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'iZombie' recap: Kung fu fighting in 'Live and Let Clive'

Everybody was kung fu fighting, including undead Liv Moore, on the CW's 'iZombie'

Liv Moore isn’t the only character on “iZombie” with a secret, though she has a few more than most, what with her half-dead condition, her brain-eating compulsion and her recent use of blunt force trauma to kill another member of the walking undeceased.

So it’s a relief, in an odd way, for her to find out that her partner in crime fighting has a few skeletons too. Det. Clive Babineaux (Malcolm Goodwin) would rather keep his past as a vice cop under wraps because, well, he did some nasty things back then. And to hide his true identity, he spent a lot of time pretending to be someone else as part of that job, which made it tough to recognize himself at the end of the day.

Ring any bells, Liv?

Boy howdy, it sure does, seeing as though she’s play-acting at being a psychic and at having a beating heart. Now will she tell her colleague about her zombiedom?

This episode, dubbed “Live and Let Clive,” tests the newfound friendship between Liv (Rose McIver) and Babineaux, and eventually brings them closer to each other, both personally and professionally. I can’t help but think that this is a setup for her Big Reveal. Here’s the obvious question: slow burn or coming soon? Place your bets.

On all counts, this hour of the CW’s dram-zom-com delivers on its ties-that-bind through line. Liv is more anchored than ever to her boss and confidante, medical examiner Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli). She can tell him anything, and he’s her rational, caring sounding board, especially about awkward encounters with her ex-fiance, Major (Robert Buckley). And she’s more trusting of Clive after he clears up a vision-induced misunderstanding.

Blaine DeBeers (David Anders), the resident baddie, cleans house when he learns that his thickheaded henchmen are plotting against him. And he promptly rewards his lover/zombie spawn for ratting them out. Pillow talk definitely pays off.

As far as the crime of the week, a staple in this series, it’s a twisty tale of Asian gangs, elaborate tattoos, “boot parties,” missing fingertips and confidential informants. Oh, and Liv becomes a seriously (temporarily) badass martial artist, which is a joy to behold. She also goes full-on rage zombie, which seems destined to happen once every episode.

The series may be loosely based on its DC Comics forerunner, but according to executive producer Rob Thomas, the part about Liv soaking up quirks, memories and traits from the brains she swallows needed to stay intact from the source material.

“That was one of the big selling points in the comic book,” Thomas said during a recent Television Critics Assn. gathering. “And then when we started getting into the writer’s room and talking about whether she’s going to inherit the talents of the people that she ate, there were lively and lengthy discussions about how far do we go with that. If she eats the brains of someone who knows karate, is she a karate expert for the week? At the end of the day, we decided it was just more fun to say yes to those things.”

That’s why McIver isn’t surprised, she said during the same press meeting, when producers ask if she can do cartwheels or speak foreign languages.

In “Live and Let Clive,” there are a couple key take-aways from the murder of Sammy Wong and the investigation around it. First, Hong Kong gangsters also have their hand in the Seattle drug trade, so Blaine “Candy Man” DeBeers doesn’t seem to have a monopoly there. Who knows how many more dealers are pushing Utopian to the locals? Quick aside: To my ear, it sounds like Utopian, but other fans say they hear Utopium in the dialogue. Take your pick. Just don’t buy any.

And second, after Liv makes an entrée of Sammy’s gray matter, which sadly tastes nothing like fiery Chinese food, she says in voiceover, she mistakenly thinks that Clive is a dirty cop. She’s getting a glimpse of his life before the homicide division, when he stood by during “Rodney King-style beat downs” of hooligans and thugs.

Since Liv previously helped bust a killer cop, it’s understandable that she might imagine rogues throughout the Seattle PD. And the Sammy brain she ingests contains a heaping helping of paranoia, blowing her small suspicions completely out of proportion.

It’s nice for her, and us as viewers, to find out that one of our heroes turns out to actually be one of the good guys, albeit with a spotty personnel file.

At the other end of the spectrum, Blaine is busy creating Evil Zombie HQ in a stylish bistro, where the chef prepares him dishes like braised cerebellum a la Grenoble and gives him enough freezer space to hang his victims a la sides of beef. (Name of the joint: Meat Cute).

While he seems to really embrace his zombiehood, Blaine is trying to fit in with the populace. He’s now manicured, coiffed and spray tanned. He may even be juicing. (Who wants the recipe for that kale-and-brains smoothie?) This facade could be helping him forage for food on the down low and demand $25,000 a pop for his wares.

About those wares…

Blaine is hanging around skate parks and teen hot spots, doling out Utopian and latching onto street kids like a pervy pedophile. He pounces on Jerome, a friend of Major’s from a Big Brothers/Big Sisters-ish program. Didn’t we all guess, from the last episode, that Jerome wasn’t long for this world? The confirmation during this hour is still kind of heartbreaking.

Blaine carves up the kid’s noggin (off screen, since this is network), promising the youthful brain to his snitch girlfriend. Keep an eye out for Jerome’s spiffy Converse high tops – no doubt they’ll resurface as a clue to his disappearance.

In Liv’s words, two’s company, three’s a horde. So how many zombies are shambling around Seattle, anyway? It’s impossible to know, though it appears from this episode that Blaine is expanding his dead(ish) empire, along with his already significant client list. That’s the ongoing threat.

Liv and Babineaux solve one murder and prevent another – Liv kicks a gangster “in the nards” – and Liv promises to alert Clive if her visions show him so much as jaywalking.

Ravi and Major bond over video games, high-def TVs and blackout curtains. They’re going to be great roommates, even if they’re now under the same roof primarily because Liv wanted to shove aside Major’s erstwhile new girlfriend. Back off, Corrine!

Ah, domestic bliss, or some semblance of it. These guys will need their collective strength in the coming weeks.

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