[This is a review of iZombie Season 2, episode 7. There may be SPOILERS.]
The intersection of stage magic and crime solving is a rich area to explore, especially for a police procedural with a supernatural twist, so we went in with high hopes for iZombie's murdered-magician episode, "Abra Cadaver". Sure enough, the case kicks off with a man who was murdered inside a locked room with a camera watching the door and affirming that no one entered until the maid found his body. It's not the most confounding locked-room mystery ever conceived, but it does have a satisfyingly clever solution.
For Liv, the magician brains mean she develops a flair for magic tricks that turns Ravi positively giddy, and leaves Clive even more exasperated than usual. Unfortunately for Liv and Major, the real magic can't happen in the bedroom for fear of passing on the zombie virus, so the two of them have to make do with the "turkey burger" version of sex. It's best not to dwell on what that might be a euphemism for.
It's not just Liv and Major taking PG-13 tumbles between the sheets; seemingly everyone is getting in on the romance game this week. Ravi decides that his new girlfriend Steph is a little bit too intense (i.e. creeping into his house when he's not there) and breaks things off before having another go at wooing Peyton. Peyton, however, seems to be falling under Blaine's charms. Meanwhile, Clive is getting decidedly unprofessional with Agent Bozzio. Nothing says 'mixing business with pleasure' like looking over case files in bed.
Though the witty dialogue is still on top form, "Abra Cadaver" is a clear effort to slow the season story arcs down for a moment, as evidenced by just how much screen time the case of the week gets. The few developments, such as Liv forging an FBI lap report to put Clive and Bozzio off the zombie scent, are more of a stalling tactic than progress. Of course, just because this is a filler episode, it doesn't mean it's not entertaining.
Liv's latest meal is the brain of Sid Wicked, a magician known for his love of morbid imagery and for trolling other magicians by revealing the secrets behind their magic tricks. Since he was killed at a convention, this means that the murder took place when Sid was surrounded by people with motives - among them his ex-fiancée and a low-budget version of Penn and Teller. There are cunning disguises, deadly playing cards, and a buxom auburn-haired beauty - the perfect recipe for a fun, light-hearted filler episode.
Things may not stay light-hearted for long, however. Major still isn't quite comfortable with the idea that his girlfriend eats brains in order to survive, and gets wigged out when he comes home to find Liv doing something perfectly normal like consulting a ouija board while draped all in black. Their conversation about zombie side-effects does provide an insightful analogy for what Liv goes through after every meal: apparently it's like turning into different incarnations of Britney Spears. Different affectations, quirks and fashion choices, but the same person underneath it all.
Between the limitations of their sex life and Major's hangdog expression when reminded of the realities of having a zombie girlfriend, it looks like the new version of Major-and-Liv might be on the rocks already - and that's before Liv has even found about about Major's freezer full of zombies.
It might only be a means of slowing down Clive and Bozzio's investigation, but the scenes of Liv and Blaine working together to dig into the FBI's files are a lot of fun, and it would be great if iZombie finds more excuses to maneuver these two into the same scenes in the future. Perhaps it's just the identical peroxide blonde hair, but they seem to be developing a lot of chemistry.
If there's one significant flaw of iZombie's second season so far, it's that new plot threads are revealed and then dropped for so long that the audience would be easily forgiven for forgetting about them altogether. For example, this is the second episode in a row without any sign of anyone from Max Rager. Does anyone remember the secret underground zombie laboratory? Or Liv's troubled relationship with her family? Let's at least hope Stacey Boss doesn't stay away for long, after his excellent reveal from last week.
iZombie returns with “The Hurt Stalker” next Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW. Watch the promo below.