The heroine of “iZombie” doesn’t expect the brains she eats to give her daydreams of the hearts, flowers and unicorns variety. What she sees are more akin to nightmares, with her single-course meals conjuring reenactments of the violent deaths that have befallen these poor slobs who end up on her slab at the city morgue.
Even so, this week’s noggin throws her for a loop.
In the episode dubbed “The Exterminator,” Liv Moore (Rose McIver) gets a bird’s-eye view of two grisly murders instead of the usual one. The first is a high-tech entrepreneur with a gambling addiction (shot in the head, execution-style) and the second is his killer (run over by an unknown driver in a classic pimp car).
When Liv chows down on the gray matter of the hit-and-run victim, a pest control expert by day, she learns he moonlighted as a hit man. She inherits his reptilian cold-bloodedness, his narcissistic tendencies and his trivia obsession.
Liv, who’s just begun to thaw from her post-traumatic zombie disorder, all of a sudden can’t muster any emotion or empathy and starts feeling like “the lone contestant on bizarro Jeopardy.”
“This brain is gonna suck,” she says. And that’s before a teenager calls her Siri.
“iZombie,” the CW’s new dram-zom-com, is only three episodes into its run, and it’s already hitting a nice stride. That may be because this particular hour reveals that the core cast – McIver, Malcolm Goodwin as Det. Clive Babineaux and Rahul Kohli as medical examiner Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti – fit together beautifully and play off one another effortlessly as characters and as actors. Lots more, please!
Liv, Ravi and Babineaux do a lovely, practically choreographed tag team to unravel both homicides, which makes me wonder how much longer Liv will be able to keep her zombiedom a secret from the cop. Since he’s a bright guy – though not so observant where the ghostly Liv is concerned -- won’t he find out sooner rather than later? Food for thought.
And speaking of food, Ravi’s head looks like “a giant animated ham” when Liv’s tummy starts to growl. So instead of feasting on her friend, boss and sole confidante, she digs into Marvin “The Exterminator” Webster.
In short order, she learns that this contract killer has gunned down a computer genius named Wally Walker. But some drifter has been accused of that sensational slaying and awaits trial, with Liv’s roomie and BFF Peyton (Aly Michalka) as prosecutor.
Case not at all closed, Liv tells Babineaux, who initially accuses her of being stoned but soon enough agrees to retrace the investigation. Peyton is furious about her busted case and bruised career, but Liv just shrugs. Blame the sociopath’s brain, which also has a stone-faced Liv reacting not at all to a social media post of her ex-fiance making out with his new gal pal. Try as she might, Liv can’t scare up a single tear.
Meantime, Ravi’s prescient Google alert for “Seattle zombie,” the closest thing they have to an early warning system and a head’s up on midnight screenings of “Dawn of the Dead,” finds a Facebook photo of an alleged undead sighting. And the picture came from the shipyard about a mile from the fateful booze cruise/zombie semipocalypse. Ravi can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection or an undiscovered survivor and asks Liv to go exploring with him.
Between solving crime and hunting zombies, “Why don’t you ever suggest anything whimsical?” she deadpans.
Enter Blaine DeBeers (David Anders), who wants to compare notes about the best way to crack a skull if there’s no bone saw lying around. For the curious, Blaine prefers a rock to an ice pick (too messy) or a handsaw (too labor intensive). Actually he’s there to confront Liv for standing him up, since she’d previously agreed to be his fresh brains pipeline.
She’s changed her mind, she says, because she doesn’t trust Blaine and thinks he’s likely still “the same drug-dealing nob” who clawed her into zombiehood. Sharp girl, that Liv, but she doesn’t know where or to what lengths Blaine will go to sate his hunger.
This dude is bad news for Liv and the rest of the townsfolk, but he’s a wicked good villain for us as viewers. A Blaine subplot, definitely not a throwaway story line, shows that he’s found a food source – skater boys and street kids, oh no! – and acquired a creepy nickname, “the candy man.” Let’s all shudder together.
Ravi and Liv do find a zombie near Lake Washington, and it’s none other than Marcy, the fellow medical resident who invited Liv to that rager-on-a-yacht that went horribly wrong. Ravi tosses some brains into the crater where she’s trapped, hoping she’ll return to an alive(ish) state. Liv isn’t too confident, noting that Marcy looks like “a melted candle” and poses a threat to anyone who happens by the hole.
There but for the grace of God go I, says the robotic Liv, except in more zombie-centric terms.
As blasé as she is about most things, she’s dedicated to her crime fighting. Liv and Clive hunt for the perpetrator, who they think hired the exterminator to assassinate Walker and then offed the gunman with a 1978 Ford Landau to tie up loose ends. Along the way, they win a trivia contest in a cop bar under the team name Piggy and the Brain (guffaw!), and find out that Walker was going to ruin a money minting IPO because of his heavy debts. Ah-ha moment: it’s the smug business partner/angel investor, a dapper, manicured guy named Don Watts.
Catching him involves Ravi dressing like a garbage man in an orange jumpsuit he finds ruggedly fetching, and Liv mending fences with Peyton by uncovering the truth.
Back at the Marcy pit, the would’ve-been surgeon is still completely and utterly zombied out. That brain infusion didn’t help, but Ravi wants to take samples in his ongoing quest for a cure. He ends up falling into the cave with a ravenous Marcy, and it’s up to Liv to save him. Does she have the humanity necessary to do it?
The psycho’s brain is wearing off, luckily for Ravi, and Liv smashes Marcy with a rock. She also pockets an heirloom pearl necklace so she can return it to Marcy’s mother, another sign that her feelings are once again her own.
Unfortunately, that means she has a completely different response when she sees that video again of the happy couple. That would be her soul mate, Major (Robert Buckley) and some Jenga-playing brunet. Love hurts, even when you’re dead(ish).