This show continues to surprise and delight me. It’s a bit quirky and cute and while its underlying storyline is about a brain eating zombie ex-doctor, turned morgue technician and assistant police detective (see what I mean about quirky?) it’s really well done. The characters are ones that you can really care about and get invested in and it actually looks like they are going to address some of the mysteries (how did she become a zombie in the first place) fairly quickly instead of dragging it on from episode to episode.
Even before she died and revived as a brain-eating zombie, Liv Moore needed more life in her diet. She was a go-go-go aspiring heart surgeon who had bought into the great American lie that work-work-work was everything. She had no eye for beauty, art, and the small ball intimacies that get us through the day. That one time she went to The Louvre? She was trying to get out of the rain, and instead of strolling its long halls and admiring what was on their walls, she sprinted them for exercise. If you recall from the introductory episode you’ll remember that whenever Liv Moore (love her name) ingests a brain, she takes on some of the characteristics of the person that she ate – I’m unsure how long these skills/abilities remain with her? – and in this weeks episode that individual happens to be a famous artist.
iZombie is a lot of things—a murder-of-the-week procedural, a light workplace comedy, a semi-mournful relationship drama—but the glue that holds all of these disparate tones together is Liv’s status as a zombie. It’s the most important thing to get right, informing every frame and beat of every episode. A show with lesser ambitions could make Liv a zombie and then simply tell a procedural show with her at its center, but this is a show with greater ambitions. iZombie wants to understand Liv—smartly expressed through Liv’s desire to understand herself and her evolution into the undead—and that understanding starts here, through the introduction of the zombie who turned Liv into what, and who, she is today.
Yep – you guessed it, the mysterious zombie/drug peddler from episode one (Blaine played by David Anders) is back and this time he starts out with Liv stating that he doesn’t know how he initially became a zombie either and would like her help in sourcing brains so that he no longer has to scrounge them from the local cemetery. He makes the case that he is as interested in finding a cure as Liv is, however as we learn later in the episode he’s probably not as innocent as he makes out when he kills two mob enforcers in their car (stating that he is going to be taking over the city) and seduces and converts a lonely cougar (a lady not the animal) into another zombie whom he later extorts for money.
This weeks police investigation storyline has Liv eating the brain of an artist (as already mentioned) that has been mysteriously murdered. This Week’s Dead Meat: Javi Abano, a hotshot artist, known for his “vibrant abstract nudes.” Someone rammed the pointy end of a paint brush through his eye and deep into the medulla oblongata, killing him instantly. Liv’s initial foray via vision has her suspect another woman, but she, along with the detective learn that Javi enjoyed an unconventional, open marriage with his wife, Lola. Liv as has already been mentioned takes on characteristics of her meals (you are what you eat!) and seems to really enjoy looking at the person Javi was sleeping with (feelings which seem to be reciprocated it must be stated!). objections. The artist’s appetite for beauty and sex is key here, and after eating his brain Liv quickly becomes very (and very hilariously) fond of the artist’s mistress as well as the mistress’s very attractive boyfriend. In addition to sleeping with Tasha, Javi was also sleeping with the daughter of his cash-strapped art dealer, named, ha-ha, “Artie.” So initial suspects include:
- Wife – who was OK with his philandering
- Art Dealer friend – says that Javi is his best friend (but seems to be interested in his wife)
- Boyfriend(s) of models that Javi was sleeping with … a veritable stadium full of potential culprits it must be stated!
As the story progresses we see that the motives and options available to each of them are there, but in reality the answer was given to us in the first minutes of the episode as Detective Babineaux insisted at the start: “It’s always the spouse.” It seems that Artie’s daughter is pregnant with Javi’s child and this is literally what broke her spirit and her understanding as he was going to leave her for the daughter to raise a family.
The final sequence brought this tension to a head. With the murder mystery solved and the lessons learned eating at her, Liv turned frantic as she realized what she had lost by pushing Major away, and/or as Javi’s influence began to wear off and as she sweated the potential loss of what she had gained via zombie-style transubstantiation. She barged into Major’s home and insisted that she sit with him… though when he sat, she decided to take a seat on his lap, straddling him. To Major’s credit, he at least got to show a backbone in dealing with Liv’s very confusing behavior, kicking her out when she tries to kiss him and blowing up about all the ways she’s rejected him since breaking off their engagement. It’s hard to see how Major can continue to be a relevant character in Liv’s life going forward (especially considering this fight would be the logical end of all contact for most couples) so if the iZombie writers are committed to Major as a potential love interest going forward, they certainly have some more work to do to make it believable.
If the pilot’s primary goal was to explain “What is Liv?,” episode two very promisingly signals that iZombie is just as interested in her whys.