Liv (Rose McIver) loses her empathy just in time to confront the living embodiment of her fears about zombification.
Let’s bitch it out…
The case of the week is actually less procedural than usual, although on the surface, the double homicide is unimportant to the mythology of the ongoing show. Aside from offering a bit of a glimpse of Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Liv’s pre-zombie relationship, the case of a man murdered by a hitman who is then himself murdered is relatively straight forward assuming you can keep all of the men’s names straight.
No, the introduction of the hitman serves to drive home several lingering themes that iZombie and Liv have been grappling with since the premiere. This week the personality alteration prompted by the consumption of the hitman’s brain results in antisocial personality disorder and lack of empathy in Liv (essentially it’s the antithesis of last week’s love/artist structure). By taking on the characteristics of a killer, Liv no longer cares about the feelings of her best friend/roommate, she is unable to accurately read a social situation and – in the episode’s most startling and robust scene of the night – she’s willing to let Ravi (Rahul Kohli) nearly die at the hands of zombie Marci (Aliza Vellani). It’s easy on one hand to dismiss these experiences – as Ravi does – with the excuse that she’s simply affected by the hitman’s attitudes. But at its heart, these are simply more dramatic examples of the life Liv has been living since her transformation.
The reappearance of Marci is a surprising direction for iZombie to take and not one I expected to occur so early in the series’ run. Not only does the mindless state of her former co-worker suggest a dark future should Liv ever stop eating brains, it reinforces how fluid the line between living and dying is. As Liv’s less than cheerful voice-over at the end of the episode suggests, Marci was alive, even in her undead state. Liv’s existential struggle to adjust to her new status is apt to be an ongoing story line on the show – at least in the first season – but it is important that the distinction between life and undead is drawn. Not only is Liv more alive than Marci as a result of the latter’s months-long brain fast, Liv still has ties that bind her to the world of the living: Ravi, Peyton, her mother, Major (Robert Buckley) and her work with Clive (Malcolm Goodwin). So long as she can cry over a video of her ex kissing a new girl, empathize with the mother of a dead girl and rely on her friend for comfort, ‘The Exterminator’ suggests that Liv will be alright. There is more to life, even a half-dead life as a zombie, than brains. The threat of what befell Marci and how dangerous she was confirms that that is a double-edged sword.
Of course, another possible future is the one represented by Blaine (David Anders). Last week featured the silver-haired antagonist more prominently as we got to meet and learn a bit about Liv’s maker, his small time drug dealing past and a hint of his future plans, including turning wealthy ladies into ATMs in exchange for mind pulp. This week he’s more of a cameo figure: popping up early so that Liv can reassert that she’s nothing like him and then again in the coda to confirm (as expected) that he’s the one responsible for siphoning Major’s street kids under the ominous moniker Candy Man. If Marci represents the dangers of not consuming brains and maintaining your humanity, Blaine represents the desperate lengths that some will go to in order to preserve their way of life. While Marci may seem like the more dangerous/sad option, something tells me that Blaine’s current line of action will have far more devastating consequences.
- In addition to the video that leads them to Marci, Google Alerts also let Ravi and Liv know that there’s a forthcoming screening of Night of the Living Dead.
- Oh course Major would volunteer to help out homeless kids. Have you seen that jaw and chest? He’s practically Batman!
- There’s a suggestion that Liv discards the brain of hitman Martin Webster because she no longer wants to be like him, but doesn’t her ability to draw the 78 Landau infer that she retained residual artistic talents from last week’s painter? Or should we just assume that Liv has decent drawing skills?
- Regarding the case: there is no way that that confession would hold up. As soon as the killer realized that there was no eye witness, he’d find a way to get the confession thrown out. As the resolution of an underwhelming case, it was a bit mudded and meh.
- I have no idea why the Trivia girl in the bar is dressed as Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie, but a weird detail like that is so Rob Thomas
- Liv (when Ravi suggests there may be another zombie): “Two’s company. Three’s a horde.”
- Peyton (questioning why Liv isn’t more upset about Major’s video): “So you don’t want to mention that her laugh is annoying or question why they’re so excited about Jenga?”
- Clive (to Liv, entering the singularity Caucasian bar): “Welcome to Whitey White land”
Your turn: how are you finding the division between the case of the week and the mythology? Is Blaine’s plan to eat homeless kids’ brains as straightforward as it seems? Were you surprised to see Marci again? Sound off below!
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on The CW