad decisions at every turn instead of plastic skeletons.

The end point of all this is that Liv decides, thanks to the wisdom of country music, that she’s finally ready to let Major go… which lasts for about ten minutes, until he shows up on her doorstep and they end up kissing. It could be argued that this cheapens Liv’s epiphany, but it really doesn’t. What Liv was letting go of wasn’t really the possibility of getting back together with Major, but the idealistic dream of the two of them picking up their perfect engagement where it left off and becoming a happy, innocent couple with great jobs and a white picket fence and no idea what it’s like to crave brains.

iZombie Liv and Clive in Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues iZombie: A Boy Named Su

Rounding out the strengths of this episode is the case of the week, which is actually interesting and has a cool twist to its conclusion, in which it turns out that the solution to the main murder is tied into a case that has been occurring in the background of the episode. There’s also a nice parallel drawn between Lacey’s troubled relationship with her boyfriend (Matt Sudak, whose nickname is a nod to a country music classic) and Liv’s relationship with Major, since both involve an equal mix of love and angst.

The show also benefits from turning down the zombie brain effects from their usual cartoonish degree to something more subtle, as the main effect that Lacey has on Liv is to give her musical skills. It’s also gratifying to see the show addressing the potentially problematic aspect of Liv perpetually being on what is effectively a mind-altering drug, as Major asks Liv whether he’s having a conversation with her, or with the person whose brains she ate most recently.

iZombie returns with “Love and Basketball” next Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW. Watch the promo below.

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