iZombie: Season 2, Episode 14 – “Eternal Sunshine of the Caffeinated Mind”

“Eternal Sunshine of the Caffeinated Mind” isn’t only another stellar movie-inspired iZombie episode title, but yet another episode that manages to reveal and surprise in wonderful ways. Opening on Positivity Café, the owner and unrelentingly cheerful Leslie Morgan (Suzy Joachim) is killed by a falling air conditioner unit when she steps outside. Coincidentally, Ravi (Rahul Kohli) is there when it happens, and initially confirms it’s an accident. It’s only when they find missing screws on the unit that Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) declares it a murder and he and Liv (Rose McIver) begin their investigation.

The mystery of the week points to several suspects, and they’re entertaining all on their own. They include Pam (Lola St. Vil), Liv’s cellmate in “The Hurt Stalker”, who reappears here as an employee of Positivity Café; and Leslie’s ex-husband and ex-business partner, Stan (Oscar Nunez), whose identical coffee is served at the Daily Grind (Positivity’s polar opposite) right across the street. Pam’s over-the-top antics are very funny, and Stan’s darker outlook are a great foil for Liv’s new sunny disposition; it’s fun to watch McIver deliver platitude upon platitude to a decidedly unconvinced audience, including Clive. Eventually, it’s revealed that Leslie’s daughter, Cher (Kacey Rohl), conspired with her fake French boyfriend, Gilbert (Aliocha Schneider) to kill her mother.

Last week’s triumphant find of the tainted Utopium seemed to set things up for a fairly straightforward cure, but because this is iZombie and things rarely go according to plan, the rat testing results in a scary monster rat that doesn’t bode well for a quick cure. Because Major (Robert Buckley) is now even more worried about his future, he finally decides to confide in Liv. Just before he tells her, though, Gilda (Leanne Lapp) arrives (Liv: “How weird that is took this long for you to finally meet”) and in that instant it’s obvious Major has realized her manipulations run much deeper than he suspected. Buckley and Lapp are both terrific in that brief moment of recognition. Major quickly leaves, but not before calling out goodbye to “Rita”, in a moment that feels somewhat ambiguous in his intention. It’s unclear whether he meant to reveal who she is to Liv (because he could’ve easily stayed and done so), or whether it was an unintentional slip.

The immediate consequence of Liv’s discovery is equal parts satisfying and worrying. She confronts Gilda, punches her, and kicks her out. Lapp has played Gilda as smug and wholly unconcerned about being discovered, so seeing her confronted so directly is gratifying, although it’s sure to have serious ramifications. Similarly, it was great fun to see McIver let loose in a way that overrode her optimistic zombie personality of the moment.

In another twist, it’s revealed that Drake (Greg Finley) is actually working undercover to infiltrate Mr. Boss’ (Eddie Jemison) operation, and in fact, he didn’t kill Terrell Johnson (Ronald Selmour) last week. In yet another wonderful association between iZombie and Veronica Mars, Enrico Colantoni shows up as Benedetto, the detective to whom Drake reports. Colantoni is always a pleasure to watch; that remains true here as he urges Drake to stop seeing Liv (he refuses) and happily punches him to maintain Drake’s cover. Drake’s undercover role places Liv, and by extension, Major and Ravi, in a different kind of danger. There’s little doubt that Clive will eventually discover Liv is a zombie, but he has a personal relationship with her that could potentially keep her safe, while the possibility that Drake’s superiors discover the zombie epidemic first creates a different kind of threat.

As if the Drake and Gilda/Rita reveals weren’t enough, the episode also manages to include Mr. Boss’ realization that Blaine (David Anders) is the D.A.’s informant. Cementing his coldblooded reputation, Mr. Boss kidnaps Blaine, takes him to a grave out in the woods, and has his throat slit. It’s a surprising moment, particularly because Blaine has managed to alternately charm or manipulate his way out of so many close calls, but what makes it even more shocking is that he rises from the dead and digs his way out of the grave (near a group of Girl Scouts, no less). It’s unclear how Blaine survived, but it may be that his former zombie state has made him impossible to kill. Regardless, it’s a revelation that’s certain to complicate things, not only for finding a cure, but also for the showdown that’s sure to come between Blaine and Mr. Boss.

iZombie goes on yet another small hiatus — the series returns on March 22 — and then only has five episodes left to finish out the season. The episode offered several jumping-off points for the remainder of the season, but the series is clearly geared up for the long run. The many ongoing, increasingly connected arcs have continued to build, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Caffeinated Mind” offers further evidence of how well iZombie paces itself to reveal the unexpected at just the right time.

RATING 8 / 10