[This is a review of iZombie season 1, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]
Procedural shows might be a bit overdone, but it's a mark of good writing when the case of the week neatly dovetails with the progression of the season arc. In "Patriot Brains", Liv eats the brains of a former sniper who lived by the utilitarian code "one is less than many," and has to decide whether to hold on to that philosophy when she discovers Blaine's underground business of creating zombies and selling them the brains of murdered homeless teenagers.
Happily, it looks like the upward swing of the last two episodes was a trend rather than a fluke, as iZombie is revving up nicely for its season finale. "Patriot Brains" adds much-needed emotional depth as Lowell and Liv finally confront the fact that they survive by eating people, which is particularly hard for Lowell since he's been eating people who were killed for his benefit. It's nice to see Lowell's characterization padded out, even if it is just a dirty trick to make the ending of "Patriot Brains" sting a little bit more.
On a brighter note, Ravi seems to have stumbled onto a bit of good luck as the rat bite he received didn't leave behind any nasty symptoms of brain cravings or albinism. Of course, if iZombie does end up cleaving closer to its source material there is a chance he could turn into a were-rat.
Major seems pretty close to discovering the truth about Liv as he continues his dogged pursuit of the truth. His theories that the brains are being used as body-building supplement lead him to the gym where Blaine's right-hand zombie Julien works out - which in turn leads him to almost getting killed in his own house, when Julien shows up and Major is forced to shoot him. His brain-steroids theory probably isn't going to explain away Julien getting up and leaving without spilling a drop of blood.
iZombie continues to improve when it comes to its weekly cases, as this week's murder presents the mystery of how exactly the victim was killed by a perpetrator who was apparently floating in mid-air. The solution turns out to be relatively straightforward, but the fact that the culprit was the only character who appeared to have a rock-solid alibi is a pretty neat twist.
Liv's serving of brains this week comes with excellent military training, but with the side effect of PTSD that gives her flashbacks to previous murders she's witnessed. The episode unfortunately wastes what could have been a great opportunity for a really slick paintball shoot-out in a sequence that instead has pretty poor fight choreography. Maybe it's just too hard to make paintball look cool.
More could probably have been mined from Liv eating the brains of a soldier. However, since the screen time for this week's case was sacrificed in favor of developing the arguably much more interesting storyline about the growing zombie crime ring in Seattle, it's easy to forgive the show for not having time to do everything in just forty minutes of television.
Speaking of not having time to do everything, "Patriot Brains" leaves out all of iZombie's supporting characters save for those who are strictly necessary for the episode's plot. Peyton? Missing. Liv's family? Off camera. Clive's corrupt zombie boss? Hiding in his office, presumably. On the one hand it helps to streamline things, but it's also difficult to get attached to these characters when they're whisked away in every other episode.
This criticism could also be applied to Blaine, whose appearances have been surprisingly limited considering he's the primary antagonist. He's still a fairly one-dimension bad guy: he likes money, he has no morals to speak of, and he's pretty shrewd. In fairness "Patriot Brains" does introduce an interest in music as a new personality trait, but it still leaves David Anders wanting for more interesting things to do.
With all the Blaine-related plot threads that have cropped up over the course of iZombie's first season - including this week's scene that sees him charged with obtaining the brains of an astronaut - his storyline will hopefully pick up very soon. Already, though, iZombie has proven itself to be a solidly entertaining show that's well deserving of its upcoming second season.
Clive: Do you have time to look at a couple of Youtube videos?
Ravi: Of failed twerking tutorials? Yes.
Liv: But no one lip-synching to Frozen.
Liv: You're not a weenie. You jump out of planes.
Lowell: Remember that when you're looking through the scope of that rifle at the puddle of urine forming at my feet.
iZombie returns next Tuesday with “Mr. Berserk” @9pm on The CW. Watch a preview below: