[This is a review of iZombie Season 2, episode 6. There may be SPOILERS.]
First things first: an apology to Major Lilywhite for ever doubting him. Though it seemed that iZombie's golden boy was living a double life as an assassin and not nearly as bothered by it as he should be, this week's episode reveals that he wasn't actually killing anyone, but instead was merely putting the zombies into cold storage. Admittedly it's still not the most humane way of treating the undead, but it explains why Major is able to carry out his night time activities and still be cheery over eggs and bacon in the morning.
At least, that's one of the reasons. The other major development this week is that Liv and Major are back together and cuter than ever as they try to figure out workarounds for getting intimate when sex is off the cards. Meanwhile, Ravi proves what a great friend he is to both of them by spending his free time in the lab testing different brands of condoms to see if any of them will prevent Liv from passing on the zombie virus.
When she isn't playing strip poker and grossing out her friends with public displays of affection, Liv is on the same case as the previous episode, as last week's killer becomes this week's victim. Strangely, despite the episode being called "Max Wager", Max Rager doesn't make much of an appearance. Instead, the focus is on another group of rich scumbags as Clive and Liv delve into the murky world of organized crime - specifically, gambling and all of the perils that come with it. Thus, Liv's latest acquired interest is betting on everything from donuts to horses.
The murder mystery itself is so-so, but what really makes "Max Wager" a great episode - aside from the witty back-and-forth between the characters - is the introduction of a character who has been teased since the beginning of the series, and is more than worth the wait. Stacey Boss, played with chilling perfection by Eddie Jemison, is just a man getting a shave until he launches into a horrifying "hypothetical" about how he would carry out the perfect murder, establishing himself as a pivotal figure even before the audience learns his name. More so than Blaine or Vaughn Du Clark, Stacey Boss feels like the villain that iZombie has been waiting for all along.
With Boss positioned to become the season's Big Bad, Peyton is thrown into a more central (and dangerous) role as she spearheads the investigation into the kingpin, who pays her a friendly visit and implies that if she doesn't drop the case she may well be the next person shot dead by motorbike assassins. Peyton, to her credit, doesn't even flinch - though she didn't get to hear Boss' earlier speech about the perfect murder. Perhaps she'd be more inclined to run for the hills if she had.
While Stacey Boss demonstrates his ice cold personality, iZombie viewers finally get to see a warmer side of Blaine as his father threatens to take over the entire brain delivery operation, and Blaine reconnects with the one person he seems to have affection for: his grandfather. Of course, the touching moment is slightly dampened when Blaine smothers his beloved grandpa in order to get at his nice juicy brain, but he at least looks pretty upset about it.
With so many different story arcs being balanced, the case of the week suffers for it. Outside of its ties to the criminal underworld and Stacey Boss, the story of a gambling-addicted man being assassinated to keep his mouth shut about some fixed baseball games games isn't particularly interesting, especially since we never actually get to meet his killers properly.
The episode also continues the trend of iZombie's various subplots having to take turns, since there's only room for so many of them in each episode. It means that individual episodes are kept strong, but it is easy to forget about characters like Vaughn du Clark when they're not around. Hopefully the show will start to lose some of the weight before the end of this season.
iZombie returns with “Abra Cadaver” next Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW. Watch the promo below.