Wednesday, December 9, 2015

REVIEW: 'iZombie' - Liv Becomes a Crime-Fighting Vigilante and Ruins Many of Her Relationships in 'Cape Town'

The CW's iZombie - Episode 2.09 "Cape Town"

Liv, Clive and Ravi work together in solving the murder of Chris Allred, who was a high school shop teacher by day and a vigilante crime-fighter named "The Fog" by night. Liv gets into trouble while on superhero brains and becomes a little too much for Clive to handle. Major has an eye opening conversation with a new friend. Blaine forces Liv to do the unthinkable.

The enjoyment of iZombie from episode to episode often varies depending on whatever brain Liv consumes that week. This is a show that still has some erratic plot beats and is pretty much hit or miss with its weekly procedural element. But it's able to overcome those difficulties when the brain Liv is on is fun. The show has done some really interesting and fantastic work over the last few weeks regarding just how these brains and their personality traits come to affect Liv on a daily basis. It's made her relationship with Major much more difficult. And yet, she can't just blame all of her actions on the brains. She is still in there somewhere making those decisions. How much control she has over herself often varies depending on what the show wants to do in a given hour. But lately, Liv has been all-consumed which has created such fantastic tension with Major.

Liv eating the brain of a crime-fighting vigilante is perhaps the closest the show will ever get to being thematically similar to its lead-in, The Flash. But it's also slightly taking the concept of the show a little too far. The audience is just suppose to accept that the Fog and a bunch of other vigilantes are roaming around Seattle stopping crime. The police know about them but really don't care enough to get them to stop while the public is largely in the dark. Ravi's enthusiasm to finding out just how much fun this investigation will be is fantastic. And yet, it's also asking a lot of Liv just to punch things so severely to hit those big and climatic final beats.

Superheroes typically are lonely people. Their pursuit of justice and the need to protect everyone in their city frequently means they have to distance themselves from the people they love in the hopes that they won't get hurt in the crosshair. That's a thematic point that iZombie does hit well over the course of this episode. Liv has things in her life right now that give her purpose. Being a zombie isn't as bad as it could be because she has this solid friendship with Ravi, a relationship with Major again, and the ability to help Clive solve crimes for the police department. Comparatively speaking, she really has a cushy life compared to the rest of Seattle's zombie population. But Liv risks all of that because she can't help herself when she consumes this brain and is thrusted onto a case that deals heavily with the crime syndicate of Seattle.

The show really has two big bad villains this season - Steven Weber's Vaughn Du Clark and Eddie Jemison's Mr. Boss - on top of the ongoing antics with Blaine. That's a lot of plot to juggle. The show does it admirably well too. This episode spends more time on Mr. Boss' operation and just how terrifying a threat he really is. Clive is a man of rules and procedurals. He needs to follow them in order to be a good police detective. This brain is forcing Liv into action. She doesn't want to wait knowing that Mr. Boss is shipping in a bunch of guns tonight. So she takes it upon herself to get the job done and bring these criminals to justice. She handles herself well in this big fight because of the utility belt she got from the Fog - as well as the powers she has as a zombie. And yet, she nearly met the same fate as the Fog too because she foolishly went into this battle without knowing the full situation. She knows the truth about Mr. Boss. But no one else is inclined to believe her.

It's in this action that forces Clive to end his unofficial partnership with Liv. Their dynamic has been so crucial to the show over these first two seasons. However, it's easy to understand why Clive no longer wants it to continue. He believes that Liv broke his trust in pursuing this investigation into Mr. Boss. She has finally gone over a line that he can no longer tolerate for his partner. He's always had to put up with a lot with her visions and her mood swings. But this action forces him to seriously reconsider the person he has chosen to work alongside him on this job. It's a devastating blow to Liv. She doesn't want to eat brains just to continue to survive as a zombie. If she must do that, she wants to help the police solve their murders. Her life ended when she became a zombie. This police work gave her purpose again. And now, all of that is being taken away from her. That's a direct consequence to her own action because she just couldn't help herself.

Major wants to understand and be empathetic to Liv because of the violent changes she experiences on a daily basis. And yet, it's hard for him because he can't tell the difference between what's her and what's the brain. Her texting Rita with his phone crossed a boundary. Liv did that. She can't just blame it on the stalker brain. She has to deal with those consequences. Major may spend the day away from Liv doing his super shady job for Max Rager. It's such a relief that the show revealed a couple of episodes ago that he's not actually killing these zombies. He's just freezing them until he can think of a plan to take down Vaughn. It's nice to hear what he thinks about all of this during his chat with his latest target - a zombie hooker. But even that insight isn't enough for him to truly understand what Liv is going through. She's the one who decides to end the relationship. She just sees them as being two different to make it work. She's asking for him to sacrifice a lot just to be with her. That's a sacrifice she can no longer ask of him. And yet, it isolates her in an even more severe way. Now all she has is her friendship with Ravi. She doesn't have her family in her life, her job with Clive is done and her relationship with Major is over. It's unlikely many of these things are going to last. And yet, the moments when they happen are so emotionally rich that's it's entertaining to watch nevertheless.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Cape Town" was written by Diane Ruggiero-Wright and directed by Mairzee Almas.
  • The cured rat has returned to being a zombie. That likely means that Blaine and Major are doomed to return to the undead as well. That final reveal was a little unnecessary at the end of the episode. It felt rushed. But it still gives Ravi purpose for the immediate future.
  • Liv made another zombie. She turned Drake because Blaine came busting into the morgue needing her help. She only does so because Drake can get the tainted utopium for Ravi to make the cure. It's still sad for Liv to do this to another person. And yet, it's a very brief moment because she knows she needs to do it.
  • Drake also turns out to work for Mr. Boss. So, he could turn out to be a nice inside man for whatever Blaine or Liv need him to do.
  • The scene titles are really on point this week: "Violent Night," "Santa Claus is Running the Town" and "One Tree Kill."
  • The Fog: "I am The Fog, and tonight, I'm thick with justice."
  • Hashtag: "All you have to do to summon Hastag is hashtag Hashtag."
  • Female Zombie: "I was literally screwed into being a zombie hooker."