The second episode of ‘iZombie’ has a lot of good things in it, and sets up new storylines that could be very interesting, but is also an exercise in frustration as we wait for the series to get over its growing pains.
The episode is hilariously titled ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?’. Liv, the self-described “crime-fighting zombie,” is assigned to examine the body of an artist named Javier who had been murdered with a paintbrush stabbed through his eye. Ouch. Her sort-of partner Det. Babineaux insists that “It’s always the wife” in these sort of cases – a belief that’s strongly reinforced when he learns that the victim was a notorious womanizer. However, the artist’s wife (Judy Reyes from ‘Scrubs’) is actually very friendly with her husband’s latest lover and claims that they had an open marriage.
The case will wind through several red herring suspects before, indeed, arriving back at the wife, just as Babineaux suspected. It turns out that Javier had gotten a young girl pregnant and was planning to finally leave his wife. She, of course, didn’t care for that news.
None of this is interesting. Aside from the zombie trappings of the show’s premise, the main plot is very conventional and predictable murder-of-the-week crime procedural stuff that I mostly forgot within five minutes of the episode ending.
However, the show is still loaded with witty dialogue and some very funny comedy bits. After Liv eats the artist’s brain, she not only develops a pretentious interest in art, but she also becomes extremely horny and behaves quite inappropriately around some of the suspects. These scenes are really amusing.
More importantly, the episode introduces a second zombie, a former drug dealer named Blaine (David Anders from ‘Alias’) who’d been on the party boat with Liv. In fact, Liv remembers him as the zombie who attacked and turned her. Blaine apologizes for that. He says that he has spotty memories of what happened on the boat, and has been just as confused about his zombie condition as she is.
At first, Blaine is very friendly and seems like he might be a useful companion to keep around. Liv’s co-worker Ravi is excited to run tests on him, which he gladly consents to. Nevertheless, Liv remains a little wary of him.
Her instincts turn out to be right. Blaine seduces a wealthy milf at a hotel lounge and turns her into a zombie. He then murders a couple of gangbangers and sells their brains to the woman. The implication is that he’s creating a brand new market for which he will be the exclusive distributor. He seems to have ambitious plans to expand and take over the city.
That part, I like a lot. The main murder case, though? That’s kind of boring.
In interviews, show-runner Rob Thomas has hinted that the series will start to transition away from being a crime procedural over the course of the season, and will eventually be more weighted toward the “mythology” aspect. I look forward to that. I’ll continue to watch and give the show time to develop, but these early episodes may be a bumpy ride.