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

iZombie manages an unmanageable amount of plot by making it fun

Illustration for article titled iZombie manages an unmanageable amount of plot by making it fun

Of all the things iZombie has going for it as a series, its innate sense of fun is the thing that stands out the most. There are about 47 different things happening in “He Blinded Me…With Science,” plot and information and character moments zipping along just a hair too fast at all times, but the sense of pure fun pulsing throughout it all is what centers the episode into something that’s intensely enjoyable to watch, even as it leaves your head spinning in its wake.

Head spinning feels like an appropriate way to describe it, because there is an intense amount of plot happening on iZombie right now. The biggest plot point of the episode is thankfully also one of the most enjoyable, as Blaine deals with the knowledge that he’s a zombie again, but now a zombie with a potential expiration date. Imminent mortality (and the always snappy dialogue of writer John Enbom) bring out a more human—and very, very funny—side of Blaine, as he wrestles with the one-two punch of going from undead again to probably dead for real in the near future. What starts as a continuation of a plot point from the previous episode deftly takes a turn into becoming a character moment at the same time, as Blaine shows he has actual affection for his underlings and concern for the zombie population of Seattle when he gives his underlings the keys to his funeral home business so they can keep the brains coming, all while warning them away from cashing in on the (very, very) large stockpile of Utopium in their presence. Taking a murderous, evil character like Blaine and giving him actual layers is a tough line for a show to walk and pull off, and iZombie does a fine job of making Blaine’s actions here seem perfectly in character while not taking away his villainous edge. It helps that David Anders practically hums the dialogue he’s given here with delight; it’s clever, and he knows it, and he takes full advantage of the opportunity. Now to wait and see if Ravi’s new cure, which Blaine gives himself in a moment of desperation, actually works.

Also clever enough is the case of the week, which does all of the things a case of the week needs to do and still manages to pull off a good twin twist at the end as well. The case itself is of a scientist who was murdered by being burned alive, which is not only an emotional and gruesome story, but also allows the show to give Liv scientist brains, which the episode then uses to its utmost advantage throughout. The case itself mostly simmers in the background, but the big unexpected twist is that the scientist also had ties to the weird Super Max experiments at Max Rager. This allows that long-simmering story a chance to come to the forefront again, and let’s just say things are not going well at Max Rager. Vaughn is still single-minded in his quest to bring Super Max to the market, despite it showing signs of increased aggression levels in users even higher than the batch that caused the zombie outbreak in the first place. Vaughn is a ridiculous, preening villain, but in such a snarky way that his over-the-top treachery is mostly good for a laugh and an eye roll.

In the process of the investigation, Liv finds out about the secret basement where Super Max is being developed but can’t figure a way to get them legally in there. Things in that very same basement go from wrong to very, very, very wrong in an instant, when one of the zombie test subjects gets free of her restraints and attacks Vaughn and Rita. Vaughn manages to get away by sacrificing his daughter to the zombie gods and the sequence where he allows the elevator doors to close on her and then won’t open his office doors when she’s pounding on them, bloody and beaten and likely scratched, is a brutal and chilling end to what has been up to now a fairly light story of a power hungry narcissist who thinks he can free himself of the consequences of any situation. Vaughn’s face in that moment, with his daughter screaming and pounding on his door, is nothing but consequences, even if what lead him to that moment is so spine-tinglingly awful that it’s impossible to feel any empathy for him.

The biggest way Liv uses her scientist brain is to analyze whether or not Drake is a good guy or a bad guy, and the quest itself (while probably ill-advised for Liv’s mental health) has a tinge of the playfulness you see every week in the way Limitless stretches the boundaries of what a procedural story can be, in a good way. There are charts and graphs and voiceovers about data points, and the result is a good runner that ties in most of the science elements woven throughout the episode. The kicker is how this smaller runner turns into a gut punch for Liv at the end, as she goes through the gamut of all emotions between “Drake is fully a good guy who likes me” to “Drake is a bad guy who associates with mobsters and stands me up on dates.” This is another instance of the show doing a good job using what the audience knows to create dramatic tension when the characters don’t know everything yet, which is a consistent device iZombie uses and uses well. How is Liv supposed to know Drake is an undercover cop trying to bring down Mr. Boss? How can she know he was late to meet her because he stopped to talk to his mother, and then was abducted and put in a deep freezer by her ex-boyfriend Major? Until she gets a scene where all the secrets swirling around her life come spilling out, Liv sees herself as just another woman stood up by her no-good boyfriend. Even a scientist brain can’t account for those unknown variables.

Stray observations

  • The return of Old!Liv’s style is pretty shocking to see, and Ravi’s distaste for this version of her is weirdly sweet.
  • I like how Blaine also ate scientist brains and had the same reaction as Liv. It’s nice to have confirmation from other zombies once in a while that she isn’t the only one affected.
  • Will Major find out he just took out Liv’s new boyfriend? As far as I can remember Major has no idea those two are dating, or even who Drake is.
  • The scene where Major talks to Vaughn revealed a ton of secrets in a very short time: Rita spying on Liv, Rita being Vaughn’s daughter, Major and Rita’s affair. It’s fun to watch characters put together pieces that the audience has known about all along.
  • Clive and Dale found human brains and Blaine’s father’s cabin, and also know the brains they got tested earlier in the season were actually human brains as well. Cannot wait to see how their investigation folds into all of the other madness currently happening around it.