In the wake of a shocking death, Liv (Rose McIver) takes up alcoholism…courtesy of someone else’s brain, of course.
Let’s bitch it out…
In the closing scene of last week’s episode, Blaine killed Lowell with a close range bullet to the head. ‘Mr. Berserk’ is all about Liv’s attempt to deal with the loss.
The decision to have Liv bury her grief in both the case of the week and the victim’s alcohol dependency is a smart move. It manages to highlight how significant the loss is for Liv without resorting to the usual stages of grief or, at worst, spending 44 minutes on Liv crying in bed. The case that Liv tries to lose herself in is unspectacular in all but three ways (one small, two big):
- The victim is Rebecca Hinton (Sunita Prasad): I was kind of shocked that iZombie killed off a character who had potential as a recurring character. We met Rebecca briefly when she worked with Major (Robert Buckley) back in 1×07 ‘Maternity Liv’, so her appearance as a dead drunk is unexpected. Even more surprising is how nonchalantly everyone responds, particularly Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) who had a few direct interactions with her when she nearly ruined his career.
- The introduction of Max Rager: the killer beverage initially seems insignificant until Liv remembers that the boat party from the pilot was sponsored by the energy drink. This, plus the appearance of Steven Webster as Rager CEO Vaughan (Steven Weber), makes me believe that there’s a larger connection between the drink and the rise of the recently dead.
- Liv inadvertently creates her first zombie: The final significant development may mark the introduction of a major new villain. When Liv is kidnapped by Max Rager henchman Sebastian Meyer (Matthew MacCaull), he licks blood from her head wound. Turns out a drop of blood is on par with a zombie scratch because the hemoglobin is enough to allow Sebastian to survive a concrete block to the head and a run-in with some boat’s propellers. In the closing scene Sebastian awakens on the beach with the trademark grey streak and blood-red eyes.
Despite the inkling of things to come, however, ‘Mr. Berserk’ is all about Liv’s grief. There are some great moments of vulnerability courtesy of McIver, most obviously at the end when she finally gives her airplane bottles of liquor to Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and succumbs to tears over Lowell’s body. My favourite moment actually occurs earlier when Major plays sober sister and picks her up at the bar. Depositing her in bed, the former fiancés have an intimate moment by agreeing not to talk about their emotional problems. Part of me continues to think that Liv is acting unfairly by stringing Major along, but he’s in such a bad place that he’s clearly got bigger concerns to worry about it. Still, as we close in on the first season finale, I can’t tell if we’re headed towards reconciliation, confession or death when it comes to Major <gulp>
- Speaking of Major, he gets possibly the most heartbreaking story line when he learns from Clive that Julien (Aleks Paunovic) is alive and well despite taking three bullets in the chest. I really appreciated the honest talk between Ravi and Liv about coming clean (something Grimm could have done a better job with during a similar story line). Liv’s decision that being locked up for a few weeks is safer for Major at least makes sense, even if I vehemently disagree that it is the best choice.
- Major finally seems to accept his fate during group therapy until a sketchy patient corners him and drops the “z” word. You can almost see Major’s wheels spinning.
- Ravi isn’t having any luck experimenting with zombie-rat. My husband wondered if the missing ingredient is Max Rager, which sounds just about right.
- I thought that Ravi and Liv figured this out last episode, but Lieutenant Suzuki’s (Hiro Kanagawa) cover-up of Lowell’s murder on Blaine’s behalf confirms to them that the police are being bought off. Admittedly this plot only works because Ravi and Liv agree that Lowell’s body could be dangerous to humans. This begs the question: what would have happened if, instead of Ravi, a non-zombie-familiar medical examiner had been working? I doubt someone else would have gone along with Suzuki’s insistence on the suicide angle. As a result, this piece didn’t quite work for me.
- As much as I appreciate the character work done on Liv’s grief and Major’s downward spiral, the brief mention of Peyton (an unseen Aly Michalka) and no mention of Liv’s brother, Evan (an unseen Nick Purcha), reinforces that there are a few dropped story lines that need to get picked up ASAP before the finale.
- Liv (trying to process Lowell’s death): “Today’s Tuesday or whatever it is.” Meta jokes about the day of the week a CW show airs always makes me smile.
- Ravi (describing Rebecca’s alcoholism): “Her cerebral spinal fluid practically came out with a lemon twist.”
- Julien (describing Major to Clive): “Blonde pretty boy who looks like he fell out of a Nicholas Sparks movie?” Ha – too true!
- Guy at bar (to Liv): “Can I buy you-“ Liv: “Yessss.” Guy: “So what’s your-“ Liv: “Nooooo.”
- Major (when Liv mentions Blooming Grove): “We can not talk about this, too.”
Your turn: do you agree that the alcoholism angle was a savvy way to show Liv’s grief process? Do you feel bad that Major checked himself into a mental ward? Is Max Rager a part of the bigger zombie outbreak? Did Suzuki’s cover-up rub you the wrong way? And do you care about Peyton and Evan’s dropped story lines? Sound off below.
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on The CW