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TV

'iZombie': "Return of the Dead Guy" Is Overcrowded But Still Entertaining

Mr. Boss' return is just one element of a hectic episode.

While clearly the larger ongoing stories will continue into next season, "Return of the Dead Guy" is still a fun hour, if not a standout episode.


iZombie

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Rose McIver, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley
Subtitle: Season 3, Episode 10 - "Return of the Dead Guy"
Network: CW
Air date: 2017-06-06
Amazon
Liv: I used to think being ghosted was a rude way to end a relationship. But I'd much prefer the millennial way of doing things to an old-timey style haunting. Because this whole, ghosts-of-boyfriends-I-shot-in-the-head thing? Really not working for me.

Mr. Boss: How the hell are you still alive?

Blaine: I'm eating a human brain. So that makes me a…

Mr. Boss: Cannibal?

Blaine: Technically, I suppose, but that’s not the answer I’m looking for. I'm eating a human brain, I'm indestructible, therefore I am a…

Mr. Boss: Serial killer?

Blaine: Again, technically. You know what, hell with it. I’m here. I'm a zombie. Get used to it.

"Return of the Dead Guy" barrels forward toward the end of the season; with only three episodes to go, and a whole lot of plot to resolve or bring to a cliffhanger ending, iZombie has a great deal to do. Because of all the remaining plot points, the episode tends to jump around to various important and pressing stories, and it skips its usual mystery of the week in favor of focusing on Peyton's (Aly Michalka) continued investigation into James Weckler's (Gordon Woolvett) death. Plus, Liv (Rose McIver) hallucinates Drake (Greg Finley) after eating Weckler's blue juice-soaked brain and has to deal with his presence making many of her interactions with others alternately awkward and painful.

Much of the tension this episode stems from Don E's (Bryce Hodgson) capture and Ravi's (Rahul Kohli) forced alliance with Harley Johns (Andrew Caldwell) and his group. Johns livestreams a shackled Don E and starves him to get him to go into full-on zombie mode for his internet viewers ("Look at us now. We've got our exotic animal, strongman, and sideshow all in one. Move over Barnum & Bailey. We're about to put on the greatest show on earth.'). All the while, Ravi's pleading with them to hold off in the name of his research into a fictional zombie vaccine, and also keeping Don E focused on their release.

In addition, Blaine (David Anders) is dealing with trying to keep his father's brain deal going, but is having trouble with Angus' original Bangladeshi contacts. Coincidentally, Mr. Boss (Eddie Jemison) shows up unannounced on his doorstep (after a quick stop home for a suitcase full of money, passports, and diamonds) and shoots him. The exchange that follows when Mr. Boss realizes that Blaine isn't dead -- and Blaine gleefully chomps on a brain -- is terrific. Although Blaine would surely have no hesitation in killing Mr. Boss, he instead enlists his cooperation into a partnership in the brain business. There's no way the two can have any kind of lasting working relationship, but how exactly it'll break down remains to be seen.

Interestingly, this episode marks one of the only times that Liv’s visions aren't shown to the viewer. Because she's on blue juice brain, the visions last longer, making the moments when she freezes and stares off into space more opportunities for humor instead of information, particularly when it happens when she’s with Peyton and Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), who amusingly mirror each other while they wait. Liv's flashes reveal that that Weckler did kill Roxanne, the dominatrix, but that a guard set up the hanging in his jail cell. Clive and Liv eventually track down Weckler's daughter, Tatum (Ava Frye) to ask about her father, and though they don't know it yet, Tatum and her friend are both revealed to be zombies. Even more surprising is that they have access to the brain mush available to the soldiers at Fillmore Graves, extending that connection to Weckler as well.

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Meanwhile, Major (Robert Buckley) is mostly separate from the rest of the group while he's spending time with Shawna (Sarah Jurgens), the woman who wrote the one supportive letter about his Chaos Killer accusation. Except for one awkward interaction with Liv, Major is isolated this episode, but the show is finally acknowledging that despite the fact that they’re both trying to move on with other people (though Justin [Tongayi Chirisa] isn't having much luck this week), the feelings that exist between the two -- and that they were so ready to solidify once they were both human again -- haven't magically disappeared.

This week's iZombie seems to be pushing things toward yet another potential grand zombie discovery at the end of the season. Blaine and Liv teaming up at the end of the episode to save Don E and Ravi is a nice bonus -- next week will reveal just how well or disastrous their rescue attempt ultimately is -- and surely foreshadows more teamwork in keeping the secret that zombies exist from the wider public.

In some ways, "Return of the Dead Guy" served as more plot presentation than forward-moving story, albeit with its signature quick-witted dialogue (Peyton's interrogation of a criminal Clive and Liv had previously put away was great. "She's a mutant ninja. Did she have a round shell? Hankering for pizza?"). iZombie's already proven it can accomplish a lot in the three episodes it has left this season. While clearly the larger ongoing stories will continue into next season, "Return of the Dead Guy" is still an entertaining hour, if not a totally standout episode.

7
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Photo courtesy of Matador Records

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