Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

iZombie: “Astroburger”

Liv, your hannnnnnnddddddd
Rose McIver/The CW

Liv cannot trust her own mind.

Of all the things that come from being a zombie, this is perhaps the most unsettling. Sure, being undead isn’t great. Having to constantly work to avoid transmitting your condition to others is worse. Being forced to eat brains to survive? Even worse than that. But even after all of that, it’s the idea of losing a part of yourself every time you eat a different brain that’s the most mentally disconcerting; something impossible to get used to, simply because it’s never quite the same each time it happens.

Throughout the first season, Liv has encountered many different types of brains that have caused many different side effects, but none as devastating as the brain in this episode. Ingesting the brain of someone with paranoid delusions means more than simply assimilating a few quirky character traits. It means giving up complete control and, even then, maybe not even knowing it is happening. For Liv, it means hallucinating the animated devil from her Hellfire Cheesy Puffs as a mocking, sexist shock jock. It also means hallucinating a confession to Major about her zombie status, then watching it all wash away in one quick moment when she realizes it was all a figment of her brain-addled imagination.

Let’s unpack that moment, because it’s kind of a tough one to parse. Throughout the episode, Liv and Major seem to be getting closer again, a softening happening once he checks himself out of the treatment facility. Major stays the night on her couch for moral support. He seems intensely calm and collected about everything going on in his life. Live even falls asleep in his arms one night, seemingly completely content. Then, after a vulnerable moment where he kisses her then asks exactly what happened between them, Liv decides to tell him everything. Perhaps it should be a clue that every time she sees Major and he’s this calm, they are alone together. Perhaps it should be a clue that when she tells him everything that’s happening, he takes it so well. But until it’s revealed that Liv has also been imagining an entire other character in the episode, the only indication that the brains are affecting her are the tiny talking cartoon devils. That’s why it’s such a gut punch when, at the end, Major shows up and it’s immediately clear her confession was a delusion. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking when non-delusion Major has come to the realization there are zombies on his own, and vows to “kill them all.” This not only breaks Liv’s heart because her confession wasn’t a gentle triumph like she imagined, but also because she has visual evidence right in front of her of how horribly it will go when Major actually finds out.

As for the whole confession being a feint on the writer’s part, that’s a little harder to take. Mostly because as an audience member, the show has done such a good job developing Major that it gets harder and harder each week to watch him circle around the zombie plot without knowing all of the details. Yet it’s impressive how each week—even as it’s frustrating for the audience to have Major out of the loop—it continues to make sense for Liv’s character. Before she wanted to protect him. Now she wants to protect herself, or at least her relationship with Major. What gets complicated as things head toward the last two episodes of the season is exactly how she’s going to do this now that she knows Major has concrete evidence about Blaine’s operation, and how she’s going to prevent him from getting himself killed without exposing herself in the process. My guess is that she can’t, but the machinations to get there seem filled with the possibility for some great drama along the way.

As for this week’s murder, it again tied into the main arc and therefore was far more interesting as a story driver than if it was a more random victim. Having Major’s one sort-of ally in the treatment facility—Scott E., the one who told him about zombies—end up dead once again ties Major’s story into Liv and Ravi’s in a way that’s incredibly natural, even if the actual case itself was a bit thin. As a bonus, Scott E.’s death also tied in Blaine in a smart way, as it’s revealed that Scott E. dealt Utopium alongside Blaine, and was at the Lake Washington party along with Blaine and Liv. Not only was he at the party but he also took a video of the mayhem, a video that shows Liv chowing on some very bloody, very fresh brains. It doesn’t hurt that the story features the incredibly funny return of Daran Norris as Johnny Frost, Seattle weatherman extraordinaire. Even though he was ultimately just a figment of Liv’s brain-addled imagination, he sure was fun.


The final piece of this very stuffed episode was a big look into Blaine’s brain operation, as he has obviously tracked down astronaut Alan York and made some very expensive brain sushi from his remains—brain sushi which Major then steals and brings to Liv to prove zombies exist. There are many, many moving parts to this show right now, but the slow collapse of Blaine and Major’s story arcs to set up a big battle is gorgeous to behold. It’s like the show is folding in on itself, but with every fold getting just a bit richer and more complex. And that’s a beautiful thing, even if it means dangerous times are ahead for everyone.

Stray observations:

  • Real talk: I really didn’t like that crass devil. It was more annoying than funny to me and affected my overall impression of the episode.
  • Ravi cured the zombie rat! If the zombie virus can’t be transmitted to humans, will the cure work on humans?
  • Blaine’s alias is John Deaux, which is clever enough but I really, really wish it was Julian Sark.
  • Ravi and Peyton’s sort-of date was very cute. I could happily watch Ravi flirt with someone every week. Peyton, Major, whoever. I’m not picky.
  • I could also happily watch Daran Norris dancing on a continuous loop.
  • Does that “Joy To The World” music cue have significance I’m missing or was it just a super great, random needle drop?
  • Who was Scott E.’s local news friend? Who else has the video?