[This is a review of iZombie season 1, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
"Dead Air" is an example of what iZombie can be when it's on top form. The murder of the week is interesting and manages to have a few surprising twists, the show's supporting characters get a bit more flesh on their bones (writing-wise), and the whole thing is topped off with a one-two punch of great cliffhangers.
To the murder mystery first: Liv starts tuning in to the sultry tones of relationship and sex expert Sasha Arconi, only for the charismatic radio host to get killed on air thanks to someone plugging her microphone into the station's backup generator. The immediate suspect is a mystery caller who goes by the pseudonym Cheated On in Chattanooga, and who swore to kill the woman she caught sleeping with her husband. That woman happened to be Sasha.
Thus begins the hunt for Cheated On in Chattanooga, but in order to find Sasha's killer, Liv first has to eat some sexpert brain. This has the unfortunate side effect of causing her to pick apart the psyche of everyone she meets and hurl advice at them whether they like it or not, brimming with confidence in her own genius. As is often the case with self-professed experts, that confidence turns out to be somewhat misplaced.
Liv's roommate, Peyton, who had previously been suffering from paper-thin characterization, gets some much-needed screen time this week as she, Ravi and Major converge during Major's release from jail. Ravi develops an instant crush on Peyton after watching her flex her lawyer muscles, and Major scores a few more points in our hearts as he tenaciously pursues justice for his murdered friends - even after his investigations leave him badly beaten and unemployed.
A plot based around a relationship expert means that "Dead Air" is a relationship bonanza, with Liv tackling her feelings for Lowell, Major, Ravi, Peyton and even Clive for a brief moment, though he shuts the touchy-feely talk down fast. Her insensitivity leads to Liv and Ravi having their first fight, which is kind of heartbreaking to watch.
The matter of whether Ravi should date Peyton isn't the only thing that he and Liv disagree on. Last week's zombie mouse is discovered and Liv thinks it's adorable, while Ravi is convinced it wants to eat him. As it turns out, he's right.
That's the first cliffhanger. The second is one that people who have already learned not to trust good-looking, charismatic musicians who give decent foot rubs probably saw coming.
Liv discovers in the worst possible way that the brains Lowell has been eating don't come from a funeral home, but from zombie crime boss Blaine, who shows up personally to deliver the latest batch instead of sending a delivery boy. Is Blaine just short-staffed, or do he and Lowell share a more intimate relationship than client and customer?
Perhaps what's most pleasant about "Dead Air" is that the episode sends up its usual "Hey everyone, this is the killer!" signal flares when introducing one character, and only after the audience has finished rolling their collective eyes at Liv and Clive finally settling on her as a suspect does the story take a last-minute turn and reveal that it was actually someone else all along. Admittedly the real culprit is one of only three viable candidates, but it's still a sign of improvement.
iZombie suffered from some teething problems during the first few episodes following the excellent pilot, but last week's improvement followed by this week's noticeable upswing definitely feel like signs that the show is finding its feet.
Ravi: Do you think this is how Oppenheimer felt, staring down at the atom bomb?
Liv: Like a drama queen?
Liv: Ravi, [Peyton] is a lawyer who looks like a Victoria's Secret model.
Ravi: Liv, I'm a tall doctor with fantastic hair and a British accent.
iZombie returns next Tuesday with “Patriot Brains” @9pm on The CW. Watch a preview below: