iZombie S03E02 “Zombie Knows Best” REVIEW
- Detective Cavanaugh calls a clearly angry Babineaux in to talk to him about the murder of Wally and his family. Clive initially claims he barely knew them but when it’s revealed he was Wally’s “In Case Of Emergency” number he comes clean.
- Clive (and quite the moustache) were living next door to them on assignment. He met Wally first and then when Anna’s husband became physically abusive. Clive arrested the man. Clive helped them out and gradually he and Anna got closer, leading to a near romance. Wally, it turns out, is why Clive loves Game Of Thrones and one of the reasons he loves to cook. Intercut through the episode, these scenes are really sweet and funny and prove that Clive should have been given a lot more to do a LONG time ago.
- Over in the main plot, the victims of the week are Stan and Cindy, a father and daughter killed in a very suspicious road traffic accident. While a double death is tragic it’s also, well… kind of convenient. Liv and Major both need to feed after all…
- Liv gets to eat Stan’s brain, Major gets Cindy’s and large, muscular hilarity ensues. Major on teenage girl brain is hilariously self-absorbed and completely emotionally honest.
- During his first day at Merc School, he admits he’s having trouble when he can’t take his eyes off his fellow recruits pecs. His colleagues introduce him to generic, processed brain matter rations that Filmore-Graves is feeding them which apparently has no side effects.
- In the C plot, Liv on Dad Brain actually turns out to be adorable. Stan was a really sweet guy and Liv’s all-new positive attitude helps Ravi out in a particularly sweet moment. Of course she and Major bicker even more but still you can’t have everything.
- As the investigation continues, Major has a vision of Cindy showing something from a girl called Winslow Sutcliffe to her dad. Despite their efforts to trigger the other side of the vision in Liv, it doesn’t quite work and so Clive goes to work.
- He discovers Winslow and Cindy were both skaters and had four classes together. Winslow is clearly traumatised by the questioning and Major, who is in the room for some reason on this, goes full teen girl supportive for her and throws Clive’s rhythm off. With dead ends all around, Clive gets the frankly adorable goth IT guy to pull what he can out of the remains of Cindy’s phone.
- Meanwhile, Ravi is still feeling super down about Peyton and appears to be eating his feelings. We would be too, buddy. Chin up. Besides by the look of things Peyton and he are going to be sorting this out pretty quickly in the next few episodes.
- Elsewhere, the real investigation into Wally’s family’s murder gathers pace. One of Chuck Burd’s callers claims to have found tubes of brain matter in the garbage. And he just happens to be the family’s neighbour. Clive, visibly struggling to keep his cool, and Liv go and interview him but it turns out the guy is just an asshole and not a murderer. Although he does reveal there’s an entire message board of survivalists who know about the zombies…
- Understandably troubled, they fill Vivian in on the state of the investigation. She reveals that they figured they’d have three years before the zombies were discovered. If, as seems likely, the murders are the start of that then all they got were 22 months. Remember that number…
- Then, Liv gets the other side of the vision. Cindy was showing Stan an image of Winslow having sex with her stepfather. To make matters even worse, goth IT guy cracks the rest of the case. He pulls an app called Tinker Spy off the remains of the phone. It’s intended to track phone calls and texts and Winslow’s mom is the subscriber. She confesses, her step father disappears and Winslow’s life is in ruins.
- The episode finishes with the step-father being brought in, trying to escape and Clive apprehending him. Angry and on edge, he’s called in to see Cavanaugh and round we go again…
There are two moments in a show’s life that we love. The first always hits about six episodes in when it figures out what it wants to be, breaks stride and sets off on what will hopefully be a season-long run. The second normally occurs a couple of seasons in when it starts to work out how to have a little fun with its format.
That happens this episode. Twice.
The more subtle of the two is in the episode’s format. As we see Clive interrogated by Cavanaugh we also see his burgeoning not-quite romance with Anna. We also cut to the ongoing investigation and the episode finishes where it starts. It’s a brilliant piece of structured writing made all the more so by how unflashy it all is.
More importantly, good LORD the fact that this show hasn’t given Malcolm Goodwin the ball prior to this is very nearly the only thing it’s ever done wrong. He is flat out BRILLIANT this episode, and for the first time in a while we see Clive as an actual cop. He’s tired, ragged, determined and fiercely principled even as he’s constantly checking his own moral compass. Worse still he’s now pulled in two directions with his knowledge of Team Z and Goodwin shows us all of it. He’s effortlessly charming, funny and kind in a way that’s never once cornball. Plus his scenes with Mataeo Mingo are all wonderful.
The flashier side of things is Liv and Major on complimentary brains. This is a perfect excuse for the show to go for every punchline it can think of and Robert Buckley is absolutely the man for the job. The sight of Major, all 6 foot 2 inches of him and his chest, going full teenage girl could have been played as derisory. Brilliantly, it’s not. Major IS vain, self-involved and grumpy with his “dad” when he’s on the brain but he’s also sincere and sweet natured in a way that he normally isn’t. His moment with the other zombie mercenaries is especially nice as, instead of going for a cheap gay joke, the show uses the brain to explore the deeply weird new world he’s found himself in.
He’s right about Katy Perry too.
But weirdly it’s Liv on dad brain who gets the sweetest moments of the episode. Her endless boosting of Clive’s interviewing skills is amazing but it’s the moment with Ravi that really stands out. Rahul Kohli has been doing great work taking Ravi out of his normal ebullient science puppy self and his doleful eating of potato chips this episode is one of the funniest points. But it’s his scene with Liv, and the way he thanks her and the brain she’s on for advice, that really wins us over.
This episode is iZombie in a nutshell; sweet, sad, very clever and very funny. Another superb entry in season three and a welcome spotlight for the show’s least used and one of it’s most valued cast. Bring on episode three.
- Malcolm Goodwin. He was one of the best elements of the last episode and here he owns and holds together the entire thing. Much, MUCH more for him to do please.
- Teen Girl Brain Major is… actually more likeable than non-Teen Girl Brain Major.
- Dad Brain Liv is genuinely very sweet. The terrible Dad jokes especially.
- The cooking montages are back! And Clive is NOT OKAY with it!
- Wally and Anna are brilliant and we love how the show has done something very clever, spending time with them in the flashbacks, but kept it sincere and character driven.
- “Look at us. Solving mysteries, working together. We should get a van and a dog.”
- Cavanaugh! Getting stuff to do!
- Nada. Second five star episode. This season is amazing.
- Peter Kelamis, best known in these parts for the much-missed Stargate Universe, plays Wally’s gloriously creepy neighbour. He also voiced Goku in Dragonball Z, has numerous other voice credits, is an amazing stand-up comedian and the best thing in Beyond by far as The Yellow Jacket Man.
Review by Alasdair Stuart