NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “iZombie” are present in this review
iZombie beat its fellow CW comic book dramas back to the airwaves with a week’s head start in its midseason premiere this week. Unfortunately though, “Method Head” feels like a bit of a clumsy start to the show’s 2016 run, being a somewhat scattershot offering that feels like it’s biting off more than it can chew, despite some decent meta humour, and some promising foreshadowing, which still manage to keep the episode afloat.
Strangely, we get two cases-of-the-week this week, which contributes to this episode having something of an oddball structure. Things begin around Christmas, where Liv follows up on the dead homeless Santa that was left towards the end of the midseason finale in 2015, eating a brain that makes her very giving. This doesn’t last long however, as it’s basically an excuse for Liv to start trying and failing to restore her working relationship with Babineaux, who is trying to wean himself off of relying on Liv’s, “Psychic” abilities. This remains true, even as Liv has a vision that positively identifies the Santa’s murderer. Too bad it’s not that easy most weeks, eh?
The proper case-of-the-week actually involves Liv’s favourite fictional television show, “Zombie High”, the lead actor of which ends up getting murdered by a real gun that’s substituted for a prop gun in a certain scene. This eventually leads to Liv eating a brain that turns her into a self-indulgent method actor, like the victim was, but honestly, the brain humour was barely present in this particular episode. Instead, it felt like much of the episode was carried by meta jokes, such as iZombie using the fictional series to poke fun at its own premise and network, with a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers joke even slipped in, in reference to the fact that Rose McIver once served as the Yellow Ranger in an incarnation of that series. These clever jokes fortunately helped to compensate for what felt like a disappointingly half-baked case-of-the-week, honestly.
Despite most of the case having decent working parts, presenting some good twists and turns, and even having a few solid red herrings, the resolution of the case felt disappointing. Towards the end of the episode, the show just reveals that the prop master, the most obvious suspect to begin with, was the killer, substituting the guns because the lead actor contributed to the death of his illicit lover, and wanted to put the show’s crew out of work to move everything to Los Angeles. I’m not certain that a lead actor has that kind of power in a trashy teen zombie soap, but whatever. This felt like a half-hearted resolution that ignored several other more interesting possibilities for the case, and it was a real let-down, especially when so little was done with Liv’s latest brain.
Fortunately, there was also some standout material offered for Blaine and Major, which is why it was frustrating to have it crammed in to select points in an episode that already feels over-stuffed. Major learns from Ravi that the zombie cure is temporary, and Ravi learns that Liv and Major broke up, but what comes from either of these revelations? Nothing. Even as Liv, Ravi and Major try to find the body that’s necessary for the tainted Utopium, the episode never presents any real fallout from this information. Even Liv and Babineaux’s working relationship seems all but healed by the end of the episode, making the drama of Babineaux casting off Liv feel like something that didn’t even stick for one episode, let alone a good chunk of Season Two’s remainder.
Fortunately, the Major material at Max Rager went down a lot better, as Major is given the opportunity to contribute to blowing the whistle on the company, only to give the incriminating evidence to Vaughn, and rat out the traitor. Turns out that the whole whistleblower thing was a ruse by Vaughn however, to ensure Major’s loyalty, which was a neat twist, especially when it appeared that Vaughn was about to feed the fake whistleblower to some hungry fully-turned zombies! There was another great twist to follow this too, as it’s revealed that a fake fitness band that Major gave to Vaughn is actually recording incriminating evidence straight from Vaughn’s mouth, which Major is saving on a computer. Is Major planning to go to the press, or is he going to directly try and blackmail Vaughn? This question proved more exciting than most of the episode, even being a subplot.
As for Blaine, he had a great share of fun moments this week, particularly in the intro, as his operation gets a festive look around Christmas. Blaine then has to try and deflect Agent Bozzio coming by the funeral home, narrowly squeaking away one of his incriminating yellow brain coolers when it’s nearby, as Blaine tries to mislead Bozzio. This proves to be for naught however, as Bozzio deduces that Blaine is the suspect that she and Babineaux are after from the Meat Cute murders, right as the episode ends! Looks like bad news for Blaine, even though we won’t see what happens from here for a little while, as iZombie is apparently taking a two-week hiatus, after this midseason premiere.
It’s unfortunate that iZombie kicked off 2016 with such an uneven offering, especially when it’s immediately taking two weeks off right afterward, but there was still enough good content to get “Method Head” by. The case-of-the-week material with Liv and Babineaux was sadly the weakest part of the episode, but at least Major and Blaine offered some strong subplots to maintain the show’s sense of forward momentum. Hopefully Liv’s next brain leaves more of an impression though.
- Some amusing meta humour
- Twists with Major and Vaughn's schemes
- Babineaux and Bozzio finally getting on Blaine's trail
- Lacklustre case-of-the-week resolution
- No real fallout from midseason finale drama
- Odd scattershot structuring