Even before this week’s magic-tinged episode of “iZombie,” I was already bewitched with this series. Now? Charmed beyond measure.
I’ll try to stop with the sorcery references, but this dram-rom-zom-com just keeps getting more solid and sure-footed and intriguing in its second season. Tuesday night’s installment, “Abra Cadaver,” may be one of the wittiest and most enjoyable hours of television I’ve seen in quite a long time.
I even care about the murder du jour, which hasn’t held nearly as much interest for me lately as the personal relationships and the overarching story lines. And I’m not even a fan of the prestidigitation.
But Ravi sure is, and he geeks out more thoroughly than he has over anything except first-person-shooter video games and “Star Wars.” He knows that an event called Prestofest has brought some 200 illusionists to Seattle, and he’s in heaven as part of the investigation into the murder of a death-obsessed member of the trickster tribe. Oh Ravi, you really are the best.
Clive gets some action, with his lovely and smart FBI agent colleague, and Liv gets some action, with former-and-current flame Major. But the latter affection is restricted to close contact and does not include The Deed because of the whole sexually-transmitted zombie infection thing.
Ravi breaks up with his erstwhile girlfriend, not so secretly hoping to rekindle with Peyton. But that plan goes awry when Ravi jumps the gun and Peyton nearly says, “I met someone.” That dude is Blaine.
I mentioned that this show is fabulous, yes?
There’s so much to dig about this episode, including these great music cues: “I Put a Spell on You” – was that the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version? – and 1975’s “Magic” from one-hit-wonder pop band, Pilot. So what if they’re fairly on the nose? They’re classics.
Oh yeah, and the perp turns out to be a cross-dressing mute-faking magician posing as a maid. His accomplice gives Det. Clive Babineaux’s name the proper French pronunciation – finally! – and Blaine serenades his funeral parlor with a lovely rendition of “Danny Boy” and admits that he’s an acquired taste, “like gazpacho or that free U2 album.” That voodoo that you do, Blaine.
On to the nitty gritty of “Abra Cadaver,” in which goth-bedecked illusionist Sid Wicked pays for his thieving ways, Liv falsifies records and Peyton warns her snitch to watch his back.
Of course Sid Wicked isn’t his real name, but the black-clad magician born Steve something-or-other meets a devilish end in his hotel room, with a razor-edged queen of diamonds piercing his jugular. The maid finds his body, or so it seems, and the legwork begins for Liv Moore (Rose McIver), Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli).
There are the usual red herrings and, in this case, there’s no shortage of suspects because Sid was not a nice guy. He stole and exposed magicians’ secrets while building his own career. People, like his ex-fiancee, an illusionist named Houdina, had plenty of motivation to end him.
But the guilty parties turn out to be Smoak & Meers, a low-rent Penn & Teller knockoff team that couldn’t stand the thought of being next on Sid’s professional hit list.
This procedural element is a mainstay of the series, and sometimes it works more seamlessly than others. During this hour, it propels rather than bogs down the story, as has been the case in the past, and it gives us new peeks into our favorite characters. Clive hates magic, for instance, and Ravi’s fascination with card tricks knows no bounds.
Liv does get moody on Sid’s brain, which she mixes into a breakfast scramble, but her visions help solve the puzzle of the Telleresque magician-turned-housekeeper-turned-throat-slasher.
In other police-type work, Blaine DeBeers (David Anders) tells Liv that there’s a zombie hunter-killer on the loose, picking off his wealthy clients. Whoever that person is must be stopped, he says. She agrees to spy with him on Clive’s girlfriend, FBI agent Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon), so they can learn all her intel about this ongoing case.
Blaine is more concerned with his battered bottom line than he is with Liv’s safety, but he suspects that either or both of them could be targets.
Whatever has to happen to get these two together again, please make it so, “iZombie” producers. Their head-to-head scenes are stellar.
They may or may not actually learn anything from their fishing expedition into Bozzio’s files, but they discover a hot-off-the-press lab report from the late Lt. Suzuki’s beer fridge surprise. It’s a human brain. Liv and Blaine decide that Bozzio and Clive can’t possibly have that information, so Liv doctors the results to say “bovine” brain. Will Clive be satisfied with that explanation?
Quick question: Clive is from Brooklyn? How did he end up in Seattle?
Quick observation: there’s a photo of the basset hound, now known as Minor, in Bozzio’s files. That, like those American flag high-tops from previous episodes, will be important later.
Peyton Charles (Aly Michalka) pays Blaine a visit to warn him about Stacey Boss, the local crime overlord who may know that Blaine is the little bird singing in her ear. And it’s so fitting that he’s literally mid-song when she arrives at Shady Plots. They flirt, discreetly, and he gives her his cellphone number.
Major Lilywhite (Robert Buckley) mostly skulks around in this hour, but it’s understandable since guilt is weighing heavily on him. Why, again, has he turned those well-heeled residents into zombie popsicles? And is he considering a Ravi-like move, distancing himself from Liv just when they’ve started to patch and heal and snuggle?
She’s doing some chanting or meditating or fortune telling when Major walks through the door, but will she be able to see what he’ll do next?
And what is that mystery envelope left on Clive’s doorstep?
Where’s a Netflix-style season’s worth of episodes when you really need them? Until next week, fellow fans.