Television

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 17 - "Reflections of the Way Liv Used to Be"

J.M. Suarez

The entire season has been steadily building to multiple revelations and their consequences; this episode moved a great deal of story forward in smart and inventive ways.


iZombie

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka, Steven Weber, Jessica Harmon, Leanne Lapp, Enrico Colantoni, Hayley Marie Norman, Justin Prentice
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 17 - "Reflections of the Way Liv Used to Be"
Network: CW
Air date: 2016-04-05
Amazon

One more week to go before the end of the season, and "Reflections of the Way Liv Used to Be" does a lot of heavy lifting in setting things up for the finale. The entire season has been steadily building to multiple revelations and their consequences, but this episode in particular moved a great deal of story forward in smart and inventive ways.

Last week’s episode ended on a huge cliffhanger as Ravi (Rahul Kohli) confronted Major (Robert Buckley) about being the Chaos Killer, and this episode picks up on that conversation right away. The show doesn’t waste a whole lot of time on exposition, since we already know Major isn’t really killing anyone (and he’s actually being blackmailed by Vaughn Du Clark [Steven Weber]). Ravi’s ready acceptance of Major's reasons for keeping things secret, especially from Liv, speed things up so that iZombie doesn’t need to dwell on further making a case for Major, and can instead deal more directly with Major’s reversion to zombiehood and the fact that Ravi now knows his secret.

On top of Major's revelation, Blaine (David Anders) is still dealing with the memory loss caused by Ravi’s cure. He remains human, but without any memories of his time as a zombie at all. He's completely in the dark about his Utopium business -- that's now been taken over by Don E (Bryce Hodgson) and Chief (Andre Tricoteux) -- as well as unable to provide Peyton (Aly Michalka) with any inside information on the Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison) operation, a consequence that will surely play a larger role next week.

Blaine's confusion over how universally disliked he seems to be is both funny and kind of sad, since Anders plays him with such genuine innocence and bewilderment. In fact, the scene in which Ravi reveals to Blaine all his misdeeds is a highlight of the episode. It’s amusing, particularly when he awkwardly introduces Major as the person whose life Blaine ruined in especially spectacular fashion, but it's also oddly moving because Blaine appears sincerely sad and remorseful.

As it's still unclear whether Blaine is faking the memory loss, and really, everyone’s right to be suspicious, Major comes up with the idea of turning Vaughn into a zombie and then giving him the cure to test the side effects. It also serves well as a solution to Vaughn's increasingly aggressive and cruel tendencies fueled by Super Max. It's a clever and elegant way to bring threads together in a new way now that so many secrets are out.

Interestingly, Liv's (Rose McIver) largely separated from the Major/Ravi/Blaine story this week as she’s focused both on Drake’s (Greg Finley) disappearance and on this week's mystery involving the death of a Student Senate presidential candidate. She and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) investigate the death of Bailey (Hayley Marie Norman), an overachieving, Type-A student who coincidentally closely resembles pre-zombie Liv. It's fun to see a version of Liv that's actually reminiscent of her real personality, or at least her real personality before turning into a zombie, and McIver slips into the role easily. She has a nice moment with Ravi when she asks if he thinks they would’ve been friends before she was turned. His immediate response that they would've been ("Like me for my antidotes, love me for my anecdotes") is a lovely moment between the two that reminds the audience how important that friendship is to the two of them and how integral it is to iZombie.

Bailey's brain also provides a personality that’s a direct contrast to Liv's previous stripper brain (still on display at the beginning of the episode) and her frat boy brain from "Zombie Bro" earlier in the season. Frat boy brain comes up again this week because Bailey’s competition was Brody (Justin Prentice) from "Zombie Bro" and his excitement over seeing Liv again is certainly not reciprocated ("What’s with the tone, bro? You’ve changed"), but amusing nonetheless.

Bailey's murder is directly connected to Detective Benedetto's (Enrico Colantoni) undercover investigation into the Utopium trade (and Drake’s assignment), again tying together the many and varied threads of the season. The investigation also connects to Clive and Liv's relationship, as her personal stake clouds her judgment and she hides an important piece of the mystery from Clive. They resolve it and Clive tells her "You can trust me with almost anything", a cryptic message that stands out for the caveat, but also because it's also a reminder of the fact that whatever specific investigative information Liv withheld this time is no match for her larger secret.

Because iZombie knows how to do a cliffhanger in a way that feels both unexpected and inevitable, the episode ends with Agent Bozzio (Jessica Harmon) arresting Major as the Chaos Killer at Vaughn's office just before he planned to go through with his zombie/cure plot. Bozzio was tipped off by the dog groomer who Major lied to about Minor in "Fifty Shades of Grey Matter". The callback to so many previous episodes this season speaks to the show’s understanding of long-reaching story arcs and their commitment to continuity.

"Reflections of the Way Liv Used to Be" accomplishes a great deal in one episode, to say the least. Next week’s finale doubles up on episodes, offering a two-hour block that’s sure to resolve and create further complications in equal measure. Even in an episode where so much happened, much of it serious, iZombie never fails to insert enough touches of lightness to maintain its balance of tone. Whether it’s a reference to Rob Thomas (the singer, not the series' creator), or Brody’s bro-isms, or Major on Positivity Café brain leftovers, the show keeps things moving with a tight, fast-paced rhythm exemplified by its balance of light and dark.

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