iZombie: The Undead Avenger

iZombie - Liv in Cape Town

Given iZombie's comic book origins, a superhero-themed episode seemed inevitable. Chris Roberson and Michael Allred's original series was published under DC's Vertigo imprint, which means that iZombie's distant cousin Batman is the subject of most of the references and jokes as Liv dons a domino mask to investigate the murder of one of Seattle's costumed vigilantes.

Yes, apparently zombies aren't the only weirdos running around the city. There are also what seems like a substantial number of superheroes - that is to say, people with boring jobs and no superpowers who tackle crime at night in embarrassing costumes - who have been hanging around offscreen all this time. This definitely seems like a part of iZombie world-building that's going to come back around at some point, but fortunately it actually makes for a fun and lighthearted episode. Lighthearted, that is to say, except for the heavy hearts of Liv and Major as they come to terms with the fact that their inter-species relationship might be doomed to fail.

"Cape Town" kicks off with a classic scene of a shrieking woman running from two thugs who are trying to steal her handbag, but are taken out by the heroic actions of a vigilante. Of course, looks can be deceiving and by the time the case is solved the original scene has been thrown into a whole new perspective. It's a neat and interesting solution to a case of the week that was really just an excuse to get Liv to wear a superhero costume and beat up bad guys with her zombie powers - something that's every bit as cool as it sounds.

Perhaps the best thing about the case, however, is the fact that it means the return of the mob boss who is such a boss that it's even in his name: Stacey Boss. He returns this week in the guise of a cuddly Santa, and it quickly transpires that he has ties to both the mugging 'victim' and her two attackers. At this point it's just nice to get a reminder that Boss still exists, and that he owns a lot of guns.

iZombie - The Fog in Cape Town

On the romance side of things, Major and Liv are still licking their wounds after Liv's week on crazy stalker brains, and take some time apart to meet other people. For Major, this means developing a bond with his latest intended zombie kidnapping victim: a call girl turned zombie prostitute who has decided to end her life rather than carry on being a slave to the brain cravings. It's a glimpse into the nastier side of Seattle's zombie underbelly that's both touching and a little sad.

Meanwhile, Liv is strong-armed into scratching a dying thug who could be her last hope of finding the tainted Utopium that holds the key to curing zombies. The latest addition to the zombie ranks gets enough screen time and a detailed enough introduction to his new condition that it seems he could play an important role later on the season. After all, it's hard to imagine that Liv's decision to bring another zombie into the world isn't going to have repercussions.

When Liv and Major eventually do come back together, it's just in time for Liv to realize that their relationship problems are insurmountably weird, and to make the decision to break up. It's hard to mourn a relationship that's only been back on again for a few episodes, but their struggle does provide some interesting insight into what it's like for Liv to not know whether her emotions and urges are her own, or side effects from her latest meal. There's the ghost of a metaphor for coping with mental illness in there that adds some extra emotional weight to the scene.

iZombie - Liv and Clive in Cape Town

For such a light and fluffy episode, "Cape Town" does have two major developments with regards to the series' over-arching plot. The first is Clive finally realizing that dragging a medical examiner around to all of his searches and interrogations is a little unorthodox, and making the decision to cut Liv off from her crime-solving hobby - something that she takes pretty hard, since solving murders was a good way of washing off the bad karma that comes from brain-eating. The second is Ravi's discovery that the zombie cure he created last season isn't actually permanent, which means that Blaine and Major could well find themselves turning back into members of the undead.

Fun crime-solving hijinks, touching character moments, and intriguing plot developments all in one episode? iZombie is definitely spoiling us. Let's hope things stay this good when the show comes back next year.

iZombie returns on Tuesday, January 12th 2016 at 8/9c on The CW. Check out a promo below.

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