NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of iZombie are present in this review
iZombie ended its first season by leaving Liv with quite a lot of losses. Her brother was critically injured in the Meat Cute explosion, her mother shuns her after she refused to give blood to him, Major is avoiding her, Peyton’s whereabouts are still unknown, and Max Rager is still looming large. Season Two begins with most of those problems still unsolved, though this is a good thing, since it means that Liv’s sacrifices at the end of the first season, particularly sacrificing her own chance to cure herself of zombie-ism, were no small proposition.
Even Ravi seems miffed at Liv to start, since she used up the last of her cure on Blaine and Major. It’s still business as usual for the Seattle PD however, just in time for the latest murder victim, a rather unpleasant old man who is crushed under his car after the jack failed. Since the jack is in perfect working order, the officers at the scene quickly confirm that the man met his end at the hands of a murderer. Unfortunately, everyone in the neighbourhood seems like a suspect, since the guy was so cranky and nasty that just about everyone hated him. Great.
Liv gets to work as usual, consuming the victim’s brain, and what follows is yet another hilarious turn for her personality, as she adopts a very conspicuous and out-of-place ‘grumpy old man’ attitude about everything, even going as far as to be outright racist! iZombie is still going stronger than ever in the humour department, even with so much doom and gloom in Liv’s life at present, and the show has lost none of its magic in terms of Liv’s drastic personality challenges with each brain still being unpredictable and very funny. Poor Babineaux. He still suspects nothing.
Despite the reliable mystery-of-the-week still present and accounted for in “Grumpy Old Liv” however, iZombie’s second season premiere was much more about character dynamics than it was about Liv solving her latest case. The show did a fantastic job of exploring the challenging fallout of Liv’s actions during the first season finale, with Liv seeming to almost entirely run out of friends, as even her immediate family wants nothing to do with her. The audience knows that Liv is a hero, but even in saving the day, Liv irreversibly altered a lot of people’s lives. It was fulfilling to see the character challenged by the cost of her situation, and yet not backing down from it.
This was best exemplified by Liv paying a return visit to Blaine, now fully human, and appearing to become a legitimate funeral home owner. Oh, the irony. Liv and Blaine have a great scene where they begrudgingly admit admiration and inspiration from one another, with Blaine even directly pointing out that Liv is starting to get off on being a zombie hero. It was a striking moment, made all the better by Blaine going into a hidden basement soon afterward, and, sure enough, the guy isn’t letting the zombie cure stop his enterprising business schemes with the zombie community. Blaine just so happens to have a massive stash of pure, uncut Utopium, and he also has the secret ingredient that turns it into zombie juice. What’s more frightening than a zombified Blaine? How about a Blaine that can create, and thus control, zombies wherever he wishes, especially when he receives the bodies from the Seattle PD to use as food for the zombies’ brain-eating needs. I’m very glad to see that, even when human now, Blaine is not neutered as a character. In fact, he’s better than ever for the start of Season Two!
Major also had a big role in this episode, initially ignoring Liv’s calls, before it gets brought up that Babineaux is itching to pin the Meat Cute killings on Major, who, in fairness, did indeed attack the place during the Season One finale. Liv is trying to cover for him, but Major is having none of it, simply trying to start a new life as a personal trainer. Unfortunately though, the cure that was given to Major (and Blaine) comes with the unique side effect of ‘Zombie Sense’, which allows Major and Blaine to detect any zombie in the vicinity, on account of a racing pulse and their hair standing on end. This is a great device to kick off Season Two with, and it should make both men especially dangerous to Seattle’s zombie folk, since Major and Blaine can both immediately detect even undercover zombies, one of which just so happens to be Major’s latest training client.
Like I said, the case-of-the-week almost became an afterthought this episode, though there was enough material in it to avoid it feeling shallow. Liv eventually gets her usual visions again, leading to a pretty obvious red herring with the old man’s sister-in-law (whose fake physical disability motive is never actually explained), and an equally obvious red herring of the local juvenile delinquent, which Liv naturally takes quite a few verbal shots at. Turns out though that the culprit is the seemingly ordinary dog owner whose dog was kidnapped by the old man after it pooped in his yard one times too many, with the owner losing patience and kicking the jack in frustration, accidentally killing the old man in the process. Given how many willful, malicious killers that Liv has caught during the events of Season One, it was actually kind of tragic to see her lead to the arrest of someone who never meant to hurt anyone in this episode, and, as he puts it, is losing the better part of his life to one accidental second that he can’t take back. It’s actually kind of a melancholy ending to the case, and it nicely suited the gloomier state of affairs in Liv’s life right now.
Things are only going to get worse for Liv too, since the episode winds down with Max Rager Corporation talking to a mysterious new henchman that they aim to hire to help them start exterminating zombies around the city. Turns out, it’s Major, with Max Rager’s boss getting wind of Major laying waste to Meat Cute at the end of Season One, and wanting to exploit his zombie-sensing abilities to start killing zombies, so that Max Rager can cover up its hand in the zombie incidents around Seattle. Major is blackmailed into doing the job after it comes out that Max Rager has evidence against him, and it’s then apparently shown that he captures and kills his new undercover zombie client. Looks like Major is taking a considerable walk on the dark side this season. It will be interesting to see where he lands by the conclusion of Season Two.
“Grumpy Old Liv” kicks off the second season of iZombie with an especially strong, character-driven episode, and it seems to be proving that the show’s surprise hit first season was no fluke. The CW also seems to be aware that the show has lost none of its magic in the second season, and have already taken the liberty of ordering more scripts. Frankly, I would be surprised if iZombie didn’t get an extended 22-episode order for this season, especially since it’s only trailing behind Arrow and The Flash on the network’s ratings chart. Ratings aside though, this great Season Two premiere proves that, not only is iZombie likely to get a full season order before long, but that it actively deserves to.
- Lots of fallout from Liv's difficult heroism
- Blaine's new business venture
- Major being forced to work for Max Rager
- Case-of-the-week felt a little underdeveloped