For about three quarters of the episode, “Eternal Sunshine Of The Caffeinated Mind” is a fairly standard episode of iZombie, then for the final quarter it loses its damn mind. It’s an interesting way to structure an episode, akin to taking a leisurely stroll and then suddenly and unexpectedly falling off a cliff—if it’s possible to fall off a cliff in a good way, that is. There’s still way too much plot to adequately keep track of, but iZombie is still by far the most entertaining, crazy, plot-stuffed show out there.
The standard part of the episode is the case of the week, which doesn’t stray very far from its very familiar story beats throughout. When a pathologically positive coffee shop owner is killed by a falling air conditioning unit someone pushes out of a window, the suspects bounce from her ex who owns a rival coffee shop, to her daughter’s pretentious boyfriend, before landing on the truth that her own daughter manipulated her boyfriend into committing the murder so she could collect her inheritance. It’s the oldest story in the book, and yet the mixture of the fine guest actors (Kacey Rohl, who played Abigail Hobbs on Hannibal, and Oscar Nunez from The Office are standouts) and the incongruous sunny positivity of Liv’s brain of the week make the case the perfect backdrop for the rest of the episode’s events. The best thing about the case is how it takes a turn for the ruthless right at the end, with the manipulative daughter all but admitting to Clive and Liv what she was able to do, before walking away free and clear. It definitely had a tinge of the cynicism that made some of the private investigation cases on Veronica Mars work so well, and the femme fatale of it all adds a nice noir tinge as well.
It’s good the case is fairly straightforward, because seriously, the rest of the episode is bananas. There’s so much plot spinning on different plates in the iZombie world right now. It’s not like those plates are dropping—because they’re all still out there spinning—but it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of which plates are even there. If the writers are worried about the audience keeping up it certainly doesn’t show here, as they not only barrel through the density of the plot they already have, but add new plates to spin on top of the old ones. It’s exhausting and sometimes confusing, yet still manages to not tip over into so confusing that it ruins the entertainment value of the episodes themselves.
The biggest new addition is the reveal that Drake is actually an undercover cop working deep inside the Boss organization, with Enrico Colantoni (a.k.a. Keith Mars from Veronica Mars, a.k.a. the best television dad ever) as the one supervising his operation. Their current goal is to figure out who the new player is in town that is moving in on Boss’ territory, which is a nice bit of irony considering that Drake has his own separate ties to Blaine and is still unaware it’s him. This comes as welcome information following the previous episode, when Drake’s motivations were so obtuse that it was impossible to track the reasons he was doing anything. This reveal answers the big questions: Drake is a good guy, he has ties to both the Boss side and the Blaine side of this toxic drug triangle, and per his conversation in the police station he has good intentions when it comes to Liv. What’s the big deal about one more plot complication, anyway?
The other big developments of the episode are intricately tied together, and also intricately tied to the show’s overall zombie mythology. Ravi spent most of this season trying to find the tainted Utopium he needs to replicate the cure, and last week he found it—only to discover this week that the cure he created last time doesn’t seem to be curing the zombie rats like it did last time. This means both Blaine and Major are ticking zombie time bombs, just waiting to revert into their past zombie states.
For Blaine, this turns out to be a good thing, because Mr. Boss figured out that Blaine is the one horning in on his territory and he’s not the type of guy who takes that thing lightly. This leads to Blaine getting his throat slashed and then buried in the woods, just in time for him to revert to his zombie self and come back to life (scaring a few picnicking kids in the process after he crawls out of his own grave). Blaine getting his throat slashed was shocking, sure, but it was so abrupt—and David Anders is such an important part of this show—that Blaine being a zombie again seemed fairly obvious. Still, the way the reveal was paced, first showing Blaine’s bed partner Candy eating brains, now obviously a zombie, then cutting to a dirty Blaine alive again and angry, made the actual reveal of what was assumed very fun to watch. The big question: What is Blaine going to do now that Boss thinks he’s dead?
While Blaine took his potential reversion to a zombie state in stride, Major is much more anxious about it. He spends the episode hovering over Ravi and waiting for the zombie rat to be cured again, and when it isn’t he does the first thing that’s truly felt like “old” Major in a long time: He goes to Liv to confess about everything he’s been doing. Before he can get it out, though, Gilda comes home—and Major finally knows she is Liv’s roommate. He makes a hasty escape, but not before calling her Rita and tipping Liv off to who she really is. What happens next is pretty great, but also conflicting; would Liv really punch someone in the face, especially when she still seems like she should be on positivity brains? Despite whether or not it fully seems in character, Liv calling Gilda out for being Rita, for playing her all while listening to her cry over Major, is a supremely satisfying scene that’s been a long time coming. Major better hope that anger isn’t directed his way once Liv knows who Gilda really is, and what her ties to Major really mean. But that’s iZombie, always keeping those plot plates spinning.
- Liv referred to Ravi as the best, which I have to assume is a direct shout-out to JaneSays2 and the wonderful Ravi is the Best. Ravi being the best is now canon!
- Blaine playing the organ and singing “Whiter Shade Of Pale” in his boxers. Every week I think I can’t like that murderous, psychotic, completely irredeemable asshole more, and every week I am proven wrong.
- Liv’s cellmate from her stint in prison earlier in the season is back, and I’m not sure her return is any more successful than her appearance the first time. She’s just… awkward and uncomfortable, for the most part.
- The direction in this episode was a standout, particularly the way the falling air conditioner murder scene was shot from inside the coffee shop, the inside-the-toilet-bowl shot, and the scene with Blaine at the piano. All were far more interesting than they needed to be, in a way that added to the episode.