NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “iZombie” are present in this review
After its lengthy two-week hiatus, iZombie came back incredibly strong with, “Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” this week. This episode beautifully capitalized on the hysteria of erotic novel-turned-movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, resulting in an episode with more top-notch brain humour, as well as some surprising moments of dramatic punch. The case-of-the-week was even pretty decent, resulting in one of the strongest Season Two episodes of iZombie to date!
Things begin when a young librarian ends up mysteriously dying of hemlock poisoning, with Liv and Ravi eventually proving it as murder. When Liv eats the brain of the victim however, she discovers that the librarian secretly wrote erotic fiction, penning a fictional novel called, “The Upright Position”, which is an obvious stand-in for the popular Fifty Shades of Grey book of the real world. Oh dear.
This hilariously results in Liv becoming incredibly horny and sexually charged, and as you can imagine, this leads to some of the most hilarious brain humour featured all season so far! Liv has some hysterically awkward interactions with her various male friends, slapping Ravi’s rear end, trying to goad Ravi and Major into wrestling with each other and filming it, and even awkwardly stroking Babineaux’s back as the two listen to an audiobook reading of the victim’s novel. It was also a cool easter egg to have the audiobook be narrated by Kristen Bell, with Liv even mentioning a, “Strange kinship with her”, coyly referencing iZombie’s TV creator, Rob Thomas’ fan-favourite detective drama series, Veronica Mars.
Yet again, Babineaux suspects the spouse, with Liv yet again defending the librarian’s husband. It feels like this is becoming an interesting running gag for Season Two, having Babineaux immediately suspect the spouse, and Liv immediately defend the spouse, in any given case-of-the-week where the murder victim was married. It’s a decent enough gag, though a wrinkle occurs pretty early on in the case, when they discover that the librarian’s husband is actually paralyzed from the waist down. Turns out, he was a firefighter who had a beam fall on him while saving a child, thus disabling the use of his legs for the rest of his life. He even has a strangely burly, tattooed nurse named Todd, whom Liv immediately fantasizes about while Babineaux questions the husband, making a pretty shocking and funny first clue for those in the dark that Liv has eaten the brain of an erotic fiction writer!
What follows next is a pretty entertaining sequence of events, as Liv and Babineaux untangle the kinky web of the murder victim’s inspirations. There’s even a pretty convincing red herring that seems to show that the victim’s boss is the culprit, when it comes out that she wrote a book that contained a hemlock poisoning by salad, which is how the victim was murdered. In the end though, it does indeed turn out to be the spouse, with the husband killing his wife because he didn’t want to be known as, “The guy who couldn’t give it to his wife”, nicely tying in to a vision that Liv had earlier about him being the jealous type. The motivations behind the murder are a bit flimsy though, since, wouldn’t killing the wife not stop the novel from being available to the public? Like, at all? If anything, it would make the novel even more famous! Maybe the guy is just an idiot, but it still smacks of being a non-sensical motive for the murder, which was the sole weak spot of an otherwise fantastic episode of iZombie this week.
Fortunately, some very strong and highly emotional subplots kept the episode plenty interesting as well, with some big developments occurring for Major, Blaine and Peyton in particular. Babineaux and Dale start to get on the trail of the ‘Chaos Killer’ (Major), once they learn that they can activate the GPS of one of the victim’s dogs, the very same one that Major ‘adopted’. When Major overhears this while eating with Liv and Ravi, he splits (which is not at all suspicious, might I add), grabs the dog, and is then forced to tearfully leave him on a bus, to avoid any association with the evidence. I guess the driver wasn’t paying attention, since many real-life buses wouldn’t allow non-service dogs on them in the first place, let alone allow someone to abandon their dog on said bus, but it’s difficult to dwell on these questions for long, since the scene is done so incredibly well, especially when Major has to try to convince Ravi afterward that the dog’s non-existent owners simply came to take him back.
The real big developments happened with the Blaine/Peyton dynamic however, as Blaine continues to feed intel to Peyton about Stacey Boss. When the two enjoy an especially big high from putting in valuable pieces of evidence, they decide to drink together, and eventually end up sleeping together. Sure, some may have seen this coming, given the clear flirtation between Blaine and Peyton that was already in place, but it gets nicely complicated, when Babineaux and Dale actually appear to be closing in on Major, and end up arresting Blaine instead, believing he’s responsible for Major’s killings! Peyton however bails Blaine out, citing that he has immunity, due to assisting with the Boss case. Babineaux tells her in no uncertain terms that what happens next with Blaine is on her afterward, which leads to another great scene, as Peyton sees Blaine go free from the other side of the two-way mirror, and seems to already be aware that she’s probably set into motion events that will have bad consequences down the line.
Peyton’s suspicions are confirmed when she goes to Liv to inquire about Blaine’s real identity, and Liv tells Peyton all about the man she’s become involved with. This was a fantastically dramatic way to close out the episode, as Peyton gradually realizes the full gravity of the big mistake she’s made, both from sleeping with Blaine, and forcing Babineaux and Dale to release him. Liv can’t really throw stones though, as the episode ends with the reveal that her zombie brain has led to her sleeping with Blaine’s enforcer, Drake, whom she zombified a couple of episodes back, to save his life at Blaine’s behest. It will be great to see this emotional vulnerability shared between Liv and Peyton really come to the forefront over the remainder of the season, as Blaine will have both women over a barrel in a pretty spectacular way now!
“Fifty Shades of Grey Matter” is a standout episode of iZombie, and one of Season Two’s best to date! Beyond the questionable motive of the murderer, the episode fired on all cylinders, and felt noticeably invigorated from the show’s two-week hiatus. The big emotional developments for almost all of the leads worked beautifully to push the season forward, and of course, this week’s brain was an especially big hoot, presenting some of the best comedy that the show has featured in a while, and that’s saying a lot! The real question now is, how will Blaine capitalize on being badder and more dangerous than ever, since not even the law can touch him now?
iZombie returned from its two-week hiatus on a stronger note than ever, thanks to hilarious brain humour, and fantastic turns for virtually all of the lead cast, particularly regarding some controversial romantic decisions from both Liv and Peyton!