After consuming the brains of a mentally unwell man, Liv (Rose McIver) has hallucinations in the cruelest episode of The CW’s iZombie yet.
Let’s bitch it out…
I’m not going to lie: I am gutted. I didn’t realize how far I’d fallen for Major (Robert Buckley) until the moment that Liv realized that everything that had passed between them earlier in the episode was just another hallucination. The fact that the writers manage to pull the wool over our eyes so convincingly is impressive because that reveal is gobsmacking in its simplicity. It’s effective because we trained ourselves to pay attention to the devil voices and even Johnny Frost’s (Daran Norris) curious behaviour, never realizing that Liv may also be making up interactions with one of our series regulars.
Part of the reason the revelation is so disappointing is because the moments between Liv and Major are So.Damn.Good. Obviously we need to go back and re-contextualize them since it’s clear in hindsight that Liv’s hallucinations offered a fictitious, near-perfect version of their relationship. Major is usually pretty funny, but in Liv’s paranoid delusions he’s delightfully charming, helpful and clearly an enthusiastic big-spooner. More importantly Major doesn’t recoil when he learns the truth about her; instead he immediately moves to embrace her.
That moment in the kitchen when they kiss, confess and hug feels incredibly genuine and memorable. Not only has the series been playing at this development throughout its run, this physical contact is the literal embodiment of the element that Liv has been missing since her transformation: human contact (all the better if it is with the man that she loves).
Naturally it’s not real. And that hurts because we bought into it just as much as Liv did. Add to this the fact that real-life Major immediately begins babbling about killing all of the zombies, which is pretty much the opposite of what hallucination-Major did upon discovering they exist and the disconnect is night and day.
As an episode that takes place only a few weeks before the finale, there’s a lot of forward momentum in ‘Astroburger’. There’s an urgency to wrap up the myriad dangling plot lines, even as the case of the week feels adequately paced (albeit inconsequential). Meanwhile the dialogue – and presence of Vinnie Van Lowe portrayer Norris – floats ‘Astroburger’ closer to Veronica Mars territory than any other episode in recent memory, particularly with some of Major’s plucky quips. Clearly due to the natural of its frontwoman and the investigatory nature of its narrative, iZombie will never completely climb out of its predecessor’s shadow, but in the back half of this first season it has managed to strike a nice balance between its different components. As we barrel towards the finale, I’m sometimes surprised at how invested I’ve become, particularly my level of emotional attachment to these characters. I desperately want Liv to get her revenge against Blaine (David Anders), even as I hope that she somehow gets a bit of a happy ending for her and her friends.
I’m just not sure it’s going to work out that way…
- I did enjoy how Johnny Frost’s weather prognosticating mannerisms start out offbeat and progressively become more and more telling as Liv realizes his forecasts are strangely incorrect.
- If you wish to Sixth Sense the episode, please note that Major always wears the same clothes in Liv’s hallucinations. I can’t figure out whether he is actually there for movie night, though – he sits strangely far away from everyone, which is normally a dead give-away, but seemingly interacts with both Ravi (Rahul Kohli) and Peyton (Aly Michalka).
- Side Bar: judging from the noises and Liv’s response when Major asks if they ruined their date, should we presume that Ravi and Peyton had sex?
- Ravi has seemingly discovered a cure for zombism…but can he replicate it and will it work on humans? Suddenly I wonder if we’ll end S1 on a cliffhanger that finds Liv drinking a potential cure. I don’t hold much hope for its success regardless. Unless the show dramatically changes its title and approach for S2, I’m pretty sure Liv’s zombie status isn’t going anywhere.
- Suzuki (Hiro Kanagawa) turns Blaine back onto Liv after revealing Lowell was her boyfriend, prompting Blaine to pop up unexpectedly at the morgue. I didn’t believe for a second that Liv would try to poison Blaine’s Max Rager, however. If zombies can recover from gunshot wounds, it seems pretty likely they can survive cyanide or arsenic.
- Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) has definitely drifted into the background in the last few episodes, no?
- Not gonna lie: the talking devils on the Hellfire Cheesy Puffs bag gave me hardcore flashbacks to the many talking animals on Wonderfalls. I still miss that show like crazy.
- I almost forgot: Scott E’s video – the driving red herring of the episode – reveals not only the zombie attack at Lake Washington, but also gory evidence that Liv fed on someone and possibly created her first zombie the night she was turned. This is strangely more upsetting despite (or perhaps because) we don’t know the person’s identity. Compare this to last week when she inadvertently created a zombie in Sebastian Meyer: didn’t feel bad or upset about it at all.
- Finally, I feel like I should apologize for doubting Blaine’s ability to track down and kill a famous astronaut, then charge $200,000 for his brain. Let no one say that Blaine is not a skilled business man (Plus: he has a penchant for amusing word puns. “Meat Cute” makes me giggle every time and “John Deaux” wasn’t too shabby, either)
- Major (after suggesting they won’t be watching Harvey): “Some real Jimmy Stewart haters here.”
Your turn: did you catch on that Major wasn’t really there? Did you figure out Johnny Frost wasn’t? Did you think Liv would try and poison Blaine? Will Ravi’s zombie cure work? Did Ravi and Peyton hook up? And finally, any Wonderfalls fans get nostalgic seeing a talking logo? Sound off below.
iZombie airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on The CW.