We are about to hit the doldrums for television. The major networks will go on a holiday hiatus, and the cable channels will finish up the seasons for a lot of their shows before waiting a couple weeks to launch their new ones (other than SyFy, which is like, “We’ll premiere The Expanse ten days before Christmas because it is going to be that awesome”). This means we will being going through a weird patch for TV Roulette for the next month or so, as there is a high probability that these reviews will be covering repeats. But that is an issue for next week, because this week is the “winter finale” bonanza as shows look to go out with a bang before the hiatus. That’s right, after a string of penultimate (I’m so done with that word) episodes, TV Roulette has finally decided to give me an actual finale with this week’s selection, The CW’s iZombie. What kinds of zany adventures are in store for zombie pseudo-detective Liv Moore (Rose McGiver), and more importantly, how much brains do they involve? Find out right after the rundown.
TV Roulette Week 9
iZombie; ‘Cape Town’ Season 2, Episode 9
December 8nd, 2015
Have I Seen This Show Before?
If So, How Much?
Every episode of a show that has been way more delightful than I initially anticipated.
Man, Diane Ruggiero and Rob Thomas really hate happiness. This isn’t that surprising, considering their Veronica Mars always had this weird melancholy attached to it. Really, it was unlikely iZombie would prove any different. Sure, the show puts on a good front, and having Ravi (Rahul Kohli) as a ray of positive sunshine hides a lot, but deep down, iZombie is a sad show. Liv’s life has not been fun since she was turned into a zombie. She has had to lie to everyone she cares about, and for a time shut herself completely off from the world. She has to eat brains to survive, and the only way she has been able to justify it is that she has used these brains to help solve murders. This has allowed her to have meaning in her life, which is why the fact that her one anchor is taken away from her at the end of this episode is so very, very cruel. (Look, we all know this isn’t going to stick, but for now let’s just wallow in the angst.) By episode end, Liv is a broken woman, bereft of hope and realizing that all this talk of a cure and a life with Major (Robert Buckley) is a fantasy she has allowed herself to believe in.
What really makes this work is that, on the surface, there are a lot of reasons for her to have hope. Ravi had proven he could make a cure, and Major knows her secret and, while he was still struggling with what all that means, he was at least trying to be there for her. But Liv realizes that all of this is still a failure to confront reality. Maybe Ravi will make another cure, and maybe she can be with Major, but right now there is no cure and Liv realizes being with Major at present would be a mistake for both of them. Combine this with losing her position as Babineaux’s (Malcolm Goodwin) partner, and Liv is at a real crossroads. Suddenly, the only part of her that helped her be okay with being a zombie is gone, and Liv is at a loss for what to do.
That’s what makes the episode’s final twist work so well. Ravi reveals (to the audience) that the cure he had found does not appear to be permanent, which sickly confirms what Liv has begun to realize—there is no changing what she is. There is no rug being pulled out from under Liv, because she is already on the ground. This makes this bad news deluge even more devastating. She is already dead inside, so there is no hope left to be dashed. That may almost seem like a good thing, but a person in that state is going to have a hard time living–especially if that person is already undead.
Of course Liv isn’t the only one that will be affected by the news that the zombie cure is not permanent. As former zombies, Major and Blaine (David Anders) are both in for a big surprise. Major is the most interesting one, though, because no one has been more instrumental in iZombie’s shift from fun show to really, really good show. At the beginning of the show, Major simply had no purpose, filling a watered down ex-fiancé role whose purpose seemed to be to remind Liv what she could have had if she had stayed human; but once Major realized that he was actually in a zombie show everything began to click for him. (Note to all shows: stop making shows that separate characters into those that know what the real show is and those that don’t.) From zombie hunter to zombie to cured zombie to now reluctant zombie assassin, Major has gone through quite the character shift. His constant questioning of the morality of his actions as he tries to keep Liv safe has led him to some dark places this season, but as has always been the case, it is Liv who might take him to his darkest place yet.
