iZombie maintains a level of tension and momentum week to week that’s difficult to achieve; the series makes it look easy.
iZombieAirtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka, Leanne Lapp, Daran Norris, Brandi Alexander, George Tchortov
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 16 - "Pour Some Sugar, Zombie"
Air date: 2016-03-29
An episode in which the mystery-of-the-week is center stage, "Pour Some Sugar, Zombie" (good one, show) still manages to drop several major revelations, move forward some more the increasingly complex Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison) storyline, and then deliver a huge cliffhanger at the end. iZombie maintains a level of tension and momentum week to week that’s very difficult to achieve, yet the series makes it look easy.
This week Peyton (Aly Michalka) returns as Liv’s (Rose McIver) roommate (but not before it's confirmed that Rita/Gilda [Leanne Lapp] has been turned into a zombie) and their reunion also brings back together the foursome rounded out by Major (Robert Buckley) and Ravi (Rahul Kohli). They share an easy camaraderie that makes their friendship believable and provides a sharp contrast to how the episode ends.
The mystery-of-the-week focuses the murder of Cassidy (Brandi Alexander) -- a stripper attempting to inform on her boyfriend Nick (George Tchortov) -- who gets run over while on the phone with Peyton. Her death's linked to the Mr. Boss investigation when it's discovered that Nick worked for him. In an amusing sequence, Peyton tries to force Liv into having a vision of the Mr. Boss stash house Cassidy mentioned to Peyton. It’s funny not only because the audience knows that Liv’s visions cannot be forced, but because of Peyton’s almost routine approach at getting Liv to access aspects of her zombie side.
The investigation leads Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) and Liv to question Cassidy’s fellow strippers, only to come face to face with the always hilarious and deliciously sleazy Johnny Frost (Daran Norris). Norris is so much fun and this episode is an especially great showcase for his talents. Although it's eventually revealed that he's not the killer because his identity was stolen by Destiny (Tiffany Mack) -- another stripper and Cassidy's killer -- Liv gets plenty of opportunity to indulge in her outspoken, confrontational stripper brain. Between awkwardly giving Peyton a lap dance against her will ("Can't you just think of me as a sexual object?") and starting a fight with anyone she perceives has slighted her in any way ("Did that bitch just smack me in the face with her ponytail?"), McIver commits as always to Liv’s personality shifts, and keeps much of the episode light.
In addition to the mystery plot, Blaine (David Anders) is feeling the effects from the cure he took at the end of last episode. It was doubtful that he would die, but as this is iZombie, the cure is less than straightforward. Blaine may no longer be a zombie, but he’s also lost all his memories of his time as a zombie and his relationships with Liv ("Does he remember that he's a dick?") and company. It's a thread that’s important for several reasons, as it both sets up how the cure will also potentially affect Major, and reconnects Blaine to Peyton's Mr. Boss investigation. If he's no longer able to remember his part in Mr. Boss' operation, Peyton's case falls apart and Blaine loses his immunity.
Speaking of Major, he's clearly on the path to reverting to zombie form when he thinks the newly purchased milk tastes sour (as Blaine thought the wine had gone bad in "Eternal Sunshine of the Caffeinated Mind"), and all the while Ravi’s finally putting together the pieces that prove Major is the Chaos Killer. In many ways, Major's secrets have been the hardest to deal with and the most difficult to keep because, unlike Liv, he had no one close to him to confide in.
Ravi’s sleuthing quickly reveals Major’s biggest secret, and their heated confrontation drives Major to full-on zombie mode. Before he’s able to explain, Ravi knocks him out and the episode ends. It’s a smart cliffhanger not only because it leaves the viewer wanting more, but because tying Major’s secret and the zombie reversion into one moment offers more impact and it still leaves multiple options for how things will play out for the rest of the season.
With all this, iZombie manages one more reveal in an episode crammed full of them when Liv finally learns that Drake (Greg Finley) had been working undercover. Again, he's linked directly to Major in that he's in a deep freeze with the rest of the zombies on Major’s list, and the ramifications of Liv discovering that detail is sure to be magnified now.
There are only three episodes left in the season, and if the ending of "Pour Some Sugar, Zombie" is any indication, they’ll be packed with story and punch. iZombie’s been very careful and clever in how it's paced this season. It reveals and conceals in equal measure, while also offering enough character development and continuity to make the story resonate in the emotional beats that make for real viewer investment.