Mark Watches ‘iZombie’: S02E02 – Zombie Bro

In the second episode of the second season of iZombie, Liv tries to mend things with Major, while Major and Ravi experiment. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch iZombie

Trigger Warning: For drug use, PTSD/trauma. 

I want to be able to explain why this show is so damn good beyond name-checking Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas, or Diane Ruggiero-Wright. That’s too easy, too simple, and doesn’t give a sense that iZombie is absolutely a show that exists separate from their previous work. After the rewarding first season of this show, iZombie has managed to escalate the plot in two episodes faster than most shows do in an entire season. This is on top of the episodic nature of each story, as well as all the new plots that are being set up and knocked down quicker than I could have ever anticipated. By the end of “Zombie Bro,” each of these characters is in a different place than they were at the end of “Grumpy Old Liv,” and that is INCREDIBLE to me. The writing feels tighter than it did in season one , which seems impossible because SEASON ONE WAS SO GOOD.

So let’s talk about why “Zombie Bro” is so fantastic.

Blaine

One of my favorite things about fiction is when a show or a book or whatever gives me something I never actually knew I wanted, and yet it fulfills something in a character that becomes essential. I now cannot imagine Blaine without knowing his father. They are two pieces of a whole, and it is an incredible achievement that in just one scene, we’re able to understand why Blaine is the way he is. And that’s not even acknowledging his scene with Floyd Baracus, the district attorney who Blaine apparently had some sort of past with. HOW? WHY DO THEY KNOW EACH OTHER?

In Angus, however, we get an unexpected insight into the kind of life Blaine has had that led to the version of the character in the present time. It’s not surprising to me that Blaine was born into privilege, that his father pulled strings to get him into an expensive school, and that Blaine threw away that opportunity away. However, even if Blaine is a unrepentant jerk, he’s always had a moral code (albeit a twisted one) that he abides, and you can see that in his confrontation with Angus. Even if we don’t necessarily know the truth – I’m not exactly willing to trust a word out of Blaine’s mouth – I still got a sense for Angus’s betrayal of his own son, as well as the resentment he felt towards his own father when his father showed Blaine affection. So when Blaine promised to take Angus’s company, I almost didn’t mind. There’s a bitter revenge in that, and lord knows I love a good revenge story. Is that what we’re going to see unfold this season?

I REALLY HOPE SO BECAUSE I WANT ANOTHER SCENE WITH ZOMBIE ANGUS. Oh my god, what happens when all these zombies discover that Blaine is faking his undead condition???

Bro Culture

Look, it’s not like Veronica Mars lacked any mocking of fraternity culture, because REMEMBER SEASONS TWO AND THREE. Somehow, though, Diane Ruggiero-Wright’s script is able to distill that down to a picture-perfect parody of the kind of men we see in “Zombie Bro.” At times, it was eerily realistic, and I live in the part of the United States where bros thrive. YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Actually, you should, because the bros you see here tend to be the kind who cling to communities closer to the coastal universities. Where I grew up in the Inland Empire, our bros were a lot more insidiously creepy and awful instead of cluelessly awful. Like, way more lifted trucks (the kind that look as if they belong in monster truck rallies), truck nuts (I hesitate to ask anyone to ever Google these abominations, but I always want people to know how terrible Inland Empire bros are), and dressing in oversized surf/skateboard gear. And that’s just the start. But this honestly captured the west coast frat bro in all it’s messy, nonsensical glory.

A great example of that? When that one frat boy who was sprung on Liv claimed that dog fighting was gross, but replicating an even more cruel version of Pygmalion is totally a great idea. That’s so real IT HURTS.

I’m Just a Zombie, Bro

Seriously, the writers keep coming up with ways to give Liv a brain-of-the-week meant to DESTROY US. This time around, Chad Wolcoff provides Liv with a mind very much unlike “Grumpy Old Liv,” given that she is so much more relaxed throughout this episode. The tragedy of this, of course, is that she imagines a future that is simply not there. Her difficulty in resuming any sort of friendship with Major is exacerbated by her behavior, even when he momentarily relies on her. The show could have used this episode to transition Liv and Major towards something positive, but instead, we’re given a much more challenging story.

Look, I think Major has had no real way to deal with the trauma he went through last season. Throw on the murdering he’s been compelled to do by Vaughn, and it makes a lot of sense that he’d throw himself into reckless abandon. What else does he have? How does he even begin to talk to Liv about her secret and what she chose to do with it? So instead, he loses himself.

A Night Out

Look, I can’t deny how hilarious it is to watch Ravi’s transformation in this episode. Somehow, it’s not cheesy or hokey, and iZombie manages to mix the humor of Ravi on Utopium with the utter sadness of Major on the same drug. Rahul Kohli is a delight here (and I’d also like to state that he looks incredible with makeup), and I love that he was game to utterly embarrass his character. Over and over again. THOSE VOICE MEMOS, OH MY GOD. However, the sequence works as a moment of failure, too. Ravi fails to get any worthy information about Utopium and the human body, and Major discovers that he can disappear into a high. Neither character gets anything good from it.

HOW IS THIS SHOW SO HEARTBREAKING ALREADY.

Mistakes

And really, that’s one of the reasons why this show is just so damn good. Ruggiero-Wright compares the mistakes that Chad’s killer makes with the one that Liv made, and the conflict is given a new level of intensity. When’d Major rejects Liv at the end of the episode, we know he has a right to, and we get why he’s not comfortable having her around. It still hurts, of course, because there’s that glimpse of hope when he asks Liv to stay with him while he comes down from his high. But we’re also aware that he rejects Liv to accept something else into his life: a possible drug addiction. I say “possible” because it hasn’t happened yet, but it could become a reality for him. WHICH IS SO SAD TO ME.

This show, y’all. What an achievement.

The video for “Zombie Bro” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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