I imagine dating a zombie would not be easy. Especially if that zombie basically has disassociative identity disorder because she takes on the personality of whoever’s brain she consumes to live. Major can pretend all he wants that he understands what is happening to Liv, but he simply doesn’t. That doesn’t make Major a bad guy, but it does make him naïve. Liv is correct: Major is still in love with the girl Liv used to be, and that girl no longer exists. Even if a cure is found, it is not like Liv will suddenly go back to the way she was, because being a zombie will have changed her, and Major’s inability to accept that was bound to cause problems down the road. What’s sad is that Major seemed to finally understand what happens to Liv when she eats brains when Major speaks with another zombie, Natalie (Brooke Lyons). Natalie goes from another potential victim of his to a confidant who helps him get a better grip on the stress Liv goes through every day. This shows that Major might one day actually be able to be there for Liv, even if her zombism is permanent. But he simply is not there yet, and his frustrating inability to recognize that reality cannot be hand waved away. Rather, it has doomed any chance for Liv and him to be in a relationship. He can get his shit together all he wants, but if he can’t learn how to accept that everything has changed and that he has to work to make new connections with Liv, then this break-up is going to stick much more than their last one, even if Major does become a zombie once again.
Still, what really made this episode work is that Liv’s personality this week –a vigilante named The Fog (Jay Hindle), killed trying to help a mugging victim—is brilliant. Liv talking like a super hero is amazing, and gives Rose McGiver a chance to once again show off her incredible range as an actor. iZombie‘s structural decision to give each episode’s case a “personality of the week” has always been a stroke of genius, and one that makes the show’s procedural elements much more tolerable, but this week’s works especially well. Nothing brings the right level of angst and struggle like a super hero, or in this case, a person who thinks he’s a super hero. The fact that Liv is already effectively a super hero also makes this work on multiple levels, as does the inclusion of the very comic book-y villain, Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison). Boss brings the right level of malice and threat to the show, and the effortlessness to his villainy makes him quite effective. Jemison is an inspired choice, as he is able to give off a terrifying aura while looking non-threatening at the same time. Now that Liv has lost her partnership with Babineaux, will she work to get it back, or instead engage in an even greater gambit of trying to bring down Boss now that she feels she has nothing left to lose? Likely the former (at least at first), as it feels like Liv isn’t quite ready to take on Boss yet, but that confrontation is likely not far off.
If we are being honest, iZombie should never have worked as well as it does. The concept is out there even for a comic book show, but the fact that the show has been constantly willing to let its characters wallow in darkness, plunging deeper and deeper into the muck, has allowed it to really come into its own. ‘Cape Town’ proves to be an excellent episode because it does exactly what a finale should do: wipe the deck clean and set up its characters to face new challenges that build off of previous ones. Now the zombie cure is further away than ever, and Liv is missing both the job and the man she loves. Where does she go from here? Is the show willing to keep getting darker, or is it finally ready to bring things back up to the light? Honestly, I don’t know, but man, I am excited to find out. Which is everything one could want from a finale.
Notes and Observations:
- No Peyton (Aly Michalka) in this episode, and she was missed. Her return this season has been greatly appreciated, and it’s just sad that she and Liv have not been able to get more screen time together, as their conversations have been really good this season.
- Ravi’s excitement over Liv becoming a super hero is amusing. Ravi continues to be one of the more unique characters on television, as his constant enjoyment of the how absolutely bonkers Liv can be at times and his general positive attitude adds a much needed boost to what is otherwise a rather dark show.
- Blaine getting Liv to turn Mr. Boss’s bodyguard into a zombie was pretty genius, and clearly will have no consequences whatsoever (as if…).
- The case of the week actually works pretty well. And making the supposed mugging victim that The Fog tried to help actually be the murderer was a nice twist.
- It still bothers me that, after Liv made a big deal about trying to fix things with her family in the season premiere, the plotline has basically been dropped. I am not asking for much, but it would be nice if at least the show had kept having her try to call her mother or brother every once in a while and being ignored, as opposed to the two of them simply not being mentioned anymore.
- Seriously, though, can Liv just stay on super hero brain for at least one more episode? I can listen to Rose McGiver talk like a super hero for days on end.
- Detective Babineaux does not want to be called anyone’s Commissioner Gordon.
- Mr. Boss is on to something. Maybe Ravi should make a zombie signal for Liv–if for no other reason than for his and everyone watching’s amusement.
Episode Grade: A-
Would I Watch More?
Yes, iZombie is one of my favorite shows on television, so I will keep watching unless the show suddenly decides not to be good (let’s be honest, I probably won’t even stop then).
That’s it for this week’s TV Roulette. This was a nice last hurrah of original television before dreaded reruns start for a month. Still, I will be back next week, but until then, I need to work on my super hero name, because it is much harder to come up with than one might think.