[This is a review of iZombie Season 2, episode 5. There may be SPOILERS.]
Security guards get killed all the time in movies and TV shows, but usually because they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time (i.e. in front of a vault full of money at a time when people with guns wanted to take the money out of the vault). In this week's episode of iZombie, Liv and Clive suspect that the shooting of a night-time security guard may have been targeted rather than casual, and try to find out why anyone would want to kill someone whose biggest crime was talking too much about a crowd-funding campaign for the basketball team he coached. That means that Liv's new skills of the week include knowing a lot about sports, and being a great motivational speaker.
She gets to try out these new skills on Major, who swoops upwards on his emotional rollercoaster and is giddy and lovesick in equal measures as he tries to make things up with Liv and rid himself of his Utopium addiction. He also starts trying to wriggle his way out of his agreement with Max Rager by giving the 'all clear' to people he knows to be be zombies and allowing them to live. The sudden change in mood to a more flirty, playful Major is a little disconcerting, but it's a relief to watch Major and Liv interact without being plagued by angst.
Major is keen to get back on the relationship train with Liv now that the zombie issue is out in the open, but Liv is concerned about accidentally infecting him ("Do you have any open sores?" she whispers sensually to him after they finish making out). There's hope on the horizon, however, as Ravi starts up a new round of experiments to try and find the zombie cure, using a dose of tainted Utopium provided by Blaine.
Since the science of the show is very soft to begin with, the development of this subplot is a little confusing. Ravi mixes the Utopium with Max Rager, but before he can start experimenting Blaine's former drug dealer pal Gabriel injects himself with it and immediately dies. Ravi then concludes that the tainted Utopium Blaine provided wasn't cut properly, but before he can properly elaborate on this point he and Blaine get into a pretty hilarious slap fight to the tune of The Cure's "Friday I'm in Love." So does Gabriel's death mean that the last hope for a zombie cure is gone, or is it just another setback?
While Ravi plays with rats, Liv tries to help Major find new purpose by coaxing him into taking over the role of basketball coach for the murder victim's team - though of course she can't help but get involved herself. Meanwhile, the investigation of a red herring leads to Clive discovering that the father of one of the boys on the team has been hitting his son, which in turn leads to Clive going over to the guy's house and exercising a bit of police brutality. Is this just a case of Clive letting his professionalism slide, or is child abuse a sore spot for him? Even if it doesn't get explored further, it's an interesting bit of character development.
When he's not beating up suspects, Clive is still busy investigating the events of iZombie's Season 1 finale. He doesn't have the support of the police department, but his new FBI ally could prove helpful. Tugging on this thread brings Clive one step closer to the truth as he discovers that the late Lieutenant Suzuki was keeping brains in his freezer, and it will be interesting to see whether he finds out Liv's secret before the end of the season.
"Love and Basketball" marks the continuation of an upwards trend in quality this season. Though it doesn't have the emotional weight of previous episodes, it's just really enjoyable and has some top quality banter between the characters. It's fun to watch Liv and Major dance around one another (Rose McIver and Robert Buckley have great chemistry); it's fun to watch Ravi and Blaine get into a really incompetent fight; and it's fun to watch Clive try to cope with the fact that his partner in investigation is really, really weird.
If there's one complaint to be made, it's that Peyton is absent for this episode after being brought back into the fold last week, but at this point it's time to accept that iZombie can only handle so many of its supporting characters at any one time.
iZombie returns with “Max Wager” next Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW. Watch the promo below.