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

iZombie goes meta—but not quite meta enough

Best eyebrows in the business.

iZombie is juggling a tremendous amount of story at the moment, and one of the most impressive things so far in season two is how it’s done this juggling with such dexterity and grace. “Method Head” continues the juggling act but struggles with the transitions between the ongoing stories and the case of the week, resulting in a choppy, uneven episode.

To the episode’s credit, it started out with a departure from its typical format, showing the passing of time by identifying first “Christmas,” then “New Year’s Day,” and finally “Present Day” as title cards. It’s an expedient way to stretch the temporal length beyond what we typically see in an iZombie episode, but using the title cards ends up being far more conspicuous and intrusive than possibly intended, making it feel more like a hasty creative decision made out of necessity, rather than one that feels germane to the show. In effect, it chops up the opening few minutes into abrupt little vignettes, which could have been an interesting way to structure an episode if it continued throughout, but as presented here just serves to make the narrative feel rushed.

The most frustrating thing about the decision to speed up the narrative here is that it speeds through a lot of the emotional fallout of the previous episode, which is unfortunate. Splitting up both Liv and Major and Liv and Clive in one episode was a big upheaval in Liv’s life, but very little of that change resonates here. Liv and Major’s breakup only merits a quick scene (featuring a pretty funny joke by Major, to that scene’s credit), before it’s dropped completely. Liv and Clive’s conflict gets a much bigger focus, but appears to be fully resolved by the end of the episode, taking away all of the promised angst with it. Clive’s anger with Liv was one of the more interesting story possibilities iZombie presented this season, so to see it resolved so quickly, while good for the show in some ways because it’s fun to watch them solve cases together, feels like a giant missed opportunity to really explore Liv’s emotional development in interesting ways.

As for the case that brings Liv and Clive back together, that’s also a bit of a mixed bag. Setting a case on the set of the fictional zombie television show Zombie High is iZombie’s chance to go full-on meta, but it feels like the show didn’t quite go for it enough for that meta to be fully successful. There are a few moments of fun—like when Clive says a zombie show with a zombie as the actual lead is “dumb”—but overall it doesn’t feel like the writers take full advantage of the gift they gave themselves by setting the case there. (It doesn’t help that iZombie shares a network with the king of all meta shows, Supernatural, which goes so far in their meta episodes that it almost becomes parody—in a good way. At least both Dean and Clive appreciate craft service.) The case itself isn’t engaging enough to make up for these missed opportunities, and actually feels surprisingly soft—iZombie has no problem skewering frat boys, or real housewives, but it goes pretty easy on a very easy-to-mock thing like actors.

Outside the case there are fairly big developments in both Major and Blaine’s stories, but both feel weirdly integrated into the episode as a whole. Major manages to get one up on Vaughn and Max Rager when he first plants a listening device on Vaughn (hidden in a Fitbit, because of course Vaughn would wear a Fitbit without questioning it) and then outsmarts Vaughn’s attempts to bait Major into revealing he is working against him. The latter not only makes Major look trustworthy when he turns in the potentially traitorous doctor, but it also gets him closer to Vaughn and Max Rager’s true goals when Vaughn takes him down to the secret lab in the basement to let Major see what’s really going on there. Like last season with Meat Cute, Major is amassing the information he needs in order to make a move, and like last season, we still have no clue what that move might be.

As for Blaine, he is awfully chipper for a guy who just lost his zombie hooker and can’t find a replacement (which, come on Blaine, somehow this feels more unforgivable than all the murdering) and learned that he could revert back to zombie form any day now. His chipper mood lessens a bit when Agent Bozzio shows up at his doorstep, following a lead because two of the kidnapper’s victims had his number on their phone. It’s a decently tense scene, which is punctuated when Dale goes back to the precinct and sees a sketch of Blaine in Clive’s Meat Cute murder file—and they put together that both of their mysterious cases have ties to the same guy, and they know who that guy is. Things are not looking good for Blaine, but knowing Blaine it’s Dale and Clive who have far more to worry about if he figures out they’re on to him.


Stray observations

  • Minor is chipped! If Dale figures out Major has this dog and shares that with Clive things are going to get very, very messy for Liv and Major.
  • How the heck could a show still be allowed to film when there was a gun accident where one of the stars died? DIED. That set would go dark so fast.
  • The deaf Zombie High actor is played by Ryan Lane, who is also on Switched At Birth and has a very quick scene in the Veronica Mars movie as the alpha male asshole who Veronica flips off before her big New York law firm interview.
  • I dug the vignettes of Major and Ravi digging for the tainted Utopium. Honestly, I would have liked a whole episode just made up of a bunch of weird scenes interspersed with Ravi and Major digging away over a span of months.
  • “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Both Veronica Mars and iZombie have now used this line to transition to credits.
  • “You know what would be fun? A zombie show where a zombie is the star.” “That’s dumb.”