Mark Watches ‘iZombie’: S02E01 – Grumpy Old Liv

In the first episode of the second season of iZombie, EVERYTHING IS A MESS, and you better believe that I love it. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch iZombie.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism.

Whew, that was such a good premiere. HELLO, FRIENDS!!! Welcome to the very first series that I started watching solely through Patreon commissions and then enjoyed it so much that I elevated it to FULL REVIEW STATUS. Over the course of thirteen months, I was delighted to experience the show, partially because I had become so obsessed with Veronica Mars, but mostly due to the fact that iZombie was so, so good. I’m fairly burned out by zombies at this point in my life, but this show made them feel new. Exciting. Funny. And just like the writing on Veronica Mars, I was shocked, surprised, and thrilled by the story.

So, if you’re wondering why there are no reviews of season one, it’s because one of my lovely Patreon subscribers got me to watch it, and MY OBSESSION GREW. You can enjoy the videos for season one, but from here on out, I’M YELLING AT YOU IN TEXT FORM, TOO.

Gods, where do I even start with “Grumpy Old Liv”? This is a fantastic start to the season because Rob Thomas and company commit to the shocking elements of “Blaine’s World,” and IT IS SO SATISFYING TO WATCH. The story is accelerated three months beyond the events at the end of the last season, and that means the show gets to move forward into something new and exciting. Sure, the show doesn’t ignore the past at all. But now that Peyton’s gone, Liv needs a new roommate. What does  Major do now that he’s been cured? How does it affect his relationship with Ravi and Liv? What of Liv’s relationship with her family after Evan’s accident and Liv’s refusal to donate blood? Everything from the past matters, but the show looks forward to crafting new stories rather than sticking with the old ones. LET US DISCUSS SOME OF THESE PLOTS.

Liv’s Family

Ah, it’s so heartbreaking to watch this unfold. LIV IS GENUINELY TRYING TO PROTECT HER FAMILY BUT SHE CAN’T TELL THEM WHY BECAUSE THEY LITERALLY WON’T BELIEVE HER. This plot provided one of a number of moments where I thought, “But what if they DID know?” Will the world ever discover the zombie epidemic, or will it always remain in the shadows? I don’t know! But I understood the reasoning for sticking a perpetually negative asshole within Liv’s head during this episode. At this point, her life sucks pretty badly, and she has to make a conscious decision whether to wallow in her sadness and despair or to move on from it. In her family’s case, she’s not going to give up on them, even if they’ve given up on her.

Grumpy Old Liv

I do love a good procedural, and despite how beautifully serialized this show is, I’m thankful that we still get episodic cases for Babineaux, Ravi, and Liv to deal with. As I said, it’s fitting that the personality of a cantankerous jerk fills Liv’s head because even without consuming his brains, Liv would have been close to this emotion anyway. Nothing seems to have gone right for her, so just like this bitter old man, she could have sworn off being polite forever.

That’s not really the Liv we’re used to, though. Even if she might wallow from time to time, she’s a resilient person. But to what point? If Wendell decided to stop being pleasant after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, where’s Liv’s breaking point? It’s fascinating watching her lash out at the world because we get a sense for how others would deal with her if she chose to give up. Granted, part of eating Wendell’s brains entails being a bigger jerk than I thought possible, which includes LOTS OF RACISM. It’s all pretty horrifying, and while the show goes out of the way to make sure everyone knows it is bad, it’s still really awkward. Like, I didn’t get how someone could speak that way to their superior at work and still have a job; that part seemed unrealistic to me. But hey, maybe Babinxeaux is a lot more patient than I would be in the same circumstance? LIV WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED THAT DAY IN MY PRESENCE.

But I think there’s a neat little story in the ultimate fate of Wendell and Byron, since one person gave up trying to be nice, and the other assumed the worst because of it. This works as a way to suggest a future to Liv, that if she gives up or assumes the worst, it can’t end well. But Byron’s story is so chilling to me because his life changed in the span of a single second. His impulsive decision to drunkenly confront Wendell and kick out the jack disturbs me. His life will never be the same and that happened SO QUICKLY. But you could say the same for multiple of these characters, especially Peyton, Blaine, and Major. In one episode, all three of them had their live irrevocably altered, and they can never go back and change them.

Blaine

Well, Blaine can’t change the past, but he can adapt. AS A FUNERAL DIRECTOR. Oh my god, he can still stay in the brain business. He can still be unnerving and creepy. HE CAN ALSO MOVE INTO THE UTOPIAN BUSINESS AND SELL DRUGS. Gods, y’all, how great was his scene with Liv? I could watch those two act together for a full hour. THEY’RE SO GOOD.

While this might seem like a re-tread of season one, I don’t think it’ll be at all. How can Blaine run his empire if the Max Rager company is aiming to wipe out zombies while Blaine is probably going to create a whole lot more? See, that’s where Liv misjudged him. She thought that the threat of his cure wearing off was enough to spur him into action. I’m not so sure that he wants to be human. What if he was projecting when he claimed that Liv probably loved being a zombie? WHAT IF THAT IS THE CASE FOR HIM???

Major and Max Rager

There’s a lot to feel heartbroken about, and Major’s lack of interest in anything is a good place to start. Despite being cured, he can’t ever think of life the same. (A recurring theme in this show, I swear.) He drifts through his days as a personal trainer, doing what’s necessary to get a paycheck but never more than that. Look, the dude went through A LOT of trauma in a very short period of time, and it’s absolutely fair that he take a break from talking with Liv. This is, like, the very LEAST I would expect of him. Yet as this is unfolding, he’s drawn into a nightmare. It’s not surprising to me that he’d do anything for Liv despite what she’s done to him. So once Vaughn Du Clark more or less blackmails him into working for him, the tragedy is deepened. It hurts so bad to think about because THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT MAJOR SAID HE WOULD DO: KILL ALL ZOMBIES. And now his weird ability to detect them – procured from the cute itself – is going to be used to destroy them. AND POSSIBLY LIV AS WELL.

I mean, I don’t think the show will kill her off, but STILL. It’s not comforting, you know? It’s just so haunting to watch him kill that first zombie, and I genuinely don’t get how this is going to unfold. Is Blaine going to create MORE zombies? Will Du Clark run into trouble with his plan? WHEN WILL LIV FIND OUT THAT HER NEW ROOMMATE IS DU CLARK’S ASSISTANT? HOW DARE THIS SHOW DO THAT. HOW DARE THEY.

Wow, what a fantastic first episode of the season.

The video for “Grumpy Old Liv” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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