Reviews

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 4 - "Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues"

J.M. Suarez

With its mixture of bleak stories and deft comedic moments, iZombie has made it clear it’s uninterested in easy answers and resolutions.


iZombie

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, David Anders, Aly Michalka
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 4 - "Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues"
Network: CW
Air date: 2015-10-27
Amazon

“Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues” continues this season’s penchant for exploring the bleak along with the light. In many ways, this episode is iZombie’s darkest of the season, yet true to form, it still manages to inject some much-needed levity at just the right moments.

The episode picks up fairly quickly with Peyton (Aly Michalka) and Liv’s (Rose McIver) reunion, one that last episode alluded would be coming. They both acknowledge the extenuating circumstances that led to Peyton’s disappearance, while also promising to discuss further, as Peyton has a lot of questions. The easy acceptance after such a long absence without any contact at all is welcome, particularly because it provides a perfect contrast to Major’s (Robert Buckley) reaction. He hasn’t gone anywhere, but his open hostility is, in many ways, worse than Peyton’s withdrawal.

Peyton’s return also draws larger story threads together. Her role on the Utopium task force puts her direct contact with Blaine (David Anders) for the first time, as he takes a deal for immunity in exchange for providing information on Stacey Boss’ criminal operations. Further complicating matters is that he succeeds in charming Peyton, along with eliminating his drug trade competition. In addition to Peyton’s task force, an FBI agent, Dale Bozzio (Jessica Harmon), is assigned to investigate all the recent unexplained disappearances of wealthy men in the community, the same men who have either been killed by Blaine or by Major as part of his zombie-eradication mandate.

The new FBI investigation coincides with Blaine’s own frustration at the loss of some of his clients (“Can’t a guy make an honest living creating undead and selling them cadaver brains? Huh?”). He’s unaware of Major’s role under Vaughn Du Clark’s (Steven Weber) orders and it’s yet another missing piece that’s sure to come to light sooner rather than later.

Blaine’s involvement this episode doesn’t end with his turn as informant. He’s located Gabriel (Yani Gellman), who knows how to create the formula for Utopium. Now born-again and decidedly out of the drug business, Gabriel refuses to help and is turned into a zombie in Blaine’s attempt to get him to give up his drug secrets. He’s released into the wild at the end of the episode, hungry, and with no source for brains, it’s only a matter of time before he comes back to Blaine.

This week’s murder investigation centers on the death of Lacy Cantrell (Allyson Grant), a waitress and aspiring country singer, found strangled to death in her apartment. In a smart move, when Liv eats her brains and takes on her personality, it’s not the drastic change of the past few weeks. Rather, she’s more prone to colorful expressions (“Well butter my butt and call it a biscuit”) and composing country songs, providing a nice showcase for Rose McIver to shine as she performs on singer-songwriter night at the local bar.

The case zeroes in on Lacy’s ex-boyfriend, Matt “Sue” Sudak (in a clever nod to Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue”), and her sleazy boss at the bar, Rick (Raphael Sbarge), as the main suspects in her death. That it turns out to be a convenience store thief she accidentally stumbles upon only reinforces the show’s theme of often random and ultimately sad events that has Liv contemplating her post-zombie life.

The central moment in “Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues” comes in the long-overdue confrontation between Liv and Major, and it does not disappoint. Major’s continued unraveling leads to a detached demeanor that makes Liv question their entire relationship, but only after having laid out her side as the confused victim only trying to spare him a larger grief. It’s a scene that offers up a bigger picture of the pain they’ve both experienced, but it’s only at the end of the episode when Major seemingly hits bottom -- after scoring drugs from one of the kids he’d been trying to keep off drugs in season one -- and seeks Liv’s help. They proceed to make out in her doorway, but the moment is less romantic than it is fraught with their recent history, and though hopeful, iZombie has made it clear it’s uninterested in easy answers and resolutions.

This episode continues to lay out even more pieces of the larger story, all while offering satisfying moments of understanding and further revelations. Amidst the heaviness of the murders and isolation, inserts moments of pure delight, such as in Liv’s endlessly entertaining cooking scenes, and humor, as when Ravi brilliantly names his and Major’s new dog, Minor. “Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues” is another compelling entry in a season that’s been consistently gratifying, and it’s only just starting to hit its stride.

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