TV Review: iZombie (1×08) “Dead Air”

iZombie is just getting better and better each week, and taking a lot more risks than a freshman show usually would. It’s also a tease, leaving us with not one but two major cliffhangers to pick up on the next episode. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the show is the effortless charisma and charm of it’s main cast, who seem to have melted into their roles day one with a comfort usually found on shows that have been on air a lot longer. Diane Ruggiero-Wright and Rob Thomas know exactly what to do with these characters, who seem to occupy an increasingly smaller circle of Seattle, and they are weaving their lives together in preparation for an inevitable clash.

One such clash is set up for next week: with Liv discovering Lowell is one of Blaine’s customers just in time to run into him delivering brains. I’ve been thinking Lowell seemed too convenient and it’s interesting to note that he lied about the source of his brains, coming from Blaine rather than a mortician’s assistant. Can we really say his involvement with Liv isn’t for some nefarious purpose after this? Likely, is that Blaine has him placed to keep an eye on Liv, though I think our favorite undead rocker will have some qualms after spending the last episode buddy buddy with her.

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Major’s storyline also loses its veneer and is embracing increasingly a fall from grace. Gone is the limpid eyed, Ken doll duplicate, man of our dreams of the first few episodes. This Major has had his life turned around by zombies just as much as Liv’s, though he may not know the root cause just yet. Bruised, bloodied, jobless and filled with avenging zeal, Major is a man with nothing to lose and seeing our much vaunted Golden Boy buy a gun from a shady back alley dealer really sets the stakes for the rest of the season. Robert Buckley is great in his scenes this episodes, injecting Major with a manic desperation, his eyes clearly anguished, and a resigned sense of nobility to see his justice through. How frustrating is it that Liv didn’t come clean to him? Is there even a point to him not knowing anymore? I would make a crack about this ignorance coming back to bite him in the butt soon but, well, that strikes a little too close to home for this show.

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So the shocker in this episode: Ravi’s potential zombification via rat bite. Oh boy did I not see that coming. Or rather, I saw it coming until the chain mail glove where I, much like Ravi, lowered my guard. Now, there is always the potential that zombie rats are not sufficiently diseased to infect someone, and I hope this is the case for Ravi. Firstly, because I can’t quite see the point of having another zombie working at the morgue, eating the brains of murder victims and seeing the details of their cases. Seems redundant. Secondly, because much of the joy in the Liv/Ravi dynamic comes from the humanity Ravi brings to the equation. One could argue that were Ravi a zombie, he would still retain what makes him him, but it is the ignorance of Liv’s state that I appreciate more. While Ravi is human he retains the scientific almost detachment from the infection. He is fascinated by it, he rejects that those diseased could become something less human like Macy; he sees it more as a quirky superpower than the existential change Liv must wrangle with. He injects the situation with a hint of mythology, the everyman who became friends with a zombie, that I don’t think can be maintained with his own infection storyline. This show has been hurtling along, but thus far the puzzle has been coming together organically. With Ravi personally entangled with Major and now Peyton, and then on top of that to turn zombie, seems like too much too soon. Let us enjoy the Ravi we have before making us adjust and love a whole new one.

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That’s not to say he’s all sugar now. Li’s brain of the week belongs to a sex and dating expert rendering her the intrusive peanut gallery for her coworkers’ love lives. When Ravi runs into Peyton springing Major from jail he is instantly smitten, and goes to Liv for some wing womanly action. Liv smacks him down without ceremony, detailing all the ways he’s bound to be beneath Peyton’s notice. At first, Ravi takes this with his usual good humor but we finally get to see our good doctor pushed a smidge too far and he snaps at Liv. This first fight adds a great layer of depth to their relationship, Ravi has always played straight man to Liv’s emotional complexities, and we get to see a new side of that.

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The case of the week, while enjoyable, took second fiddle to the overarching storylines of the season. Highlights include Liv’s comfort in acting on insights in the case while before she would have turned to Clive privately. Clive too seems comfortable putting that trust in her. Another highlight is guest star Jillian Bach in her portrayal of Jane. I’m hoping we get to see more of her, not only because the character seems like a worthwhile villain in all her terrifying normality, but also to see more of Bach.

The alignment of these characters’ fates feels natural and the momentum moving into the back half of the season is organic, making iZombie a must see in an already stacked night of Tuesday television.

 

Episode Rating: 8.7/10

Diya Mishra is a 20-something graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She graduated with a degree in Business Marketing and a minor in Media Arts. She can be found nowadays wandering in and out of bookstores, taking a nap, or quoting Lord of the Rings to innocent bystanders. Reading and television are the two most important things in her life other than her dog and she is usually talking about one or the other on Twitter @thedimishra or via email at diyamishra@theyoungfolks.com