NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of iZombie are present in this review
iZombie finally remembered to deliver a good case-of-the-week on top of the same superb character work in “Love & Basketball” this week, which was one of the stronger episodes that Season Two has delivered to date. The episode brought back the aftermath of the Meat Cute massacre from the Season One finale in a big way this week, and Major also found himself finally standing up to the demands of Max Rager somewhat, as the episode picks up after his steamy lip lock with Liv at the end of last week’s episode.
Sadly, Liv quickly goes back on the decision to hook up with Major again, worrying that she can’t know if she’ll re-zombify him after some hanky-panky, and the two decide to be friends for now. Hey, at least they’re talking again. It comes at an appropriate time too, since our latest murder victim is a security guard that also worked as a beloved childrens’ basketball coach. Three guesses what Liv’s newest brain food does to her this week.
Yep, Liv gains an authoritative, strict personality, as well as an uncharacteristic obsession with basketball, which even allows her to discuss the sport with Babineaux, and make Babineaux just as distracted as she can be on certain cases. Liv’s order-barking also comes in handy with Major, who is still having trouble getting out and about while trying to kick his Utopium addiction, though a hearty speech by Liv renews his desire to kick his bad habit. He even manages to dump his Max Rager squeeze, who also inadvertently learns from Liv that Major is back on the trail of his former fiancée. Well, this can only end well, especially coming on the heels of Gilda stealing a blood sample from Liv after she accidentally cuts herself, right as Max Rager demands it. I’m sure they’ll only use that for the noblest of reasons, right?
Actually, speaking of Babineaux, he’s largely served as the simple connecting tissue to the case-of-the-week so far this season, and that has his character feel like he’s regressing a bit after the events of Season One. Fortunately, this episode finally fixed that fully, as Babineaux is reprimanded for continuing to look into the events at Meat Cute from the Season One finale, and continues to develop a cute rapport with the FBI agent working near his desk. He even got to have a bit more fun with Liv, while naturally still not catching on that Liv is adopting the personalities of the murder victims in each of his cases. Boy, Babineaux is not a good detective, is he? Either that, or he’s so set in his own ways that it hasn’t occurred to him to question Liv’s, “Psychic powers” any further than face value.
At least Babineaux got pushed in a necessary new direction with Meat Cute, as his old captain’s widow actually shows up at the precinct to hand him a crucial bit of evidence; A half-eaten brain that was being hidden in a beer fridge! Looks like Babineaux is finally about to get his first taste of Team Z, so to speak, and this is no doubt the first step to him finding out Liv’s true secret!
As for this week’s case, it actually came up quite a bit, and worked better in tandem with the overarching plot of the episode. Liv and Babineaux encounter a red herring pretty early on, with the abusive father of one of the kids playing for the guy’s team being an early suspect, though he’s dropped pretty early on. From there though, an investigation is taken into the office that the coach was guarding, and it’s revealed that one of the employees has a pretty bad gambling problem. In fact, of the three people that were clocked as entering the building around the victim’s time of death, one was the gambler, one was a loan shark that the gambler accidentally killed in a panic, and tried to stash in the concrete foundation of a nearby town’s construction site (leading to a pretty hilarious interaction between Ravi and a rival coroner), and one was the fixer that helped the gambler clean up the body, and ended up killing the victim simply to tie up loose ends. Sure, it was yet another instance of iZombie pulling a killer out of its ass, but at least this time, the seemingly random nature of the killing made sense, and didn’t feel like laboured mandate for the show’s case-of-the-week format.
Also excelling this week was Blaine, yet again, whose former dealer finally agrees to cut the Utopium for a new concoction, after returning from the wilderness, starved for brains. Blaine gives Ravi the necessary ingredients to cut a new cure, but the incomplete concoction is taken by Blaine and prematurely injected into the dealer, which Blaine had always planned to use as a guinea pig. Apparently, it’s quite lethal to zombies, instantly rotting them to a husk and killing them. Ravi and Blaine realize the magnitude of this zombie-killing potion at the same time, and what follows is a pretty tense and funny scuffle between the two to reclaim the potion. Ravi however smashes it with another chemical bottle, forcing Blaine to walk away. Blaine trying to act like losing the zombie-killer formula was no big deal was a pretty amusing end to the scene, though I definitely get the impression that we haven’t seen the last of this deadly concoction.
iZombie has once again struck an ideal balance between smart cases, sharp characters, fun humour, and emotional drama with “Love & Basketball”, which doesn’t quite reach the high point of “Real Dead Housewife of Seattle” amongst this season’s offerings so far, but is still a close runner-up, alongside “Grumpy Old Liv” from the start of the season. It looks like trouble’s ahead for zombiekind as a whole, between Ravi and Blaine’s deadly discovery, and Max Rager getting their hands on Liv’s blood, but hopefully, this series keeps riding high for it, especially now that Babineaux can finally properly join all of the undead fun!
- Great balance between character plots and case-of-the-week writing
- Babineaux getting a big lead on the truth of Meat Cute
- Ravi and Blaine inadvertently creating a miracle zombie killer, and scuffling for it
- Liv immediately shirking sex with Major is a bit of a cheat