NOTE: We apologize for the tardiness of this review. Our regular television reporter was ill at the time of airing.
NOTE 2: Full spoilers for this episode of iZombie are present in this review
iZombie upped the ante a bit with an especially effective case-of-the-week, although one that may hit a bit far home for devout nerdy types. Liv and Babineaux end up investigating the death of a so-called ‘internet troll’, who was discovered to have collapsed dead on his stairs. Since the man was a severe agoraphobic, he was also a shut-in, leading to his precious brain becoming rotten, and certainly not an appetizing proposition for Liv.
The idea of Liv having to forcibly choke down a rotten brain was as humourous as it was disgusting, and helps to balance out the seemingly beneficial sides of being a zombie medium for Liv. Hopefully Ravi’s sage advice about deep-frying turns out to be true.
After consuming the man’s brain, Liv inherits his agoraphobia, just in time for her to start dating Lowell after the events of last week’s episode. She also becomes quite the online gamer, which gives her an amusing new avenue to bond with Ravi. The fictional MMORPG that she plays finds a convenient way to be part of her investigation, with her shut-in victim having virtually no information beyond his online tormenting, but the idea that the victim had a big rivalry with a fourteen-year-old boy in New York was pretty funny.
Like I said, the case-of-the-week was largely creative, and should appeal nicely to much of iZombie’s target audience. The only potential issue with it is that it did degrade into a few The Big Bang Theory-esque ‘geekface’ stereotypes, which some actual online gamer viewers potentially finding a few elements of the story off-putting. It’s not too, too bad, but it does veer a bit close for comfort to embracing a few unfortunate gamer stereotypes.
Still, the good far outweighs the bad. The murder weapon being a peanut powder-dispensing confetti card taking advantage of an allergy was quite inspired, as was the killer being a donut delivery man that learned of the peanut allergy after taking jobs in the area to get a shot at the so-called ‘Sim Reaper’, after his cyberterrorist actions drove the man’s sister to suicide. It’s both a chilling commentary on online sociopaths, and a pretty creative result for what could have otherwise been the low-hanging fruit of an online rival or a government hitman, or some other element like that. All around, a very satisfying weekly case.
Also satisfying however was the character work. Major inevitably survived his injuries after last week, giving him some heartfelt interaction with Liv as she keeps an eye on him, despite Major not giving up the chase against Blaine. Major’s ingenuity effectively paid off though, as we see a glimpse of how effective he is at his job in the group home, as well as how stubbornly devoted he is to the kids he looks after. The way that he deduced more of Blaine’s operation was great, and it makes me hopeful that Major will eventually learn Liv’s secret, and become another helpful ally to Liv, Ravi and Babineaux on the show.
As for Blaine, he ran into a bit of a romantic snafu, when his girlfriend ended up murdering and devouring one of his delivery boys. Anyway, Blaine doesn’t take his squeeze’s taking matters into her own hands well, taking a power drill to her temple, and scratch another zombie from Blaine’s making. We know that Blaine is a control freak already, but damn. This is not a man to be messed with, even if it’s just a brain-munching of one of his oblivious minimum wage employees!
Speaking of, this episode had a brilliant conclusion, with Liv’s mother entering Blaine’s butcher shop to ask about job opportunities for Liv’s brother, Evan, after Liv narrowly bails out a nosy Babineaux from unknowingly meeting a violent end there himself. Blaine tells Liv’s mother to have Evan drop off a resume, and given the tone of the scene, one can get a sinking feeling that Evan will have no trouble finding a job at Meat Cute, especially with Blaine now missing a delivery boy. This will present a no doubt excellent threat to Liv, potentially even for the rest of the season, on top of giving Liv’s family something far more useful to do on this show.
Lowell at least continues to develop nicely however, as he and Liv bond over their backstories from back when they were alive. Lowell understanding Liv’s struggles with rotten agoraphobe brain was quite charming, especially when he brought her anti-anxiety pills as comfort food. Sometimes, you just need another zombie to understand your zombie problems, even if the due inevitably ran into a hiccup when Lowell misunderstands Liv’s reaction to an ill-timed kiss.
“Virtual Reality Bites”, despite some of its questionable gamer jokes, was one of the best iZombie episodes yet. The character work and case work alike was perfectly realized, resulting in a novel and highly enjoyable episode that beautifully demonstrates why iZombie has a great creative edge over other detective-themed shows!
- Wonderfully creative case-of-the-week
- Liv and Lowell's effective bonding
- Blaine got better and badder than ever
- Some gamer jokes may be a tad offensive